Monday, September 9, 2013

Victory for the Beale 5, prisoners of conscience

[], news archive for the Peace vigil and Occupy action at Beale AFB! [].
Contact information:
* Bay Area: Toby [510-215-5974] []
* Nevada County: Shirley [941-320-0291] []

My statement at sentencing today for protesting drones at Beale Air Force Base
2013-09-09 by David Hartsough [], director of Peaceworkers [], a cofounder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce [], and a lifelong member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He lives in San Francisco, California. David Hartsough's blog []. [Photo courtesy The Nuclear Resister.]

I was arrested last year, along with eight others, at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, California, for blocking two entrances to the base. Our action closed the base’s main entrance for over three hours on October 30, 2012. Today, we were brought to trial in federal court in Sacramento, California. Here follows my statement to the court today.
Drones have killed thousands of innocent civilians and are immoral and illegal under U.S. and international law. They also recruit many more people into Al Qaeda.
We are one human family. All people in the world are children of God and are our brothers and sisters. If someone attacks our blood brother or sister, we would do everything in our power to stop them. This is the way we feel about innocent civilians being killed by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.
One hundred and seventy-eight children and thousands of other civilians have been killed by drones in Pakistan and Yemen. Does this strengthen our national security? Is this making the world a safer place?
Drones are totally immoral and are against everything we have been taught in our religious faiths: Love one another, Love your enemy, and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is a question of religious freedom. I am a Quaker and my religious faith requires me to try to stop the killing of innocent people.
How would we feel if Russians or Chinese or Afghanis or Pakistanis were flying drones over the United States and killing American people?
It is illegal under international law to go into another country and drop bombs on people our government doesn’t like. The Nuremberg Principles require citizens to attempt to stop crimes against humanity and killing innocent civilians is a crime against humanity. Doing nothing or remaining silent is complicity in these crimes. In protesting at Beale AFB, I was trying to uphold international law.
The United States is making decisions to kill people without them ever coming before a court or found guilty. The U.S. government is playing Judge, Jury and Executioner. Is this what we call the rule of law?
Using drones and killing many innocent people is creating more and more enemies of the United States. Every person we kill has at least 50 family members and friends who will mourn the loss of their loved ones. Many will seek revenge on the people and nation that has killed their loved one or friend.
Instead of drones and dropping bombs on people we need to send Peace Corps people to build schools and medical clinics and help people in these countries recover from the wounds of war. We could be the most loved country on earth rather than the most hated.
By our silence we condone this senseless killing. We must speak out and act to stop this madness. By our nonviolent protest at Beale AFB, we were acting to uphold God’s law, U.S. law, the Nuremberg Principles, and international law.
We call on our fellow Americans, people in churches and synagogues and mosques, students, all people of conscience, to join us in stopping drones before they kill more innocent people and recruit more people into Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, our “war on terror” is a receipe for perpetual wars and endless suffering and death for people around the world.
Judge Carolyn Delaney, at a time when our country is preparing to reign down missiles and bombs on Syria — which could start a much larger war in the Middle East killing thousands or hundreds of thousands of people — perhaps the best place for people of conscience is behind bars.
I am at peace with whatever you sentence me to. I cannot pay a fine or accept probation for a nonviolent action in which I was trying to uphold God’s law, U.S. law, and international law. Judge, if you so decide, I am ready to do community service or spend time in prison.
UPDATE: Monday evening, September 9, 2013
Press Release from the National Lawyers Guild/ Sacramento:
SACRAMENTO – Five peace advocates convicted of trespassing at a demonstration opposing the Obama Administrations killer drone program at Beale AFB near Marysville were sentenced here Monday to only 10 hours community service – after they said they rather go to prison than accept a fine and probation.
Judge Carolyn Delaney listened to passionate statements (Available upon request) by the defendants, who told the judge they were willing to go to federal prison rather than pay any fines or accept 3 years probation. They faced up to six months in federal prison and a $5,000 fine each for trespassing at Beale.
Delaney relented, and after acknowledging prison would serve “no purpose,” sentenced the most minimum of community service to Janie Kesselman, Camptonville; Sharon Delgado, Nevada City; Shirley Osgood, Grass Valley; and David and Jan Hartsough, both of San Francisco.
The “Beale 5” considered the very light sentence a “victory.” They were arrested October 30, 2012 protesting the U.S. drone program at Beale AFB, which provides surveillance drones that scout locations for killer drones, responsible for killing hundreds of innocent people, including children, around the world.
The defendants were convicted by Delaney August 12 after she  refused to allow a jury trial. She also refused the admit the “Necessity” and  “Nuremberg Principles” defenses, which argues citizens have a duty to prevent the killing of civilians by their own government. She also disregarded key testimony by witnesses.
The all-volunteer defense team – Sacramento lawyers Mike Hansen, Mark Reichel, Joe Marman and Tatiana Filippova – was coordinated by the National Lawyers Guild of Sacramento. They objected to the court’s decision to exclude a jury trial. They have 14 days to appeal.
The NLG/Sacramento also said the judge in the case refused to allow key witnesses – including people who have seen the devastation to civilians in Pakistan and other parts of the world.
A second anti-drone trial is scheduled later this year for another group of five people arrested at Beale AFB this past April 30.

"9 Arrested for Blocking Gate of Beale AFB to Protest Drone Strikes"
2012-10-30 []: BEALE AFB (Marysville), Ca. – Nine military veterans and peace activists from throughout California were arrested around at the main gate to Beale AFB (North Beale Road) today, protesting the inhumane and cruel U.S. Drone Program, now killing thousands of innocent men, women and children around the world.
About 100 activists from as far away as Fresno, the SF Bay Area, Sacramento and other Northern California cities unfurled large banners and carried model drones and large photos of child victims of drone strikes to show the dark side of drone warfare.
Beale AFB has been a target of anti-drone protests for years. Beale AFB is home to the U2 and the Global Hawk, the unmanned surveillance drone that is an “accomplice” in drone killings.
There have been a series of direct actions leading to arrests this year protesting President Obama’s use of drones, most recently at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY last Thursday, where 17 were arrested.
Activists demanded: (1) An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing (2) A halt all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan,
 Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia (3) A prohibition on the sale, and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom and security and (4) The U.S. must immediately stop this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.
 “US military and CIA Drone attacks have killed thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, in the Middle East, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In the name of combating terrorism against the U.S. we are terrorizing innocent people, and creating many more enemies and potential terrorists in the process,” said a statement issued by Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Chico Peace and Justice Center, Nevada County Peace Center, Peace Fresno, WILPF and World Can’t Wait.
“Our government has become lawless powers, acting as judge, jury and executioner, just because they can. They use remote-controlled drones to kill women in their kitchens, elders meeting in their jirgas, mourners at funerals, and rescuers who try to help the wounded. By most independent studies, the vast majority of those killed are civilians,” said Toby Blome, of CodePink’s Peace Delegation to Pakistan.
“When I learned about what we are doing with drones…killing innocent civilians, and see the faces of dead children and their mourners, I find the passion to do something. That’s why I’m taking some action at Beale,” said Shirley Osgood, Occupy Nevada County and Nevada County Peace Center and Nevada County Green.

"Anti-Drone Action at Beale AFB: Nonviolent Civil Disobedience for Peace"
by Shirley Osgood []:
For the past 2 ½ years I have been driving monthly from my home in Grass Valley, Ca, 30 miles out to Beale Air Force Base for a non-violent protest against drone warfare. There I have met other activists from around the state, as we have hung and held banners, passed out current information about drone warfare to those entering and leaving, camped together at the base entrance, shared food, celebrated birthdays, supported each other through hard times, sung and played guitar, risked arrest, and come to be a group of dedicated activist friends. These are some of the things I have learned about drones since I started protesting them at Beale AFB:
• Beale AFB is the home of the Global Hawk, the U-2, and the MC-12 Liberty aircrafts. The Global Hawk is an unmanned ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) aircraft which provides near real-time information to support our “war on terror” across the globe, and which has been complicit in the killing of many innocent civilians in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Bosnia, Serbia, Libya, and Somalia
• The use of drones for targeted assassinations/extra-judicial killings is immoral and illegal under international law, and their use threatens us all. The U.S. does not have the right to inflict capital punishment without trial on whomever it has put on its “kill list”. “Signature” drone strikes target people with suspicious behavior and also kill many innocent people, including children, who have no relationship to attacks on the U.S. “Secondary strikes”, that is, drone strikes on rescue workers, also constitute war crimes.
• The U.S. government claims that drone attacks are very accurate, but, in fact, many innocent people have been killed by our drones. At least hundreds, and by some reports, thousands of innocents, including hundreds of children have been killed and injured by our drones. There is great discrepancy in the numbers reported killed. Our government considers “combatants” or “militants” to be any male who appears to be of military age. The deaths of these men or boys are not reported in the civilian death counts.
• Since 9-11-01 we have spent almost $1,500,000,000,000 (that’s 1 ½ trillion) on our “war on terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan, neglecting needed services at home and abroad, including our fragile environment, education, homelessness, food, healthcare, and infrastructure. So those are some of the facts. I believe that killing civilians only creates more enemies, instead of our intended goal of getting rid of those who may be plotting against us. I can only imagine what “we” would do if we found a foreign drone flying overhead, surveilling, much less killing even one child.
For many months, I tried to obtain the names of the child victims, as I felt moved to do some kind of memorial to them, to acknowledge their existence, and their deaths. Last year I found a list of names on several different internet sites. This incomplete list included the names of children killed, their ages, gender, and their countries of origin. All the children on the list were from Yemen and Pakistan. The U.S. considers Pakistan an ally, and yet I had a list of almost a hundred children, ages 1 to 17, killed in Pakistan by U.S. drones. Aware that Yemen and Pakistan were not the only countries where innocents were killed by the U.S., we began planning a memorial project. Last fall, at Nevada County’s International Women’s Day Celebration, the “Children Killed by U.S. Drones Panel Project” started to emerge…9” by 20” fabric pieces with figures of children painted in acrylics, markers, pastels, pencil, and fabric, each including a name, gender, age and country. Though a work in progress by many people, (see for more information and photos), the panel project has so far traveled to The Federal Courthouse in Sacramento four times, Sierra College for Earth Day, Beale Air Force Base three times, the Broad St. Bridge and the Constitution Day Parade in Nevada City (rogue participants). Anyone is invited to participate in this project by contacting The Peace Center of Nevada County ( and leaving your contact information.
In my memory of my time going to Beale AFB to protest, there have been 17 arrests. The first was my sister, cited for handing out leaflets in the yellow triangle which divides the “in” and “out” lanes outside the base. Those charges were dismissed in court. Then a woman delivering a vase of home grown sweet peas to the guard house, was handcuffed and cited, along with a woman from Germany, filming a documentary on peace activists. Those charges were dropped after a few weeks.
Then nine people, including myself, were arrested in October, 2012, charged with trespassing on federal property. Charges were dismissed on four of those. In April, 2013, five were arrested at the Wheatland Gate for federal trespassing. The five arrested in October, who still had charges, including myself, came to be called the “Beale 5”. We went on trial August 12, 2013 at the Federal Court in Sacramento for trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base.
More than a dozen people blocked the county road at the base for several hours. When we moved closer to the gate, it was swiftly closed. Eventually, five of us sat on a small area about five feet wide, in front of the base gate, and shortly thereafter, we were detained on the base, cited for federal trespassing, and released with a citation indicating further action.
Though our pro bono attorneys petitioned to obtain a jury trial for us, the judge decided on a bench trial. Our attorneys were determined to “get us off” and presented lots of evidence regarding confusion about the base boundaries. The morning of the trial was filled with these details, but in the afternoon, we were at least allowed to testify regarding our reasons for the direct action. After the testimony and cross examination, the judge presented her verdict of “guilty” of trespassing.
September 9th at 9:30 was the sentencing date for the “Beale 5”. First we had a rally with about 50 friends and supporters/activists in front of the Federal Court House in Sacramento. So many faces I have grown to know and love, and some new ones too…. Brother Kevin Carter with his megaphone, speaking the truth about the “fierce urgency of now”, my sister, Pamela, friends and neighbors from Nevada County, my loving co-defendants, co-activists from the Beale AFB vigils, (including Flora from Linda!), Bay Area supporters (go Toby and Code Pink!), and new friends from Sacramento. Then there is Cres, our wonderful trial coordinator from National Lawyers’ Guild, and our team of pro-bono attorneys from Sacramento. The court room was filled with supporters. (That did feel very nice.) Judge Delaney was ready to give the sentence, and I think perhaps she did give it immediately, but also gave each of the five of us the opportunity to give a pre-sentencing statement.
The other four had prepared statements, and they spoke eloquently of their histories, drone warfare, and their reasons for being there. I had not written a statement, though I had general ideas floating in my head. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something about being a grandmother, my grandchildren being children of the world, just like the children on the drone panels, who have been killed in Yemen and Pakistan. And something about our fragile little planet, and how war does not support its healing. Though our sentence was small…only 10 hours of community service…. there was a controversy about being on probation until our 10 hours are done and reported.
After leaving the court, a group of about 10 of us went to my favorite restaurant in Sacramento, the little Afghani Restaurant at the corner of 8th and J St. This has become our tradition after our court hearings. I look forward to eating there again after supporting the “Wheatland 5″, whose trial for trespassing at Beale AFB will be October 28th.
Who will be next to challenge the dronewarfare our country is waging around the planet? You? Tune in for more news!

"Renouncing the right to bear drones"
2013-09-13 by Ken Butigan []:
The riveting attention paid to chemical weapons in Syria over the past few weeks is not a new phenomenon. Our revulsion has its roots in World War I’s searing plumes of mustard gas that decimated thousands of troops and that still swirl through the trenches of our collective mind. But it is also grounded in our conscious or unconscious memory of every pivotal moment in the history of war when one combatant’s edge widened incrementally or dramatically over another with the latest innovation in killing.
The ability of new weaponry to mechanize and geometrically multiply casualties with every turn of the technological wheel has proven chillingly advantageous to systems of domination. But this superiority has not only been numerical. Its power often has laid in its capability to deface and ultimately obliterate the facticity and stubbornly human presence of the other — whether it be with the meat grinding Gatling gun of the Civil War or the vaporous immensity of the atomic bomb. Virtually every new weapon over the past 5,000 years has not only been designed to defeat the opponent with greater firepower but to reduce, ruin and extinguish her or his body, presence, physical integrity — the qualities that makes us irreducibly human.
We are now in the midst of the drones revolution, the next leap in technologized lethality. The quantitative horror that drones have ushered into the world is deeply troubling. For example, U.S. drones have killed an estimated 3,149 people in Pakistan since 2004, as Out of Sight, Out of Mind vividly documents. At the same time a qualitative horror rumbles through our collective consciousness rooted in the growing capacities of drones, including their radical particularity, universal comprehensiveness, and increasing automation.
The precision of drones has dramatically refashioned the concept of most battlefield weapons, which steadily have increased the ability to kill large numbers of people. A military drone, on the contrary, is hyper-personal, designed and tailored to kill a particular person. While the United States regularly carries out what it terms signature strikes — aimed at classes of people that are presumed to be terrorists because they match a certain demographic profile (young men, for example) — the stark reality of drones is that they are designed to track and eliminate specific individuals.
Paradoxically, this very particularity makes the potential reach of drones universal. One by one, we are all hypothetically at risk. Any one of us could find ourselves on a “kill list” if we are deemed by “deemers” to fit the system’s criteria at any given moment. As the NSA revelations of Edward Snowden and others have underscored, the capacity increasingly exists for the U.S. government and other entities to amass profiles on every human being on the planet. Perhaps all seven billion of us are on a master list whereby the “deemer-in-chief” can toggle us from the “non-kill list” to the “kill list” when national security demands it. Whether this is the case or not, the growing capacity of drones to roam the planet to track and eliminate targets drawn from a comprehensive super-database is a prospect with which we must grapple going forward.
Even more than this, there is the possibility that such a comprehensive system will become virtually automated. Not only might there be a universal list, it could be activated and maintained by a set of algorithms, freeing those glued to the monitors and working the joysticks at places like Creech Air Force Base in Nevada — as well as their bosses who now compile and sign off on the lists — from the sometimes PTSD-inducing task of deciding who will live and who will die.
All these facets of drones — customizable killing, planet-wide surveillance and targeting, and the potential for them to be the lynchpin of a self-regulating, ubiquitous and permanent military regime — increase lethality but also degrade, destroy and erase the inviolable human presence.
The drones revolution is on, and every effort is being made to get us to enlist. Over the past few years this has included an unrelenting touting that drones are a foregone conclusion. Virtually every day there are new revelations in the press — for example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently announced that it was working on underwater drones [], and there seems to be a thriving “do-it-yourself” drones cottage industry []— while U.S. drone warfare continues apace in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. (Although most analysts downplay the role drones might play in Syria if the United States goes in [] [], this spring a news account detailed how the CIA has plans to carry out drone attacks against extremists in the Syrian opposition.) This is a new form of subtle and not-so-subtle conscription, designed not so much to fill the ranks of the armed services as to gradually get us to assume that a drone-run world is normal, good and just another part of the future.
But there is resistance to this “cultural draft,” including the international movement that, for the past few years, has been growing and broadening []. (In reflecting on this movement, I recently explored the idea of promulgating an international treaty banning drones, inspired by the international treaty banning land mines [].) Code Pink, which has provided powerful leadership for this movement, is sponsoring a drones summit November 16-17 in Washington, D.C. “Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance” will feature among other presenters Cornel West, international law expert Mary Ellen O’Connell, and activists from Yemen and Pakistan [].
Anti-drone protests have been staged recently in Yemen [] and Britain []. And this week, the “Beale 5” were sentenced in a Sacramento, Calif., courtroom for a nonviolent civil disobedience action they engaged in October 30, 2012 at Beale Air Force Base in Northern California, which provides surveillance drones that scout locations for killer drones []. Last month they were convicted of trespassing at the base after a day-long bench trial, where they faced a maximum sentence of six months in federal prison and a $5,000 fine. Judge Carolyn Delaney sentenced the five — Janie Kesselman, Sharon Delgado, Shirley Osgood, Jan Hartsough and David Hartsough — to 10 hours of community service after the defendants told her that they would rather go to jail rather than accept fines or probation.
In her statement before the judge, Jan Hartsough, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Pakistan in the mid-1960s, said: "After living and working there for two years, Pakistan is a part of me. I have followed with great pain and sadness the drone attacks on Pakistanis. I have learned from Pakistani victims of drone strikes that they are experiencing psychological trauma — never knowing when a drone might strike again. Kids are afraid to go to school; adults are afraid to gather for a funeral or a wedding celebration for fear of becoming a “target.” … So what have we accomplished with our drone attacks? When will we wake up and see that there are much better ways to win the respect of the world’s people? As a mother and grandmother I seek to find ways to help create a more peaceful world for future generations. Ending drone warfare is a concrete step we can and must take."
After the statements of Hartsough and the others, the judge declared that prison would serve “no purpose.”
A second anti-drone trial is scheduled later this year for another group of five people arrested at Beale this past April 30.

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