“I told him I had a right to continue. They pulled my computers, tried to limit my access, took me off sniper duty, and put me on guard duty of Iraqis on base. The last two months were lonely and difficult for me. I was afraid I would be court-martialed. In the end, it was determined that nothing I wrote had violated operational security and that I had committed no treason and, since there were no rules prohibiting blogging, I had broken no rules either. But I was continually hazed by my superiors as long as I was there…. They were constantly looking for ways to trap me. I was made to fill sandbags and do other menial jobs. However, I was finally awarded an honorable discharge in May 2005, and gained a lot of respect from most of my fellow soldiers. Many would give me the peace sign as they passed me by,” Garett Reppenhagen, IVAW.
If technology has transformed warfare into a spectacle of shock and awe, its contribution to the cause of dissent has been no less remarkable. It has enabled solidarities across borders and facilitated networks and forums dedicated to impartial communication of ground realities beyond the sanitized projection of mainstream news. True, technological advances have not brought an end to either occupation, but it has certainly helped alternative voices and views to be heard.
Many American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been confounded by the wall of censorship they confront, jointly constructed by the military and the corporate media. The Internet offered them a convenient and powerful channel through which to get their stories out to the public. Constrained by slow military mail service from Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention overt attempts by superiors to curtail their interaction with journalists, soldiers have long since taken to blogging, posting photographs and uploading videos online, all related to their experience of the occupations.
August 22, 2005, titled “Finding Closure,” posted by Jeff Englehardt (hEkLe) after exiting Iraq, reads in part:
“There is nothing that I feel can alleviate the guilt for being directly involved with our illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. I ask myself from time to time, “Why was I so afraid to resist the order to go to war? Why didn’t I object to the whole damned thing?” I have been told many times not to be ashamed for my service to this country, but I can’t help a genuine intuition that this war is not designed to promote freedom and our beautiful American way of life, but instead only carried out to proliferate Western imperialism and corporate profits every time a bullet is fired. My guilt is synonymous with the sentiment that I was indeed on the wrong side of the wire.”