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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Brass Trample GI Rights In Case Of Stolte, Amick

"A GI more than anyone should be allowed to question policy because he's sent to kill or be killed.'' Pvt. Ken Stolte at his court-martial May 22.

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Last February Ken Stolte and Dan Amick of Fort Ord, Calif., wrote, printed a leaflet and passed it out. It said: "..We are uniting and organizing to voice our opposition to this war. If you really want to work for peace and freedom, then join us in our opposition. We are organizing a union in order to express our dissension and grievances...''

Earlier, at Fort Sill, Okla., GIs had begun openly calling for a union to oppose the Brass and the war. The Brass didn't like it. But the Sill soldiers were solidly organized with wide sympathy on the base, and they had the support of the Committee for GI Rights and the Bond. A serious charge by the Brass would have meant a sharp and well-publicized confrontation. Fort Sill Soldiers continue to speak and organize.

But Pvt. Stolte and PFC Amick, though personally courageous, had little organized support. The Brass made an attack. They charged Amick and Stolte with a violation of Article 134 -- one of the military dictatorship's special laws which claims it's a crime to be ''disloyal'' -- and the anti-war GIs got a military-type railroading; the Brass picked a jury (of officers, naturally) with four of seven officers wearing arm patches showing they had been to Vietnam.

One of the prosecution witnesses was a captain with a fresh battle scar across his forehead. He was questioned by Defense Attorney Francis Heisler of the American Civil Liberties Union.

''Have you heard of the First Amendment?''

''Yes, I have.''

''Do you believe that these two men are protected under it ?''

''Yes, but there are limitations as to its scope. Soldiers, for instance are subject to all the rules and regulations of the United States Army.-

"Can you think of any rule or regulation which says that these two boys shouldn't have been passing out leaflets such as this?''

''No--well, in effect, yes, I can; I do know, that every soldier, whether he enlists or is drafted, takes the oath of induction and swear to be loyal to the United States Army."

''Do you know the oath of induction?''

"Yes."

''Would you please repeat it?''

''I swear to defend the Constitution of the United States...''

At this point the entire courtroom broke out with laughter, and the law officer called a recess.

Violating the most basic guarantees of the Constitution, in fact trampling them as if they did not even exist, the Brass convicted Dan and Ken and sentenced them to four years each and dishonorable discharges.

There is 'a word for what the Brass did to, Ken and Dan and to George Daniels and Bill Harvey. The word is ''fascism'' -- or if you prefer the German word, ''Nazism.''

Fascism is a suppression of the people's rights by force, by violence.

To accept it, to say, ''Okay, it's happening to someone else is social suicide because we'll all get it if it is not stopped. It must be fought by every means possible

FORT ORD, Calif., April 9 - - The Army has opened up its most blatant attack on the GIs right of free speech with the announcement that it will court-martial Pvt. Ken Stolte for having passed out an anti-war leaflet to his fellow GIs. The charge is '' promoting disaffection among the troops and civilian populace,'' and carries a possible penalty of three years imprisonment,

Private Stolte is stationed at the Army Hospital on this 25,000-man base near Monterey. In the middle of February, several GIs distributed a leaflet entitled "We Protests'' that said in part:

''We are uniting and organizing to voice our opposition to this war. If you want to be constructive towards building a better world, then stop being destructive. If you really want to work for peace and freedom, then join us in our opposition. We are organizing a union to express our dissention and grievances,''

Although the leaflet merely says what many GIs, and even some retired generals, have been saying about. the war in Vietnam, the Brass have singled out Stolte for an attack on the GIs' right to speak his mind. The charges allege violation of articles 134 and 81 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and even attack the right of GIs to talk about forming a union!

At a time when it. is admitted that the majority of the American people oppose the government's policies on the war, it is criminal that a soldier who speaks up should be persecuted by the Brass. According to the Army, everyone has a right to an opinion on this war except the guys who have to fight and maybe die in it! However, it is one more indication that although legally a man is assumed to retain his rights when he is forced to put on a uniform, in practice GIs have to fight for their rights,

Private Stolte intends to fight for his right of free speech, and will be represented at his general courtmartial by Atty. Francis Heisler of Carmel.

The Bond, vol. 2, no. 6

 

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