A local judge in upstate New York has signed an order of protection for a U.S. Air Force colonel that could make it a crime, punishable by up to seven years in prison, for anti-drone activists to continue their weekly peace vigil outside or near the gates of the Hancock Air National Guard base there.
How will they know if they’ve broken the rules of the order? Apparently, if one specific military officer at the base finds their protest or direct actions ‘irritating’ personally.
Specifically troubling to the activists is that Colonel Earl A Evans, a commander at the base who filed the request for the order, is someone the activists have not once targeted directly. Though the order ‘bans them specifically from approaching the home, school or workplace’ of Evans, none of the activists even seemed to know who he is.
“This is a new tactic to deny us our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and to petition our government,” Elliot Adams, one of the seventeen activists listed in the order, said to The Guardian in an interview.
The seventeen named in the order were all arrested in October following an attempt to block several entryways onto the base. Though this was just the latest in a series of protests directed at the U.S. drone program which operates out of Hancock, the group interprets the order as an escalation against their efforts and a direct assault on their right to peaceably assemble and voice grievances to their government for acts they deem illegal under domestic and international law.
“We are committed to non-violence” said Adams. “It’s absurd that this order is all about Evans’ personal well being. He’s the guy who has spent a lifetime training in delivering violence and killing people and I say that as a veteran myself. Those inside Hancock are the ones with the M16s and assault rifles, the MQ9 drones. We as individuals are obligated to stop our government committing war crimes – that’s part of what came out of Nuremberg. This is a misuse of the law.” Common Dreams
Hundreds of American Predators and Reapers fly above Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The United Nations has identified the U.S. as the world’s number one user of “targeted killings” largely due to its drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The CIA and the U.S. military have used drones to target and kill those Washington describes as “suspected militants”.
A report on the secret U.S. drone war in Pakistan says the attacks have killed far more civilians than acknowledged, traumatized a nation and undermined international law. In “Living Under Drones,” researchers conclude the drone strikes “terrorize men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.” Democracy Now
“The number of ‘high-level’ militants killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — estimated at just 2% [of deaths]“, says the report.
Moreover, the Pentagon’s secretive drone and commando base in the Horn of Africa is getting a lot bigger and a lot busier as the U.S. doubles down on its shadowy campaign of airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration worked during the election to provide Romney with a set of “clear standards and procedures” for drone strikes had he won the election.