May 6, 2003
United States Magistrate Judge Patrick Walsh
c/o Davina Chen
321 East Second Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dear Magistrate Judge Walsh,
In my trial on May 1, you found me guilty of trespassing onto Vandenberg Air Force Base on March 22 and March 24 during the Iraq War. Following precedents of the United States Supreme Court, you did not grant me the constitutional right to a jury trial. You did allow me to defend myself with the able assistance of the public defender Davina Chen as stand-by counsel. At the arraignment on March 26 you stated that you would not allow any international law defense. When I noted that prejudice and asked for another judge, you quickly replied, "Motion denied." At the motions hearing on April 24 after I had been in custody for thirty days, you allowed the Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon McCaslin to argue briefly in favor of her written motion to exclude defenses of international law, necessity, and free speech; but despite the fact that I was prepared to respond verbally to her motion even though I had not been allowed enough time in the law library to prepare a written response, you would not let me speak at all against her motion.
At the trial, you did allow me to present evidence based on my theories of defense; but I was still not allowed to argue against the points in her motion until my closing remarks. Thus I was not able to rebut your prejudice and her arguments until that time. Then you repeatedly interrupted me and began arguing against me as if you were prosecuting me, not even allowing me to respond to each of your points. When I begged you to listen to me, you said that you would only allow me ten more minutes in which to respond to all the points in her motion and to present all of the complicated arguments in my closing speech in which I should have been able to explain to you with legal arguments why I was justified in doing what I did.
Because I can expect that you will probably also limit the length of my remarks at the sentencing, I am writing you this letter. You told me that people could write letters to you on my behalf and that you would read them. I am not asking anyone to write such letters to you, but I cannot stop anyone who wishes to do so. I am making copies of this letter public so that people can learn what issues are at stake here and understand the dangerous trends currently operating in our country's government.
You and the attorney for the United States Government acknowledged by stipulated evidence that Vandenberg AFB did participate in the U.S. war against Iraq. Actually, I did not have to argue international law. Instead, I pointed out that the massive killings of Iraqi civilians and soldiers were serious violations of U.S. law for the following reasons. The U.S. Constitution in Article 6 states that treaties ratified by the United States are the supreme law of the land. The United Nations Charter, the Treaty Renouncing War (Kellogg-Briand Pact), and the Geneva Conventions have been ratified by the United States and are thus part of U.S. law. Since the U.S. was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council to invade Iraq nor was it self-defense against an imminent attack on the U.S. by Iraq, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was clearly a crime against peace as defined by the Nuremberg Principles and a violation of the UN Charter. The Nuremberg Principles, which were formulated by the United States and other nations following World War II, are also a generally accepted part of international law. Neither did the U.S. Congress use the constitutional process of declaring war on Iraq. Since the war was not justified, that means that the killing of Iraqis in their own sovereign territory was actually mass murder along with huge amounts of property damage. Obviously there are U.S. laws against murder, conspiracy to commit murder, aiding and abetting murder as well as destruction of property.
I pleaded with you that I went to Vandenberg AFB only to report those crimes and to try to stop them by peacefully making them aware that the war was illegal and that they did not have to obey the illegal orders of a criminal regime. You acknowledged that I did nothing violent nor damaging nor disruptive in any way except that officers at VAFB chose to arrest me for walking across a painted line outside of the main gate. Both times I asked permission to speak to the base commander about these war crimes; but instead of being given a civil answer, I was handcuffed and put under arrest. You acknowledged the evidence I presented of many efforts I had made in cooperation with other people to try to stop this illegal war before it began, including publishing books and brochures I had written, my candidacy for President of the United States in the Democratic Party, my letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and my speaking to groups in person, by community TV, and radio. I went back to Vandenberg a second time so that I could come before a federal judge as soon as possible in order to ask for redress from the judicial branch of our government as an additional effort to try to stop those ongoing crimes. Instead of exercising your constitutional duty to check the abuses by the other two branches of government, no person being above the law, not even the President, you abrogated that responsibility by failing to consider the importance of these serious crimes. I gave you the moral choice referred to in the fourth Nuremberg Principle, and now by your decision you have become complicit in those crimes also.
I will be coming to be sentenced by you on Tuesday May 13 at 1:30 p.m. at 312 N. Spring Street on the eighth floor in Los Angeles. Because I believe I was unjustly convicted I do plan to appeal. In good conscience I cannot agree to accept conditions of probation that would limit my choice to act nonviolently in pointing out serious crimes by our government. I believe this is my duty as a citizen. Because of my devotion to God and humanity, I must be guided by the Holy Spirit to the best of my ability. I cannot afford to pay a fine, and will not pay a fine to the U.S. Government as long as it is involved in such crimes.
Before you decide to sentence me to more time in jail or prison, you may want to consider how it will look to the world to imprison a Presidential candidate merely for pointing out the crimes of the U.S. President and those obeying those illegal orders. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I am willing to suffer being imprisoned unjustly in order to help make people more aware of the serious crimes our government has committed.
Copyright © 2003, 2008 by Sanderson Beck
This has been published in the book PEACE OR BUST. For ordering information, please click here.
Opening Statement by Sanderson Beck, May 1, 2003
Testimony by Sanderson Beck, May 1, 2003
Closing Arguments by Sanderson Beck, May 1, 2003
Nonviolent Strategies for Protesting the US-Iraq War
Letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan
2003 Peace Campaign (Sanderson wrote this account of his educational peace campaign for the Presidency of the United States during his four-month incarceration for nonviolently protesting the illegal invasion of Iraq.)
BEST FOR ALL: How We Can Save the World
HISTORY OF PEACE Contents