U.S. Troops Plan to Attend Iraq Protest
Friday, January 26, 2007; 1:46 PM
WASHINGTON -- A small number of active military troops will take part in Saturday's rally in Washington against the Iraq war, co-founders of an active-duty protest group say.
One of the founders of Appeal for Redress, Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, said he planned to speak at the protest on the National Mall. Hutto is a sailor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, currently at Norfolk, Va.
United For Peace and Justice, an anti-war coalition of 1,400 organizations, said the protest could draw tens of thousands of demonstrators in all.
Hutto and Liam Madden, a Marine sergeant who received his discharge Jan. 20, founded Appeal for Redress, an organization of 1,200 active-duty personnel and veterans who favor a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Hutto said 60 percent of the members have been in Iraq operations. He said he was on the Roosevelt off Iraq from September 2005 through March 2006. Madden said he was in Anbar Province from September 2004 to February 2005.
Hutto estimated more than a dozen individuals on active duty would attend Saturday.
Cynthia O. Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, said members of the Armed Forces can speak out, subject to several restrictions.
They must "not do so in uniform, and must make clear that they do not speak on behalf of their military unit, service or the Department of Defense, unless they are authorized to do so," she said.
Madden, whose specialty was setting up communications systems, and Hutto, in the carrier's public information office, said they have not been threatened or harassed by their commanders.
Madden said he had justified his time in Iraq by saying "'I'm here for the guys next to me and they deserve my best effort.' It's not about the political agenda, it's about the guy next to you."
"No one wants to die for a lie," Madden said in an interview. "You don't volunteer to throw your life away. "You don't say I'm serving for nothing."
Madden, 22, from Bellows Falls, Vt., said many of his buddies who have been to Iraq wondered why they were there, even as they fought fiercely to protect each other.