February 11, 2010

War Resister, Cliff Cornell, gets early release from prison.

We've watched Travis from shortly after Victor Agosto, stop-lossed soldier, refused to return to the wars. Victor inspired Travis to stand up for what he believed. Travis stood up, refused to go to Afghanistan and was sentenced to prison for a year. Hopefully his action combined with those of other war resisters will inspire more soldiers to make their stand.

We need to be ready to help these men and women with personal support, with their legal costs and with care for their families while they are in prison (when applicable). We need to support the organizations that support out War Resisters.

It is a wonderful turn of events that Travis got a reduction in sentence. It didn't just fall out of the sky. Many people worked hard to bring this about.

As we watch the US military escalate its war effort and bring death to more people, with no effective response from our elected representatives ( and with little hope of seeing this change until our soldiers refuse to fight), we must escalate our commitment to these soldiers and veterans. As Howard Zinn said,
“I can think of nothing more important in stopping the war in Iraq than for the soldiers themselves to refuse to fight.”

Here are two posts about Treavis' sentence reduction:

Courage To Resist:
Travis Bishop wins three month reduction in sentence

Hundreds of letters from supporters credited. This successful appeal was funded by Courage to Resist and supporters like you. However, we're still $650 short on paying off Travis' legal fees. Please donate if you can.

February 10, 2010

FORT HOOD, Texas – Sergeant Travis Bishop received word this week that he was given a 3 month suspension of the 12 month sentence he got last year for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan based on his Christian religious beliefs against war. Sgt. Bishop has been imprisoned at the Fort Lewis, Washington stockade since August 16, 2009. Lt. General Robert Cone, commanding general of Fort Hood approved the sentence reduction on February 4th after considering Sgt. Bishop’s clemency application.

Sgt. Bishop’s clemency application included a legal brief (alleging problems at trial, problems with the processing of Bishop’s conscientious objector claim, and mistreatment at the Fort Lewis brig), a hand-written letter from Sgt. Bishop, and 433 letters (signed by a total of 538 people from 21 different countries) from members of Amnesty International calling for Sgt. Bishop to be released.


Sgt. Bishop’s civilian attorney, James M. Branum, estimates that Sgt. Bishop will be released no later than March 31 based on the amount of good behavior credit Sgt. Bishop has earned.

In an emotional response, Sgt. Bishop asked his legal team to relay this message to the public, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to everyone who wrote letters and supported me! This is amazing and unprecedented.”

Sgt. Bishop went on to say that his plans after release are to see his family and friends and then “to try to start this new life that I’ve been granted. I think it is safe to say my life has been completely changed by this. I won’t be going to what my life was like before. Lots of changes are in store for me.” Sgt. Bishop said he hopes to continue to speak out against war and will be returning to Texas to pursue a career as a country musician.


Sgt. Bishop also said he had no regrets and that he urges others who are feeling moral conflicts with war to follow their conscience, but to not wait as long as he did to get help.

According to Mr. Branum, there are many who had a role in securing Sgt. Bishop’s early release. These people include:
Jeff Paterson, Sarah Lazare and everyone else at Courage to Resist
Chuck Luther (fearless G.I. Advocate and head of Disposablewarriors.com),
CPT Glendening with the US Army Trial Defense Services (trial co-counsel)
Cynthia Thomas (director of the Under the Hood G.I. Coffee house in Killeen),
Victor Agosto (fellow Afghanistan war resister)
Michael Kern, and the rest of the Fort Hood chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War,
the many Texans who traveled to Fort Hood to attend Travis’ trial and to protest in the weeks he was being held in the Bell County jail,
Dahr Jamail and Eric Thompson (who provided compelling first-hand account reporting from the trial),
Legrand Jones (post-trial co-counsel at Fort Lewis),
the London office of Amnesty International,
Seth Manzell (director of Coffee Strong, the GI coffee house at Fort Lewis),
Gerry Condon, president of Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace, and all of the other local supporters of Travis in the Tacoma-Seattle area,
the 538 people who wrote letters of support for Travis
the many people who have written letters to Travis while he has been in the brig at Fort Lewis.”

Supporters of Sgt. Bishop are urged to continue to write him (instructions on how to do this can be found at www.couragetoresist.org) and also to donate to help cover his post-trial
defense costs (you can do this at www.couragetoresist.org/travis

Alice Embree / / February 10, 2010
Sgt. Travis Bishop has learned that the 12-month sentence he is serving at Fort Lewis will be reduced by three months. Sgt. Bishop was sentenced at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas, in August 2009 for refusing orders to deploy to Afghanistan.

Sgt. Bishop, a Kentucky native and country singer, enlisted in 2004. He was deployed to Korea and then to Iraq. He had served five years of active duty when he refused orders based on religious reasons.

One of the people testifying against Bishop at his court martial was the chaplain he had hoped would listen to his concerns. Instead, Lt. Col. Ronald Leininger had reduced the amount of time scheduled for their original interview and then repeatedly took phone calls during the session. In his official statement, the chaplain said that people with Bishop’s religious heritage were “generally pro-military service with no pacifist tendencies in doctrine or practice.”

Lt. General Robert Cone, commanding general of Fort Hood approved the sentence reduction on February 4, after considering Sgt. Bishop’s clemency application. The clemency request included a legal brief alleging problems in the processing of Bishop’s conscientious objector claim, problems with the trial proceedings, and mistreatment at Fort Lewis where Sgt. Bishop has been detained.

In large part, the reduction in sentence is due to the dogged perseverance of GI rights attorney James Branum, and the public pressure that was brought to bear. Sgt. Bishop’s clemency request included 433 letters (signed by a total of 538 people from 21 different countries). Many came from pastors who disagreed with the military chaplain’s view on their churchs' support for conscientious objection.

Through his attorney, Sgt. Bishop relayed his thanks to all his supporters. He said he had no regrets and urged others who are feeling moral conflicts with war to follow their conscience, but not to wait as long as he did to get help.

Attorney James Branum released the news of Sgt. Bishop’s early release and ackowledged many supporters, including the GI coffeehouses, Under the Hood in Killeen and Coffee Strong near Fort Lewis in Washington, Amnesty International’s London office and Courage to Resist. Sgt. Bishop’s release is expected to be no later than March 31, based on the amount of good behavior credit he has earned.

Supporters of Sgt. Bishop can find instructions on writing him at www.couragetoresist.org.

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