USA 23 April 2012. Scott Camil, a veteran of the second-longest U.S. war in history, that on Vietnam, radically changed a discussion of the longest war in U.S. history, that on Afghanistan, on CNN on Sunday.
CNN's Don Lemon tried repeatedly to explain troops posing with body parts as an inscrutable result of war, without questioning the justification of that war. Repeatedly, Lemon instructed viewers not to judge soldiers.
A guest to whom Lemon devoted a great deal of time, Dr. Terry Lyles, followed Lemon's leads and was praised by Lemon as the best guest he'd heard from on the topic. Lyles suggested the problem was one of public relations: "We need to do a better job," he said, "you know, with them psychologically to help them understand that the world is watching. Be careful about what you do and what you capture while what you're doing every day is very difficult."
Scott Camil took a different tack, saying: "Well no we don't know what it's like to be in combat unless you've been in combat, but I think the real question is: you're nit picking when you're talking about things like people posing with bodies. The real question should be why are we at war in the first place? Why are we killing so many people in the first place? The concern over posing with someone that's dead, it seems to me the fact that that person is dead and that we're killing people is more important than what happens after they're dead."
Camil's comment was so effective that the next panelist to speak shifted to his topic. Holly Hughes remarked: "Scott hit the nail on the head because now we've opened a dialogue. What are we talking about now? Shouldn't we be more upset that we're out there killing people? . . . Maybe we need to assess why we're there in the first place."
Camil continued: "What I understand is what it's like to be in a war zone and I understand the behavior in a war zone. And I would say that, first of all, that war is really an institution made up of criminal behavior. When we as civilians want to solve our problems, we're not allowed to murder people and burn their houses down. I don't see why war is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. And furthermore, the majority of people that die are innocent civilians."
Some fundamental truths are rarely spoken on television.
Watch the video:
Scott Camil was honorably discharged with 13 medals including 2 purple hearts following 20 months voluntarily spent as a Marine in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. He testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971, and was a founding member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War Inc. He is an active member of Veterans For Peace and serves as the President of Chapter 014 in Gainesville, Florida.
Veterans for Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
Veterans For Peace Among 33 Arrested Outside Drone Base in New York State
Three members of Veterans For Peace -- Russell Brown, John Amidon, and Elliott Adams -- were among 33 peaceful protesters arrested on Sunday outside Hancock Air Field in New York State. Almost all of the 33 were arrested preemptively, as they walked single-file and silently along a road, prior to reaching the military base, at which they intended to approach the gate and deliver a written statement.
Here is video of the walk: http://youtu.be/xq8xEisjbSA
And of the arrests: http://youtu.be/VzvNYIlASTc
Here is a news story featuring a photo of Elliott Adams being arrested: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/military_protesters_turned_awa.html
The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones reported that the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department made the arrests in Mattydale, NY, two blocks from the entrance to the base. "Those arrested included an 87 year old woman in a wheelchair, parents (accompanying their children), a member of the press, and the group's attorney Ron Van Norstrand. Cameras, camcorders and phones were confiscated by the Sheriff's Department." http://blog.upstatedroneaction.org
Elliott Adams is Past President of Veterans For Peace, and current Nonviolent Training Coordinator. He had also been arrested in 2011 as one of the Hancock 38 protesting at the same base. Adams commented after this weekend's arrest:
"Once again local law enforcement obstructed me from complying with the Nuremberg principles. As a veteran of several war zones I understand the importance of international law like the Geneva conventions and the remarkable UN Charter. But as I tried to serve an indictment to those committing war crimes I was arrested preemptively.
"As veterans we know how important international laws like the Geneva conventions are. We know that weaponized drones are continuously being used to commit war crimes and even crimes against peace. The Nuremberg Principles obligate us, as citizens, to stop our government from committing these crimes. Our arrest on Sunday was a clear case of trampling on our 1st Amendment right to 'petition our government for a redress of grievances.'
"It is outrageous," Adams remarked, "that on the other side of this fence people are being murdered, albeit at long distance, and the Sheriff will not even investigate. On this side of the fence we are arrested for a 'violation of permit requirement.'"
Three women succeeded on Sunday in reading aloud at the base gate an indictment addressed to "the Service Members of Hancock Air Base." The Indictment states, in part:
"By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes. We charge the chain of command, from President Barack Obama, to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, to Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, to every drone crew, to every service member supporting or defending these illegal actions, with the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians."
Adams' statement, made in court at the trial of the Hancock 38 last November is available online:
As is his statement at the sentencing hearing:
Adams told the judge: "I am proud to accept the consequences of my acts and any jail time. I do not want any suspended sentence. If you give me one, also please let me know how I can violate it before I leave the courtroom." The judge, however, gave Adams a suspended sentence and probation conditions. Adams has not ceased protesting drone wars.
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.