Russell Kanning has sent out a report
from his jail cell, where he is awaiting trial on charges of trying to leaflet
office in Keene, New Hampshire:
I have been learning a lot since my arrival in the gentle custody of the
Federal Government. It costs the Feds $380/day to house me in my palatial
7′×13′ maximum security state room. I have a bunk, a toilet and a roommate to
share the space with. I would have thought that kind of money would get me a
beautiful suite with room service for my wife and I, instead of a jail cell
in Dover. But I guess the government knows best how to spend $138,700/year
for room/board. The good part is that I get to enjoy my room 23 hours/day.
Let me tell you about a man I met before my trial in Concord. His is a short
stocky man that speaks broken English. He lives in
NH with a large
extended family. He is proud of his job as a roofer at $18/hour even though
it is hard work. But he has one great flaw in the eyes of the Federal Mafia:
He was born in Honduras. So they will lock him up and send him back down
there for a second time. Good job, Homeland Security.
So is it time to stop paying Federal taxes to the crime bosses in
those of you who still do? The government has not reformed either one of us.
I will be out someday and am more determined than ever to undermine the evil
system. My little friend also vowed to make his way back up to his family and
to terrorize unsuspecting homeowners with his quality roofing.
Lieutenant Ehren Watada is the first American commissioned officer to publicly
refuse deployment to the Iraq War. He spoke to the Veterans for Peace National
Convention last weekend.
Tonight I will speak to you on my ideas for a change of strategy. I am here
because I took a leap of faith.
My action is not the first and it certainly will not be the last. Yet, on
behalf of those who follow, I require your help — your sacrifice — and that of
countless other Americans. I may fail. We may fail. But nothing we have tried
has worked so far. It is time for change and the change starts with all of
, I speak with you about a radical
idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or
service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War — but it
has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and
unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it. [Applause] …
The Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry as well as
soldiers have the unrelinquishable obligation to refuse complicity in war
crimes perpetrated by their government. Widespread torture and inhumane
treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an
unofficial policy of prevention is a crime against the peace. An occupation
violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty
is a crime against humanity. These crimes are funded by our tax dollars.
Should citizens choose to remain silent through self-imposed ignorance or
choice, it makes them as culpable as the soldier in these crimes.…
The military, and especially the Army, is an institution of fraternity and
close-knit camaraderie. Peer pressure exists to ensure cohesiveness but it
stamps out individualism and individual thought. The idea of brotherhood is
difficult to pull away from if the alternative is loneliness and isolation.
If we want soldiers to choose the right but difficult path — they must know
beyond any shadow of a doubt that they will be supported by Americans. To
support the troops who resist, you must make your voices heard. If they see
thousands supporting me, they will know. I have heard your support, as has
Suzanne Swift, and Ricky Clousing — but many others have not. Increasingly,
more soldiers are questioning what they are being asked to do. Yet, the
majority lack awareness to the truth that is buried beneath the headlines.
Many more see no alternative but to obey. We must show open-minded soldiers a
choice and we must give them courage to act.…
I tell this to you because you must know that to stop this war, for the
soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have the unconditional support of the
people. I have seen this support with my own eyes. For me it was a leap of
faith. For other soldiers, they do not have that luxury. They must know it
and you must show it to them. Convince them that no matter how long they sit
in prison, no matter how long this country takes to right itself, their
families will have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs,
opportunities and education. This is a daunting task. It requires the
sacrifice of all of us. Why must Canadians feed and house our fellow
Americans who have chosen to do the right thing? We should be the ones taking
care of our own. Are we that powerless — are we that unwilling to risk
something for those who can truly end this war? How do you support the troops
but not the war? By supporting those who can truly stop it; let them know
that resistance to participate in an illegal war is not futile and not
without a future.
I have broken no law but the code of silence and unquestioning loyalty. If I
am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too much and cared too deeply
for the meaningless loss of my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings.
If I am to be punished it should be for following the rule of law over the
immoral orders of one man. If I am to be punished it should be for not acting
sooner. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “History will have to record that
the greatest tragedy of this period … was not the strident clamor of the bad
people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
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