Ellen Barfield is a full-time peace and justice activist who serves on national boards or committees of War Resisters League, Veterans for Peace, School of the Americas Watch, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In her hometown of Baltimore, MD, she co-founded and directs the Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter of Veterans For Peace, and works with the civil resistance group Baltimore Pledge of Resistance as well as Nicaragua and Palestine solidarity groups. She has traveled with multiple peace delegations to Iraq, Palestine and Nicaragua. Ellen served in the US Army 1977 to 1981, and has a B.S. in Animal Science.
Pressuring Ben Cardin
Members of Baltimore Pledge of Resistance went to the district office of Rep. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) June 17 2005, to demand that he speak out against the Iraq war. The group met for several hours with Cardin’s chief administrative aide Chris Lynch.
Cindy Farquhar told Lynch she was “disappointed” that Cardin did not sign on to the Woolsey Amendment, named for Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) requiring President George W. Bush to announce an “exit strategy” to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.
“We’re long past the idea that providing a better helmet is ‘supporting the troops,’” she said. “We are also asking him to join in pursuing the investigation of the Downing Street Memo. There are 120 House members who have signed Conyers’ letter to Bush on that memo.”
Lynch asked, “What does the Conyers’ letter do?”
Maria Allwine, a Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate replied, “It asks Bush to answer the Downing Street Memo’s allegation that he ‘fixed’ intelligence on Iraq. Mr. Bush doesn’t feel he needs to answer it.” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) is the leading Democrat on the House Judiciary committee.
If Cardin “can’t even put his signature on a letter demanding that Bush answer those questions, I can see that Cardin doesn’t represent me,” Allwine said.
As the meeting proceeded, other POR members began reading aloud and attaching to a mock “memorial wall” the names of the 1,700 U.S. soldiers and thousands of coalition troops and Iraqis who have died. “Presente,” they said after each name.
When 5:30 p.m. arrived, another Cardin aide announced that the office was closing. Those who refused to leave would face arrest, she warned. Many departed but Farquhar, Allwine, Baltimore Veterans for Peace leader Ellen Barfield, and peace activist, Max Obuszewski made clear they would not leave until they heard from Cardin.
Finally, Lynch telephoned Cardin. The aide returned about 7 p.m. to tell the POR delegation that the Congressman had agreed to three of the four proposals: He would sign on to Conyers letter, endorse Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) “timetable” for withdrawal from Iraq; and would call for the closing of the U.S. Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Cardin conveyed that he wants to meet with the delegation on the fourth proposal: voting against future funding of the war.
“Everyone believes it was a clear victory,” Obuszewski told the People's World. “One reason we went to Cardin’s office is that he is running for the U.S. Senate. We want to get the dialogue going right now.”
Their success, he added, dramatizes the importance of individual and organized group visits to lawmakers during the upcoming July 4 congressional recess. With public support of the war plummeting, he said, many lawmakers, even those who supported the war, can be convinced to support peace initiatives. 
Left Forum 2013
- Matt Meyer, Chair War Resisters League
- David McReynolds, Socialist Party USA; War Resisters League
- Ellen Barfield , Veterans for Peace; WILPF; War Resisters League
- Bob Brown, All-African People’s Revolutionary Party
- Tarin Gonzalez, WESPAC Foundation