US soldier charged over protest song

February 19, 2010

Marc Hall — a US soldier at Fort Stewart and hip hop artist — is to be whisked off to Iraq for a military court martial, out of reach of the public eye and his own civilian defence lawyers.

His crime: writing an angry hip-hop song about stop-loss.

President Barack Obama has publicly pledged to phase out stop-loss, the practice of involuntarily extending soldiers' contracts. However, with two ongoing wars, the practice is still being used to fill the ranks.

There are 13,000 soldiers currently serving involuntary extensions of their contracts.

Hall, who had already served a tour in Iraq, learned last year he had been stop-lossed and would face redeployment. Hall wrote a hip-hop song in July condemning the military's policy of stop-loss and mailed it to the Pentagon.

On December 12, Hall was thrown in jail by his military command, on the pretext that the song he had written was a threat.

In response to the charges, Hall said: "I explained to [my first sergeant] that the hardcore rap song was a free expression of how people feel about the Army and its stop-loss policy ... I told him it was just hip-hop."

Hall had been traumatized by his previous deployment.

David Gespass, a member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) said: "It was only after [Hall] expressed some reservations about being deployed that they even began prosecution. From what I know about it, they have really retaliated for his opposition to the war."

Obama is calling for 30,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, increasing US military presence there to more than 100,000. There are more than 124,000 troops still stationed in Iraq.

Hall's supporters suggest he is being used as an example to warn other soldiers against speaking out.

[Abridged from Common Dreams. Hall's song can be found at Courage to Resist.]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.