"California anti-drone protesters convicted of trespassing; Sentenced to 10 hours of Community Service and a $10 fee; Judge Claire warns of harsher consequences next time due to “ban & bar” orders served to them at the time of arrest"
2014-02-11 from "Nuclear Resister" newsletter [http://www.nukeresister.org/2014/02/11/california-anti-drone-protesters-convicted-of-trespassing/]:
The "Wheatland 5" (Photograph by Toby Blome)
“Wheatland 4” were arrested in April last year, while protesting drone
warfare at Beale Air Force Base. They were found guilty of trespassing
after a day-long trial in a Sacramento Federal Court on Monday, February
In last April’s protest, over a dozen activists blocked the
main traffic artery into the base for over an hour. They were hoping
that they could, even temporarily, put a halt to illegal assassination
and possibly save some lives. When highway patrol arrived to break up
the blockade, five of the protesters proceeded to enter base property to
deliver a letter to the base commander, Col. Phil Stewart. The letter
charged Col. Stewart, President Barack Obama and all military personnel
involved in drone warfare, with crimes against humanity and violations
of international and national laws. They are all guilty of denying the
right for due process. While each activist was being arrested, she or
he handed a copy of the letter to the serviceperson arresting them,
requesting that it be delivered to the commander. Before being
released, the arrestees were given a “Ban & Bar” letter, signed by
Col. Phil Stewart. This letter formally ordered them not to enter or
re-enter Beale AFB, and warned of a penalty “fine” of an undisclosed
amount and/or maximum imprisonment of 6 months should the order be
violated. One of the arrestees, Barry Binks, had his charges dropped
before the trial date, due to his veteran status.
after a lively pre-trial anti-drone rally with local media coverage, the
courtroom filled with anti-drone activist supporters. The defendants –
Martha Hubert, Robin Ryan, Bill Doub and Toby Blomé – all felt strongly
that they were not interested in arguing over whether or not they
trespassed. In their eyes, they were there to put illegal U.S. drone
warfare on trial. They wanted to focus on their intent, which was not
to trespass, but to hold their government and military officials
accountable for crimes against humanity. They publicly resisted this
illegal activity through nonviolent direct action. They wanted to
educate Beale AFB personnel about drone warfare and it’s negative
effects on the perpetrators as well as the victims.
had already denied them their constitutional right to a jury trial, and
had denied them the right to use the “Defense of Necessity” argument or
to discuss the Nuremberg Principles. In the defendants’ eyes, justice
had already failed. The first half of the trial included witnesses from
the base giving minute and monotonous details of the legal boundaries
of the base property, what signs were posted to sufficiently (or
insufficiently) warn visitors, etc. The wonderful pro bono defense
attorneys proceeded to find ways to get the charges dismissed based on
loopholes, discrepancies, or mismanagement of the arrest. The military
video of the arrest included footage of a highway patrol officer
actually pushing some of the defendants onto the base property. Called
to witness, defendants Robin and Bill did an excellent job speaking for
all of the defendants, testifying and emphasizing for the court record
our intent to stop wrongdoing, bring accountability and save lives.
the end of the trial, Mark Reichel, Toby’s attorney, inadvertently
noticed a quote on the back side of a scribbled note handed to him
earlier by Toby. Atty. Reichel leaned over to Toby and whispered with
enthusiasm, something to the effect: “This is good. This is really,
really good. Do you mind if I read it to the judge?” Ultimately, Judge
Claire gave the defense attorney permission to read the excerpt from
the NY Times letter to the editor, written by Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Desmond Tutu. It speaks for all of us seeking an end to drone
“Do the United States and its people really want to tell
those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of
the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision
to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target
is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind
that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human
as you are? I cannot believe it.”
Ultimately, Judge Claire found
all four defendants guilty of trespassing and sentenced them to ten
hours of community service. She denied the prosecution’s request for a
“deterrent” fine of $300. However, the judge did alert the defendants
to expect a harsher sentence next time due to the “Ban & Bar” letter
that was served them by the military at the time of their arrest.
note: A sentencing trial concluded last Friday in NY, for 12 activists
who were arrested for an anti-drone protest at Hancock AFB in October
of 2012 and recently convicted of disorderly conduct (hooliganism),
though acquitted of trespassing. All 12 activists were given the maximum
sentence of 15 days in jail and total fines of $375. They were
immediately placed under arrest to serve at least 2/3 of their time.
Sacramento, though Judge Claire convicted the Beale AFB protesters of
trespassing, she did allow the defendants to give post-sentencing
statements. To avoid redundancy, each defendant spoke to different
aspects of what motivates them to protest at Beale AFB. Bill spoke about
his opposition to drone warfare and his hopes for a peaceful world for
his grandchildren. Robin told personal stories of wedding parties
attacked, and PTSD suffered by our military. Toby spoke of her personal
experience, trying to right these wrongs, many futile visits to
congressional offices, and never getting through to our
“representatives”. Conventional approaches are ineffective, making it
necessary to use “unconventional” tactics. Martha addressed the failings
of the justice system. For this case to be about trespassing is a
farce. Delivering a letter to the base commander at Beale AFB that day
was exactly where these activists should have been as concerned
“We were NOT TRESPASSING” and “WE WILL NOT BE MOVED!”
‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant Martha Hubert’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14
WE WERE NOT TRESPASSING.
OUR CIVIC DUTY AND THE FAILURE OF THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
We pay taxes. This is OUR base and OUR military. It was NOT our intention to trespass.
entered the base to deliver a letter to the base commander. We firmly
believe that drone warfare is not in the best interest of our country
nor the countries inflicted with this scourge. The military endangers
itself by the use of drone warfare, making militants where there were
none, making enemies where we should be making friends. What good is it
for drones to kill unarmed civilians, so many of whom are children? The
so-called “War on Terror” is Terror. We have no right to invade and
terrorize other countries in the name of spreading democracy. Their
natural resources do not belong to us. Arms manufacturers and other
multi-national corporations do not deserve the exorbitant profits
awarded to them by proliferating conflicts. We entered the base out of
Compassion. We need to invest in life sustaining practices. Our planet
is under assault. Healthcare is a mess. Education is underfunded. The
disparity between the rich and the poor is accelerating at a rapid pace.
Alternative energy is not given anywhere near the funding of the war
machine. Our representatives aren’t representing us. We come directly to
the military because our previous protests have fallen on deaf ears. We
were NOT trespassing. Delivering a letter to the base was exactly where
we belonged as concerned citizens.
Our government should not
ignore the Nuremburg Principles. The United States Government does not
have the right to be judge, jury and executioner. Due to the NSA and
other draconian governmental organizations, it is very difficult to get
adequate information in order to be informed citizens. National Security
has been used as an excuse to keep the public in the dark. Fortunately,
brave truth tellers have come forward to let us know what’s really
happening. Having studied these issues, we feel that it is our
responsibility to share pertinent information with the public. We cannot
have a democracy without informed citizens.
It is important to
come to the aid of innocent drone victims and not be silent when we know
about the shameful activities of our government done in our name.
Justice calls for a fair trial. A fair trial includes a judge and a jury
in a court of law. This has been denied to drone victims, be they
innocent of any wrong doing or not. Our government is NOT above the law.
Money and politics are so entwined that Justice suffers as a result. We
entered the base over a matter of life and death; not only the life and
death of innocent victims and victims of our economic draft. We’re
concerned with the life of what we call democracy in this country. We
were NOT trespassing.
‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant William (Bill) Doub’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14
Judge Claire, members of the Prosecution, members of the Defense, and
those who have chosen to witness this trial today, I am not guilty of
I was arrested at Beale air force base blocking the
access road to try to call attention to and stop the armed drones and
‘intelligence’ aircraft the U.S. sends to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and
elsewhere to murder our alleged enemies and many innocent bystanders. We
should ask if these people are really a threat to us and will murdering
or attacking them really decrease the threat to us.
me in supporting the individuals who oppose drones and in trying to find
other work for those who depend on drone related work to make a living.
Our drone war is certain to make our enemies stronger and make it more
difficult for us to communicate with them.
Instead, I want a
world for my 3 grandchildren, their generation and generations to follow
that is a peaceful, just world without war and terror.
30, 2013 we were delivering an Open Letter to Beale Air Force Base
Personnel that summarizes our demands. I will now close by reading that
letter. Thank you for your time and compassion.
OPEN LETTER TO BEALE AIR FORCE BASE PERSONNEL (April 30, 2013)
the people, charge the US President, Barack Obama and the full military
chain of command, to Beale Air Force Base Colonel Phil Stewart, 9th
Reconnaissance Wing Commander, every drone crew and service member at
Beale Air Force Base, and every other U.S. base involved directly or
indirectly with the U.S. drone program, with crimes against humanity,
with violations of part of the Supreme Law of the Land, extrajudicial
killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of
national sovereignty, and killing of innocent civilians.
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 US, we are terrorizing innocent people and creating many more
enemies and potential terrorists in the process.
has become a lawless power, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, just
because it can. The US uses 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.
We therefore demand:
(1) An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing
A halt to 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) An immediate end to this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.
‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant Toby Blome’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14
Your honorable Judge Claire, respectful attorneys and my fellow citizens present in the courtroom today,
Co-defendants, Robin and Bill, have expressed very eloquently the many
reasons why we four defendants strongly oppose drone warfare. In my
testimony I will explain some of the reasons why, on April 30, 2013, we
chose an unconventional approach at Beale AFB to try to stop illegal
U.S. drone killings.
The 1st Amendment to the Constitution
clearly states our right, as U.S. citizens, to petition our government
for a redress of grievances. However, our modern society has devolved to
the point that conventional methods of petitioning government officials
are most often futile, especially when involving issues of foreign
policy. The following examples will support this fact.
2003, millions and millions of people around the world rallied and
marched in the streets to try to stop the pending illegal and
unjustified invasion of Iraq; A war based purely on lies, with a cost of
over $3 trillion to US taxpayers. An unprecedented unified world voice
said emphatically: NO WAR! Our government and the Pentagon were deaf to
the world’s cries for peace & reason and 13 years later Iraq remains
in ruins with no stable future in sight.
In 2006, I joined the
“Troops Home Fast” campaign, where citizens from all over the country
participated in a hunger fast to protest the Iraq War. Dozens of us
traveled to DC to fast publicly in front of the White House. While on a
water only fast for 3 weeks, I and Father Louis Vitale, a Franciscan
monk, visited nearly every Senator’s office in DC, hand delivering an
educational letter about our campaign, talking with staff, and inviting
each Senator to talk with us. Not a single senator or staff person
responded to our effort.
In 2007, in San Francisco, I joined a
coalition of 60-75 people representing 15-20 peace organizations in the
Bay Area, gathering every Wednesday for 5 consecutive weeks in the S.F.
office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. We requested from her staff a
formal meeting with Ms. Pelosi to discuss our
objections to her
funding of the Iraq War. Not only did she refuse to meet with us, she
continued to support war funding throughout the war, against the will of
the vast majority of her S. F. constituents.
All of these
examples provide concrete evidence that traditional ways to appeal to
our elected officials through letters, phone calls, mass marches in the
streets, are useless or severely ineffective at best. All four of us
could share innumerable personal stories of how our voices are ignored
by our government. It appears that “We The People” don’t count.
the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo unfolded, we all witnessed
absolutely no accountability and no justice for the tortured.
Shockingly, the orchestrators of these war crimes are serving as judges
in our courts, professors in our universities, and profiting from public
presentations and book sales of their memoirs.
Guantanamo, a total of 779 men have been detained there. The vast
majority were not captured in the heat of battle, but were exchanged for
bounty payments, with no evidence of wrongdoing. After months and years
of abuse and torture, over 600 have been released without charges, 9
have died. Where is justice?
Fast forward to the Obama
Administration and drone killing. If our government and the military
industrial complex can so easily capture and hold hundreds of innocent
human beings for years under horrendous conditions, what errors are
being made in our name with targeted U.S. assassination? No country in
the world should ever wield such unimaginable power. It is illegal! Many
of the so called “militants” that we have eliminated with drone
missiles were, as in Guantanamo, also identified by informants who
received bounty payments. Is wrongful execution by hellfire missile
preferable to wrongful indefinite detention? With a government that is
practicing such unrestrained abuses without any oversight by other
branches of the government, is that a government that would listen to
the voices of justice in conventional ways that have previously failed?
5th Amendment to our beloved Constitution is quite clear and simple:
“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.”
We have a choice: The 5th Amendment vs. Terror Tuesdays and Obama’s “Kill List.”
U.S. citizens have now been executed by drone missiles, in violation of
our constitution. One, Abdulrahman Al-Alawki, was a 16 year old boy
born in Denver Colorado. 5 other boys were killed by the same drone
attack that killed Abdulrahman that day in Yemen. President Obama
refuses to release any legal memos or make meaningful public discourse
to explain the justification for these killings.
Last February I
participated in a protest at the Senate confirmation hearing of John
Brennan to head the CIA. For years John Brennan has been the architect
of the secret CIA drone program. The morning of the hearing I learned
that the CIA and the Obama Administration do not even notify the
Intelligence Committee of our Senate which countries they are using
drones for targeted killing. Where are the checks and balances if
Congress doesn’t even know where the killing is taking place? What
happened to the rule of law?
At Brennan’s confirmation hearing,
our very own Senator Feinstein, chair of the Intelligence Committee,
told the American public about in her opening statement that there have
been only single digit civilian deaths per year from drone attacks. All
independent research indicates many more than that, and nearly 200
children in Pakistan alone have been killed. When 4 of us visited
Senator Feinstein’s office the next morning to deliver a list of the
names of nearly 200 children that have been killed by drones, her own
aide confessed that they already know there have been more than single
digit civilian deaths per year. He refused to clarify. However, while
caught off his guard, he unconsciously admitted to the willful
dishonesty by his boss, a California Senator. President Obama and John
Brennan have also repeatedly lied to the public about the drone program.
Is a government without integrity expected to be concerned about the
wishes of its people?
And our other California Senator, Barbara
Boxer? Over the last 2 years we have made repeated visits to her offices
in DC, Oakland and Sacramento to express our deepest concerns about
drone warfare. Her staff are either totally unavailable, or, if they do
meet with us, they have not taken any follow up actions to address our
concerns. A recent phone call to her DC office confirmed that Senator
Boxer still refuses to take any public stance on this
very illegal and controversial subject. Another government official unwilling to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
should a citizen turn? What choices are left? What effective means do
we have to change the disastrous and unprecedented course we are taking
with drone warfare? The unlimited powers that are being unleashed are
unfathomable. From the examples that I have given, do you think that we
can have any hope that petitions, or letters or phone calls will make an
ounce of difference? Especially when so much of the truth is being
hidden from the vast majority of Americans? How do we change course, and
how do we hold our elected officials accountable when so much of the
public is in the dark.
(This italicized section was only paraphrased in the court due to restraints from the judge)
country who fails to remember it’s past is doomed to repeat it. This
book, “Kill Anything that Moves,” is the result of 10 years of thorough
research by Nick Turse, gleaned from military documents and interviews
with Vietnam War veterans and civilian survivors in Vietnam. It is a
very painful book to read, and every page is filled with the
disheartening details of how it was the Pentagon’s strategy to
systematically slaughter the South Vietnamese people through aerial
bombardment, the burning of thousands of small villages, starvation via
destruction of their rice crops, and more. The atrocities are endless. I
ask Your Honor: Where were the checks and balances in our government 50
years ago? How did such systematic atrocities continue to be committed
throughout the 10 year course of that war, without effective objections
by our Congress? What has changed since then? As Robin pointed out, our
soldiers are serious victims of these horrendous foreign policies forced
upon them. One day in the future there will be a courageous graduate
student who will put 10 years of research into documenting the
atrocities of the Afghanistan, Iraq and U.S. secret drone wars. What
country is next?
In October last year, I was fortunate to be part
of the CodePink Peace Delegation to Pakistan. We met with drone victims
and heard their many tragic personal stories. A journalist, Karim Khan,
told of coming home one night to find his compound destroyed, and his
18 year old son and his youngest brother kiIled by a drone strike. Also
killed was a visiting stone mason, who was building the new village
mosque. None of them were militants. When will this madness end? I now
have a deeper responsibility to act in their defense, for my government
shows absolutely no regard for the value of their lives. We learned that
the U.S. embassy in Islamabad does not even accept formal or
complaints by citizens who have lost loved ones to U.S. drone strikes.
Our foreign embassies have sadly become nothing more than huge expensive
fortresses to house CIA and Special Forces to protect them in their
dirty war games.
With these examples, Your Honor, I hope I have
successfully explained why conventional ways cannot and will not work in
influencing our government to change its disastrous course. We
defendants and other activists who come to Beale AFB every month,
envision a different America. A world where we embrace the children and
people of Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia as our brothers and sisters
that we share a common humanity with. Every human being has a right to
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and no life is worth
sacrificing to protect corporate profits at home or abroad.
were not trespassing at Beale AFB. We were acting in one of the few ways
that we have left to make a difference. We came with the intent to hold
our military and political leaders accountable to crimes against
humanity when our representatives in Congress have failed to do so. And
equally important, we came to educate the military personnel at Beale
AFB about the wrongfulness of U.S. policies, to remind them of their
responsibility to protect the innocent and to encourage them to come
over to the side of peace.
‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant Robin Ryan’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14
Judge Claire, members of the Prosecution, members of the Defense, and
those who have chosen to witness this trial today,
I engaged in
protest and civil disobedience on the road to Beale, out of a rational,
persistent and heartfelt need to raise awareness of the illegal and
immoral nature of U.S. drone warfare, to educate others about the ill
effects of our covert war policies, to make public the names and images
of innocent children we can name who have died by U.S. drone strikes,
and to call attention to the fact that the UAV surveillance tactics
engaged in by the military personnel at Beale do play a critical part in
the eventual deaths, dismemberment and terrorizing of fellow human
beings. We aren’t legally at war with these countries. Why are we there?
Drone strikes hurt the American people.
military personnel are forced to carry out the orders of their
Commander-in-Chief and their superior officers, placing them in moral
dilemmas and compromising their ethics. Refusing orders can result in a
dishonorable discharge — while whistleblowing about the indiscriminate
killing from drone strikes may very well result in a prison sentence, as
it has in the case of Private Chelsea Manning.
PTSD and suicide
is endemic among current military personnel and veterans alike,
including those who make the UAV programs run. The military does its
best to downplay this problem and the conditions that create it. Drone
pilots are among those who suicide.
Anwar al-Awlaki and his
16-year-old son Abdulrahman, two American citizens assassinated by
drones while living abroad, are testament to the harmful and illegal
nature of our drone policy.
Our U.S. drone program is counterproductive. It fosters hate and escalates terrorism around the world.
Drone strikes hurt people abroad. They can and they do kill indiscriminately.
All men of military age can be defined as militants, and may be under suspicion.
families, communities and entire villages in Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Iraq, Yemen and Somalia are under constant surveillance by drones such
as the Global Hawk, flown out of Beale AFB. In addition to killing
innocent civilians, U.S. hellfire missiles, dropped in secondary
strikes, have killed those who have come out to provide emergency
medical assistance to injured and dead parties.
Last October, a
13 yr. old Pakistani boy named Zabair testified before Congress that he
and his younger sister were injured in a drone strike the previous
October in Waziristan, and that his 67-year-old grandmother, who was a
village midwife and not a militant, was killed by a CIA drone while
picking okra. This family’s testimony marked the first time that
Congress had ever heard from civilian victims of an alleged U.S. drone
A recent drone strike in Yemen claimed the lives of 13
civilians who were attending a wedding ceremony. The ceremony was
mistaken for an Al Queda gathering, proving that the image quality of
drone surveillance equipment is very low and not fit for combat.
Bureau of Investigative Journalism has stated that since 2004, Pakistan
alone has been hit by 381 drone strikes, and between 416-951 civilians
have been killed. Other independent reports name nearly 200 children
killed in Pakistan and Yemen – lovely, worthy children.
call our American legal system to mind, I would rather think of the ways
in which it sets precedents for truth, justice, and civil rights
protections than be reminded of the non- transparent ways it fails to
prosecute those who commit real and ongoing war crimes.
call my President to mind, I would rather not have to call him out for
his ongoing role in ordering these drone strikes. I recall his remarks
about Trayvon Martin last July, when he stated, “if we’re sending a
message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed,
potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way
for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be
contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like
to see? “
When I call myself to mind, I would rather be truthful
and outspoken against wrongdoings and unlawful actions that abuse or
destroy life, than I would submit to a silent complicity of these
As a conscious individual acting in good conscience,
my intention was not to trespass, but to deliver a message to the
public, the Beale base commander and its personnel. Judge Claire, I am
not guilty. We, the defendants, are not guilty.