<\body> Stories in America: Sgt. Ricky Clousing's Statement

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sgt. Ricky Clousing's Statement

First-to my Family, Friends, Brothers and Sisters of the Religious Community, Members of the Press, and fellow citizens of this nation we are grateful to call home - thank you for your support here today before I turn myself over to military custody.

My name is Ricky Clousing. I am a Sergeant in the United States Army and I have served for three years and have been absent from my unit since June 2005. Like many in uniform today, I enlisted after the events of September 11th wanting to defend the freedoms and privileges we enjoy here. After 18 months of instruction I completed my necessary training as an interrogator and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. As the invasion of Iraq unfolded I felt confused about the premise behind such an attack. But in November of 2004 I deployed to Iraq in support of the first stage of elections to be held.

In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, 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.

Being attached to a tactical infantry unit and being exposed to the brutalities of war, I began to second guess my beliefs. I thought about these experiences and what they meant each day I was deployed and until I was back in garrison in April of 2005. Upon my return I started to ask my unit the same questions I had been asking myself. Wearing the uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality? If those orders go unquestioned down my Chain of Command, am I exempt from reevaluating them? My convictions, spiritually and politically, began to second guess my ability to perform day to day functions as a soldier. I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom.

Under the recommendation of my unit, I sought counsel from military chaplains and counselors, and as my feelings crystallized, I realized that I could not fulfill the duties expected of me. After months of questioning, I began considering the possibility of leaving. Each day I felt haunted by my conscience that my association in uniform at this time was wrong, and my involvement directly or indirectly in this organization at this time was a contradiction to my beliefs.

I stand here before you today about to surrender myself, which was always my intention. I do not know what to expect, or the course of my future. We have found ourselves in a pivotal era where we have traded humanity for patriotism. Where we have traded our civil liberties for a sense of security. 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. Thank you.


At 8/13/2006 7:35 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Off topic, but here's something that should cheer everyone up that didn't get much play in the media....

Remember this?

"Forget military families, Bush wants to meet the American Idols! Even the gay idols! Don't ask, don't tell."


Mostly unreported, President Bush did more than attend a fundraiser during his trip to Wisconsin Thursday. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Beth Karlson, who lost her son to the Iraq war, wanted something when she met Thursday with President Bush.


For well over a year, the 63-year-old woman - "just a little bumpkin from Wisconsin," she says - has repeatedly sought information from the Army about the 2003 death of her son, Army Staff Sgt. Warren S. Hansen.

He and 16 soldiers from the 101st Airborne were killed when two Blackhawk helicopters collided above Mosul on Nov. 15, 2003. It was the single deadliest episode in the war for U.S. forces up until then.

Karlson learned Wednesday from the White House that she and her husband were invited to meet with Bush on Thursday during his Green Bay visit. Away from the public eye, he met with five families who have lost loves ones in the war, a White House aide said.

Karlson, a retired school "lunch lady" from Clintonville, has been frustrated by multiple attempts to obtain the official Army report on the crash. So she broached the subject with Bush.

"He seemed very interested," the mother said. The president told her that an aide who was on hand and taking notes would look into the matter Friday.

Karlson and her husband, Jim, met with Bush for 20 to 30 minutes. It began with a "great big bear hug" from Bush. He gave her a presidential coin. He signed a scrapbook she's amassed about her firstborn son. It was the only time he didn't hold her hand during the meeting.

"He said, 'I just love the military. There's just something about miliary families.' And he thanked us for raising the type of child we did - that's part of what he wrote in the scrapbook," Karlson said.

Hansen, 36, who'd seen the world with the Army but called Clintonville home, was an Army brat and veteran. He had 17 years in when he died.
Karlson first met Bush in March 2004 at Fort Campbell, Ky., home of the 101st.

Thursday, the five families gathered in separate rooms at the Oneida Police Department for their visits, she told the Journal Sentinel.

Karlson - who makes it plain she's no Cindy Sheehan - voted twice for Bush and supports the war. Preparing for her meeting, she vowed to tell him that her late son "loved what he was doing, he believed in what he was doing and he was honored to serve his country."
She was told that the collision was not an accident, but a "combat loss due to evasive maneuvers." Karlson was referred to Fort Belvoir, Va. She followed up with calls, e-mails and Freedom of Information requests.

In May 2005, Belvoir officials told her the investigation had been finalized and that requests for information were being processed in chronological order based on the date in which they were received. Still, nothing.

On Thursday, Bush told her: "You will get that report."

The next day, the Journal-Sentinel reported:

On Friday morning, [Karlson] awoke to a call from a White House aide who told her he had been called Thursday night by Bush.

The aide, whose name Karlson did not know, said he asked officials to turn the report around in 12 hours. The aide told Karlson the report might become available on Monday.


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