It has been brought to the attention of the residents of Olympia and other locations that the Port of Olympia is planning to allow the use of the Port again for military shipments. As you will recall, the last time this occurred in 2007, there were many protests and disruptions that were very costly to the Port, the City of Olympia, and many other people in the region. [Please see the article “10 Days That Shook Olympia,” Counterpunch, November 15, 2007]
These protests were not against service members or military personnel per se. These protests were against the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001-to the present.
The public relations ploy that these wars are “over” hardly needs to be refuted. Wars that were illegal and unnecessary in 2007, have not been justified to be “legal” in 2016. The policies that the US has followed under the Bush and now Obama administrations have proven to be illegal disasters that only increase insecurity for the American people and the globe.
I remember quite distinctly in 2007, when I had a meeting with the Port commissioners to discuss the illegality of the wars, that one of the commissioners stated that he did not know if the war was legal or not, but that this was a business deal that the Port needed. This is unacceptable and sounds like the excuse that one is “only following orders” from those who outrank him. If you have questions as to the illegality of your actions, as elected officials you have an obligation to be sure of your actions and act with integrity.
If you recall, during 2007, the 10 days of protest were quite costly to the Cities of Olympia, Tacoma, and Aberdeen. News reports at the time discussed that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to police (and abuse) the citizens of Olympia, Tacoma and the region who were exercising their first amendment rights to “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
I recall that the military stated that it was not going to pay extra for the police. If I remember correctly, at that time the extra cost of the police was borne by the local citizens. The cost to the city of Olympia was reported at $112, 168. One news report that stated the Port was going to compensate the city of Olympia about $70,000 for the use of the police. [The Olympian article from August 15, 2010, “Plea for protest policy”]
While I believe that the main issues are the illegality and immorality of the wars, there are several questions that I have. I am requesting that these be answered in a reasonable time and certainly at least a month before any military shipments are scheduled to be shipped through the Port of Olympia.
This is a formal request to the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia. It is made under the State of Washington’s Open Records Laws.
1. Please submit itemized records of the costs and amounts for police activities that were incurred concerning the Olympia Port Protests in October and November of 2007.
2. Which government entities paid and what amounts to and/or from the City of Olympia, including the cities of Tumwater, Lacey, other cities assisting Olympia?), by the State of Washington, and the Port of Olympia (or other Ports)?
3. Did any branch of the United States Military (JBLM or other federal agency, such as Homeland Security) compensate the city of Olympia and/or the Port of Olympia for the cost of security, and if so, what amounts?
4. Please provide the contracts between the Port of Olympia and branches of the US military in 2007.
5. What are the current plans and provide contracts between the Port of Olympia and branches of the U.S. military for 2016 and 2017?
6. What are the current plans between the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia and other local governments for compensation or re-imbursements for costs associated with any planned military shipments in 2016 or 2017?
7. What are the current plans (2016-2017) for the military use of the Port for shipments out of the Port and/or for shipments into the port? If out of the Port, what is the final destination? If shipments are into the port what was/is the point of departure?
8. If the shipments are coming into the Port from a war zone, what are the guarantees that the shipments are free from Depleted Uranium (DU) dust or otherwise? This is important not just for the workers at the Port but also the citizens of Olympia and the region if contaminated hardware and equipment is shipped through the city.
All of the above are important issues and concerns, but the main issues I want to emphasize are the reasons for past and possible future protests—i.e. the illegality and immorality of the current wars. To make this point in more detail, I refer you to a letter I wrote to the Port and the Olympia City officials on March 25, 2010 when there were reports that the Port was again to be used for military shipments. I will copy that letter here since there have been many personnel changes on the Port and the City. The arguments here have stood the test of time and I stand by the information provided. This 2010 letter, unfortunately, is still very relevant. I have Bolded portions of the letter that I want to emphasis for 2016 (parts II, III, and V). There are many references and links within this letter and I would be pleased to provide you with more data upon request.
Lawrence Mosqueda is a professor emeritus at The Evergreen State College.
A copy of his 2010 letter to the Port and City of Olympia is online at olywip.org.