The Corner

Hip-Hop Soldier?

I received a press release from “Courage to Resist.” Here’s the headline:

JAILED HIP-HOP SOLDIER PETITIONS FEDERAL COURT TO STOP ARMY FROM STAGING IRAQ COURT MARTIAL FOR “STOP-LOSS” SONG; DEFENDANT ASKS FOR PUBLIC FORT STEWART TRIAL

And here’s the first few paragraphs:

FORT STEWART, GEORGIA – Attorneys for jailed hip-hop soldier SPC Marc Hall filed a petition with the US District Court of the Southern District of Georgia yesterday in an attempt to stop the Army from transferring SPC Hall to Iraq for court martial. SPC Hall currently remains incarcerated in the Liberty County Jail, Hinesville, Georgia as of this morning.

David Gespass, civilian attorney for SPC Hall explained, “Not just the Constitution, but the rules for courts-martial, prohibit prosecutors from holding a court-martial in a combat zone as a pretext for depriving an accused of a public trial, counsel of his choice and necessary witnesses. Whatever the Army may claim, that is exactly what the Army is doing to Marc.” Mr. Gespass is the president of the National Lawyers Guild. He is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

“[SPC Hall] alleges violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, as well as the First Amendment right of the public and media to attend the trial and report on it. He has alleged violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his choice and of the right to call witnesses in his favor…” summarizes the brief filed in federal court.

“Among the numerous issues of significant public debate involved in SPC Hall’s case include: The military’s “Stop-loss” program, the limits on artistic expression by Soldiers, the treatment of Soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while on active duty, and opposition to the continuing Iraq occupation from within the military. We are concerned that the Army appears to be planning to conduct the court martial in virtual secrecy,” declared Jeff Paterson in a supporting exhibit filed with the court. Mr. Paterson is the project director of Courage to Resist (http://couragetoresist.org), an Oakland, California-based organization dedicated to supporting military objectors. SPC Hall is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (http://ivaw.org), another organization working to provide legal, moral, and political support for SPC Hall and his family.

Now, I don’t know much, if anything, about the legal issues here and I can’t say I have unbridled faith in Courage to Resist’s honesty with the facts (though I do have real sympathy for those stuck in the stop-loss gears). But I just love the designation “Hip-Hop Soldier.” Are there any Rythmn-and-Blues aviators? How about Mambo Marines? Polka Special-Ops? Square Dance sailors?

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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