Monday, 26 April 2004

National Radio Project on "Courage Under Fire: Resistance to War"

Twenty years ago this month I was released from the Federal prison camp in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania after “serving” a six-month sentence for wilfull refusal to submit to registration with the the USA Selective Service System for a possible draft of soldiers to be sent to fight in Afghanistan on the side of the people the CIA was then training and arming (and who would later come to call themselves the Taliban and Al Qaeda).

In a very real sense, I was imprisoned by the USA not just for activities supposedly protected by the First Amendment — the government’s stated purpose in choosing targets for its show trials, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a thoroughly confused decision in Wayte v. U.S. (audio of the oral argument as I heard it in the courtroom 6 October 1984), was to indict the “most vocal” nonregistrants, in the mistaken belief that our convictions would most effectively scare less public nonregistrants into signing up — but also for refusing to agree to fight on the side of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and against the values of secularism, women’s rights, “Westernization”, modernization, and so forth that were then being championed in Afghanistan by the USSR and their occupation forces and the government they installed, in the same way that is now being claimed by the USA occupation forces and the government they have installed. So much for the claim that we ought to trust the USA government to decide for us in which wars, and on which side, to risk our lives and deprive other people of theirs.

At the same time I left prison, my partner’s cousin, Eric Muller, was about to leave law school (no jokes about law school as prison, please) for a clerkship with a Federal judge followed by a stint as a Federal prosecutor arguing against criminal appeals like the one I was then still pursuing.

Who would have thought that of the two of us it would be Eric who would write a book about draft resistance, Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II, or that we’d end up good friends who enjoy bouncing ideas off each other even when we don’t (as surprisingly often we do) find ourselves on the same side of an issue. Eric’s blog, Is That Legal?, is one of the most genuinely thoughtful sources of legal commentary on an Internet often overwhelmed with polemics.

This week Eric and I — and several people more interesting than either of us — are featured on Courage Under Fire: Resistance to War from the National Radio Project. (It’s a 29-minute program; the segment with Eric is the second and that with me the final third of the program, beginning at 20:10 of the podcast.)

I did write a long account of my own imprisonment, which was published in 1984 in Resistance News . One of these years I might get around to putting it online. In the meantime, for more on my own background, and what draft resistance has to do with travel, see Who Is Edward Hasbrouck? and Why Is He Doing These Things? . For the current status of registration, the draft, and resistance to both, see [Who Will Fight These Wars?”:/draft/whowillfight.html], an article I wrote last year, with my mother, Marguerite Helen, for the American Friends Service Committee magazine “Peacework”, and my Web site at

[Addendum, 28 April 2004: Comments on the show from Eric’s and my mutual friend Michael Froomkin: Small World. Good Radio. ]

Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 26 April 2004, 16:25 ( 4:25 PM)
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