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Up Against The Pentagon

It ought to be clear by now that the Amerikan military doesn't give a damn about a servicemen' s Constitutional rights---especially, if by exercising those rights he exposes the military brass and their co-conspirators in Washington for what they are.

I am the editor of OM, The Servicemen' s Newsletter—the first anti war, anti-brass paper put of by a Navyman in the U.S. Navy's long and inglorious history.

I am also a member of the American Servicemen's Union; a group that has been in the vanguard in the fight do obtain rights for G.I.s.

As editor of the Washington D.C. based paper, I will be the first servicemen to face court-martial solely for statements written in a G.I. newspaper. For this dubious distinction I presently face up to 39 years in the brig and a dishonorable discharge when tried by a general court-martial.

Why? One reason is that I was speaking the truth about the Amerikan war in Vietnam. Another thing; I never minced words about my disgust and contempt for the lying politicians in Washington and the other war criminals in the Pentagon who give the orders, make the policies, gain the promotions, the medals and the money while our blood and Vietnamese blood is shed to make profits for a few and poverty for the many.

The military, the government and the war industries need the big lies to survive. How else do you think they can get us to fight their wars and die for them?

Because I set out deliberately to upset the status quo and to bring about needed discussion of issues revelant to GIs, the Brass and a reactionary Congressman got together to say that I “went to far”. By court-martialing me the Navy will have to trample the Bill of Rights, that historic document which is supposed to protect us from the government. And unless we get ourselves “together” that is just what they'll do.

But, in fact, our rights have already been trampled and are not worth the paper they are written on as long as the Pentagon Brass have the power to arbitrarily decide and interpret in what manner and form those rights may be exercised.

This has got to stop. The power to determine one's own destiny is an inalienable right. Like one that can't be taken away from you.

I was originally charged on June 20, 1969, with violating l4 specifications under four articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice based on articles in the April, May and June issues of “OM”.

They were as follows Article 82-soliciting others to desert in violation of Article 85 and soliciting others to commit sedition in violation of Article 86. Article 89-disrespect to Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chmn, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Article 92 - not disclaiming that my views were not official Navy views. Article 134 -conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline (making disloyal statements--8 counts), violation of Title 183 Section 2387 (the notorious 1940 Smith Act--intent to interfere with, impair, etc., etc., loyalty and discipline, etc., etc.,--good for ten years each).

On August 28, 1969, I was ordered to stand trial. Some counts were ruled out by the judge then ruled back in by Commandant of the Washington Naval District. This is being appealed. A decision is expected soon--then a trial date will be set.

My request that I be tried before a jury composed entirely of E-2's and E-3's was turned down by the Commandant and you know that being tried by an all-officer court is like being a Jew tried in Nazi Germany (or a black being tried in the U.S.A.).

The judge is a winner too. Under questioning from my lawyers he stated that he did not believe that servicemen had the right to publish material for or against the war.

But all the charges and legal maneuvering is just BULL SHIT; my prosecutiton was ordered by L. Mendel Rivers of South Carolina (a Congress- man who heads the House Armed Services Committee, pushes the war, blesses the brass in any way they ask, and who is a racist pig--Ed.).

In a letter dated June 6, 1969, Rivers wrote Rear Adm. Means Johnston that my publication, OM “reflects a gross abuse of the Constitutional right of free speech”--that is, I had published “Bobby Seale’s Parable” in the June issue of OM.

The parable tells of a thirsty man who finds a stream, but it's full of filth. It seems that there is a huge hog “pissing and shitting in the stream...” I attached a line at the ending “L. Mendel Rivers, get your ass out of that stream. You hear, boy?”

The Brass toadies of Rivers interrogated me on June 12, transferred me on June 17 and charged me on June 20. Fast reaction time, huh? The fucking Navy has never moved that fast--except to screw a guy.

At ny Article 32 “grand jury type hearing,” the Navy testified that it had assigned 25 agents to follow me and harass me during my off-duty time. I nearly fell out of my chair when an agent testified that the Navy picked up and fingered through the garbage and picked it up at my off--base apartment.

There has been a lot of support and solidarity from many people in this battle with Rivers and the Navy Brass. The American Servicemen's Union, the New Mobilization Committee have agreed to conduct massive demonstrations to STOP THE TRIAL.

A lot more is needed.

The solidarity of masses of people moving against oppressive institutions can be a beautiful thing to behold. Id is also a frightening thing—to our oppressors.

My court-martial could come in March or April or maybe later. But it does not have to come at all. People rising up angry can change their own destiny. If we get organized we can win. (Disorganized people have no rights.)
But if it comes, the trial could be a springboard for even greater opposition to the war and the denial of basic Constitutional rights.

I invite everybody to come and watch the Navy court-martial the First Amendment (Bldg. 200 on 11th St., S,E. Just south of M Street, Washington; D.C.). Fun is guaranteed to one and all. Our success depends on what we do before, during and after the court-martial.

The Brass like to do their dirty deeds where no one can see them. It is necessary to focus attention on this trial and on all the injustices that bave been committed by the Pentagon.

The whole world will be watching -expecially G.I.s. Nobody likes to see another get screwed--after all it might be them soon. Public exposure of this case can only increase G.I. dissent. It just might be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Repression breeds rebellion.

If you can't come to the trial, then organize wherever you are. The power is in your hands if you but realize it. Don't just display it. Use it.


Roger Priest

Up Against the Bulkhead, vol. 1, no. 1


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