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General News    H3'ed 4/13/12

Exclusive: Leah Bolger's Statement to the Judge of her Hearing for Disruption of Super Committee Charge

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Leah provided with the following. There are two versions.  Rob Kall has also interviewed Leah and that interview will be up soon, with the transcript soon to follow. 

Podcast: Interview With Leah Bolger, Fresh After Her Court Victory
Here's the video of what she did that brought her to court:

Statement before Judge Nash, 12 April 2012

Hearing for disruption of Super Committee charge

I joined the U.S. Navy in 1980 and served on active duty for the next 20 years relatively ignorant of the vastness of the U.S. military machine and its deep-seated entrenchment with our government and economy.  I had little understanding of the "military-industrial complex' that President Eisenhower warned us about 50 years ago, and I certainly didn't know what Major General Smedley Butler meant when he said that "War is a racket." 

Now I am beginning to understand the enormity of the power that the U.S. military machine holds.  Capitalism is supposed to be an economic system"not a foreign policy--but war making has become very profitable.  Profit means money and it is money that controls the power in our government.  It doesn't matter to the government that wars are immoral, illegal or ineffective.  Government policies are shaped by the will of the corporate interests who have direct, immediate and in some cases, almost exclusive access to them.  

And so it was in the case of the Super Committee--a hand-selected committee of 12 senators and representatives who were given extra-ordinary (some say extra-Constitutional) powers, met in secret, and solicited testimony from not one citizen .  My own Congressman did not have access to this committee, but over 250 lobbyists did.  I have come to understand what millions of Americans already know--that the will of the people is of little concern to those in power.  We can demonstrate and petition and write letters until we are blue in the face, but those actions can't compete with the power of the money coming from the lobbyists and corporate interests.  

It takes an enormous amount of money to be elected to Congress, and once elected Congress is forced to perpetually raise money in order to be reelected.  It is a never-ending vicious circle, and Congress quickly becomes beholden to the interests who financed their elections--not the people they are supposed to be representing.  So it doesn't matter to Congress that the American people rank military spending as their #18 priority, according to the National Opinion Research Center.  The same poll has repeatedly shown the health care and education are the top two priorities of the American people by far, yet the allocation of our federal tax dollars is completely opposite that of the people's desires.  

Our elected government repeatedly and consistently ignores the will of the people.  So, when I saw an opportunity at the Super Committee to literally stand up and speak out on behalf of the American people--I seized it.  I knew I would be arrested, but I also knew that it was a unique and rare opportunity to make sure that the voice of the people was heard.  I know that most people are not able to act as I did.  It takes a certain amount of latitude in ones personal responsibilities to be able to come to Washington, stand trial, and face jail time--not to mention a good deal of chutzpah to be able to walk to the well of a senate hearing room and directly address Congress.  Because most people cannot do what I did, I acted on their behalf.   It seems the only way for the average citizen to be heard is through an act of civil disobedience, and indeed , I am the sole citizen who was heard by the Super Committee.  

Many people who support me have asked me why I am pleading guilty.  I am doing so because I readily admit what I did.  It would be a waste of everyone's time to force the government to prove that.  But in pleading guilty to what I did, I am also pointing an accusing finger at our government, which is completely failing its people.

I have been charged with "Unlawful Conduct--Disruption of Congress."  My dictionary has two definitions for "disrupt."  The first is to interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem-- which is what I did.  The second definition says to "disrupt" is to drastically alter or destroy the structure of (something).  I only wish that my 52-second interruption could have truly "disrupted" the status quo, because if anything needs to be drastically altered, it's Congress.

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Leah Bolger spent 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2000 at the rank of Commander. She is currently a full-time peace activist and serves as the President of Veterans For Peace.
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