I joined more than 400 activists outside of Hancock Air Force Base in
Syracuse, New York, on Good Friday, April 22, to protest our government's use of assassination drones. Hancock is just one of the latest U.S. military facilities that house these deadly drones and train their operators for missions of death in Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Yemen, Libya and Mexico.
Although it was a peaceful protest, 37 of us were arrested, including 91-year-old Jerry Berrigan, the surviving brother of the Berrigan family. Activists Kathy Kelly and Veterans for Peace National president Elliot Adams were also among those arrested.
Pilots stationed at Hancock now fly Reaper drones remotely over Afghanistan. The
drones are armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs. Far more civilians, including many women and children, are killed than are "targeted" insurgents. Although the use of drones has enraged the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Obama administration has dramatically increased their use. There were 53 drone strikes in 2009, 118 in 2010, and the drone strike rate so
far in 2011 indicates it will be the highest in history.
I spoke at the rally before the mass arrests. You can see a video of the arrests and a portion of my speech on the Democracy Now! video. Coverage of the event begins at 8:18 on the video. Basically, my message was...
"As a former colonel, as a retired colonel, as a former government official who has been with the government 40 years, I think my greatest public service is now challenging the government and challenging these things called drones. These drones -- and you might as well just call them assassination machines, that's what these drones are used for: targeted assassination, extra-judicial ultimate death for people who have not been convicted of anything."
This madness must stop.