News Release

$10,000 Fine for Taking Medicine to Children


While the administration signals it is moving toward an all-out attack on Iraq, it has fined a Seattle resident, Bert Sacks, $10,000 for his admission that he took medicines to Iraq. Sacks decided to respond today [Monday] at a 10 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

A widely read historian who has authored numerous books including A People’s History of the United States and Terrorism and War, Zinn said today: “The punishment of a citizen for engaging in a humanitarian act — bringing medicine to people in desperate need — should not be accepted in a society claiming to believe in justice. To disobey a law, when that law violates a fundamental human right, is part of the American democratic tradition. We now honor those who, before the civil war, disobeyed the Fugitive Slave Act and helped black people escape from slavery. We honor those black people in the South who disobeyed the law in order to protest against racial segregation. The right to food and medicine is something guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Eleanor Roosevelt helped frame in 1948, and to which our nation is a signatory. Any law or regulation which eliminates that right does not deserve to be obeyed, and those today who bring food and medicine to people in need should be honored, not punished.”
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Sacks is the first American to be fined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control for his admission that he brought medicines to Iraq. Monday marks the last day the government gave Sacks to comply. Having recently returned from another trip to Iraq, Sacks explained: “I have traveled to Basra, Iraq, where we delivered some of our medicine. The antibiotics we brought saved lives, especially the lives of young children who are most vulnerable to illness from unsafe water…. How can I ask the government which deliberately bombed civilian infrastructure during the Gulf War — knowing it would create conditions of unsafe water and doing so as a tool of coercion — how can I ask this government for permission to bring medicines to those still in need? …. A person alleged to have committed the same violation with respect to other countries, Cuba for example, is entitled to a hearing. With respect to Iraq, it appears that I am not. If I’d received a $100 traffic ticket, I’d be entitled to a hearing before a judge, but with this fine of $10,000, I am not.
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Co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, a group that Sacks has traveled to Iraq with, Kelly said today: “We will continue resisting economic warfare by sending delegations to Iraq and, if need be, taking up residence in Iraq in advance of and during any new massive military assault against Iraqi civilians.”
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Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of the recent article “Spinning ‘Smart Sanctions,'” Bennis said today: “The new ‘smart sanctions’ proposal … recently passed by the UN Security Council was largely crafted for spin purposes. While providing a new rhetorical device to claim that sanctions are not hurting Iraq’s population, the bottom line is it won’t do much to help the existing disastrous situation.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167