After reading the description of my testimony in the Columbus Ledger I think I need to provide more details.
I was the last to take the stand and the judge had just finished scolding Fr Vitale claiming that congress has authorized WHINSEC, it was their right to do so and we should just accept that. I departed from my prepared text, providing the court with a written copy. Instead I said I wanted to address the issue the judge had just raised. I told him that indeed congress had authorized the school, but they had also ordered that it be reformed. I said it was clear the school had not reformed. The school had merely hired a PR firm to polish their image. Congress required the army to vet their students, but the army refused to release the names of the students making it impossible to determine how well they had been vetted and how they performed when they returned to their home countries. The army had also been censoring the Wikipedia entries for SOA / WHINSEC and Ft Benning to eliminate entries they didn't like. Now these actions are circumstantial evidence of misconduct and if the army had a stellar record of doing what they should I might not worry. However the army has a terrible record of making positive changes. For example in the 1990's the army had been warned that it was allowing racists and anti-government extremists to enlist. And remember Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier met while training at Ft Benning. The judge then interrupted me saying that was 20 years ago and wasn't related to the school. I explained that I knew it wasn't related directly to the school. I was using that as an example of why the army could not be trusted to reform the school. And I continued the army was warned 20 years ago and was still being warned today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (an organization that tracks hate groups) and was still ignoring those warnings. I ask the judge if he was familiar with the SPLC and he snorted that he knew them well. I didn't get the impression he liked them. I continued that the army record made it imperative that citizens demand they reform and that is why I joined in the action at the gate.
The written statement given to the court as an exhibit is included below:
"From the first I attended the vigils always inspired me. As a Christian who was drawn to the example of Philip Berrigan and Martin Luther King, Fr Roy's vigils at Ft Benning were emotionally uplifting experiences. I crossed the line for the first time in 1998 and each year after until 2001. Finally this year I ran out of excuses and hopefully I will be able to clear my conscience. I believe the school has not changed in any significant way. Indeed, since the renaming in 2001, the army has hired a PR company to polish their image. We know that thanks to Aaron Shuman who was given a copy of the PR plan by WHINSEC's Rials. Simultaneously the army is concealing the names of their students to make it more difficult to determine how effective their vetting process is and how their graduates perform when they return to their home countries. The army has also attempted to conceal their record by censoring the Wikipedia entry on the SOA/WHINSEC to omit all references to human rights abuses connected to the school and deleted all mention of SOA Watch from entry about Ft Benning. We know that thanks to WikiScanner, developed by CalTech graduate student Virgil Griffith, that traced the editorial changes made to the online encyclopedia to Fort Benning computers. The army's aversion to meaningful oversight and their long record of refusing to make meaningful changes to any of their systems (other than weapons systems and tactics) makes it critical that citizens insist on these changes to protect the public and soldiers themselves. For example consider the conditions that our wounded soldiers had to endure before the media finally exposed their plight. Also remember the army has been warned repeatedly that they have failed to vet recruits for affiliation to racist and anti-government extremist groups. If you think that doesn't put the public at risk consider that Timothy Mc Veigh, Michael Fortier and Terry Nichols met at Ft Benning.