Tag Archives: soldier

Wisconsin veterans denounce Trump’s attacks on Gold Star family

With the Trump campaign preparing for a visit to Green Bay on Friday, Wisconsin veterans are denouncing Donald Trump’s attacks on the parents of an Army Capt. killed in Iraq.

Trump is running 9-10 points behind Hillary Clinton in a CNN poll conducted after the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. And also conducted after the GOP presidential candidate widely criticized the parents of a fallen U.S. soldier, Capt. Humayun Khan.

Khan was killed by a car bomb in Iraq in 2004. His parents, Ghazala Khan and Khizr Kahn, were at the podium at the DNC.

Khizr Kahn addressed the delegates and a TV audience, with his wife at his side.

He criticized Trump for proposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States and said that the billionaire candidate has “sacrificed nothing” for his country.

Trump questioned why Ghazala Khan did not address the convention, suggesting that she was forbidden because of her religion.

In the back and forth that followed, Ghazala Khan wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post, saying, “Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.”

She also wrote, “Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin issued a statement on the issue that did not name Trump but still criticized the candidate.

Ryan said: “America’s greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it. As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it. Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”

The controversy continued into this week, as Trump campaigned in Virginia and prepared to travel to Wisconsin.

Randy Bryce, army veteran and chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Veterans Caucus, released this statement on Aug. 2: “The disrespect and contempt Donald Trump has shown for our brave men and women serving in uniform disqualifies him from ever being our commander-in-chief. Trump has gone out of his way time and again to insult Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim-American parents of Army Capt. Humayan Khan, who made the ultimate sacrifice defending his troops in Iraq.

“The audacity Donald Trump has to slander Gold Star parents who lost their son defending this country is unconscionable and he has no idea what real sacrifice is. When Donald Trump insults one of us, he insults all of us. We need a president who respects and understands the sacrifice our soldiers make everyday. Donald Trump has shown time and again he does not have the temperament or judgement to be President of the United States.”

Former U.S. Navy Capt. Mary Kolar of Madison said, “Instead of showing respect to a Gold Star family brave enough to share the story of their son’s sacrifice, Donald Trump demonized them. He made it clear he finds patriotism and Islam incompatible, even though soldiers like Captain Humayun Khan prove his bigotry wrong every day on the battlefield. Our country’s diversity is our strength and what makes our military the envy of the world – we should honor each and every man and woman who makes the courageous pledge to defend it.”

“This divisive, dangerous rhetoric from Donald Trump proves exactly why he is unfit to commander-in-chief,” added former U.S. Army Corporal Jerry LaPoint of La Crosse. “As a veteran, I know our soldiers give themselves selflessly in service to our country — they deserve a president who will give them and their families the respect of honoring that service before making decisions to deploy them in our nation’s defense. This is no way to honor a Gold Star family who has made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“Donald Trump clearly does not understand all that our service members give when they join the military,” said former Navy Petty Officer Leon Burzynski of Pewaukee. “Instead, he thinks his failed business dealings are a sacrifice comparable to that of a fallen soldier and the grief of a Gold Star family. This is despicable and we cannot allow someone this out of touch with the values that define America and its military to become our next commander-in-chief.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign, in a news release, said, “Trump’s comments on the Khan family are the latest in a series of his disrespectful rhetoric and record aimed at American veterans and military families such as lying about donations to veterans’ charities, firing employees because of their military service and verbally attacking prisoners of war.”

Soldier booed at GOP debate joins gay marriage push

A gay U.S. soldier who was booed during a Republican presidential debate in 2011 has joined the effort to overturn Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Leaders of the pro-gay-marriage group FreedomOhio said that Columbus resident Stephen Snyder-Hill will help lead outreach efforts.

Last fall, Snyder-Hill appeared in a Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry ad with his husband Josh to highlight the inequities for gay and lesbian servicemembers and their spouses.

Hill, in a segment taped while he was deployed in Iraq, asked the Republican presidential candidates in a 2011 debate about the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell” and whether they would “circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military.”

The crowd booed and then applauded Rick Santorum for saying he would reinstated the anti-gay policy.

FreedomOhio wants to overturn the 2004 state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Supporters started collecting signatures last year to place their own constitutional amendment on the ballot by 2014.

The measure wouldn’t require churches and other religious institutions to perform or recognize gay marriages.

The amendment banning gay marriage was supported by 62 percent of Ohio voters at the time.

UN torture chief calls Manning’s treatment ‘cruel’

A United Nations torture chief has called the United States’ treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning cruel, inhuman and degrading. Manning is the gay soldier facing court martial for allegedly giving security secrets to WikiLeaks.

After a 14-month investigation, the UN special rapporteur concluded “imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence.”

Speaking at a recent meeting in Geneva, Juan Mendez, the UN’s top official on torture, added, “I believe Bradley Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the excessive and prolonged isolation he was put in during the eight months he was in Quantico.”

The report and Mendez’ statement motivated Manning supporters to urge the Obama administration to allow UN officials to meet with Manning, a request that previously has been denied.

Manning likely will go to trial in May on allegations that he gave more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks for publication. Prosecutors say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange collaborated with Manning.

Manning could be imprisoned for life if convicted of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge.

During a preliminary hearing in December, military prosecutors produced evidence that Manning downloaded and electronically transferred to WikiLeaks nearly half a million sensitive battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, and video of a deadly 2007 Army helicopter attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed “Collateral Murder.”

Defense lawyers claim Manning was a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there from late 2009 to mid-2010.

Defense lawyers also say that others had access to Manning’s workplace computers.

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Gay soldier Manning faces arraignment

Pfc. Bradley Manning will face a military arraignment on Feb. 23 as the government continues to prosecute the gay soldier for allegedly leaking U.S. security secrets to WikiLeaks.

The formal arraignment will take place at Fort Meade, Md., where Manning, 24, faced a preliminary hearing two months ago.

Demonstrators with the Free Bradley Manning Network are expected to protest outside the base and attend the hearing, which is open to the public.

At the arraignment, dates for Manning’s trial likely will be set. His defense expects pre-trial motions will be heard in April and the trial – a full court martial – will take place in early May.

In a vastly different arena, Manning recently has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Icelandic Parliament.

A statement by Iceland MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir said Manning’s “alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq.”

Manning allegedly gave more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks for publication. Prosecutors say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange collaborated with the soldier.

Manning could be imprisoned for life if convicted of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge against him.

During the preliminary hearing in December, military prosecutors produced evidence that Manning downloaded and electronically transferred to WikiLeaks nearly half a million sensitive battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and video of a deadly 2007 Army helicopter attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed “Collateral Murder.”

Defense lawyers claim Manning was a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there from late 2009 to mid-2010. The defense has cited the fear and harassment encouraged under the now-repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a factor in Manning’s troubles.

Defense lawyers also say that others had access to Manning’s workplace computers.

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Case against gay WikiLeaks soldier goes forward

The prosecution is laying out its charges against the young soldier blamed for the largest leak of classified material in American history in a case that may hinge on whether the U.S. government overzealously stamped “secret” on material posing no national security risk.

The AP reported that the long-awaited military court case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused source for the WikiLeaks website’s trove of U.S. military and diplomatic secrets, is moving ahead.

Manning, a one-time intelligence analyst stationed in Baghdad, is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive items including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

The Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America’s relations with other governments.

Manning’s first appearance in public after 19 months in detention came Dec. 16 at Fort Meade, Md.

Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., who turned 24 on Dec. 17, is relying on a defense that will argue much of the classified information posed no risk.

The Justice Department has a separate criminal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A U.S. grand jury is weighing whether to indict Assange on espionage charges, even as he is in Britain fighting a Swedish request that he be extradited because of rape allegations.

Manning’s hearing at the Army post outside Washington is open to the public, with limited seating. No civilian recording equipment is allowed. Instead of a judge, a presiding officer delivers a recommendation as to whether prosecutors have enough evidence to bring a suspect to trial. A military commander then makes the final decision.

The case has spawned an international support network of people who believe the U.S. government has gone too far in seeking to punish Manning, and a few dozen showed up outside Fort Meade on Dec. 16 to rally on his behalf.

“I plan to march all night tonight and bring as much attention as I can to put the entire country on notice that we have a hero who’s standing trial for nothing more than telling the truth,” said Dan Choi, a gay West Point graduate discharged from the military for revealing his sexual orientation. He wore a bright orange “Bradley Manning Support Network” sticker on the lapel of his uniform jacket.

Source: Associated Press

Republicans jeer gay soldier during debate

At last night’s Republican presidential debate, aired live from Orlando on Fox News, the right-wing audience booed a gay soldier who asked a question about “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

As part of the debate, candidates took questions from members of the public, who were invited to submit them through YouTube.

One such question was submitted by Stephen Hill, a soldier stationed in Iraq. Appearing on screen wearing a gray “ARMY” T-shirt, Hill said he is gay and had been forced to lie about it in order to serve his country. He asked the candidates if they would “do anything to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers” with the repeal of the anti-gay military ban.

The question provoked loud boos from the audience and not a single sign of support for the active-duty soldier.

The soldier’s question went to staunchly anti-gay candidate Rick Santorum, who earned big applause by saying that gays and lesbians have been given “a special privilege” by the repeal of DADT. He said that “any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.”

Santorum went on to say that as president he would reinstate the military ban but would not kick out servicemembers who had come out as gay before he took office.

View the video on YouTube.

Thousands gather to block Phelps clan’s anti-gay protest

The first showed up before the sun on Nov. 23, huddling and shivering in the cold and the dark. Others soon came, and before long their numbers stretched a block on both sides of Mechanic Street in front of Harrisonville’s Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.

People drove in from three or four surrounding counties in west-central Missouri. Buses arrived, bellowing exhaust into the cold, bringing loads of school kids and senior citizens. People took off work. Some brought dogs. Farmers parked pickups nearby.

It wasn’t a fire, but a burning sense of what was the decent thing to do for one of their own who had given his all.

By 9 a.m., an hour before the funeral of Army Cpl. Jacob R. Carver, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people, many of them waving American flags, lined nearly a half-mile of the street in front of the church, making sure Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church/family congregation were crowded out, peacefully kept far from shouting distance of the funeral.

“This soldier died so (Phelps) could do what he does, as stupid as that is,” said Steve Nothnagel of Harrisonville as he looked at the turnout. “I’m so proud of what is happening here today. This is a community coming together. I know it’s not just Harrisonville; they’re coming from all over.”

The call had gone out by word of mouth and Facebook: Come to Harrisonville, line the streets. Let’s protect this family on this saddest of days.

Not long ago, the same strategy against Phelps was pulled off in Weston. As one woman that day said: “We’re like any small town. We fight a little between ourselves. But today, we’re all together.”

By the time the Phelps clan rolled into Harrisonville, the only spot open to them was next to a Casey’s Store nearly a third of a mile from the church.

The seven protesters got out of their van and waved their signs and ranted their slogans that soldiers’ deaths were God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Opponents drowned them out with a rousing rendition of “God Bless America” and chants of “USA! USA!” and “Go home! Go home!”

“We can’t stop them, but we can be louder,” a man said.

After a near skirmish between the two groups, the Topeka group bailed before the funeral procession passed.

Angel Needham, 15, a sophomore at Cass Midway High School – from which Jacob Carver graduated in 2008 – said she believed in free speech and the First Amendment.

“I just don’t get why he (Phelps) has to do it at funerals,” Angel said.

With parental permission, Cass Midway students were allowed to attend the funeral and take part in the human buffer.

Carver, 20, a member of the 101st Airborne Division from Freeman in Cass County, was killed Nov. 13 along with four other soldiers in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan.

He came from a large family and joined the Army shortly after graduation from Cass Midway, where he played football, loved to dance, and was known as the boy who would take any dare.

“He was a really good kid,” said Principal Doug Dahman, who joined a group of letter jacket-clad students in the line in front of the church.

Next to him was a man from Platte City, who got up at 4:30 a.m. Farther down was John Yeager, who came as part of a group of Blue Springs firefighters.

“We’re here for the family,” Yeager said. “Nobody should have to hear that on this day.”

So many people agreed with that sentiment that officers from the Belton and Pleasant Hill police departments, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, and the Missouri Highway Patrol helped with crowd control.

Truck driver Tom Anderson said of the outpouring: “It’s heartbreaking and it’s heartwarming.”

As usual, the Patriot Guard Riders, braving subfreezing temperatures to get to Harrisonville, provided a motorcycle escort for the funeral procession.

“Look at all those flags out waving out there,” said Donna Byam, a member of the group. “He’s (Phelps) responsible for that.”

Her husband, Brad Byam, nodded: “A silver lining in a dark cloud.”