News Release

Drone Killings and Torture: Peace Activists to be “Rehabilitated” in Jail

Students gather at the site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu districtMarcy Wheeler writes in “From Bush to Obama, Eyes Wide Shut: The same memo Bush used to wall himself off from the details of CIA torture is keeping Obama’s drone war alive” that: “On the second day of Barack Obama’s presidency, he prohibited most forms of physical torture. On the third, a CIA drone strike he authorized killed up to 11 civilians.”

Also, see: “U.S. drone strikes kill 28 unknown people for every intended target, new Reprieve report reveals.”

KATHY KELLY, kathy at vcnv.org, @voiceinwild
Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kelly was just sentenced to three months in prison for protesting against drone killings. Recently in Afghanistan, Kelly is currently in Chicago. She will be in New York City around Christmas and in Washington, D.C. just after New Years. She has been told to “self-report” by the court on Jan. 23.

She recently wrote the piece “Drones and Discrimination: Kick the Habit,” which states: “On December 10, International Human Rights Day, federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in prison for having crossed the line at a military base that wages drone warfare. The punishment for our attempt to speak on behalf of trapped and desperate people, abroad, will be an opportunity to speak with people trapped by prisons and impoverishment here in the U.S.

“Our trial was based on a trespass charge incurred on June 1, 2014. Georgia Walker and I were immediately arrested when we stepped onto Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force where pilots fly weaponized drones over Afghanistan and other countries. We carried a loaf of bread and a letter for Brig Gen. Glen D. Van Herck. In court, we testified that we hadn’t acted with criminal intent but had, rather, exercised our First Amendment right (and responsibility) to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance.

“A group of Afghan friends had entrusted me with a simple message, their grievance, which they couldn’t personally deliver: please stop killing us.

“I knew that people I’ve lived with, striving to end wars even as their communities were bombed by drone aircraft, would understand the symbolism of asking to break bread with the base commander. Judge Whitworth said he understood that we oppose war, but he could recommend over 100 better ways to make our point that wouldn’t be breaking the law.

“The prosecution recommended the maximum six month sentence. ‘Ms. Kelly needs to be rehabilitated,’ said an earnest young military lawyer. The judge paged through a four page summary of past convictions and agreed that I hadn’t yet learned not to break the law.”

JACK GILROY, jgilroy1 at stny.rr.com
Gilroy recently completed a two month sentence for protesting drone killings at the Hancock Air base in upstate New York. See from Syracuse.com: “Grandfather of eight/drone protester says he was not ‘corrected’ at Jamesville Correctional Facility.” Gilroy wrote the play “The Predator” about drone killing.

MARK COLVILLE, amistadcwh at yahoo.com
Colville is a member of the Amistad Catholic Worker in New Haven, Conn. and is, like Gilroy, one of about 100 activists who have been charged following protests at the Hancock Air base organized by the Upstate New York Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.

He was recently on the program “Democracy Now!,” where he stated: “The United States government, through its drone program, is claiming the legal right to targeted assassinations, extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate killing and the targeting, deliberate targeting, of civilians. For example, even the military admits that one of its modes of operation in drone strikes is something that they have called ‘double tapping,’ which is that after striking a target, the drone is directed back to that same target 20 minutes or a half an hour later in order to strike again after first responders have come to help the wounded. And so, it’s on a foundation of criminality. And as we’ve experienced in the numerous public actions and arrests at Hancock Air Field, this program operates beyond the reach of courts and law. And what we’re trying to do is to get courts to [address] the criminality in which the United States government is engaged through the drone program.”

See IPA news release: “31 Protesters Arrested at Drone Base in Syracuse.”