October 15, 2006

Vokey and Cerveny: True Americans

What defines America as "good"? That we are a just nation, so just, that our judicial procedures give the benefit of the doubt to accused enemies. So free, that we allow extremists, like Nazis and Klansmen, to parade in public. The erosion of these principles represents the erosion of what defines America as "good." If we allow this to happen, America will no longer be special among nations; America will no longer have moral authority, only military authority, which engenders compliance due to fear, not due to respect.

Today, we live in an America that cannot claim to be good, because we have allowed this erosion to occur. The "good" of America has been undermined by a segment of people in the elite political and military class. But there is a battle for America's soul among the elite, with contributions by the more common people.

An example of this battle is the courageous stance being taken by Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who represents a detainee at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, and his his paralegal assistant, Marine Sgt. Heather Cerveny, both pictured below.

Colby is on record saying in April 2006, "Some of the rules [of judicial process] are made by the presiding officers themselves, and they can change tomorrow." According to the CBC, "Lt.-Col. Colby Vokey said his client needs extra lawyers on his side, given what he calls the arbitrary nature of the military proceedings at Guantanamo."" [1]

Cerveny, similarly, has mustered the courage to expose Guantanamo guards who bragged to her about routine abuse of detainees. She will surely be harassed, and face retribution, like barriers to her career path [2] (See Note [3] for an example of this).

Colby and Cerveny deserve our support. Let your voice be heard by contacting the US Department of Defense: CONTACT

Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who represents a detainee at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo

Marine Sgt. Heather Cerveny, paralegal assistant for Vokey


[1]. Canadian Broadcast Corp., April 20, 2006. Web LINK

[2]. AP, MIRANDA LEITSINGER, October, 15, 2006. Web LINK

[3]. October 13, 2006 DemocracyNow! Headline: Military Attorney In Hamdan Case Forced to Leave Military

In news on Guantanamo Bay, the Navy attorney, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, who took on the Bush administration in the landmark Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case is effectively being forced to leave the military. Navy Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift represented the Guantanamo prisoner Salim Ahmed Hamdan in the Supreme Court case that rebuked President Bush’s war powers. About two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of his client, Swift was denied a promotion. Under the Pentagon’s policy of “up or out” Swift must now retire from the military. The National Law Journal recently named Swift one of the top 100 lawyers in America – he was the only military lawyer on the list.

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