News Release

New criminal defense bar president decries policy of shooting down suspected drug planes

Another unwarranted response to an exaggerated threat 

Washington, DC (August 21, 2003) -- E.E. "Bo" Edwards, new president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, today issued the following statement in response to recent reports that the United States will resume cooperation with South American governments in shooting down planes of suspected drug runners:

"Does our government honestly believe that it is acceptable to kill, or even take a substantial risk of killing, unidentified human beings, our citizens or not, just because they may be committing a non-capital crime? Evidently so.

"The Bush Administration speaks in terms of ''procedures to protect against loss of innocent life.'' But these mere suspects are innocent until proven guilty, and not subject to the death penalty even if convicted. This administration continues to find the poor and dark-skinned expendable based on almost any fear-based pretext. In this case, we can kill in the name of fighting illegal drugs, which kill 20,000 per year by generous estimates, while subsidizing tobacco, which kills 400,000 per year.

"Just as importantly, should we as citizens, and the media as our watchdogs, continue to let it go on without questioning it?" 

Edwards, a criminal defense lawyer in Nashville, began his term as NACDL president August 2. He can be reached at (615) 356-5037.

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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.