The Marine Corps dropped their charges against a Boston antiwar “reservist who was threatened with an other-than-honorable discharge for his antiwar protests in camouflage fatigues.”
Liam Madden, 22, of Boston, was one of three reservists facing investigation for antiwar activities, spurring a debate about free speech rights of veterans.
Madden, in a telephone interview, made clear yesterday that he will not be silenced.
He was in South Carolina yesterday with seven other veterans taking a bus tour to military installations, holding barbecues, and informing troops about their protest.
Madden served about seven months in Iraq and is a member of the Individual Ready Reserves whose obligation ends in 2010.
Madden cofounded the “Appeal for Redress, a campaign urging troops to press for an end to the war, and is the Boston chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War.” In May, Madden was “notified that he could face an other-than-honorable discharge for wearing his uniform while engaged in political activities and for making “disloyal statements” accusing the Bush administration of war crimes.”
Yesterday, the Marines’ public affairs office released a statement saying they had received “sufficient indication from Sergeant Madden that he would no longer wear his uniform when engaged in political activities.”
Brigadier General D.L. Moore “also determined that although Sergeant Madden’s statements were disagreeable, they did not warrant further administrative action,” the statement said.
Madden, however, said he never agreed to stop wearing his uniform at protests.
“I think it’s important for America to know who the veterans are when they see a protest walking by,” he said.
Madden said he had sought an apology from the Marines via his military lawyer and said he would only agree to stop protesting in uniform if he received a letter on US Marine Corps letterhead stating that his comments were “neither disloyal nor inaccurate.”
“Therefore, if the Marines decide to stop pursuing this case, I will accept that measure as your implied tolerance and support of protesting against war crimes while wearing military uniforms,” he wrote in his e-mail, which is posted on a friend’s blog. “Thank you for considering my counter offer and I hope we can come to agreement on the matter. I understand men in your position have their careers to think about, as I’m positive many German Colonels did in 1939.”
There has been no confirmation by the military lawyer of “the e-mail’s content or that it had been sent to the Marines.”