AP is reporting today: “Two anti-war activists have been convicted in federal court of misdemeanor trespassing at central Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base to protest the use of unmanned military drones. A four-hour trial in Jefferson City ended late Monday afternoon with Magistrate Judge Matt Whitworth finding Ron Faust and Brian Terrell guilty. Sentencing will occur later.
“Faust is a retired minister from Kansas City and Terrell is a member of the Catholic Worker Movement from Maloy, Iowa. They were among 40 protesters who demonstrated at the air base in April. They were arrested after entering a restricted area without permission. The misdemeanor carries a maximum six-month prison sentence. …
“’We were there not to commit a crime, but to prevent one,’ Terrell said, describing seeing in person a 9-year-old girl in an Afghani refugee camp missing an arm from what he said was a wayward drone strike. ‘This is not a hypothetical situation,’ he said. ‘It is real. It is imminent.'”
See Fox video report: “Anti-Drone Protesters Found Guilty of Trespassing.”
ANN WRIGHT [email]
Wright is a former State Department diplomat and retired Army colonel. She and other witnesses were prohibited from testifying about international law at the trial, but she was able to address issues of security and allowing individuals onto a military base. She said today: “Drones don’t save American lives. Look at the number of Afghans trained by the U.S. who are killing U.S. and NATO soldiers. They are killing Americans for a reason and the indiscriminate killing of Afghans, Pakistanis, Yememis and Somalis by these drones undoubtedly is a part of the reason.”
BRIAN TERRELL [email]; also, via Jane Stoever [email]
One of the activists convicted yesterday, Terrell said today: “This is the first time we’ve been in federal court. There have been state proceedings after protests and they tried to maintain that they were a neutral party adjudicating a dispute, but this time we were much closer — speaking truth to the power of the federal government.
“I cross-examined the head of security, asking him if I would be deemed to be criminally trespassing if I saw a child being attacked on the base, which is in a suburban neighborhood, and crossed the chain-linked fence to save her. He said he didn’t know. But I’ve been to Afghanistan, where I met a 9-year-old child named Juma Gul, who lost an arm and several members of her family to a drone attack. Drones are controlled from this base. That’s a real situation, not a hypothetical one. These people’s lives are in imminent danger because of what’s happening at that base.
“But we didn’t jump a fence, we signed a petition and indictment against drones, about why it’s illegal to go around the world killing people by remote control. We wanted to bring that petition to the commander of the base. We were set upon by riot police carrying clubs doing a goose step and we were handcuffed and thrown in a van.
“Obama was finally asked last week about drones and he basically avoided the questions. He didn’t deny that he meets on Tuesdays with his staff to decide who lives and who dies. He did not distance himself from his Attorney General, Eric Holder, who maintained in a recent address at Northwestern University that ‘due process’ can consist of Obama meeting privately with his staff to decide who to kill. He didn’t contradict anything in a New York Times piece, which cites administration sources as stating that they deem adult males killed as combatants unless specific evidence is found posthumously showing them to be civilians.
“The political process is not addressing these issues in a meaningful way. We desperately as a people need to be talking about this and the establishment political channels are trying to prevent that from happening.”
Video of the protest
Terrell wrote the piece “Resisting Drones in Missouri: Let Justice Flow Like a River…”