Monday, January 21, 2013

January 8: Beale 9 Anti-Drone Hearing

Next Occupy Beale Anti-drone Encampment:
Jan. 30-31, Wed. 3pm to Thurs. 9am, Meet at Main Gate, N. Beale Rd.

by Toby Blome

Five members of the "Beale 9" were charged with trespassing at a January 8, 2013 hearing; four arrestees had charges dismissed.

Background: On Oct. 31st, 60 peace activists gathered at Beale AFB to stand in unity against U.S. drone warfare. The main gate was blocked for nearly five hours. Utimately, nine activists were arrested. Their arraignment was January 8, 2013, in federal court in Sacramento. Here's the report back on a most amazing day! (Full photo gallery)

PHASE 1: Pre-hearing Rally and Arraignment

35-40 activists from Sacramento, Grass Valley, Chico, SF Bay Area and Salinas participated in a lively pre-hearing rally. Large anti-drone banners and signs colored the sidewalks around the Federal courtroom for hours -- before, during and after the rally! (Guari's photos tell all.) Thanks to all who supported it!

The Arraignment: Cres put together an awesome legal team of at least 9 lawyers to represent us all pro bono, the "Dream Team," as he calls it. Attorneys Michael Hansen and Mark Reichel were there on our behalf at the arraignment.

Five arrestees pled "not guilty" to trespassing charges. The prosecution requested that 4 of the 9 arrestees have their charges dismissed due to "weak evidence," according to the SacBee news report. No explanation was given in the courtroom.

Trial date was set for the April 15 for the "BEALE 5". Their attorneys are likely to request a jury trial.

Details in Sharon's Blog.

PHASE 2: Concerned Citizens appeal to Congress

A serious effort was made to demand congressional oversight over the illegal and immoral extra-judiciary killings under the U.S. drone warfare program executed by Obama's lawless Administration. Several dozen activists delivered signed letters to staff from the offices of Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Doris Matsui. We also delivered copies of revealing research studies on the negative effects of the U.S. drone program and civilian casualties.
BOXER: Two attempts in the morning to have a meeting with Sen. Boxer's staff were fruitless, even though contact was made days earlier to let them know there were constituents gathering that day from the greater N. California area.

However, a revealing photo was on the office wall revealing the Senator's priorities re: peace and war.

Photo on the wall in Senator Boxer's office. in the background is the Global Hawk,
the surveillance drone flown at Beale, and an accomplice in the targeted killings.
Of note, a Google search revealed Brig. General Polumbo now works at Langley AFB,
right next to CIA headquarters...ummmm!!! Does Sen. Boxer stand with Peace or War??

MATSUI: In contrast, though the visit was unscheduled, Ellie Longo, a staff member from Rep. Doris Matsui's office, did allow a large group of activists to meet with her informally and voice their complaints about U.S. drone killings in an extensive exchange. She ultimately showed respect and concern for why we were there and promised to try to arrange a meeting with us with the Congresswoman and to give her our signed letters.

(Use the model letters we've provided to send a letter to your representives!)

PHASE 3: Afternoon Anti-Drone Protests at Military Bases

Beale AFB: 11-12 people from Bay Area, Sacramento, Linda, Nevada County and Chico "caravaned" to the Main Gate for a lively and impassioned afternoon protest with banners for a couple of hours. Jeffrey led them all in uplifting peace songs. Barry Binks from Sacramento VFP was courageous enough to go solo to the Wheatland/S. Beale Rd. gate where he reported there was lots of traffic.

Travis AFB: 2 activists stood vigil and held out 2 very large banners and flashed peace signs. At both bases, large photos of a Pakistani child victim's face was displayed to show Americans the true face of drone warfare. These often evoked angry responses, as they aroused uncomfortable feelings. But our purpose is to uncover the truth about our "sanitized" drone wars, no matter how difficult it is to face the reality. A truth our mass media fails so terribly to reveal.

A bazillion thanks to all who came to support the amazing day. Hope to see more of you participating as this movement grows!

Next Occupy Beale Anti-drone Encampment

Jan. 30-31, Wed. 3pm to Thurs. 9am, Meet at Main Gate, North Beale Rd.

With much appreciation,
The "Beale 9",
Shirley, Sharon, Janie, David, Jan, Louie, MacGregor, Barry and Toby


The Sacramento Bee, January 9, 2013: Beale AFB drone protesters arraigned in Sacramento federal court

Appeal Democrat, January 9, 2013: Charges against 4 Beale protesters dropped

The Union, January 9, 2013: 5 Beale protesters arraigned on federal charges

Eastern District of California Blog, January 9, 2013: Beale AFB Protesters Arraigned (This blog focuses on news and information regarding practice in the federal courts in the Eastern District of California, with a special emphasis on criminal and civil rights cases.)

Ken Butigan in Waging Nonviolence, January 10, 2013: How can you resist the age of drones?

Other: KCRA 3, local TV did a story.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Below are two versions of a suggested letter to your member of Congress or Senator. You can use Govtrack to identify and link to the address for the representative from your district.



Dear Rep./Sen. ______________,

Last month, 20 of our precious and innocent children were killed in a barrage of bullets from weapons carried by someone unknown to them. Our country still reels from the numbing news. We mourn for them, for their families, and for our country.

In Yemen and in Pakistan, countries with which we are not at war, at least 178 precious and innocent children have been killed by U.S. drone strikes launched by someone unknown to them. As a people, why do we not respond with equal revulsion and sympathy?

Are the children of foreign lands any less precious? And is the government that is responsible for their deaths any less guilty of murder than the Newtown gunman?

You hold in your hands, by the power of your office, the capacity to stop the carnage. In the name of decency, and in memory of the innocent children the world over killed by our drones, I ask you to co-sponsor HR 819, directing the U.S. Attorney General to transmit to the House any and all legal documents and memoranda relating to the use of drones by the U.S. government.

I will look to you, as my elected representative, to sign on to HR 819 before the end of this month. Your failure to do so will announce to the world your complicity in the murder by assault weapons of children no less precious than our own.

Most sincerely,




Dear Rep./Sen. _________________,

As members of local peace and justice organizations opposed to the continuation of the Bush administration’s failed wars, we are writing to condemn the Obama Administration's use of unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones”, to kill citizens in at least seven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen. The use of drones is wrong on many levels: the illegality and immorality of assassinations, the violation of international law and the Constitutional protection of due process, the targeting killing of civilian populations, and the violation of national sovereignty. Equally wrong and quite disturbing are killings by U.S. drones of at least 3 U.S. citizens, including a 16 year old boy born in Denver, Colorado, all in violation of their right to due process. We are especially troubled by the Obama Administration's refusal to release, even to Congress, the documents which purportedly give the U.S. legal cover to determine who is placed on the "kill list." A recent House Resolution, HR 819, sought to make these documents public.

The use of killer drones does and will continue to create more enmity toward the United States. Because of the lack of transparency, it remains unclear how many civilians have suffered losses of life, limb or property as a result of strikes. A recent Columbia University study gives strong evidence to support high rates of civilian casualties. Another recent and important study by Stanford and New York Universities revealed in detail how communities living under drone warfare in Pakistan are being "terrorized" by the daily presence of these drones in their skies. High rates of psychological trauma, suicide, and PTSD are just a few of the symptoms, as well as the serious disruption of their entire social structure. We are providing copies of these studies to your staff, and hope that you will take the time to read them. Sadly, Obama has drastically increased the use of drone strikes compared to former President Bush, leading to rampant anti-U.S. sentiment throughout these areas of conflict.

Furthermore, we are also concerned that U.S. drones are used to eliminate political opponents of corrupt leaders. This happened in 2010 in Yemen, when a state governor who opposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh was labeled as a leader of Al Qaeda and killed.

We believe that Congress should uphold its responsibilities in providing the checks and balances needed to protect us from an executive branch that has run amok, acting in total disregard to International and Constitutional law. This would have a profound effect around the world, and could initiate a process of healing. As citizens, we do not see the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen as enemies. They are our brothers and sisters. Instead of wasting billions of dollars on immoral drone strikes, take the money from the program and give it to non-governmental organizations working on providing jobs and income to people so that they do not join militant groups. There would be tremendous support for such a program in these war-torn countries.

The illegal U.S. occupations and proliferating drone wars have been demonstrable failures. Now is the time to take a bold step for peace. Imagine becoming a country which has denounced the madness of war, and instead wants to assist and make friendship with the people of the Middle East, Central Asia, and the entire world.

We are asking you to do the following:

- Sponsor a bi-partisan bill calling for an immediate moratorium on all targeted killing by drones, with the ultimate goal of an in-depth Congressional investigation into the ineffectiveness and illegality of U.S. drone warfare.

-Work diligently to get your Congressional peers to support the above bill, and establish Congressional oversight over the illegal practices committed by the Obama Administration, the CIA and the Pentagon, as is your obligation by the U.S. Constitution.

-Sponsor a bi-partisan bill to address some of the most egregious practices of U.S. drone warfare, calling for an immediate ban on:

a.) All extra-judicial killings of U.S. citizens by U.S. drones or by any other means, without due process. Stop the assassination of our own citizens.

b.) The practice of “Double-tapping”, or “secondary strikes”, by U.S. drones, which is clearly a war crime under international law, and has led to the killing of rescuers and medical relief workers, and has discouraged witnesses from providing aid to those injured in drone strikes.

c.) The practice of “signature strikes”, or killing of unknown individuals purely based on “suspicious behavior”, without any knowledge of their identity, which leads to very high rates of civilian deaths.

d.) The Obama Administration’s policy of calling all military-age males “militants” and therefore subject to being drone targets, which also leads to very high civilian death rates.

We would like a response to these requests in the next 30 days, for we feel the lives and well-being of every person that is potentially threatened by these drone attacks requires our and your urgent action. Should you agree to endorse a foreign policy with the goal of peace and justice, we will stand with you. Rejecting our requests will make you complicit in the immoral and lawless actions of the Obama Administration. We will then continue to protest, risk arrest and denounce a foreign policy of endless wars and illegal assassinations and hold Congress complicit with these policies.

We also request a meeting with you in the next month to discuss our proposal to immediately end killer drone strikes and to start a process of healing with the victims of U.S. wars. Please give serious consideration to our proposal of reconciliation and diplomacy rather than be complicit in the continued use of pernicious killer drones. We urge you to provide the necessary checks and balances against the executive branch, a responsibility required under the Constitution, which you have sworn an oath to uphold.

For a more peaceful world,