Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 3 (3 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   4 comments

General News

Would You Go To Jail To Protest Torture?

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 2   Well Said 2   Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 2/26/09

Become a Fan
  (46 fans)
- Advertisement -

 Are you ready to go to jail for what you believe? Would you stand up to the Pentagon by engaging in non-violent civil disobedience to protest torture? 

 Two men of faith who have done so, who have walked the same road of Mohandas Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King,  are Franciscan Louis Vitale and Jesuit Stephen Kelly. They were 75 and 58, respectively, when they were jailed. 

They submitted themselves for arrest in November, 2006, as they knelt in prayer in the driveway at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Ft. Huachuca has been described as the source of the torture manuals used at the infamous School of the Americas. 

Writing about his experience in "Sojourners," an ecumenical Christian magazine, Father Vitale says he and Father Kelly had "hoped to deliver a letter opposing the teaching of torture" to those in charge and to speak with enlisted personnel about the base’s "illegality and immorality." 

Sadly, for the military as well as for themselves, they were arrested and sentenced by a Tucson, Ariz., magistrate to prison for five months. Both have since been released. 

In the Imperial County jail in California, Father Vitale made a discovery, that he had nothing more to fear: "we discover the path of resistance: a vocation that we must follow in the midst of empire to overcome the oppression of our brothers and sisters."

 "I realize this stance in my solitary the steel doors clang shut, there is freedom to surrender to God and this universe. There is freedom to be open to the creative call of compassion toward our global community."

 Apparently, it was difficult for Father Vitale to acknowledge the reality "that ours is a nation that tortures." He chastises his country because it "has retracted the binding commitment it made when it signed the 1975 U.N. declaration on torture." 

- Advertisement -

That Declaration in Article I defines torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official..." 

Father Vitale was disturbed by the photos he saw of torture perpetrated at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, such as "hangings, electric shock, beatings, waterboardings, and other extreme physical and psychological procedures,” procedures he says were “spelled out in memos emanating from the White House." 

These tortures have been used in prisons not only in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, but also in prisons to which the U.S. renders prisoners in Syria, Egypt, Morocco, and other countries. Father Vitale says he and Father Kelly were motivated to protest at Fort Huachuca by the death of Alyssa Peterson, a young U.S. Army interpreter who was trained there.  

"After just two sessions in the cages, she objected and refused to participate in the harsh interrogation techniques being used---techniques the Army now refuses to describe and records of which have been destroyed," Fr. Vitale writes. 

"She became distraught and was sent to suicide prevention training, only to commit suicide shortly thereafter," Father Vitale added.

- Advertisement -

 Father Vitale says he would like to know why Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast of Fort Huachuca, formerly chief of military intelligence in Iraq stationed at Abu Ghraib "has never been reprimanded nor prosecuted for her command failure to prevent it."

 He is also concerned that Brig. Gen. John Custer, who succeeded Fast in charge of Fort Huachuca, allegedly integrated "into standard practice" the techniques elsewhere he learned at Guantanamo. 

 Father Vitale said when he was in prison he thought about how "Jesus boldly challenged every barrier to the well-being of all, fearlessly breaking the innumerable taboos, customs, and laws that dehumanize, destroy, or diminish human beings, especially the rejected, the feared, the despised. His life and vision has illumined for me the obligation to say 'no' to injustice and 'yes' to love in action." 

Next Page  1  |  2


Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

U.S. Overthrow in the Ukraine Risks Nuclear War With Russia

Radioactive Ammunition Fired in Middle East May Claim More Lives Than Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Obama Expands the American Warfare State


Is George W. Bush Sane?

Inside America's Biological Warfare Center


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
4 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

suggestions- include some links and make it plain ... by Better World Order on Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 8:53:16 AM
It's nice to see that good people will still s... by John S. Hatch on Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 3:23:59 PM
Perhaps someone should speak to the Tuscon judge w... by Archie on Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 2:28:34 PM
Inspiring article. If I could do something or... by Philip Dennany on Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 3:16:09 PM