Posted on Thu, May. 26, 2005

Rumsfeld uses Phila. talk to deny pilot story

By Carrie Budoff

Inquirer Staff Writer

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Philadelphia audience yesterday that he did not authorize the military to shoot down the small plane of a Pennsylvania pilot that strayed into restricted airspace over the Washington area May 11.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported in yesterday's editions that Rumsfeld had given orders to take down the Cessna 150, if necessary, as it flew within a few miles of the White House and the Capitol complex, forcing the evacuation of those buildings. The two-seater plane of Hayden L. "Jim" Sheaffer of Lititz originated at
Lancaster's Smoketown Airport and was forced to land near Washington by F-16 fighter jets.

"It was two anonymous sources for the article, and of course it wasn't true," said Rumsfeld, speaking at a World Affairs Council luncheon held at the Park Hyatt at the
Bellevue. "I never got on the phone for this conference call to discuss the circumstances of the little plane. The little plane was not threatening. It was repeated for hours on newspapers, television, all around the world - something that was totally not true. It happens on a regular basis."

Spencer Hsu, a Post reporter on the story, said the paper "was reporting this out" and would have a story in today's paper.

It was the second time in as many weeks that the Pentagon took the media to task for its reporting, starting with a story that Newsweek magazine retracted about the military allegedly mistreating the Koran during interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Rumsfeld diverged from his prepared remarks to criticize the Post story in a 20-minute speech that focused mostly on military efforts to combat terrorism and its achievements in
Iraq and Afghanistan. He also challenged the media in general for their methods of news-gathering.

As part of his prepared speech, Rumsfeld said there was a "seemingly casual regard for classified information, resulting in a near-continuous hemorrhage of classified documents to the detriment of our country."

The government must respond quicker to the 24-hour news cycle and better utilize nontraditional media sources around the world as "the influence and reach of more traditional channels continue to decline," he said.

"Despite the damage that can be done in an era of mass - and sometimes reckless - communications, free people eventually get it right," he said. "The American people seem to have an inner gyroscope that can sort through the clutter of information, misinformation and opinion and eventually reach balanced conclusions."

Rumsfeld spoke to several hundred people at the luncheon while more than 75 protesters stood outside along Broad Street. In signs they hoisted above their heads, they challenging the secretary to end the military action in Iraq.

The group included at least two parents who lost children in
Iraq - Celeste Zappala of Mount Airy, mother of Sgt. Sherwood Baker, a national guardsman killed in April 2004, and Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg, a Chester County businessman beheaded by Iraqi insurgents in May 2004.

"I hold Donald Rumsfeld most responsible for my son's death," Berg said, holding a sign with his son's picture.

Rumsfeld took several questions from the audience, but not the media. When asked about the Pentagon's list of proposed base closings, including
Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Montgomery County, Rumsfeld spoke only generally about the plan. He said the closings would save $5 billion to $6 billion a year. A final closing list will be determined by a special commission this year.

"I never thought of the Department of Defense as a job corps," he said. "Some communities are concerned. I understand that. Everyone will have had a chance to say their piece."

Posted on Mon, Mar 21, 2005

Antiwar march marks Iraq anniversary

photo 1
photo 2
photo 3
In Center City, activists read names of war dead and asked the President to recall U.S. troops.

Inquirer Staff Writer

Rain-soaked peace activists marked the second anniversary of the start of fighting in Iraq yesterday by demanding that President Bush recall the military and repair the war-torn country's damaged infrastructure.

"This is a war that shames us before the world," Robert M. Smith, a spokesman for the Brandywine Peace Community, told about 250 protesters as they prepared to march in Center City. "It is up to the people of this country to bring it to an end."

The marchers said they were doing their part locally to help a nationwide effort to create a nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq, which began March 19, 2003.

The marchers tromped from the historic Arch Street Friends Meetinghouse to the federal building a few blocks away at Sixth and Market Streets.

Along the way, names of area soldiers killed in Iraq were read over a loudspeaker, as were those of some Iraqi civilians killed by the fighting.

Two coffins were carried, one with an Iraqi flag and one with the Stars and Stripes. A bell was struck every few seconds in tribute.

The group paused the march at the Federal Detention Center to remember the seven-day sentences some members - including an 89-year-old Quaker woman who uses a wheelchair - served after protesting the start of the war two years ago by blocking entrance to the federal courthouse.

The walk culminated in a rally at the adjacent federal building with a handful of speakers. Perhaps the most widely known was Michael Berg.

His son Nicholas, 26, was beheaded in Iraq by Islamic fundamentalists who said the move was in retaliation for the mistreatment of prisoners by American soldiers.

Berg, a civilian from West Chester, had gone to Iraq hoping to help rebuild the country's communications network. His slaughter was videotaped and posted on the Internet.

His parents sued the government after the military detained him following his arrest in Mosul.

Michael Berg accused the government of turning its back on his family's effort to safely bring home his son.

"I should have become active against this war sooner," he said. "It's too late for me to get my son back. But it's not too late for you. We need to act now to apply pressure against our government."

Contact staff writer Joel Bewley at 609-261-0900 or


Posted on Wed, Oct. 27, 2004

Activists against Iraq war freed after 7-day jail terms

Lillian Willoughby, an 89-year-old Quaker peace activist from Deptford, and four others arrested March 20, 2003, for blocking the entrance to the federal courthouse in Philadelphia in protest of the start of the Iraq war were freed from federal prison yesterday after serving seven-day sentences.

Robert M. Smith, a spokesman for the Brandywine Peace Community, which sponsored the protest that resulted in the arrests of 107 antiwar demonstrators, said Willoughby, who uses a wheelchair, was in good health when released.

Willoughby, Michael Brix, 28, and Marion Brown, 58, of Philadelphia; and Cassandra Heino-Haw, 22, and her husband, Christopher Haw, 23, of Camden, reported for prison Oct. 20 after pleading guilty to blocking the entrance to a public building and opting to not pay the $250 fine.
- Joseph A. Slobodzian


Walking and in a wheelchair, they start serving their time

Five who blocked a U.S. courthouse at the start of the Iraq war chose jail over paying a $250 fine.

Inquirer Staff Writer

Bundled in two sweaters and a jacket against the biting wind as she sat in her wheelchair, 89-year-old Quaker antiwar activist Lillian Willoughby went to jail.

"I never dreamed I'd get this kind of send-off," said Willoughby, of Deptford, as she sat yesterday morning in front of the U.S. courthouse in Center City surrounded by about 50 banner-holding members of the Brandywine Peace Community.

The gathering was both a peace vigil and a show of support for Willoughby and four other demonstrators as they reported to the Federal Detention Center to begin seven-day sentences for blocking the courthouse entrances on March 20, 2003, the day after the Iraq war began.

"It will be worth it if it gets the message out and people start working for peace," Willoughby said.

Willoughby and the four other demonstrators - Michael Brix, 28 and Marion Brown, 58, of Philadelphia; and Cassandra Heino-Haw, 22, and husband Christopher Haw, 23, of Camden - were among 107 arrested March 20, 2003.

The five were among the last to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and elect a sentence of seven days in jail rather than a $250 fine.

But the presence of Willoughby, just three months shy of her 90th birthday, and her husband, George - active members of the peace movement for more than 60 years - brought an element of star quality to the event.

It was Willoughby's first arrest as a peace activist, and at times she seemed almost embarrassed by the attention.

"I have no worries whatsoever," said George Willoughby, who has been arrested many times in nonviolent demonstrations and was honored two years ago in India for promoting the precepts of Mohandas K. Gandhi. "She knows how to take care of herself, and she is doing this for the right reason."

Also present at the start of yesterday's vigil, in full dress uniform, was Marine Lance Cpl. Elliot Ruiz, recently returned home to North Philadelphia from Iraq. Though he chose not to speak publicly, Ruiz quietly thanked several demonstrators for promoting peace.

The group remained in front of the courthouse, on Market Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets, for 75 cold minutes, handing leaflets to tourists and passersby and ignoring several truck drivers who blew their air horns in counter-protest; one of the truck drivers added an obscene gesture.

There were brief speeches by some of the five, including Brown, who railed at the government for starting the war the day her grandchild was born, and Brix, who pointed out his pregnant wife.

"I go to jail for my unborn boy because I don't want him, 25 years from now, to have to do the same thing I'm doing," Brix said.

Then it was time for the brief walk one block north on Seventh to Arch Street and the Federal Detention Center, where they will spend the next six days.

Detention Center spokesman Tony Alexander said staff were not making special accommodations for Willoughby: "We are a completely handicapped-accessible facility. We're well-equipped to meet her needs."

With some difficulty, Willoughby was wheeled through the front doors and then transferred to a prison wheelchair. Her four associates joined her inside to a burst of applause and a chant from those outside: "We love you, Lillian!"

Phila Inquirer 9/30/04


Prison for 89-year-old peace activist

Lillian Willoughby chose a week in jail over a $250 fine for blocking a federal courthouse in a 2003 antiwar protest.

Inquirer Staff Writer

In 65 years of Quaker activism, Lillian Willoughby has been on the line in nonviolent demonstrations opposing war, race discrimination and nuclear proliferation even when they resulted in her arrest.

Now, just shy of 90, hard of hearing, and using a wheelchair, Willoughby is embarking on a new first: going to jail.

Yesterday, Willoughby joined five other antiwar activists who were among 107 arrested March 20, 2003, for blocking the entrance to the federal courthouse in Center City the day after the start of U.S. bombing in Iraq.

Pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count, Willoughby, of Deptford, and the other five refused to pay a $250 fine, electing instead to spend seven days in jail.

"You understand that in every one of these cases, the punishment has been a $250 fine or seven days in prison?" U.S. Magistrate Judge Arnold C. Rapoport asked Willoughby, whose daughter Susan had to wheel her about eight feet from the bench so she could hear the judge.

"Yes," Willoughby replied. "I don't want it any different."

Willoughby handed Rapoport a book, Fifty-two Stories of Nonviolence, and spoke for about five minutes about the Iraq war and her sadness about the U.S. involvement in a war she said had recently claimed the son of a good friend.

"Here I sit in this 21st century, and I think that it is time for this madness to stop," Willoughby said.

Afterward, Willoughby and her husband, George, who was honored in India two years ago for promoting the precepts of Mohandas K. Gandhi, moved proudly down the hall on their way to register her with federal probation officers in anticipation of her sentence.

"I've been arrested before but never spent time in jail," Willoughby said, clutching a bouquet of flowers.

She insisted she was not worried by a prospect that frequently moves criminal defendants to tears: "This is the start of a great adventure."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Goldberg, who has handled the prosecutions of all 107 protesters, said he believed Willoughby would serve her time.

"Except for that fact that she is 90, she is in reasonably good health, and the Federal Detention Center officials believe they can handle this," Goldberg said.

No date was set for the start of the sentences of Willoughby and the five others: Michael Brix, 28; Marion Brown, 58; and Jason Fultz, 29 - all of Philadelphia - and Cassandra Heino, 22, and husband Christopher Haw, 23, of Camden.

As with the earlier sentencings, the six were supported by a group of about 50 people who packed the courtroom. Many were members of the Brandywine Peace Community, a decades-old antiwar group based in Swarthmore.

Before sentencing, Willoughby and the five others joined supporters and members of the Brandywine Peace Community for a service at the Friends Center at 1501 Cherry St. and then made a "Walk for Peace" to the U.S. courthouse at Sixth and Market Streets.

Goldberg said yesterday's sentencing leaves about a dozen remaining of the 107 arrested March 20, 2003.

Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2658 or


From Delaware County Daily Times Sept 19, 2004

When Martha Stewart announced her wishes to go to prison this week in order to get on with her personal and business life, there were a gaggle of microphones and tape recorders in her face. When Andrea Ferich went to jail to begin serving her term, there was no such media crush.

Martha will go to jail for five months after being convicted of lying about dumping stock to make a few more bucks. She has earned the sympathy of her many fans and even those in the business world who feel she was unfairly targeted because of her celebrity.

Andrea went to jail for seven days for sticking to her belief that the war in
Iraq is wrong and human lives are being sacrificed irresponsibly. She was part of a group of more than 100, many of them women, who refused to move from the steps of the Federal Building at Sixth and Market in Philadelphia, the day after the war on Iraq began in March 2003.

Martha will do her five months in a facility that will more than likely resemble an austere hotel, often called a "country club" in the prison system. There will be some structure to the day, most likely, and perhaps a menial job or crafts to help pass the time.

Andrea did her time in solitary confinement, with no books, no writing paper and nothing to make the days and nights pass other than her own mind. She was told she could receive letters, but then she learned there was a shortage of mail screeners and a glut of federal prison mail, which meant she got it on the way out. Or, in reality, most letters were returned to senders.

Martha contends she is being targeted because of her high profile. She talks about the unfairness of being famous and then becoming the target of a government investigation. She claims any other citizen would not have faced the full wrath of federal prosecutors. It’s a case of too much attention.

Andrea only wanted to bring attention to a war she considers wrong. She only wanted to exercise her constitutional right to protest government policies. At 22, she wanted to make a stand in her young life and use her voice to speak out.

For both women, the question of justice being served remains unanswered. It’s obvious that Martha remains adamant that she has been wronged. It’s just as certain that the only lesson Andrea learned is the government doesn’t want to hear the voices of dissent and that a federal judge will go to any length to break the spirit of a young protester.

We are fighting a war in
Iraq that speaks of bringing freedom to the oppressed and changing an awful climate of repression of thought and speech.

Maybe we ought to do a better job of addressing those issues at home.

ŠThe Daily Times 2004

More Iraqi war protesters begin their jail sentences






A third group of Iraqi war protesters began their week-long jail sentence at the Philadelphia Detention Center Tuesday for refusing to pay a $250 fine resulting from their blockade of the city’s federal building on March 20 of last year.

This group of seven brings the total to 21 people who opted for jail time in protest of the Iraq war.


In late April, Janeal Ravndal, a 66-year-old Pendle Hill, Wallingford, resident, was one of seven protesters who spent a week in the federal detention center.

The protesters are from
Camden and Philadelphia, although Gret Gentile of Philadelphia, who considers protesting her full-time job, is a 1957 graduate of the former Lansdowne-Aldan High School.

Around 60 well-wishers held a peace rally in support of the seven people Tuesday morning outside the
Philadelphia federal courthouse, Bob Smith, co-founder of the Swarthmore-based Brandywine Peace Community, said.

"Whenever a government imprisons anyone for the sake of peace, they are attesting to its own illegitimacy," Smith said. "This is the strongest (form of) protest of this war. It not only protests it, it resists it ... actions speak a lot louder than words."

Gentile, who in April was unsure whether she would go to jail, said at the time, "It would be to make a statement that there are many, many things in this world worth preserving. I believe there’s always an alternative to conflict and this particular conflict in
Iraq was so unnecessary and contrived, I believe."

Philadelphia police estimated around 500 people attended the March 20, 2003 war protest, and more than 100 were later arrested when they blocked access to the federal building.

At least five more protesters have a court hearing scheduled on Sept. 29, Smith said.

ŠThe Daily Times 2004


Dec. 05, 2003
5 activists choose a week in jail for protesting
Iraq war
By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Inquirer Staff Writer

Five area antiwar activists were sentenced to seven-day jail terms yesterday after electing not to pay $250 fines for blocking the entrance to the U.S. courthouse protesting the start of the Iraq war. "People were inconvenienced," protester Thomas Mullian, of Prospect Park, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Arnold C. Rapoport. "I suspect that the people walking through the streets of Baghdad found it inconvenient to be bombed."

Before imposing sentences, Rapoport listened courteously to Mullian and four others and let them make extended statements criticizing the war and the U.S. government.

During her statement, Sylvia Metzler, a family nurse-practitioner who works in North Philadelphia, pointed to her T-shirt, which read, "Invest in caring, not killing."

"This war is killing the conscience and soul of this country," she told Rapoport.

"I understand your feelings, and I don't dispute them. Obviously, they are heartfelt," Rapoport said.

But, the judge added, many people who opposed the war did not block the courthouse and adjacent federal building and prevent people from going to work or reporting for appointments with federal agencies. Mullian, Metzger and their three codefendants - James Hanlon-Smith, of Haverford; Louann Merkle, Plymouth Meeting; and Marlene Santoyo, Philadelphia - were the first five of 107 antiwar demonstrators arrested March 20 to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of blocking the entrance to a public building, choose jail and go to sentencing.

All five will report next Thursday to a prison yet to be designated to serve their seven days. Afterward, they will be on probation for 23 days.

Six others yesterday pleaded guilty and chose to pay the $250 fines.

The judge issued an arrest warrant for a 12th demonstrator who failed to appear.

As the five were sentenced, about 50 supporters who packed the courtroom stood silently in solidarity.

Outside the courthouse on Sixth Street, between Market and Arch Streets, another group from the Brandywine Peace Community, a decades-old antiwar group based in Swarthmore, picketed after holding a mock funeral procession from the nearby historic Arch StreetFriends Meeting.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Goldberg said about 30 of the 107 arrested on March 20 were awaiting court appearances. None has requested a trial before Rapoport - misdemeanor defendants are not entitled to jury trials - and Goldberg said no court dates had been set for the remaining demonstrators.