Wednesday, October 23, 2013


National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, 325 East 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 23, 2013 CITIZEN ACTIVISTS CONVICTED FOR DARING TO DEMAND AN END TO THE CIA'S KILLER DRONE PROGRAM Contacts: Malachy Kilbride 571 501-3729, Max Obuszewski 410 366-1637 or mobuszewski at, Joy First 608 239-4327 WHO: Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] have been active in challenging U.S. invasions and attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. On May 23, 2013 members of NCNR filed a criminal complaint with the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia against the CIA’s use of drone strikes to assassinate people in various countries, including Pakistan. The citizen activists never received a response. Subsequently, NCNR gathered some 200 signatures on a letter to CIA Director John Brennan seeking a meeting to discuss ending the assassination program. Again there was no response. On June 29, 2013 six activists went to the Central Intelligence Agency hoping to arrange a meeting with CIA officials. While Major Burton, a CIA police officer, accepted the letter, he would not speak with the petitioners. So Joy First, Mt. Horeb, WI, Malachy Kilbride, Arlington, VA, Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, MD, Phil Runkel, Milwaukee, WI, Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA, and Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Lexington, KY, engaged in a die-in to represent the victims of the assassination program. They were then arrested and charged them with “entering or remaining on installation without authorization.” WHAT: Just prior to trial, Cindy Sheehan became ill with a virus, pled guilty and paid a fine. The other defendants, representing themselves, appeared before Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis for trial. He explained that the government has established “This is not a trial about drones.” Stacy Chaffin, an assistant U.S. Attorney working for the CIA, presented one witness, a police officer, who described the die-in was a result of a simulated air strike. He may have been coached not to say “drone.” When Obuszewski cross-examined the witness, Davis would not permit the defendant to show the letter to Brennan to him. In the police officer’s testimony, he stated that Major Burton accepted “information” from the defendants, carefully avoiding the word letter. It became obvious that Judge Davis would not permit any defense arguments which called attention to the defendants’ First Amendment right to petition our government with redress of grievances or that as citizens the defendants were authorized to be at the CIA to challenge an illegal assassination program. The CIA would be protected in Judge Davis’ courtroom. In his judicial opinion, the defendants were there, they were unauthorized and thus arrested, and they were found guilty. WHEN: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 1 PM WHERE: U.S. District Court, 401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314 WHY: The prosecutor, employed by the CIA, was unwilling to challenge her employer. Obuszewski had sent her an email query: “If you believe that it is legal to assassinate four U.S. citizens, including a child, please provide us with the lawyerly justification. If you can’t provide us with a legal memorandum supporting an assassination program, then consider dropping the charges against us instead.” She did not respond. Both Kilbride and Obuszewski were lectured by the judge about relevance. The criminal complaint, the letter to the CIA requesting a meeting and the recent Amnesty International report on U.S. killer drone strikes were ruled irrelevant. The defendants were not allowed to indicate their Nuremberg Obligation to speak out about the illegal activities of the U.S. government. First, a grandmother, testified about her concern for children around the world. At the CIA she held a photograph of child victims of drone strikes. Sevre-Duszynska, a Roman Catholic womanpriest, testified that besides doing liturgy her mission was peace and justice. A retired ESL teacher, she told the court about educating students from war-torn countries and emphasizing mediation as a means of settling disputes. First, also presented a moving closing statement. The prosecutor indicated that the defendants were nonviolent and not a threat, and recommended unsupervised probation. Before sentencing all defendants, but First, spoke to the court. Runkel, an archivist of Dorothy Day since 1978, spoke about the work of the legendary co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Kilbride became emotional as he described being a Quaker and what actions that entails. Sevre-Duszynska reached back to talk about her Polish-American upbringing in Milwaukee, and how the seeds of her activism were planted by her grandmother and grandfather. She also explained how horrified she was when she attended a conference in Nevada where killer drone strikes were extolled. Obuszewski thanked all in the courtroom, including supporters, and urged the CIA police officers and the prosecution team to work within the Agency to stop the killer drone program. He spoke highly of the integrity and citizen activism of the defendants, and emphasized we must speak on behalf of the dead. Judge Davis was getting antsy. Once Obuszewski pointed out that by happenstance Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a report today speculating that U.S. drone strikes may be war crimes, Davis cut him off. The activist had intended to state that Mala Yousafzai, when meeting with the Obama family, raised concerns about the administration’s use of drones, saying they are “fueling terrorism.” The sentence given was unsupervised probation for one year, a fine and cost costs of $335 and an order not to be arrested during this period. This will a difficult test for the activists, as they have been involved over the years in many acts of civil resistance. Unlike other jurisdictions, the federal court in Alexandria required the citizen activists to report to probation and sign authorization forms to release confidential information—“employment records, educational records, medical record, and psychological and psychiatric records” to the probation office. Another document, if signed, would give authorization “for access to financial records.” The activists were stunned to read these forms, and protested vigorously inside the office. Eventually, the supervisor came out and agreed to waive the requirement to fill out these forms. Nevertheless, the probation office will review every ninety days to see if the convicted were arrested. This is the most onerous “unsupervised probation” any of them have ever experienced. Regardless, the activists intend to continue to speak out against the killer drone program and other government policies which are deemed unjust. "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

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