Veterans for Peace Praises WikiLeaks; St. Louis Group Wants Medal for Informant

Updated 4:00 p.m. with comments from Veterans for Peace president.

By now you've certainly heard how the website WikiLeaks this week released some 91,000 classified and/or sensitive military reports detailing the failures of the war in Afghanistan.

In Washington, the release of the documents is drawing comparisons to the Pentagon Papers and has the Pentagon and the Obama administration scrambling save face on the war. Here in St. Louis, Veterans for Peace (headquartered in Clayton) is taking another stand all together. Its 7,000 members nationwide hope the leak will ignite greater resistance to what it refers to as an "illegal and immoral" war. More than that, Veterans for Peace want the person who leaked the information to get a medal.

Below are the somewhat incendiary comments (especially if you're a supporter of the war) that Veterans for Peace president Mike Ferner posted on the organization's website yesterday:

Today the war in Afghanistan begins to crumble under the weight of government lies at home and criminal behavior on the battlefield.

Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan nine years ago, Veterans For Peace has been waiting for the day when internal documents would reveal what we have known all along -- this war is illegal, immoral and we must add, it is bankrupting our nation at a time when millions of Americans have been thrown out of work and thrown out of their homes.

Neither Wikileaks nor the soldier or soldiers who divulged the documents should be prosecuted for revealing this information. We should give them a medal.

Now that the rotten truth of the war has been dug out of government vaults and brought to light - the murder of civilians, the inexcusable deaths and injuries of our troops, the knife to the heart of every soldier's family member, the fact that "winning" in Afghanistan is meaningless, the outrage of our jobless and homeless as trillions are spent on war and bank bailouts - the most important question is, "what will we do about it?"

We can be sidetracked by watching the 24-hour news cycle regurgitate Obama administration denials and "expert" opinions. Or every single one of us can look in the mirror tomorrow morning and see the person responsible for bringing this war to an end. It really is as simple as that. We know this war is wrong. Now we have official proof. When will we do something?

If we have complained, we must write a letter. If we've written a letter, we must get into the streets. If we've marched in the streets we must sit down in them. If we've been to our representatives' district offices, we must return and not leave until they stop funding the war. If we've talked to our co-workers we must call in sick, slow down production, urge our union to call a strike.

Government can only function with the consent of the governed. We must withdraw our consent at every opportunity until this war is ended, the troops are brought home and we start to rebuild our nation. That is our responsibility and our mission.

As of today, no American can say, "I didn't know what was happening." Now each and every citizen knows. Now we must act like citizens and stop this war.
This afternoon Daily RFT spoke with Ferner by phone. Here's what he had to say in response to some of our queries.

Daily RFT: You say the source should be given a medal, but didn't he (or she) commit treason by leaking this information?

Ferner: What we find too often with classified information is that the government isn't trying to hide it from its enemies, it's trying to hide it from its citizens. In that sense, yes, the person who leaked this has done a public service. Like the Pentagon Papers helped to end the Vietnam War, I believe this information could help end the war in Afghanistan.

How is the war like a "knife to the heart of families"?

Because they're realizing now that it's illegitimate their family members are losing their lives -- for what?

Why -- in your mind -- is the war illegal?

Because Bush didn't have U.N. approval to launch war. Therefore this is a war of aggression.