Major Joseph A. Blair's Letter Concerning the 31 Citizens on Trial for Protesting SOA

15 January l998

FROM: Major Joseph A. Blair, U.S. Army Retired--former instructor at the United U.S. Army School of Americas and graduate of two Roman Catholic Jesuit schools and university

TO: William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief (also graduate of a Jesuit of university, Georgetown U. l968

RE: Judge Robert Elliott's federal court trial of 3l American citizens who attempted to excercise their First Amendment Right to peaceably assemble and petition their Government for a redress of their grievances on Nov. l6, l997

1. On Nov. l6, l997 six hundred and one American citizens and voters attempted to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition their Government for a redress of their grievances. Upon entering Fort Benning, Georgia your subordinate U.S. Army Major General Carl F. Ernst ordered the petitioners arrested for entering an open federal installation. He refused to act in accordance with our U.S. Constitution as your subordinate and representative of the Government to receive one million citizen's signatures on petitions which expressed their grievances concerning the Latin American army officer graduates of the United States Army School of the Americas who murdered six Jesuit priests at the Jesuit university in El Salvador on l6 Nov. l989. Of the 27 officers who murdered the Jesuit priests three of them were my former students at the School of the Americas where I was a U.S. Army instructor from l986 to l989. I am shocked that you as the President and a graduate of a Jesuit university have never demanded that the murderers of the Jesuit priests be brought before an international war crimes tribunal.

2. I think that U.S. Army Major General Carl F. Ernst did not act in accordance with United States law and certainly did not act as your subordinate when denying the petitioners their First Amendment right to petition their Government. General Ernst should have received the petitions from the United States citizens and forwarded them to you as his Commander-in- Chief. His failure to do so embarrasses the United States Army and you as our President and Commander-in-Chief.

3. Major General Ernst has also persued the federal prosecution of the petitioners in the federal court of Judge Robert Elliott who has served on the bench since l962 when he was appointed by John F. Kennedy. Judge Elliott is the same judge who jailed Martin Luther King, reversed the Army lieutenant William Calley conviction for the murder of innocent Vietnamese citizens at My Lai in Vietnam, and frustrated the entire civil rights movement of the l960s. The l983 July/Aug issue of The American Lawyer did a feature article assessing the 87-year-old Judge Elliott as the "worst" sitting federal judge in the United States. The l988 Pulitzer Prize winning book by Taylor Branch titled Parting the Waters: America in the King Years l954-l963 devotes over l2 pages to the efforts Judge Robert Elliott made to stop King and his fellow peaceful demonstrators. He continues to sit on the federal bench and continues to prevent American citizens from exercising their U.S. Constitutional rights. He has already sent two Catholic priests to federal prison. Army Captain Charles Litkey and Roy Bourgeois went to prison for l8 months for their first protest. The United States Supreme Court took the case before itself for decision. Charles Litkey received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Johnson in l968, and he is one of the American citizens who will once again face Judge Elliott who is a well known white racist and anti- Catholic bigot. Elliott led the l948 Democratic Convention "Georgia walkout protest" over the Democratic party's l948 civil rights platform. He continues to make judicial rulings which are routinely overturned by the llth Circuit Court of Appeals. Unfortunately, the combination of Major General Ernst's actions and Judge Elliott's failure to make decisions based on justice rather than law will mean that 3l petitioners will go to federal prison. Even if the higher courts reverse his decisions, they will have to spend time in federal prison because two branches of our government are linked together in an effort to silence the petitioners.

3. The only charge in the federal court will be that the petitioners violated a Fort Benning Army regulation which is only applied by its commanding general to those who object to the continued existence of the School of the Americas. All other American citizens who support the School of the Americas and political lobbyists are offered free access to Fort Benning to engage in partisan political activities which support the School of the Americas.

4. As a graduate of Marquette University (Jesuit) class of l968 and St. Ignatius College Prep (Jesuit) in Chicago l964 and Vietnam veteran who served with William Colby in Vietnam as an administrative assistant in l971, and who also specialized in Central American military affairs for l2 years as a Latin American U.S. Army Foreign Area Specialist, I can assure you that I have first hand professional experiences and knowledge about the human rights violations the Latin American officer graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas committed throughout the l970s and l980s. You demonstrated your knowledge of the same when you released the White House Intelligence Oversight Board findings in l996 which reported to the American public that the U.S. Army School of the Americas condoned teaching Latin American officers false imprisonment, physical abuse, extortion, false arrest, inhumane interrogation techniques normal people call torture, and other U.S. Army infantry killer skills which the Latin American armies have only used in their histories to oppress their own citizens. They have never been our military allies in our two world wars, Korea, or Vietnam, yet you continue to train them. We should de-emphasize Latin American army training and place more emphasis on promoting civilian control of the emerging democracies in Latin America. You also know that Latin American armies operate independently of their elected presidents and are not subjected to their national courts.We must show Latin America that our form of representative government and federalism is the only form of government which will serve the needs of the people in our hemisphere! Let's not show them that our Army acts the same way their's do!

5. I ask that you immediately intercede in this matter.

Warm regards.
Major Joseph A. Blair, U.S. Army Retired, A.M.D.G.

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