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Who Is "Disorderly"?

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May 9, 2008

Trial Statement, City Court, Syracuse, New York

Friends, members of the court, Judge Cecile,

As I am defending myself, my defense will be unencumbered with legal jargon and technicalities.

Given that the prosecution has failed to prove its case against me, at this juncture it might be appropriate to rest my case. But, quite frankly, my aim here goes beyond merely winning an acquittal.

Since intent is pivotal to the charge of “disorderly conduct,” I must explain why early on the afternoon of March 19 I was in one of Syracuse’s busiest streets, in one of Syracuse’s most public places – at a demonstration attended by hundreds, a demonstration featured on the front page – above the fold – of the March 20 Syracuse Post-Standard.

I will show the irony of being charged with “disorderly conduct.”

And, more to the point, I’ll show the inappropriateness of being prosecuted for my action.

March 19, you’ll recall, was the beginning of yet another year of the illegal US invasion of Iraq.

[[Your honor, I’d like to introduce here exhibit A — a copy of a photo taken by Post-Standard photographer Mike Greenlar on March 19.]]

That’s me in the lower left corner covered by a “bloody” sheet as I lay facedown on the rain-washed pavement of Salina Street.

Role-playing an Iraqi corpse, for over an hour I didn’t open an eye, I didn’t utter a sound, I barely moved a muscle.

The entire time I was “mourned” by my partner in real life, Ann Tiffany, bending over me, silently, eyes downcast, shrouded in black.

Explaining this tableau, Ann had put an upright sign near my body; It said, “STREET SCENE IN BAGHDAD.”

Along with many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others around the country on March 19 we were using our bodies to assert that, as long as this vile war goes on, there should be “no business as usual.”

Twenty-two of us were arrested here that day. For failure to produce identification, I spent a long, cold, bedless night in the local jail.

Judge Cecile, at my April 14 appearance in your court, perhaps you wondered why I refused your offer of “time served.”

Besides forcing me to plead guilty, accepting time served would have denied me this opportunity to address your court, this opportunity to, in an extremely cursory way, put the Iraq War itself on trial.

There are numerous charges to be leveled against the war criminals who launched the illegal Iraq war.

Because the court’s time is precious I shall quickly enumerate those charges:

~ In direct violation of international law, the invasion of Iraq was unprovoked. ~ Premised on lies and perpetuated with disinformation, the war is dishonest. ~ In contempt of virtually every spiritual tradition, the war is immoral. ~ The war is brutal, even barbaric. ~ Killing mostly civilians, often from the air, the war is cowardly. ~ The war is thieving and imperialistic. ~ The protracted occupation has led to a feeding frenzy of war profiteering. ~ Each year this travesty swindles US taxpayers out of hundreds of billions of dollars. ~ The war is reckless – reducing not only our standing, but our safety, in the world.

Further, the so-called War against Terror in Iraq is terroristic to the core.

I know first hand whereof I speak. As a human rights monitor I lived in Baghdad for five months in 2003. I was there before, during and after “shock and awe.” ~ I experienced the dread and terror of that naked aggression. ~ I visited bombed-out public markets. ~ I climbed over the rubble of pulverized homes. ~ In the hospitals I met civilian casualties of these US bombings. ~ With my own eyes I watched as much of Baghdad’s civilian infrastructure was destroyed. ~ On April 8, 2003 US forces shelled the hotel next door to ours, killing two international journalists, friends of friends of mine.

The criminality of the subsequent occupation also hit close to home. Shortly after I returned to the States ~ three friends were abducted in Baghdad; ~ my former housemate, Haythem Al-Jouburi, was detained in Abu Ghraib; ~ and my closest friend in Iraq, Ghareeb Ramadan, was killed in a crossfire while translating for an Italian journalist.

Thanks to “shock and awe” and thanks to over five years of US military occupation, ~ chaos and terror reign in Iraq; ~ the economy is a shambles; ~ ethnic and sectarian tensions have been inflamed; ~ several million Iraqis have become refugees both internally and externally; ~ much infrastructure – including health facilities – has been demolished; ~ the environment has been poisoned by the toxic and radioactive depleted uranium used in US weaponry; ~ US corporations are expropriating Iraq’s resources and devouring her now-privatized enterprises; these war profiteers make billions. ~ lastly, hundreds of thousands – mostly civilians, but also thousands of US soldiers and mercenaries – have been killed and maimed.

One more thing. So harrowing and so demoralizing is US military service in the Middle East that for every US soldier killed, several more commit suicide. [April 21, 2008, Associated Press] And those suicides will keep happening long after this heinous occupation ends and all our soldiers are back home.

Your honor, in closing I submit that my nation’s conduct in Iraq spawned and perpetuates Disorder – Disorder on an inconceivable scale.

In stark contrast, my thoughtful, disciplined and nonviolent effort to bring such Disorder to an end was the very opposite of “disorderly conduct.”

I now rest my case.

Judge James Cecile found Kinane guilty. Kinane was in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness. Reach Ed at .