Excerpts of my testimony at trial for refusing to register for the draft. Syracuse, NY, January 1985.


"Good morning. I am probably as nervous as you are, since this is relatively new to me, also.


Basically, during the trial I will be trying to show you through witnesses and my own testimony that my decision not to register was not willful in a legal sense, and the testimony that I present, or the witnesses and my own testimony, will explain why this is so.


I hope that you will listen to all of my testimony, as well as the government's testimony; that you will do so with an open mind, and that you will think of the ideas expressed; some of them aren't very conventional ideas and may be new to you, so it may take a little thinking to let them settle in. Please give them the time to do so and consider their relevance to this case.


I will be representing myself throughout the trial, and I received legal assistance from a variety of people and I feel competent to represent myself. I choose to represent myself because I believe it is important for all of us to take control of our own lives and to take responsibility for our actions and the consequences of those actions. Representing myself is just a part of that process for me.


I think it is somewhat of a coincidence as I am in court today, the United States and Soviet Union are sitting down for peace talks, the first peace talks in approximately a year and-a-half. I hope for success in both instances.


MR. PAVONE: Excuse me, Mr. Mager. I share Mr. Mager's hope of the success of those peace talks, your Honor, but I object to this as being irrelevant.


THE COURT: You may continue, Mr. Mager.


ME: Thank you. I expect that you will listen to me and think about what I say, and come back with a verdict that seems to make sense to you.


In terms of what Mr. Pavone said about motive and intent, I think that motive in and of itself may not change the law, but I think that motive does have an important bearing on intent; and, thus, I ask that you please do listen to the motives I express and how they affect[ed] my intent and state of mind when I made these decisions. Thank you."


"...this testimony relates to the willfulness element of my refusal to register. In refusing to register, I was affirming my belief in the responsibility of individual citizens to prevent war, as stated in the Nuremberg Accords; rather than simply violating the Military Selective Service Act.


I believe that my duty to register is negated by my belief that the U.S. Government is involved in violations of International Law in regards to its policies with Nicaragua. Specifically, the U.S. has supported an army attempting to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, and has mined the harbors of Nicaragua. These are violations of International Law, and... my belief is that, indeed, I have an obligation to uphold international law based on Principles VI and VII of the Nuremberg Accords, which was initiated by the United States following World War II. That I have an obligation not to participate in, `Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war,' in violation of International Treaty Accords and Agreements, and that this is true even if in order to uphold those agreements, that I need to break the laws of my own country.


In essence, I am arguing that by registering I am participating in the uses which the U.S. Government has chosen for its military force. I think that one of the reasons I have to believe this is that the case I tried to ask the witness about earlier, called Rostker vs. Goldberg, is a case where someone said that draft registration was unconstitutional because it only required men to register, and not women; and there are laws which protect [against] discrimination based on gender. As part of the ruling in that case the Judge said, because it was a Supreme Court case, `Of course, registration is not an end in itself in the civilian world, but rather the first step in the induction process into the military.'


So, the registration process is the first step in that military process which, whose end result right now has been violations of International Law in Nicaragua; and I have a reasonable good-faith belief that based on Article VI of the Constitution, which says that all treaties are part of the supreme law of the land, that I have a responsibility not to register in order to not be in complicity with the U.S. violations of International law."


"I believe that the government's ability to wage wars around the world depends on the cooperation of the people they expect to do the fighting for them. Therefore, I will not give the government the power to tell me to kill other people or to decide if my reasons for not wanting to kill other people are acceptable. I cannot see a situation in which I would feel comfortable killing another person.


I also see my actions in a social context. Wars have caused, and continue to cause untold death and destruction in our world. Life goes on with military force being the accepted way for international conflicts to be settled. Part of what this means is that a huge proportion of the world's human and material resources are diverted away from meeting human needs and into preparing for war.


We see decisions like what is going on in Ethiopia where millions of people are starving, when the governments of that continent are armed to the teeth and spending millions of dollars on military hardware.


With the nuclear weapons possessed by the United States and Soviet Union, any war can escalate into a nuclear war which would mean the end of all of us."


"You have heard clearly that I haven't registered for the draft. To do so would be to violate my conscience. I would like to explain some about why I haven't registered and why I have done so openly, and at the possible risk of five years in jail.


Throughout my life, I have learned about being a responsible person. To me that means taking responsibility for my actions and for the effects that those actions may have on other people and the world around me. I have tried to live responsibly. I grew up in a house where I was encouraged to think for myself, to make my own decisions. What that meant was that in school I tried to prevent an unpopular teacher from being thrown out. I was involved in activities in the community of helping to start a youth center and various other projects.


I believe that all of these were a part of trying to live responsibly and to take control of my own life.


I believe that refusing to register and being open about that fact is the most responsible way for me to respond to the registration law. I felt that it was important for me to publicly state that I hadn't registered because I believe in honesty. I believe that if my actions are designed to try and stop war, as they are, that I must talk with people even if that means that I end up in a court like this, and risk going to jail. I certainly could have chosen to be quiet about my decision; to be among the half-million people who haven't registered and have been quiet about that. That didn't sit well with my conscience.


Refusing to register is a very personal decision. I don't claim that it is what everyone should do or that it is the only way to help create a more peaceful world; there are other things to do, and I try and partake in many of them. But the government required that I fill out a card in case they wanted to send me to war. Filling out that card is very symbolic, it means my participation in preparation for war.


Not only do I believe that I cannot, in good conscience, fill out that card; but under the Nuremberg Accords, that I have a responsibility not to do so.


I believe that the government's ability to wage wars around the world depends on the cooperation of the people they expect to do the fighting for them. Therefore, I will not give the government the power to tell me to kill other people or to decide if my reasons for not wanting to kill other people are acceptable. I cannot see a situation in which I would feel comfortable killing another person.


I also see my actions in a social context. Wars have caused, and continue to cause untold death and destruction in our world. Life goes on with military force being the accepted way for international conflicts to be settled. Part of what this means is that a huge proportion of the world's human and material resources are diverted away from meeting human needs and into preparing for war.


We see decisions like what is going on in Ethiopia where millions of people are starving, when the governments of that continent are armed to the teeth and spending millions of dollars on military hardware.


With the nuclear weapons possessed by the United States and Soviet Union, any war can escalate into a nuclear war which would mean the end of all of us."

"Between December of 1981 and April of 1984, the United States Government has acknowledged spending over $70 million on these activities. The results have included more than 1,400 Nicaraguans killed, more than 3,000 maimed, wounded, raped or kidnapped, more than 113,000 people who have had to be relocated as a result of violence, and over $200 million dollars of destruction to schools, hospitals, bridges and other parts of [the] Nicaraguan economic and social fabric. This is in a country that is very poor, that has tried to overcome years of war, and a massive earthquake; and the money that needs to be spent to repair fuel tanks that were destroyed in a CIA sponsored raid, take[s] away from day-care centers, milk for children, from vitally needed social programs."

"I have been told that I am in the wrong place, that this isn't the place for moral and political issues to be addressed, that I should be going to the Legislature, to the President, to other people. And we are at a time where if we don't prevent war, it may destroy our world.


I don't claim my individual act of refusing to register will, by itself, end war. It is a step, it is the response of a concerned person reacting to a world which in many ways seems to be tottering at the edge.


I ask you to join me in exploring ways that we can work towards ending war. Thank you."