Thursday, August 30, 2012

Murder by Drone: The Legal Arguments in Missouri

Below are excerpts from briefs filed yesterday (Thursday, August 29, 2012) in the upcoming drones trial in federal court in Jefferson City, Missouri.


Drones are pilotless aircraft operated by remote control by a pilot who can be thousands of miles away from where the drone is flying. Most drones are currently being used for surveillance only, but states are increasingly acquiring drones equipped with missiles and bombs that can be used by the government of one country to strike at persons and other targets in other countries. The United States started using drones to kill individuals in 2001 and it is estimated that thousands of people (reports estimate up to 4,400 to date) have been killed by United States’ drones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, many of whom were civilians.1 This use of drones by the United States to kill targets and civilians alike in such countries is illegal under both the law of the United States and international law.


Drone killings are illegal under the law of the United States in three main ways: (1) they constitute premeditated murder; (2) they violate the United States’ ban on assassinations; and (3) they violate the United States Constitution’s guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of the law. Each of these is discussed in detail below.

A. Drone Killings Constitute First Degree Premeditated Murder

Drone killings are acts of premeditated murder which is a crime in all fifty states and under federal criminal law. Under United States law, willfulness, deliberation, and premeditation are ordinarily distinctive features of first degree murder. “Premeditation,” in the context of first degree murder means that the defendant formed the specific intent to kill the victim for some length of time, however short, before the murderous action.

Drone killings are defined as targeted killings which involve the intentional, deliberate, and premeditated use of lethal force against an individual or individuals specifically identified in advance by the perpetrator.2 In a targeted killing, the specific goal of the operation is to use lethal force.3 This distinguishes targeted killings from unintentional, accidental, or reckless killings, or killings made without conscious choice.4 As such, drone killings fall within the definition of first degree murder under both state and federal law and thus are illegal.

B. Drone Killings Constitute Assassination

Drone killings are also acts of political assassination which have been illegal in the United States since 1976. Assassination is the murder of a private person by sudden or covert attack for political reasons. Drone killings clearly fall within this definition of assassination, as they are the targeted killing of people considered to be political threats to the United States by sudden attack by a remotely controlled device.

In 1976 U.S. President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905, Section 5(g), which states “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”6 President Reagan later clarified this ban on assassinations in Executive Order 12333.7 Section 2.11 of that Order states “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”8 Section 2.12 further states: “No agency of the Intelligence Community shall participate in or request any person to undertake activities forbidden by this Order.”9 This ban on assassination still stands; therefore the law of the United States expressly prohibits drone killings. While it can be argued that these Executive Orders were not meant to ban political killings in wartime and thus drone killings in the context of war are not illegal assassinations, as discussed below, the United States engages in drone assassinations outside the context of armed conflict in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Therefore, even if drone killings are not illegal as political assassinations in the context of war, the United States’ use of drones in countries where it is not engaged in armed conflict still constitutes illegal political assassination.

C. Drone Killings Violate Due Process Guarantees

Drones have been used to kill United States’ citizens abroad. For instance, three U.S. citizens were killed in targeted drone strikes in Yemen in 2011.10 One of the individuals killed was a sixteen year old boy who was born in Colorado while he has at dinner at an open-air restaurant.11 These killings by the United States government of its own citizens are unlawful violations of such individual’s fundamental rights including the right not to be deprived of life without due process of the law. Both the U.S. Constitution and international law prohibit killing without due process, except as a last resort to avert a concrete, specific, and imminent threat of death or serious physical injury—none of which were present in the Yemen killings in 2011. The Constitution “does not allow a bureaucratized program under which Americans far from any battlefield are summarily killed by their own government on the basis of shifting legal standards and allegations never tested in court.”12


The United States has initiated drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Whether such drone attacks are valid under international law depends in large part upon whether they are occurring within the context of armed conflict or not as the applicable law differs in each situation. In the context of war, enemy fighters may be killed under a standard of reasonable necessity, proportionality, and distinction; outside war, authorities are far more restricted in their right to resort to lethal force. The basic legal rules applicable to targeted killings in each of these contexts are laid out briefly below.

A. Prohibition on the Use of Force under the U.N. Charter

The U.N. Charter, which is binding law on all its signatories including the United States, specifically prohibits the use of force, except where expressly permitted by the U.N. Charter itself.13 In Article 2, the U.N. Charter provides: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”14 This prohibition on the use of force is also well established by customary international law and is considered an inherent obligation of all States.

This ban on the use of force can only be overcome in a few narrow instances. One exception to this ban on the use of force is self-defense which is provided for in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. Article 51 provides in relevant part: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”15 Importantly, Article 51 does not allow for preemptive attacks. Additionally, acts of self-defense are only legitimate if they meet two specific requirements: (1) the use of force in self-defense is necessary (there is an attack and the use of force is necessary to repel it and is defensive in nature); and (2) the use of force in self-defense is proportionate to the attack and not punitive in nature.16 A second exception to the ban on the use of force is authorization by the Security Council for the purpose of the maintaining international peace and security.17 Finally, regional enforcement actions are also permitted under the Charter, but again only with explicit Security Council authorization.18

B. Use of Drones to Kill Outside the Context of Armed Conflict

Under the standards of international law, the United States is not involved in an armed conflict in Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen, yet the United States has used targeted drone strikes for assassinations in each of these countries. Currently, the United States is engaged in armed conflict only in Afghanistan.19 To lawfully resort to military force elsewhere requires that the country the United States is attacking has first attacked the United States (for example, Afghanistan in 2001), the U.N. Security Council has authorized the resort to force, or a government in effective control credibly requests assistance in a civil war (for example, Afghanistan since 2002).20 None of these instances are present in Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen. However, the United States continues to initiate targeted killings by drones in each of those countries. More than 2,200 people are estimated to have been killed by drones during the Obama administration in Pakistan alone, many of whom were mere civilian bystanders including children.21 These drone attacks outside the context of armed conflict are illegal under international law.

Under both the United States Constitution and international human rights law, when there is no armed conflict, the use of lethal force is prohibited unless, at the time it is applied, it is a last resort to protect against a concrete, specified, and imminent threat of death or serious physical injury and there is no other, non-lethal means of preventing that threat to life.22 The applicable law that governs outside the context of armed conflict is human rights standards, especially those concerning the use of lethal force. Under Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “every human being has the inherent right to life . . . [and] no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”23 Thus, under human rights law, a State killing is legal only as an avenue of last resort—only if it is required to protect life, thus making it proportionate, and there is no other means, such as capture or non-lethal incapacitation, of preventing that threat to life, making lethal force necessary.24 Any killing that is arbitrary or not necessary to save a life is an illegal killing.25 The United States’ practice of targeting individuals in countries like Pakistan from a list of names created through a secret bureaucratic process and which remain there for months at a time plainly goes beyond the use of lethal force as a last resort to address imminent threats, and accordingly goes beyond what international law permits.

Furthermore, under human rights law, a targeted, or intentional, premeditated and deliberate, killing by a state can never be legal because, unlike in armed conflict, “it is never permissible for killing to be the sole objective of an operation” occurring during a time of peace.26 This is because, as noted above, lethal force can only be used when lives are imminently threatened.27 Therefore, outside the context of armed conflict, the use of drones for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal. As such, the use of drones to kill civilians and militants alike in countries where the United States is not involved in armed conflict and where no imminent threat exists to human life is illegal under international human rights law which protects against the arbitrary deprivation of human life. Therefore, the use of drones by the United States in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, where the United States is not involved in armed conflict violates international law. In light of this, the United States has sought to justify the use of drones in countries such as Pakistan and Somalia where there is no armed conflict by claiming the right to anticipatory self-defense against a non-state actor. As stated above, a state may lawfully use force, including lethal force, in self-defense in response to an armed attack.28 The United States claims that its drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen are acts of self-defense against an enemy that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

However, this argument fails for a number of reasons. First, under article 51 of the U.N. Charter, measures taken in the name of self-defense must be reported to the Security Council, a requirement that the United States has failed to meet. Second, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has held in numerous decisions that self-defense measures can only be taken against a state who has initiated an armed attack against that country.29 Here, the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were initiated by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, not any individual state. As such, the use of lethal force in the name of self-defense is not permitted in this situation.

Furthermore, the ICJ has held that acts of self-defense are only legitimate if they are (1) necessary to quell an imminent attack and (2) proportionate to the attack.30 As a practical matter, there are very few situations outside the context of active hostilities in which the test for anticipatory self-defense – necessity that is “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation” – would be met.31 It is certainly not met here where the United States has shown no evidence of any imminent armed attack on the United States or why assassination is necessary in these circumstances.

Finally, even within the context of self-defense, drone killings of anyone other than the target, for instance family members or others/civilians in the vicinity, would also be an arbitrary deprivation of life under human rights law and could result in State responsibility and individual criminal liability.

C. Use of Drones to Kill in the Context of Armed Conflict

Even in the context of an armed conflict, the law of war restricts the government’s authority to use lethal force and specifically prohibits killing civilians who are not directly participating in the hostilities. Both International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and human rights law apply in the context of armed conflict. Under IHL, targeted killing is only lawful when the target is a “combatant” or “fighter.”32 In the case of civilians, targeted killing can only be used for such time as the person “directly participates in hostilities.”33 For direct participation, the law requires both a causal and temporal nexus to hostilities.34

Additionally, the killing must be militarily necessary, the use of force must be proportionate so that any anticipated military advantage is considered in light of the expected harm to civilians in the vicinity, and everything feasible must be done to prevent mistakes and minimize harm to civilians.35 These standards apply regardless of whether the armed conflict is between States or between a State and a non-state armed group, including alleged terrorists.36 Reprisal or punitive attacks on civilians are always prohibited.37

Even if it can be argued that the United States’ use of drones to kill is within the context of armed conflict (as the U.S. claims that it is “in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, as well as the Taliban and associated forces” and uses this to justify drone attacks in all the countries it has fired against), the current way in which drones are being used by the United States still violates international law in a number of ways. First, reports show that a common practice of the United States with respect to drone killings is to fire a second set of drone strikes at the scene once people have come to find out what happened in the initial strike and to give aid. This is a deliberate targeting of rescuers and mourners who cannot be considered to be “directly participating in hostilities.” As such, such secondary attacks violate International Humanitarian Law and likely constitute war crimes.

Additionally, as stated above, IHL requires a State only use military force that is necessary to achieve the goal of a military operation, only causes incidental loss of life or civilian casualties that is proportionate to the military objective, and distinguishes between legitimate military targets and civilians.38 As such, a state must take all feasible steps to minimize damage to civilian life and objects.39 There is evidence to show that the United States’ use of drones violates these requirements. For example, the high numbers of civilians who have been killed as a result of drone strikes and the evidence that the government has failed to take legally required measures to protect civilian bystanders calls into question whether the United States has met the requirements of proportionality and distinction.

Additionally, the United States has refused to release information on the circumstances under which it uses drone or the process by which it decides to use drone killings, including the criteria for individuals who may be targeted and killed, the existence of any substantive or procedural safeguards to ensure the legality and accuracy of killings, and the existence of accountability mechanisms. This lack of transparency calls into question whether these drone strikes are indeed militarily necessary and whether the United States is adhering to the requirements of international law. Furthermore, the U.N. and other international organizations are concerned about this lack of transparency in the United States’ use of drones and conclude that until the United States releases such information, drone killings even within the context of armed conflict are likely to be found illegal.


1 See Mary Ellen O’Connell, When are drone killings illegal?,, Aug. 16, 2012, available at
2 Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Addendum, Study on Targeted Killings, U.N. Human Rights Council, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/24/Add.6 ¶ 9 (May 28, 2010) (by Philip Alston), available at [Hereinafter “Alston Report”].
3 Id.
4 Id.
5 Id.
6 Exec. Order No. 11,905 § 5(g), 41 Fed. Reg. 7703, 7733 (Feb. 18, 1976).
7 Exec. Order No. 12,333, 46 Fed. Reg. 59,941, 59,952 (Dec. 4, 1981).
8 Id.
9 Id.
10 See Complaint at 2-3, Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, 1:12-cv-01192-RMC (D.C. Cir. 2012), available at See also Charlie Savage, Relatives Sue Officials Over U.S. Citizens Killed by Drone Strikes in Yemen, N.Y. TIMES, July 18, 2012, available at
11 Id.
12 See Rights Groups File Challenge to Killings of Three Americans in U.S. Drone Strikes, ACLU, July 18, 2012, available at
13 See U.N. Charter art. 2, para. 4, art. 51, available at; See also Military and Paramilitary Activities (Nicar. v. U.S.) 1986 I.C.J. 14 (June 27).
14 U.N. Charter art. 2, para. 4.
15 U.N. Charter art. 51.
16 Military and Paramilitary Activities (Nicar. v. U.S.) 1986 I.C.J. 14 (June 27).
17 U.N. Charter arts. 42, 51.
18 U.N. Charter art. 53.
19 See Mary Ellen O’Connell, When are drone killings illegal?,, Aug. 16, 2012, available at
20 Id. See also U.N. Charter arts. 42, 51, 53.
21 Owen Bowcott, The legal dilemma over drone strikes: justified killings or war crimes?, Aug. 2, 2012, available at
22 McCann and Others v. United Kingdom, 324 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) at para. 145 (1995).
23 See International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights art. 6(1), Dec. 16, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, available at
24 Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 6 (art. 6), para. 3, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1 (1994), available at; Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Report on Terrorism and Human Rights, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.116, Doc. 5 rev. 1 corr. (2002), available at
25 Id.
26 Alston report, ¶ 9.
27 Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 6 (art. 6), para. 3, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1 (1994), available at
28 U.N. Charter art. 51.
29 See, e.g., Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Dem. Rep. Congo v. Uganda), 2005 I.C.J. 168, ¶¶ 146-47 (Dec. 19); The Wall, 2004 I.C.J. 135, ¶ 139; Oil Platforms (Iran v. U.S.), 2003 I.C.J. 161, ¶¶ 51, 61 (Nov. 6).
30 Military and Paramilitary Activities (Nicar. v. U.S.) 1986 I.C.J. 14 (June 27).
31 Caroline Incident, Letters from Webster to Fox, 29 Brit. & Foreign St. Papers 1129, 1137-38 (1840-41).
32 See International Institute of Humanitarian Law, The Manual on the Law of Non-International Armed Conflict, March 2006, available at
33 Geneva Conventions Common Article 3, AP I, art. 52(1) and (2), available at
34 Id.
35 Henchkaerts & Oswald-Beck, Customary International Human Law Rules, ICRC (2005), Rules 14-21, available at
36 Id.
37 Id.
38 Id.
39 Id.

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.


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.

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.


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

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

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.

Monday, August 27, 2012

September 7 Concert Fundraiser: Support Trifecta Resista and the Drone Resistsers!

Friday, September 7, 2012 -- 7:00 p.m.

Bob & Diana Suckiel - folksingers

with The Rosell Brothers (Nehemiah & Josiah)

A musical event to help raise funds to cover expenses for our drone resister defendants and expert witnesses.

All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church
4501 Walnut Street
Kansas City, MO

Join the Facebook event page and invite your friends!

. . . and join these events to support the drones resistance:

Sunday, September 9, Kansas City: 6:30 p.m. convergence of supporters and expert testifiers

Monday, September 10, Jefferson City: press conference and trial

More about Bob & Diana Suckiel . . . 

Bob & Diana Suckiel - "Boomer Bob & Mama Pipes" In the old parlance, Bob's now a 'Hoghead.' But after 30 years, over four different railroads, from gandy-dancer, to switchman, to brakeman, Bob now warrants the more modern honorific "C.&E." as a Conductor and Engineer on the main line of the Union Pacific. Bob's music is rooted in the blues, though inflected with hometown Kansas City Jazz. Diana Suckiel is a downright do-right woman whose sobriquet is derived both from her soulful singing voice and her trade: 'Mama Pipes' is also a journeyman plumber. They have appeared in the "American Master's" PBS Movie "Amazing Grace Music in America" the Winnipeg Folk Fest (81 & 86) Kansas Folk Life Fest. Long Steel Rails Fest. in Elly Nevada 5 times, Hobo Gathering in Elko, Hobo Days in Britt, The Peoples Poetry Gathering in NY, NY As a member of the Rose Tattoo at the Sacramento Rail Fair, the Champlain Folk festival, the Vancouver Folk Fest. the Old Songs Fest., San Fransisco Folk Fest, the Kate Wolf Festival, the Islands Folk Festival, Cafe Lena (New York)and the Freight and Salvage (Berkley) and strike lines, College classrooms, street corners and all sorts of clubs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

September 9: Kansas City Presents Expert Witnesses on Drone Killings

 On September 9, on the eve of our drone resisters' federal trial, join Trifecta Resista and our "all star" expert witnesses for a discussion on the increasing use of assassination drones, killing thousands of innocent victims across the world.

Hear from guest speakers:

Col. Ann Wright, antiwar activist and peace advocate, and retired Army colonel and diplomat;

Ramsey Clark, attorney, justice and peace activist, and U.S. Attorney General 1967-69;

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, ( a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare;

Bill Quigley, law professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans, and Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights;

as well as defendants Ron Faust, and Brian Terrell.

The event will take place from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64112.

Please join the Facebook event page and invite friends!

* * * * *

BACKGROUND: On April 15, 2012, the final day of the first "Trifecta Resista" weekend of actions, peaceful resisters rallied outside Whiteman Air Force Base. Mark Kenney, Brian Terrell, and Ron Faust, entered the base to present an indictment for their participation in the illegal use of assassination drones. (See "RESISTING DRONES IN MISSOURI: 'Let Justice Flow Like a River…'" and "Drone Resister Mark Kenney Gets Four Months In Jail".)

The trial for defendants Brian Terrell and Ron Faust is scheduled for September 10, in Jefferson City, MO. Trial support and carpooling will also be discussed this evening.

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.

Monday, August 6, 2012


NOTE: See related story: "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!"

We charge the chain of command, from President Barack Obama, to Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, to Brigadier General Scott A. Vander Hamm, to every drone crew,

With the following crimes; extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians,

We charge that these crimes are committed in violation of The Constitution of the United States of America, Article 1, Section 8.11, The Charter of the United Nations Article 2 section 4, The Golden Rule and of international law, to which we are especially bound by Article 6, Section 2 of the Constitution which states, “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding”.

We demand that they immediately stop these crimes,

And be accountable to the people of the United States and Afghanistan, We appeal to all United States citizens, military and civilian, and to all public officials, that we are required by the Nuremburg Principles l - Vll, and by Conscience, to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them and to resist them nonviolently.


We charge that the United States Air Force, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, under the command of, Brig. Gen. Scott A. Vander Hamm, is maintaining and utilizing MQ-9 Reaper Drones for use in combat.

Extrajudicial targeted killings by the use of unmanned aircraft drones by the United States of America are intentional, premeditated and deliberate use of lethal force in violation of US and international human rights law.

The US has used drones for targeted killings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Pakistan, with no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can and cannot be used, no rigorous criteria for deciding which people are targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality and accuracy of the killings, and no mechanisms of accountability.

In support of this indictment we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones creates "a highly problematic blurring and expansion of the boundaries of the applicable legal frameworks – human rights law, the laws of war and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force….The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum…In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward applicable legal rules." See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28 May 2010.

Let all accused in this indictment understand that our words are spoken nonviolently. All are invited to stop the use of drones and refuse to participate in illegal warfare.