Here are two
local stories about the young man in Ohio that asked only for the
military to obey US law, and responsibly resurvey its judgments.
Instead, the DoD once again denied due process, not allowing this
young man, or his attorney Ken Levine, from questioning the legality
of the AVIP.
This is the first
case in the National Guard resulting in imprisonment.
Remember what the
DoD official (Asst. SecDef for Reserve Affairs) said a few years ago
in Congressional hearings -- link -- http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_house_hearings&docid=f:63501.wais
Excerpt from 29
Are you aware of any service members who have been told they would
be subject to discipline proceedings ...
Mr. Cragin. ...
they are certainly not going to be subject to any penalties.
That is one of the points of the Guard and the Reserve.
Needless to say,
our DoD is doing whatever they can get away with in this dilemma,
and will continue to do so until the civilian authority of the
legislative or executive branches of our government exert their
Constitutional oversight responsibilities and hold the DoD
accountable for its violations of US law. Until then, DoD will
continue to hold young men like Army Specialist Hickman accountable
instead of themselves.
Maj. Tom Rempfer
discharge, jail for refusing anthrax shots
The first Army Ohio National Guard
member charged for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine was
sentenced yesterday to 40 days in jail and a bad conduct discharge.
Spc. Kurt Hickman, 20, had worried
about health risks of the vaccine, but Military Judge Col. Emmett
Moran said at the end of the court-martial at Beightler Armory that
putting on the guard uniform can be a health risk. Disobeying a
lawful order also endangers others, Moran said.
"Discipline is the thread of the
fabric that holds the military together," said Moran, who also is a
lawyer at the Davis & Young law firm in Cleveland. "We don’t make
policy, we follow it. We don’t make democracy, we protect it."
Kenneth Levine, Hickman’s attorney,
said he will file an appeal. Hickman and his parents referred all
questions to Levine.
"We are disappointed, and the
government and the National Guard should be ashamed," said Levine,
of Blue Bell, Pa. "This is the first time a National Guardsman has
been confined for not taking the anthrax vaccine."
Top officers over Hickman’s unit
will review the court-martial early next week and either accept,
reject or reduce all or part of the judge’s recommended sentence.
Those officers also will determine when and where Hickman, of
Granville, will serve it — although officials said it would be in a
Hickman also will have to repay
some tuition money and bonuses for the two years he has been in the
Guard. The amount has not yet been determined.
Levine argued that the order for
Hickman to be vaccinated was unlawful because a Defense Department
memo requiring activated guardsmen to be inoculated had expired on
Nov. 13, a year after it was issued. Hickman was ordered to take the
vaccine on Nov. 22.
Moran acknowledged that the letter
was outdated, but said the order was lawful because it corresponds
to other Defense policies: The department has been requiring the
shots since 1999.
More than 900,000 members of the
armed forces, including at least 2,700 Ohio National Guard members,
have had the anthrax vaccine. In 1999, five Ohio Air National Guard
members based in Cincinnati were discharged for refusing it.
During the sentencing phase of the
trial, Levine introduced newspaper articles about studies that found
negative side effects of the vaccine.
A 2002 survey by the General
Accounting Office found that 85 percent of Air Force Reserve and Air
National Guard troops vaccinated against anthrax between 1998 and
2000 suffered effects that included headaches, muscle aches,
dizziness and difficulty breathing.
Hickman was ordered to take the
vaccine because his unit, the 196 th Mobile Public Affairs
Detachment, was preparing to be deployed to Iraq in January. The
Defense Department requires troops going to high-risk areas for more
than 15 days to be vaccinated against germ warfare.
Hickman, a junior journalism major
at Ohio University, was given two chances to take the vaccine and
refused both times.
He did not testify about his
decision but said he was eager to serve his country: "I thought it
was an exciting opportunity."
Maj. Neal O’Brien, commander of
Hickman’s unit, testified that he counseled Hickman on the vaccine’s
safety and the ramifications of disobeying a lawful order, and
allowed him to talk to doctors about the vaccine.
O’Brien said that Hickman was an
efficient guardsman but is a poor candidate for rehabilitation
because he does not follow orders.
"On the battlefield, he will not
have the option to ask others which orders are lawful and which are
not," O’Brien said.
Officials make recommendation for Granville soldier who refused vaccine
By JONATHAN ATHENS
COLUMBUS -- Military officials
recommended on Saturday an Ohio Army National Guardsman be jailed
for 40 days, demoted to the rank of private and be given a
dishonorable discharge for disobeying a lawful order.
Spec. Kurt Hickman, 20, of
Granville, became the first National Guardsman to be court martialed
for refusing to accept the anthrax vaccine. The court martial, held
in Columbus at Beightler Armory, lasted just under four hours and
ended with the recommendation by Col. Emmett Moran, said Ohio Army
National Guard spokesman James Sims.
Hickman, who is a college student
and part of the Guard's public affairs unit, was slated to be sent
overseas in January and was excited about going until he found out
he would be required to take the anthrax vaccine, said Hickman's
civilian defense attorney Ken Levine.
Levine said the court martial was
"This is the first time a Guardsman
has been incarcerated for refusing the anthrax vaccine...We were
disappointed and embarrassed for the governor and the National
Guard," Levine said.
Although Hickman has not been
sentenced yet and is not currently confined, a final decision by
senior National Guard officials is expected within days, said Sims.
Known as the "convening authority",
senior military officials can still modify the sentence, Sims said.
Last week, Hickman's parents
delivered letters to Gov. Bob Taft, state senators Jay Hottinger and
James Carnes and state representatives David Evans and Jimmy
Stewart, asking the government officials to intervene.
The letters were not admitted into
the court martial proceedings, said Levine, adding he intends to
appeal the case to state and federal courts if Hickman is jailed.
For now, Hickman's fate rests in
the hands of Taft who can lower the sentence and ask the Ohio
Adjutant General to reverse the decision to give Hickman a
dishonorable discharge, he said.
If and when Hickman is discharged,
he will be required to pay back a portion of his tuition assistance,