National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, 325 East 25th Street , Baltimore , MD 21218 PHONE:  366-1637
PRESS RELEASE-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 7, 2012
CONTACT: Max Obuszewski 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net
Anti-Killer Drone Activists Seek Meeting with JHU President
Letter to President Daniels and Dr. Semmel
Johns Hopkins University Refuses to Arrest Anti-Killer Drone Activists
Read related post ... JHU News-Letter: "The APL drones on and on"
ANTI-KILLER DRONE ACTIVISTS SEEK MEETING WITH JHU PRESIDENT
WHO: The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is a part of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], which organizes direct action against U.S. wars. For example, NCNR members went to the National Security Agency on October 9, 2011 to seek a meeting with the director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander to discuss the NSA’s involvement in U.S. war plans.
Instead of getting a meeting, fourteen citizen activists were arrested and are scheduled for trial in U.S. District Court on May 29 in Baltimore ,
WHAT: NCNR decided to focus attention on the government’s use of killer drones. Since Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has a contract to do drone research, NCNR, on May 1, sent a letter to Ronald J. Daniels, JHU president, and Dr. Ralph Semmel, director of the APL, seeking a meeting. There was no response to the letter, so a group of NCNR members are going to the Homewood Campus to seek a meeting with the president.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 1 PM
WHERE: Johns Hopkins University , Homewood Campus, 3400 North Charles Street , Baltimore , MD 21218
WHY: Jurists, political leaders and even the former director of the National Security Agency, General Michael Hayden, have questioned the use of drones to kill. See the op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Doyle McManus on February 5, 2012, “Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list’?” This is what McManus wrote: “When it comes to national security, Michael V. Hayden is no shrinking violet. As CIA director, he ran the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists.” Then the op-ed brings up the case of Anwar Awlaki, a U.S. citizen killed by a drone in Yemen , and Hayden is quoted: “’We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him, but we didn't need a court order to kill him. Isn't that something?’” Go to McManus: Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list'? in the Los Angeles Times.
It is both baffling and shocking that our government has assassinated U.S. citizens without even a pretense of due process. These hunter-killer Reaper drones and other forms of unmanned aerial vehicles cause horrific destruction. But who decides the use of drones? Who decides who to target? Laws of war make it illegal to target civilians. Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution guarantees due process to U.S. citizens and probably non-citizens?
The Nuremberg Principles obligate citizens to challenge governments involved in illegal activities. These Principles forbid wars of aggression, attacks on civilians and extrajudicial assassinations, all associated with drone warfare. Citizens have a duty to act where they can to prevent violations, even if the violations are committed by their government or a university engaged in research which helps develop the weapons used illegally.
May 1, 2012
Ronald J. Daniels, President
242 Garland Hall
The Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore , MD 21218
APL Director Dr. Ralph Semmel
The Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory
11100 Johns Hopkins Road
Laurel , MD 20723-6099
Dear President Daniels and Dr. Semmel:
The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance is composed of citizen activists who want to see that government officials are held accountable for illegal activities. As members of a peace and justice group with grave concern for the U.S. government’s use of drones in acts of war against the people of Afghanistan , Iraq , Pakistan and Yemen , we would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about the drone research being done by Johns Hopkins University . And prior to the meeting, we would appreciate receiving copies of contracts, and the dollar amounts, regarding unmanned aerial vehicles.
As citizen activists, we have petitioned government officials and legislators with our grievances. We now believe it is time to discuss with you the taxpayer-funded university’s research on a weapon which has been used to execute U.S. citizens without due process, and to kill at least 175 children in Pakistan , untold numbers of civilians, members of the Pakistan military and even rescuers.
You may be aware that jurists, political leaders and even the former director of the National Security Agency, General Michael Hayden, have questioned the use of drones to kill. See the op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Doyle McManus on February 5, 2012, “Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list’?” This is what McManus wrote: “When it comes to national security, Michael V. Hayden is no shrinking violet. As CIA director, he ran the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists.” Then the op-ed brings up the case of Anwar Awlaki, a U.S. citizen killed by a drone in Yemen , and Hayden is quoted: “’We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him, but we didn't need a court order to kill him. Isn't that something?’” Go to McManus: Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list'? in the Los Angeles Times.
It is both baffling and shocking that our government has assassinated U.S. citizens without even a pretense of due process. It is very hard to imagine what it must be like in areas of the world plagued by hunter-killer Reaper drones. It is not hard to imagine that post traumatic stress disorder must be rife amidst the civilians who have survived drone strikes.
As you know, these Reapers and other forms of unmanned aerial vehicles cause horrific destruction. But who decides the use of drones? Who decides who to target? Laws of war make it illegal to target civilians. The U.S. Constitution guarantees due process for sure to U.S. citizens and probably non-citizens. The Nuremberg Principles obligate us to do something in order not to be complicit with the war crimes of our government. The Nuremberg Principles forbid wars of aggression, attacks on civilians and extrajudicial assassinations, all associated with drone warfare. Citizens have a duty to act where they can to prevent violations, even if the violations are committed by their government.
We would be able to provide you with many examples of civilians being killed in drone strikes. For example, see an article written by David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2011: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-drone-20110410,0,2818134,full.story. It details the slaughter of Afghan travelers on Feb. 21, 2010 by drone strikes orchestrated from Nevada ’s Creech Air Force Base, thousands of miles away. Because the travelers stopped to pray, they were considered Taliban. None of those Afghans, however, was an insurgent. They were men, women and children going about their business, but because of mis-identification 29 villagers were killed that day. No member of the U.S. military involved in this incident faced court-martial. Each survivor received about $2,900, and families of the dead received $4,800.
The ACLU recently filed a lawsuit demanding the Obama administration release legal and intelligence records on the killing of the three US citizens in Yemen . As our government continues to violate international law and to kill civilians, we citizen activists have to respond. Besides demonstrating and contacting the White House and our elected officials, we want to meet with you to discuss the illegality of killing civilians and to discover the extent of drone research at Johns Hopkins University .
Please let us know when a small group of us could meet with you to discuss the matters raised above. We look forward to your response.
Max Obuszewski, on behalf of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR]
410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net
Elizabeth Adams, Amherst, MA; Maria Allwine, NCNR, Baltimore; Jean Athey, coordinator, Peace Action Montgomery, Brookeville, MD; Ellen E Barfield, Phil Berrigan Chapter Veterans For Peace, Pledge of Resistance and NCNR; Sharon Black, All Peoples Congress, Baltimore; Toby Blomé, Bay Area CodePink organizer, San Francisco; Bernie L Brown, Pledge of Resistance, Baltimore; Linda K Brown, Baltimore; Timothy D. Chadwick, 18018-2319 Member of Humanity & NCNR; Bethlehem, PA; Marge Clark, BVM, Lobbyist, NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Washington, DC; Sherry Conable, on behalf of People United for Peace (PUP), Santa Cruz County, CA; Robert Cooke, Pax Christi, Gaithersburg, MD; Robert Daniels II, Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO Peace Center), Bethlehem, PA; June Eisley, Delaware Pacem in Terris, Wilmington, DE; Joy First, NCNR, Madison, WI; Margaret Flowers, October2011 Movement, Baltimore; Carol E. Gay, Chairperson, NJ Labor Against War, president, NJ State Industrial Union Council (for identification purposes only), Somerset, NJ; Christine Gaunt, NCNR, Grinnell, IA; Tom H. Hastings;Whitefeather Peace Community, Oregon Peace Institute, PeaceVoice, Portland, OR; Martha Hennessy, Catholic Worker, New York City; Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace 28, Woodstock, NY; Judith Kelly, Pax Christi Pentagon Area, Arlington, VA; Malachy Kilbride, NCNR, Arlington, VA; Barbara Larcom, Ph.D. 1990, sociology, The Johns Hopkins University & national board chair, Alliance for Global Justice, Baltimore; Linda LeTendre, Saratoga Springs, NY; Brother John Mahoney, Baltimore; Kevin Martin, Peace Action, Silver Spring, MD; C. William Michaels, Esq., volunteer coordinator, Pax Christi-Baltimore; Don Muller, Sitka, Alaska; Bill Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law; Stephen Roblin, Towson MD; Manijeh Saba, NCNR, Somerset, NJ; Helen Schietinger, Washington, D.C.; David Schott, Veterans for Peace, Baltimore; Josie Setzler, Tiffin Area Pax Christi, Tiffin, Ohio; Robert M. Smith, Brandywine Peace Community, Philadelphia; David Soumis, Veterans for Peace Clarence Kailin Chapter 25, Madison Wisconsin; Mark D. Stansbery, Columbus Campaign for Arms Control, Columbus, Ohio; Alice Sturm Sutter, Nurse Practitioner, North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice, NYC Metro Raging Grannies, New York City; Bonnie Urfer, Nukewatch, Madison, WI; Marge Van Cleef, Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition, Philadelphia, PA
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY REFUSES TO ARREST ANTI-KILLER DRONE ACTIVISTS
Around 12:15 PM on May 8, 2012, an NCNR entourage entered the president’s outer office to seek a meeting. A female assistant to the president graciously greeted the activists and indicated she would investigate if the letter was ever received. She never returned to speak with those of us concerned with drone research. Instead a male vice president came out and graciously listened to each activist’s concern. However, he informed us that the president was indisposed on a flight to Japan . He suggested that we should leave, but the activists indicated they would wait in the office.
Soon thereafter, a parade of Hopkins officials, security officers and representatives of the Baltimore City Police Department came to speak to the group to encourage us to leave. Everyone fit the description of a male dominant figure. The only other female on the scene was a member of the Baltimore Police. We assumed an arrest would take place at 5 PM, when the office was scheduled to close. It became apparent that someone from the university, presumably the president, made the decision not to arrest anyone. Another decision reached by someone was to deny the visitors access to a bathroom. In fact, two Baltimore Police officers were guarding the door. Also supporters were denied entry into the building, but they held an outside demonstration with a replica of a drone.
After about six hours, some of the citizen activists were desperate to use a bathroom. Max Obuszewski challenged those inside the building, some 40 strong, not to follow an “illegal order” to deny access to a bathroom. All but one lacked the courage to question authority. However, a uniformed member of Hopkins security moved the officers aside and opened the bathroom.
Around a decade ago, there was an occupation of the building by students demanding that university personnel be paid a living wage. Memory suggests this occupation went on for ten days. So the NCNR activists--Ellen Barfield, David Barrows, Tim Chadwick, Cindy Farquhar, Joy First, Malachy Kilbride, Max Obuszewski, Manijeh Saba and Alice Suter--decided to depart at 8 PM, after reading the letter and singing the classic anthem VINE AND FIG TREE. We are resolved to return, despite the fact that since we “trespassed” we are subject to arrest if we are again on campus.
During the occupation, we had an opportunity to speak with various Hopkins officials and representatives of the Baltimore City Police. Since we had a captive audience, we enlightened many who were present about the role played by the APL in doing drone research. There is a direct line between the APL’s research and killing of civilians in the Middle East . We sat and stood with many anti-drone research signs and photographs of drone victims throughout the occupation.
We raised many questions: Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list? Who decides the use of drones? Who decides who to target? Laws of war make it illegal to target civilians. Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution guarantee due process to U.S. citizens and probably non-citizens?
See also Joy First's account of the May 8 action: "Calling for End to Drone Research at Johns Hopkins University."