On January 11th, 2008, Ed Kinane demonstrated at the Supreme Court to close Guantanamo concentration camp; on March 19th, 2008, he protested in Syracuse, NY, against the Iraq war. Below are his sentencing statements from DC District Court and City Court, Syracuse. Ed witnessed first hand the effects of the sanctions and “shock and awe” on the Iraqi civilian population. He is on the Advisory Board of the Dr. Dhafir Support Committee.

Ed Kinane
May 30, 2008

[This past January about 80 of us were arrested both inside and outside the Supreme Court for demonstrating to close the Guantanamo concentration camp.
For a narrative of that arrest see, “Representing Massoum Abdeh Mouhammad,”
at www.witnesstorture.org/node/924. On May 29, after a spirited three- day trial in which defendants “went pro se,” i.e. defended them selves, Judge Gardner found us guilty.]

Friends, members of the court, Your Honor,
On January 11, 2008, and the next day at my arraignment, I invoked the name of Massoum Abdah Mouhammad, Guantanamo prisoner #330.
Mr. Mouhammad, an ethnic Kurd born in Syria in 1972, is said to be a Taliban member.
For some years he has been illegally detained at Guantanamo prison.
It’s unlikely Mr Mouhammad has ever heard of me.
Surely, we are very different people; we may well see the world with very different eyes.
Nonetheless he’s my brother; we are kin.

Let me explain.
Many years ago the late Martin Neimoeller, a theologian and former World War I U-boat commander, spoke out against the Nazi menace.
In a well-known quotation Pastor Neimoeller said…
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.*

Pastor Neimoeller knew whereof he spoke.
As a dissenter, Neimoeller himself endured Hitler’s concentration camps, Hitler’s Guantanamos.
Neimoeller’s words have long served as a beacon for me.
Indeed, they helped inspire my participation in what was to be a liturgical event at the US Supreme Court on January 11, 2008,
the beginning of the sixth year of the Guantanamo concentration camp.
You see, your honor, that rogue prison represents,
not only a tragedy for those trapped within it, but a threat to us all.
Not a distant threat, but a close threat.
If courts keep allowing the Cheney/Bush administration to get away with its contempt for law and its barbaric treatment of fellow human beings,
I fear that US citizens may well be next.
I fear I may be next.

Thomas Jefferson declared that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
Since the Viet Nam War era, as conscience has moved me,
I’ve been a dissenter.
I’ve been a dissenter committed to justice and to nonviolence —
not only as a kind of politics, but as a way of life.
So Guantanamo chills me.

As long as Guantanamo remains open it will provide the ongoing precedent, the ongoing model, for rounding up people like me
who dissent from the power structure’s policies.
Such captives could then be subject to Guantanamo-type incarceration: isolated detention, lack of habeus corpus, lack of other due process…
and torture.

[At this point an exasperated Judge Gardner cut me off. With a burly US Marshall standing immediately behind me, I had no choice but to comply.
Below is the rest of my prepared statement.]

And after people like me are rounded up maybe whatever administration is in power will begin rounding up people of color
and other stigmatized minorities.
Perhaps one day it will also round up those judges who don’t succumb to careerism,
who resist political pressure,
who respect the Constitution,
who respect international law, supposedly the highest law of our land,
who listen to and honor their conscience,
who believe justice is their calling.

Your honor, although I did not intend to be arrested on January 11,
and although I didn’t expect to spend over 30 hours in detention,
my standing before you today is a win-win situation.
If you “throw the book” at us I’ll be heartened and know our Supreme Court presence must have threatened this nation’s power structure —
a power structure with little respect, not only for our Constitution,
but for human values.
If, on the other hand, you had been willing to sentence us to “time served” I would leave this court knowing that you have listened to us
and knowing that your court respects the larger law it’s pledged to uphold.

[Most of us were subsequently sentenced to pay $50 in court fees, to remain away from the Supreme Court for a year, to ten (or more) days in jail (suspended), and to a year’s probation. In solidarity with the Guantanamo prisoners who never get that option, I told Judge Gardner I would not comply with probation. I was immediately taken away for transport to the DC Dept. of Corrections jail to begin my sentence.]

*There are many versions of Niemoeller’s quotation. See, e.g., the erudite discussion of Niemoeller (1892-1984) on www.history.uscb.edu/faculty/marcuse/niem.htm.
I take this text from the 1997 Syracuse Culture Workers poster reproduced on that website. ###


May 9, 2008 Trial Statement, City Court, Syracuse, New York
By Ed Kinane

Friends, members of the court, Judge Cecile,

As I am defending myself, my defense will be unencumbered with legal jargon and technicalities.

Given that the prosecution has failed to prove its case against me, at this juncture it might be appropriate to rest my case.
But, quite frankly, my aim here goes beyond merely winning an acquittal.

Since intent is pivotal to the charge of “disorderly conduct,”
I must explain why early on the afternoon of March 19 I was in one of Syracuse’s busiest streets, in one of Syracuse’s most public places — at a demonstration attended by hundreds, a demonstration featured on the front page — above the fold — of the March 20 Syracuse Post-Standard.

I will show the irony of being charged with “disorderly conduct.”

And, more to the point, I’ll show the inappropriateness of being prosecuted for my action.

March 19, you’ll recall, was the beginning of yet another year of the illegal US invasion of Iraq.

[Your honor, I’d like to introduce here exhibit A —
a copy of a photo taken by Post-Standard photographer Mike Greenlar on March 19.]

That’s me in the lower left corner covered by a “bloody” sheet as I lay facedown on the rain-washed pavement of Salina Street.

Role-playing an Iraqi corpse, for over an hour I didn’t open an eye,
I didn’t utter a sound, I barely moved a muscle.

The entire time I was “mourned” by my partner in real life, Ann Tiffany, bending over me, silently, eyes downcast, shrouded in black.

Explaining this tableau, Ann had put an upright sign near my body;

Along with many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others around the country on March 19 we were using our bodies to assert that, as long as this vile war goes on, there should be “no business as usual.”

Twenty-two of us were arrested here that day. For failure to produce identification, I spent a long, cold, bedless night in the local jail.

Judge Cecile, at my April 14 appearance in your court, perhaps you wondered why I refused your offer of “time served.”

Besides forcing me to plead guilty, accepting time served would have denied me this opportunity to address your court, this opportunity to, in an extremely cursory way, put the Iraq War itself on trial.

There are numerous charges to be leveled against the war criminals who launched the illegal Iraq war.

Because the court’s time is precious I shall quickly enumerate those charges:

~ In direct violation of international law, the invasion of Iraq was unprovoked.
~ Premised on lies and perpetuated with disinformation, the war is dishonest.
~ In contempt of virtually every spiritual tradition, the war is immoral.
~ The war is brutal, even barbaric.
~ Killing mostly civilians, often from the air, the war is cowardly.
~ The war is thieving and imperialistic.
~ The protracted occupation has led to a feeding frenzy of war profiteering.
~ Each year this travesty swindles US taxpayers out of hundreds of billions of dollars.
~ The war is reckless — reducing not only our standing, but our safety, in the world.

Further, the so-called War against Terror in Iraq is terroristic to the core.

I know first hand whereof I speak.
As a human rights monitor I lived in Baghdad for five months in 2003.
I was there before, during and after “shock and awe.”
~ I experienced the dread and terror of that naked aggression.
~ I visited bombed-out public markets.
~ I climbed over the rubble of pulverized homes.
~ In the hospitals I met civilian casualties of these US bombings.
~ With my own eyes I watched as much of Baghdad’s civilian infrastructure was destroyed.
~ On April 8, 2003 US forces shelled the hotel next door to ours, killing two international journalists, friends of friends of mine.

The criminality of the subsequent occupation also hit close to home.
Shortly after I returned to the States
~ three friends were abducted in Baghdad;
~ my former housemate, Haythem Al-Jouburi, was detained in Abu Ghraib;
~ and my closest friend in Iraq, Ghareeb Ramadan, was killed in a crossfire while translating for an Italian journalist.

Thanks to “shock and awe” and thanks to over five years of US military occupation,
~ chaos and terror reign in Iraq;
~ the economy is a shambles;
~ ethnic and sectarian tensions have been inflamed;
~ several million Iraqis have become refugees both internally and externally;
~ much infrastructure — including health facilities — has been demolished;
~ the environment has been poisoned by the toxic and radioactive depleted uranium used in US weaponry;
~ US corporations are expropriating Iraq’s resources and devouring her now-privatized enterprises; these war profiteers make billions.
~ lastly, hundreds of thousands — mostly civilians, but also thousands of US soldiers and mercenaries — have been killed and maimed.

One more thing. So harrowing and so demoralizing is US military service in the Middle East that for every US soldier killed, several more commit suicide. [April 21, 2008, Associated Press]
And those suicides will keep happening long after this heinous occupation ends and all our soldiers are back home.

Your honor, in closing I submit that my nation’s conduct in Iraq spawned and perpetuates Disorder — Disorder on an inconceivable scale.

In stark contrast, my thoughtful, disciplined and nonviolent effort to bring such Disorder to an end was the very opposite of “disorderly conduct.”

I now rest my case. ###

Judge James Cecile found Kinane guilty. Kinane was in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness. Reach him at edkinane@verizon.net.