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News :: Human Rights : Politics
Live from Iraq-PFC Chris Gorman: This is an Ungodly War Based on Lies and Sin
24 Apr 2006
Interview with Christopher Gorman, Religious Conscientious Objector stationed at FOB Kalsu with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
Live from Iraq-PFC Chris Gorman: This is an Ungodly War Based on Lies and Sin

A Voice of Conscience Crying Out from the Wilderness and Devastation of War

Interview with Christopher Gorman, Religious Conscientious Objector stationed at FOB Kalsu with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division

4/24/06
Published and Audio Broadcasted by Coalition For Free Thought In Media
http://groups.google.com/group/Coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia/msg/6b4c47

Interview conducted by Jay Shaft: Editor-In-Chief/Executive Investigative Editor

Thought Bomb Radio Show #2- Interview with Pfc. Christopher Gorman
THOUGHT BOMB RADIO SHOW-SHOCK AND AWE FOR THE MIND RADIO HOUR ©™ 2003-2006 Jay Shaft/Coalition For Free Thought In Media ©2003-2006

Thought Bomb Radio Show #2-
Intro and background facts on Conscientious Objectors and resisters of military service.
http://www.indybay.org/uploads/tbr_2.wav

Chris Gorman Interview Part 1-
First part of the interview. 20 minutes in length.
http://www.indybay.org/uploads/cg1_56k.wav

Chris Gorman Interview Part 2
Second part of the interview. 18 minutes in length.
http://www.indybay.org/uploads/cg2_56k.wav

Audio Interview Archived at San Francisco Indy Bay Indy Media Center
http://www.indybay.org/news/2006/04/1817554.php

This is a follow-up to the interview with Heather Gorman that was released on 4/5/06. The first interview, The Army Is Religiously Persecuting and Harassing My Husband, along with audio links can be found at the bottom of the page. A complete timeline of all events and circumstances of Chris’s case can be found at www.soldiersrights.com.

I interviewed Chris Gorman on Thursday (4/19/06- 10:30AM his time) about what had happened since I released the interview with his wife. Chris had just been served with a Company Grade Article 15 for observing the Sabbath Day and not reporting for duty on a Sunday. He was being charged with dereliction of duty and was not allowed to defend himself on religious grounds.

He was punished with a reduction in pay of $338 and had his rank reduced to Private First Class.

At that time his application packet to be granted C.O. (conscientious objector) status for religious reasons was under review at the Pentagon. Every soldier applying to be discharged under C.O. status must undergo an arduous and lengthy application and appeals process.

It often takes over a year before a final ruling is made on whether the soldier can be discharged under C.O. status. In the meantime the soldiers are being ordered into combat, or into hostile situations because of the very nature of their application. The soldier is the one who is responsible for providing records, statements, and any investigative details that are requested by the investigating officer. In Chris’s case, there were several incidents where necessary paper work was missing from the file that was sent from Fort Hood, Texas.

His C.O. packet was rejected by the Pentagon on Tuesday April 11th, 2006. He was then ordered to draw a weapon and his gear and ship out to unit that was conducting combat operations and insurgent raids. He refused to draw a weapon and told his chain of command that he would not carry a weapon or go forward to join the other unit he was being assigned to.

He was given a Field Grade Article 15 and received a 120 day period of suspension where he is not allowed to go on leave, even for emergency purposes. If he is charged with anything else or receives another Article 15 or counseling statement he is subject to immediate UCMJ proceedings and prosecution. He could be then be processed out under Court Martial conditions and given a dishonorable discharge.

To get a clear picture of what Chris is doing and why he believes in it so firmly, you must listen to the audio. I can type up facts and quotes all day long; but it still wouldn’t have the same reality as hearing it in his voice. Hearing Chris talk about it really makes it real for those who might not understand his convictions and beliefs.

Other soldiers I am in contact with have tried to file as a conscientious objector, but were denied and ended up serving in a combat zone in Iraq. I will be releasing four letters and two full length interviews over the next few weeks. They have all been exposed to civilian death and injury and seen incidents which shocked and horrified them. Several soldiers have talked to me and admitted they had taken an innocent life or thought they might have.

During the interview with Chris we discuss some of these situations, and I get his perspective on what it would be like if he were faced with the same situation. He has some remarkable insights into how the other soldiers must feel. He relates how he has reacted to the Army trying to force him into combat with a weapon.

To this point there has never been a C.O. who has spoken out while they were deployed to a combat zone. Many soldiers have refused to go over, but Chris has gone, and is being punished and harassed for his candor and outspoken words. He has never backed down or changed his mind, and I think that shows a from of courage most people can’t even understand or rationalize.

As of this time his wife has not heard from him since Friday 4/21/06. She has not gotten any e-mails or phone calls since then. This is something that happens from time to time, and I will release an update if it becomes clear that the military has tried to silence Chris.

The 4th ID lost eight soldiers over the weekend, so this might be the reason for the lack of communications from Chris. When there have been a lot of casualties the phones are often shut off to prevent soldiers from talking to their family about it. It is a common report from many soldiers in combat that they were kept from calling home for up to a week or more.

As a highlight, in the last month the 4th ID had 27 casualties and over 100 injuries from a report I received from someone at home station in Texas. Their casualties are already at least 50% higher than during the first deployment.

Denial of C.O. status leads to many soldiers going AWOL. Many others are being sent to jail or prison.

According to the latest Pentagon figures, at least half of all C.O. applications are rejected and the soldier is not allowed to claim exemption from combat duty as an objector. Since 2002 there were 158 soldiers who filed to be discharged as a C.O. Only 71of those applications were approved, which means the rest of the soldiers ended up in combat or were still serving in the military in some capacity.

Since unit harassment and individual harassment is such a factor, these soldiers who have been rejected face a greater threat to safety and well being after they have been denied. Chris Gorman and several other soldiers have reported death threats and overt acts of hostility from commanders and other soldiers stationed with them.

The Army has released figures that show over 80% of all soldiers who go AWOL have tried to file for C.O. status and been denied. Many soldiers cannot even get past the first step of processing and harassment, and eventually they decide to go AWOL.

The Pentagon just released a report that details the supposedly small numbers of soldiers who have gone AWOL since the Iraq war started. According to recently released official Pentagon records, there have been at least 9,500 soldiers who have gone AWOL or did not show up for deployment to Iraq.

Iraq war spurs few deserters
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0604170136apr17,1,591

According to inside sources at both the Pentagon and Central Command, in the last three years over 20,000 soldiers have been reported by their unit as being absent without leave, or had not reported for their deployment. I have heard reports from several different Army Divisions about the high rate of soliders not showing up for the deployment, or reporting in after the unit had already flown over to Iraq. I will release some more details on this over the next few weeks.

Over the last several months I have spoken to over 30 soldiers who were considering going AWOL after they had exhausted every legal option to get out of the military. I will be releasing interviews with three soldiers who are now AWOL in Canada. All three soldiers were supposed to be deployed to Iraq during the latest round of deployments. They have all made the decision not to go back to Iraq no matter what the price.


According to Lt. Colonel Susan Danielson, a federal warrant, which remains valid for forty years, "is issued the moment a soldier crosses the line between absent without leave and desertion. A soldier who does not show up for duty is classified as AWOL for 30 days. After that, he or she becomes an official deserter. During a time of war, the 30-day grace period disappears.

The difference between AWOL and desertion involves intent. There has to be intent not to come back to be charged with desertion. A soldier can be listed as AWOL if he or she has not returned within 24 hours of the permitted leave. Desertion is a formal charge under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The decision to charge with desertion lies with the commander, and they make a decision when an investigation is completed.”
Source- Army Lt. Colonel Susan Danielson-Fort Bragg NC, in a press statement after Staff Sgt. Camilo Meija was charged with desertion.

I want to highlight some of the other cases of soldiers who have tried to get out of the military under C.O. status. I have provided links to the full length articles and background information so you can look into all the facts for yourself. Some of theses soldiers are in jail or have already served time in prison for trying to be recognized as a C.O.

Staff Sergeant Camilo Meija became the first soldier to go public about his objection to the war after going AWOL. He was sentenced to a year in prison because the Army would not allow him to claim exemption as a C.O. He has remained active in the peace movement both during and after he was released from jail.

Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia-Dissenting Soldier Charged for Desertion
http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=1878275&nav=EyAzNEdp

Deserter GI Gets Year In Jail
A U.S. soldier who said he left his unit in Iraq to protest an "oil-driven" war was convicted of desertion Friday and sentenced to a year in jail and a bad conduct discharge. "I have no regrets. Not one," Mejia said before his sentencing. In his comments to the jury of four officers and four enlisted soldiers, Mejia said he was not afraid of going to jail. "I will take it because I will go there with my honor, knowing I have done the right thing," he said. Mejia's commander in Iraq, Capt. Tad Warfel, said the verdict would send a message that "deserters are punished, regardless of what their arguments are or their excuses."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/16/national/main606703.shtml

In the case of Sgt. Kevin Bendermen, he is now serving time in prison, along with other soldiers, because of his beliefs and refusal to deploy for combat. I have included several articles and statements from the Kevin Bendermen timeline.

Army charges Sgt. Kevin Bendermen for refusing Iraq stint-Iraq veteran seeking conscientious objector status
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6850273/

The following is a quote from Kevin on why he refused to go back to Iraq.

"I have learned from firsthand experience that war is the destroyer of everything that is good in the world; it turns our young into soulless killers, and we tell them that they are heroes when they master the "art" of killing." Sgt. Kevin Benderman-Prisoner of Conscience
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=8259

From the Kevin Bendermen timeline-
"For making a PUBLIC APPLICATION OF CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION, Sgt. Kevin Benderman was charged with Desertion and Missing Movement. His first court martial was thrown out when the judge ruled that an investigating officer had shown bias in stating her belief of Kevin's guilt before she had even conducted an investigation. A new hearing was ordered, the Army piled it on, and added trumped up Grand Larceny charges to the new orders, and dared Kevin to continue with his actions. Kevin did. His beliefs are firmly held. The Army manipulated evidence, lost witnesses, and gave false and contradictory testimony. In the end, the military judge ruled that Kevin was guilty of Missing Movement, basically that he did not get on a plane, and sentenced him to 15 months confinement, loss of pay and dishonorable discharge. All of this because the US Military was threatened by the public expression of free thought and humanity displayed by one Army Sergeant," http://www.bendermantimeline.com.

SPC Katherine Jashinski became the first woman to apply for C.O. status since the Iraq war started. She is currently awaiting punishment for her actions and a decision for a writ of Habeas Corpus pending before U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia.

Army SPC Katherine Jashinski speaks out against war at Fort Benning, Georgia
http://www.notinourname.net/troops/jashinski.htm
One of the Army's Most Courageous
By Katherine Jashinski
When I first decided to apply for CO status, I knew it would be hard. It’s been longer and harder than I thought it would be. But I have come to my beliefs through intense personal reflection and study. They are everything that I am and all that I stand for. After much thought about the effect that my decision will have on my future, my family -- the possibility of prison and the inevitable scorn and ridicule -- I am prepared to accept the consequences. What characterizes a conscientious objector is the willingness to face adversity and uphold our values at any cost. We do this not because it is easy or popular, but because we are unable to do otherwise. My biggest hope after all this is said and done, is that I become an example and prevent others from enlisting before they know who they are.
http://www.progress.org/2006/war13.htm

In the case of Carl Webb he had over 15 years of service in the Army. In 2005 Carl Webb refused to deploy with his unit, the 56th BCT of the Texas National Guard. He is still officially wanted by the Army for being a deserter.

A Moment of Silence Is Not Enough
On March 18th, 2006 Sara Rich, mother of an AWOL US soldier, gave this address at an anti-war rally in Eugene, Oregon. My daughter tells me, "Mom, while I was in Iraq, the children were never in school, they were out in the street begging for candy. They were never being watched or supervised, just allowed to run wild. I was never sure what we were or still are trying to accomplish in Iraq. I never saw the US do anything to make things better while I was there. My unit would go out on useless missions and end up being shot at in the dark by our supposed allies because communication between the US and our allies was so poor. We need to get the hell out of Iraq and let them solve their own problems. Most Iraqis don't want us there anyway. We should have done this years ago, but I guess our government saw it as making us money in some weird way. I think the reason that post traumatic stress syndrome is so huge is because this was an invasion/war without a purpose. NO one benefited from us being there. Except that Saddam Hussein got a free ticket out of Iraq.... Why do we think we should be liberating all these countries when we can't even feed or house our own children in the United States. How about working on oppression and racism here in the US? Maybe we need someone to come liberate us!!" I could tell that my daughter felt liberated herself and finally touched on some of her anger for the Army as she went on. Here are some more thoughts for us here today.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/032006S.shtml

Why one soldier went AWOL
Carl Webb tells the story of the day he deserted
http://www.dailytexanonline.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticlePrint

Carl Webb's Military Career
http://www.carlwebb.net/militarycareer.html

Reservist says, 'I won't fight for profit'
Carl Webb is very clear about what he is doing: "I'm refusing to go to war because I do not believe the U.S. is on the right track. I think this war is not about liberating people, it's about oppressing them. It's a war that's being fought for profit.” Conscientious-objector status wasn't really an option either, Webb said, noting the Army's criteria that must be met--basically, opposition to all wars. "I'm not a pacifist. ... But I've always been politically opposed to U.S. militarism."

Webb is now officially listed as a deserter. He said, "My case is different from some of the other soldiers who have deserted, either because they just don't want to go, or because they think these 'stop-loss' orders are illegal. I tell people that even if there was no stop-loss policy, even if the government wasn't illegally using the reserves and National Guard and retirees as they are, I would still be opposed to this war. I don't think it matters what category of service you're in--whether you're in the reserves, National Guard or the regular army--I think all military personnel should oppose fighting in this war of imperialism."
http://www.workers.org/us/2005/webb_0217/

Ft. Carson GI convicted of dodging duty- Spc. Dale Bartell
AWOL soldier calls himself a conscientious objector
A Fort Carson soldier has been convicted of intent to avoid hazardous duty — what amounts to desertion — and is serving time in a military prison after trying to declare himself a conscientious objector. Army officials also have filed a felony charge against his wife, alleging she was “enticing, abetting a deserter,” her attorney said. Spc. Dale Bartell, assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, didn’t always oppose war. He enlisted almost three years ago and served a tour in Iraq.
Bartell and his wife, Amy Bartell, joined a Mennonite church, and their philosophies changed, she said Wednesday outside a U.S. District courtroom in Colorado Springs where she was scheduled for a hearing. “He’s changed since joining. If he knew the teachings then that we know now, he never would have joined,” Amy Bartell said. “He knew there was going to be consequences for his stance.” As his unit was preparing to go back to Iraq, Bartell’s commanding officers would not help him — and even hindered him — in filing the paperwork to become a conscientious objector, said Amy Bartell’s attorney, Bill Durland.
“He knew that once they got him over there, they would have their way,” Amy Bartell said, noting officers offered to let him use “non-lethal” ammunition in Iraq. “He would have to ignore his religious convictions. What choice did he have? He went AWOL.”
On July 12, Spc. Bartell was sentenced to four months in prison, after which he will be dishonorably discharged. Rev. Loren Miller, of Skyline Mennonite, said the church is for pacifist Christians. Church officials and volunteers have helped the Bartells, and were at the hearing Wednesday — which was postponed until Aug. 17. “We are harmless, peaceloving people,” Miller said, noting Mennonites take the Scriptures literally. Amy Bartell is worried about the felony charge she faces. And she’s worried about her husband. “He’s going through a lot,” she said. “It does affect him. He’s sitting in prison knowing I’m getting into trouble for what we believe.”
http://www.gazette.com/war/0721wara3.html

AWOL Soldier with PTSD wants to put ordeal behind him- Jacob Hounshell
Jacob Hounshell, a private first class in a scout platoon who was cited for his quick thinking during battle, had gone AWOL from his unit at Fort Hood with his parents’ help. He was suicidal, angry and emotional, and he couldn’t sleep. Hounshell, 21, who went AWOL from the Army after a 14-month tour in Iraq, is trying to start over, free from the military service that he said was a constant reminder of his one-time mental problems and fractious run-ins with his Army command. The Army discharged him last week, 14 months early from his four-year enlistment, after he finished a month long jail sentence. “I’m happy as hell,” he said. “I can go on with my life.”
http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/state/14411573.htm

AWOL Soldier Cites Army Inadequacies- Spc. Joseph Jacobo
AP 1/12/05 HOUSTON — An Army National Guard soldier said Tuesday that the inadequate training and equipment he received had led him to abandon his unit rather than face deployment to Iraq. "I guess I'm AWOL right now," Spc. Joseph Jacobo, 46, said in a telephone interview from the Los Angeles area.
Soldiers in Jacobo's Modesto-based National Guard unit — the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment — went public late last month with concerns that they would suffer needlessly high casualty rates in Iraq because of poor training. Military officials have denied the soldiers' charges, voiced in an article in the Los Angeles Times. Airing their concerns publicly, Jacobo said, only seems to have made matters worse. He said soldiers who were suspected of having spoken to the newspaper were called "cowards" and "yellow-bellies" by their supervisors. Equipment woes were not addressed, commanders became more strict and morale reached new lows, he said.
http://www.infowars.com/articles/iraq/awol_soldier_cites_arm.htm

AWOL soldier seeks sanctuary in church- Spc. Ralph Padula
(In this case the soldier’s rights as a C.O. under religious grounds were dismissed. Please note the statement from the Pentagon spokesperson that I highlighted in bold. This is yet another incident where it seems that the 4th ID or the general command structure at Ft. Hood, Texas denied a C.O. application.)
March 29, 2003-AUSTIN, Texas — Fort Hood soldier Ralph Padula tried for months to obtain conscientious objector status. But as his military police unit shipped out to Iraq, and officers made it clear that he too would be deployed, Padula fled on Thursday and sought sanctuary at a Catholic church in Round Rock, Texas. Calling on Catholic principles of justice, Padula's supporters at St. John Vianney Church were vowing Saturday to protect the soldier until the Army promises to treat him fairly, said the Rev. Samuel Hose, pastor. Padula, who has served for 11 years, said he began seeking a discharge last year. His girlfriend had been killed in a car wreck on New Year's Day 2002, and his emotional state began to deteriorate, he said.
"The Army does not want to make people who have a true religious or moral or ethical reservation about killing other humans to be forced to do that," said Martha Rudd, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon. “Some people have a change of heart about serving in combat after they enlist, but that doesn't guarantee a soldier will receive conscientious objector status,” she said.
Padula said Army officials told him he would still be deployed to Iraq even if he refused to carry a weapon.
"The way I'm looking at it is if I'm not carrying a weapon, and I'm over there, somebody's going to have to watch me," he said. "I'm putting that soldier in danger who has to watch me."

AWOL GI Refuses Service in 'Gulf War II'
Nov 26, 2002-U.S. Army Private Wilfredo Torres stepped forward this past Monday to say he was absent without leave for nearly a year because he wanted no part of a U.S. invasion of Iraq. The announcement from Torres, a 19-year-old from Rochester, N.Y., came on Veteran's Day and just three days after the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution authorizing the use of American force to disarm Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
http://www.ngwrc.org/index.cfm?Page=Article&ID=36

U.S. war resisters and Conscientious Objectors flee to in Canada

Over 100 Conscientious Objectors are known to be hiding in Canada rather than be deployed to Iraq and violate their principles and beliefs. Most of the soldiers in Canada are known to have tried to file and be discharged from duty under C.O. status. I have included some links to the background and information about the situation.

U.S. war resisters in Canada
Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Darrell Anderson, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ryan Johnson, Patrick Hart, Robin Long
http://www.resisters.ca/resisters_stories.html
(These are only the soldiers who have come forward and been publicly recognized. It is estimated by the CCCO and the Canadian War Resisters League that as many as 100 more soldiers are in Canada staying below the radar.)

"I can't go back to Iraq"
"That's why I can't go back to Iraq," says US Army Specialist Darrell Anderson. "You can't have a normal life after killing innocent people."
http://dominionpaper.ca/accounts/2005/03/28/i_cant_go_.html

US deserter 'shocked by abuses'
Josh Key, 27, also told Canada's refugee board he saw a US army squad leader shooting the foot off an unarmed Iraqi man. The army's attitude in Iraq was "just shoot and ask questions later", Mr Key said. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Key said he was in Iraq when he realized the war was unjustified. "The only people that were getting hurt was the innocent; that was innocent Iraqi people, as well as innocent soldiers."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4859948.stm

Brave Hart-Sergeant Patrick Hart
Sergeant Patrick Hart spoke calmly into the receiver. “Honey, I’m not coming home,” he told his wife, Jill. “It’s okay, I’m with friends. I’ll contact you in a few days.” And then he hung up the phone.
It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when Pat—previously a mild-mannered, loyal soldier—decided he would risk everything to start a new life in a new country. One critical moment that Pat does recall, however, was during some down time spent a world away, in the middle of a forsaken Kuwaiti desert. He was stationed there in 2003 with the Army’s 541st Maintenance Battalion, ordering supplies for vehicles—Humvee tires, track shoes for tanks and the like. It was there in Kuwait that some of his friends, returning from a deployment across the berm in Iraq, told him horrific tales, shared with him grisly photographs and made disturbing remarks about what they’d seen and done there. “One of my buddies is telling me that he has a six-year-old daughter,” Pat says, “but now he sees the faces of these Iraqi kids that he’s run over every night before he goes to bed.”
http://artvoice.com/issues/v5n10/brave_hart

AWOL soldiers being arrested and ordered to deploy to Iraq

These following stories all come from news reports over the last several weeks. The Pentagon has been very aggressive in the last few months in regards to having the local or State police agencies look for AWOL soldiers. It seems that they are trying to find as many soldiers and make to publicly try to discourage the behavior in other soldiers.

I had a Pentagon source tell me that they have “stepped up the level of enforcement over the last few months. It used to be a catch as catch can way of finding them. We would have to wait for the police to find them involved with some form of illegal activity, then process them back to their duty station from jail. Now we are actively working with the police and having them track these soldiers down, with great efficiency I might add. Now we are getting reports about the whereabouts of a soldier and having the police go out immediately and try to find them.”

Soldiers who have returned home for mid-tour leave are now going AWOL in record numbers according to internal Pentagon reports. I have a source from Central Command who claims that they know of over 1000 soldiers who did not return to Iraq after their leave was up. The source states that they cannot follow up on any soldier until there is an official report from the soldier’s command unit.

The source also admits that they know of several thousand soldiers who did not report for the last round of deployments that started in August of 2005. I am in the process of doing a full length article on the situation both from Canada and here on the home front.

I will release some detailed reports from the people who work with the CCO (Central Committee on Conscience Objectors) about the soldiers who are questioning their military service. I am in the process of conducting several interviews with counselors and people who work to advise the soldiers on their legal right and options.

The GI Rights Hotline reports that they are now getting between 3000-4000 calls a month from soldiers asking about going AWOL or seeking information on getting out of the military. They expect an increasing number of calls as new deployment orders are released and more soldiers are sent to Iraq for a second, third, or even fourth tour of combat duty.

The following reports are all from local newspapers. Often the only way to find out a soldier was arrested for being AWOL is to search police reports from the local papers.

AWOL soldier headed back to Army duty
Christopher L. Swett, 31, of East River Road, Skowhegan, was taken into custody by Fairfield police at an apartment on Summit Street, downtown, early Saturday morning. He was ordered held without bail for the weekend, pending action by military authorities. Corrections Sgt. Jay Pawlak at the jail said Monday that paperwork from the U.S. Army then was faxed to the jail. Swett was released from the Somerset County jail into U.S. Army custody at 12:40 p.m. Monday and reportedly was ordered to return to Fort Knox, Ky. "His paperwork says he's a deserter," Pawlak said. "He went AWOL (absent without leave) Feb. 16." Pawlak said Swett was issued a bus ticket and authorization to fly to Kentucky via U.S. Airways. He said there was no additional information on the case available Monday.
http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/2601649.shtml
Oswego, NY Sheriff’s Department Arrests AWOL Soldier--4/20/06--A deputy with the Oswego County Sheriff's Department took Thomas F. Cummings, 22, of Ft. Carson, CO, into custody April 20, charging him with being AWOL from the U.S. Army. Cummings is being held at the Oswego County Correctional Facility where he will await transfer to the Military Police. http://fultondailynews.com/index.php/fulton/news/cop_log/sheriff_s_depar
La Crosse police arrest AWOL soldier
WKBT, WI - Apr 14, 2006
A Wisconsin soldier accused of failing to return to Kentucky after Christmas break has been arrested by La Crosse police. He's accused of being absent without leave since January fourth.
He'll be returned to Fort Knox where he can decide whether to stay in the military or be discharged. http://wkbt.com/Global/story.asp?S=4770149
AWOL soldier sought by Army
Cops search homes. Her mother says she doesn't know her whereabouts.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
BETHLEHEM | The Army has asked city police to arrest an 18-year-old soldier who allegedly went absent without official leave. Pvt. Samantha Strobel's mother, Carol, said Tuesday she's become nervous seeing police cars drive by her home in the 300 block of Liberty Street the last two days. Police searched her home and Samantha's friends' homes Monday but did not find her.
http://www.nj.com/news/expresstimes/pa/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1144815065

01/05/06 Deputies Apprehend AWOL Soldier
Officers with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office apprehended a soldier who escaped custody from authorities at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on Wednesday, January 4, 2006. Eighteen year-old Sean Noe, who was stationed at Fort Campbell, had been charged with desertion and escaped despite being in leg shackles. An accomplice assaulted a soldier who tried to stop the escape. That accomplice then drove Noe to Knoxville and cut off his leg shackles. KCSO officers received information that Noe was in the area and found him this morning hiding in a relative’s apartment on Forest Park Boulevard. He was taken into custody without incident. Fort Campbell authorities are expected to arrive soon to take him back into custody. The U.S. Marshals and FBI are investigating.
http://www.knoxsheriff.org/news.php?pageNum_Recordset1=5&totalRows_Recor



For further reading and facts on the soldiers who have gone AWOL please see:
AWOL in America: When Desertion is the Only Option
http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2005/AWOL-UA-Desertion1mar05.htm


Please write to Chris Gorman at cmgorman24 (at) yahoo.com. He welcomes any comment, support or prayers. He has asked everyone to pray for his continued safety and well being in this time of trial and trouble.

To request an interview with Heather Gorman, please contact her at info (at) soldiersrights.com . She welcomes all questions, comments, letters, and general feedback about the situation.

Any soldier who is having problems such as harassment or who needs more information on their military and civilian rights should contact the GI Rights Hotline. All calls are confidential and protected under legal privilege and as legal counseling.
The GI Rights Hotline
(800) 394-9544
(215) 563-4620 Fax (510) 465-2459
http://girights.objector.org/
If you are a soldier who has been denied their rights to file for C.O. status, harassed because of it, or decided to go AWOL after trying every other option please write to Jay Shaft at coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia (at) yahoo.com
I will give any soldier who wants to speak the opportunity to tell their story to everyone. Be assured that I can protect the identity of any soldier or family member who is involved.

PART ONE:
The Army Is Religiously Persecuting and Harassing My Husband

Interview with Heather Gorman, Wife of Army Specialist Christopher Gorman

4/5/06
Published by Coalition For Free Thought In Media
http://groups.google.com/group/Coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia/msg/8e7485

Thought Bomb Radio Show #1- Interview with Heather Gorman
THOUGHT BOMB RADIO SHOW-SHOCK AND AWE FOR THE MIND RADIO HOUR (C) (TM) 2003-2006 Jay Shaft/Coalition For Free Thought In Media

Audio Interview Archived at San Francisco Indy Bay Indy Media Center
PLEASE GO TO http://www.indybay.org/news/2006/04/1813117.php

Interview conducted by Jay Shaft: Editor-In-Chief/Executive Investigative Editor

As I go to print with this Army Specialist Christopher Gorman is being charged with Dereliction of Duty and facing an immediate Article 15 and UCMJ proceedings. Chris has said that if they proceed with the charges he will ask for an immediate court martial. He is going to demand a court martial so that all the facts and incidents of harassment and illegal denial of access to legal counsel can be entered in the public record.

Just what is his crime against the military? What has he possibly done to get a charge of Dereliction of Duty? He was just upholding his constitutionally established religious and legal rights, and refusing to perform duty on the Sabbath Day. Quite simply, he refused to come in for duty because he worships God and observes his religious beliefs on Sunday. It now seems that the Army will use the Article 15 as a basis of denial for his C.O. application.

After over three months of following his religious beliefs and deeply held principles he was told he could no longer observe and celebrate the Sabbath. He is suddenly facing even greater harassment and the denial of his constitutionally guaranteed rights of religious freedoms by Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

As of Sunday Chris had been issued a counseling statement and faced verbal abuse from several NCOs (non-commissioned officers) and officers. He was told that he wouldn’t be allowed to defend his decision not to report for duty based on his religious practices and already established observance of worship.

It is ironic that this is something which millions of Americans are freely allowed to do every Sunday. It is not something we think could happen here in America. We would all surely be outraged if told we, as a people or an individual, could no longer practice the religion or beliefs of our own choosing.

The reason Chris is even in this situation is that he has filed for discharge under Conscientious Objector status based on deeply held personal and religious beliefs that he holds against serving in any type of war or military action.

Instead of being granted a hearing and a discharge Chris is now serving a second tour in a combat zone (stationed at Camp Kalsu) in Iraq. He has been denied access to legal counsel and to some of his paperwork since he left for Iraq from Ft. Hood, Texas in November of 2005. His wife reports that his C.O. packet was recently sent to Iraq mysteriously missing the one piece of paper he needed to finish his processing and consideration to be discharged. As of right now his C.O. packet is at the Pentagon being reviewed.

You can find a timeline of the events leading up to this and the background behind Chris Gorman’s reasons for declaring himself a Religious C.O. at http://www.soldiersrights.com/index.html

Here is the latest update on the site posted yesterday by Heather Gorman.
04/02/2006- NOTE: Chris was given another counseling statement today. Chris continued to do what he had been doing for the past few months. However, since NCO Ford went on leave, the Army felt it necessary to punish Chris for his beliefs and putting those beliefs ahead of "the mission" by recommending an Article 15. He is being charged with dereliction of duty and they have changed his schedule, AGAIN. That's twice in less than a day. These are evil people and should NOT be in charge of any human being!!!

For those of you who do not know what a Conscientious Objector is, please go and take a look at the Department of Defense Directive on C.O. Status and the different kinds of C.O. status’ and designations.
http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf2/d13006p.pdf

The Army regulations relating to C.O. status are available at www.usapa.army.mil.
The main Army discharge regulation, AR-635-200, can be viewed in PDF format at
http://www.usapa.army.mil/pdffiles/r635_200.pdf

Fact Sheet: What is an Article 15?
http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/article15.htm

A full copy of the Uniform Code of Military justice can be found here:
http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ucmj.htm

MANUAL FOR COURTS-MARTIAL UNITED STATES
(2005 EDITION)
http://www.objector.org/helpingout/HOdownloads/mcm2005.pdf

This is the type of C.O. status that Chris Gorman has filed under. He is supposed to have every legal right to claim and use it as grounds for discharge.

3.1.1. Class 1-O Conscientious Objector. A member who, by reason of conscientious objection, sincerely objects to participation of any kind in war in any form.

3.2. Religious Training and Belief: Belief in an external power or being or deeply held moral or ethical belief, to which all else is subordinate or upon which all else is ultimately dependent, and which has the power or force to affect moral-well-being. The external power or being need not be of an orthodox deity, but may be a sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of another, or, in the case of deeply held moral or ethical beliefs, a belief held with the strength and devotion of traditional religious conviction. The term "religious training and belief" may include solely moral or ethical beliefs even though the applicant himself may not characterize these beliefs as "'religious" in the traditional sense, or may expressly characterize them as not religious. The term "religious training and belief" does not include a belief which rests solely upon considerations of policy, pragmatism, expediency, or political views. The military has an increasing number of soldiers who are looking into or actually filing for status as a C.O. According to several high level NCOs within the 4th ID there have been as many as 75-100 soldiers who tried to either find out what their rights were in regards to filing an application for C.O., or else attempted to file the initial paper work for consideration.

Specialist Mike Harmon was a medic with the 1-67th, 2nd BCT, 4th ID on deployment to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He served right after the initial invasion and was in touch with some soldiers that were still stationed with the 4th ID. He reports and can verify that there were at least three soldiers he knew of who had their attempts to file as a C.O. hindered or denied.

They were told that because they had already served in combat on the previous deployment, they could not file for consideration as a Conscientious Objector even if it was based completely on religious ideologies or beliefs. This seems to be what a lot of soldiers were told when they asked about the application. I have heard it directly from four other soldiers in the 4th ID.

Since that time I have been trying to find any soldier that had actually been deployed to Iraq after filing their packet to be given a discharge. I was told many things that horrified me, but it was all done off record because of the fear most soldiers have of military reprisals and punishment.

I was at the point where I had given up on finding any soldier that would speak out publicly or really lay it on the line, even in an off record interview. By its very nature the filing of a C.O. application sets a soldier up to be an outcast in his unit. Many soldiers have reported death threats after even bringing it up in a general discussion.

It appears that there were a lot of incidents where the 4th ID intimidated or threatened the soldiers trying to apply. I have been informed that some commanders and NCOs told the soldier’s unit that they had tired to get out of the deployment and be discharged. One soldier told me a Chaplain told him that he could not “p…y out of combat by finding Jesus” and killing in the military was not murder but God’s will and work.

Chris Gorman reports incidents of a similar nature when he had to deal with a chaplain involved with his case. He reports that one Chaplain has used profanity and verbal abuse on several occasions when he tried to get his paperwork processed and be counseled. The Chaplain in each unit is part of the investigation to determine if there is justification and legal cause for a soldier’s packet to be approved.

I have been investigating and documenting Christopher Gorman’s situation for over three weeks. In that time he has reported increasingly hostile acts of retaliation and punishment. When I interviewed Heather Gorman on 3/31/06 she told me Chris had been ordered to stand duty or face an Article 15 and UCMJ proceedings.

Chris has reported a death threat, continued harassment and verbal abuse by Chaplains, officers, and the entire chain of command in regards to his case being specifically in relation to his religious beliefs and his way of exercising. He reports being continually punished I.E. having to serve extra duty and longer hours, and a whole host of hostile and threatening situations meant to make him withdraw his packet and stop his filing as a C.O.

Chris has reported a very serious situation involving a solider in his company who is on a large amount of medication and who is acting in an irrational and dangerous manner. He has reported that the soldier’s ability to perform his duty has been significantly affected and hampered by the medications and the ongoing stress and conditions in Iraq.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California is starting an inquiry into the soldiers who are being shipped over to Iraq who have been proscribed medically life sustaining or mind altering chemicals. Chris Gorman is an eyewitness to this and verifies what many soldiers have reported off record or under the condition of anonymity.

Please listen to the full length interview with Heather Gorman to get a better understanding of what is going on with many soldiers right now. Chris Gorman is only one soldier of many who are reporting harassment and serious problems with the military chain of command. It should be noted that the majority of the soldiers being harassed or otherwise threatened are not seeking discharge under C.O. status.

Often a simple incident of writing an angry letter home or saying too much on the phone results in serious harassment or threats towards a soldier and their family members. I know it sounds hard to believe for some people, but I will be publishing a number of other interviews revealing harassment and many other problems that seem to be tearing the military apart from the inside.

Chris Gorman has shown tremendous courage when it comes to standing up for his beliefs and not giving in to fear, intimidation and harassment. He needs some support and kind words right now, as he is in a place where he has been isolated and given as much hardship and stress as possible. He feels like he is all alone over in Iraq and needs you to let him know that he really is not alone.

Please write to Chris Gorman at cmgorman24 (at) yahoo.com.

To request an interview with Heather Gorman, please contact her at info (at) soldiersrights.com . She welcomes all questions, comments, letters, and general feedback about the situation.

Any soldier who is having problems such as harassment or who needs more information on their military and civilian rights should contact the GI Rights Hotline. All calls are confidential and protected under legal privilege and as legal counseling.
The GI Rights Hotline
(800) 394-9544
(215) 563-4620 Fax (510) 465-2459
http://girights.objector.org/

I have published some off record letters from soldiers in Iraq, and they reveal a truly alarming picture. Soldiers are now writing to report incidents of suicides, stress and anger leading to murder and violence, being deployed while on mind altering medication, abuse of the issued medication, being deployed after reporting PTSD, and soldiers completely breaking down under the harsh and violent conditions.
Letters From Iraq Part 1
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0603/S00420.htm
Letters From Iraq Part 2: Playing the proud soldier on the outside while you are dying inside will be published within the next week.

I also published some letters last year before the most recent deployments. These letters are from soldiers who were very truthful about their inability to go back for a second or third deployment. Two soldiers were very blunt about not being fit to lead any other soldiers into combat or dangerous situations.
The Truth From Our Soldiers About Iraq: Letters From Pre-Deployment
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0511/S00367.htm

Here are the links to some of my previous articles, interviews, and some letters released over the past year.

This Country Has Failed Me In Every Way: Spc. William Wooldridge OIF Vet With PTSD
This is an audio interview and can also be downloaded and pod cast or forwarded as a wav file. http://www.indybay.org/news/2006/01/1798467_comment.php
A Soldier For Truth Has Fallen: In Memory of Specialist Doug Barber
In Memory and Mourning of the Tragic Death of Douglas Barber
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0601/S00146.htm
Spc. Doug Barber: PTSD - A Soldier's Personal War
This is the last article Doug ever wrote
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0601/S00079.htm
'Iraq Took Away Our Innocence!' SPC. Doug Barber
Original full length interview that was Doug’s first public statements
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0512/S00055.htm
To listen to a follow-up to the first Doug Barber interview go to
http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2005/11/1722502.php
I’m Just Not The Same Person I Was Before Iraq
Interview with Spc. Michael Harmon, OIF Vet and 4th I.D. Combat Medic
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0512/S00219.htm
PTSD Hit my family! A LETTER FROM A SOLDIER'S WIFE http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CFTMArchive/message/84
LETTER FROM A SOLDIER IN IRAQ: THE MEN WERE IN CHUNKS!
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CFTMArchive/message/57

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER:
Jay Shaft is a freelance investigative writer and the Editor-In- Chief and Managing Investigative Editor of the independent news group Coalition For Free Thought In Media.
http://groups.google.com/group/Coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia

He has conducted many interviews with soldiers who have served in Iraq, in which service members exposed the issues of the military's failure to provide proper equipment and training to US troops, and he has been on the forefront of investigating the price that soldiers are paying as a result.

He is currently involved in interviewing soldiers who have returned from war with PTSD or traumatic injuries. An ongoing expose and series of troops/vet interviews and articles highlighting the failure of the VA system to adequately take care of the soldiers and vets is in current publication at this time. There is an ongoing series of letters from soldiers serving in Iraq that is being published as well.

Contact Jay at coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia (at) yahoo.com or cftmeditor (at) gmail.com

This work licensed under a
Creative Commons license
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