Pat Chenoweth Framed
Pat Chenoweth is facing 30 years in military prison for destruction of government property and wartime sabotage. He is accused of dropping a paint scraper and two large bolts into the main reduction gear of the USS Ranger last summer, causing it some $800,000 damage and delaying its departure to Vietnam for 4 months. Alarmed at the increasing acts of resistance, the Navy has singled out Pat as a scapegoat, hoping to thereby repress dissent. The truth is that there is not enough evidence to warrant a courts-martial. Throughout the armed forces acts of resistance and sabotage have become so commonplace as to really freakout the Brass. GI's discontent and frustration with the Navy's repression and racism has sparked incidents all over the world. The Ranger alone has had some 30 acts of sabotage from May to September 1972 - many of which occurred when Pat was not assigned to the ship. Jeffery Allison was convicted of setting fire to the USS Forestal last July, Jack Vaugh is now charged with arson and sabotage of the USS Coral Sea, while Cpl. Mike Tippett is accused of totally destroying two F-4 Phantoms by placing foreign objects in their engines. The list of such incidents is endless. The Navy obviously hopes that its witch hunts for saboteurs will solve its problems, and it isn't going to be too squeamish about the methods used to get convictions.
In an unprecedented move, the military courts ruled that the war in Indochina is legal, regardless of the lack of a Congressional declaration, thus making it possible to charge Pat with "sabotage in time of war." If this ruling is upheld, the government need not prove that Chenoweth intended to interfere with national defense in order to convict him of the charge. The ramifications of this ruling are clearly ominous. To top things off, Pat's trial is being moved from Treasure Island Ð San Francisco to Subic Bay in the Philippines. Now that might just strike you as being a little out of line with our right to be tried in the community in which a 'crime' was supposed to have been committed. Pat's attorney, Eric Seitz, of the National Lawyers Guild, remarked on this, that "there is no subtlety any longer. They're clearly out to convict Pat at any cost, only they'd prefer to do it thousands of miles away where neither the public or the press can see or do anything about it."
Perhaps most importantly, Pat's attorney will not be able to defend him if the trial is moved to the Philippines. It was just four months ago that the dictator Marcos arrested a member of the National Lawyers Guild that was working with the GI movement in the Philippines. He was threatened with a 'military trial' under Philippine martial law, and eventually deported. Eric won't be permitted to defend Pat at Subic Bay and the Navy knows it... that's why the case is being tried there. "They have moved the trial to the one place in the world where they know I cannot safely go," Seitz said. The moving of the trial sets a precedent that might allow the government to move any military, (or civilian!), trial wherever they wished. Picture the next political trial, a la Angela Davis or the Berrigan Brothers, being held on a Boeing 747 orbiting Guam or something! Think about it, brothers and sisters; it's not all funny. If we allow Pat to be framed, we are all in danger. Who is to say who their next victim will be? In order to insure our own freedom, we must see that Pat Chenoweth is FREE!
FREE PAT! FREE ALL GI'S!
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