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January 13, 2006
Dear Members and Supporters of Veterans for Common Sense:
Major General Geoffrey D. Miller, former commander of the Guantanamo prison and a central figure in the prisoner abuse scandal, refused this week to testify or meet with defense attorneys in a pending court-martial. General Miller cited his Article 31 rights through his attorneys, the military equivalent of 5th Amendment rights to refuse to self-incriminate.
Veterans for Common Sense supports the rights of an American citizen to refuse to testify, as was written in the Constitution we swore to protect. However, Miller’s refusal to speak raises grave questions which still remain unanswered: who authorized prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and other locations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo; and why has punishment been restricted only to junior officers and enlisted personnel?
This selective punishment, which saw the greatest sentences handed down to junior enlisted personnel at abu Ghraib, even though numerous other similar incidents have been reported, has most recently resulted in the launch of SupportMPScapeGoats (http://www.supportmpscapegoats.com), a group calling for clemency for some of the soldiers convicted of abuse at Abu Ghraib.
Veterans for Common Sense believes, both on moral and pragmatic grounds, that the abuse of prisoners is detrimental to our nation’s values as well as damaging to efforts to succeed in Iraq. However, the conviction of a few low ranking soldiers does not effectively address the problem. This is a matter of failed leadership, and in order to protect our troops into the future, our nation must address the issue of command responsibility.
Sadly, the release of a new set of documents by the Pentagon shows that some abuses occured at least well into 2004 after the release of the abu Graib photos. Documents released under the lawsuit led by VCS, ACLU and other organizations include new reports of detainee deaths and beatings. (http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/011206/)
Veterans for Common Sense has a number of volunteer opportunities available. Last week we announced the formation of our committee to address national security issues, and we still need additional volunteers to join the committee.
This week, we are launching two additional committees. The first will focus on veterans and supporting the troops, and will track legislation and news about the VA healthcare system, benefits, and other issues related to the troops.
The second of the new committees will work with the VCS staff to brainstorm ways to expand our membership and conduct outreach to new members.
Want to get involved? Visit: http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org/?Page=Module&ModuleID=82
Or, you can join the committees directly by sending an email:
National Security: firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporting the Troops and Veterans: email@example.com
On January 26, Florida Veterans for Common Sense will sponsor an evening with Professor Harvey Kaye (author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America) at the University of South Florida. This promises to be an interesting and educational event, and we recommend our members in Florida check it out (and, if you haven’t already, consider getting involved with the chapter)). Find out more online at:
First Quarter Fundraising Drive
I’d like to thank those of you made our end of year fundraising a success. Now we’re working on the first quarter for 2005, with a goal of $40,000 my March 31. We’re already well on our way, with more than $5,000 in gifts and pledges received.
Thank you all for supporting our work!
If you haven’t made a gift to VCS lately, please consider supporting our work with a donation today.
Don’t want to give online? You can call 202-558-4553 to give by credit card over the phone, or send a check to:
Veterans for Common Sense
1101 Pennsylvania Ave SE Suite 203
Washington, DC 20003-2229
Interested in writing for VCS?
Veterans for Common Sense is seeking interesting and hard-hitting original material for the web site. Are you a writer or interested in submitting materials? Editorial guidelines are located at:
On-Line Events Calendar
If you have an upcoming event, memorial service, or other event that may be of interest to other VCS members, please let us know. To post your event online today, visit:
As always, thanks for your support of Veterans for Common Sense.
With highest regards,
Veterans for Common Sense
1101 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003