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Iraq War Veterans Arrested at Final Debate

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I already did a summary of the final debate. But, I cannot ignore the courage of people who thought it their moral obligation to risk arrest by attempting to get inside and ask Senator Obama and Senator McCain questions about the Iraq War.

Through this article, I will highlight 1) the courageous action of a few which most Americans are unaware of and 2) how the media does a disservice to the men and women who have returned from Iraq and who are fighting for immediate withdrawal, reparations for Iraqis, and benefits for veterans returning home.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has consistently acted independently from the two major parties. Unlike veterans in a coalition like United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), IVAW’s strength is that it can always find a good amount of veterans to oppose both Democrats and Republicans.

Ever since March 2008, when they held their “Winter Soldier Investigation” and were ignored, IVAW has been moving right along challenging the current policy in the Middle East despite the fact that media entirely blacked out the event (search for stories; was one of the few media sources that covered the event regularly).

The veterans eventually were able to testify on the hill in front of the click here Progressive Caucus (CPC) and that can be attributed to the fact that Dennis Kucinich, Robert Wexler, and John Conyers were holding private meetings with members of IVAW.

IVAW marched on the DNC with nearly 10,000 Americans. The veterans were ready to engage in civil disobedience, but Obama cleverly diffused the situation.

On the night of the final debate, which was held at Hofstra University, Iraq Veterans Against the War along with other antiwar groups came to the debate with the intention of rallying, marching, and risking arrest.

The Associated Press reports:

Police: 15 protesters arrested outside of LI debate

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — Police say 15 people have been arrested during anti-war protests outside the Long Island university campus where the presidential debate was held.

Nassau County Police Lt. Kevin Smith says the 15 protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges Wednesday night outside the gates of Hofstra University in Hempstead. He says they identified themselves as Iraq war veterans.

Police say they were arrested trying to get onto the campus after they had been turned away from a university gate. They say one person may have received a minor injury and has been taken to a nearby hospital.

About 350 people had gathered outside the campus in the afternoon and were met by mounted police and officers in riot gear.

In order to maintain “objectivity” (or more importantly “credibility”), the Associated Press asked the police to explain what happened. No statement in the article represents what was happening from the perspective of an antiwar protester.

“He says they identified themselves as Iraq war veterans.” Either this is lazy journalism or this is appalling denigration of a group of courageous young men and women who are fighting to salvage the future of this country.

The veterans should be referred to as members of an official organization---Iraq Veterans Against the War. AP may be unaware of the group because it works hard to ignore such groups but that does not excuse how they note who was present.

At 11:23 am ET, there are only a handful of articles on IVAW's attempts to get into the debate and ask a question. Media blackout is the coup de grâce that will continually be levelled against these courageous men and women until they shut the hell up.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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