Military resister Ricky Clousing speaks out against Iraq war

Sgt. Ricky Clousing, an Iraq war combat vet and U.S. Army interrogator, turned himself in to U.S. military custody on Aug. 11 at Ft. Lewis, Wash., after being absent from his unit for one year. Flanked by his family, fellow resisters from the Iraq and Vietnam wars, and other supporters, he spoke at a press conference at the University of Washington campus, site of the 2006 Veterans for Peace national convention.

Clousing spoke about what he called “abuses of power” and the “daily devastation of occupation in Iraq.” In his


War resister Ricky Clousing, Ft. Lewis, Aug. 11.
Photo: Jane Cutter

statement, he explained that he joined the military after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. However, after being deployed to Iraq, he began to “doubt and reconsider” his beliefs.

Because Clousing served as an interrogator, he spoke to Iraqis on a daily basis and began to understand 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 U.S. troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability.”

Clousing described an incident in which an Iraqi civilian was killed. While traveling in a convoy, another vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Soldiers in Clousing’s vehicle got out and drew their weapons. At the same time, a young Iraqi man approached driving 15 miles per hour in a car. Clousing said the driver appeared terrified, and was trying to turn around when a U.S. soldier shot into the car, killing the driver, without giving any warning. Clousing tried to report this atrocity to his superiors but was told that he did not “know the reality of war” and that “this kind of thing happens.”

Other speakers at the press conference included Vietnam war resister Michael Wong, Iraq resister Camilo Mejia, and Sharon Pankalla, Clousing’s mother. Josh Casteel, who attended interrogator school with Clousing, spoke about the horrific torture of prisoners he directly observed in Iraq.

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