Ricky Clousing

US Army Interrogator Sgt. Ricky Clousing will come home to Washington State on Saturday, December 23rd after three months in a military prison. Family, friends and supporters will welcome Sgt. Clousing at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 10:15PM on Saturday, December 23rd, Concourse B, Baggage Claim 11. Sgt. Clousing will also be speaking at a reception January 6th at a location to be announced.

On August 11th 2006 , after being AWOL from the military for over 14 months, Sgt. Clousing spoke publicly about what he called “the daily devastation of occupation in Iraq” which led to his decision to leave his unit after completion of his tour in Iraq. He then turned himself over to military custody. On October 11th he was found guilty of AWOL and sentenced to three months in prison.

Sgt. Clousing, a 24 year old Washington native has joined ranks with a number of Iraq veterans who have decided that they can no longer remain silent about the abuses they witnessed in Iraq . Sgt. Clousing’s mother, Sharon Pankalla is happy to have her son returning home. “I’m proud of my son and very happy to have him home. He had the courage to stand up for what he believes in. He stood up for peace and justice.”

If you are interested in Sgt. Clousing speaking to your group, of for more information about the welcome home, please contact Laurel Albina at (206) 419-3811.

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Oct. 12 — Sgt. Ricky Clousing went to war in Iraq because, he said, he believed he would simultaneously be serving his nation and serving God.  But after more than four months on the streets of Baghdad and Mosul interrogating Iraqis rounded up by American troops, Sergeant Clousing said, he began to believe that he was serving neither.

Read the entire New York Times Article

By Elizabeth de la Vega, www.TomDispatch.com

I look forward to the day when Mattel makes a Sgt. Ricky Clousing action figure.

As the mother of sons born eight years apart, I spent nearly half my adult life surrounded by - and stepping on - action figures. They were everywhere: a phalanx of tiny knights in shining armor on the windowsill; Batman and Robin frozen in an ice tray; and GI Joe guys in camouflage among the hosta. One Christmas, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo even ended up in the manger scene along with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, two cows, three sheep, and several Ewoks. My kids spent hours and hours in a fantasy world populated by villains and heroes of every description except one; there were no peace heroes (read more . . .)

See video footage of Sgt. Clousing at Camp Democracy

The Army recently set Sgt. Clousing’s court martial for Thursday, October 12th. Sgt. Clousing has been charged with desertion, and if convicted faces a maximum of one year in confinement and a bad conduct discharge. At his court martial, Sgt. Clousing will testify about the abuses of power he witnessed while serving in Iraq and may call other witnesses. After returning to military custody, the 82nd Airborne opened an investigation into Sgt. Clousing’s allegations of systemic abuse and the misuse of power by US troops in Iraq. The Army has yet to announce the results of this investigation.

Prior to his court martial, Sgt. Clousing, accompanied by his civilian defense attorney David Miner will hold a press conference at 10am at Quaker House (223 Hillside Ave Fayetteville, NC). Later in the day, local supporters will rally in downtown Fayetteville to show their support for Sgt. Clousing’s stand. Stay tuned for updates about actions you can take to support Sgt. Clousing and more information about his court martial.

On August 31st, Sgt. Clousing was charged with violating Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (desertion). If found guilty, he could face a maximum of two years in confinement. The Army did this despite Sgt. Clousing turning himself in. Former Judge Advocate General and Sgt. Clousing’s Co-counsel David W. Miner said in response to the charges:

We are disappointed the Army is choosing to charge Sgt. Clousing rather than focus on the investigation the abuses of power Sgt. Clousing witnessed in Iraq. My co-counsel and I are honored to represent him because of the stand he has taken against the abuses he witnessed in Iraq.

Also in response to the charges, Sgt. Clousing said, “Since I left the army I have known that being court martialed was a possibility I could face. I am at peace with my decision. I followed my conscience and, if need be, I will feel honored to join the ranks of others who have been prosecuted for doing the same.”

View the Press Release Online

The United States Army opened two parallel investigations into disclosures made by Sgt. Clousing about the abuse of power and lack of accountability of the US Military in Iraq. These disclosures have been backed up by investigations conducted by Human Rights Watch. Speaking about the conditions in Iraq, John Sifton from Human Rights Watch said:

The abuse of power in Iraq is not isolated or spontaneous but rather part of a larger pattern of abuse that senior military officials are condoning rather than condemning. Whenever abuses of power by the military in Iraq surface the military has done its best to paint the soldiers as a few bad apples. In fact, the soldiers are victims themselves of poor policies and leadership that guarantees these sorts of things will happen.

“We are pleased that both the 82nd Airborne Command and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division have begun investigations. The incidents in Iraq described by Sergeant Clousing are serious breaches and merit close scrutiny. Also meriting investigation is their part in a larger pattern” says Attorney David W. Miner, a former Army Judge Advocate.

Co-counsel Lawrence Hildes states that “We are confident that a thorough investigation will verify the truth of Sgt. Clousing’s statements. He is cooperating fully with these investigations and we trust that the Army will act in similar good faith.”

Read the Human Rights Watch reportLeadership Failure - Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

Accompanied by Iraq vets, family, friends and lawyers, Sgt. Clousing returned to military custody on August 11th. As previously stated, turning himself in had always been Sgt. Clousing’s intention, and he had been actively working to do so for many months. He was met at the gate by Military Police, and was escorted back on base by the MP’s.

Click here to see pictures of Sgt. Clousing’s return to Ft. Lewis.

On August 11th at the annual Veterans for Peace convention, surrounded by fellow Iraq Vets Against the War, resisters of other wars, military families, friends, and other supporters, Sgt. Clousing spoke about his opposition to the continued occupation of Iraq. Reporters from over a dozen media outlets attended the press conference, and recorded as Sgt. Clousing spoke:

As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces . . . I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability.

I stand here before you today about to surrender myself, which was always my intention . . . I stand here before you sharing the same idea as Henry David Thoreau: as a Soldier, as an American, and as a human being, we mustn’t lend ourselves to that same evil which we condemn.

Click here for more pictures from the press conference courtesy of afterdowningstreet.org. See below for complete video of the press conference courtesy of Sari Gelzer and Geoffrey Millard and truthout.org

Sgt. Ricky Clousing enlisted in the army after the events of September 11. He served in the army for three years, five months of those in Iraq. After 18 months of instruction, he completed his necessary training as an interrogator and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed to Iraq with his unit in December of 2004.

While in Iraq, Sgt. Ricky Clousing operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. While in Iraq, Sgt. Clousing witnessed what he calls “abuses of power” ranging from daily physical and psychological harassment to baseless incarceration of innocent civilians, including children. He maintains that the events that he witnessed, including US troops killing an innocent civilian, were not isolated incidents but endemic in Iraq, and merely the marker of the larger daily devastation of occupation. As an interrogator, he spoke to Iraqis every day. His experiences and conversations in Iraq led him to conclude that the abuses of power and daily events of occupation created a cycle where the Iraqi people began to resent the occupation, resist American force and join resistance movements.

After Sgt. Clousing returned from Iraq, his objections became so deep that he decided he could no longer be involved either indirectly or directly with this organization at this time. Ultimately, he decided that staying in the military was a contradiction to his personal, moral and spiritual beliefs.

He attempted to reconcile this by seeking counsel from military chaplains and personnel. He began looking into applying for Conscientious Objector (CO) status, but ultimately concluded that the definitions for gaining CO status were simply too narrow for him. After months of contemplation, he ultimately left the military.

Sgt. Clousing surrendered to military custody on Friday, August 11, 2006, after holding a press conference with Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace. His mother also spoke at the press conference. He does not know what to expect, but states that his intention was always to surrender.

His call to us is to follow the words of Henry David Thoreau that as Soldiers, Americans, and Human Beings, “we mustn’t lend ourselves to the same evil which we condemn.”

Sgt. Clousing joins the ranks of war resisters worldwide as he speaks out on the terrible conditions of occupation that are kept from most civilians.

We urge you to support Sergeant Ricky Clousing by donating to his legal defense fund, signing up for alerts and updates, and joining supporters as we mobilize in solidarity with his brave stand.