One of the leading figures in the Hands off Syria campaign which opposes US intervention but supports Assad & Russian bombing once told me she was the FBI agent who would have approved flagging my criminal record for using weapons of mass destruction. But, she claimed, she “must have been away that day.”

The charge came out of a 2001 protest against experimenting on living animals. We were surrounded by 850 riot cops & to prevent being beaten I stood up & gave a speech to onlookers that we were denied our rights to assemble but wanted to leave peacefully, without incident, & in any manner the police determined. The speech did prevent an assault but ninety of us were arrested; nearly half were later released as undercover agents.

Having that WMD charge placed on my criminal record in an act of vindictiveness has prevented me from getting any job which requires a criminal background check & from fostering children even though I have never been arrested, interrogated, charged, or prosecuted for using any kind of weapon.

Only the few who refused to sign agreements were prosecuted. In a trial that lasted a week, I was acquitted of all misdemeanor charges. The judge actually scoffed that charges were brought against me. But when I applied to work as a substitute teacher in Texas in 2009, I was told of the WMD charge on my criminal record which costs thousands of dollars to remove. I have also been declined other jobs as a result.

Is there any compelling reason why I would follow the political leadership of someone who was messing with people’s lives while I was organizing against war?