Skip to main content

Agustin Aguayo's case


I attended the appeals hearing today of conscientious objector Spc. Agustin Aguayo, 34, at the D.C. Circuit Federal Court downtown. It was interesting, and there was some hope that Agustin will in fact prevail in his quest to be declared an official war objector and be released from the Army.

When Agustin first signed up for the Army as a medic, recruiters told him he would not have to carry a gun. This was latter proved to be false. On occasion he did carry a gun in Iraq, but refused to load it.

Elsa Rassbach, an American peace activist residing in Germany, was there and she has become a dear close friend to Agustin and his wife Helga. Attorney Peter Goldberger presented some persuasive arguments to the three judges hearing the appeal. Other peace activists J.E. McNeil, Gael Murphy, Kevin McCarron and myself were also on hand this morning to hear the oral arguments. Goldberger said it will likely take the judges 5-10 days to come to a decision and present a written decision.

Helga and Agustin's two young children do not have much money to travel and were not at the trial. For more info and opportunities to help this family: http://www.aguayodefense.org/

Here is the AP Story:

War Objector Fate May Rely on Old Cases
By MATT APUZZO
The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 21, 2006; 12:40 PM

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court is rereading cases from the Vietnam era as it considers whether to allow an honorable discharge for an Army medic who announced his objections to war on the eve of his deployment to Iraq.

Appeals courts heard several cases on "conscientious objectors" during the Vietnam War draft but such appeals are much more rare in an all-volunteer military.

Agustin Aguayo, who enlisted in 2002 during the lead-up to the Iraq war, is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to release him from a military prison. It is believed to be the first federal appeal in a conscientious objector case during the Iraq war.

Aguayo, who is being held in a U.S. prison in Germany after going absent without leave, said he enlisted as a way to earn money for his education. Though military operations in Afghanistan were under way and discussions about Iraq were ongoing, he said he never considered that he'd have to fight.

Judge A. Raymond Randolph, one of three judges on the case, said he'd been reading up on the Vietnam appeals and asked how the case differs from those filed decades ago by people who realized their opposition to war only after receiving a draft card.

Attorney Peter Goldberger said the Aguayo's beliefs evolved over time and "crystalized" to the point that he could no longer take a life.

Government attorneys say that's not enough. To receive conscientious-objector status, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin K. Robitaille said, a soldier must show a deeply rooted objection to war in any form.

In a statement submitted to the court and released on a Web site dedicated to his cause, Aguayo said he is being guided by his principles.

"My beliefs and morals come from a transformation as a direct result of my combined religious/family upbringing, military experience, and new experiences I've created and sought," he said.

The government argued _ and a federal judge in August agreed _ that Aguayo's religious beliefs existed when he enlisted. A soldier may not hide his beliefs to obtain military benefits, then use them as a way to get out of service, the court said.

Attorneys also noted that Aguayo applied as a conscientious objector only after receiving his orders to Iraq and did so at the same time as his best friend.

Supporters said Aguayo's actions are not uncommon. They said beliefs frequently evolve over time.

"People change their hearts and the law allows for it," said J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience & War.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Steve Mihalis, a great friend and man of peace

May we all take up the cause as Steve did, and perhaps more importantly in the *manner* that he did.

I spoke with Steve by phone a week before he passed. He was in a whole lot of pain and the drugs were not helping. I forced back tears, as I was talking with him. The conversation was too brief, as was the time I knew this great guy. As I ended the conversation, I said "Steve, you know what? There's a whole lot of us in D.C. who love you." He just responded that he loved all of us, as well.

I had been arrested with Steve a handful of times, as we resisted the empire's wars and its unjust detaining and mistreatment fellow human beings. He always arrived in DC with a smile and open arms for a hug and a kind word, or two, or three.

Steve never had an unkind word for anyone. He became very involved with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance over the last four years, and that's how I got to know him better.He always provided this wonderful source of positive ene…

A Proposal for We The People to Institute Positive Change

Hello sisters and brothers, subjects of the United States Empire, it has become clear the elected representatives on Capitol Hill no longer truly represent us and our best interests, but rather are serving their elite major campaign contributors. They serve the interests of the extreme rich and large corporations, certainly not the average American worker, student, or retired individual.

In order to improve our government, we, a collective of dedicated social justice activists, propose three demands to those who have power to legislate within the Federal Government. We list those demands here, and will then discuss how to make sure they pass into the law of the land:

1) Universal single payer health care, something that nearly all other developed nations of the world already possess for their citizens. We, as human beings, have a right to good health and to never be financially crippled in this pursuit of our own well-being. We demand that Congress pass House Resolution 676 and a Sen…

Civil resistance intensifies to evil policies so far this year

In honor of Independence Day, I was originally going to write a piece talking about the loss of our republic to the military-corporate empire we live in now, but I thought I would just save myself the additional frustration and post Max from Baltimore's report on civil resistance actions and trials thus far this year! Thanks Max...

Thanks to all of you who were able to risk arrest or to support such protests against the Iraq War. Let us continue to take the risks of peace. This list of appeals, arrests and legal cases is not all-inclusive. Please send additions, corrections and updates to mobuszewski at verizon.net. Included are arrests and pending cases in 2008.

JULY

20—[WDC] The government was to file a brief in response to the one filed on Dec. 29, 2007 by Mark Goldstone on behalf of Beth Adams, Ellen Barfield, Michelle Grise, Sherrill Hogen, Kathryn McClanen, Joan Nicholson, Max Obuszewski & Eve Tetaz with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. They are appealing co…