June 19, 2009

Torture Accountability, Non-violent Civil Resistance - Washington, DC - June 25th

Torture Accountability Action Day details HERE

The Action
Dear Friends,
Please share this email widely.

Last November 2008, after sending a letter requesting a meeting, members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) went to the Department of Justice to ask the Attorney General Michael Mukasey for a meeting to discuss the prosecution of Bush and Cheney for war crimes. When we were refused a meeting, about 15 individuals were moved by conscience to participate in a die-in, risking arrest on the sidewalk in front of the Department of Justice. The police decided not to arrest any of the 15 people. We decided that we must continue our work to bring the war criminals of the Bush administration to justice and we would return.

On May 11, 2009, NCNR sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, asking him for a meeting to discuss holding members of the Bush administration accountable (see the letter below). AG Holder has not responded to our letter and so on June 25 we will return to the Department of Justice. A number of people will again be willing participate in an act of nonviolent civil resistance, again risking arrest, if we are not granted a meeting at that time.

Like many others we have contacted the Congress, President Obama, and other elected and appointed leaders demanding that the rule of law be upheld. As people of nonviolence we have few options left and must continue to follow our consciences in working for justice and peace. We must do this to restore the rule of law. Please join us for this action.

Those risking arrest are asked to attend a meeting to discuss last minute planning for the action. Please contact us for more information about this meeting.

There will be a rally with speakers at 11:00 am
John Marshall Memorial Park 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW

At around noon we will process to the Department of Justice with the letter to AG Holder in hand. We will ask for a meeting and if refused, we will continue with our action of creative nonviolence.

If you plan to participate in the action of nonviolent civil resistance please contact :
-Joy First at jsfirst@tds.net or
-Malachy Kilbride at malachykilbride@yahoo.com
We look forward to seeing you on June 25.

In peace and resistance,
Joy First and Malachy Kilbride

The Letter

May 11, 2009
Attorney General Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Sir:

We are writing on behalf of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. We are concerned citizens who tried to prevent the illegal invasion of Iraq. While we were unsuccessful, we have been devoting much time and energy to convince Congress to end the occupation. Over time we discovered that the Bush-Cheney administration has engaged in illegal behavior leading up to the war and afterwards.

NCNR members would like to meet with you to discuss the indictment of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. We are quite flexible and would arrange our schedules to meet with a DOJ representative at a selected date and time. Our group would be small, and it would include someone who was directly affected by the illegal invasion of Iraq. Note there is an urgency to this matter.

At the meeting we would hope to discuss several examples of what we perceive to be illegal behavior on the part of the Bush administration. For example, the administration made false claims about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to build a public case for war. This manipulation of pre-war intelligence included a claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could threaten the United States. Intelligence was also manufactured to claim a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

It is our understanding, though, that on October 1, 2002, the CIA provided Bush with its National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus opinion of all sixteen US intelligence agencies. On page 8, it clearly states Hussein was not an imminent threat to the security of this country.

After the invasion of Iraq, the resulting calamity has left more than 4,000 members of the U.S. military dead, thousands more wounded, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and the wholesale destruction of a country. It can be argued that the architects of this war had a criminal state of mind.

Moreover, the invasion seems to have violated numerous U.S. and international laws, including but not limited to USC 2441 (War Crimes Act of 1996), the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, the U.N. Charter and Resolutions, the Laws and Customs of War on Land. We also believe U.S. law was violated through widespread wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens without a warrant. The violations continued with the authorization to torture thousands of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths, and to hide prisoners in order to deny them due process.

Every day we are learning more about the atrocities committed under the Bush/Cheney administration. The recently released torture memos provide further verification of illegal acts committed under the watch of the previous administration. The memos are an attempt to justify and legalize torturous, cruel, and inhuman treatment, including techniques that are illegal such as banging heads into walls 30 times in a row, prolonged nudity, repeated facial and abdominal slapping, dietary manipulation, and dousing with cold water as low as 41 degrees. They allow shackling in a standing position for 180 hours, sleep deprivation for 11 days, confinement of people in small dark boxes with insects for hours, and waterboarding to create the perception they are drowning. Moreover, the memos permit many of these techniques to be used in combination for a 30-day period, subjecting detainees to "psychic demolition"-essentially severing them from their personalities and scaring them "almost to death."

In an article published on Common Dreams on April 23, 2009, Ray McGovern notes, “Retired U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, told Frontline on December 13, 2005 that ‘up to 100 detainees had died while in detention. Of that 100, some 27 have been declared officially homicides.’ Those running Bush administration interrogations are no doubt aware by now that the War Crimes Act (18 U.S. Code 2441) passed by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1996 provides that the death penalty can be given to those responsible for the deaths of detainees.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, appointed by President Truman to be the Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunals following World War II, stated, "_let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment." Thus we have a Nuremberg obligation to try to hold our government officials accountable.

Also there is a well-established law in our jurisprudence which places an affirmative duty on all of us to expose any treasonous or criminal act which comes to our attention. Failure to do so is defined as "misprision." As good citizens, we are writing to you out of duty, knowing that if felonies have been committed we are to inform a magistrate. Silently to observe the commission of a felony, without using any endeavors to apprehend the offender, is a misprision.

We look forward to your response and the scheduling of a meeting. In this country, there is the belief no person is above the law. Therefore, we are calling on your office to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the entire torture team. We believe this will lead to the indictment and prosecution of Bush, Cheney and others who are accused of the serious violations of the law which we enumerated above.

In peace,
Joy First
Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Maria Allwine Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore

Hal Anthony President Rogue Valley Veterans for Peace Chapter 156

Jean Athey PeaceAction Montgomery [County, Maryland]

Joseph R. Attamante Veterans for Peace, Alan Reilly-Gene Glazer Chapter 21

Timothy Baer Campaign Coordinator, The Declaration of Peace

Ellen Barfield Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans for Peace, Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Elaine Brower Military Families Speak Out and National Steering Committee, World Can't Wait

Michael G. Bucci New York, New York

Glen Burke President, Veterans for Peace, Chapter 129, Pueblo, Co Kim Carlyle President, Veterans For Peace Chapter 099, Asheville, NC

Brad Cotton President, Chapter 923 Veterans for Peace, Circleville, Ohio

June Eisley National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Wilmington, DE

Carol E. Gay Coordinator NJ Labor Against War

Michelle Grise Convener, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Kathleen Hernandez Board Member of Veterans For Peace, Los Angeles Chapter

Tarak Kauff Maury Colow Chapter, Veterans For Peace, Woodstock NY

Bob Keilbach Veterans For Peace - NY Chapter 34

Malachy Kilbride Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Dawn Marcelle Citizen for Peace

Paul O. Matherny Columbus, OH

Don Muller Sitkans [Alaska] for Peace and Justice Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Walt and Nancy Nygard Veterans For Peace, Military Families Speak Out

Max Obuszewski Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

John Oliver Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter #105 Veterans for Peace

Jim Reill War Resisters League - DE

Phillip Runkel National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Milwaukee, WI

William H. Steen, Jr. Pittsburgh, PA, Veterans for Peace (Chapter 047) US Navy 1981-91

Janie M. Stein and Martin A. Bates Salina, Kansas People for Peace Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

David Swanson Cofounder of After Downing Street

Eve Tetaz National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Washington, DC

Davide Thomas Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Arthur Waskow The Shalom Center

Jay Wenk President Maury Colow Chapter, Veterans For Peace, Woodstock NY

Patricia Wheeler Island Peace & Justice, Deer Isle, Maine

Why Civil Resistance rather than Civil Disobedience

In 2002, the Iraq Pledge of Resistance was formed to prevent a war with Iraq. While we failed, we continued to engage in nonviolent direct action to end the war and the occupation. Eventually, the group, in expanding its focus, became the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].

As a group with lots of direct action experience, NCNR has consistently encouraged organizations and individuals to recognize the difference between civil disobedience and civil resistance. We see the difference as being important in the struggle for nonviolent, positive social change.

The classic definition of civil disobedience, as practiced by the civil rights movement, is the breaking of an unjust law with the intent of changing it. In Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, Rosa Parks broke an immoral law when she refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white person.

It is rare for today’s activists to do "civil disobedience,” as it removes the onus from the government to prove a defendant was engaged in criminal activity. Doing CD eliminates the argument that the government, or a corporate entity, is the lawbreaker. Doing CD can cause a majority of the people to plead guilty and pay a citation fee. An individual has to decide whether to pay out or not. However, if a large number of people are arrested, and the organizers urge participants to pay out, that can amount to the payment of a hefty “protest tax.”

Today, NCNR activists engage in civil resistance, which means taking action to uphold the law. For example, we repeatedly challenged the Bush/Cheney government which disavowed the rule of law.

Using the term civil resistance is important for several reasons. First, in every statement about an action we point out that a government, or a corporate entity, is breaking the law. Second, we stress our Nuremberg obligation to act against the government’s lawbreaking. Finally, there is the matter of speaking in court after the action. A defendant who states s/he was engaged in civil disobedience not only is pleading guilty, but is letting the government off the hook for its failure to prosecute the real criminals.

If we are arrested, we encourage participants to go to trial and then use the courtroom to state that the action was lawful since its intent was to expose actual violations of the law—starting an illegal war, torturing prisoners or destroying the environment.

In court, we point out citizens have a Nuremberg obligation. At the Nuremberg trials, the court determined that citizens must challenge the government when it breaks the law.

(click on leaflet to enlarge)

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