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Is Adam Kokesh The New Cindy Sheehan?

(AP/Andrea Bruce, Washington Post)
On Tuesday, I wrote about Cindy Sheehan's decision to step back from her role as perhaps the most widely known antiwar activist. Is it too soon to wonder if she's already getting a replacement?

Maybe not. The story of antiwar Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh and his compatriots sure seems like the kind of thing that could gather momentum as the summer heats up. Here's the deal: Kokesh is a photogenic Iraq veteran who has become something of an inside-the-beltway provacateur, stirring up trouble around Washington with stunts like roaming Washington in camouflage as if he was on patrol. The Marine Corps, not surprisingly, doesn't approve of his activities. The Corps is now calling Kokesh and two others before a hearing to potentially change his honorable discharge into an "other than honorable" one. (One of the men is being called forth for making disparaging remarks about the president.) The Cleveland Plain-Dealer explains how, exactly, that's possible:

It might seem odd that a veteran could be subject to such sanctions. But like hundreds of thousands of veterans who figured their service was over, Kokesh is subject to recall as a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, a category most soldiers and Marines fall in for a period after discharge. The IRR, which critics refer to as a "backdoor draft," provides a pool of troops that can be reactivated if needed…

On March 29, a Marine major sent him an e-mail to tell him he was being investigated for misconduct by appearing at a political event in uniform. Kokesh responded, telling the major what he thought, and using an expletive to do so. That resulted in an additional misconduct charge.

IRR members, apparently, still have to follow Marine Corps rules, even though they are for all intents and purposes out of the Corps. Which means, it seems, that swearing just isn't allowed, along with sharing your opinion about the war in which you fought. Here's the money quote from the ACLU's Marv Johnson: "It seems like these guys were over in Iraq fighting for their country, and now they're being brought up on charges for exercising the free speech they were fighting for."

Wonkette makes the Sheehan comparison, though perhaps a bit less charitably than we did: "Iraq veteran and honorably discharged Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh has been the Pentagon's biggest public relations nightmare this year, because he's some kind of magical Cindy Sheehan — people actually like him!"

The VFW is on Kokesh's side too:

"Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about," said VFW head Gary Kurpius. "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."

The summer is a slow news period known for emotionally charged stories, and this one seems tailor made for a hungry press corps -- at least until the next Missing White Woman. The media-savvy Kokesh has a bus going from DC to his hearing in Kansas City and is holding a press conference today after turning down a plea bargain offer from the Corps, which appears to be shifting into damage control mode. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the big top.

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