Somerset woman faces federal charges in NSA drone killings protest
By Walter O'Brien | NJ.com
on October 08, 2014 at 3:33 PM, updated October 08, 2014 at 5:36 PM
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — A Somerset County woman with a history of political activism faces federal charges after attempting to enter protected National Security Agency property to protest lethal American drone attacks around the world.
Manijeh Saba, a court interpreter, translator and long-time human rights activist from Franklin Township will appear in United States District Court in Baltimore Thursday for protesting on May 3 outside the gate of Fort Meade, MD against NSA surveillance providing targeting information for US drone attacks.
"This is important to me because the usage of drones as killing machines is offensive, particular as used by our government to violate sovereign nations against international law," Saba said. "It's dangerous and creates havoc to the people in those countries and to our own."
Saba, along with Marilyn Carlisle, of Baltimore, a Headstart Case Manager and Ellen Barfield, a US Army veteran and full-time peace activist also from Baltimore, was charged with attempting to enter protected property without proper authorization, failure to comply with the lawful direction of an NSA Police officer, and engaging in disorderly conduct while on protected property. The penalties on all the violations combined total more than $1,300 for each defendant.
The women were arrested while attempting to present a letter requesting a meeting with NSA Director, Vice-Admiral Michael Rogers to discuss their abhorrence of NSA drone targeting practices.
All three women will defend themselves in court, pro se, with the help of expert advice from Washington, DC attorney Mark Goldstone.
Saba and the others hope to elicit expert testimony on NSA targeting for lethal US drone attacks from Medea Benjamin, a leader of the women's peace group Code Pink, and Col. Ann Wright (Ret.), a former Army officer and diplomat now active with Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.
Saba left Iran in 1974 during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi for Montreal, Canada and graduate work. She then came to the United States in 1977 to attend graduate classes at Rutgers New Brunswick. She said that as a naturalized American citizen she has taken an oath to protect and defend the constitution.
"Every morning I think about who is being killed, tortured and what our government is doing and how people are reacting to us," Saba said. "Our Constitution says that we need the pursuit of happiness but our government does everything but that. People are forced to have security systems on their homes and cars despite billions of dollars spent by this country for their protection."
Saba said that in the 1980s we fought against Russia, now we fight against ISIL. She said these battles just create backlashes, not peace, and terrorizes all of us.
"It is absolutely crucial to me as a citizen of the US and the world to stand up to oppression, to violation, to harassment, to threats, to killing,which the US has been doing for some time," Saba said. "Not only is this personal but our policies are short sighted and upside down. They close schools and hospitals and open more prisons."
Saba, Barfield and Carlisle urge supporters to attend the trial in person at 10 a.m. Thursday, at 101 West Lombard Street in Baltimore in Courtoom 7C. For more information contact Ellen Barfield at 410-243-5876 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the video above of the protest, Saba is wearing a black Shirt reading "Audacity of War Crimes," Ellen
Barfield speaks at the beginning and is holding a sign "Drone War is Cowardly," and Marilyn Carlisle is wearing a white hat holding the middle of the lead banner.
Walter O'Brien may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@wobriensomerset. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs