Larry Purcell and Ed Ehmke appeared in Santa Barbara Federal Court for sentencing on Thursday, July 17, for their March 2 witness. After reviewing a pre-sentencing report, Magistrate Rita Coyne-Federman handed both defendants a one day sentence with credit for time served. Both Larry and Ed walked out of court free of jail time. See Ed’s sentencing statement below.
Statement for Sentencing Hearing, Jul 17, 2008, in Santa Barbara Federal Court
Edwin G. Ehmke
Shortly before or after the United States attack upon Iraq, I attended a large march in San Francisco. Among those in our group were a number of Italian nuns dressed in their traditional white habits. Upon entering Civic Center Plaza, I was approached by a TV reporter who focused a camera on me, stuck a microphone to my mouth and asked, “What does religion have to do with this war?” I was speechless, partially because of the surprise factor, and partly because of the question, the answer to which I thought was obvious. All I could do was stammer: “It’s immoral.”
I have thought about this often since then, wondering what I could have said had I greater presence of mind. So far, however, I really haven’t come up with a better answer. All I can do in this statement is elaborate on this.
When people learn that we have committed civil disobedience, they are often puzzled. What good does it do? It won’t change anything. Why risk your freedom or stain your record on behalf of a cause you can’t do anything about? My answer is similar to that given by my wife Mary Jane before this court on May 15. We do this as a witness against an evil that has become so banal that it is often ignored. We take for granted what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, a set of interlocking governmental and corporate relationships that feed on each other to produce a mindset that has one focus: power. This is no secret. What would our founding fathers think of what many in our government have publicly said or published: The Project for the New American Century, with its blueprint for American world mastery; the lavishly illustrated Space Command published by the Department of Defense, calling for complete American militarization and dominance of space? The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, headed by a recent vice-president of the world’s largest weapons manufacturer and exporter? The list runs on and on, going as least as far back as studies from 1960’s think tanks, that blandly divorced strategic policies from the fates of those they affected the most. In the meantime we sit before our televisions, insulated from the insecurity we might experience were the media to report the military caskets and civilian deaths the way it did in Vietnam. America has changed.
We spend more than $50 million dollars a shot in order to pummel an atoll in the Marshall Islands, whose inhabitants have nothing to say in the matter. These missiles, coming from Vandenberg Air Force Base, have one purpose only—to kill as many people as possible. I’m sure they are quite effective. With 4 shots a year that makes $200 million. The war in Iraq is costing us 700 or so million a day. I don’t recall much attention several weeks ago when President Bush magnanimously offered $3 million to help the untold numbers of Burmese cyclone victims. I guess this was enough to make us feel good. No need to mention the poor, inadequate medical care, roads full of potholes, and most of our neglected infrastructure . The stock of Lockheed Martin has gone up sixfold.
Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Parry, and Sam Nunn have several times during the last year jointly called for an end to the nuclear madness. Speaking and acting against it is not unreasonable. And—most importantly—my recollection of the Fifth Commandment does not include exemptions for preemptive strikes and the massive taking of any human life. America may have changed, but this commandment has not.