The Committee to Commemorate the Catonsville Nine
325 E. 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 Ph: 410-323-1607
CONTACT: Max Obuszewski 410-323-1607 or 859-684-4247 1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net
Two supporters of the Catonsville NIne were arrested at the National Security Agency attempting to deliver a letter to the new director.
PRESS RELEASE-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2018
WHO: The Catonsville Nine were Catholic activists who burned draft files on May 17, 1968 to protest the Vietnam War outside a draft board in Catonsville, Maryland. They took 378 draft files, poured home-made napalm over them and set them on fire. There is a commemoration of this heroic event continuing through May 27, 2018. For more information, go to http://www.catonsville9.org/. Organizers of the Catonsville Nine Commemoration decided that a protest should be included among the Commemoration activities. And since Philip Berrigan, a member of the Nine and a co-founder of the Jonah House, did his last protest at the National Security Agency, supporters thought it best to honor him at the Puzzle Palace.
WHAT: Some twenty people, including several children, arrived at Fort Meade and parked in what is now the former visitor’s lot. NSA police informed the group that they must drive instead to the parking lot for the Cryptologic Museum. A police commander informed the group, “Go there and do whatever you want.” Once there the friends of the Catonsville Nine were told to move again to another area. The group refused to move their vehicles, so the police relented and allowed them to march from the Museum parking lot. Many of the protesters have been to the NSA in the past, and were always permitted to do a protest close to Route 32. However, this time the police informed the group they were not permitted to protest near Route 32. Nevertheless, some of the group went to an area near the exit ramp to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. An Anne Arundel County police officer asked them to move away from the medium, which they did. But a protest did transpire.
Around 1:15 PM, four members of the group attempted to go to the Guard Station to deliver a letter to the new director, Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, seeking a meeting to discuss what the group felt were examples of unconstitutional behavior, including illegal surveillance and the selection of people to be killed by killer drone strikes. However, the four advocates, a member from Jonah House, a womanpriest, a veteran and a personal friend of Phil Berrigan, were stopped by a police line. The group was unable to convince the police that they had a constitutional right to attempt to dialogue with a representative of this government agency. Eventually, the police handcuffed Ellen Barfield, a member of the Philip Berrigan Chapter of Veterans For Peace, and Max Obuszewski, who was mentored by Berrigan. Each defendant was then given a citation release, after being charged with “Failure to comply with the lawful direction of an NSA Police officer” and “Attempting to enter protected property without proper authorization.”
WHEN: Sunday, May 6 at 2 PM
WHERE: National Security Agency, Colony Seven Road, Fort George G. Meade, MD 20755
WHY: The citizen activists felt they have a constitutional right to meet with an NSA representative to discuss their concerns and to seek some reconciliation. These concerns were listed in the letter which is below. For example, there is the plight of Reality Winner, a federal contractor who faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on charges she willfully retained and transmitted national defense information. If she did transmit any data, we argue that releasing the information was in the public interest, especially considering the Trump Administration is trying to deny Russian interference in the 2016 election. What has been written in the media about the alleged leak suggests that she did not transmit “national defense information.” What was allegedly leaked is information that the general public should have seen. Most every day, journalists depend on leaks, which are a vital source of information in a democracy. Considering the contempt the Trump Administration has for a free press, we are grateful that individuals such as Winner and Thomas Drake took a risk in sharing information which belongs in the public realm.
The Nuremberg Tribunals taught us that when a government is involved in war crimes, citizens must speak out. The NSA has played a role in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the attacks on Libya, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.
The Nakasone letter also points out “Your agency has a well-recognized history of illegal surveillance and other activities which violate the constitution.” It also condemns the NSA for its involvement with the assassination program which uses killer drone strikes to attack people in possibly seven countries. This killer drone strikes program is immoral, illegal and unconstitutional. Philip Berrigan. as a member of the Jonah House, helped organize the very first protest at the NSA circa 1974.
On Colony Seven Road, Barfield and Obuszewski felt the spirit of the Catonsville Nine and expressed their support of the NSA whistleblowers who exposed agency malfeasance. Of course, they were disappointed that their constitutional rights were violated, and that an opportunity for dialogue was denied. Nevertheless, they look forward to their day in court, and hope that they can expose Agency malfeasance in a court of law. Both peace and justice activists have been arrested before challenging the unconstitutional behavior of the National Security Agency.
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"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