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Mary Burton Riseley
Conscience & Consequence / 
Crossing the Line on Torture at 
Ft Huachuca

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Mary Burton Riseley

Mary Burton Riseley

Conscience &

School of the Americas Watch

Crossing the Line on Torture at Ft Huachuca

Mary Burton Riseley is a resident of Gila, NM, a Quaker, peace activist, and depending upon the outcome of her pending trial, she may be an inmate in a federal penitentiary for up to 16 months.

On 18 November 2007 Mary ran the gauntlet at Ft Huachuca - the Army Intelligence Center - to demand an end to the training in, and practice of, torture by the US military and intelligence community.  She was arraigned in Tucson of 4 December by the same judge that recently sentenced Fathers Vitale and Kelly to stints in federal prisons for their similar actions at last year's demonstration.

This marks the 4th annual gathering before the gates of Ft Huachuca attended by a growing number of Southwest activists centered in Tucson in a loose affiliation in support of SOAW / School of the Americas Watch.  Tucson has been a center of serious dissent and direct action going back to the Contra Wars and Sanctuary Movement of the 80s and farmworker / migrant organizing before that.  See the RFS! interview with Jerry Wharton and coverage of last year's event and Dorothy Pine's interview on her work in the Sanctuary Movement.  The Southside Presbyterian Church was a hub of activity during that period and remains a pillar of social justice today.

Southwest Weekend of Witness is another alignment of laymen and members of the progressive faith community that has taken the lead in organizing this year's event which also included an all day Teach In on torture on the 17th at Pima Community College along with sign making, non-violence training, and a documentary screening at Southside Presbyterian Church that afternoon and evening followed by a candle light procession and all night vigil at the Tucson Federal Building.

The singular theme of this year's action was Torture and the demand that this criminal and barbaric practice by US forces under once secret directives of the Bush Regime be stopped immediately and permanently.  

In the meantime, Mary Burton Riseley, Betsy Lamb and Franciscan priest Jerry Zawada have placed themselves physically on the front lines of resistance and have made the sacrifice to declare "Not in My Name."

Click here to watch or here to listen to the program.

Visit Torture on Trial for updated information on the progress of their legal proceedings, the accounts of last year's event and Fathers Kelly and Vitale's arrests and the movement to end torture.

Their prepared statement at the time of their arrest follows. 

Southwest Weekend of Witness

November 18, 2007

Today we join many who call for an end to our country' s use of torture in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, Afghanistan and in secret prisons elsewhere. We stand near the main gate of Ft. Huachuca, a U.S. Army post in southern Arizona, home base for Army intelligence and where all Army interrogators are trained.

We are here because we can no longer tolerate violations of fundamental human rights such as detention without trial and acts of torture committed in our names behind the vast secrecy which the present administration has instituted. Although Colonel Jeff Jennings and other training staff at the fort seemed sincere in telling some of us that waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions are prohibited at Ft. Huachuca, we continue to believe that these brutal and dehumanizing methods are still happening at the hands of U.S. interrogators deployed abroad.

These acts and the secrecy surrounding them contradict our understanding of the U.S. Constitution and our treaty obligations as a signatory to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. They are deeply unacceptable to our personal moral consciences.

There has been widespread opposition to our current government's imperial policies of pre-emptive war, unwarranted telephone and Internet-based surveillance, the sending of invasive national security letters, rendition of many times mistakenly suspected foreigners to countries known to practice torture and the selective abolition of civil rights like habeas corpus. We have filled the streets; we have filled the Internet and telephone lines, the op-ed and letters to the editor columns as well as Congressional mail bags. Some of us have refused war taxes. And yet unspeakable, illegal and immoral acts are committed daily in our names as American citizens.

Gates and sentry posts always relate to greed, the desire to hold on to what we have and to keep people less fortunate than we are from claiming their share. It is not true that military people are more greedy than the rest of us, but they have accepted the charge of protecting our abundance with weapons of unprecedented killing power. They are enforcing the projection into the world of our unwillingness to share. We cannot reconcile gates, guns or sentry posts with the Sermon on the Mount.

Gandhi spoke of nonviolent direct action as an experiment in truth or satyagraha. We ask ourselves: how can we best honor our need to withdraw our complicity with our government's actions?

Our simple ritual of approaching the gate of Ft. Huachuca expresses our willingness to undergo suffering rather than to inflict it, and our longing to bring our country to openness and accountability. We seek to meet with enlisted personnel and officers on Ft. Huachuca to continue a dialogue about the interrogation techniques they are learning, how easy it has been for others trained before them to fall into cruelty, and to explore with them what they each might do to prevent themselves from repeating the horrible errors of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

We may be arrested. We ask for your prayers, and we ask also that you escalate--in any nonviolent way you are led--your own efforts to end torture and the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Love, peace, joy.

Betsy Lamb
Mary Burton Riseley
Jerry Zawada, OFM

Click here to watch or here to listen to the program.

Click here for 
Southwest Weekend of Witness
Click here for 
School of the Americas Watch

Click here for 
Torture on Trial
Click here for an Chicago Reader extensive article on Tony Lagouranis 
Click here for 
2004 Amnesty Torture Report

Click here for 
Father Vitale's legal brief to block the motion preventing him from raising the issue of Torture during trial
Click here for 
Seymour Hersh's article on The Taguba Report
Click here for 
The 90 minute Frontline Special on Interrogation and Torture 
Click here for 
You Tube footage of Santiago Chile supporting SOAW 
at Ft Benning

Click here 
for the Text
and here
for the Votes on HR 1955 - The Thought Crime Bill that turns everyone into a terrorist

Recommended Reading

  • Mission
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    Josh Rushing
  • Fear Up Harsh
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  • A Question of Torture
    CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror
    Alfred McCoy
  • Other Lands Have Dreams
    Kathy Kelly