Statement of Sgt. Ricky Clousing

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photo by: Jeff Paterson
Sgt. Ricky Clousing made this statement at a press conference outside the 
Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle, WA on August 11, 2006 

First - to my Family, Friends, Brothers and Sisters of the Religious Community, Members of the Press, and fellow citizens of this nation we are grateful to call home - thank you for your support here today before I turn myself over to military custody.

My name is Ricky Clousing. I am a Sergeant in the United States Army and I have served for three years and have been absent from my unit since June 2005. Like many in uniform today, I enlisted after the events of September 11th wanting to defend the freedoms and privileges we enjoy here. After 18 months of instruction I completed my necessary training as an interrogator and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. As the invasion of Iraq unfolded I felt confused about the premise behind such an attack. But in November of 2004 I deployed to Iraq in support of the first stage of elections to be held.

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 second guess my beliefs. I thought about these experiences and what they meant each day I was deployed and until I was back in garrison in April of 2005. Upon my return I started to ask my unit the same questions I had been asking myself. Wearing the uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality? If those orders go unquestioned down my Chain of Command, am I exempt from reevaluating them? My convictions, spiritually and politically, began to second guess my ability to perform day to day functions as a soldier. I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom.

Under the recommendation of my unit, I sought counsel from military chaplains and counselors, and as my feelings crystallized, I realized that I could not fulfill the duties expected of me. After months of questioning, I began considering the possibility of leaving. Each day I felt haunted by my conscience that my association in uniform at this time was wrong, and my involvement directly or indirectly in this organization at this time was a contradiction to my beliefs.

I stand here before you today about to surrender myself, which was always my intention. I do not know what to expect, or the course of my future. We have found ourselves in a pivotal era where we have traded humanity for patriotism. Where we have traded our civil liberties for a sense of security. I stand here before you sharing the same idea as Henry David Thoreau: as a Soldier, as an American, and as a human being, we mustn’t lend ourselves to that same evil which we condemn. Thank you.

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