A Washington Times editorial comes out in support of Adam Kokesh, the Iraq War veteran whose honorable discharge was downgraded to a general discharge for wearing his uniform, stripped of insignia, to an anti-war protest.
We're likely to see more cases like Mr. Kokesh's in the future, so it's worth considering whether this treatment was justified. Indeed it would be wholly fitting punishment for an active-duty soldier, Marine or drilling reservist, who should never be seen moving around Washington in uniform at political demonstrations. Mr. Kokesh's case is not so clear. We think the Corps should have erred on the side of leniency
Mr. Kokesh is, for all practical purposes, no longer in the service. When the protest episode occurred, he had mere weeks remaining as member of the Individual Ready Reserve, which at any given time consists of about 112,000 veterans returning to civilian life. A member's only duties are to keep a uniform, keep an I.D. card, notify authorities when changing addresses and, crucially, respond to the president's call in cases of national emergency. The Marine Corps had told Mr. Kokesh that it did not want him back. And the stripping-down of the uniform blurs things. Military lawyers can wrangle over how much this matters, but it's clear that Mr. Kokesh was simply a guy at a protest in camouflage pants. People listened to him because he's an Iraq veteran with fiery antiwar views.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars recently and rightly criticized the treatment of Mr. Kokesh. "Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic rights we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about," says VFW chief Gary Kurplus. "Someone in the Marine Corps needs to exercise a little common sense and put an end to this matter before it turns into a circus."