Thursday, August 30, 2012

Col. Wright Expected to Testify on U.S. Officials' Responsibilities in Face of Drone Threat

The defense in the case to be tried September 10 in Jefferson City, MO, in connection with the delivery of an indictment for violations of human rights to the commander of Whiteman Air Force Base, will offer former retired Col. Ann Wright, who served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and 16 years as a U.S. diplomat and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War, as an expert witness on the responsibility of U.S. officials to protect civilians and facilities needed by civilians.

BACKGROUND

Ann Wright has been a career military officer, a State Department diplomat, and for the past few years an influential spokesperson in the anti-war movement. Col. Wright grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, and attended the University of Arkansas, where she holds a Master’s and a Juris Doctor Degree. She also has a Master’s Degree in National Security Affairs from the US Naval War College.

Col. Wright spent 13 years in active duty with the U.S. Army, with another 16 years in the Army reserves, retiring as a colonel. Part of her work was in special operations, particularly in civil and humanitarian operations, in the event of troop invasions into countries like Iraq. She helped to develop, as she explained, “plans about how you interact with the civilian population, how you protect the facilities – sewage, water, electrical grids, libraries…It’s our obligation under the law of land warfare.” Col. Wright requested a release from active duty from the Army and joined the State Department. For the next 16 years, she served as a foreign diplomat in countries such as Nicaragua, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and Sierra Leone. She was on the team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001, after the fall of the Taliban to US forces. In all those years, Col. Wright was proud of her representation of America. However, on March 13, 2003, the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, Ms. Wright sent a letter of resignation to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. In an interview, she explained that, in the Foreign Service, “Your job is to implement the policies of an administration…if you strongly disagree with any administration’s policies, and wish to speak out, your only option is to resign. I understood that and that’s one of the reasons I resigned – to give myself the freedom to speak out.” She has further stated,
I have served my country for almost thirty years in some of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world. I want to continue to serve America. However, I do not believe in the policies of this Administration and cannot --- morally and professionally --- defend or implement them. It is with heavy heart that I must end my service to America and therefore resign.
U.S. OFFICIALS' RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE FACE OF DRONE THREAT

If called as an expert witness, Col. Wright can be expected to clarify the responsibility of U.S. officials, under the law of land warfare, to protect facilities needed by civilian populations; and to draw from expertise required in her capacity as a U.S. diplomat responsible for reopening the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December, 2001, to show the vulnerability of the civilian population to aerial attacks, i.e. attacks facilitated and/or enacted by drone surveillance and combat aircraft based and/or commanded at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Col. Wright testified in the September 14, 2010, trial in Nevada concerning protests at Creech Air Force Base.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

"America's Drones Are Homeward Bound", by Ann Wright, in Truthdig

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