SOME OF THE 1,000 ACTIVE-DUTY U.S. MILITARY MEMBERS WHO SIGNED A PETITION AGAINST THE WAR IN IRAQ EXPLAIN WHY ON "60 MINUTES" -- SUNDAY ON CBS
A 1995 Law Allows Them to Denounce the War to Congress and Remain Loyal
They say they are not disloyal. They say they are not shirking their duty and that they do not oppose war. But over 1,000 active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. military are against the war in Iraq and have said so in an unusually public way -- by petitioning Congress last month. Several of them appear to explain their actions in a Lara Logan report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday Feb. 25 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"I'm not anti-war. I'm not a pacifist. I'm not opposed to protecting our country and defending our principles," says Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, an Iraq war veteran who, along with another veteran, initiated the petition. A 1995 law called the Military Whistleblower act enables military personnel to express their own opinions about Iraq in protected communication directly to Congress. Hutto and others spoke with 60 MINUTES while off duty, off base and out of uniform as conscientious citizens. "But at the same time, as citizens, it's our obligation to have a questioning attitude...about policy," Hutto tells Logan.
Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, who helped Hutto to found the organization they call Appeal for Redress that has attracted 1,000 other military members, is more blunt. "Just because we volunteered for the military doesn't mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral."
These GIs and others Logan spoke with expressed frustration with their efforts in Iraq and believe there is no end in sight to the war. Other Iraqi war veterans still on duty there believe Appeal for Redress misses a larger point. "As an American soldier, I feel like we took an oath to obey the orders of our commander-in-chief and officers appointed over us," says Army Spec. James Smauldon. Said another serviceman in Iraq, Army Capt. Lawrence Nunn, "I know what I'm here fighting for, to give the Iraqi people some democracy and hope, so I am 100 percent behind this mission. You don't sign up to pick which war you go to."
Another Appeal for Redress member counters, "Our leadership gets to choose the mission. Congress gets to choose the mission," Staff Sgt. Matt Nuckolls says. He's loyally committed to whatever Congress wants him to do but savors the right to question it. "My Congressman is Lacy Clay. I would like to tell him as a constituent of his, 'Is the mission in Iraq really what you want us to be doing?' And then [if] he responds yes, okay, well, we go back to Iraq and keep doing what we're doing."