Ward Reilly, VVAW and Veterans for Peace
David A. Caputo
New York City, NY
Dear President Caputo,
Greetings from Ward Reilly in Baton Rouge, La. I am an Infantry veteran (71-74), an anti-war activist, a member of “Veterans For Peace” and the southeast national contact person for”Vietnam Veterans Against the War.”
It has come to my attention that Pace University is threatening criminal charges against, and the expulsion of, two students, Brian Kelly and Lauren Giaccone, because they took time to speak out against former president Bill Clinton, and because they belong to activist groups that are not “approved” by Pace U. I understand the importance of “procedure”, but I also understand the dire condition of our nation and our military policies. We have the right to freely assemble on public property, the last time I checked the Constitution.
Mr. Caputo, in case you haven’t been paying attention, we are on the verge of losing everything that we veterans served for…perhaps you are a veteran, I don’t know. Many national groups, such as the ones I am a member of, have been working long and hard to nurture dissent on college campuses around the country, mainly because there has been no “opposition” party to counter the neocon-Republicans, and their continuous attack on our Constitution and our rights.
I understand that Kelly and Lauren simply expressed their opinion that Mr. Clinton was a “war-criminal”, hardly a crime. That would come under the Bill of Rights as “freedom of expression”, the most basic of our rights. If they belong to groups that are not registered at Pace, then I would suggest that you help them register their groups legally, and NOT threaten them with expulsion for organizing a rally without university permission.
Mr. Caputo, our country is committing war crimes on a daily basis today, for example, in Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Gharib, and at a number of “secret” torture prisons around the world, which also means that YOU, AND your student-citizens, are also committing war crimes, and Mr. Clinton did likewise during his presidency, with the intense bombing of civilians in Kosovo. This is not rhetoric, it is fact.
It is imperative that groups such as the “Campus Antiwar Network” and “Pace Students for a Democratic Society” be embraced and encouraged, as we are on the verge of losing our nation because of the insane policies of the neocon administration, which allows “preventive war” to be the new standard for invading a nation, and laws such as the USA PATRIOT Act, which the ACLU says voids eight of our Bill Of Rights.
If “preventive war” is now accepted policy, well, that would justify attacks against us, like 9-11, wouldn’t you say? If we can attack a nation because they MIGHT want to harm us IN THE FUTURE, well then this policy is justified by ANY nation, exposing us to that same policy from any nation that feels we might threaten them “in the future”.
We MUST have opposition to this incredibly un-American policy, and your job as president of a University is to see to it that the Bill Of Rights is the policy on your campus. That is what citizens pay you for. DISSENT is patriotic.
PLEASE drop the charges against these students, as they are heroes, NOT troublemakers or law breakers. They are angry, and probably embarrassed to be citizens of this nation right now, as you should be also. Our federal government, both the democrats and the republicans, have failed us in the worst way possible, and again, we are on the verge of losing what every military veteran sacrificed for. There is NO opposition party today, and our Constitution is being dismantled daily.
We NEED opposition to the pathetic policies of this administration, and that opposition must come from college campuses. Please help these students register their groups so that they conform to Pace University regulations, and encourage them to speak out against the fascism that has swept the nation. It is a matter of saving our nation, nothing less, and we should applaud students like Brian and Lauren.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter of concern,
S.E. National Contact, VVAW
Veterans For Peace