A Letter to the Blue Grass Army Depot by Janice Sevre-Duszynska

A Letter to the Blue Grass Army Depot by Janice Sevre-Duszynska

Ace March 15, 2007
— submitted to Ace by the Peace Action Task Group of the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice

by Janice Sevre-Duszysnska

We called Dave Easter, Public Affairs officer at the Depot and told him we were planning a rally at the Blue Grass Army Depot on March 18, 2007. We also said that we would be sending a list of questions about the Depot’s relationship with the Iraq war. We had contacted Dave in January, February and March of 2003, as we organized vigils/rallies at the Depot to protest the Iraq War before it began. These were organized by a group of us from Lexington and Madison County. We called ourselves the Central Kentucky Witness of Conscience. Three people from this group did civil disobedience by crossing the line from the Blue Grass Army Depot base (moving from the road to the grass).

This is the letter we sent Dave on January 18, 2007 with a copy to Richard Mitchell of Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice):

Dear Dave Easter:

Thank you for your kindness in our telephone weapons conversations. Yes, it certainly must be a challenge to be in your position in the Army as the Iraqi War and so much suffering and death continues … Remember you have a conscience that prompts you to choose Life.

We, the Peace Action Task Group of the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, ask for the following information: what weapons are made, stored, and/or shipped from the Blue Grass Army Depot to Iraq?

What are their weights and sizes and descriptions of destructive power?

How often are they shipped?

Where are they made?

Who are the manufacturers?

What are the costs?

How many people perform work related to teh weapons at Blue Grass Army Depot?

How long has this military base been used to ship weapons to the Iraq War? Other places?

Are weapons being shipped to other conflicts besides Iraq?

What are the total numbers of specific weapons that have been shipped to the Iraq War since it began? Cost to taxpayers?

Please also provide an overall description of the number of personnel at the Blue Grass Army Depot, their functions, costs to the taxpayers, and where specifically the money to fund this military base originates.

Many blessings Dave.

On receiving his copy of this letter, Richard immediately sent me an email suggesting that we add this critical question: does the Depot store and ship cluster bombs?

Many people around the world believe the use of cluster bombs to be a war crime. We have used cluster bombs in Iraq and cluster bombs we sold to Israel were used last August in Lebanon.

Ninety-eight percent of those killed or injured by cluster bombs are civilians. An estimated one million such unexploded munitions carpet southern Lebanon, an unprecedented concentration, according to UN-organized demining teams. The post-war Lebanese toll is now at least 30 dead and 184 wounded.

On January 24, 2007, I received an email from Dave advising me to file a Freedom of Information Act request with FOIA officer  Tammy Horn. I did so in an email, followed up by a telephone call to make sure I had followed their procedures.

The joys of untangling bureaucracies continued. On February 8, I received an email from Officer Horn stating that the FOIA request that I had sent on January 24 “poses a list of questions concerning munitions and Depot operations.”

She stated that “There is no obligation to create or compile a record to satisfy a request or provide answers to specific questions.”

In the mail, I received “A Citizen’s Guide to Request Army Records Under the FOIA” sent to me by B. Kevin Bennett, Legal Advisor at the Depot. This packet consisted of almost 25 pages of records with the names of officers to call for assistance.

I called Officer Gary Hargrove in Alexandria, and gave him an example of my questions. He told me the Depot would have the answers to those questions. Later, however, he sent me an email telling me that if I wanted my questions answered, an FOIA request would not be appropriate.

On February 26, I finally got help through this bureaucratic maze by calling Sunshine Week 2007, a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

It is spearheaded by the ASNE. Sunshine Week’s coordinator directed me to Loren Anthony Cochran, Freedom of Information Service Center Director of the Reports’ Committee for Freedom of the Press. He helped me rephrase our questions about the Depot in a format that reporters ue to get their FOIA requests answered by the military. I then sent another email to Officer Horn with the rephrased sentences. As of today, I have not received a response from the Depot.

The information we are asking for would help us understand what the Depot is all about.

Central Kentucky Peace Activists will observe the 4th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq with a Walk for Peace from Lexington to the Bluegrass Army Depot in Richmond Kentucky. The walkers will depart Lexington’s Triangle Park at 11:30 am on Friday March 16, 2007. They will walk to the Depot via Old Richmond Road, arriving at the Depot at 3 pm, Sunday March 18. At 3 pm, activists will rally at the BGAD’s truck entrance. The plan is to walk 15 miles on both Friday and Saturday. At 2 pm Sunday, walkers will depart the corner of Richmond ByPass and Berea Road for the final three miles to the rally site. Info, www.justicelist.typepad.com.