There never was a good war or a bad peace. ~Ben Franklin
"Fourteen anti-war activists may have made history today in a Las Vegas courtroom when they turned a misdemeanor trespassing trial into a possible referendum on America's newfound taste for remote-controlled
warfare." That's how one Las Vegas newspaper summed up our stunning day
in court on Tuesday, when fourteen of us stood trial for walking on to
Creech Air Force Base last year on April 9, 2009 to protest the U.S.
The prosecutors challenged each witness, but their questions only enabled the witnesses to speak further on our behalf.
Through carefully crafted questions, the defendants were able to extract several key points from their witnesses:
* Intentional killing is a war crime, as embodied in U.S. constitutional law.
* Drone strikes by U.S. and coalition forces kill a disproportionate number of civilians.
* People have the right, even the duty, to stop war crimes.
* According to the Nuremberg principles, individuals are required to disobey domestic orders that cause crimes against humanity.
Several of our witnesses have employed the classic metaphor when talking of a necessity defense. There's a house on fire, and a child crying from the window and there's a no trespassing
sign on the door. Can one ignore the sign, kick down the door and
rescue the child?
It was a great privilege for us to hear Ramsey Clark, a master of understatement, who put it best. "Letting a baby burn to death because of a no trespass sign would be poor public
I submit that the house is on fire and babies are burning in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan because of the activities at Creech AFB.
The baby is burning also in the persons of the young people who are operating the drones from Creech AFB, who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at rates that even exceed
that of their comrades in combat on the ground.
Colonel Ann Wright testified that soldiers do pay attention to what is going on in the public forum, and that they do respond to a "great debate" in the
public sphere. There is no great debate going on about drone warfare in
our country. Some have noted that the trend toward using drones in
warfare is a paradigm shift that can be compared to what happened when
an atomic bomb was first used to destroy the city of Hiroshima in Japan.
When Hiroshima was bombed, though, the whole world knew that everything had changed. Today everything is changing, but it goes almost without
notice. I hesitate to claim credit for it, but there is certainly more
discussion of this issue after we were arrested for trespassing at
Creech AFB on April 9, 2009, than there was before.
Judge Jansen, we appreciate the close attention you've given to the testimony you've heard here. The question that you asked Bill Quigley, --"Aren't
there better ways of making change than breaking the law?", is a
question we are often asked and that we often ask ourselves.
It was a question that was asked of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 when he was in jail in Birmingham, Alabama. Several clergy people
of Birmingham wrote a letter to Dr. King asking him the very same
questions that you asked Professor Quigley. Isn't there a better way?
Why sit-ins? Why marches, why protests? Isn't negotiation the better
Dr. King's reply to these questions -- in his famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail, which is regarded by many as one of the finest things ever written in the English language -- heartily agreed
that negotiation is the better way. But, he said that a society that
refuses to face crucial issues needs "nonviolent gadflies" using direct
action to raise the level of awareness and raise the level of "creative
tension" for a society to rise from the depths of monologue to the
majestic heights of dialogue, where the great debate that Colonel Ann
Wright says we need, can happen.
The house is on fire. And we fourteen are ones who have seen the smoke from the fire and heard the cries of the children. We cannot be deterred by a No Trespassing sign
from going to the burning children.
"By all accounts, the Creech 14 trial is the first time in history an American judge has allowed a trial to touch on possible motivations of anti-drone protesters," the local paper said.
read the full article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/18-0
Challenging Drone Warfare in Court --
By Kathy Kelly
On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility. The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare. Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging the commander to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones) for surveillance and attacks.
Kelly and Walker told the prosecutor that they could accept a “no contest” plea but were not willing to plead guilty.The judge refused to accept a “no contest” plea. Kelly and Walker then requested a trial which has been set for December 10, 2014.
Brian Terrell, who also attended the hearing, has previously been tried before Judge Whitworth on the same charge. In October of 2012, Whitworth sentenced him to the maximum penalty of six months in prison. His co-defendant, Ron Faust, also went to trial and was initially sentenced to five years probation which was later reduced to one year. Mark Kenney, also a co-defendant, had pled guilty and received a four month sentence.
Kathy Kelly noted that drone strikes on October 7, 2014 killed seven people, in Pakistan and that this is the third day in a row of drone attacks in Pakistan’s Waziristan area. On October 6th, eight people were killed and six wounded. Today also marks the thirteenth year of U.S. war in Afghanistan, a country which was considered, in 2013, to be the epicenter of drone warfare.
“I feel we’re compelled by our conscience, “ Georgia Walker told a gathering of 35 people in Kansas City, the previous evening. “We’re compelled by our own spirituality, to keep speaking up and to keep getting people to know that silence is complicity. We have to speak out to say ‘Not in my Name.’”
“I’m sure that Georgia and I didn’t commit a crime,” said Kathy Kelly. “We tried to send out an alarm about a crime that’s being committed at the base. Innocent people, including children are killed by the drone strikes.”
Kelly and Walker later met with supporters and attorneys to discuss plans for a vigorous defense on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.
Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org) She and several others involved in this case, including Georgia Walker and Brian Terrell, are active participants in Campaign Nonviolence.