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Stanley Howard on Prisoners Against the War:
"Most of the guys here are antiwar"

February 24, 2006 | Page 4

PRISONERS BEHIND bars in Illinois jails have formed a new antiwar group: Prisoners Against the War.

One of the leading organizers of the group is STANLEY HOWARD, a former death row prisoner in Illinois who was pardoned by former Gov. George Ryan in 2003. Though still incarcerated for another crime he was falsely convicted of, Stanley has become a leading voice in the struggle against the death penalty and the criminal injustice system.

Working with Tom Barton of the Military Project Organizing Committee--which publishes GI Special, a daily Internet newsletter that gathers news and information helpful to soldiers and military families--Stanley and the other members of the new antiwar group came together last year. GI Special has since published essays from several of them, and members of Prisoners Against the War have been writing letters to show their support for resisters within the military.

Here, Stanley talks to ALAN MAASS about the formation of Prisoners Against the War.

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WHY DID you decide to form Prisoners Against the War?

I'VE BEEN writing to Tom Barton for two or three years now. After Bush started his war, Tom was telling me about the Military Project, and I showed interest and wanted to join, even though I was incarcerated. They agreed and liked the idea of me participating in their committee, so I joined the Military Project somewhere back in June 2005.

After feeling real good about joining the Military Project and knowing that I was actually giving my voice to the antiwar movement, I was talking to a lot of the guys here in Statesville, and I discovered that 99 percent of them are also against the war. And I was like: "Wait a minute. If every last one of the guys here are against the war, then why are we not using our First Amendment right to speak out against one of the most major social issues of our day?"

That's when I decided to form a committee, and I asked a few guys to help me form Prisoners Against the War. And it's still growing today.

CAN YOU talk about how you see your opposition to the war connected to your opposition to the injustices of the justice system?

THAT'S ONE of the reasons why a majority of the guys here are against the war. They understand that the government is not to be trusted, and you can't allow a few guys in these tobacco-filled rooms to make decisions that are going to affect the entire world. These are guys who have had injustices committed against them, and they understand that soldiers are dealing with these same injustices.

WHAT ARE the main issues for people to think about in understanding the opposition to the occupation?

I HAVE a million reasons as to why I'm against the war, but the most major one is that war causes nothing but destruction and grief on both sides. I just want the killing to stop. I don't know what it's like, but I can imagine what a grieving family is going through, that has lost a son or daughter, or a father or mother.

I'm also against the war because of the weapons of mass destruction that weren't found. And there's also people who join the Army because they think this is the way to climb out of poverty and get ahead.

A lot of people who join today's Army or military aren't joining because they're warmongers, like some of these political leaders. They join for the money and for an education--as a stepping-stone for getting ahead. They're not really with this war.

I'm sure there are a lot of people in Iraq who didn't like the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein, but they hate the American government more, and now they feel like they're being oppressed even worse. There's also a religion factor--about non-Muslim people being on holy soil, like the U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. Muslims don't want American people occupying their land.

So it's not that Iraqis are resisting freedom or their rights or voting. No, they are resisting, in my opinion, American occupation. So I am agree that if that same thing was to happen here in America--of a foreign country occupying our country for any reason--the American people would take up arms also to try to drive them out.

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