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What Does Latest Dead Afghan 2-Year-Old Have in Common with Paul Robeson, John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Marley, the Kennedys

This is the season of death, when we celebrate the dying of the sun with an orgiastic burst of consumption and environmental destruction.  This is the season of rebirth when we spend time with loved ones and reach out to help others we don't know.

Now would be an appropriate time to come to grips with public murder and make a public investment in peace.  If I were summoning back ghosts of governments past for a press conference at the National Press Club, my first inclination -- lasting only a split second -- would be to bring the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, the Native Americans, the Laotians, the Mexicans, the Cambodians, the Iraqis, the Guatemalans, the Japanese, the Afghans, the Germans, the Yemenis, and all the peoples of the world dead by our indifference or malevolence and by our sacred tax dollars.  Pacific Islanders killed by weapons testing would join children killed by drug testing, and prisoners both innocent and guilty killed by electric chairs and injections, standing side-by-side with the resurrected bodies of men tortured to death by the CIA, kids melted with white phosphorous, and presidents -- both foreign and domestic -- cut down by assassins spreading freedom and joy.

My second inclination would be to line up a handful of press-worthy celebrities whose celebrity might motivate a bit of our national press corpse [sic] to hop an elevator for the long commute to the press club despite the fact that these particular celebrities were murdered by our government.  First might be Paul Robeson.  Here's a wikipedia summary for those unfamiliar with this great man.  Here's a taste of Robeson's voice.  And here's audio of a discussion with Robeson's son and others of how the CIA drugged him and then electroshocked him, effectively debilitating and silencing a voice that had never before faltered, a voice that had gone so far as to denounce the House Un-American Activities Committee as un-Americans to their faces.  This article sums up this crime.  This more recent article looks back.

Next to Robeson before the cameras might stand John Wayne. In 1955, movie star John Wayne, who avoided participating in World War II by opting instead to make movies glorifying war, decided that he had to play Genghis Khan. The Conqueror was filmed in Utah, and the conqueror was conquered. Of the 220 people who worked on the film, by the early 1980s 91 of them had contracted cancer and 46 had died of it, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell. Statistics suggest that 30 of the 220 might ordinarily have gotten cancer, not 91. In 1953 the military had tested 11 atomic bombs nearby in Nevada, and by the 1980s half the residents of St. George, Utah, where the film was shot, had cancer. You can run from war, but you can't hide. Imagine that comment in John Wayne's voice as he stands, newly restored to life, speaking at a podium surrounded by handsome hacks who play journalists on TV.

Beside Robeson and Wayne at the best-attended-ever press conference we might line up Ernest Hemingway.  When I was first told that Hemingway had killed himself, it was explained to me that he didn't want to live as an old man incapable of hunting lions.  And yet this was the author of The Old Man and the Sea.  Make sense of that if you can.  Now we learn from Hemingway's friend and collaborator over the last 13 years of his life that the FBI's surveillance of Hemingway "substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide."  Hemingway's close friend didn't take Hemingway's complaints about the FBI seriously until his FBI file was finally released, confirming the surveillance.  "It's the worst hell," Hemingway had said. "The goddamnedest hell. They've bugged everything. That's why we're using [a friend]'s car. Mine's bugged. Everything's bugged. Can't use the phone. Mail intercepted."  I wonder how many high school English classes will mention this.

Next to Hemingway, let's bring out Bob Marley.  The CIA's files on him are being kept secret for your protection, but the death and destruction the CIA was bringing to his country is undisputed, the CIA's responsibility for the failed assassination attempt against him is very likely, and it appears that in the end the CIA got him by a manner that sounds insanely bizarre if you haven't heard about giving an entire French town LSD or targeting a single intended victim (Fidel Castro) with a poisoned diving suit, an exploding cigar, a ballpoint-pen syringe, an exploding conch shell, and dozens of other crackpot schemes that sound less comical when they work.

Some surprise guests at the press club might include John and Robert Kennedy.  Others might include, after all, the millions of nameless forgotten dead, the victims of the industrial-scale "signature strikes" that have been our biggest public investment.  Not that the reporters would all see the point of cramming so many resurrected bodies into their club, but because some of the celebrity victims might more clearly grasp and articulate the purpose of the event.  Sooner or later we are going to have to stop killing people and start loving people, or the rebirth of life after winter won't keep repeating.

Talk Nation Radio: I'm Thankful We Can Abolish Debt

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-im-thankful

RollingJubilee.org has abolished over $14 million worth of people's debt to make the point that debt can be abolished.  Aaron Smith explains how.  Aaron Smith has been a participant in several initiatives of Occupy Wall Street, from park maintenance to research on the financial system. Currently, he is primarily involved in the Rolling Jubilee, a project to purchase defaulted debt on open markets and abolish it.  The Rolling Jubilee is meant to demonstrate the injustice of the debt system and make lives better in the process.  Aaron is a host of Occupy Wall Street Radio on WBAI.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

10 More Years in Afghanistan

When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later.  Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama's war than President Bush's.  Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until "2024 and beyond." 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign the deal. Here is his list of concerns. He'd like the U.S. to stop killing civilians and stop kicking in people's doors at night.  He'd like the U.S. to engage in peace negotiations.  He'd like innocent Afghan prisoners freed from Guantanamo.  And he'd like the U.S. not to sabotage the April 2014 Afghan elections.  Whatever we think of Karzai's legacy -- my own appraisal is unprintable -- these are perfectly reasonable demands.

Iran and Pakistan oppose keeping nine major U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, some of them on the borders of their nations, until the end of time.  U.S. officials threaten war on Iran with great regularity, the new agreement notwithstanding.  U.S. missiles already  hit Pakistan in a steady stream.  These two nations' concerns seem as reasonable as Karzai's.

The U.S. public has been telling pollsters we want all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan "as soon as possible" for years and years.  We're spending $10 million per hour making ourselves less safe and more hated.  The chief cause of death for U.S. troops in this mad operation is suicide. 

When the U.S. troops left Iraq, it remained a living hell, as Libya is now too.  But the disaster that Iraq is does not approach what it was during the occupation.  Much less has Iraq grown dramatically worse post-occupation, as we were warned for years by those advocating continued warfare.

Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan -- or to the entire world, for that matter, including our own country -- would cost a fraction of what we spend on wars and war preparations, and would make us the most beloved nation on earth.  I bet we'd favor that course if asked.  We were asked on Syria, and we told pollsters we favored aid, not missiles. 

We stopped the missiles.  Congress members in both houses and parties said they heard from more people, more passionately, and more one-sidedly than ever before.  But we didn't stop the guns that we opposed even more than the missiles in polls.  The CIA shipped the guns to the fighters without asking us or the Congress.  And Syrians didn't get the aid that we favored.

We aren't asked about the drone strikes.  We aren't asked about most military operations.  And we aren't being asked about Afghanistan.  Nor is Congress asserting its power to decide.  This state of affairs suggests that we haven't learned our lesson from the Syrian Missile Crisis.  Fewer than one percent of us flooded Congress and the media with our voices, and we had a tremendous impact.  The lesson we should learn is that we can do that again and again with each new war proposal.

What if two percent of us called, emailed, visited, protested, rallied, spoke-out, educated, and non-violently resisted 10 more years in Afghanistan?  We'd have invented a new disease.  They'd replace the Vietnam Syndrome with the Afghanistan Syndrome.  Politicians would conclude that the U.S. public was just not going to stand for any more wars.  Only reluctantly would they try to sneak the next one past us.

Or we could sit back and keep quiet while a Nobel Peace Prize winner drags a war he's "ending" out for another decade, establishing that there's very little in the way of warmaking outrages that we won't allow them to roll right over us.

Switzerland Shows U.S. How to Handle CEOs

In Switzerland a petition from 100,000 people, or about 1.25% of the population, creates a public referendum.  By this means, last March, Swiss voters created strict limits on executive pay.

On November 24, the Swiss will vote on whether to take a further step -- limiting executive pay to no more than 12 times the lowest salary in the company. Such a maximum wage policy allows the CEO pay increases, but only if workers get at least a twelfth as much.

A movement in the U.S. is asking: If Switzerland can do it, why can't we?

The Swiss are also set to vote, on a date yet to be set, to create a guaranteed basic income of $2,800 (2,500 Swiss francs) per month for every adult. That's about $16 per hour for a full-time worker, but it's guaranteed even for those who can't find work.

You know what country can afford such a measure even more easily, given its vast supplies of wealth? The United States of America.

Here in the United States, had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity since the 1960s it would now be $21.72 an hour, or $3,722 a month. The Congressional proposal of $10.10 an hour, which President Obama now says he supports, equals $1,751 a month for a fulltime job. The actual U.S. minimum wage of $7.25, which does not apply to all workers, makes $1,242 a month. But only if you can find work.

That's less than half what the Swiss are voting on, and Swiss workers also have their healthcare paid for, public transportation widely available, quality education and higher education free or affordable, 14 weeks paid parental leave, and a nearly endless list of other advantages provided by the government.

A basic income guarantee, currently practiced in Alaska and once supported by President Richard Nixon and the U.S. House of Representatives, would be far more efficient than targeted support programs, because every individual would receive the exact same check, with no stigma attached to it; and, yes -- believe it or not -- people who could find work would still work.

Switzerland has a greater percentage of its population made up by immigrants than the United States does. Switzerland has four national languages.  What allows Switzerland to practice democracy so much more effectively?

Two major parts of the answer are obvious. Switzerland doesn't fight wars, and it doesn't redistribute its wealth upward creating an overclass of multibillionaires.

Perhaps its time to begin moving our own country in a peaceful, prosperous direction. A growing number of people have decided to try.
 

Debating a Drone


Daddy Warbucks: May I have the first word?

Brother Pax: If I may have the last one.

DW: I'm sure you will, and you had the first one too. Before the drones came on the scene, you called them forth. You said "War costs too much money." You said "War kills too many soldiers." Well, here you go. War costs less money. And war kills nobody. And yet you aren't satisfied.

BP: Now, this will be a very short debate if my position is to protest the murdering of people with drones, and your position is that drones kill nobody.  There must be more overlap in our worldviews than that if we are even to talk.

DW: You know perfectly well what I meant.

BP: It might be clearer if you tell me.

DW: Drones don't kill pilots or soldiers. They only kill the people who need to be killed.

BP: Let me grant you part of that. We've had pilots and soldiers killed by suicide, by accident, by friendly fire, and by suicide bombings at drone bases. But let's suppose they've been fewer than they might have been in some other form of war.

DW: There's no question.

BP: There is always a question. Sometimes it's a different question than the one being so insistently answered.

DW: Meaning?

BP: If the question is whether to have this kind of war or that kind of war, then we must choose the better kind of war (if we can make out what it is). But if the question is whether to have peace or to have war, then a different answer is available.

DW: Well, of course. We all want peace. But that comes after.

BP: Does it? Let's go back to the "people who need to be killed."

DW: Exactly.

BP: Who are they?

DW: Criminals, terrorists, threats to -- in fact -- kill a lot more people. Stopping them is the whole point.

BP: May I ask you a few questions that might seem unrelated?

DW: Go ahead.

BP: If the government doubled your taxes, would you trust it to do the right things with that money?

DW: No.

BP: Do you trust government officials' campaign promises?

DW: No.

BP: Are you confident that the inspectors who allowed the flooding of the Gulf of Mexico with oil are doing a good job now?

DW: No.

BP: Do you believe politicians tell you a straight story about their new healthcare reforms?

DW: Not exactly.

BP: When people in various cultures established public procedures, such as courts of law, to try to arrive at the truth in criminal cases, rather than just allowing a king or a magician to declare guilt or innocence, why do you think they did that?

DW: To be sure of being right.

BP: Now, why is it that you trust the government to kill thousands of people with missiles from drones, even though the government won't tell you who they are or why they are killed, nobody is indicted, nobody is prosecuted, nobody's extradition is sought, many cases have been established in which the person could quite easily have been arrested, the government's memos redefine "imminent threat" to mean nothing of the sort, the government's memos redefine "combatant" to mean dead male human being between 16 and 65, people are targeted without knowing their name, many of the victims are known to have been innocent, many have been children, many women, many elderly, many those attempting to rescue survivors of a previous strike, and the people in the places where the missiles land say peace negotiations are ruined, criminals are turned into heroes, hatred is created for the United States, and terrorist organizations are strengthened dramatically, in fact the counterproductive nature of these operations on their own terms is so stark that many speculate that creating enemies is the secret purpose or at least that Washington doesn't mind if new enemies are created considering how profitable war is for certain people, and . . .

DW: Now just a minute . . .

BP: Why? Why do you trust that this secretive government is only killing "people who need to be killed"?

DW: Because there are evil people in the world.

BP: Of course there are, but how can you be sure the government has found them? Has it looked everywhere well and hard? Has it created public procedures of verification? Has it looked into any mirrors?

DW: You can't publicly announce who you're going to kill and still be able to kill him.

BP: Have you heard the name Osama Bin Laden?

DW: Yes.

BP: Didn't they publicly announce they were going to kill him?

DW: Yes, but you can't always.

BP: Can you publicly announce that you're going to try someone in a court of law?

DW: Sure, but not during a war.

BP: Can I ask you another odd question?

DW: Certainly.

BP: Thus far about 80 nations have weaponized drones. Which of those nations are justified in flying them over the United States and murdering people?

DW: No one's doing that.

BP: Let's just think this through, for the sake of argument.  Not so many years back, nobody was using these weapons at all.  If, next year, a nation flies a drone over the United States and murders someone, will that be justified?  And will people in that other country be right to trust that their government did the right thing?

DW: Of course not.

BP: Why not?

DW: It just isn't the same.

BP: I agree.

DW: You do?

BP: Nothing is ever the same. But what are the differences? It's not terribly hard to imagine someone attacking the United States, while an attack on Canada sounds rather comical. But, then, Canada doesn't have troops in 177 other countries and weapons in outerspace and every ocean, doesn't spend as much on its military as every other country combined, doesn't account for 80% of foreign weapons sales to dictatorships and democracies alike, doesn't prop up vicious monarchies to exploit their resources, doesn't view its manhood as entirely dependent on its readiness to bomb anybody who looks at it funny.

DW: And your point?

BP: What if peace doesn't come after war? Is Afghanistan more peaceful now, or before the current war, or before the drawing in of the Soviet Union and the initiation of all of these recent wars?  Is Iraq more peaceful now, or before the last war, or before the pair of wars and the sanctions?  Is Libya more peaceful now, or before the war?  Isn't peace a very hard thing to find during or after a war?

DW: Maybe, sometimes.

BP: But isn't peace right there, right within reach, before you start a war?

DW: We don't start wars.

BP: Is Yemen more peaceful? Is Pakistan more peaceful? Did we replace a ground war with a drone war? Or did we replace peace with a drone war?

DW: It's still a better option!

BP: Better than peace?

DW: No, not better than peace.

BP: Let me ask you one more odd-sounding question.  Would you rather have cancer or the flu?

DW: Is this a joke?

BP: Just pick, in all seriousness, and I'll explain.

DW: The flu.

BP: Now, if there were only a few cases of cancer, and doctors were getting close to curing it, but the flu was extremely contagious, it spread rapidly around the globe, it could spring up anywhere with no known cure, and -- strange to say -- sometimes the flu began turning into a new kind of cancer -- Now, in this situation, which is worse, the few cases of cancer or the epidemic of flu?

DW: The epidemic, of course.

BP: You can have the last word.

DW: Let me think about it.

Talk Nation Radio: Stephen Kinzer on The Dulles Brothers

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talknationradio-20131120

Stephen Kinzer's latest book, which he discusses, is called The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

DRONES: The movie that became reality is now a movie, and you should see it

Saw this movie last night and highly recommend it. You'll learn more about U.S. foreign policy than you could gather from a mile-high stack of the New York Times, and you'll imagine you're just being entertained.  Pick up some popcorn and pull up a chair:

WATCH PREVIEW.

It's Not a Family and Those Aren't Jewels

Fats: In the family jewels?
Gary: In the family jewels, man!
Wyatt: Worst pain there is.
Gary: Broke my heart in two!
Fats: She broke more than your heart.
--Weird Science

It turns out that procreation of secretive criminal government agencies doesn't require a male or a female, and family jewels have little to do with it. The CIA (short for Criminal Implementation of Arrogance) calls certain reports on its immoral and illegal activities its "family jewels." John Prados, author of The Family Jewels, the CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power, calls all of the CIA's outrageous secrets its family jewels.  But the CIA reproduces itself whether or not its secrets are exposed, and if it's a family we might just all end up dying from a bad case of family values.

Prados' book recounts various CIA abuses from the 1970s through today, with chapters on domestic surveillance, detention and interrogation, and assassination.  Of course, the abuses predate the period focused on in this book, go back to the origins, and could fill much thicker volumes.  If the CIA has a problem with bad apples, we're talking about orchards full of them.  The vicious power-mad bursts of criminality do seem to come in historical cycles, peaking every 60 seconds or so for the past 60 years. There's no record of the CIA functioning in "proper" manner without the atrocities that are its bread and butter.  A CIA history is a history of relentless destructiveness -- relentless but worsening.

"What are we talking about, here?" asked Senator Frank Church, back in the day. "Agencies of the government that are licensed to undertake murder. Is the president of the United States going to be a glorified godfather?"

Today that goes without saying, although I'm not sure opinion polls wouldn't find the mafioso godfather to be the more glorified of the two, presidential drones or no presidential drones.

One problem, Prados points out, is secrecy.  "Not only does secret knowledge have extremely seductive power, when spooks walk on the dark side they experience the greatest invitation to excess, believing that security classification shields their actions from scrutiny."

Prados quotes Harry Howe Ransom: "At the level of representatives of the people -- executive and legislative -- the problem is primarily how to control a dimly seen instrument so hot that if not handled with great skill it can burn its user instead of its adversary."

(You may take a moment here to remember President Kennedy if you are so inclined.)

Secrecy is a source of evil, but not of its procreation.  The way the CIA keeps going is through the granting of immunity for its crimes, the glorification of its culture, the Hollywood propagandizing of its purpose, the cowardice of Congress members, the complicity of media types, the indifference of millions, and the repetitive-to-the-point-of-insanity push to reform the unreformable.

It ought to be abolished.

As someone engaged in the very useful work of exposing secrets, Prados seems at least as outraged by the CIA's reluctance to reveal its secrets as by the murderous horrors from which those secrets are constituted.  But if the secrets are exposed, they'll still be horrors, and -- frankly -- they'll be nothing entirely new.  If the United Nations sees the details on every drone murder, the United Nations will become a more openly pro-war institution, but the dead will still rot, their loved ones will still wail, and the CIA will still be seen as some mixture of necessary strength, heroic cool, and occasional unavoidable excesses so common that we get tired of hearing about them. Unless we decide that enough is enough.

It ought to be abolished.

Germany Says No to Weaponized Drones

Germany had planned to buy a fleet of "Euro Hawk" killer drones -- perhaps in an effort to bring the European Union up to speed with certain other Nobel Peace laureates.

But something happened on the way to the celestial colosseum.

Of course, Captain Drone Man himself undoubtedly learned the news first, unless the NSA misplaced some of Frau Merkel's emails under a pile of exchanges among nonviolent activists planning the upcoming drone summit in DC.

What happened was public pressure within a nation dedicated to peace and -- at the moment -- more resistant than Japan to being turned back toward war.  Germany has now said nein, nein, and hell nein to killer flying robots.  And not just to the use of weaponized drones within what Americans might call Der Homeland, but to Germany's use of remote control murder planes against human beings anywhere on earth.

Earlier this month at the United Nations, several nations, including most prominently Brazil, denounced the criminality of murdering people around the globe with drones. Now Germany has taken a serious step in the direction of condemning armed drones to the status of land mines, poison gas, and nuclear weapons. If Germany can do it, we can all do it. And the scene in this video can go global:

http://youtu.be/kbJcQYVtZMo

All Drone Politics Is Local

What Localities and States Can Do About Drones

Charlottesville, Va., passed a resolution that urged the state of Virginia to adopt a two-year moratorium on drones (which it did), urged both Virginia and the U.S. Congress to prohibit information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into court, and to preclude the domestic use of drones equipped with "anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being," and pledged that Charlottesville would "abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

St. Bonifacius, Minn., passed a resolution with the same language as Charlottesville plus a ban on anyone operating a drone "within the airspace of the city," making a first offense a misdemeanor and a repeat offense a felony.

Evanston, Ill., passed a resolution establishing a two-year moratorium on the use of drones in the city with exceptions for hobby and model aircraft and for non-military research, and making the same recommendations to the state and Congress as Charlottesville and St. Bonifacius.

Northampton, Mass., passed a resolution urging the U.S. government to end its practice of extrajudicial killing with drones, affirming that within the city limits "the navigable airspace for drone aircraft shall not be expanded below the long-established airspace for manned aircraft" and that "landowners subject to state laws and local ordinances have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the airspace and that no drone aircraft shall have the 'public right of transit' through this private  property," and urging the state and Congress and the FAA "to  respect legal precedent and constitutional guarantees of privacy, property rights, and local sovereignty in all matters pertaining to drone aircraft and navigable airspace."

See full text of all resolutions at warisacrime.org/resolutions

Other cities, towns, and counties should be able to pass similar resolutions. Of course, stronger and more comprehensive resolutions are best. But most people who learned about the four resolutions above just leaned that these four cities had "banned drones" or "passed an anti-drone resolution." The details are less important in terms of building national momentum against objectionable uses of drones.  By including both surveillance and weaponized drones, as all four cities have done, a resolution campaign can find broader support.  By including just one issue, a resolution might meet fewer objections.  Asking a city just to make recommendations to a state and the nation might also meet less resistance than asking the city to take actions itself.  Less can be more.

Localities have a role in national policy. City councilors and members of boards of supervisors take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. Cities and towns routinely send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rulebook for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate. In 1967, a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey, 67 Cal.2d 325) that "one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known." Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol, etc. No locality is an island. If we become environmentally sustainable, others will ruin our climate. If we ban assault weapons, they'll arrive at our borders. And if the skies of the United States are filled with drones, it will become ever more difficult for any city or state to keep them out.

How to pass a local resolution: Every city or county is different, but some rules of thumb are applicable. To the extent possible, build understanding of the issues.  Invite speakers, screen films, hold conferences.  To the extent possible, educate and win over elected officials.  Make the case that localities have a responsibility to speak on national issues to represent the interests of local people.  Make the case that the time to act is before the problem expands out of control. Most states are considering drone legislation, so refer to that activity in your state. Make clear that you are aware of countless benevolent and harmless uses of drones but that you are prioritizing Constitutional rights and want exceptions made for uses that do not endanger self-governance rather than drones being made the norm and restrictions the exception. The Congressional Research Service says drones are incompatible with the Fourth Amendment. The U.N. Special Rapporteur says drones are making war the norm.  If possible, propose the weakest resolution you can, and ask the local government to put it on the agenda for consideration; then propose the strongest possible resolution you dare.  You may end up with a compromise, as happened in Charlottesville. Work the local media and public. Pack the meeting(s). Take advantage of every opportunity for the public to speak. Unlike at the state or national levels, you are unlikely to face any organized opposition. Make your most persuasive case, and make a great show of public support. Equate a "No" vote with support for cameras in everyone's windows and armed drones over picnics. Equate a "Yes" vote with prevention of racial profiling, activist profiling, and the targeting of all sorts of groups that can be recruited into your campaign.

STATES: See full text of all resolutions at warisacrime.org/resolutions

Oregon has passed a law banning weaponized drones in all cases and banning drone use by law enforcement unless they have a warrant, they have probable cause without a warrant, or for search and rescue, or for an emergency, or for studying a crime scene, or for training (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Virginia has passed a law banning local and state (but not federal or National Guard) government drone use for two years unless various color-coded alerts are activated or there is a search or rescue operation or for training exercises or for drone-training schools, and strictly banning (for two years) any state or local weaponized drones.

Florida has passed a law banning law enforcement agencies from using drones to gather information unless they think they have some sort of reason to do so (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Idaho has passed a law banning drone surveillance "absent reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal conduct" except in pursuit of marijuana in which case no such suspicion is needed (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Illinois has passed a law banning drones except for law enforcement agencies that have a warrant or when the Secretary of Homeland Security shouts "terrorism!" or they are reasonably suspicious it's needed or are searching for a missing person or are photographing a crime scene or traffic crash scene (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Tennessee has passed a law banning law enforcement drones unless the Sec. of Homeland Security shouts "terrorism!" or there's a warrant or there's suspicion without a warrant (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Texas has passed a law banning the capturing of images with drones except for ... too many exceptions to list.

Congressman Grayson passed an amendment to a DHS funding bill banning DHS from using weaponized drones, a step that must be repeated each year for this and other agencies unless a full national or international ban is put in place.

This article as a double-sided, single-page handout: PDF.

Local and State Resolutions

Charlottesville, Va.

WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville; and

WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;

Let's Take Advantage of Suffering Filipinos!

The same week in which a Washington Post columnist claimed that interracial marriage makes people gag, a USA Today columnist has proposed using the U.S. military to aid those suffering in the Philippines -- as a backdoor means of getting the U.S. military back into a larger occupation of the Philippines.

While the Philippines' representative at the climate talks in Warsaw is fasting in protest of international inaction on the destruction of the earth's climate, and the U.S. negotiator has effectively told him to go jump in a typhoon, the discussion in the U.S. media is of the supposed military benefits of using Filipinos' suffering as an excuse to militarize their country.

The author of the USA Today column makes no mention of the U.S. military's history in the Philippines.  This was, after all, the site of the first major modern U.S. war of foreign occupation, marked by long duration, and high and one-sided casualties.  As in Iraq, some 4,000 U.S. troops died in the effort, but most of them from disease. The Philippines lost some 1.5 million men, women, and children out of a population of 6 to 7 million. 

The USA Today columnist makes no mention of Filipinos' resistance to the U.S. military up through recent decades, or of President Obama's ongoing efforts to put more troops back into the Philippines, disaster or no disaster.

Instead, our benevolent militarist claims that budgets are tight in Washington -- which is of course always going to be the case for a government spending upwards of $1 trillion a year on militarism. 

He claims that the United States "stations troops throughout the world in the hope of shaping the political environment so as to avoid sending them into combat" -- a perspective that ignores the alternative of neither sending them into combat nor stationing them abroad. 

The terrorist attacks that the U.S. uses to justify its foreign wars are, according to U.S. officials, provoked by the over a million troops stationed in 177 countries, the drone strikes, and other such "preventive" measures.

"[D]eploying military resources for disaster relief is a remarkably effective -- and inexpensive -- investment in the future. One of the largest such deployments in history, the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and other assets following the Asian tsunami of 2004, is estimated to have cost $857 million. That's roughly the price of three days' operations in Afghanistan last year."

Or of 15,500 teachers in U.S. schools, or of enormous supplies of far more edible food than an aircraft carrier full of troops and weapons.

Much of the world has long-since learned to fear U.S. Trojan horses.  As I noted in War Is A Lie:

"By 1961, the cops of the world were in Vietnam, but President Kennedy's representatives there thought a lot more cops were needed and knew the public and the president would be resistant to sending them. For one thing, you couldn't keep up your image as the cops of the world if you sent in a big force to prop up an unpopular regime. What to do? What to do? Ralph Stavins, coauthor of an extensive account of Vietnam War planning, recounts that General Maxwell Taylor and Walt W. Rostow, '. . . wondered how the United States could go to war while appearing to preserve the peace. While they were pondering this question, Vietnam was suddenly struck by a deluge. It was as if God had wrought a miracle. American soldiers, acting on humanitarian impulses, could be dispatched to save Vietnam not from the Viet Cong, but from the floods.'"

What a blessing! And how well it helped to prevent warfare!

Of course, today's enlightened punditry means well.  The thought of Southeast Asians marrying their daughters might make some of them gag, but philanthropy is philanthropy after all, even if we'd never stand for some other country stationing its military here on the excuse that it brought some food and medicine along.  Here's the USA Today:

"The goodwill the tsunami relief brought the U.S. is incalculable. Nearly a decade later, the effort may rank as one of the most concrete reasons Southeast Asian nations trust the long-term U.S. commitment to a strategy of 'Asian rebalancing' The Obama administration recognizes the value of disaster relief. As the Pentagon attempts to shift more of its weight to the Asian Pacific region while balancing a shrinking budget, this could turn out to be one of the best decisions it could make."

But good will is dependent on not dominating people militarily and economically -- yet that seems to be exactly the goal. 

What's wrong with that, some might ask.  The sneaky abuse of disaster relief might be thought to give aggressive war "prevention" an undeserved bad name were it not for the fact that nobody is threatening war on the United States and nobody is about to do so.  Don't take my word for it. Listen to one of our top veteran warmongers, via PopularResistance:

"During a recent speech in Poland, former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski warned fellow elitists that a worldwide 'resistance' movement to 'external control' driven by 'populist activism' is threatening to derail the move towards a new world order. Calling the notion that the 21st century is the American century a 'shared delusion,' Brzezinski stated that American domination was no longer possible because of an accelerating social change driven by 'instant mass communications such as radio, television and the Internet,' which have been cumulatively stimulating 'a universal awakening of mass political consciousness.' The former U.S. National Security Advisor added that this 'rise in worldwide populist activism is proving inimical to external domination of the kind that prevailed in the age of colonialism and imperialism.'"

If this master warmonger recognizes that the age of colonialism and imperialism is gone, how do millions of Americans still manage to bark out the Pavlovian response "What about the next Hitler?" whenever someone proposes ending war?

The fact is that no governments are plotting to take over the United States.  Old-fashioned imperialism and colonialism are as gone as 1940s clothing and music, not to mention Jim Crow, respectability for eugenics, established second-class status for women, the absence of environmentalism, children hiding under desks to protect themselves from nuclear bombs, teachers hitting children, cigarettes being good for you. The fact is that 75 years is a long, long time.  In many ways we've moved on and never looked back.

When it comes to war, however, just propose to end it, and 4 out of 5 dentists, or doctors, or teachers, or gardeners, or anybody else in the United States will say "What about the next Hitler?"  Well, what about the dozens of misidentified next-Hitlers of the past 70 years?  What about the possibility that within our own minds we're dressing up war as disaster relief?  Isn't it just possible that after generations of clearly aggressive, destructive, and criminal wars we describe militarism as a response to the second-coming of Hitler because the truth wouldn't sound as nice?

Talk Nation Radio: Manuel Perez-Rocha: 20 Years of NAFTA Is Enough

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-manuel-perez

Manuel Perez-Rocha is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the coordinator of the Network for Justice in Global Investment. He discusses the damage done by NAFTA and DR-CAFTA, and what we should be doing instead.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Stop Drone Killings

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Happy 96th Armistice Day!

At the United Nations this month, Brazil, China, Venezuela and other nations denounced U.S. drone wars as illegal.[1]

Click here to add your voice in support of the rule of law. Or -- if you've already signed -- please forward this to friends.

In the countries where the drones strike, popular and elite opinion condemns the entire program as criminal. This is the view of Pakistan's courts, Yemen's National Dialogue, Yemen's Human Rights Ministry and large numbers of well-known figures in Yemen. Popular movements in both Pakistan and Yemen continue to protest against the killing.

Wouldn't we see it the same if the constant buzzing and threat of death were over our heads? Click here to help ban weaponized drones everywhere.

The Geneva-based human rights group Alkarama agrees: "Whether they hit civilians and/or alleged al-Qaeda combatants and associates, the U.S. targeted killings policy in Yemen constitutes a blatant violation of international human rights law."[2]

Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights agrees: "Any of these attacks are completely illegal. It's not about who they're targeting, or whether it's a civilian or whether it's a so-called combatant. ... These drone attacks are absolutely 100% illegal."[3]

Sarah Ludford, Member of the European Parliament, agrees: "U.S. drone killings operate in disregard of the long-established international legal framework about when it is lawful to kill people."[4]

If you agree too, please click here. And forward this far and wide.

Joy First of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, recently told the judge who was trying her for the crime of protesting drone kills at CIA headquarters: "According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values. It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters to speak out."

Joy quoted Robert Jackson, the U.S. chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who said: "The very essence of the Nuremberg Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state." And she added: "Your honor, the bottom line is that thousands of innocent people are dying and it is up to all of us to do everything we can to stop the pain and suffering and death being inflicted on these people by our government."[5]

The least we can do is add our voices.

Please forward this email widely to like-minded friends.

-- The RootsAction.org team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, and many others.

P.P.S. This work is only possible with your financial support. Please donate.

Footnotes:
1. Guardian: Brazil, China and Venezuela Sharply Critical of 'Illegal' Program
2. Alkarama: Why the American Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law
3. TheRealNews.com: Michael Ratner on Illegality of Drones
4. Truthout: How Europeans Are Opposing Drone and Robot Warfare
5. Joy First: Who Is the Real Threat to Communities?

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Alaskans For Peace and Justice
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Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

BFUU
Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Brave New Foundation
Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases
Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
Code Pink
Drone Free Zone
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Granny Peace Brigade-NY
Hoosiers for Peace and Justice
Indiana Anti-Drone Project
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
Jeannette Rankin Peace Center
KnowDrones.com
LA Laborfest
Montrose Peace Vigil
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Nevada Desert Experience
The Northampton Committee to Stop War
On Earth Peace
Peace of Mind Project
People United for Peace of Santa Cruz County (PUP)
RootsAction.org
Santa Cruz Against Drones (SCAD)
Simple Gifts Inc.
Sitkans for Peace and Justice
United for Peace and Justice
Veracity Now
Veterans For Peace
Veterans For Peace Chapter 10
Veterans For Peace Chapter 27
Veterans For Peace Chapter 91
Veterans For Peace Chapter 154
Veterans For Peace, Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter, Baltimore, MD
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
WarIsACrime.org
War Resisters League
Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice
West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)
Women Standing
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section
World Can't Wait
Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

To sign on as an organization, contact us.

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The Illegitimacy of U.S. Drone Strikes... And the Entire "War on Terror"

By Larry Everest
excerpted from The Illegality, Illegitimacy & Immorality of U.S. Drone Strikes

There is a logic and a reason the "double-tap" and mass civilian casualties. It's rooted in the nature and objectives of the U.S. "war on terror," and imperialist logic and necessities driving it.

In his May speech, Obama claimed, "America's actions are legal. We were attacked on 9/11. ... Under domestic law, and international law, the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces. We are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could if we did not stop them first. So this is a just war—a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense."

This statement is packed with distortions, half-truths, and outright lies. The U.S. "war on terror" is, at heart, an unjust war for greater empire—not a "just" war to liberate people, "defend the American homeland," or rid the world of violence and terror. A key aim of this war is defeating al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other "associated" Islamist forces. This is not simply or mainly because these groups are plotting attacks on the U.S. It's mainly because they pose a big challenge to U.S. control of Central Asia and the Middle East, including because they're directly clashing with U.S. client regimes. This could greatly weaken the U.S. hold on these regions, which are key to U.S. global dominance and the functioning of its empire of exploitation. And provide openings for rival regional and global powers.

The U.S. initially tried to deal with this problem by invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. But this strategy has, in many ways, backfired. The U.S. has not succeeded in either outright defeating the Islamists or in "draining the swamp"—restructuring these societies to undercut the societal roots of the Islamic fundamentalist opposition. And these occupations have cost the U.S. dearly, and have further fueled anti-U.S. Islamist trends.

So the U.S. has wound down the occupations of Iraq and now Afghanistan. But it hasn't abandoned the "long war" to defeat Islamic fundamentalism and maintain control of the arc from Morocco through Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rather it is increasingly employing drone warfare and other covert operations to achieve its imperial objectives, while avoiding, as Obama has put it, American "boots on the ground."

The U.S. drone war in North Waziristan in northwest Pakistan is a key front in this war, which shows a lot about what it's actually about, and why so many are being blown to bits. North Waziristan, home to some 840,000 people, borders Afghanistan. It's where Zowi Sidgi, Ghundi Kala, and Miranshah are located and is a base area for the Taliban fighters from both Afghanistan and Pakistan and other Islamist forces. These groups oppose the U.S. puppet government in Afghanistan and the current regime in Pakistan, and are fighting for reactionary Islamic states in both countries.

This is why U.S. drone surveillance is constant and drone strikes have been concentrated in this region. Here the U.S. is targeting individual Taliban, al Qaeda, or other Islamist leaders or fighters.

Even when the targets of U.S. drone attacks actually are commanders of jihadist forces who may be plotting or carrying out terrorist attacks, these attacks are not about "saving lives." U.S. drone attacks, regardless of the intended victim, create a state of ongoing terror among all the people in large regions of the world. They are in the service of imposing the U.S. empire, which has brought so much misery to the Middle East, North Africa, and the rest of the world.

Again, the U.S. drone strikes are not at all limited to targeted strikes on jihadist leaders. There is also the "double-tap" logic at work of attacking any who might be Islamists or their supporters, or "associated forces"—a definition which can be stretched to mean most anything. This leads to murdering, injuring, and terrorizing whole groups—even whole populations—of people who may support, sympathize or just tolerate the Islamists, or who're just part of the population the fundamentalists draw from. And so these drone attacks perpetuate and accelerate the vicious cycle of U.S. imperialist aggression driving people into the arms of the jihadists.

These patterns have been evident since the drone strikes began a decade ago. Wedding parties in Afghanistan were obliterated. Funerals have been attacked. And then there were widely used "signature strikes" targeting people or groups of people based on "behavior patterns"—not because they'd been specifically identified as members of al Qaeda or "terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people."

The New York Times report (October 22, 2013) on the impact of the drone war on Miram Shah [Miranshah], a small town of some 3,500 in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, paints a picture of systematic terror impacting a whole population:

[V]iewed from Miram Shah, the frontier Pakistani town that has become a virtual test laboratory for drone warfare, the campaign has not been the antiseptic salve portrayed in Washington. In interviews over the past year, residents paint a portrait of extended terror and strain within a tribal society caught between vicious militants and the American drones hunting them. "The drones are like the angels of death," said Nazeer Gul, a shopkeeper in Miram Shah. "Only they know when and where they will strike."

It has become a fearful and paranoid town, dealt at least 13 drone strikes since 2008, with an additional 25 in adjoining districts—more than any other urban settlement in the world. Even when the missiles do not strike, buzzing drones hover day and night, scanning the alleys and markets with roving high-resolution cameras... the strikes in the area mostly occur in densely populated neighborhoods. The drones have hit a bakery, a disused girls' school and a money changers' market, residents say... While the strike rate has dropped drastically in recent months, the constant presence of circling drones—and accompanying tension over when, or whom, they will strike—is a crushing psychological burden for many residents. Sales of sleeping tablets, antidepressants and medicine to treat anxiety have soared, said Hajji Gulab Jan Dawar, a pharmacist in the town bazaar.

Talk Nation Radio: Ann Jones on How the Wounded Return

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ann-jones-on

Ann Jones discusses her new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- The Untold Story.  Jones is an independent journalist and photographer and the author of 8 books, contributor to 15 others, and author of countless articles.  Her work has been translated into 10 languages.  She now lives in Norway.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

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Drones from the Other Side

Imagine you awake to the sound of a machine noisily buzzing over your house, and another machine nearby in the sky, and another.  These machines and others like them have been around for months.  They never leave.  While you live in the United States, the machines belong to the government of Pakistan.  The machines are unmanned drones armed with missiles.  Every once in a while they blow up a house or a car or a couple of kids playing soccer or a grandmother walking to the store, sometimes a McDonald's or a shopping center.

Imagine that you've learned to live with this.  The popularity of homeschooling has skyrocketed, as nobody wants to send their kids outside.  Telecommuting is now the norm for those able to maintain employment.  But there's no getting used to the change.  Your kids wake up screaming and refuse to sleep.  Your rage makes you physically ill.  Antidepressants are on everybody's shopping lists, but shopping is a life-and-death proposition.  Canada is facing an immigration crisis.  So is Mexico.

Now, Pakistan claims to be targeting evil criminals with surgical precision.  And some in the U.S. government go along with this.  But others object.  The U.S. Supreme Court declares the drone deaths to be murder or war -- murder being illegal under U.S. law, and war being illegal under the U.N. Charter via Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. 

The U.S. Congress insists that criminals must be indicted and prosecuted, that negotiations with hostile groups cannot succeed while drones tear the negotiators limb from limb, and that Pakistan has no right to put its robots in our skies no matter what its good intentions.  Statements agreeing with this opposition to the drones are signed by everybody who's anybody.  Popular demonstrations against the drones, and -- bravely -- in the face of the drones, dwarf anything seen before.  In fact, the world joins in, and people protest Pakistan's murder spree all over the globe.  Human rights groups in various countries denounce it as criminal.  The Pakistani prime minister reportedly checks off men, women, and children to kill on a list at regular Tuesday meetings.  He's burned in effigy across the United States.

But Pakistani human rights groups take a different tack.  In their view, some of the drone murders in the United States are illegal and some are not.  It depends on the knowledge and intentions of the Pakistani officials -- did they know those kids were just playing soccer or did they believe their soccer ball was an imminent threat to the nation of Pakistan?  Was blowing up those kids necessary, discrete, and proportionate?  Were they militants or civilians?  Was blowing them up part of an armed conflict or an act of law enforcement, and what type of armed conflict or what law was being enforced?  Pakistan, these groups argue, must not blow people up without identifying them, without verifying that they cannot be captured, and without taking care not to kill too many civilians in the process.  Further, Pakistan must reveal the details of its legal reasoning and decision making, so that the process has transparency.  Indeed, Pakistan must begin running its proposed drone killings by a judge who must sign off on them -- a Pakistani judge, but a judge nonetheless.

The Pakistani human rights groups are not made up of evil people.  They very much mean well.  They want to reduce the number of Americans killed by drones.  And they are not permitted to declare all drone killing illegal, because these killings might be part of a war, and these groups have adopted as a matter of strict principle the position that wars must never be opposed, only tactics within wars.  They believe this makes them "objective" and "credible," and it certainly does do that with certain people.  These Pakistani human rights groups are not pulling the trigger, they're trying to stop it being pulled as often.  Lumping them together with the Pakistani military would be Bushian (with us or against us) thinking.  But it's harder to see that from under the drones here in the United States with the kids wailing and Uncle Joe's brains still staining the side of the Pizza Hut, than it would be perhaps in Pakistan or at the United Nations Headquarters in Islamabad.

From here in the United States, the cries are for justice.  Many want the prime minister of Pakistan prosecuted for murder. Many are beginning to view the absence of such legal justice as grounds for violence.  I'm growing worried over what my neighbors and even myself might unleash on the rest of the world.  I'm beginning to fall in love with the feeling of hatred.

##

Read more about drones.

Watch the Wounds of Waziristan video.

Do a die-in like this one.

Watch this video of an event on drones and militarization at NYU.

Watch this video of drone survivors visiting Congress.

Watch Unmanned: America's Drone Wars.

Sign the petition at BanWeaponizedDrones.org

Get your city or state to oppose drones.

Ask your Congress member and senators to introduce legislation banning weaponized drones.  Ask state legislators to do same.

Ask the ICC to prosecute drone murders.

Join in anti-drone actions everywhere.

November 9 at CIA Headquarters, join in the First Anniversary of Monthly Protests of Drone Murders at the CIA.

Come to the Drone Summit in Washington DC, November 16-17

The day before the Summit, November 15th, join us for a march from the White House to the headquarters of drone maker General Atomics. After the Summit, on November 18th, we will lobby members of Congress to push for legislation regulating the use of killer drones and domestic spy drones.

Every Tuesday: Stop the Killing

March 14-16, 2014, Santa Barbara, Global Network's 22nd Annual Conference

June 6-9, 2014, Sarajevo Peace Event

July 26-27, 2014, Third National UNAC Conference, Purchase, NY

July 28, 2014, 100 Years Since Launch of War to End All Wars That Created More Wars

August 27, 2014, 86 Years Since Signing of the Kellogg Briand Pact

Small Actions, Big Movements: the Continuum of Nonviolence - International Conference of WRI co-hosted by Ceasefire Campaign 4 Jul 2014 - 8 Jul 2014, Cape Town, South Africa

Amnesty International Explains Why It Won't Oppose All Drone Murders

I was on Margaret Flowers' and Kevin Zeese's Clearing the Fog Radio today ( http://clearingthefogradio.org ) together with Naureen Shah of Amnesty International.  The show ought to appear soon on iTunes here, and mixcloud here, and is already on UStream here although it seems to be missing the audio.  I had earlier published a critique of AI's report on drones.

On this show, Shah explained that Amnesty International cannot oppose all drone strikes in an illegal war, because Amnesty International has never opposed a war, because doing so would make it look biased, and A.I. wants to appear to be an unbiased enforcer of the law.  But, of course, an illegal war is a violation of the law -- usually of the U.N. Charter which most lawyers whom A.I. hangs out with recognize, never mind the Kellogg-Briand Pact which they don't.

Refusing to recognize the UN Charter, in order to appear unbiased, is a twisted notion to begin with, but perhaps it had good intentions at one time.  However, now the U.N. special rapporteur finds that drones are making war the norm rather than the exception.  That's a serious shifting of the ground, and might be good reason to reconsider the ongoing feasibility of a human rights group avoiding the existence of laws against war.

Shah also argued against banning weaponized drones on the grounds that they could be used legally.  That is, there could be a legal war (ignoring Kellogg-Briand) and during that legal war a drone could legally kill people in accordance with someone's interpretation of necessity, discrimination, proportionality, intention, and so forth.  Shah contrasts this with chemical weapons, even though I could imagine a theoretical scenario in which a targeted murder in a closed space could use chemical weapons in plausible accord with all of the lawyerly notions of "legal war" other than the ban on chemical weapons.

Of course, practically speaking, weaponized drones are slaughtering and traumatizing innocent people and will do so as long as they're used.  The notion of civilizing and legalizing atrocity-free war was ludicrous enough before the age of drone murder.  It's beyond outrageous now.

Hold onto Your Hats


ColdType Magazine
& The Reader

(Scroll page for issues - latest at top)


Issue 79

HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS: Our cover story is a whimsical photo essay of barber shops in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Alon Skuy. We’ve also got two long book excerpts: the first – from James A. Mitchell’s The Walrus and the Elephants – offers a glimpse of John Lennon’s life as Hippy Messiah after his arrival in New York City in 1970; the second comes from David Swanson’s finely-reasoned War No More. We’ve also got conflicting opinions on whether Israel is or is not an Apartheid State from Uri Avneri and Jonathan Cook; while Chris Hedges wants to get the real class war started, David Edwards looks at the treatment of Glenn Greenwald by the British media, John Pilger writes about the new ‘Great Game’, and David Cromwell is intrigued by reaction to British comedian Russell Brand’s call for revolution. Plus much more.

BEING THERE:
Our second offering, BEING THERE – 40-pages of street photography by ColdType editor Tony Sutton - shows that, despite what you may think, not all Canadians are boring.

Click here or on image above to download ColdType magazine

NEW: Also available in on-screen version here

Click here or on image above to download Being There

NEW: Also available in on-screen version here

Eisenhower's Drones

President Dwight Eisenhower is often admired for having avoided huge wars, having declared that every dollar wasted on militarism was food taken out of the mouths of children, and having warned -- albeit on his way out the door -- of the toxic influence of the military industrial complex (albeit in a speech of much more mixed messages than we tend to recall).

But when you oppose war, not because it murders, and not because it assaults the rights of the foreign places attacked, but because it costs too much in U.S. lives and dollars, then your steps tend in the direction of quick and easy warfare -- usually deceptively cheap and easy warfare.

President Obama and his subordinates are well aware that much of the world is outraged by the use of drones to kill.  The warnings of likely blowback and long-term damage to U.S. interests and human interests and the rule of law are not hard to find.  But our current warriors don't see a choice between murdering people with drones and using negotiations and courts of law to settle differences.  They see a choice between murdering people with drones and murdering people with ground troops on a massive scale.  The preference between these two options is so obvious to them as to require little thought.

President Eisenhower had his own cheap and easy tool for better warfare.  It was called the Delightfully Deluded Dulles Brothers, and -- in terms of how much thought this pair of brothers gave to the possible outcomes of their reckless assault on the world -- it's fair to call them a couple of drones in a literal as well as an analogous sense. 

John Foster Dulles at the State Department and Allen Dulles at the CIA are the subject of a new book by Stephen Kinzer called The Brothers, which ought to replace whatever history book the Texas School Board has most recently imposed on our children.  This is a story of two vicious, racist, fanatical jerks, but it's also the story of the central thrust of U.S. public policy for the past 75 years. 

The NSA didn't invent sliminess in the 21st century.  The Dulles' grandfather and uncle did.  Cameras weren't first put on airplanes over the earth when drones were invented.  Allen Dulles started that with piloted planes -- the main result being scandal, outrage, and international antagonism -- a tradition we seem intent on keeping up.  Oh, and the cameras also revealed that the CIA had been wildly exaggerating the strength of the Soviet Union's military -- but who needed to know that?

The Obama White House didn't invent aggression toward journalism.  Allen and Foster Dulles make the current crop of propagandists, censors, intimidators, and human rights abusers look like amateurs singing from an old hymnal they can't properly read.

Black sites weren't created by George W. Bush.  Allen Dulles set up secret prisons in Germany, Japan, and the Panama Canal Zone, the MKULTRA program, and the Gladio and other networks of forces staying behind in Europe after World War II (never really) ended. 

The Dynamic Dulles Duo racked up quite a resume.  They overthrew a democratic government in Iran, installing a fierce dictatorship, and never imagining that the eventual backlash might be unpleasant.  Delighted by this -- and intimately in on it, as Kinzer documents -- Eisenhower backed the overthrow of Guatemala's democracy as well -- both of these operations being driven primarily by the interests of Foster Dulles' clients on Wall Street (where his firm had been rather embarrassingly late in halting its support for the Nazis).  Never mind the hostility generated throughout Latin America, United Fruit claimed its rights to run Guatemala, and who were the Guatemalans to say otherwise? 

Unsatisfied with this everlasting damage, the Dulles Brothers dragged the United States into a war of their own making on Vietnam, sought to overthrow Sukarno in Indonesia, teamed up with the Belgians to murder Lumumba in the Congo, and tried desperately to murder Fidel Castro or start an all-out war on Cuba.  The Bay of Pigs fiasco was essentially the result of Allen Dulles' confidence that he could trap a new president (John Kennedy) into expanding a war.

If that weren't enough damage for two careers, the Disastrous Dulles Dimwits created the Council on Foreign Relations, shaped the creation of the United Nations to preserve U.S. imperialism, manufactured intense irrational fear of the Soviet Union and its mostly mythical plots for global domination, convinced Truman that intelligence and operations should be combined in the single agency of the CIA, sent countless secret agents to their deaths for no earthly reason, unwittingly allowed double agents to reveal much of their activities to their enemies, subverted democracy in the Philippines and Lebanon and Laos and numerous other nations, made hysteria a matter of national pride, ended serious Congressional oversight of foreign policy, pointlessly antagonized China and the USSR, boosted radically evil regimes likely to produce future blowback around the world and notably in Saudi Arabia but also in Pakistan -- with predictable damage to relations with India, failed miserably at overthrowing Nasser in Egypt but succeeded in turning the Arab world against the United States, in fact antagonized much of the world as it attempted an unacceptable neutrality in the Cold War, rejected Soviet peace overtures, aligned the U.S. government with Israel, built the CIA headquarters at Langley and training grounds at Camp Peary, and -- ironically enough -- radically expanded and entrenched the military industrial complex to which "covert actions" were supposed to be the easy new alternative (rather as the drone industry is doing today).

The Dulles Dolts were a lot like King Midas if the king's love had been for dogshit rather than gold.  As icing on the cake of their careers, Allen Dulles -- dismissed in disgrace by Kennedy who regretted ever having kept him on -- manipulated the Warren Commission's investigation of Kennedy's death in a highly suspicious manner.  Kinzer says no more than that, but James Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable points to other grounds for concern, including Dulles's apparent coverup of Oswald's being an employee of the CIA.

Lessons learned? One would hope so. I would recommend these steps:
Abolish the CIA, and make the State Department a civilian operation.
Ban weaponized drones, and avoid a legacy as bad as the covert operations of the 1950s and 1960s.
Stop the disgustingly royalish habit of supporting political family dynasties.
And rename Washington's international, as well as its national, airport.

Finally a Drone Report Done Right

The U.N. and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International recently released a flurry of deeply flawed reports on drone murders.  According to the U.N.'s special rapporteur, whose day job is as law partner of Tony Blair's wife, and according to two major human rights groups deeply embedded in U.S. exceptionalism, murdering people with drones is sometimes legal and sometimes not legal, but almost always it's too hard to tell which is which, unless the White House rewrites the law in enough detail and makes its new legal regime public.

When I read these reports I was ignorant of the existence of a human rights organization called Alkarama, and of the fact that it had just released a report titled License to Kill: Why the American Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law.  While Human Rights Watch looked at six drone murders in Yemen and found two of them illegal and four of them indeterminate, Alkarama looked in more detail and with better context at the whole campaign of drone war on Yemen, detailing 10 cases.  As you may have guessed from the report's title, this group finds the entire practice of murdering people with flying robots to be illegal.

Alkarama makes this finding, not out of ignorance of the endless intricacies deployed by the likes of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.  Rather, Alkarama adopts the same dialect and considers the same scenarios: Is it legal if it's a war, if it's not a war? Is it discriminate, necessary, proportionate? Et cetera.  But the conclusion is that the practice is illegal no matter which way you slice it.

This agrees with Pakistan's courts, Yemen's National Dialogue, Yemen's Human Rights Ministry, statements by large numbers of well-known figures in Yemen, and the popular movement in Yemen protesting the slaughter.  While the other "human rights" groups ask President Obama to please lay out what the law is, whether his killing spree is part of a war or not, who counts as a civilian and who doesn't, etc., Alkarama actually compares U.S. actions with existing law and points out that the United States is violating the law and trying to radically alter the law.  This conclusion results in a clear and useful set of recommendations at the end of the report, beginning with this recommendation to the U.S. government:

"End extrajudicial executions and the practice of targeted killings by drones and other military means."

This recommendation is strengthened by a better informed and more honest report that much more usefully conveys the recent history of Yemen (including by noting honestly the destructive impact of the IMF and the USA), describes the indiscriminate terror inflicted by the buzzing drones, and contrasts drone murders to alternatives -- such as negotiations. This analysis enriches our understanding of why drone wars are counterproductive even from the point of view of a heartless sociopath rooting for Team USA, much less someone concerned about human rights.

It is, then, possible to write a human rights report from a perspective concerned with the rights of humans, and not some combination of concern with human rights and devotion to U.S. imperialism.  This is good news for anyone interested in giving it a try.  The field is fairly wide open.

Some nations' statements at the U.N. debate on drones this month, including Brazil's, also challenged the legalization of a new form of war.  And all of these groups and individuals have something to say about it as well.

Free Screening of Unmanned: America's Drone Wars in Charlottesville Va

Free Screening of Brand-New Film: Unmanned: America's Drone Wars

This powerful portrait of U.S. drone wars, featuring former pilots, survivors, victims, journalists, lawyers, and activists, was the basis for the first testimony by drone strike survivors in Congress, which happened this week.  The film has just been released, following the hearing.  An open discussion will follow the screening.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 5th
WHERE: Charlottesville Friends Meeting, 1104 Forest Street, Charlottesville Va 22903

Remember, remember the Fifth of November!

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Talk Nation Radio: Margaret Flowers: Web Failures Just a Symptom of Obamacare's Illness

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-margaret

Margaret Flowers says the serious problems with Obamacare run deep.  Flowers is a Maryland pediatrician who served as Congressional Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program and is on the board of Healthcare-Now. She is an organizer with PopularResistance.org, co-director of ItsOurEconomy.us and co-host of Clearing the FOG Radio. She serves as Secretary of Health for the Green Shadow Cabinet.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

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