3 Brennan Confirmation Hearing Protesters Sentenced to 100 Hours of Community Service

It's unclear if the three are allowed to do the community service for CODEPINK.

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Anti-war protesters shout slogans as John Brennan arrives to testify on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Feb. 7, 2013.
Anti-war protesters shout slogans as John Brennan arrives to testify on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Feb. 7, 2013.

Three people who protested at CIA Director John Brennan's Feb. 7 confirmation hearing were sentenced Tuesday to perform 100 hours of community service.

Fifteen activists were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police during the course of the hearing, CODEPINK coordinator Alli McCracken told U.S. News. McCracken was among the 15, but opted not to go to trial.

"These three people were passionate enough to take it to the next level," McCracken said, "to highlight their opposition to drones."

A jury in Washington, D.C., found each of the three guilty Monday of disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor. Judge Patricia Broderick sentenced the three – David Barrows, Toby Blome and Joan Nicholson – on Tuesday to 90 days in jail, a punishment suspended with one year of unsupervised probation in its place.

[PHOTOS: Protesters Hound Brennan Over Drones at Hearing]

It's unclear if the three are allowed to fill the community service requirement with work for CODEPINK, the feminist anti-war organization that orchestrated the Brennan protest.

The judge said from the bench that they should perform the service with a "new" charity, their legal adviser Mark Goldstone told U.S. News.

Goldstone said the specification, however, wasn't in the sentencing order. "It's hard to calculate the 100 hours of community service" for the activists, he said, speculating that "from the judge's perspective, it's an extra 100 hours, not just 'keep doing what you're doing.'"

Attorney Ann Wilcox also provided legal advice to the defendants.

Barrows and Nicholson were arrested after causing a ruckus as Brennan emerged at the front of the hearing room. The defendants unsuccessfully argued they were innocent because the hearing had not officially started.

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After the initial arrests, a series of anti-drone hecklers interrupted the hearing and were taken away by police.

Blome was nabbed after standing on chair and shouting, "the CIA will not even tell Congress which countries they are killing children [in]."

The witnesses at the trial included an elderly woman arrested at the hearing holding a list of civilian drone victims.

"During the course of the trial, Defendants were prevented from describing in detail the killer drone program," D.C. activist Malachy Kilbride lamented Monday, after the guilty verdicts were rendered. "Such evidence was ruled 'irrelevant' to the charged disruption."

[VIDEO: New Drone With Human-Like Torso Could Substitute for Combat Medics]

McCracken, who decided not to take her charge to trial, was punished with 32 hours of community service, which she says was completed at a food bank.

The nationally broadcast hearing's interruptions seemed not to faze Brennan, who also worked in the George W. Bush administration.

"We're going to halt the hearing, I'm going to ask that the room be cleared and that the CODEPINK associates not be permitted to come back in," an irritated Sen. Dianne Feinstein said, bringing an end to the protest. "[We've] done this five times now, and five times are enough."

 

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  • Updated 08/21/13: This article was updated to reflect that Ann Wilcox also advised the defendants.