Wednesday, October 22, 2008

After judge denies motion to dismiss, defense presented its case

Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski at



Contact: Max Obuszewski [410] 366-1637 or mobuszewski at



WHO: The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore was formed for individuals willing to engage in nonviolent civil resistance to first prevent and later to protest the war in Iraq. It is affiliated with several national peace groups, including the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] and United For Peace & Justice. 

NCNR organized a theatrical event on March 12 inside the gallery of the U.S. Senate.  Three members of the Baltimore Pledge, Maria Allwine, Ellen Barfield and Max Obuszewski, joined with Tim Chadwick, Joy First, Judith Kelly, Art Landis, Linda LeTendre, Manijeh Saba and Eve Tetaz as the Ghosts of the Iraq War. 

Each of the ten stood up individually, while wearing a We Will Not Be Silent tee shirt and gauze over the head, and stated "I am a ghost from the Iraq War.  While I died needlessly, I am here to demand an end to the funding of the war so that others do not have to die."  All were removed, arrested and charged with Unlawful conduct, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. Nine of the defendants are pro se with Ann Wilcox acting as an attorney advisor.  Tetaz is represented by Jack Baringer.  Judge Robert Morin is presiding in the trial, and on October 22, the case went to the jury.


WHAT:  A motion for additional discovery yielded some information in the late afternoon on October 21--relevant pages were copied from the Capitol Police Intelligence Report for March 12, 2008.  This 26-page report contained an illegally-obtained private email that Obuszewski sent out on December 9, 2007.  This was a proposal calling for a visit to the gallery on March 12.  Through some type of infiltration or computer hacking, the Capitol Police, which covered-up its source, had advance knowledge of the Ghosts of the Iraq War.  The discovery that the Capitol Police had a copy of a private email unfortunately came after the government presented its case. 


In response, a motion for dismissal was made, but it was rejected by Judge Morin.  So the defense began its case on October 22.


Kelly made an opening statement, which stated the defendants, long-time peace activists, had no criminal intent, but went to the gallery to exercise their right to petition the government to end to the Iraq War.  After years of marching, lobbying, vigiling, protesting and writing letters to their elected officials, the defendants decided to be creative and take their message directly to the U.S. Senate.   All but one defendant then testified.  Kelly and Landis, for example, stated they never spoke out in the gallery, despite contrary police testimony.  Obuszewski indicated he was obeying his Nuremberg Obligation on March 12 to speak out since the government is engaged in an illegal war.  Chadwick explained that the We Will Not Be Silent tee shirt honors the White Rose, dissenters to the Nazi government who were killed for leafletting.  Several of the defendants testified they were honoring the U.S.  Constitution.  Each of the defendants who went on the witness stand had a remarkable activist history. 


Allwine made a motion for judgment of acquittal, which was taken under advisement. A closing statement was made by First, who pointed out the fallacies in the testimony of the four government witnesses and enlightened the jury about the motives of the defendants on March 12.  In Baringer’s closing statement, he pointed out that the government provided no evidence that a disruption was caused by the defendants on the day of the arrest.  Instead, he said the Capitol Police caused the ruckus, not the peaceful people.  After the prosecutor offered a closing calling for a guilty verdict, the case went to the jury.  Jury deliberations will begin.


WHEN:  Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 9:30 AM


WHERE:  Courtroom 312 in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001


WHY:  Despite the failure by the government to provide responsive discovery, the case was allowed to continue.  However, Obuszewski’s motion for dismissal, as well as his subpoena for Terry Gainer, Sargeant-at-Arms, will be revisited post-verdict.


It would be foolish to predict what decisions will be rendered by the jury.  Nevertheless, the defendants remain optimistic that most members of the jury were attentive to both the many antiwar statements and the legal arguments presented by the defense.


All ten defendants, long-time peace activists, have been working for years to try to convince their legislators that the Iraq War is an unqualified mess, a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars and an unmitigated disaster for the people of Iraq and the soldiers sent to fight.  Their plea, on March 12, was entered in the Congressional Record, heard on C-Span and reported in the media.  They hoped their message would reverberate around the country through media coverage and that others would also take the risks of peace and speak out to their legislators. It remains unclear what effect the Ghosts of the Iraq War might have had.  Nevertheless, the defendants will continue their efforts to call for an end to the war.


See the action at




"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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