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How much is the life of a Yemeni worth? Not much, according to the Saudi regime that has been bombing and starving the people of Yemen since March 2015, or to the Saudi’s western backers, particularly the US and UK, which have been supplying the Saudi regime with weapons, military training, logistical support and diplomatic cover for its dirty interventionist war.
By Dave Lindorff
Barack Obama came into the White House on a wave of passionate new voters, many of them black or young and white, becoming the nation's first black president and promising a new era of "hope and change."
In Africa, as in the Middle East, the US is creating a vicious circle of war and destabilization. Libya like Iraq became a failed state after US-led regime change in 2011. Trouble and a deepening refugee crisis followed regime change. This contributed to the destabilization of North African countries and effected sub-Saharan countries. Fallout from the 2011 intervention led inexorably to the worsening situation in Libya today.
Now the vicious circle of killing and instability will run at a furious pace as the US Department of Defense (DOD) shifts the speed of war in the Middle East and Africa. A strategically important navy base located opposite Libya on the Mediterranean houses the global military telecommunications system known as MUOS.
At right is a photo of a drone taken by Sue McAnanama at a July 14, 2016, march, in White Plains, N.Y.
Nick Mottern of knowdrones.com says, "I just spoke with White Plains Assistant Chief of Police Anne Fitzsimmons who declined to acknowledge whether or not the White Plains Police have a drone much less whether the police used a drone to undertake surveillance of people at the County-wide March for Justice held in White Plains last Thursday, July 14.
"Asked if the police had used a drone at the march, she said that she would not give any information having to do with 'tactics'. No information will be provided, she said, because 'we need to maintain the integrity of our ability to protect the public.'
"She said further that since there are 'many, many cameras out there' the question of the use of a drone is 'a moot point'."
It's worth noting the meaningless and militaristic language this supposedly domestic civilian public servant uses to deny information to the public. Just label something a "tactic" and you can keep it secret, she thinks, so that the enemy doesn't learn your tactics. But who is the enemy? And the "integrity" of serving the public requires not letting the public know what you are doing (and spying on that public)?
Mottern points out that, in fact, there are differences between drone cameras and other cameras that might film people attempting to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble and speak. "Drones are able to focus in on individuals and groups and to follow them for extended periods; drones can be fitted with pepper spray, tear gas and other anti-personnel weapons," Mottern says. Yes, and they can be used to intimidate, to target political enemies, to restrict people's rights. And if they really were no different from other means of surveillance, what sort of excuse would that be? Nobody excuses police killings on the grounds that there are lots of other killings anyway.
Syracuse, N.Y., was the fifth city in the country to join the list of those banning drones. Meanwhile White Plains just goes ahead with this new abuse without making any sort of public decision. "It seems quite extraordinary," says Mottern, "that the White Plains Police feel that they can begin to use a highly intrusive tool of public surveillance and intimidation without informing the public and, moreover, without public debate and a vote by the White Plains City Council."
Misusing a quote about peace: Obama Calls for Peace and Comity at Home, But Favors Wars and Killer Drones Abroad
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama made an eloquent plea for sanity and peace following the latest deadly assault on police officers -- this time a gunman with an assault rifle shooting and killing three cops in Baton Rouge and wounding another three, one critically injured.
If there's any debate right now in the major U.S. media regarding blowing people up with missiles from drones, it's about "transparency" (official reporting on who's killed) or death counts of those people somehow identified as civilians. But unless drones are just a means of vicariously venting rage, or of profiting drone manufacturers, they are -- like the wider wars they are part of -- supposed to serve some purpose.
Although terrorism keeps increasing during the Overseas Contingency Operations Formerly Known as the Global War on Terrorism, in theory the war making is supposed to (1) not be terrorism itself, and (2) reduce terrorism or end it. While I think a strong case can be made that neither of those conditions has been or ever could be met, and that even as mass therapy or economic catalyst the whole thing is doomed to failure, the drones are the piece of it that has begun to be recognized as counterproductive.
In a master's thesis from a student at Georgetown University, summarized in a recent article, Emily Manna took data on terrorism in Pakistan between 2006 and 2012 from the Global Terrorism Database and data on drone strikes where it was corroborated by both the New America Foundation and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Manna found that after the United States begins attacking a province with drones, terrorism increases there.
Three years ago, a young man from Yemen whose village had been attacked by a U.S. drone the week before, testified before Congress. Farea Al-muslimi said that, as with many known drone strikes, the supposed target was a well-known man who could very easily have been arrested. Al-muslimi said that when his neighbors think of America, they think of "the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads ready to fire missiles at any time. What violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America."
President Barack Obama used to hold up Yemen as the example of a successful drone war. That was before the drone strikes contributed to creating a wider war, and before the wider war waged by Saudi Arabia and the United States further strengthened al Qaeda in Yemen.
The Chicot report recently highlighted the fact that Prime Minister Tony Blair was warned before the attack on Iraq that it would increase terrorism and could result, as it did, in something like ISIS. The U.S. government had the same understanding as well, and also had the same expectation of likely chaos for Syria if its government were overthrown, before beginning to work for that overthrow. Later Obama asked the CIA for a report on whether arming proxies had ever worked. The closest the CIA could come to a successful case was 1980s Afghanistan. Need I spell out what that created? (Yes, Obama proceeded to arm proxies in Syria anyway.)
A CIA report warns that drone strikes can increase terrorism:
"The potential negative effects . . . include increasing the level of insurgent support […], strengthening an armed group's bonds with the population, radicalizing an insurgent group's remaining leaders, creating a vacuum into which more radical groups can enter."
Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Paterson's cables published by WikiLeaks stated that drone strikes "risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan without finally achieving the goal."
According to Mark Mazzetti, "The CIA station chief in Islamabad thought the drone strikes in 2005 and 2006 — which, while infrequent at that time, were often based on bad intelligence and had resulted in many civilian casualties — had done little except fuel hatred for the United States inside Pakistan and put Pakistani officials in the uncomfortable position of having to lie about the strikes."
Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that while "drone attacks did help reduce the Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, they also increased hatred of America."
Another Obama advisor, Michael Boyle, said drone strikes have "adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists … The vast increase in the number of deaths of low-ranking operatives has deepened political resistance to the U.S. program in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries."
Yet another, Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, according to the New York Times, that "America's aggressive campaign of drone strikes could be undermining long-term efforts to battle extremism. 'We're seeing that blowback. If you're trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you're going to upset people even if they're not targeted.'"
Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations has found that "There appears to be a strong correlation in Yemen between increased targeted killings since December 2009 and heightened anger toward the United States and sympathy with or allegiance to AQAP ... One former senior military official closely involved in U.S. targeted killings argued that 'drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America ... A world characterized by the proliferation of armed drones ... would undermine core U.S. interests, such as preventing armed conflict, promoting human rights, and strengthening international legal regimes.' Because of drones' inherent advantages over other weapons platforms, states and nonstate actors would be much more likely to use lethal force against the United States and its allies."
Robert Grenier, who was Director of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center from 2004 to 2006, has asked: "How many Yemenis may be moved in future to violent extremism in reaction to carelessly targeted missile strikes, and how many Yemeni militants with strictly local agendas will become dedicated enemies of the West in response to U.S. military actions against them?"
Here's an answer. Former U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Yemen, Nabeel Khoury, has warned that "the U.S. generates roughly forty to sixty new enemies for every AQAP operative killed by drones."
You wouldn't know this from most New York Times reports, but a New York Times editorial blurts it out as obvious: "Of course, we already know that torture and drone strikes pose a profound threat to America's national security and the safety of its citizens abroad."
But if it's so "of course" that drones endanger us rather than protect us, and they cost a fortune, and they damage the environment, and they kill thousands of people, and they erode basic civil liberties, and they make small wars that develop into large wars so much easier to start, and their proliferation to numerous other nations is going to be a disaster, then why do it?
Of course, more research will be done, most of it likely funded by the drone profiteers. But did we actually need any? Just imagine for a moment that the bomb the police used to blow a man up in Dallas, Texas, this month was a matter of routine, that these bombs were going off in all U.S. cities, that they were targeting people who looked suspicious or who had the cell phone of someone who had looked suspicious, that they were targeting those who rushed to the assistance of victims of an earlier strike, that the drones to deliver the bombs were buzzing constantly overhead as an ever-present threat so that parents were refusing to allow their kids out the door to go to school. Imagine that, and ask yourself if anyone would get angry.
We need to ban weaponized drones: http://banweaponizeddrones.org
In the dialect of Gaza, where drones buzzed and blew things up for 51 days two years ago, there's an onomatopoetic word for drones: zanana. When Atef Abu Saif's kids would ask him, during that war, to take them out of doors somewhere, and he would refuse, they would then ask: "But you'll take us when the zanana stops?"
Saif has published his diary from that time, with 51 entries, called The Drone Eats With Me. I recommend reading one chapter a day. You're not too late to read most of them on the two-year anniversary of their happening. Reading the book straight through may not properly convey the length of the experience. On the other hand, you may want to finish before the next war on Gaza begins, and I really can't say when that will be.
The 2014 war was the third that Saif's family had been part of in five years. It's not that he or his wife or his little children joined the military. They didn't head off to that mythical land that U.S. journalism calls the "battlefield." No, the wars come right to them. From their point of view beneath the planes and drones, the killing is entirely random. Tonight it's the building next door destroyed, tomorrow some houses just out of sight. Roads are blown up, and orchards, even a cemetery so as not to deny the dead a share in the hell of the living. Long dead bones fly out of the soil in the explosions with as much logical purpose as your cousin's kids are decapitated or your grandmother's home flattened.
When you venture outside during a war in Gaza, the impression is apparently of being toyed with by giants, ferocious and enormous creatures able to pick apart large buildings as if they were made with Legos. And the giants have eyes in the form of ever-watching and ever-buzzing drones:
"A young man who sold kids' food -- sweets, chocolates, crisps -- became, in the eye of the drone operator, a valid target, a danger to Israel."
". . . The operator looks at Gaza the way an unruly boy looks at the screen of a video game. He presses a button that might destroy an entire street. He might decide to terminate the life of someone walking along the pavement, or he might uproot a tree in an orchard that hasn't yet borne fruit."
Saif and his family hide indoors, with mattresses in the hallway, away from windows, day after day. He ventures out against his own better judgment. "I feel more and more stupid each night," he writes,
"walking between the camp and Saftawi with drones whirring above me. Last night, I even saw one: it was glinting in the night sky like a star. If you don't know what to look for, you wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a star. I scanned the sky for about ten minutes as I walked, looking for anything that moved. There are stars and planes up there of course. But a drone is different, the only light it gives off is reflected so it's harder to see than a star or a plane. It's like a satellite, only it's much closer to the ground and therefore moves faster. I spotted one as I turned onto al-Bahar Street, then kept my eyes firmly fixed on it. The missiles are easy to see once they're launched -- they blaze through the sky blindingly -- but keeping my eye on the drone meant I had a second or two more notice than anyone else, should it decide to fire."
Living under the drones, Gazans learn not to make heat, which could be interpreted as a weapon. But they grow accustomed to the ever-present threat, and the explicit threats delivered to their cell phones. When the Israeli army texts everyone in a refugee camp to get out, nobody moves. Where are they to flee to, with their houses destroyed, and having already fled?
If you allow yourself to listen to the drones at night, you'll never sleep, Saif wrote. "So I did my best to ignore them, which was hard. In the dark, you can almost believe they're in your bedroom with you, behind the curtains, above the wardrobe. You imagine that, if you wave your hand above your face, you might catch it in your hand or even swat it as you would a mosquito."
I'm reminded of a line of poetry from, I think, Pakistan, but it could be from any of the drone-warred nations: "My love for you is as constant as a drone." But it isn't love that the drone nations are bestowing on their distant victims, is it?
By Ann Wright
In response to the killing of five police officers and wounding of seven more, David O. Brown, Chief of Police of Dallas, Texas became the first city or state official to order a remote controlled execution of a suspected killer with whom hours of negotiation had not resulted in surrender.
The decision of the local city police chief to remotely assassinate the cornered suspect rather than make an attempt to incapacitate him is a stark continuation of what appears to be a U.S. military and police tactic of kill rather than capture. Brown has 30 years of law enforcement experience with training at many police schools including the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Due to the past fifteen years of U.S. ground and drones wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, many veterans of the U.S. military and CIA paramilitary are on local, state and federal police forces. These officers have served under wartime rules of engagement which should be much different from civilian law enforcement.
However, with the militarization of U.S. police forces, it appears that the Dallas police chief used the military tactic of assassination by a remote controlled weapon system to protect the lives of the police and sacrifice the rights of an accused to trial.
No doubt the Police chief will argue that he could have ordered that snipers shoot to kill the suspect—the method of death didn’t matter when the decision to kill rather has been made.
The Chief of Police and the President of the United States use the same rationale to execute without trial someone suspected of a crime.
Community activists should ask their city council members what rules of engagement their police officers use. I suspect that in many cities the rules say shoot to kill rather than shoot to incapacitate/capture/detain, certainly the statistics on police shootings seem to indicate that the national tactic for police departments is to shoot to kill.
Will U.S. government officers at all levels-- national, state and local-- argue that shooting to kill is safer for the police and cheaper than holding a trial, jailing the accused and imprison a person convicted of a crime.
It appears that shooting to kill is easier in all aspects whether it's unmanned aerial drones killing people outside the United States or unmanned ground robots with bombs.
The next step in this the slippery slope is the use of small aerial weaponized drones by local police departments to kill suspects, just as this ground drone robot bombed a suspect to death.
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was in the US diplomatic corps for 16 years and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the US government in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She has been arrested several times protesting US military assassin drones. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
By Ann Wright
Two years ago today, on July 7, 2014, the Israeli government launched a horrific 51-day air, land and sea attack on the people of Gaza. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fired missiles, rockets, artillery and tank shells relentlessly on 1.8 million Palestinians squashed by Israeli land and sea blockades into a narrow strip 25 miles long and 5 miles wide, one of the most densely populated places in the world. Nearly 500 Palestinians were killed by Israeli assassin drones.
Drone warfare has become the norm for both the United States and Israel. Drones fly above Gaza 24 hours a day watching the movements of every Palestinian and ready to fire rockets at those chosen to die by the IDF.
If you haven't been hiding under a partisan rock for the past several years, you're aware that President Barack Obama has given himself the sort-of legalish right to murder anyone anywhere with missiles from drones.
He's not the only one who wants that power.
Yes, President Obama has claimed to have put restrictions on whom he'll murder, but in no known case has he followed any of his self-imposed non-legal restrictions. Nowhere has someone been arrested instead of killed, while in many known cases people have been killed who could have easily been arrested. In no known case has someone been killed who was an "imminent and continuing threat to the United States," or for that matter just plain imminent or just plain continuing. It's not even clear how someone could be both an imminent and a continuing threat until you study up on how the Obama administration has redefined imminent to mean theoretically imaginable someday. And, of course, in numerous cases civilians have been killed in large numbers and people have been targeted without identifying who they are. Lying dead from U.S. drone strikes are men, women, children, non-Americans, and Americans, not a single one of them charged with a crime or their extradition sought.
Who else would like to be able to do this?
One answer is most nations on earth. We now read news stories from Syria of people dying from a drone strike, with the reporter unable to determine if the missile came from a U.S., U.K., Russian, or Iranian drone. Just wait. The skies will be filled if the trend is not reversed.
Another answer is Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, but not Jill Stein. Yes, those first three candidates have said they want this power.
Another answer, however, should be just as disturbing as those already mentioned. Military commanders around the world want the authority to murder people with drones without bothering to get approval from civilian officials back home. Here's a fun quiz:
How many zones has the United States divided the globe into for purposes of complete military domination, and what are their names?
Answer: Six. They are Northcom, Southcom, Eucom, Pacom, Centcom, and Africom. (Jack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack were already taken.) In normal English they are: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Western Asia, and Africa.
Now here comes the hard question. Which of those zones has a new would-be commander who was just encouraged by a prominent Senator in an open Congressional hearing to acquire the authority to murder people in his zone without getting approval from the U.S. president?
Clue #1. It's a zone with the empire's headquarters not even located in the zone, so that this new commander speaks of killing people there as playing "an away game."
Clue #2. It's a poor zone that does not manufacture weapons but it saturated with weapons made in the United States plus France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, and China.
Clue #3. Many of the people in this zone have skin resembling people who are disproportionately targets of U.S. police department killings.
Did you get it right? That's correct: Africom is being encouraged by Senator Lindsay Graham, who a short time back wanted to be president, to blow people up with missiles from flying robots without presidential approval.
Now here's where the morality of war can wreak havoc with humanitarian imperialism. If a drone killing is not part of a war, then it looks like murder. And handing out licenses to murder to additional people looks like a worsening of the state of affairs in which just one person claims to hold such a license. But if drone killing is part of a war, and Captain Africom claims to be at war with Somalia, or with a group in Somalia, for example, well then, he wouldn't need special permission to blow up a bunch of people with manned aircraft; so why should he need it when using robotic unmanned bombers?
The trouble is that saying the word "war" doesn't have the moral or legal powers often imagined. No current U.S. war is legal under either the U.N. Charter or the Kellogg-Briand Pact. And the intuition that murdering people with a drone is wrong can't be a useful one if murdering people with a piloted plane is right, and vice versa. We actually have to choose. We actually have to set aside the scale of the killing, the type of technology, the role of robots, and all other extraneous factors, and choose whether it's acceptable, moral, legal, smart, or strategic to murder people or not.
If that seems too much of a mental strain, here's an easier guide. Just imagine what your response would be if the ruler of Europe Command asked for the authority to murder at will people of his choosing along with anybody too close to them at the time.
By David Swanson
NBC's Dateline program aired pro-drone propaganda this week and has posted the video online. Their so-called report purports to be "balanced" and "even-handed." In fact it misleadingly promotes an extremely destructive government program that millions of people would protest if they knew the actual facts of the matter.
Dateline introduces us to drones with the claim that drones have saved lives by "hitting terrorist targets." Unlike any negative statement about drones made in the course of this Dateline video, such positive statements are never immediately countered by somebody authoritative saying the opposite in a different vocabulary (such as "murdering human beings never convicted or even indicted for any crime" rather than "hitting terrorist targets"). Much less is any positive statement countered with actual facts. At the very end of the program we'll hear that during this "war on terrorism" terrorism has increased, but the causal connection recognized by numerous experts is brushed over. In fact numerous top officials involved in the U.S. drone program blurt out, the moment they retire, that it is generating more enemies than it is killing. Numerous such statements are publicly available, and such voices could have been included in this program.
Next Dateline shows us a drone pilot in Nevada in his car and "on his way to fight ISIS." In fact, U.S. drone pilots (who dress up as pilots and sit at a desk) blow people up in numerous countries, have (like their commanders) no idea who most of the people are whom they blow up, and have seen ISIS recruitment soar since the U.S. began bombing that organization which its earlier bombings and occupations and prison camps and torture and weapons sales were absolutely central to creating.
Dateline shows us footage of drones, but none of what they do -- only fuzzy videos selected by the Air Force in which we see no humans, no bodies, no body parts, and are just told that the people murdered were ISIS, which is supposed to make it moral and legal. Endless footage exists and is available, including of course from the Air Force, of the people blown to pieces by drones. Plenty of reporting explains that this type of warfare kills more innocent people than even other horrific types of warfare. But Dateline will instead eventually get around to focusing on phony critiques like "Is this too much like playing a video game?"
One day a couple of weeks ago I was reading Saint Augustine while driving to the local convenience store, and I accidentally drove right through the front glass wall of the store, smashing up some shelves of junk food. After I'd made my purchases, a police officer stopped me and asked if I'd intended to drive into the store. "Oh, not at all," I replied. "I intended to get here as quickly as possible while also educating myself as quickly as possible. I knew I might crash, of course, but that wasn't part of my intention."
"Well," the cop replied. "Where should we send the check for your car repair?"
"I'll let you know," I replied, a bit annoyed by the hassle.
My brother in law repaired my car for not much more than $100,000, and all it still needed was to be repainted. So, I took a giant paint sprayer with me. I parked the car in front of my neighbor's house, the one with the loud dog. When I'd finished painting the car, there was a rough shape of its profile on the front of my neighbor's house, surrounded by fresh purple paint. I pinned a note to the door letting him know that my intention had been only to paint the car and not his house.
The new collateral damage laws we've been living under for the past year have really been working out great, as far as I'm concerned. We don't let it get out of hand, though. Only property damage is excusable using bullshit medieval arguments about what we "really intended" and what we "merely knew was going to happen." Damage or death to people or animals is not included in the law.
I've heard tell, though, that there is another world somewhere in which, believe it or not, the exact opposite is true. In that world, if I were to damage someone's property and pull out a load of horse manure about "just intentions" or "proportional collateral damage," I'd be punished for the destruction I'd caused and possibly locked up for my delusional state of mind.
But, in stark contrast, if I were to blow up some poor guy who dressed suspiciously with a missile from a drone, even though 8 other guys who dressed acceptably were standing next to him, well that'd be totally cool. Or if I were to bomb an entire city flat because its people were suffering under the rule of a brutal dictator I'd stopped supporting and arming last month, that'd just be good patriotic citizenship.
Now, I'm not going to swear to you that this crazy world exists, but I have reports on it from numerous credible sources. I even have recent reports from several people that an ancient institution in this world -- they call it the Catholic Church -- is dropping its support for using "collateral damage" to excuse murder, while the rest of the society is just going ahead with mindlessly accepting it anyway, even without the support of its original devious devisers.
Regardless, however, of whether such a place is real, the manner in which its customs shock us should wake us up to the possibility that our own might shock someone else, and that we should never accept traditional customs without thinking them through for ourselves.
Anti-Drone-War Ad Banned by Charter Communications as it Seeks Approval for Big Merger from Obama Admin
NEW YORK – Major cable provider Charter Communications – apparently fearful of angering the Obama administration while a giant merger deal was pending– has barred its cable outlet near the Whiteman AFB drone control center in Missouri from carrying a paid advertisement urging drone operators to refuse to fly missions.
Charter made this decision to censor the spot (which is critical of the Obama Administration drone program) on April 22, 2016, according to email from a media ad buyer, while it was awaiting approval by the administration's Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission for its $88 billion merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
Just days after banning the anti-drone spot, on April 25, the Justice Department approved the deal, with conditions. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the same day he would vote for the merger, but the entire commission has yet to vote. The deal is also awaiting approval by California regulators.
The ad (www.knowdrones.com/2016/01/help-show-the-real-truth-to-us-tv-audiences.html) was produced by Knowdrones.com and paid for by Peaceworks-Kansas City and Knowdrones.com in advance of Peaceworks’ April 30 protest against the U.S. drone war campaign that will be held at the Whiteman AFB near Knob Noster MO, a community in which Charter is the cable provider.
In an effort to determine whether Charter was banning the ad because of its sometimes graphic images of children killed by U.S drones, Knowdrones asked if Charter would run the :15 second spot with no images, just a black screen with white text carrying the anti-drone message. The ad buyer reported that Charter “will not accept the spot even when it’s only dark screen with text due to subject content.”
“At a time when the U.S. press is avoiding coverage of the U.S. drone war, which has killed at least 6,500 people without due process,” said Knowdrones coordinator Nick Mottern, “it is tragic for the victims of U.S. drone attacks and the U.S. public that Charter extends this censorship even into paid advertising. Apparently, even if we pay for advertising, corporations seeking favors from the government will censor spots deemed to make the current administration look bad."
Versions of the subject ad have been run by cable providers near other U.S. drone control and training intelligence centers at Creech AFB, Beale AFB and Hancock Air National Guard base, among others.
The Charter merger will bring its subscriber base to 18 million, behind Comcast’s 22 million and ahead of AT&Ts 16 million, according to Wired.com.
Ann Wright, VFP and retired 29 year army veteran, and former U.S. diplomat, Hawaii
- Military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Honeywell Corporation, and Boeing, all of which profit from from drone killing and war in general. Military hardware is Vanguard’s largest investment sector.
- The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit private prison company in which Vanguard is the largest investor
- Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm-Ruger firearms manufacturers. Smith & Wesson manufactured two of the guns used in the San Bernardino massacre. Vanguard also invests in ammunition makers in Vista Outdoor (VSTO) and Orbital ATK (OA).
The U.S. drone war program will be examined on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 6 pm at a symposium at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Law entitled: “Inside Drone Warfare: Perspectives of Whistleblowers, Families of Drone Victims and Their Lawyers.”
Christopher Aaron, a former counter-terrorism officer for the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone program,
Cian Westmoreland, former drone program communications technician, 606 Air Control Squadron and the 73rd Expeditionary Control Squadron of the U.S. Air Force,
Human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack, Director of the Whistleblower & Resource Protection Progam (WHISPeR).
Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, counter-terrorism case worker for the human rights law firm Reprieve.org
Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson Law School, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and editor and contributor to “Drones and Targeted Killing.”
Rev. Chris Antal, a Unitarian Universalist minister who served as a military chaplain in Afghanistan, will also present.
“We are holding this symposium near Creech AFB because we would like members of the drone program there to attend the symposium,” said Nick Mottern, of KnowDrones.com, who, with retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, is an organizer of the symposium. He said that the Air Force was invited to have a representative appear on the symposium panel but that no response has been received.
Creech AFB, located about 65 miles from Las Vegas, is believed to be the largest drone control center inside the United States.
The symposium is being organized by Veterans for Peace and Knowdrones.com.
Marjorie Cohn will discuss her thought-provoking book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, about the use and impact of drone warfare in today’s world.
”This book provides much-needed analysis of why America’s targeted killing program is illegal, immoral and unwise.” —Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Sat. March 19, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm, City Council Chambers, 605 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Hosted by: Amnesty International-Charlottesville
Sunday, March 20, 6:30 pm, Friends Meeting House, 1104 Forest St, Charlottesville, VA 22903,
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law (San Diego, Calif.) and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. A legal scholar, political analyst and social critic, she writes books and articles, makes media appearances and lectures throughout the world on human rights and U.S. foreign policy and the contradiction between the two.
If the recent spate of anti-drone movies and plays was making you feel warm thoughts about U.S. culture, you'll want to avoid seeing "Eye in the Sky," starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Aaron Paul. This is what "Zero Dark Thirty" was for torture lies. This is what "The Interview" was for hatred of North Korea. The Director of "Eye in the Sky," Gavin Hood, openly brags about having had military advisors on this film, just as those films had their government advisors. And it shows.
"I'll bet the military loves this film," I told Hood after a screening in Washington, D.C., on Monday. He claimed that some loved it, some liked it, both in the military and in some human rights groups that I won't name because I doubt very much Hood's implication that at least one of them didn't condemn this piece of propaganda.
Let's be clear, this film is the best quality drone film yet made and has the coolest technology in it, including drones the size and shape of birds and beetles. But it is the furthest presentation of drone use from reality. Following the film screening, the director and General Eaton (no last name, like Cher) and Patrick Tucker, a technology writer from Defense One, gave a little presentation that included flying a tiny drone in the theater. Said Tucker, as if he had proved this: "So everything you saw in this movie is very close to reality."
I asked the director roughly this: We know of actual cases where the target was not identified, where the target could have been captured, and where the target was not actually about to commit mass murder. In fact the Justice Department has redefined "imminent threat" to be virtually meaningless, and I don't know of a single case in reality that matches this fictional fantasy. Do you?
Gavin Hood hemmed and hawed but said that No, he was unaware of a single case in reality that matched what he had produced in his slick propaganda. Then it was his turn to question me: Do I oppose the whole drone program?
I replied that it is counterproductive and that every time a top official retires they point that out, that it creates more enemies than it kills. Remarkably, Hood said that he agreed entirely and that in fact this point (which showed up nowhere at all in his movie) was the very point of his movie.
Then Hood strayed back into his own fantasy, recounting as if we hadn't just seen it that in the film one politician comments that it might be better politically to allow foreign terrorists to kill lots of people than for the politician's own government to be exposed as having killed one person.
Well, yes, this proves that in a fantastic scenario that hasn't ever happened a fictional politician could cynically discard human lives. It proves nothing else. But it creates the sick pretense that murdering is wise and not murdering is a form of propaganda. And, for the record, the "one person" was actually one unknown innocent plus several other people understood to be complicit in planning mass murder.
The cherry on top of this movie's feat of manipulation is Hood's making one of the drone victims white. Thus the drone program is not racist, is not killing people who haven't been identified, is not killing people who could have been captured, and is only killing people who are literally in the act of arming themselves to kills lots of other people momentarily.
The killer drone has its movie and it also has its argument. This piece of fiction is what the ticking time bomb nonsense is for torture. This is what every reincarnation of Hitler is for war as a whole. This is Obama's dream eulogy when the first drone warrior king is finally laid to rest.
All sins have been absolved.
Relax. Get some popcorn.
Or wake up, get outraged and join the next protest at Creech Air Base. Please. We're better than this.
Mary Anne Grady Flores speaks in this 1-hour special from inside the jail near Syracuse, N.Y., where she has been imprisoned for 6 months for protesting drone murders at Hancock Air Base.
Total run time: 56:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
Camp Douglas, WI --- On February 23rd, two peace activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, were arrested when they attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to drone operators at Volk Field, an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, which trains pilots to operate Shadow Drones over other countries. Voices activists have lived alongside ordinary people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Gaza. People who can’t flee from drone surveillance and attacks have good reason to fear people from the U.S., but instead they have broken bread with Kelly and Terrell and have welcomed opportunities for deepened mutual understanding. Kelly and Terrell carried the loaf of bread to signify the worth of relying on words rather than weapons.
Before entering the base property, Kathy Kelly said: “Living alongside ordinary people who can't escape drone surveillance in places like Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan and knowing that a drone operator could be ordered to assassinate civilians who have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide affected my conscience. I wanted to ask drone operators in Volk Field whether they had been asked to target any people for possible assassination that day. I want to ask how the base training manual teaches people to distinguish between civilians and armed combatants. If an operator wants to quit, what does the commander of Volk Field do?”
Brian Terrell also noted: “Wisconsin is where I was born and raised and so I feel that coming to Volk Field is a responsibility that I owe in gratitude to my home state. The premise that drones will limit the parameters of war and make for fewer civilian casualties has proven false. General Stanley McChrystal, who led troops in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010, warned that the drone ‘lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there's a danger in that.’ And yet the evolution of drones in the militaries of many countries around the globe has been anything but cautious. Instead there is a reckless proliferation of this deadly technology.”
Terrell and Kelly will be arraigned on February 24th, after 2:30 p.m., at the Juneau County Justice Center, 200 Oak St., in Mauston, WI. Also on February 25th, at 9:00 a.m., Mary Beth Schlagheck, will be tried for having crossed the line at Volk Field in August of 2015. Hers is the last of seven trials stemming from nonviolent civil resistance actions at Volk Field that were undertaken as the culmination of the “Let It Shine” walk from Madison to Volk Field. The witness of the activists who have protested at Volk Field, and who have testified so eloquently in court, inspired Brian’s and Kathy’s action.
By Joy First
On Friday February 19 Phil Runkel was found guilty of trespassing in Juneau County, WI by Judge Paul Curran after a 22 minute trial. Phil had joined nine other activists in attempting to walk onto the Volk Field Air National Guard base and meet with the commander to share our concerns about the training of drone pilots that takes place there.
District Attorney Mike Solovey followed his standard procedure of calling Sheriff Brent Oleson and Deputy Thomas Mueller to the stand and identifying Phil as one of the people who walked onto the base on August 25, 2015 and refused to leave.
Phil cross-examined Sheriff Oleson asking him about the purpose of the space between the gates and guard house. Oleson responded that the space was used so that cars waiting to enter the base didn’t back up onto the county highway. Phil asked when it was legal to be in that area, and Oleson responded that it was when you are given permission. But that isn’t true. Cars drive through the gates and about a block to the guard house and wait to talk to the guard without getting permission to wait in that space.
Phil asked Oleson if we were asked why we were there so the base officials could determine if we were there for a valid reason, and the sheriff responded that he knew we weren’t there for a valid reason.
The state rested their case and Phil told the judge he would like to be sworn in to testify and then give a brief closing statement.
I am employed by Marquette University, where it has been my privilege to have served since 1977 as archivist for the papers of sainthood candidate Dorothy Day. She has often been lauded for her performance of the works of mercy—most recently by Pope Francis--but scorned for her equally steadfast opposition to the works of war. This led to her arrest and imprisonment on three separate occasions for failure to take cover during civil defense drills in the 1950s. I am one of many who have been inspired by her example to seek peace and pursue it.
I respectfully plead not guilty to this charge. Following World War II the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State.” (Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, vol. I, Nürnberg 1947, page 223).This was one of the Nuremberg Principles adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations in 1950 to provide guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. These
principles are arguably part of customary international law and part of domestic law in the United States under Article VI, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution (175 U.S.677, 700) (1900).
Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark testified under oath, at a trial of drone protesters in Dewitt, NY, that in his legal opinion everyone is obligated under the law to try to stop their government from committing war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity
I acted out of a conviction that the use of drones for extrajudicial, targeted killing constitutes such a war crime, and I sought to apprise base commander Romuald of this fact. I intended to uphold international law. (As Ms. First noted at her trial last week, Judge Robert Jokl of Dewitt, New York, acquitted five resisters for their action at the Hancock drone base because he was persuaded that they had the same intention.)
Article 6(b) of the Nuremberg Charter defines War Crimes--violations of the laws or customs of war-- to include, among other things, murder or ill treatment of civilian population of or in occupied territory. Weaponized drones, assisted by reconnaissance and surveillance drones piloted from bases such as Volk Field, have killed between 2,494-3,994 persons in Pakistan alone since 2004. These include between 423 and 965 civilians and 172-207 children. Another 1,158-1,738 have been injured. This is data compiled by the award-winning Bureau of Investigative Journalism, based in London (https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/drones-graphs/).
According to the legal scholar Matthew Lippman (Nuremberg and American Justice, 5 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 951 (1991). Available at: http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndjlepp/vol5/iss4/4)
citizens have “the legal privilege under international law to act in a non-violent proportionate fashion to halt the commission of war crimes. “ He contends that “Nuremberg… serves both as a sword which can be used to prosecute war criminals, and as a shield for those who are compelled to engage in conscientious acts of moral protest against illegal wars and methods of warfare.”
Lippman counters the common admonition for protesters to confine themselves to legally-sanctioned means of dissent, such as lobbying congresspeople. He cites Judge Myron Bright, of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Dissenting in Kabat, Judge Bright stated that: “We must recognize that civil disobedience in various forms, used without violent acts against others, is engrained in our society and the moral correctness of political protesters' views has on occasion served to change and better our society.”
Examples he gave included the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the more recent disobedience of “Jim Crow" laws, such as the lunch-counter sit-ins. Kabat, 797 F.2d at 601 United States v. Kabat, 797 F.2d 580 (8th Cir. 1986).
To Professor Lippman, “Today's obscenity may be tomorrow's lyric.”
I’ll conclude, then, with these words from a song many of us know: “Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me.”
Note that Phil was stopped in the fifth paragraph, giving statistics on the number of people killed by drones, when DA Solovey objected citing relevance and Curran sustained the objection. Phil was not able to complete his statement, but it is included in this report because he provided valuable information that could be useful in future cases.
Curran asked Phil what his testimony has to do with trespassing and Phil began to talk about why he walked onto the base when the DA interrupted and said there is nothing about intent in the statute. As Phil persisted in trying to explain his actions to the judge, Curran became increasingly agitated and angry. He said he didn’t need to be lectured by Phil about Nuremberg.
Phil tried to explain he was acting under the belief that he was obliged to enter the base, and that we are compelled to engage in resistance to illegal warfare. Again, Curran made his same old argument that his court is not going to tell Obama that what he is doing is illegal. That continues to be a false argument that the judge makes in many of our trials.
Phil was very persistent in trying to get his point across and continued to argue his case, but the judge could not hear anything he was saying.
Finally the judge said guilty and $232 fine. Phil said he wanted to give a closing statement. Curran said it was too late, it was over, and got up and quickly left the courtroom. I am concerned about a judge who refuses to allow a closing statement. Is that legal?
This is the closing statement Phil would have liked to present.
I stand with my co-defendants in the conviction that silence in the face of the injustice of the immoral, illegal and counterproductive drone warfare being carried out by our government makes us complicit in these crimes. And I fully endorse and support their testimonies before this court.
In his book The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism, Rahul Mahajan wrote, “If terrorism is to be given an unbiased definition, it must involve the killing of noncombatants for political purposes, no matter who does it or what noble goals they proclaim.” I ask your honor to consider which poses the real threat to peace and right order—the actions of groups such as ours, or those of the CIA and other agencies responsible for our drones policy.
Again, a very disappointing outcome, but Phil reminds us of the importance of what we are doing and why we must continue as he states, “I was disappointed, of course, that Judge Curran didn’t allow me to finish my testimony or make a closing statement. But such rulings won’t deter
us from continuing to speak our truth to the powers that be.”
Mary Beth’s will be the final trial on February 25 at 9:00 am at the Juneau County “Justice” Center, 200 Oak. St. Mauston, WI. Join us there.
By Joy First
On February 9, 2016 Judge Paul Curran found me guilty of trespass for walking onto the Air National Guard Base at Volk Field in Wisconsin on August 26, 2015. I joined eight others who wanted to deliver a message to Base Commander Colonel David Romuald, demanding that he immediately end the program of training pilots to operate the Shadow Drone at Volk Field. Shadow drones are used overseas for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition, and so contribute to the deaths of thousands of innocents through U.S drone warfare. This action came at the end of the 8-day 90-mile walk organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence from Madison to Volk Field.
The trial began as predicted with DA Solovey calling Juneau County Deputy Sheriff Thomas Mueller who established that I was at Volk Field on August 26 and that I did cross onto the base after being told not to.
The following are the questions that I asked the deputy under cross examination.
What is the purpose of the area between the gates and the guardhouse?
Response: It is so cars have a place to line up while waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse without blocking the county road.
When is it legal to be there?
Response: When you are a member of the public waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse.
Did you ask any of us why we were there so you would know if we were there for a valid reason, and were therefore authorized to be there?
Response: No I didn’t.
Why weren’t we allowed to walk to the guardhouse and state our business?
Response: The sheriff said we should arrest you when you stepped onto the base.
Why does a military base that is supposed to be protecting us need to have the Sheriff protect them from nonviolent dissenters?
Response: I don’t know.
If we are arrested at Camp McCoy the base security makes the arrest. Why does the county take this on at Volk Field?
Response: I don’t know.
I said I had no further questions. I then asked the DA if the Sheriff was expected today as he had testified at the other trials. The DA said he was not. I was disappointed to hear that because the sheriff likely would have been able to answer my questions. It seems clear we are being discriminated against by not being allowed to go to the guardhouse when that is what anyone else is able to do, but I was not a good enough examiner to bring this out with the witness that was there.
The defense rested and I told the judge I would like to give a brief statement as testimony, a closing statement, and then if I was found guilty I wanted to give a sentencing statement. The judge said that was fine, and I was sworn in and took the stand.
Here is my testimony from the stand.
As each of those who came before me said, silence is complicity and so I must speak out.
I am testifying that I have a First amendment right to petition my government for a redress of grievances and that was what I was doing at Volk Field on August 26, 2015.
I am also testifying that I have an obligation following Nuremberg to speak out when I see that my government is doing something illegal.
I was not there on August 25 in order to enter the base without permission, but to get to the guard house to request a meeting with the base commander to talk about US drone warfare. I was not there because I wanted to get arrested.
Defendants have not been permitted to present evidence as to their intent. For example, Ms. Ellwanger’s statement was completely stricken from the record and Mr. Timmerman was not allowed to talk about intent.
I then cited information that we had used to appeal a previous case and said:
However, according to previous court cases, the “mere omission of any mention of intent will not be construed as eliminating that element from the crimes denounced.” The Supreme Court held that a statue’s “silence” on the mens rea element “does not necessarily suggest that Congress intended to dispense with a conventional mens rea element.” The Staples Court importantly added that “some indication of Congressional intent, express or implied, is required to dispense with mens rea as an element of a crime.”
I handed the judge the complete text, which included the court cases cited and continued:
And our intention for being there is an important element in this case. We were not violent. We meant no harm, rather we were there to try to prevent harm to others and to uphold the law.
When the police asked us to leave I believed it was my right and my duty to remain.
As I walked back to the defense table the DA asked if my complete statement could be stricken from the record. The judge overruled this request, stating that I included some legal arguments in my statement.
The judge then said that I was found guilty and started saying I would have to pay the $232 fine when he remembered that I wanted to make a closing statement. He asked if I still wanted to make a closing statement and I said that I wasn’t sure if it was relevant since he already pronounced me guilty.
The judge replied that he had sat through so many of these cases and heard us talk about our personal beliefs and convictions about drones and he had heard it all. He said if that was what I was going to talk about he didn’t want to hear it, but that if I had something else to say he would listen and if necessary vacate the sentence.
So I read the following as my closing statement:
I am here before you today because I cannot and will not remain silent as our government continues to engage in drone warfare which is illegal and immoral. I did not go to Volk Field on August 25, 2015 to break the law; rather I was there to uphold the law. This is not a simple trespassing case.
Testimony was given that I, as a committed and concerned U.S. citizen, was there exercising my First Amendment rights, and following my obligations under Nuremberg. I went to Volk Field not with the intention of getting arrested, but rather to try to meet with the base commander, who has never answered a letter from us.
I was not there to engage in unlawful activities. I am a person of nonviolence, involved in Constitutionally-protected speech. My intent was to seek to influence the commander, wake him up and affect his conscience, hardly an offense that I should have been arrested for.
You have heard testimony that when the police told me I had to leave, it was my right and my duty to refuse that order. I acted in a nonviolent manner, and I had the right and responsibility to remain and continue my request for a meeting.
You have heard that I was acting under the First Amendment which gives us the right to peaceably assemble, speak out, and petition our government for a redress of long-standing grievances.
You have heard that I was following my citizen obligations under Nuremberg and other international law.
According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal and immoral 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, as prosecutors, as judges to speak out. Robert Jackson, the United States judge at the Nuremberg trials 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.”
I will not, indeed, I cannot, be complicit when our government has gone so astray. It is my responsibility as a citizen of this great country to call attention to the unjust actions of our government and demand that they stop now. I believe that I can make a difference, that I have made a difference, and you can too. Please, look into your heart and see that I was doing what I was called to do, and that I did so peacefully, and now you have the opportunity to find me not guilty of trespass.
You have said that you have no authority over our foreign policy, but if a judge in Juneau County finds me innocent, it would make a difference and people would pay attention.
At the Hancock AFB in New York resisters were acquitted because the judge said they intended to uphold the law, not break it. We were at Volk Field on August 25 to uphold the law.
I ask that you please find me not guilty as charged and join me in saying that we need to stop arresting, detaining, and prosecuting nonviolent people of good will and conscience who take action for peace and justice.
Thank you for your time and attention to this case.
I finished and Judge Curran again pronounced me guilty. He said that what I was asking him to do was very dangerous. He cannot let me off because he likes me or agrees with me. That would set a very dangerous precedent. He can’t let his personal beliefs affect his rulings as he picks and chooses which laws to obey and which not to obey. He is bound and sworn to follow the law.
The trial lasted 18 minutes. Curran left the courtroom without giving me a chance to give a sentencing statement as I had requested. Again, he is sick of us and does what he can to shut us down. His argument at the end makes no sense. He IS picking and choosing which laws to obey when finds us guilty. He is ignoring the constitutional law of our First Amendment rights. He is ignoring international law, including Nuremberg, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions – all of which make U.S. drone warfare illegal.
Afterwards, I realized that I should have added something to my closing. I should have pointed out that Deputy Mueller said that members of the public are allowed to pass through the gate and proceed to the guardhouse to request permission to enter the base. If that is the case, why were we arrested at the gate without being asked what our business was at the base? Why are we not being given the same rights as other members of the public?
As so many of my activist friends say, “You do not find justice in the courtroom.” There was no justice for me today, but more importantly, there is certainly no justice for the thousands of people whose lives have been destroyed because of U.S. drone warfare. We continue with two more trials for our Volk Field action – Phil on February 19 and Mary Beth on February 25.
By Joy First
In another farcical trial for the 14 activists arrested at Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, Don Timmerman was found guilty of trespass in a Juneau County trial presided over by Judge Curran on February 1. Apparently Judge Curran, who said he did not want to consolidate our trials because it could be prejudicial to us, has fine-tuned his skills in short-circuiting any defense we might provide and the whole trial lasted about eleven minutes.
As predicted, DA Solevey had Juneau County Sheriff Brent Oleson and Deputy Sheriff Thomas Mueller take the stand and establish that Don was at Volk Field on August 25 and that he crossed onto the base after he was told not to by the Sheriff.
Under cross-examination Don asked Oleson if he knew why we were there. The DA objected as irrelevant and the judge sustained the objection. Don asked Mueller if he was aware that the base property was purchased by the taxpayers. Don was going to make the point that we had the right to be on the property, but this question was also objected to and the objection was sustained.
Don took the stand and said he wanted to talk about why we were there. Curran said it was irrelevant to the charge – that intent is not an element of the trespass charge – and therefore he would not allow this testimony. The judge complained that he has heard this information repeatedly over the last couple of years and that moral convictions are not relevant to the case.
Don said that if he was not allowed to talk about why he was there, he didn’t have anything else he wanted to say.
The judge quickly told Don he was guilty of trespass and would be fined $232, and that it would be attached to his income tax refund if he didn’t pay it. Again, a defendant was tried and convicted without being allowed to provide a defense.
Don asked Curran if he could do community service or jail time and the judge said no. The judges made the same empty argument that it would take too much time to administer community service with a number of additional hearings being required. This is simply not true. We have models for community service in both Milwaukee and Madison where it is a matter of filling out a form that would be signed by a local minister and then turned into the court.
Don asked Curran if he could say one more thing and the judge said he would allow it. Don said, “I cannot allow killing of innocent people in my name. This needs to be stated over and over. We are always going to be protesting killings.” And with that the judge stood up and quickly left the courtroom.
Don was hoping to read the following statement on Nuremberg from Nuremberg and American Justice during his testimony, but was not allowed:
Allegiance to the nation-state must be replaced by a loyalty to the human community and by a respect for international law. It is not the rebel who threatens civilization, but the compliant conformist who mechanically suppresses his moral qualms when confronted with the dictates of authority. The famous therapist R.D. Laing reminds us that the perfectly adjusted bomber pilot poses a greater threat to the survival of the human species than does the hospitalized schizophrenic. Laing goes on to note that so-called normal individuals have been responsible for the unnecessary death of perhaps one hundred million of their fellow human beings in the twentieth century.
And so we are reminded of the importance of continuing our work. It might seem disheartening to witness the outrage and absurdity of the United States criminal justice system, but as I was driving to court today I was thinking of the words that Art Laffin always shares, “Keep your eyes on the prize.” Whether we are found guilty or not in this sham of a court does not really matter in the big world picture. What we need to stay focused on, and what really matters, is the thousands and thousands of innocent children, women, and men who are being killed by U.S. drones. Continuing our message to stop the killing is what is important. And Don told the judge, “We will be back.”
We have three trials remaining:
Joy - February 9 at 10:00 am
Phil - February 19 at 10:0 am
Mary Beth - February 25 at 9:00 am
Jerry Berrigan Memorial Drone Blockade
Hancock Air Drone Base, Jan. 28 – Twelve Activists Arrested
On Thursday morning, January 28, thirty life sized cutouts of Syracuse peacemaker Jerry Berrigan blockaded the main entrance of Hancock Air National Guard Base outside Syracuse, NY. The cutouts were accompanied by twelve nonviolent drone resisters, who were arrested after blockading for an hour and a half. See video (of the blockade and arrests).
Jerry Berrigan, who died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, dedicated his entire life – like his brothers Dan and Phil – to Jesus’ command to love one another, Jerry came to the base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able, in his words, “to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was among those standing with the Memorial in the roadway. Others were Beth Adams, Bev Rice, Bill Ofenloch, Brian Hynes, Charley Bowman, Ed Kinane, James Ricks, Joan Pleune, Joan Wages, Pete Perry and Steve Baggarly.
They were all charged with one misdemeanor and two violations, with the exception of Bev Rice and Joan Pleune, who were both charged with an additional misdemeanor (for allegedly violating an order of protection taken out by the base commander).
In 2008 Jerry was asked if there was anything he would change in his life. Jerry replied, “I would have resisted more often and been arrested more often.” The activists brought Jerry’s image to the gates to remember that this is where he would be, speaking out and putting his body on the line to say a clear “NO” to killing.
The group also remembered Mary Anne Grady Flores, who is serving a six-month sentence for violating an order of protection, taken out by the colonel at Hancock Air Base. Clearly, courts in NYS believe that a colonel at this highly armed base needs protection from citizens calling attention to the drone killings.
More and more evidence mounts regarding the illegality of U.S. drone policies, from the “Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, to the four drone pilots who have come forward to speak out about what this policy is doing. The activists tried to deliver a letter addressed to the Hancock military personnel stating that “Under the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice you must not be complicit in these crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In fact, you are required to disobey unlawful orders from a superior.”
Hancock Air Base deploys hunter/killer Reaper drones 24/7 over Afghanistan and probably elsewhere. These weaponized robotic drones are instruments of terror. They perpetrate extrajudicial killings, violate due process, violate national sovereignty, and kill non-combatants and civilians.
For more information, see The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, www.upstatedroneaction.org
Below are the letter to the Hancock military personnel and the drone resisters’ statement.
HANCOCK REAPER DRONE WORKERS:
HONOR YOUR OATH
To the men and women of the 174th Attack Wing of the NYS National Guard:
Each of you, when you joined the United States Armed Forces raised your right hand and solemnly swore to uphold the United States Constitution. Article VI of that Constitution states:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
This clause is known as the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause declares that when the U.S. ratifies international treaties, those treaties become the “supreme law of the land.” This means they trump all local and federal law – including the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice.
One such treaty is the United Nations Charter. Signed by the U.S. president in 1945 and ratified by a Senate vote of 89 to two, that Charter remains in effect today.
The Charter’s Preamble states that its purpose is to “save future generations from the scourge of war.” It further states, “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.”
This U.N. Treaty applies to all levels – federal, state, and local – of the three branches of our government – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The personnel of all these entities must act consistent with U.S. treaties and obey the U.S. Constitution, including Article VI.
Under the U.N. Charter and under long-established international law, anyone –
civilian, military, government official or judge – who knowingly participates in or supports illegal threat or use of force against another nation or its people is committing a war crime.
Men and women on duty at Hancock AFB: Four of your colleagues, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, formerly operating weaponized drones at other U.S. bases, have – courageously – gone public about drone war crimes they acknowledge committing.
The 174th Attack Wing of the NY Air National Guard deploys hunter/killer Reaper drones 24/7 over Afghanistan and probably elsewhere. These weaponized robotic drones are instruments of terror. They perpetrate extrajudicial killings, violate due process, violate national sovereignty, and kill non-combatants and civilians. They bring dishonor on the United States and upon its armed services.
Under the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice you must not be complicit in these crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In fact, you are required to disobey unlawful orders from a superior.
Those protesting here today are exercising our First Amendment right to petition our government for a redress of grievances (the vile use of our tax money). We urge you to do the honorable thing. We urge you to heed your conscience.
From the Upstate Drone Action Coalition: Ground the Drones and End the Wars, 28 January 2016
We come to the gates of Hancock Drone Base today to install a memorial of Jerry Berrigan.
Jerry Berrigan, who died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, was a husband, a father, a brother, a teacher and someone who – like his brothers Dan and Phil – dedicated his entire life to Jesus’ command to love one another. Jerry came to the base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able, in Jerry’s words, “to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”
As more and more evidence mounts regarding the illegality of U.S. drone policies, from the “Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, to the four drone pilots who have come forward to speak out about what this policy is doing, we bring Jerry’s image here to the gates to remember that this is where he would be, speaking out and putting his body on the line to say a clear “NO” to killing. Because Jerry Berrigan knew that it matters where we put our bodies.
In 2008 Jerry was asked by The Syracuse Post Standard if there was anything he would change in his life. Jerry replied, “I would have resisted more often and been arrested more often.” In our memorial today we use an image of Jerry from The Syracuse Post Standard where he is being arrested for opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
As we are installing this Jerry Berrigan Memorial Drone Blockade, we also remember Mary Anne Grady Flores who is serving a six month sentence here in the Onondaga County jail because the courts in this county believe that the colonel at this highly armed base needs protection from citizens calling attention to the drone killings. We challenge the courts to apply the law as it was meant to be applied; to protect victims not victimizers.
Syracuse has a great history of men named Jerry and resistance to injustice. We call to mind “The Jerry Rescue” memorial that stands across the street from The Federal Court house where Syracusans in 1851 literally got in the way of the illegal and immoral Fugitive Slave law and the officials who tried take a man named Jerry back to enslavement in the South. They opened the prison gates for him to go to freedom. Our intent for this memorial today in honor of Jerry Berrigan, is to get in the way of the illegal and immoral use of killer drones. And to stand in solidarity with all those resisting other injustice – from Black Lives Matter to those putting their bodies to halt climate change.
Thank you Jerry Berrigan for your life and example. Your Spirit lives on!
Beth Adams (Leverett, MA), Bev Rice (Manhattan), Bill Ofenloch (NYC), Brian Hynes (Bronx), Charley Bowman (Buffalo), Ed Kinane (Syracuse, NY), James Ricks (Ithaca), Joan Pleune (Brooklyn), Joan Wages (Roanoke, VA), Pete Perry (Syracuse, NY), Ray McGovern (Arlington, VA), Steve Baggarly (VA)