SOA 86 Sentencing Statement
I stand before this court first and foremost as a Christian and a member of a larger world community known as the family of God. This family is made up of human beings who, according to the Holy Scriptures, are made in the God of creation’s image and likeness. The Christian faith mandates that insofar as God is a God of love, God’s law of love supercedes all human made laws that are a subversion of the love we are to have for God and one another. Moreover, the Christian faith, as illustrated in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46, asserts that our judgment is based on what we do or fail to do, to and for, the least among uswho most often are the victims of empire’s oppressive and violent policies.
This being said, U.S. Foreign Policy, as taught to and demonstrated by the graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, or as it is currently known, The Western Hemisphere Institute for the Security Cooperation, clearly violates the law of love to which Christians are required to adhere. The rampant human rights abuses by graduates of this school / institute are well documented. The blood of the victims of U.S. foreign policy throughout Latin America cries out. Therefore, my act of conscience, that U.S. law labels “trespass,” was necessitated and empowered by the love I have for my brothers and sisters in faith who were disappeared, raped, tortured and murdered by SOA / WHINSEC graduates. I walked onto Fort Benning as the means to name the evil present in U.S. foreign policy that allows for innocent people to be tortured, maimed and murdered in my name and in God’s name. I cannot love God if I do not first love my sisters and brothers in faith; authentic love will not allow suffering to continue unabated. Hence, I cannot remain silent when the blood of these innocent victims cries out. Insofar as I have tried (so-called) “legal” means to voice my opposition (i.e., writing to my elected representatives), to no avail, I was compelled to the act of crossing the line because the U.S. Government refuses to listen otherwise. I would hope that if a loved one of yours was tortured by a graduate of this school, you too would be in solidarity with him or her and become a voice for them in every way possible, including an act of civil disobedience.
This court has suggested that the congressional act, which abolished the SOA and created the WHINSEC, changed the curriculum and set requirements for greater oversight, control and accountability for the new institution. Therefore, we who acted on our conscience and nonviolently walked onto Fort Benning in protest of this abominable school are misguided. I must ask that if this court is correct in its assertion, then does not the name change and the supposed curriculum change suggest that the SOA was indeed involved in either criminal behavior or at least some sort of wrongful and immoral behavior, otherwise why the name change and the rhetorical hype in the first place?
If this observation is correct, does not the U.S. Government and the U.S. Army have a moral obligation to take responsibility, display remorse and publicly apologize to the living victims and the survivors of the murdered who were terrorized and massacred by graduates of the SOA, and to the U.S. taxpayers who unknowingly and unwillingly paid for this School of Assassins? Since a confession, an apology and remorse has yet to be manifested, is it not fair to conclude that there is no remorse, no sorrow, no repentance, and therefore, no metanoia, no change of heart? Moreover, would it not also be fair to conclude that the name change is just “cosmetic,” as former Georgia Senator Paul Coverdell was quoted in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer as saying. Hence, this charade is nothing less than blatant and unbridled fraud.
Documented evidence exists which confirms the SOA was teaching counterinsurgency and torture techniques. If there is no remorse for this crime, by both U.S. and International standards, does this not suggest that the powers that be do not believe that such illegalities are wrong, therefore, still being taught, albeit in a more insidious manner?
Hence, my act of conscience was justified, indeed necessary, in an attempt to prevent a greater harm, the continued training of terrorists at this School of Assassins, who employ their military training on my sisters and brothers in faith, who most often are the poor and oppressed whom my faith both mandates and empowers me to protect and for whom I must become a voice. Moreover, did not President select George W. Bush state after September 11, 2001, that “Every known terrorist camp must be shut down”?
Therefore, in conclusion, because of the absence of a confession, remorse and a public apology for the training that led to the criminal behavior of most SOA graduates, it becomes clear that rather than place guilt on the nonviolent resisters of evil who crossed the line, it is the U.S. Government and the U.S. Army who are guilty of crimes: the crimes of fraud and terrorism carried out by the proxy agents of U.S. policy trained at this school, and the subsequent cover-up that has ensued, which, in the end, further demonstrates the corruption and moral and ethical bankruptcy present. To repeat a popular maxim, you can jail the resisters, but you cannot jail the resistance. Therefore, whatever this court wishes to impose on me for my convictions and act of conscience, know that I accept it with joyfulness. Know also that the unjust sentence you impose on me will serve to strengthen the movement to close the SOA / WHINSEC.