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Tue Jan 8, 2013, 02:12 PM

'Love at Long Distance': A Man in Prison for Protesting US Drones

This week, the president nominated the head of the U.S. drones program, responsible for killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be his new head of the CIA That is appropriate, because the CIA runs the U.S. torture, rendition, assassination and mass murder program in conjunction with the Pentagon. Of course, all of this pure evil goes contrary to everything the nonviolent Jesus taught. What do we do? We protest the ongoing killings by these evil U.S. drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, continue to call for nonviolent conflict resolution, try to build a movement of nonviolence and take nonviolent risks to stop the killings.

My friend Brian Terrell has taken many nonviolent risks to say No to a future of drones and permanent war. A long time peace activist, a member of the Creech14, and a founder of the “Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm” in Maloy, Iowa, he is currently serving six months in the federal prison in Yankton, South Dakota for protesting our evil U.S. drone program.

On April 15, 2012, Brian and two other friends walked onto the Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri to present a letter to the base commander calling for an end to the U.S. drone warfare. They tried to make the case that dropping bombs on women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not lead to peace, much less improve our own security, but in fact, inspire thousands of people to join the violent movements against the United States. Of course, they were immediately arrested, tried, and sentenced in Federal Court. While our recent government war criminals, Wall Street criminals, and torturers go free, Brian is holed up in a cell in South Dakota.

His wife Betsy told me on the phone yesterday that she had a good New Year’s Day visit with Brian, and he recently wrote me an upbeat letter. He hopes to be released in late May. This is Brian’s third arrest for protesting drones. In an article for their newsletter, Brian described their action:

At the Whiteman base, Ron, Mark and I attempted, on behalf of a larger group of protestors, to deliver an “indictment” to Brigadier General Scott A. Vander Hamm, the base’s commander. Our indictment charged the chain of command, from President Obama to General Vander Hamm to the drone crews at Whiteman “with the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians.” It noted the fact that “extrajudicial targeted killings by the use of unmanned air-craft drones by the United States of America are intentional, premeditated and deliberate use of lethal force in violation of U.S. and international human rights law” and demanded that these crimes immediately cease. Our polite request to the base sentries for directions to headquarters to deliver the indictment was denied and our way blocked by military police who handcuffed us and took us away. Our thirty or so companions, clearly exercising the constitutionally-protected right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances, were chased off the property by about fifty Air Force personnel in full riot gear who performed a carefully if grotesquely choreographed drill routine, complete with goosesteps and synchronized grunts and beating of clubs on shields.


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