Ft. Huachuca protester Joshua Harris, from Santa Barbara, California, appeared in U.S. District Court in Tucson, Arizona on Friday morning, April 23. Representing himself in court, Harris pleaded guilty to two charges: trespass and refusing to provide a truthful name. In his pre-sentencing statement, Harris spoke about why he protested at Ft. Huachuca, and justified the use of civil disobedience as necessary to nonviolently achieve social justice in a violent world. The federal prosecutor asked for the maximum jail time for each charge. Harris responded by citing the sentence given to a soldier convicted of killing an Iraqi detainee – 60 days confined to quarters – contrasting that with what the government was asking as punishment for his nonviolent protest. U.S. Magistrate Glenda Edmonds sentenced Harris to 3 months probation for each charge (to run concurrently), plus $25 fee per charge and 100 hours of community service.
Harris was one of five protesters who entered Fort Huachuca (home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center where interrogators are trained) on November 15, 2009 with a message for military personnel and civilian employees. They carried a statement (see below) opposing the cruel treatment and abuse of detainees from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and calling for civilian oversight of all military interrogation practices. The statement also condemned the use of armed drones in warfare.
John Heid, Fr. Jerry Zawada, Mariah Klusmire, Fr. Bob Carney, and Josh Harris
All five protesters were given a formal letter barring them from entering the base for a year. Because Josh initially refused to identify himself, saying instead he was there representing a victim of torture, he was also charged with trespass and refusing to provide a truthful name.
STATEMENT CARRIED INTO FORT HUACHUCA, November 15, 2009
We return to Fort Huachuca to call for an end to torture.
We are here because we desire dialogue with soldiers and commanders engaged in interrogation training.
We are here because we still question whether soldiers are provided with adequate training about international human rights law so they would know to refuse illegal orders and other pressure to torture captives (including a guarantee that speaking out would not lead to retaliation or punishment).
We are here in the hope that healing can take place – healing for the victims of torture, as well as the men and women who have been involved in carrying out torture.
Because the Obama administration has failed to close Guantanamo and the U.S. continues to imprison and interrogate thousands of captives at military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and places unknown, we renew our call for civilian, human-rights centered oversight of all interrogation training and practice.
Ft. Huachuca is also implicated in the rapidly expanding, legally questionable and morally reprehensible use of remotely-piloted aircraft, or drones, as a weapon of war. We’re told that currently the Army only trains for the operation and maintenance of reconnaissance and surveillance drones at Ft. Huachuca. But we also know that the Army plans to weaponize some of these same drones.
Drone attacks have killed many more innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, than alleged terrorists. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions has asked whether the use of drones in targeting terrorists to be killed constitutes “arbitrary extrajudicial executions”, or rogue assassinations in violation of international law.
We are here today to call for an end to the use of armed drones in warfare. We believe this terrorizing and killing generates deep resentment in the region that incites hatred for the U.S., boosts recruitment for Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and may spawn decades of retaliation.
We act in solidarity with the campaign to close the School of the Americas/Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where the testimony of torture survivors has informed our outrage and moved us to action. We also act in solidarity with people in New York protesting the presence of Reaper drones at a NY Air National Guard base outside of Syracuse today.
Rogue assassinations and torture have damaged the soul of our nation and tarnished our image around the world. We know that a world without torture, without violence and without war is possible. We invite you to help us create that world.