Subversive Influences

Senate Committee on the Judiciary – Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and other Internal Security Laws

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Congress. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws. Extent of Subversion in Campus Disorders. Washington, D. C.: GPO, 1969.

Pt. 2: Testimony of Max Phillip Friedman (August 12, 1969).




On the evening of March 20, 1969, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, a group of over 100 enlisted men gathered together after dinner to discuss the war in Vietnam. The meeting was called by member of GIs United Against the War in Vietnam, a group of antiwar GIs who have been actively arguing against the war at Ft. Jackson. GIs United is predominantly black and Puerto Rican in composition, but it includes many white soldiers as well.

The March 20 meeting was one of a series of meetings held by GIs United, dating back to February, 1969. These meetings have been held with the knowledge, and therefore implicit approval, of the Army officials at Fort Jackson. Officers were present at the March 20 meeting, and aside from criticizing the dress and haircut of the antiwar GIs, they did not interfere with the meeting.

But the following day Army officials arrested four of the members of GIs United, and charged them with breach of the peace, disrespect to an officer, disobeying an order, holding an illegal demonstration, and breaking restriction. Later, five additional GIs were placed under barracks arrest. All of the charges refer to the evening of March 20. The Army now claims that the peaceful meeting was in reality a "demonstration" (which would make it a violation of Army regulations), and that the soldiers refused to disperse after they were ordered to do so. No orders to disperse were given at any time during the meeting. Moreover, there was no "breach of the peace" because the meeting was perfectly orderly, and broke up of its own accord after about an hour.

A Political Frame-Up

Why is the Army trying so hard to imprison these antiwar GIs? The answer lies in the fact that GIs United has been vigorously fighting for the constitutional rights of GIs as citizens to discuss the war in Vietnam. As a result, much national publicity has been focused on Ft. Jackson. The Army, in its own clumsy, authoritarian manner, has responded to this situation by trying to railroad these GIs into the stockade.

GIs United began last February to circulate a petition addressed to Gen. James Hollingsworth, the Commanding General at Fort Jackson, asking him to make facilities available for an open meeting on the base at which the GIs could "hold a peaceful, legal meeting open to any enlisted man or officer at Fort Jackson. We desire only to exercise the rights guaranteed to us as citizens and soldiers by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." Several hundred signatures were obtained on this petition. But when the GIs tried to present it, Army officials refused to accept it because, said the official spokesman, it represented "collective bargaining."

In response to this blatant denial of their rights, ten members of GIs United, through their attorneys Leonard Boudin of New York, David Rein of Washington, Howard Moore of Atlanta, and Thomas Broadwater of Columbia, S.C., filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. The suit asks for a declaratory judgment by the court that the plaintiffs and all other GIs at Fort Jackson have the right to hold meetings on or off post to discuss matters of concern to them, including the war in Vietnam, and that they have the right to circulate petitions for redress of grievances. The suit further asks for a court order directing the Commanding General to grant facilities for a meeting at which GIs could discuss public issues. It also requests the court to enjoin the Army from harassing and attempting to intimidate the GIs who are trying to exercise their First Amendment rights. This suit, if victorious, will have Army-wide effect.

Of the ten plaintiffs who instituted the suit, five are among those facing courts-martial; one other was given a punitive transfer to Fort Bragg; and one is being threatened with a less than honorable discharge.

In short, the Army is responding to the fight by GIs for their constitutional rights with a crude frame-up in an attempt to silence all antiwar or civil libertarian voices of dissent within its ranks. That is why the GIs are now facing courts-martial.

The McCarthyite procedures which the Army is following were made even clearer when it was disclosed that one of the GIs originally arrested was, in fact, operating "in the interest of the command." In other words, as a spy, and agent-provocateur within the ranks of GIs United. The fact that this agent, who went by the name of John Huffman, was present at meetings where defense strategy was discussed by the GIs with their attorneys, severely compromises the Army's case. Charges against this man were, of course, dropped. The "Fort Jackson Nine" became the "Fort Jackson Eight."

A Question of Fundamental Rights

The basic issues involved in the case of the Fort Jackson GIs are simple, but they are fundamental questions of civil liberties that affect all Americans.

Both the lawsuit against the Army and the frame-up directed against the men deal directly with the same issue: are solders, who are citizens in uniform, protected by the U.S. Constitution, and in particular the First Amendment to the Constitution? Do GIs have the same right to discuss and take positions on the war in Vietnam and other issues of public concern as do citizens fortunate enough not to have been drafted?

Can the Army really expect that, with the entire country divided about the correctness of America's policy in Vietnam, with millions of Americans demonstrating against the war, with Senators and Congressmen daily expressing opinions pro and con, the very men who are asked to fight that war will not have an opinion though they are members of the armed forces?

Writing in the April 20, 1969, issue of The New York Times, Ben A. Franklin clearly exposes the Army's frame-up attempt: "A classic case approaches a climax this week at Fort Jackson, S.C. By harassing, restricting and arresting on dubious charges the leaders of an interracial militant enlisted group there called GIs United Against the War in Vietnam, Fort Jackson's brass has produced a cause celebre out of all proportion to the known facts. It has also brought about two court actions, directed by capable and contentious civilian legal counsel, which may give a merely fractious episode lasting effect.

"The Fort Jackson lawsuits, if they are upheld, will give the courts a clear opening to declare that American enlisted men do, indeed, have the same right to oppose by all lawful, orderly means the course chosen by their Government and military leaders...."

The Fort Jackson GIs both in their lawsuit against the Army and in their courts-martial, is being handled by the GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee. The GI CLDC was established in the fall of 1968 to help defend GIs whose constitutional rights are infringed upon by the Armed Forces. The GI CLDC has organized the support for the Fort Jackson case from the beginning. It has obtained the legal counsel mentioned above for the suit against the Army; and the same team of lawyers has agreed to handle the defense of the GIs who have been framed-up. In addition to arranging legal counsel, the GI CLDC has undertaken an aggressive and successful campaign to get the word out about the situation at Fort Jackson. As a result of its efforts, national attention has been directed to the constitutional fight of GIs United at Fort Jackson.

The GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee urges all Americans to come to the support of these GIs in their fight for their civil liberties.

What You Can Do

  • Send a donation to the GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee to help cover the extremely high expenses involved in this case. Send to: GICLDC, Box 355, Old Chelsea Station, N.Y., N.Y., 10011.
  • Send letters of protest to Gen. James Hollingsworth, Commanding General, Fort Jackson, S.C., and to Stanley Resor, Secretary of the Army, Washington, D.C. Copies of all messages should be sent to the GI CLDC. Urge prominent people in your area to send similar messages. Get messages of support from lawyers, professors, trade unionists, black and Puerto Rican leaders, etc.
  • Become a sponsor of the GI CLDC, and urge others to do so also. (Use coupon on this brochure.)
  • Organize meetings and conduct demonstrations in support of the Ft. Jackson GIs. Speakers on the case can be obtained by writing to the GI CLDC.
  • Express support to the GIs at Fort Jackson directly. Mail can be sent to The GIs in care of the GI CLDC office in New York, and it will be forwarded.

The purpose of the GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee is to defend the rights of American citizens in uniform to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and association, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. It supports the right of GIs to use those and all other constitutionally guaranteed liberties to express their opinions on public affairs and political issues, including the war in Vietnam.

It extends this support by obtaining legal counsel for GIs whose rights are violated and by publicizing their cases.

Toward this end it raises funds and solicits the endorsement and support of all those who uphold the constitutional rights of American servicemen.


(Partial list)

Organizations listed for identification purposes only. Sponsorship does not imply agreement with the political views of any of the defendants.

Prof. Carl Barus, Swarthmore College
Nettie E. Bell
Prof. Fred J. Carrier, Villanova University
William C. Davidson, Resist
Allen Fleishman, National Lawyers Guild
Maurice Geary, Michigan Civil Rights Commission
Maxwell Geismar
Prof. Marvin E. Gettleman, author of Vietnam
Rev. David M. Gracie, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Philadelphia
Terence Hallinan, attorney
Chairman Fred Hampton, Illinois Black Panther Party
Prof. George Jones, Jr., Gustavus Adolphus College
Prof. Donald Kalish, UCLA
C. Clark Kissinger, Guardian
Prof. Sue Larson, Barnard College
Prof. Eleanor Leacock, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn
Sandra Levinson, New York editor of Ramparts
Bob Lucas, Black Liberation Alliance, Chicago
Howard N. Meyer, writer
George Novack, author
Rev. Ed Riddick, SCLC
Irving Sarnoff, Chairman, Peace Action of Southern California
Prof. Ernest A. Smith, Hunter College, CUNY
Dr. Benjamin Spock
Paul M. Sweezy, Monthly Review
Ethel Taylor, Women Strike for Peace
Lyn Wells, SSOC-SDS
Prof. David White, Macalester College
Prof. May Arnold Twining, Georgia State College
Prof. Maurice Zeitlin, University of Wisconsin

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