Louis Vitale, 75, a Franciscan priest, and Steve Kelly, 58, a Jesuit priest, were each sentenced on Wednesday, October 17th to five months in federal prison. Their crime? Attempting to deliver a letter opposing the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. The priests are now in prison.
Common Dreams describes the offense thusly:
The priests were arrested while kneeling in prayer halfway up the driveway to Fort Huachuca in November 2006. Both priests were charged with trespass on a military base and resisting orders of an officer to stop.
In a pre-trial heating, the priests attempted to introduce evidence of torture, murder, and gross violations of human rights in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and at Guantanamo. The priests offered investigative reports from the FBI, the US Army, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Social Responsibility documenting hundreds of incidents of human rights violations. Despite increasing evidence of the use of torture by U.S. forces sanctioned by President Bush and others, the federal court in Tucson refused to allow any evidence of torture, the legality of the invasion of Iraq, or international law to be a part of the trial.
Demonstrations against the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca are scheduled for November 16 and 17 this year.
Despite the Disney-esque image that comes to mind with use of the Fort’s nickname, “Fort Sneezy,” the real nature of what goes on there is far more sinister. Fort Huachuca is Army Intelligence HQ. Oxymoronic but still dangerous.
In Friar Kelly’s words, ““We will keep trying to stop the teaching and practice of torture whether we are sent to jail or out. We have done our part for now. Now it is up to every woman and man of conscience to do their part to stop the injustice of torture.”
Every man and woman… that’s us folks. Shall we begin?