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Iraq combat vet Sgt. Ricky Clousing speaks out against illegal war
Iraq combat veteran Ricky Clousing, a 24-year-old Army sergeant and interrogator from Seattle outlined his opposition to a "war of aggression" that has "no legal basis to be fought" today at a morning press conference today joining a growing number of military objectors to the "illegal" Iraq occupation war.
SEATTLE (August 11, 2006) - Iraq combat veteran Ricky Clousing, a 24-year-old Army sergeant and interrogator from Seattle outlined his opposition to a "war of aggression" that has "no legal basis to be fought" today at a morning press conference. He left Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2005 after returning from Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division and has been AWOL since. With his parents at his side, and dozens of members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (http://www.ivaw.net) and Veterans for Peace (http://www.vetsforpeace.org) standing behind him, he explained:
“In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability. Being attached to a tactical infantry unit and being exposed to the brutalities of war, I began to doubt and reconsider my beliefs.”
Iraq veteran Joshua Casteel, a friend of Sgt. Clousing since military interrogator school, added, "they don't tell you that you'll have to strip men naked, wet them, and stand them in front of an air conditioner because you're trying to induce hypothermia. They don't tell you you'll be instructed to use the blunt edge of an axe to soften someone up for questioning. They don't tell you that Rumsfeld will deny using dogs just four days after you've been instructed to use them."
In the end, those beliefs led him to leave the following quote by Martin Luther King Jr. behind on his bunk as he left Fort Bragg:
"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right."
Like Lt. Ehren Watada (http://www.thankyoult.org), who faces an Article 32 pre-trail hearing on August 17th at nearby Fort Lewis, Washington for refusing to deploy to an “illegal war” in Iraq, Sgt. Clousing does not claim to be a conscientious objector, but simply opposed to the occupation war in Iraq. Sgt. Clousing later turned himself into Fort Lewis military police and may be transfered back to Fort Bragg for prosecution.
Sgt. Ricky Clousing’s complete statement to the press is available at:
Sgt. Ricky Clousing back by his mother Sharon Pankalla
Sgt. Clousing's press conference with memorial to U.S. troops killed in Iraq as backdrop
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Camilo Mejia, another Iraq veteran turned Iraq War objector
Iraq vet Joshua Casteel, friend of Sgt. Clousing since interrogator school
Mike Wong, Veterans for Peace and Vietnam War resister
Judy Linehan, Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter
Sharon Panka, Sgt. Clousing's mother, speaks in support of her son
Inside the Veterans for Peace convention nearby