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Leah Bolger is presidents of veterans for peace.
seriously. I take these notes during the interview and miss a real lot and a lot is summary or incomplete. You should really listen to the recording. The notes are just to whet your appetite.
Leah Bolger, retired Navy Commander
skipper what Naval commanders are called by men on their ship
The brief message she wanted to get to the 12 senators on the supercommittee:
I speak for the 99%. End the wars and tax the rich.
a select committee their task was to find 1.3 trillion in deficit deductions. If they didn't find it, there was going to be sequestration-- automatic cuts 50% from military spending and 50% from other things.
This committee which some people would say might not even be constitutional". I thought one of the most egregious problems was that nobody had access to them. My own congressman didn't but lobbyists did-- over 250 lobbyists.
The committee held three public hearings
I decided to go to the third one.
I listened for over an hour. There were no witnesses to represent the public.
There was one witness- the director of the congressional budget office.
After listening for this for over an hour and realizing that the people's voice was not going to be heard, I simply stepped over this velvet rope and walked up to tell of the witness room, next to the witness table and addressed the super committee.
It was a very simple two point plan-- end the wars, tax the rich, that's how you fix the deficit.
I was arrested. I was able to speak for 52 seconds. I was allowed to say a lot in that time.
The maximum penalty was six months in jail.
The judge gave me a relatively light sentence. Not only did he n to give me a a fine, he did not give me a stay away order. The govt. asked for a stay away order for all of capitol hill. The judge said that I have a right to participate in government.
These stay away orders are very common.
The government did not ask for any jail time.
I told the judge that I did not intend to pay a fine, if there was one.
I don't believe that a citizen should have to pay to have the ear of congress. It would seem that that would be what I was doing if I had to pay fine. The government
HE gave me 60 days of incarceration suspended and nine months of probation.
I'll do the 20 hours of community service doing my usual work for Veterans for Peace.
Rob: How will probation potentially cause you problems?
If I were arrested for another crime and the judge her finds out about it, I believe I'm called back into court and there's a hearing about whether he should revoke the probation and impose the 60 day sentence. That's a little daunting. I would consider a small price to pay if it had an effect. I do think think that if we're to that point where the American government is incarcerating people for exercising their first amendment rights, then maybe that's it.
I think that's what we're seeing with Occupy.
The provisions of the NDAA.
Rob: so, even though being
I'm not going to stay
Rob: How would you like the outcome of this to be in terms of how it affects other people?
People ask, why did you plead guilty. By pleading guilty I'm saying, in effect, that what I did was necessary because the system is broken. I am indicting"..
By pleading guilty, talking to people like you, and writing about it, I am trying to create a window of opportunity to talk about problems with our government to empower people, to push people outside their comfort zones" to do t hints that need to be done to end wars and bring social justice to the general public. I hope it will encourage people to participate and not be afraid. So many people have donated to me to help with my legal and travel expenses. It's gratifying to know that I am part of a global movement and part of the 99%.
President of Veterans For Peace-- first woman president. Was VP for three years before that.
We are recognized by the UN as an NGO, have about 150 chapters across the country and just formed a group in the UK. We are growing and I think the more veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan who see that war is not the answer, I think, our numbers, will, sadly, continue to grow. i say sadly because there is a need for organizations to oppose the war.
I started out very simplistic thinking that we needed to end war-- to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But the more I find out, the more I realize how our government has failed us, how our civil rights have been taken away from us'
I'm realizing how big the problem is" It's all this huge know
Art Brennan had checked into Judge Nash's background. Evidently Judge Nash is a Republican.
He said, when he imposed the sentence, "I was drawn to washington because this is where the power is. He said twice to me, I sympathize with your criticism of the government. I felt he needed to give me some kind of punishment, and since he didn't give me a stay away order, I believe he was sympathetic that it's very important for average citizens to take part in government.
I disagreed with him-- he said the reason he had to punish me was that there are 300 million americans who wanted to address congress I skipped to front of the line and nothing would get done of 300 million Americans tried to talk to the super committee. I felt that was ironic" if congress ".
That's the whole point, Judge Nash, that I'm not being represented, but corporate interests are and they're getting a lot more than their 52 seconds.
All and all I think he was fairly lenient.
Rob: What about the government -- what agency prosecuted the case against you.
It was the superior court of the district of columbia where the case was heard.
You can see about the work that veterans for peace is doing-- all over the world-- delegations going to viet name, to Jeju Island in S. Korea, election monitoring in South America.
Follow me on twitter @leahbolger. GO to our Facebook page.
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