Wednesday, August 8, 2012

September 10: Put the Drones on Trial! Join Ramsey Clark, Kathy Kelly, Ann Wright and Bill Quigley

Come to Missouri to Join Experts in Constitutional and International Law Supporting Activists in First Anti-Drone Trial Heard in Federal Court, September 10!

Noon - news conference at the courthouse
1:30pm - Federal Trial

Christopher S. Bond Federal Courthouse
80 Lafayette St.
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Join the Facebook event and invite others!

Former Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark will be called as an expert witness in defense of two anti-drone activists on trial in United States District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri, on September 10. Clark, 84, has long and varied legal career that includes the drafting of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and opposition to the Vietnam War. He served as attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson from 1966 to 1969. Also called as expert witnesses for the defense will be 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, and Bill Quigley, Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will be called to witness to the effects of drone warfare on its civilian victims she has met while visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The defendants, Ron Faust of Kansas City and Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, participated in the April 15 “Trifecta Resista” protest at Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base, from where killer drones engage in combat in Afghanistan by remote control. They were arrested for trespass as they attempted to deliver an “indictment” to Brigadier General Scott A. Vander Hamm, the base’s commander. The indictment charges the chain of command, from President Obama to General Vander Hamm to the drone crews at Whiteman “with the following crimes; extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians” and demands that these crimes immediately cease. (Read the full indictment.) Arrested with Faust and Terrell was Mark Kenney of Omaha, who is now serving a four month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges at a June 6 arraignment.

The defendants intend to prove in court that their protest was protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and also was a response to more egregious crimes committed on the base. “Drones inherently violate the laws of the United States and international law,” says Clark. “They are associated with the concept of assassination and murder.” In terms of the crimes the accused are charged with, Clark says the defendants are being denied their constitutional rights of free speech and the freedom to assemble. And their “crimes,” he says, pale in comparison to what the defendants are trying to stop. (For more information, see "Resisting Drones in Missouri: 'Let Justice Flow Like a River. . .' by Brian Terrell; be sure to check out the video of the riot police at Whiteman on the Monthly Review site.)

The protest at Whiteman is one of many in response to the US government’s increasing use of drones in recent years, but the trial in Jefferson City is the first time that charges have been filed not in local courts but in US District Court. The prosecution will be handled directly by a commissioned officer in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps, acting as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Terrell, a defendant in previous “drone trials,” that of the “Creech 14” in Nevada in 2010 and the “Hancock 38” in New York in 2011, is a Catholic Worker and a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and will be representing himself with the assistance of Kansas City attorney Henry Stoever. Faust, a retired Disciples of Christ minister, will be represented by Columbia, MO, attorney Ruth O’Neill.

On the evening before the trial, Sunday, September 9, at 6:30, the defendants, attorneys and witnesses will hold a public meeting at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main Street, in Kansas City, MO. On Monday at noon there will be a press conference and rally at the US District Court House, 80 Lafayette Street in Jefferson City, followed by the trial at 1:30 (photo ID required, no cell phones allowed in US Courthouse). Please contribute to the costs of this defense by donating online or writing a check to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 1249 West Argyle Street #2, Chicago, IL 60640 with “drones on trial” in the memo line.

Contact Brian Terrell, brian [at] 773-853-1886 for more information. Tamara Severns, redwoodseverns [at], 816-753-7642 and Jane Stoever, janepstoever [at], 913-206-4088 are coordinating hospitality and logistics in Kansas City and Jefferson City.

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