You are hereDrones
By Joy First
Voices for Creative Nonviolence engaged with a number of Wisconsin peace groups to organize an 8-day 90-mile walk across southwest Wisconsin from August 18-25. The purpose of the walk was to call attention and make connections between the militarized police violence at home and the military using violence abroad through drone warfare and by other means. In both cases the victims are people of color, which forces us to reflect on the systemic racism of our society.
The walk began at the City/County/Jail complex in Madison on August 18. Dane County has one of the highest rates of racial disparity of any county in the country on many issues, including when it comes to incarceration - hence starting the walk at the jail. In fact, in order to make the prison population match the general population in Dane County, we would need to release 350 Black people. This is horrific, especially when we understand that so many people of color are in jail for nonviolent crimes and crimes of poverty that could better be solved by more positive interventions. It is up to all of us to stand up with our brothers and sisters and proclaim that “Black Lives Matter!”
By Kathy Kelly
"This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Imagine children lustily singing the above lines which eventually became a civil rights anthem. Their innocence and happy resolve enlightens us. Yes! In the face of wars, refugee crises, weapon proliferation and unaddressed climate change impacts, let us echo the common sense of children. Let goodness shine. Or, as our young friends in Afghanistan have put it, #Enough! They write the word, in Dari, on the palms of their hands and show it to cameras, wanting to shout out their desire to abolish all wars.
This past summer, collaborating with Wisconsin activists, we decided to feature this refrain on signs and announcements for a 90-mile walk campaigning to end targeted drone assassinations abroad, and the similarly racist impunity granted to an increasingly militarized police force when they kill brown and black people within the U.S.
Cable Provider Has Strong Links to Military Industry, Including Snowden Employer and Drone Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton
CLOVIS, NM – An international cable provider with links to the war industry is refusing to air television commercials produced by U.S. military veterans that are critical of the U.S. drone program, according to vets involved in the production of the spots.
While the controversial commercials – which urge U.S. military personnel to "Refuse to Fly" military drones – have run elsewhere in the U.S. without incident, Suddenlink Cable refused to air them. They were pulled after just a few days of being on the air.
Suddenlink is linked to a financial backer, The Carlyle Group, a major international arms investor which owns drone contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's former employer, according to KnowDrones.com, sponsor of the anti-drone commercials.
Booz Allen Hamilton is now contracting with the U.S. Air Force to do drone targeting analysis, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Suddenlink, the nation's seventh largest cable provider with 1.4 million customers in 17 states, pulled the spots within days of when they began airing in early July in Clovis, NM, seven miles from Cannon AFB. The base is home to the 3rd and 33rd Special Operations Squadrons that are reported to control MQ-9 Reaper drones in the skies over Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen and possibly elsewhere.
Suddenlink, despite repeated requests, refused to give any reason for cancelling the anti-drone commercials.
The anti-drone commercials have run on FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and other networks on Comcast, Cox and Time Warner throughout the country since early 2015, including near drone operation centers near Las Vegas, Sacramento, New York and Florida. The spots can be seen here.
Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, said Suddenlink's decision to censor the ads may be because Suddenlink is controlled by Altice, owned by Patrick Drahi, described by the newspaper Haaretz as a "Franco-Israeli telecoms billionaire." Drahi is connected to the war industry through his association with the Carlyle and Cinven private equity firms; both are invested in the arms industry, and both are invested in Altice, which bought 70 percent of Suddenlink in May, 2015 for $9.1 billion.
"Suddenlink's decision to kill our ads raises the extremely disturbing possibility of censorship at the behest of Mr. Drahi, Carlyle, Booz Allen and the U.S. military. Through the images of children killed in drone attacks the American people can see the illegality and immorality of the U.S. policy of systematically killing people without due process. Suddenlink's decision to censor the spots shows how powerful the commercials are, and it reveals connections that give power to people who profit from war to literally remove the truth from the public airwaves so that Americans only see the sanitized version of how their tax dollars are killing and mutilating people around the world," said Mottern.
The “Refuse to Fly” message in the ad is reinforced by a letter from about 50 veterans to drone operators urging “drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/assassination missions.”
No, I’m not referring to the U.S. election. I’m referring to “Bycatch.” The name refers not to fish accidentally caught and killed while trying to catch and kill other fish, but to humans murdered in a game in which the player hopes to murder certain other humans but knows that he or she stands a good chance of murdering some bycatch.
The Nazis never reached this height of banality in the general German public, but had they done so it would be a sinister feature of tens of thousands of Hollywood movies. If Russians sat around playing a board game that involved blowing up Ukrainian children, the Washington Post would have already published several front-page articles.
This is a game that puts you in the shoes of one particular human being, thus far, but imagines several engaging in the same activity in competition. In Bycatch you become Barack Obama going through his Tuesday murder list. But Bycatch imagines as many nations as people playing the game, each engaging in a drone murder spree against the others. Here’s an excerpt from the rules:
“How to strike
“Suspects hiding in other nations can be eliminated by means of a strike. You choose the opponent you wish to target and go through these steps:
“Discard two identical citizens who are not suspects from your hand.
“Remove three consecutive citizens from your chosen opponent’s hand.
“Show these cards to the other players.
“Place them face down in front of you.
“Failed Strike: If none of the eliminated citizens are suspects, they are all collateral damage.
“Successful Strike: If at least one eliminated citizen is a suspect, do the following:
- Place the current intelligence card face down on top of the eliminated citizens.
- Reveal a new intelligence card.
“The remaining citizens are collateral damage.”
“Add 100 points for each suspect eliminated by a strike. Use the intelligence cards to identify eliminated suspects.
“Collateral Damage: Detract 10 points for each citizen in a strike who was not a suspect.”
So, if you casually murder three “wrong” people, you lose 30 points. But if you only murder two “wrong” people and murder one “right” person, you gain 80 points. I wonder what people will do?
This is a game to be played by well-off people who can afford to purchase such crap and to sit around playing with it. And it’s being marketed to them with a wink by people who know better. The game’s would-be profiteers have this to say about it:
“Appealing artwork helps you empathize with your citizens and the horrors of drone strikes and collateral damage.”
Right. Because tossing lives around on playing cards and making more points the more you murder is a well-established path to empathy.
I thought I couldn’t grow any more disgusted with the human race. I was wrong.
The White House, State Department and Pentagon officials maintain that the drone attacks are aimed at targeting the Al-Qaeda terrorists in these countries and crushing their strongholds; however, figures indicate that the majority of the victims of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles dispatched to the region are civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has recently revealed that between 2004 and 2015, there have been 418 drone strikes against Pakistan alone, resulting in the killing of 2,460 to 3,967 people, including at least 423 civilians. That’s while some sources put the number of civilian casualties in Pakistan during the 11-year period at 962.
An American peace activist and speaker tells Fars News Agency that the drone strategy was not a blunder which President Bush committed, rather it was a “crime” that he perpetrated and President Obama perpetuated.
According to the 58-year-old Brian Terrell, the US government is not only claiming innocent lives through drone attacks, but endangering its own security and undermining its public stature.
“The reality that US drone strikes are a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda is good news for war profiteers, even as it is alarming to anyone who is interested in the security of the US and the peace and stability of the counties where they are occurring,” he said.
“Instead of manufacturing weapons in order to wage war, the US is now waging war in order to manufacture more weapons,” Terrell noted.
Brian Terrell lives and works on a small farm in Maloy, Iowa. He has traveled to many regions across the world for public speaking events, including in Europe, Latin America, and Korea. He has also visited Palestine, Bahrain, and Iraq and returned from his second visit to Afghanistan last February. He is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence and event coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience.
FNA talked to Mr. Terrell about the US government’s military policy and its conduct with regard to the crisis-hit Middle East, the drone attacks and the legacy of the “War on Terror.” The following is the full text of the interview.
Four anti-drone resisters were sentenced tonight in Judge Joseph J. Zavaglia’s DeWitt (NY) Town Court for alleged trespass at a “die-in” on April 28, 2013 at Hancock Air Base, home to the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard, just north of Syracuse, NY. At their four-day trial this past June trial the six-person jury acquitted the four of disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration.
The four are members of Upstate Drone Action Coalition – a scrupulously nonviolent, loosely-knit grassroots network which, since 2009 has actively opposed the Hancock Reaper drones flying missions over Afghanistan. The Reaper, an unmanned robot, is notorious for violating international law by killing, maiming and terrorizing civilians in several U.S. undeclared wars.
There have been over 160 anti-drone arrests at Hancock resulting in bails as high as $10,000, numerous trials, many incarcerations, and Orders of Protection (a legal device usually meant to protect spouses and other vulnerable persons against violence).
The four defendants are: Joan Pleune of Brooklyn, Beverly Rice of Manhattan, Ellen Barfield of Baltimore, and Jules Orkin of Bergenfield, New Jersey. Pleune is a former Freedom Rider; Barfield, Rice and Orkin are active with Veterans for Peace.
All four were identically sentenced to one year’s conditional discharge, $250 fine, $125 court costs and a two-year order of protection. Both Pleune and Rice told Judge Zavaglia, through their attorney Lewis Oliver, that they would not agree to the conditional discharge – which led him to sentence the two to 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary. Pleune and Rice were taken from court in handcuffs.
It's not terrorism if it's retaliation: Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Legitimate Act of War
By Dave Lindorff
I'm not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.
Military Vets Sponsor 'Uncensored' Counter U.S. Drone War TV Commercial on CNN, FoxNews, ESPN Near Cannon AFB/Special Ops Drone Control Center in Clovis, New Mexico
CLOVIS, NM – A graphic and controversial 15-second television commercial – showing images of children killed in drone attacks – began airing in July uncensored in Clovis, NM near Cannon AFB, a major U.S. drone control site. The spot has been censored or modified by cable providers near other U.S. drone control centers where it has run over the past few months.
CNN, FoxNews, ESPN and other cable networks locally are carrying the uncensored spot throughout July.
The uncensored paid advertisement, which calls on drone operators to “Please Refuse to Fly,” is being carried by local cable provider Suddenlink. It can be found here: http://youtu.be/8mdu4bzWgd0. A second spot can be found at https://youtu.be/ibrCbiLyKZc.
In other markets cable providers have permitted the ad to be shown only after 10 p.m., or not at all. In these cases a censored ad has been shown that does not include images of dead children, although it does criticize the deadly U.S. drone attacks. All anti-drone TV commercials can be found at www.KnowDrones.com.
By Jack Balkwill
How many days has it been
Since I was born?
How many days
'Til I die?
Do I know any ways
I can make you laugh?
Or do I only know how
To make you cry?
― Leon Russell, Stranger in a Strange Land
FOUR HANCOCK ANTI-DRONE ACTIVISTS GUILTY OF TRESPASS, BUT ACQUITTED OF DISORDERLY CONDUCT AND OF OBSTRUCTING GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION (OGA), A MISDEMEANOR. SENTENCING WILL BE IN THE DE WITT (NY) TOWN COURT 6:30 P.M. JULY 8.
This afternoon (6/27), after deliberating a couple hours, a six-person jury found the four not guilty of obstructing government administration (OGA) at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, New York, but guilty of trespass, a violation carrying a maximum 15-day imprisonment.
Today was the last day of the four-day trial presided over by Judge Joseph Zavaglia, a corporate attorney. The four were represented by Atty. Lew Oliver of Albany. They were among 31 arrested in the driveway to Hancock’s main gate on East Molloy Rd on April 28, 2013 for “dieing-in” with bloody shrouds or for attempting to read aloud to the military personnel behind Hancock’s barbed wire fence a list of children killed by U.S. drones. The activists said they sought to “prick the conscience” of base personnel and the chain of command responsible for the war crime originating there.
A low point in the trial came when Judge Zavaglia did not permit Pardiss Kebraiaei, a national security and international law expert, to testify. Kebraiaei, who has testified before Congress, had come that morning from NYC where she’s an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Since 2010 Hancock has been the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard – an MQ9 Reaper drone hub piloting weaponized drones 24/7 over Afghanistan and likely elsewhere. Also since 2010 Hancock has been the scene of twice-monthly anti-drone demonstrations outside its main gate as well as occasional larger demonstrations and scrupulously nonviolent civil resistance organized by Upstate Drone Action, a grassroots coalition. These have led to over 160 arrests, and numerous trials in DeWitt as well as $375 fines, Orders of Protection, and numerous incarcerations.
June 25, 2015, DeWitt, NY: Four concerned citizens are on trial before Judge Joseph Zavaglia in the DeWitt Town Court for their action at Hancock Drone Base, a suburb of Syracuse, NY, on April 28, 2013. The four are Jules Orkin of Bergenfield, NJ, Ellen Barfield of Baltimore, MD, Beverly Rice, and Joan Pleune of NYC.
Jury selection was yesterday. The jury of six and two alternates, were chosen from the Town of DeWitt. One of the jurors said he thinks Edward Snowden should be executed and that weaponized drones are good.
The Assistant District Attorney, Peter Hakes started his case today, with only one witness taking the stand. After a full day of questioning of the witness, Chief Master Sergeant Ramsey, the prosecution rested their case.
The four defendants are facing four charges, Obstruction of Governmental Administration, Trespass, and two Disorderly Conducts. If found guilty the activists could be sentenced to a year.
On April 28, 2013, 31 people were arrested as they tried to bring to the base an image of what a drone strike could look like. The defendants participated in the action.
The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and Stop the Wars along with colleague organizations Veterans For Peace and the Granny Peace Brigade to which the defendants belong, believe the killing is immoral and illegal, violating the United Nations Charter, and international treaty laws which under Article 6 of the US Constitution are part of the supreme law of the United States and supersede local and Federal law.
Since 2010 anti-drone activists have experienced nearly 200 arrests and numerous jail sentences at Hancock for scrupulously-nonviolent protests, as part of a national campaign to resist drones at a number of bases.
The trial will continue with the defense starting it’s case on Friday morning. Please come support the defendants.
Four Defendants Go On Trial 24 June at DeWitt, NY Town Court for Opposing Reaper Drone War Crimes at Hancock Air Base
At 9am, Wednesday 24 June, 2015, Ellen Barfield of Baltimore, MD, Jules Orkin of Bergenfield, NJ, Joan Pleune and Beverly Rice of New York City, defended by Attorney Lewis B. Oliver of Albany, NY, will begin trial before a six-person jury in the DeWitt, NY Town Court of Judge Zavaglia, charged with 2 counts of disorderly conduct, one count of trespass, and one count of obstructing government administration.
Over 2 years ago, on 28 April, 2013, the four were arrested with 27 others for allegedly blocking the driveway leading to the main gate of the Hancock Reaper drone base on East Molloy Rd, town of DeWitt.
The arrestees that day are members and colleagues of Upstate Drone Action, a grass-roots group which calls public attention to the killing and terrorizing of Afghan civilians by Hancock's 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard, and urges drone operators to examine their consciences.
Upstate Drone Action, along with colleague organizations Veterans For Peace and the Granny Peace Brigade to which the defendants belong, believe the killing is immoral and illegal, violating the United Nations Charter, and international treaty laws which under Article 6 of the US Constitution are part of the supreme law of the United States and supersede local and Federal law.
Since 2010 anti-drone activists have experienced nearly 200 arrests and numerous jail sentences at Hancock for scrupulously-nonviolent protests, as part of a national campaign to resist drones at a number of bases.
For more information see upstatedroneaction.org
Letter Reinforces Call Made in National TV Ad Campaign
Hastings on Hudson, NY – An increasing number of United States military veterans are counseling United States military drone operators to refuse to fly drone surveillance/attack missions – the veterans are even helping sponsor prime time television commercials urging drone operators to "refuse to fly."
In a letter released today by KnowDrones.com, 44 former members of the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines whose ranks range from private to colonel and whose military service spans 60 years, “urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions. These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.”
On Monday, June 15th 2015, a group of Left MP´s from the Deutscher Bundestag (German Parliament), supported by local peace activists, will try to gain entrance to the US Air Force Base in Ramstein in order to fulfill their parliamentary responsibilities and to make their own evaluation of the operations on the US Air Force Base.
The action will focus on the use of killer-drones. Located on Ramstein Air Force Base is the central relay station that connects US drone pilots in Nevada with drones in targetted areas such as Pakistan or Yemen. According to Sahra Wagenknecht, Vice President of the Left Party group in the German Parliament: “The murders by US drones are contrary to international law and infringe upon right to life that is guaranteed under human rights law. The thousands of killings via drones are like the enforcement of thousands of death sentences without a court order.”
There has been much talk of late about the courage of Caitlyn Jenner. A recent Vanity Fair cover showed the transformation of former 65-year-old Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn, an attractive woman who appears to be in her thirties.
But let us look for a moment at the definition of courage. Merriam-Webster defines it thusly: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”
By John Grant
We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
- George Orwell
A Yemeni man, whose innocent nephew and brother-in-law were killed in an August 2012 U.S. drone strike, has today filed a lawsuit in his ongoing quest for an official apology over his relatives’ deaths.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, who filed suit today in Washington D.C., lost his brother-in-law Salem and his nephew Waleed in the strike. Salem was an anti-al Qaeda imam who is survived by a widow and seven young children. Waleed was a 26 year old police officer with a wife and infant child of his own. Salem had given a sermon preaching against extremism just days before he and Waleed were killed.
The lawsuit requests that the D.C. District Court issue a declaration that the strike that killed Salem and Waleed was unlawful, but does not ask for monetary compensation. Faisal is jointly represented by Reprieve and pro bono counsel at law firm McKool Smith.
Leaked intelligence - reported in The Intercept - indicates that U.S. officials knew they had killed civilians shortly after the strike. In July 2014 Faisal’s family were offered a bag containing $100,000 in sequentially-marked US dollar bills at a meeting with the Yemeni National Security Bureau (NSB). The NSB official who had requested the meeting told a family representative that the money came from the US and that he had been asked to pass it along.
Originally published at Truthout.org
This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.
The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported by The Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.
The NGOs Reprieve, based in the United Kingdom, and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), based in Germany, provided legal representation for the plaintiffs. The case was heard on May 27 in an administrative court in Cologne, Germany.
Activists in the US and in Germany held vigils and other protest event days in solidarity with the Yemeni survivors who brought the case. On May 26, the open letter was presented by delegations of US citizens to the German Embassy in Washington DC, and to the German Consulate in New York. On May 27, a delegation of German citizens presented the open letter to a representative of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin. The US and German activists will also forward the letter to members of the German Parliament (Bundestag).
The open letter was authored by Elsa Rassbach, Judith Bello, Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern.
Dear Chancellor Merkel:
On May 27th a German court in Cologne will hear evidence from Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Yemen who lost two relatives to a 2012 U.S. drone strike. This is the first time that a court in a country providing significant military/technical support for the U.S. drone program has permitted such a case to be heard.
U.S. drone strikes have killed or maimed tens of thousands in many countries with which the U.S. is not officially at war. The vast majority of drone-strike victims have been innocent bystanders, including large numbers of children. One respected study found that for every target or known combatant killed, 28 “unknown persons” were also killed. Because the victims were/are not U.S. citizens, their families do not have standing to initiate legal action in U.S. courts. Shamefully, the families of these victims have had no legal recourse whatsoever.
Thus the case of Mr. bin Ali Jaber, representing his family in a German court, is of great interest to many who have long been dismayed at the U.S. government’s violations of human rights and international law in the so-called "war on terror." Reportedly, Mr. bin Ali Jaber will argue that the German Government has violated the German Constitution by allowing the U.S. to use Ramstein Air Base in Germany for extrajudicial “targeted” killings in Yemen. He is expected to request that the German government “take legal and political responsibility for the U.S. drone war in Yemen” and “forbid use of the Satellite Relay Station in Ramstein.”
Credible evidence has already been widely published indicating that the U.S. Satellite Relay Station in Ramstein plays an essential role in ALL U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia. The killings and maiming resulting from missiles fired from U.S. drones would not be possible without the cooperation of the German government in enabling the U.S. to use Ramstein Air Base for the illegal drone wars -- a military base which, we respectfully suggest, is an anachronism a full seventy years after the liberation of Germany and Europe from the Nazis.
Irrespective of the ultimate outcome in court of Mr. bin Ali Jaber’s case, which possibly could continue for years, now is the time for Germany to take effective measures to stop the U.S. from using Ramstein Air Base for combat drone missions.
The reality is this: The military base in Ramstein is under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal The reality The reality is this: The military base in Ramstein is under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal Government of Germany, even though the U.S. Air Force has been allowed to use the base. If illegal activities such as extrajudicial killings are conducted from Ramstein or other U.S. bases in Germany -- and if U.S. authorities do not desist from these legal offenses then we respectfully suggest that you and your government have a duty under international law to act. This is clearly expressed in the Nuremberg Trials Federal Rules Decisions of 1946-47 (6 F.R.D.60), which were adopted into US law. Accordingly, every individual participating in the enactment of a war crime is responsible for that crime, including businessmen, politicians and others who enable the criminal act.
In 1991 the reunited Federal Republic of Germany was granted “complete sovereignty at home and abroad” via the Two-plus-Four-Treaty. The Treaty emphasizes that “there shall be only peaceful activities from German territory” as does Article 26 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, which states that the acts undertaken to prepare for a war of aggression are deemed "unconstitutional" and "a criminal offense." Many in the U.S. and around the world hope that the German people and their government will provide much-needed leadership in the world on behalf of peace and of human rights.
The German Government often states that it has no knowledge of the activities being conducted at Ramstein Air Base or other U.S. bases in Germany. We respectfully submit that if this is the case, you and the German Government may have a duty to require the needed transparency and accountability from the U.S. military and intelligence agencies in Germany. If the present Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. and Germany precludes the transparency and accountability that the German Government needs in order to enforce German and international law, then the German Government must request that the U.S. make appropriate modifications in the SOFA. As you know, Germany and the U.S. each have the right to unilaterally terminate the SOFA upon giving two years' notice. Many in the U.S. would not oppose but would indeed welcome a renegotiation of the SOFA between the U.S. and Germany if this should be required to restore the rule of law.
The end of hostilities in 1945 seventy years ago saw the world faced with the task of restoring and advancing the international rule of law. This led to efforts to define and punish war crimes -- major efforts like the Nuremberg Tribunal and the formation of the United Nations, which in 1948 proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While Germany has sought to adhere to the principles of the Declaration, the U.S. increasingly in recent years ignored these principles. In addition, the U.S. seeks to draw NATO and other allies into complicity in violating these principles.
The U.S. began the drone program in secrecy in 2001 and did not reveal it to the American people or to most of their representatives in Congress; the drone program was first discovered and revealed by U.S. peace activists in 2008. The British people were also not informed when the United Kingdom in 2007 obtained killer drones from the U.S. And only recently have the German people been informed, through courageous reporting by independent journalists and whistleblowers, of the key role of Ramstein in the illegal U.S. drone program.
Now aware of the role Ramstein in undermining human rights and international law, many German citizens are calling upon you and the German government to enforce the rule of law in Germany, including on the U.S. bases. And because of the indispensable role of Ramstein for all the U.S. drones strikes, the government of Germany now holds in its hands the power to actually stop the illegal U.S. drone killings altogether.
If the German Government were to take decisive action in this matter, Germany would surely find support among nations of the world, including the nations of Europe. The European Parliament in its Resolution on the Use of Armed Drones, which was adopted by a landslide vote of 534 to 49 on February 27, 2014, urged its Member States to “oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial killings” and “not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states.” The European Parliament Resolution further declares that Member States must “commit to ensuring that, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an individual or entity within their jurisdiction may be connected to an unlawful targeted killing abroad, measures are taken in accordance with their domestic and legal obligations.”
Extrajudicial killing - the killing of 'suspects' - is in fact also a grievous violation of the U.S. Constitution. And the U.S. initiation and prosecution of killings and wars in sovereign countries that do not threaten the U.S. mainland violate international treaties the U.S. has signed and Congress has ratified, including the United Nations Charter.
Tens of thousands of Americans have struggled in vain for years to expose and end the U.S. drone program and other U.S. war crimes that have quite predictably led to increasing hatred for the U.S. and its allies among the targeted and terrorized populations. Like the incarceration without due process at Guantanamo, drone warfare has clearly undermined the post-WWII international law upon which we all rely.
We hope that major U.S. allies - and particularly Germany, because of the indispensable role it plays - will take firm action to end extrajudicial drone killings. We implore you to take all steps necessary to put a stop to all activities in Germany that support drone warfare and killings by the U.S. government.
Carol Baum, Co-Founder of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Syracuse Peace Council
Judy Bello, Co-Founder of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, United National Antiwar Coalition
Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of CodePink
Jacqueline Cabasso, National Co-convener, United for Peace and Justice
Leah Bolger, Former President of National Veterans for Peace
David Hartsough, PeaceWorkers, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Robin Hensel, Little Falls OCCU-PIE
Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Malachy Kilbride, National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance
Marilyn Levin, Co-Founder of United National Antiwar Coalition, United for Justice with Peace
Mickie Lynn, Women Against War
Ray McGovern, Retired CIA Analyst, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Nick Mottern, KnowDrones
Gael Murphy, CodePink
Elsa Rassbach, CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition
Alyssa Rohricht, Graduate Student in International Relations
Coleen Rowley, Retired FBI Agent, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
David Swanson, World Beyond War, War is a Crime
Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait
Brian Terrell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Missouri Catholic Worker
Colonel Ann Wright, Retired Military Officer and Diplomatic Attaché, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink
Brandywine Peace Community, Philadelphia, PA
CodePink Women for Peace
Ithaca Catholic Worker, Ithaca, NY
Little Falls OCC-U-PIE, WI
National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR)
Peace Action and Education, Rochester, NY
Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse, NY
United For Justice with Peace, Boston, MA
United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
U.S. Foreign Policy Activist Cooperative, Washington DC
Upstate (NY) Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Veterans For Peace, Chapter 27
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
War Is A Crime
Watertown Citizens for Peace Justice and the Environment, Watertown, MA
Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Women Against Military Madness, Minneapolis, MN
Women Against War, Albany, NY
World Beyond War
World Can’t Wait
The Yemeni plaintiffs did not prevail on May 27, nor was it anticipated that they would prevail in such an important matter in a lower court in Germany. Nevertheless, the Court's decision in the case set some important legal precedents:
a) The Court ruled that the Yemeni survivors, who are not German citizens, have standing to sue the German government in the German courts. This is the first known time that a NATO country that has granted drone survivors or victims who are not citizens of their country such standing in court.
b) The Court stated in its decision that the media reports regarding the essential role of Ramstein in the US drone killings are "plausible," the first time that this has been officially acknowledged by authorities Germany.
But the Court held that it is in the discretion of the German government to decide what steps must be taken to protect the people of Yemen from the danger of being killed by drones with essential assistance from Ramstein Air Base. In addition, the Court mentioned that the present Status of Forces Agreement (SOSA) between the US and Germany may at this time prohibit the German government from closing the Satellite Relay Station in the Ramstein base. The plaintiffs argued that the SOSA could be renegotiated or even cancelled by the German government.
In an unusual step, the Court immediately granted the plaintiffs the right to appeal. ECCHR and Reprieve will appeal on behalf of the Yemeni plaintiffs as soon as the full written decision of the court in Cologne is available.
WATCH: Attorneys with the human rights organizations representing the bin Ali Jaber family of Yemen in their lawsuit against the German government discuss the court hearing on May 27 in Cologne, Germany.
Elsa Rassbach interviews Kat Craig, the Legal Director of Reprieve:
Elsa Rassbach interviews Andreas Schüller of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights:
This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.
Elsa Rassbach is US citizen, filmmaker and journalist, who often lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She heads the "GIs & US Bases" working group in DFG-VK (the German affiliate of War Resisters International, WRI) and is active in Code Pink, No to NATO, and the anti-drone campaign in Germany. Her film short We Were Soldiers in the 'War on Terror' has just been released in the U.S., and The Killing Floor, her award-winning film set in the Chicago Stockyards, will be re-released next year.
Judith Bello serves on the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Rochester, NY.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publication arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served at CIA from the administrations of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush, and was one of five CIA “alumni” who created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) in January 2003.
Nick Mottern is a reporter and director of Consumers for Peace.org, who has been active in anti-war organizing and has worked for Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Bread for the World, the former US Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs and The Providence (RI) Journal - Bulletin.
By Buddy Bell, Voices For Creative Nonviolence
A new survey just released by the Pew Research Center (www.pewresearch.org) found that respondents have become much more likely to voice their disapproval over the U.S. drone assassination program. In a phone survey conducted from May 12-18, 2015, Pew found that 35 of every 100 respondents said they disapproved “of the United States conducting [drone strikes] to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” The complete report of Pew’s methodology indicates that the last time they asked this particular question was from February 7-10, 2013. In that survey, only 26 of every 100 respondents disapproved, so in the span of two years the disapproval rate shot up by 9 points, constituting a 34% increase.
A terrifying group of four miscreants descended upon the German Embassy on Tuesday, demanding all number of ludicrous things and terrorizing embassy staff with their homemade cardboard signs and left-wing propaganda. The four hippie commies who smugly arrived by bike and on foot, stood outside of the embassy gates, menacingly waving at passersby and occasionally sitting in the shade to escape the hot D.C. sun. Rightly, the rowdy bunch was immediately met by an Embassy security guard and questioned and eventually told, “Fine, you can stay here, but don’t cause any trouble.”
When the group of delinquents asked to speak with someone in the Embassy for a number of minutes and deliver a petition, they were told that everyone had left for the day – at 3pm – and that no one was available inside to hear them. “You should make an appointment,” another security guard told the group, yet the hoodlums argued that requests for appointments via phone and email the week prior were rejected. And strangely, even though everyone had left work at the embassy for the day, many BMWs and all kinds of fancy convertibles were seen leaving the embassy gates in the hours that followed. Since everyone from the embassy had already left, these BMW-driving folk must have just constituted the apparently well-paid janitorial staff.
Yemeni man granted permission to continue case against German government over role in US drone strikes
A German court has granted ‘immediate permission to appeal’ to a Yemeni man in his case seeking to expose and put an end to the German government’s role in the U.S. covert drone programme in Yemen.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Sana’a who had two relatives killed in a 2012 drone strike, had his evidence heard in a Cologne court today. Mr bin Ali Jaber - represented by international human rights charity Reprieve and its local partner the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) brought the case against Germany, following revelations that Ramstein air base is crucial to facilitating American covert drone strikes in Yemen.
By Brian Terrell
When President Barack Obama apologized on April 23 to the families of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, an American and an Italian, both hostages killed in a drone attack in Pakistan in January, he blamed their tragic deaths on the “fog of war.”
“This operation was fully consistent with the guidelines under which we conduct counterterrorism efforts in the region,” he said, and based on “hundreds of hours of surveillance, we believed that this (the building targeted and destroyed by drone launched missiles) was an al Qaeda compound; that no civilians were present.” Even with the best of intentions and most stringent of safeguards, the president said, “it is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally and our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes -- sometimes deadly mistakes -- can occur.”
I sometimes read that drone strikes are counterproductive to western security interests because each person killed by a drone results in more new ‘terrorists’. See, for example, ‘The more civilians US drones kill in the Mideast, the more radicals they create’.
NEW YORK – A vigil imploring the German government to order the immediate closure of the United States drone satellite relay station at Ramstein Air Base will be held at 11:30 am, Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at the German Consulate, 871 U.N. Plaza.
The Ramstein relay station, according to an April 17, 2015 article in The Intercept, is essential to U.S. drone attacks because it “enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries.”
The vigil will mark the opening of a court case in Cologne, Germany on May 27, 2015 on behalf of Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Yemen who lost his brother-in-law and a nephew to a U.S. drone attack in 2012. His suit seeks to force the German government act to close the Ramstein relay station under a provision of German law that allows people to seek redress if they have suffered harm from activities generated on German soil, in this case drone execution without due process.
“This is an extremely important case not only because it has the potential for stopping U.S. drone attacks but because it may expose much about the U.S. drone program that has been kept secret from the American public and the world,” said Nick Mottern, Director of KnowDrones.com
The vigil will include music by the Raging Grannies singing group and display of a large model of the MQ-9 Reaper, the world’s most numerous and deadly drone. The event is being organized by: KnowDrones.com, the Granny Peace Brigade and World Can’t Wait.