Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ramsey Clark Offered As Expert Witness on Necessity to Stop Drone Killings

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 Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark as an expert witness on the necessity to stop drone killings.


Ramsey Clark served in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946, then earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949, and thereafter a Master’s Degree as well as a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

During the presidential administrations of John F. Kennedy and then Lyndon Johnson, Clark served as Assistant Attorney General of the Lands Division from 1961-65; Deputy Attorney General from 1965-67; and finally U.S. Attorney General from 1967-69. Throughout his tenure as Attorney General, Clark focused on social issues and civil rights. He set up the first federal narcotics addict-treatment unit. He restructured federal prisons to stress the importance of rehabilitation, early release, education, and job training rather than punishment. And he was the first Attorney General to call for the elimination of the death penalty.

After his years in the Justice Department, Clark worked as a law professor and became a prominent figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement. In 1974 he was the Democratic Party’s candidate for a U.S. Senate seat representing New York, but lost to Republican Jacob Javits. In 1976 Clark again sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate but was defeated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

For decades, Clark has studied and critiqued American foreign policy and its related military campaigns, from the Vietnam War, to the Iraq War, to the broader War on Terror. His clients have included Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein.


Ramsey Clark has testified in previous cases about the duties of U.S. citizens under international law and U.S. constitutional law, and how citizen actions at air force bases are consistent with these duties. (In the picture at right, he is shown at a press conference preceding day 3 of the Hancock 38 Drone Resisters Trial, November 3, 2011.) As a former U.S. Attorney General, he was responsible to enforce U.S. law including citizen obligations under international treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. has been a signatory and which therefore become the law of the land.

At the time of the Hancock 38 trial, Clark said, "Drones inherently violate the laws of the United States and international law ... They are associated with the concept of assassination and murder.” (See "Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark testifies at DeWitt trial of Hancock Field drone protesters" at Syracuse.com.)

Under international humanitarian law, one question that needs to be resolved is whether those targeted are combatants. The Geneva Conventions on the Law of War, particularly common Article 3, prohibit the intentional killing of civilians. Common Article 3 prohibits:
"(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;" and "(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."
Other international human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, state that arbitrary execution is unlawful. Ramsey Clark will demonstrate that usage of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles based at Creech Air Force Base to kill “high value targets” constitutes extrajudicial executions and fails to afford all the judicial guarantees that are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Ramsey Clark put the issues in stark terms when he previously testified at the Creech 14 trial: "Letting a baby burn to death because of a no trespass sign would be poor public policy." (Read more at "A Peace Movement Victory in Court".)


Read Ramsey Clark's comments after the Hancock 38 drones resisters' trial.

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