SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Angry that the military planned to send him back to Iraq past his date to leave the military, a Fort Stewart soldier recorded a hip-hop song that blasts the Army and describes going on a shooting spree, an act that led his commanders to decide that the soldier posed a threat to his unit.
The infantry soldier, Spc. Marc A. Hall, has been jailed on criminal charges in Liberty County, Ga., for the past month for a song and other statements that one of his lawyers insists were simply a form of protest.
"They're saying it's a threat. We're saying it's a fantasy," said Jim Klimaski, a Washington civilian attorney who has talked to Hall about the case. "He's mad, but he's not stupid. He's not violent."
Charges filed against Hall of Coward, S.C., on Dec. 17, a week after he was jailed, say his threats weren't just confined to his rap recording. The charging document said he also told soldiers he would "go on a rampage" and that he "was planning on shooting the brigade and battalion commanders."
Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said Monday commanders were being extra cautious after the recent shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, where an Army psychiatrist was charged with murdering 13 people in November.
"Any threat needs to be taken seriously, no matter what," Larson said. "Any reasonable person who listens to that song would be concerned."
Hall, 34, was charged with five criminal counts under a military law, Article 134, used as a catchall for misconduct ranging from adultery to some types of assault. Each count specifies that Hall communicated threats.
Hall's military attorney, Capt. Anthony Schiavetti, declined to comment Monday.
Klimaski said the soldier intended no real violence.
He said Hall was using music to vent his anger after learning last year that, instead of leaving the Army after four years this February as he'd planned, he would be kept in the ranks for a yearlong tour in Iraq starting in December 2009 under the unpopular "stop loss" policy.
Hall, who joined the Army in 2006, was arrested by military authorities in December before his unit deployed.
Hall posted the song, called "Stop Loss," on his Web site. Klimaski said he also played it for many soldiers in his unit, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division.
On the recording, Hall denounces the Army for the policy used to keep thousands of soldiers in the ranks beyond their scheduled dates to leave the military. He also raps about opening fire with his military-issue M-4 rifle.
"I got a (expletive) magazine with 30 rounds, on a three-round burst, ready to fire down," Hall raps on the recording. "Still against the wall, I grab my M-4, spray and watch all the bodies hit the floor.
"I bet you never stop-loss nobody no more, in your next lifetime of course. No remorse."
Larson said Fort Stewart commanders haven't decided whether to seek a general court-martial for Hall or to handle his case in a lower military court, where possible punishments are less severe.
More than 185,000 U.S. troops have been forced to extend their time in the military under the "stop loss" policy since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he hopes the practice can be scaled back drastically in the next two years.
Jason Hurd, a Savannah-based coordinator for Iraq Veterans Against the War, said Hall contacted him about joining the group shortly before his arrest. He called Hurd back a few days later from jail.
"He has told me to my face on numerous occasions that he was not trying to communicate a real threat," Hurd said. "This was an artistic expression of his anger over stop loss."