Laurie Arbeiter’s Statement
Laurie Arbeiter’s Statement
“We never did get to mount our defense because there was so much else wrong, including the destruction of evidence, that at a certain point, not soon enough, the judge struck the testimony of the witness and the prosecutor threw out the case. I did prepare a statement in the event that I was convicted.” See below
With all due respect Your Honor, I find this process, subjecting us to prosecution for charges of committing criminal acts, at best misguided and at worst an organized attempt by the government to silence dissent. What has been on trial here are not just four individuals whose acts are being scrutinized, but more importantly, the choices we are allowed to make as free people at a time when we feel extreme urgency due to the fact that war crimes are being committed in our name. Where can we go to seek justice?
We live in a country where there is a disregard for the rule of law and common human decency by some in power who seek to assert absolute power over others. In this time, so called civilized people in suits and ties sat down at their desks at the Justice Department and wrote out detailed barbaric practices constituting a U.S. torture program, secretly overriding national and international standards of law, taking us all to the dark side. We were blatantly lied to by government officials in order to set us on a path that led to the illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is so clear that grave crimes have been committed by our government. Yet, the new administration refuses to prosecute officials of the Bush administration because it is not politically expedient to demand accountability and transparency up the chain of command. Everyone therefore is not treated equally under the so-called “rule of law”.
In this same time frame, here we are tucked away in a corner of a municipal court building being taken through a petty bureaucratic procedure to determine if the volume of our voices were too loud when we spoke out against war crimes being waged by our government — to determine if we in fact had disturbed the peace. Is this not dark irony, that we are prosecuted for speaking out against those who committed the most heinous acts against humanity as they remain free from any kind of investigation or prosecution? Free speech and our right to assemble are being discouraged, as the abuse of power is being protected in this country. Torture has become an acceptable practice and what we did bearing witness to these crimes is considered being disobedient. Now we have lost our way. Hannah Arendt warned us against the “banality of evil”, when a system is so corrupted by the abuse of power and the crimes of the powerful that everyone becomes complicit in committing those crimes either through their actions or their silence. I will not be silent. You may convict me today for being too loud and disobedient, yet I was neither and had no intent to be loud or disruptive. On the contrary, I stood silently as I listened to the countless names of the dead that were being read with reverence. I live with a much greater conviction, one that tells me I am right not wrong to speak out against a government that does not govern with integrity and within a framework of universal human rights and common decency. It begs the question, if crimes are being committed why would a decent people not raise their voices to be heard, to call attention to the injustices committed by their government? We are struggling here for no less than the preservation of our humanity in the face of transgressions committed in our name. To remain silent and do nothing is not an option. My loyalty is to those who are suffering the terrible consequences of this government’s grave crimes. In their names I will continue this struggle because it is the right thing to do and the right way to act as a human being.
History keeps a record of the names and deeds of those that commit the most heinous acts against humanity, those capable of the greatest cruelties. Alongside those names are the countless examples of acts of resistance and voices of dissent. These stories are the inspiration for our continued human struggle for justice and decency. We will not have been on the wrong side when this history is written. We came to do no harm but to stop harm from being done in our name. We came in peace and for peace and justice.