(Editor’s note: The following is the statement, somewhat abridged, of Leah Bolger, one of us, just a regular citizen, who courageously spoke for us before the so-called Super Committee of Congress, and was then charged with disruption of the committee.)
I joined the U.S. Navy in 1980 and served on active duty for the next 20 years relatively ignorant of the vastness of the U.S. military machine and its deep-seated entrenchment with our government and economy. I had little understanding of the “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned us about 50 years ago.
Now I am beginning to understand the enormity of the power that the U.S. military machine holds. It doesn’t matter to the government that wars are immoral, illegal or ineffective. Government policies are shaped by the will of the corporate interests.
And so it was in the case of the Super Committee — a hand-selected committee of 12 senators and representatives who were given extraordinary (some say extra-Constitutional) powers, met in secret, and sollicitted testimony from not one citizen. My own Congressmn did not have access to this committee, but over 250 lobbyists did. I have come to understand what millions of Americans already know– that the will of the people is of little concern to those in power.
It takes an enormous amount of money to be elected to Congress, and Congress quickly becomes beholden to the interests who financed their elections — not to the people they are supposed to be representing. The American people rank militaary spending as their #18 priority, according to the National Opinion Research Center. The same poll has repeatedly shown that health care and education are the top two priorities of the American people by far, yet the allocation of our tax dollars is completely opposite that of the people’s desires.
Our elected government repeatedly and consistently ignores the will of the people. So, when I saw an opportunity to literally stand up and speak out on behalf of the American people — I seized it. I knew I would be arrested, but I also knew that it was a unique and rare opportunity to make sure that the voice of the people was heard. I know that most people are not able to act as I did. Ittakes a good deal of chutzpah to be able to walk to the well of a Senate hearing room and directly address Congress. Because most people cannot do what I did, I acted on their behalf. It seems the only way for the average citizen to be heard is through an act of civil disobedience, and indeed, I am the sole citizen who was heard by the Super Committee.
I am pleading guilty, because I readily admit what I did. It would be a waste of everyone’s time to force the government to prove that. But in pleading guilty to what I did, I am also pointing an accusing finger at our government, which is completely failing its people.
I have been charged with “Unlawful Conduct — Disruption of Congress.” I only wish that my 52-second interruption could have truly “disrupted” the status quo, because if anything needs to be drastsically altered, it’s Congress.
I think Your Honor understands that I committed this act out of a sense of responsibility and obligation. I am aware that the potential penalties include community service and fines. I do not intend to pay a fine beyound the victims of violent crimes fund assessment. To do so woud violate my personal values. One of the main reasons I committed this act is my objection to the reality that one must pay money to have the ear of Congress.
I would also object to the awarding of community service as a punishment. I consider the work that I do every day as a full-time volunteer antiwar activist to be a service to the community.