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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Court Statements Statement by J.P. Liteky
Statement by J.P. Liteky PDF Print E-mail
The following is the statement read by J.P. Liteky at his sentencing hearing, for his two felony convictions for tossing red dye on the Pentagon twice.) The sentencing judge, also the trial judge: Hon. James C. Cacheris, U.S., East. Dist.

Thank you, your honor, for allowing me to read this, as my memory is not as good as it used to be. As I speak, there are 25 [sic] women and men who have just begun serving six months each in federal prisons across the country for their convictions regarding nonviolent protest actions involving closing down the School of the Americas. I would be with them today had the very same charges against them not been dismissed in my case. We were among the 602 prayerful marchers protesting the continued existence of the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, GA. It seems six of us 28 second-time trespassers were dismissed at the last minute due to the government's not being able to complete the paperwork to include us in the trial proceedings. As the court knows, I returned to Ft. Benning this past Ash Wednesday, February 25th, and tossed red cement dye on the walls of the infamous School of the Americas. To date, no legal proceedings have yet begun against me for that action.

How fitting for me, somewhat of a practising Christian, to be here today on Good Friday, about to be sentenced for an identical action as the red dye toss at the Headquarters of the School of the Americas on Ash Wednesday, and for the very same reason - to close down that School of Torture and Assassinations! It has been a unique Lenten season for me. I am fully aware of the possible consequences of that action upon these proceedings today. The example of Jesus inviting us to take up the cross in our struggles for justice and peace has never been more real for me as when I read the infamous Pentagon Torture Manuals. I thereby learned more of how my sisters and brothers in remote villages, from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, to Peru, Chile and Ecuador - just to name a few of the 16 Latin American countries whose indigenous peoples are victims of the School of the Americas.

I predict this time next year, if the School of the Americas is still operating there at Ft. Benning, the numbers of concerned, tax-paying, justice and peace-seeking American citizens who will be arrested and bound for jail will be in the hundreds. Maybe even thousands. I predict there will be more peaceful, nonviolent and prayerful protests against the SOA, at the Pentagon, at the gates of the SOA, and other relevant federal facilities in the coming year. There are over a million signatures gathered of American citizens who have become aware and have pledged to working nonviolently to close down the School of the Americas. Their representatives in Congress and the Senate are growing more aware too, and this summer a bill to close the SOA will be brought up again, for the fourth time. Passage of that bill looks promising. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II introduced this bill, and this past session it only lost by four votes. The gap is closing.

In the course of my trial, your honor will remember that much was made of the costs involved in the clean-up by the permanently employed federal workers and their high-tech machinery and protective clothing, all to wash away some non-toxic, water-soluble red cement dye. And as I wrote in my objections to the Presentencing Report, had I not even been on the scene on the two occasions relevant to this hearing, that money would have been expended. Those workers might have been mowing the grass those two days, or changing light-bulbs, or repainting surfaces needing scheduled maintenance. Their health and life insurance benefits would have been paid as well, on schedule.

Also in the PSR there is the cost, per month, of what it will cost to incarcerate me, also, what it will cost for supervision while I am on probation. It is almost as if the government's main concern in all of this is MONEY. But nowhere in the PSR does it remotely refer to the hundreds of millions of dollars of the American taxpayers' money spent over the fifty-two years of the SOA's murderous and torture-filled existence. Nowhere is the cost of the hundreds of thousands of lost lives of innocent, indigenous people of Central and South America tallied. It would seem the government is more concerned with temporary property damge and the cost of correcting it by easily washing it away with water, than with the costs in terms of human lives taken, as a direct result of decisions made within the walls of the Pentagon and the School of the Americas, as well as in the halls of Congress and behind the closed door planning sessions at the White House.

Today is sort of a "pay-back" day, as I see it, paltry as it is. Not in terms of monetary restitution to my government, but more in terms of my personal debt, as an American citizen and Army veteran, and struggling Christian still working on living in a totally nonviolent manner. I don't quite have that down yet, however. There are not enough years available to me in this lifetime to even begin atoning, by way of a prison sentence, for the lives of innocents violently ended by my government's complicity in the Death Squads of Central and South America. Those lives ended directly through the instrument of the infamous School of the Americas. There is no comparison between my immanent imprisonment here in America and that of the innocent indigenous peoples of Central and South America. The imprisonment conditions and intimidation techniques, and harassment, and bodily harm inflicted by own own government troops teaching the elite troops of Central and South American militaries, is well documented. These horrors have been graphically described in the famous PENTAGON TORTURE MANUALS, and more so, in the testimonies of surviving victims of the thousands of SOA graduates over the past few decades. All of this far, far outstrips what folks like me have coming in our own American prisons. We can never even begin to repay, with our relatively comfortable jail inconveniences to their losses of lives, limbs and human dignity, not to mention the losses to their families, and the disappearances of their loved ones. No electrodes will be attached to our boides, no near- drownings, no cattle-prods, no ghastly psychological tortures for us. No humiliations, no slow, painful deaths, no disappearances. This could happen, however, and has happened and does still haoppen, with American citizens - nuns, priests, religious workers, in places such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. All human beings deserve to be treated as human beings. Our jail terms are and will be like luxury hotel vacations by comparison to what our government directly helps other nations deal out to their poor and unwanted populations whose only "crime" is to cry out for justice. This is just one reason we do what we do, your honor, to nonviolently protest and risk jail, why we embrace jail, to help end all these injustices and call on our government to start behaving in a truly humane way.

The prosecutor at my trial, Mr. William Henderson, in his wrap-up statements to the jury, said that there were a thousand other ways for me to make my grievances known to the government in reference to the School of the Americas. I have come up with about ten or twelve over the years, and have done them all. Marching, carrying banners, distributing leaflets, signing petitions, fasting, writing Congress, talking to people - to name just a few. Instead, Mr. Henderson told the jury, I chose to vandalize the Pentagon. Well, two things about that, your honor. First, if in fact ther are a thousand other ways for me to make my grievances known about the horrors of the School of the Americas, then there must be a thousand good reasons why those grievances exist, and, a fortiori, as we used to say in philosophy class, why those horrors must be stopped. And second, only this weekend, while on a prayerful retreat with 60-odd like-minded nonviolent resisters to all war and all injustices, someone came up with a list of no less than 198 ways of nonviolent and legal protest against every kind of injustice. I have brought that list along today to share with the court, and by extension, with Mr. Henderson, so he can add it to his own list of a thousand other ways. Maybe he knows something we don't, but one thing is sure, however. He will be seeing a lot more of the likes of us this year.

I would just like to end up with a short quote from a letter from two Jesuit faculty members of the Univeristy of Central America in San Salvador, whose six brother-Jesuits and their two women staff members were brutally slain by SOA graduates in 1989. At least one of the murderers that morning had been a student of one of those slain Jesuit priests. Fathers Jose Maria Tojeira and Jon Sobrino wrote to all of us who marched this past November 16th at Ft. Benning, GA's School of the Americas:

"...A more humane future for both the North and Latin American peoples depends on the solidarity that you show today, on the solidarity that you have shown with the Latin American peoples in recent years, and on the love and the blood of the martyred U.S. CITIZENS ON OUR CONTINENT. IN THE WORDS OF OUR MARTYR ARCHBISHOP ROMERO: 'IT IS CRITICAL TO DEFEND THE SMALLEST THING, WHICH IS GOD'S GREATEST GIFT: LIFE.' IN THE WORDS OF OUR MARTYR IGNACIO ELLACURIA, 'WE MUST TURN THIS SINFUL HISTORY UPSIDE DOWN, AND OUT OF POVERTY WE MUST BUILD A CIVILIZATION IN WHICH ALL CAN HAVE LIFE AND DIGNITY.' Again, we thank you for your spirit of solidarity with out poor who have suffered as a result of merciless economic policies and militarism. May the God of life, truth, justice and peace bless you and hold you firm in your commitment." (Excerpt frrom letter dated 14 Nov 97 from Rev. Tojeiro and Rev. Sobrino, Society of Jesus, to nonviolent marchers at Ft. Benning, GA, on 16 Nov 97)

(Statement to Sentencing Judge Cacheris, read by J. Patrick Liteky, convicted double-felon, 10 Apr 98)


J. P. Liteky was sentenced to a year each for both felonies, to be served concurrently. Voluntary surrender was granted, and Liteky will likely be assigned to a federal prison near his home in Seattle, likely Sheridan FPC in Oregon, however that site is not certain. Likely report date in early May 98.

Judge Cacheris recommeded Liteky appeal the sentence, as part of it includes a levy of $2,824.99 for Pentagon clean-up costs, WHICH AMOUNT WAS NOT SPENT AS AN EXTRA COST BUT THAT AMOUNT FROM THE NORMAL SALARY AND BENEFITS OF THE PERMANENT PENTAGON EMPLOYEES WAS ASSIGNED TO THE CLEAN-UP PERFORMED. THERE WERE TWO ACTIONS, IDENTICAL, ON 29 SEP 97 AND 20 OCT 97. Liteky will appeal, as this may set a precident for future actions. Also, if successful, such an apeal would result in the reduction of felonies to misdemeanors. Liteky will enter jail as usual, however, on schedule. Court appointed attorney, Mr. Bravitt Manley, acting as advising attorney to Liteky's PRO SE defense, will handle the appeal. At this date, no legal proceedings have begun in regard to 25 Feb 98 action at the HQ of the SOA. Liteky thinks he will not hear anything until he is already incarcerated, or after he is released. in regard to that matter of Ft. Benning and the SOA.

Judge Cacheris ordered Liteky to begin paying, at the rate of $10 per month, the restitution amount of $2,824.99, in addition to two $100.00 fees for each felony conviction. Liteky said he has not yet paid similar fees and restitutions going all the way back to his first felony conviction from Ft. Benning in 1991, and does not see it in the cards to pay these.


 

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