The 'Reaper' Is Coming to Syracuse: Unless We Stop It
February 28, 2012 Positive News & The Syracuse Peace Council
Syracuse's Hancock Air Field is one of only two US bases for controllers of the Pentagon's drone aircraft (the other is in Nevada). Reaper drone aircraft will be remotely piloted from the Syracuse base for surveillance missions and aerial attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and potentially elsewhere. J ohn Hamilton reports on what happened in a courtroom when activists, dedicated to ending war by resorting to direct action and international law, took on the proponents of drone warfare.
The 'Reaper' Is Coming to Syracuse:
Unless We Stop It
Syracuse's Hancock Air Field is the home of The Reaper drone aircraft which will be remotely piloted from the Hancock base for surveillance missions and aerial attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and potentially elsewhere. It is one of only two such sites in the US. The other is in Nevada. This is a new step in our community taking a role standing up to oppose the war machine. Learn more and to get involved contact the Peace Council.
Drone No More
John Hamilton / Positive News International: US Edition
(Winter 2012) -- On April 22, 2011, thirty-eight people were arrested in front of the Hancock Air Base in Syracuse NY. They were bringing a written indictment of President Obama, military chief Robert Gates, and the Hancock Base Commander, for illegal and immoral use of drone warfare. The Syracuse base is one of two known centers in the US from which the lethal drones are operated.
On November 1, thirty-two defendants appeared in Dewitt Town Court before judge David Gideon to plead their case. As one defendant said, referring to the seasoned activists, "The people here have attended hundreds of trials for civil disobedience, but none of us has seen anything like this." The trial was unusual because judge Gideon respected and listened to the many testimonies given.
Defense witness Ramsey Clark, an expert on international law, testified that the Nuremburg Principles have the force of customary international law -- the most binding source of law -- and obligate every citizen of the world to prevent their nation from committing war crimes.
The Nuremburg Principles apply everywhere in the US, as well as at the town of Dewitt, home of the air base; and take precedence over local, state and federal laws. Clark quoted Italian poet Dante that "the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who did nothing in times of crisis."
Defendant James Ricks described the dynamic in the courtroom, "Questions by the DA about orders disobeyed, entrances blocked, vehicles being inconvenienced were parried by answers of innocent lives being lost, tax money used to purchase weapons of mass destruction, and blatant violations of numerous international treaties that the US government has signed.
Many of those on trial testified that they acted in defense of the law, especially Article 6 of the Constitution, which declares all treaties to be the supreme law of the land."
The UN Charter, a duly signed treaty by the US, makes any use of force against another nation a war crime. At this time, we have no means of enforcing this agreement on strong nations such as the US.
In his closing statement, long-time activist Brian Terrell asked the judge to help build such an enforcement mechanism by upholding the Nuremburg Principles. Pete Bianco, a farmer near Utica NY, compared the extra-judicial deaths committed by drone operators to 'international lynching'. He said: "Just as earlier judges acted to stop domestic lynching in this country, we ask you to stand with us to stop international lynching today."
Rae Kramer told the judge: "When the first drone killed civilians, we apologized. Then we did it again and again. After a while, the apology doesn't mean anything. Just stop doing it!"
On December 1, the judge gave his verdict, which he said had kept him up many sleepless nights. He found them guilty of disorderly conduct.
During sentencing, Harry Murray continued a conversation with the judge about civil disobedience and Gandhi. "When Gandhi was sentenced, he always asked the judge for the maximum sentence. This was not because Gandhi liked jail. If you really support the system," he said pointing at the judge, "then you must give me the maximum."
The judge refused to put Harry, and the others, in jail, publicly declaring he could not whole-heartedly support the military's illegal wars.
For More Information:
www.peacecouncil.net (315) 472-5478
Unmasking the Illusion -- Drones on Trial Syracuse Peace Council Video (November 19, 2011)
Positive News US Office: PO Box 582, Bolinas, CA 94924.