Since September 11th, President George W Bush and his administration have threatened the world with warnings that nations that do not fall in line with Washington’s so-called war on terror will pay a price-you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists he says. His attorney General John Ashcroft has pushed through a series of repressive decrees and laws, aimed at slashing civil liberties and basic constitutional rights. Ashcroft has said on a number of occasions that to criticize his detention of more than a thousand people here in the US—or any of his edicts for that matter-is supporting what he calls the terrorists. In fact only one member of the Senate, Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, voted against the repressive anti-terrorism bill.
At a time when dissent has been virtually outlawed, there are still some who dare to speak out.
This past weekend longtime peace-activist Philip Berrigan was released from federal prison after serving 2 years foran anti-nuclear protest in which he and several other activists hammered on US warplanes at the Bath Iron Works inMaine. Their Plowshares action was aimed at the A-10 warthog plane, one of the main warplanes that uses depleteduranium weapons. This was not the first time Phil Berrigan was behind bars. In fact he has spent more than a decadeof his life in prisons and jails throughout the country:
- —In 1964 he was imprisoned for pouring blood on draft cards in Baltimore during the Vietnam War.
- —In 1968, along with his brother Fr. Daniel Berrigan and 7 others burned draft files in Catonsville, Maryland inwhat came to be known as the Catonsville 9.
- —In the early 1970s he was put on trial on false charges of attempting to kidnap Henry Kissinger. Berrigan’swife Liz McAlister was also indicted in that case.
- —In 1980, he and 7 others including Dan Berrigan entered the General Electric plant in King of Prussia,Pennsylvania where they hammered on nuclear warheads. Known as the “Plowshares 8”. This sparked a movement called thePlowshares movement where dozens of actions have been carried out at US military facilities across the country,usually involving hammering on weapons or pouring blood on them.
Barely a week out of prison, Phil Berrigan paid George W Bush a visit this past Sunday at the National Cathedral.
- Phil Berrigan, is a longtime peace time activist and a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore.He was just released from prison where he served some 2 years for an anti-nuclear plowshares action in which he andseveral other people hammered on A-10 warthog attack planes. These warplanes generally drop depleted uranium.