This story from Courage to Resist is about a client of mine who is currently in pre-trial confinement as he is being prosecuted for following the higher law of conscience and refusing to participate anymore in the US military. Army imprisons outspoken war objector — PFC Ryan Jackson held in pre-trail confinement to mute criticism of war; supporters mount campaign protesting expected court-martial (includes audio interview with Jackson)

“Since I joined up with Courage to Resist and Iraq Veterans Against the War, my life has changed. I plan to write a book about all of this, and to make positive change in my community when I get out,” said AWOL PFC Ryan Jackson, before turning himself in at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on April 4. He had been absent without leave since December when a local commander vetoed his pending discharged from the 35th Signal Brigade at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

25-year old PFC Jackson joined the Army in 2005, and aspired to join the Special Forces. While stationed in Korea, inspired by the writings of Vietnam and Iraq war objectors, Jackson began to rethink his involvement in the Army.

“I feel ashamed every day,” Jackson wrote in his recent conscientious objector (CO) application. “I feel ashamed for taking part in the killing of others, and for allowing my comrades to be killed themselves. By putting on a uniform, I am showing my support. … I can no longer be a part of the Armed Forces or any organization of a violent nature.”

. . . James Branum is Ryan’s Oklahoma-based civilian attorney. “PFC Jackson decided to do whatever it took to be released from his obligation to an organization he could no longer be a part of,” he said. “PFC Jackson wrongly believed that there would be no point in filing for CO status, so he instead did his best to accumulate as many negative counseling statements as possible for minor issues, such as not coming in the morning or missing PT.”

Ryan’s attempts to have himself thrown out of the Army were nearly successful. His out-processing paperwork was half way completed when a local commander arbitrarily stopped his pending discharge last December.

Ryan also concluded that the military’s CO application process was “immoral, unethical, and wrong.” How could career officers sit in judgment of his beliefs he questioned. In the CO application he submitted on April 4, Ryan explained, “I’ve come to realize that my beliefs are not valid or sincere based on what any person that reads this says or thinks. My beliefs are valid because I say they are and because they are my beliefs and they compel me to be a better person.” . . .