WASHINGTON - A District of Columbia Superior Court Judge this morning
sentenced two anti-war activists to "time served" for disrupting a March 8
meeting of the House Appropriations Committee as it considered an additional
$67,000,000 for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Federal rosecutors had asked Judge Stephen Milliken to sentence Ed Kinane,
of Syracuse, who had previous arrests at the School of the Americas at Ft.
Benning, Georgia, to 180 days in jail, suspended except for one weekend,
probation, and a "stay away order" from the grounds of the Capitol, and Mike
Ferner, of Toledo, to probation and a "stay away order."
At the Appropriations Committee hearing, Ferner stood up and began reading a
list of names of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed in the war, and
Kinane stood, holding a banner that said, "Stop the Killing!" The two were
quickly taken from the hearing room by Capitol Police and arrested. After
being booked they were later released at 2:00 am, the morning of March 9.
This morning in court, Kinane pled no contest and Ferner pled guilty to one
charge each of disrupting a Congressional committee hearing. National
Lawyers Guild attorney, Mark Goldstone, represented Ferner and advised
Kinane w ho conducted his own defense. Each of the defendants read a
prepared statement to Judge Milliken who had several questions for the two
men and then imposed his sentence of "time served."
In his statement to the judge, Kinane, 62, said, "I saw myself as
petitioning my elected representatives, my government, for redress of a
policy that grieves me enormously," and concluded by saying, "May each of us
do whatever we can to end this heinous war as soon as humanly possible."
In his statement, Ferner, 55, described his experiences as a Navy Hospital
Corpsman taking care of wounded soldiers and Marines during the Viet Nam
war. He said images of those days have not left his mind for 35 years and
that he believes the U.S. government is committing war crimes in Iraq.
"I cannot stand by and watch these crimes continue. I must add my voice to
the thousands of others crying out for an end to them until we awaken
America's conscience," and invted the judge to "help us wake our nation's
conscience by ruling what I did.was not a disruption but a civic duty."
Ferner's statement follows.
Statement by Mike Ferner
Washington, D.C. Superior Court
March 28, 2006
Your Honor, when some people learn of my appearance before you today they ask me why I found it necessary to disrupt the House Appropriations Committee as it was preparing to vote another $67,000,000,000 for war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"What justifies disrupting Congress," they ask?
I answer them, and can tell you in one word: images.
Images that have not left my mind for 35 years; from when I worked as a Corpsman in a Navy hospital during the Viet Nam war. Images of young soldiers and Marines lying in row upon row of hospital beds, shrouded in layers of white bandages.
Images of picking shrapnel out of Mike Ramsack's backside.of dressing Bob Butikofer's wounds every day, trying not to make h! im screa m.of changing colostomy bags on guys hoping they wouldn't defecate out the hole in their guts caused by a gunshot wound.
Images of the young soldier I couldn't hook up properly for a brain scan because he was missing his entire left temporal lobe.
Images of long lines of ambulatory patients waiting for supper in the hospital chow hall, sitting in wheelchairs, leaning on crutches, missing arms and legs and eyes.Images of a young man, silent and broken, sitting in a corner of the psychiatric ward.
And there are other, more recent images from my trips to Iraq that I cannot forget.
Images of the kids I met on the streets of Baghdad, and the ones in Abu Hishma who shared their chicken and rice dinner with an American journalist two days after a cruise missile blew their orange grove to bits.
Images of the young U.S. Army sergeant from West Virginia I accompanied on patrol one night near Balad, who answered my question, "why are you in Iraq?" with a tired shrug saying, "I reallydon't know." And his partner, just as bone tired, who answered simply, "oil."
I see these images every day. And I know that the young men in that Navy hospital 35 years ago, just like the ones I met last year in Iraq, are getting killed and maimed for a preposterous lie.
As my blood boils I tell my government to "BRING THEM HOME NOW!" by writing letters, signing petitions, speaking at rallies, and yes, when I can, testifying uninvited to the very committee preparing to vote more billions for this war.
Before the Capitol Police put me face down on the floor outside the Appropriations Committee hearing room, I told the committee members that their actions were making Americans less safe, not more; that in addition to causing great suffering, they were also violating dozens of international and domestic laws, waging a war of aggression, committing crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. A chill should run through our very soul as we remember when those words were use! d to ind ict another nation's warmaking, a nation over which we stood in judgement.
And just as Good Germans were complicit in the crimes of their government not that very long ago, so to are we American citizens complicit in the crimes of our own government. Because we are complicit, we must speak out against this monstrous war in every nonviolent way possible if we want to absolve ourselves of that complicity.
Your Honor, I cannot stand by and watch these crimes continue. I must add my voice to the thousands of others crying out for an end to it until we awaken America's conscience. I invite you to help us wake our nation's conscience by ruling that what I did when I read the names of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis killed in this war, to a Congressional Committee about to vote more money to prolong the killing, was not a disruption but a civic duty.