In a pre-dawn civil disobedience action Monday morning, 41 War Resisters League members and others sat down and were arrested at a pedestrian entrance to the Pentagon, slowing foot traffic at that location and prompting officials to close the U.S. military headquarters’ sole stop on Washington’s Metroline for a period.
Protesters, including Elizabeth McAllister and her daughter, Frieda Berrigan, Susan Crane, Ken Crowley and others with a long history of peace activism and arrests for civil disobedience, leafleted or sat down to block people from entering Entrance Three of the sprawling U.S. military command.
In one group of six, Crane repeated to the backed-up line of civilians and military personnel waiting at the security checkpoint, "Remember the innocent victims in Iraq." Another protester urged officers to think about what they were doing and "resign yourcommissions."
Wearing a Veterans For Peace garrison cap and t-shirt, I took the opportunity to say "Good morning, my name is MIKE FERNER. I’m from Toledo, Ohio," and explained that I had served in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman during Viet Nam, taking care of hundreds of soldiers coming back "in pieces" from that conflict. "We have to get smarter than that," I implored.
At the same time, protesters blocked other portions of Entrance Three, delivering various messages to hundreds more of the 26,000 workers in the building with over 17 miles of corridors.
Pentagon police handcuffed each of us and lead us backdown a stairway to the access road where cars and buses added to the flow of workers arriving from the Metro. Sitting on the curb, with our arms pulled back tightly behind us, we continued to talk to as many men and women as we could before being taken by patrol carto a nearby Pentagon facility.
Over the next four hours we were fingerprinted, photographed and booked, receiving written citations for disobeying a lawful order, and given dates in January to appear at the Arlington, Virginia Federal District Court.
The night before the action, 60 people, including those who were ultimately arrested and others providing support, met at the offices of a community organization in the Shaw district of Northwest Washington, where a volunteer attorney from the National Lawyers Guild briefed us. Other Guild observers were present as we were arrested, and met us after we were released from booking.
One critical observation of the morning’s activity was the nearly complete lack of news media coverage. Pentagon officials have banned any photographs of the facility since the attack on September 11, 2001, but no print or radio reporters were there to observe, either. Organizers had sent out news releases three days earlier, but had not scheduled a news conference for when arrestees were released from booking. Berrigan gave a phone interview to Democracy Now from the booking facility, and I gave an interview to an Indymedia reporter on the street in front of the White House after arriving there to support the much large rcivil disobedience action conducted by United for Peace and Justice. At that event, the arrest of Cindy Sheehan and nearly 400 others drew considerable press attention. A small number of those arrested at the White House, including Franciscan priest, Jerry Zawada, had also been arrested earlier at the Pentagon.
MIKE FERNER is a freelance writer from Ohio, writing a book about his trips to Iraq before and after the U.S. invasion. In addition to participating in the civildisobedience action at the Pentagon, he joined nearlya half-million peace activists in Washington,September 24. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH
We published an article entitled "A Saudiless Arabia" by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the "Article"), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the "Website").
Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.
As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.
We are pleased to clarify the position.
August 17, 2005