Las Vegas Drone Trial Makes History

by on September 15, 2010 · 3 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy, Organizing, Peace Movement, War and Peace

Drone-300x225by Jason Whited / Las Vegas CityLife / September 14, 2010

Fourteen anti-war activists may have made history today in a Las Vegas courtroom when they turned a misdemeanor trespassing trial into a possible referendum on America’s new-found taste for remote-controlled warfare.

The so-called Creech 14, a group of peace activists from across the country, went on trial this morning for allegedly trespassing onto Creech Air Force Base in April 2009.

From the start of today’s trial, prosecutors did their best to keep the focus on whether the activists were guilty of allegations they illegally entered the base and refused to leave as a way to protest the base’s role as the little-known headquarters for U.S. military operations involving unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, over Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

But a funny thing happened on the way to prosecutors’ hope for a quick decision.

dronetrialAppearing as witnesses for the Creech 14 today were some of the biggest names in the modern anti-war movement: Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and one of three former U.S. State Department officials who resigned on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq; and Bill Quigley, legal director for the New York City-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

By the time those three witnesses finished their testimony as to why they believed the activists had protested at the base, they’d managed to convince Las Vegas Township Justice Court Judge William Jansen to delay his verdict for four months — and had managed clearly to frustrate prosecutors.

For the better part of the day, Clark, Wright and Quigley testified under direct questioning from witnesses and a surly cross-examination from the Clark County district attorney’s office.

Each witness spoke eloquently, and at length, about the need for nonviolent civil disobedience in the face of criminal actions by the U.S. government — which is how most in today’s anti-war movement and many international observers have characterized America’s drone war.

“[People] are allowed to trespass if it’s for the greater good — and there are certainly exceptions [to the law] when there is an emerging, urgent need,” said Quigley, while on the stand.

By all accounts, the Creech 14 trial is the first time in history an American judge has allowed a trial to touch on possible motivations of anti-drone protesters.

No one knows how Jansen will ultimately rule, but most took it as a good sign when, at the end of the day’s proceedings, applause flooded the courtroom and Jansen sent the Creech 14 — all of them part of a robust Catholic anti-war movement — on their way by echoing the words of Jesus Christ with his call of “Go in peace!”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Sparling September 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm

/ Las Vegas CityLife / September 14, 2010–THANKS–

CBS–ABC–CNN–FOX–BBC—Zero coverage and not likely to ever say a word about the trial unless the 14 people get convicted and they can somehow tie in a couple of Muslim masterminds. You can bet not one single criminal involved in the high tech random murder of innocents project, is the least concerned that anything will come of this trial, will change their lives at all. Remember the short Afghan scrap hunters standing with a TALL guy that some drone operator thought was Osama Bin Laden. They sent a lot of their body parts to the FBI, but no DNA matched.


JMW September 16, 2010 at 3:48 am

Thanks to all: the protesters, the reporter, the judge, and the Rag. Good news is hard to come by.


Peyton Farquhar September 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Reminds me a little of KSR’s “Gold Coast” Three Californias Trilogy, except Creech 14 isn’t blowing shit up.


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