Antidrone Activists File War Crimes Complaint Against Obama, Brennan and Others
Left to right David Barrows, Joy Fist, Max Obuszewski, Manijeh Sabah, Malachy Kilbride and Jack McHale at US Attorney's Office preparing to file complaint. Photo Ted Majdosz.
Below the article by Joy First, is the cover letter and complaint filed against the drone program seeking prosecution of Obama, Brennan and other officials.
David Barrows, Ray McGovern, Malachy Kilbride Joy Fist and Manijeh Sabah.
By Joy First
It could have been any kind of gathering between friends as I sat with six others in Malachy Kilbride’s living room in Arlington, VA on the morning of May 21, 2013, drinking coffee and munching on pastries. Besides Malachy and me, we were joined by David Barrows, Max Obuszewski, Manijeh Saba, Ray McGovern, and Ted Majdosz. But there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air that morning. We have risked arrest together many times before acting in resistance to the illegal and immoral actions of our government, but today we were going to try something different.
For the last several months we, along with many other activists around the country, have been focusing on bringing an end to drone warfare. Our government has killed thousands of people in countries around the world, including over 200 children in Pakistan alone. We are all concerned about the unbelievable suffering of the innocent people who are victims of killer drones. We believe these drone strikes are illegal under US and international law and must stop immediately. In response we have held demonstrations, risked arrest, and contacted members of Congress, the White House, and the Department of Justice, all to no avail. The strikes continue.
We had an idea to try something different and so on thatmorning in May we sat together and discussed our plans to deliver a criminal complaint to the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria, VA (federal court with jurisdiction over the CIA), asking for an indictment of President Obama, CIA Director John Brennan, and others in the CIA involved in the CIA drone program for war crimes.
I think we all shared the feeling that this was an exciting new step in our resistance to the illegal and immoral actions of our government. I wondered what this day would bring as we continued our work for peace, trying a different tactic.
After discussing what we were going to do and making specific plans, Ray had to leave and wished us well as we set out for the US Attorney’s office at the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria to deliver the criminal complaint to US Attorney Neil MacBride. If the system works the way it should, we would be allowed to file our complaint and an investigation would be launched. I also knew it was likely they would tell us to get lost and would not accept our complaint.
We met up at the Court House with Jack McHale from Pax Chrisiti. He would be going inside with us. Ted’s plan was to take pictures. Cameras are not allowed in the courthouse, but he got pictures of his entering and exiting the courthouse, and he waited outside while we were in our meeting. You can see the pictures at http://photobyted.smugmug.
There are two public entrances to the courthouse around the corner from each other. We went to the entrance with the address listed as the US Attorney’s office and the guard at the door told us we had to go to the Clerk’s Office to file a complaint, and to get there we would have to take the other entrance. So we went around the corner, went through security, and went upstairs to the Clerk’s Office. We told her that we wanted to file a criminal complaint and she said that only the government can file a criminal complaint, and that citizens can only file a civil complaint. She let us know that we would need to go around the corner to the US Attorney’s office and ask to speak to a duty special and deliver our complaint there.
We went out the door, around the corner, and through security again. I believe they were getting a little worried about who we were and what we were doing. I told the guard that we were all committed to nonviolence and we were just trying to do our duty as citizens. We told the guard that we wanted to speak to a duty special to file a criminal complaint and he told us to have a seat in the lobby and someone would come down and talk to us there.
In a few minutes Assistant US Attorney Eugene Rossi came into the lobby with his assistant Clint Scott. He greeted us all in a very friendly manner, and announced to the guard that he would meet with us in a conference room upstairs, escorting us up there and down again when the meeting was over. I thought this was better than I hoped.
After settling in around the table we showed him our complaint and told him why we were there. We asked if we could get the complaint time stamped and officially accepted by the office. Mr. Rossi sent Mr. Scott to stamp the complaint and he gave us a stamped copy.
Mr. Rossi said that it was his job to accept the complaint and listen to us, and then give the complaint to US Attorney Neil MacBride who would make a decision on whether or not to take action. He also noted that this was really heavy – asking for indictment of the President of the United States, and way above his pay grade. If Mr. MacBride decides to investigate, a law enforcement person will be assigned to the case. One of the criteria for deciding if they will follow through with an investigation is whether or not there is a reasonable chance of conviction. Was this a way of letting us know it was unlikely that Mr. MacBride would act on our complaint?
Everyone in our group spoke eloquently about why we were there. Max started the discussion by explaining why we have to do this, and that we are following our Nuremberg obligations. Jack emphasized that we are doing this as a way of following process, but that we have also been involved in many other advocacy efforts to end drone warfare. We must try every avenue available to us to bring an end to the killing of so many people. David talked about the people who have been murdered by our government and said that the people being killed by drones are every bit as important as the people of this country. Manijeh spoke passionately about her experiences in coming to this country from Iran and how she is afraid of what our country is turning into. I noted that my reason for being there is because of the suffering and death our government is causing to others – suffering that can be stopped. Malachy noted that we were there because of morality, ethics, and the law, and that we were acting deliberately, and committed to nonviolence.
The discussion lasted for almost 40 minutes and during that time Mr. Rossi maintained a very open and friendly demeanor. I tend to take people at face value and always trust what people say, but when we left the room others noted that it was his job to be very friendly and to get us out of there without any trouble. Malachy noticed that there were US Marshals stationed outside the door while we were having our meeting.
Now our complaint has been officially received, and we will wait and see whether Mr. MacBride follows up on it. After a reasonable time if we have not heard anything we will follow up with Mr. MacBride’s office. The action we took in delivering the complaint can lead to much more. If Mr. MacBride doesn’t follow up, we may want to organize demonstrations risking arrest outside of the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria and call attention to his inaction.
We also want to encourage activists to take similar actions across the country and file complaints with the US Attorney’s office in other locations. The complaint we filed was modeled after the indictment that the folks used at Hancock Air Force base. We can keep building on what others have done and so the complaint we filed in Alexandria is pasted in below and can be used as a template. It would probably make sense to find a connection with drones in your area and edit the template below, using what is going on in your area as the basis for the complaint. For example, in Wisconsin I will be talking with fellow activists about filing a complaint at the US Attorney’s office here. We have a military base that does drone training and we will file the criminal complaint in the US Attorney’s office that has jurisdiction in the area where the base is located. Just as we focused on the three areas in the April Days of action, the criminal complaints we can file can be based on a military bases, a company manufacturing drones, or a university doing research in drones.
There has been a lot going on to bring an end to the use of killer drones by our government, including the April days of action that have recently concluded. President Obama will be making a speech on drones tonight. Whatever he says, he is a war criminal and murderer responsible for the deaths of thousands. He may be making some concessions, but I don’t believe he will get close to doing what we want him to do. I believe we are making progress, but that we must keep up the work on this. And we must continue to hold people accountable for their crimes.
Please consider filing a similar criminal complaint in your area.
And don’t forget that NCNR is organizing an action of nonviolent civil resistance against killer drones at the CIA on .
PLEASE JOIN US. KEEP UP THE HOPE.
2100 Jamieson Ave
WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, BARACK OBAMA, DIRECTOR OF THE CIA, JOHN BRENNAN, THOSE PLANNING THE TARGETED KILLING BY THESE DRONES, THOSE OPERATING CIA DRONES, AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND WITH CRIMES AGAINST PEACE & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS, WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.
Joy First, Mt. Horeb WI
War Resisters League, Baltimore Pledge of Resistance
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