Jimmy Massey, a founding member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), says active-duty soldiers and their families are turning against the Iraq war as more and more learn the nation was duped into the war by George W. Bush’s lies about nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

IVAW is working hard to speed that process with an outreach program that included a bus tour to military bases across the Southeast, Massey told the World in a phone interview. Several IVAW members were arrested when they attempted to enter Fort Benning in Georgia to meet with soldiers July 1, Massey said. Awaiting trial on charges of criminal trespass are Liam Madden, Nathan Lewis and Adam Koresh. Madden and Lewis were arrested while wearing their IVAW T-shirts. Koresh then changed into a plain T-shirt, but he was arrested too. Two days earlier, they and two other IVAW members were detained at Fort Jackson under similar circumstances but were released without charges.

Massey was a witness to the arrests. He is a 12-year veteran of the Marine Corps, a combat infantryman in the initial attack on Iraq four years ago. Now 100 percent disabled, he lives on disability payments from the Veterans Administration. Most of every VA check, he said, goes to support IVAW.

“We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of solidarity from the peace movement,” Massey said. “Several lawyers are providing legal representation because they believe in our IVAW mission statement. Telling us we couldn’t wear IVAW T-shirts boils down to a violation of our First Amendment rights.”

Massey said the bus tour drew a positive response from many soldiers and their families. The multiple deployments to Iraq are tearing their families apart. At every stop, he said, several soldiers or their families have joined IVAW.

“We were trying to go on these military bases to invite soldiers to a barbecue. Our basic goal was to extend an olive branch to military communities as well as non-military communities. We were very successful.

“I stay in close touch with the soldiers and military families from my home here in western North Carolina. I’ve witnessed a significant change in their attitude since Sept. 11, 2001. Basically, what I’m hearing in the streets from these soldiers is that what is happening in Iraq is what happened in Vietnam. They are seeing that same eerie quagmire that led ultimately to complete defeat in Vietnam,” he continued.

“Everything we were told is a lie. There were no weapons of mass destruction. When I see what Bush has done to our civil liberties, what he has done to our country, it repulses me. He has turned our country into a capitalist society with fascist tendencies. We should vote out of office every lawmaker who supported this war.”