You are hereDrones

Drones


The Senate Drone Report of 2019: Looking Back on Washington’s War on Terror

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com

It was December 6, 2019, three years into a sagging Clinton presidency and a bitterly divided Congress. That day, the 500-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s long fought-over, much-delayed, heavily redacted report on the secret CIA drone wars and other American air campaigns in the 18-year-long war on terror was finally released.  That day, committee chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) took to the Senate floor, amid the warnings of his Republican colleagues that its release might “inflame” America’s enemies leading to violence across the Greater Middle East, and said:

“Over the past couple of weeks, I have gone through a great deal of introspection about whether to delay the release of this report to a later time. We are clearly in a period of turmoil and instability in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, that's going to continue for the foreseeable future, whether this report is released or not. There may never be the 'right' time to release it. The instability we see today will not be resolved in months or years. But this report is too important to shelve indefinitely.  The simple fact is that the drone and air campaigns we have launched and pursued these last 18 years have proven to be a stain on our values and on our history.”

Though it was a Friday afternoon, normally a dead zone for media attention, the response was instant and stunning.  As had happened five years earlier with the committee’s similarly fought-over report on torture, it became a 24/7 media event.  The “revelations” from the report poured out to a stunned nation.  There were the CIA’s own figures on the hundreds of children in the backlands of Pakistan and Yemen killed by drone strikes against “terrorists” and “militants.”  There were the “double-tap strikes” in which drones returned after initial attacks to go after rescuers of those buried in rubble or to take out the funerals of those previously slain.  There were the CIA’s own statistics on the stunning numbers of unknown villagers killed for every significant and known figure targeted and finally taken out (1,147 dead in Pakistan for 41 men specifically targeted).  There were the unexpected internal Agency discussions of the imprecision of the robotic weapons always publicly hailed as “surgically precise” (and also of the weakness of much of the intelligence that led them to their targets).  There was the joking and commonplace use of dehumanizing language (“bug splat” for those killed) by the teams directing the drones.  There were the “signature strikes,” or the targeting of groups of young men of military age about whom nothing specifically was known, and of course there was the raging argument that ensued in the media over the “effectiveness” of it all (including various emails from CIA officials admitting that drone campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen had proven to be mechanisms not so much for destroying terrorists as for creating new ones).

There were the new tidbits of information on the workings of the president’s “kill list” and the convening of “terror Tuesday” briefings to target specific individuals around the world.  There were the insider discussions of ongoing decisions to target American citizens abroad for assassination by drone without due process of law and the revealing emails in which participants up to presidential advisers discussed how exactly to craft the exculpatory “legal” documents for those acts at the Department of Justice. 

Above all, to an unsuspecting nation, there was the shocking revelation that American air power had, in the course of those years, destroyed in whole or in part at least nine wedding parties, including brides, grooms, family members, and revelers, involving the deaths of hundreds of wedding goers in at least three countries of the Greater Middle East.  This revelation shocked the nation, resulting in headlines ranging from the Washington Post’s sober “Wedding Tally Revealed” to the New York Post’s “Bride and Boom!

But while all of that created headlines, the main debate was over the “effectiveness” of the White House’s and CIA’s drone campaigns.  As Senator Wyden insisted that day in his speech:

“If you read the many case studies in the executive summary of our report, it will be unmistakable not only how ineffective American air power has been over these years, but how, for every ‘bad guy’ taken out, the air strikes were, in the end, a mechanism for the mass creation of terrorists and a continuing, powerful recruitment tool for jihadist and al-Qaeda-linked organizations across the Greater Middle East and Africa.  If you doubt me, just count the jihadis in our world on September 10, 2001, and today in the areas of Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia where our major drone campaigns have taken place, as well, of course, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Then tell me with a straight face that they ‘worked.’”

As with the 2014 torture report, so the responses of those deeply implicated in the drone assassination campaigns and the loosing of American air power more generally in the backlands of the planet put on display the full strength of the American national security state.  It was no surprise, of course, when CIA Director David Petraeus (on his second tour of duty at the Agency) held the usual Langley, Virginia, news conference -- an unknown event until then-Director John Brennan first held one in December 2014 to dispute the Senate torture report.  There, as the New York Times described it, Petraeus criticized the latest report for being “‘flawed,’ ‘partisan,’ and ‘frustrating,’ and pointed out numerous disagreements that he had with its damning conclusions about the CIA’s drone program.”

The real brunt of the attack, however, came from prominent former CIA officials, including former directors George Tenet (“You know, the image that’s been portrayed is we sat around the campfire and said, ‘Oh boy, now we go get to assassinate people.’  We don’t assassinate people.  Let me say that again to you, we don’t assassinate people. O.K.?”); Mike Hayden (“If the world had acted as American air power has done in these years, many people who shouldn’t have gotten married wouldn’t have gotten married and the world would be a saner place for marriage.”); and Brennan himself (“Whatever your views are on our drone program, our nation and in particular this agency did a lot of things right during a difficult time to keep this country strong and secure and you should be thanking them, not undermining them.”).  Hayden, Brennan, and national security, intelligence, and Pentagon officials also blanketed the news and the Sunday morning talk shows.  Former CIA Director of Public Affairs Bill Harlow, who had set up the website ciasavedlives.com to defend the patriotic honor of the Agency at the time of the release of the Senate torture report, repeated the process five years later with the website dontdronethecia.com.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta repeated his classic statement of 2009, insisting to a range of media interviewers that the drone campaign was not just “effective,” but still “the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al-Qaeda leadership.”  Former President Barack Obama did an interview with NBC News from his new presidential library, still under construction in Chicago, saying in part, “We assassinated some folks, but those who did so were American patriots working in a time of great stress and fear.  Assassination may have been necessary and understandable in the moment, but it is not who we are.”  And 78-year-old former Vice President Dick Cheney, who appeared on Fox News from his Wyoming ranch, insisted that the new Senate report, like the old one, was a “gob of unpatriotic hooey.”  President Hillary Clinton, interviewed by BuzzFeed, said of the report, "One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them."  She did not, however, go on to admit that the still ongoing drone program or even the wedding air strikes were “mistakes.”

On December 11th, as everyone knows, the mass junior high school shootings in Wisconsin occurred and media attention quite understandably shifted there, 24/7.  On December 13th, Reuters reported that a drone attack in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, which was “suspected” of killing seven “militants,” including possibly an al-Qaeda sub-commander -- local residents reported that two children and a 70-year-old elder had been among the dead -- was the thousandth drone strike in the CIA’s secret wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Running a Criminal Enterprise in Washington

It’s not 2019, of course.  We don’t know whether Hillary Clinton will be elected president or Ron Wyden reelected to the Senate, no less whether he’ll become the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a body once again controlled by Democrats, or whether there will ever be a torture-report-style investigation of the “secret” drone assassination campaigns the White House, the CIA, and the U.S. military have been running across the backlands of the planet. 

Still, count me among the surprised if, in 2019, some part or parts of the U.S. national security state and the White House aren’t still running drone campaigns that cross national borders with impunity, kill whomever those in Washington choose in “terror Tuesday” meetings or target in “signature strikes,” take out American citizens if it pleases the White House to do so, and generally continue to run what has proven to be a global war for (not on) terror.

When it comes to all of this “secret” but remarkably well-publicized behavior, as with the CIA’s torture program, the U.S. has been making up the future rules of the road for the rest of the world.  It has created a gold standard for assassination and torture by green-lighting “rectal rehydration” (a euphemism for anal rape) and other grim acts.  In the process, it has cooked up self-serving explanations and justifications for actions that would outrage official Washington and the public generally if any other country committed them.

This piece, of course, is not really about the future, but the past and what we should already know about it.  What’s most remarkable about the Senate torture report is that -- except for the odd, grim detail like “rectal rehydration” -- we should never have needed it.  Black sites, torture techniques, the abusing of innocents -- the essential information about the nightmarish Bermuda Triangle of injustice the Bush administration set up after 9/11 has been publicly available, in many instances for years.

Those “2019” revelations about drone assassination campaigns and other grim aspects of the loosing of American air power in the Greater Middle East have been on the public record for years, too.  In truth, we shouldn’t be in any doubt about much of what’s billed as “secret” in our American world.  And the lessons to be drawn from those secret acts should be obvious enough without spending another $40 million and studying yet more millions of classified documents for years.

Here are three conclusions that should now be obvious enough when it comes to Washington’s never-ending war on terror and the growth of the national security state.

1. Whatever grim actions are the focus of debate at the moment, take it for granted that they don’t “work” because nothing connected to the war on terror has worked: The coverage of the Senate torture report has been focused on arguments over whether those “enhanced interrogation techniques,” or EITs, “worked” in the years after 9/11 (as in 2019, the coverage would undoubtedly focus on whether drone assassination campaigns had worked).  The executive summary of the Senate report has already offered numerous cases where information gained through torture practices did not produce actionable intelligence or stop terror plots or save lives, though misinformation from them might have helped embolden the Bush administration in its invasion of Iraq.

Bush administration officials, former CIA directors, and the intelligence “community” in general have vociferously insisted on the opposite.  Six former top CIA officials, including three former directors, publicly claimed that those torture techniques “saved thousands of lives.”  The truth, however, is that we shouldn’t even be having a serious discussion of this issue.  We know the answer.  We knew it long before the redacted executive summary of the Senate report was released.  Torture didn’t work, because 13 years of the war on terror has offered a simple enough lesson: nothing worked.

You name it and it failed.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about invasions, occupations, interventions, small conflicts, raids, bombing runs, secret operations, offshore “black sites,” or god knows what else -- none of it came close to succeeding by even the most minimal standards set in Washington.  In this period, many grim things were done and most of them blew back, creating more enemies, new Islamic extremist movements, and even a jihadist mini-state in the heart of the Middle East that, fittingly enough, was essentially founded at Camp Bucca, an American military prison in Iraq.  Let me repeat that: if Washington did it any time in the last 13 years, whatever it was, it didn’t work. Period.

2. In national security and war terms, only one thing has “worked” in these years and that’s the national security state itself: Every blunder, every disaster, every extreme act that proved a horror in the world also perversely strengthened the national security state.  In other words, the crew that couldn’t shoot straight could do no wrong when it came to their own agencies and careers.

No matter how poorly or badly or stupidly or immorally or criminally agents, operatives, war fighters, private contractors, and high officials acted or what they ordered done, each disaster in this period was like a dose of further career enhancement, like manna from heaven, for a structure that ate taxpayer dollars for lunch and grew in unprecedented ways, despite a world that lacked all significant enemies.  In these years, the national security state entrenched itself and its methods in Washington for the long run. The Department of Homeland Security expanded; the 17 interlocked intelligence agencies that made up the U.S. intelligence community exploded; the Pentagon grew endlessly; the corporate “complexes” that surrounded and meshed with an increasingly privatized national security apparatus had a field day.  And the various officials who oversaw every botched operation and sally into the world, including the torture regime the Bush administration created, were almost to a man promoted, as well as honored in various ways and, in retirement, found themselves further honored and enriched.  The single lesson from all of this for any official was: whatever you do, however rash, extreme, or dumb beyond imagining, whatever you don’t accomplish, whomever you hurt, you are enriching the national security state -- and that’s a good thing.

3. Nothing Washington did could ever qualify as a “war crime” or even a straightforward crime because, in national security terms, our wartime capital has become a crime-free zoneAgain, this is an obvious fact of our era.  There can be no accountability (hence all the promotions) and especially no criminal accountability inside the national security state.  While the rest of us are still in legal America, its officials are in what I’ve long called “post-legal” America and in that state, neither torture (to the point of death), nor kidnapping and assassination, nor destroying evidence of criminal activity, perjury, or the setting up of an extralegal prison system are crimes.  The only possible crime in national security Washington is whistleblowing.  On this, too, the evidence is in and the results speak for themselves.  The post-9/11 moment has proven to be an eternal “get out of jail free card” for the officials of two administrations and the national security state. 

Unfortunately, the obvious points, the simple conclusions that might be drawn from the last 13 years go unnoticed in a Washington where nothing, it seems, can be learned.  As a result, for all the sound and fury of this torture moment, the national security state will only grow stronger, more organized, more aggressively ready to defend itself, while ridding itself of the last vestiges of democratic oversight and control.

There is only one winner in the war on terror and it’s the national security state itself.  So let’s be clear, despite its supporters who regularly hail the "patriotism" of such officials, and despite an increasingly grim world filled with bad guys, they are not the good guys and they are running what, by any normal standards, should be considered a criminal enterprise.

See you in 2019.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His new book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books).

[Note on weddings: On the issue of wedding parties obliterated by American air power, a subject TomDispatch has been covering for years, I had counted news reports on seven of them by the time an eighth, a Yemeni wedding party, was blown away in December 2013.  Since then, a correspondent has pointed out to me a report that a ninth wedding party, the second in Iraq, may have been hit by U.S. air power on October 8, 2004, in the city of Fallujah, with the groom dying and the bride wounded.]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2014 Tom Engelhardt

Shutdown Creech! A National Mobilization for Mass Nonviolent Direct Action

Join us March 4-6, 2015 at Creech Drone Base, Nevada for a national mobilization to shut down assassin drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Sponsored by CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Nevada Desert Experience, Veterans for Peace and Voices for Creative Nonviolence!
In 2005, Creech Air Force Base was home to the first MQ-1 Predator drone squadron in the Air Force Special Operations Command, followed a year later by the first Reaper squadron. In 2013 it was revealed that the CIA drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force’s, has been piloted by military personnel from Creech’s super-secret Squadron 17 all along. Since 2009, the drone program has proliferated to bases around the U.S. and abroad and the base at Creech has also mushroomed along with its mission. Creech is where the killer drone program started- it is where we will end it. 
Five years ago, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark testified at the trial of the “Creech 14,” the first Americans prosecuted for trespass at a drone base, that “to have a baby burn to death because of a ‘no trespass sign’ would be poor public policy to put it mildly.” In a time of burning children, the “no trespassing” signs attached to the fences that protect the crimes perpetrated with drones and other instruments of terror are not legitimate and they do not command our obedience. 
Join us for three days of resistance and celebration in the Nevada desert.

Drones and Discrimination: Kick the Habit

By Kathy Kelly

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in prison for having crossed the line at a military base that wages drone warfare. The punishment for our attempt to speak on behalf of trapped and desperate people, abroad, will be an opportunity to speak with people trapped by prisons and impoverishment here in the U.S. 

Our trial was based on a trespass charge incurred on June 1, 2014.  Georgia Walker and I were immediately arrested when we stepped onto Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force where pilots fly weaponized drones over Afghanistan and other countries.  We carried a loaf of bread and a letter for Brig Gen. Glen D. Van Herck.  In court, we testified that we hadn’t acted with criminal intent but had, rather, exercised our First Amendment right (and responsibility) to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance.

A group of Afghan friends had entrusted me with a simple message, their grievance, which they couldn’t personally deliver: please stop killing us.

I knew that people I’ve lived with, striving to end wars even as their communities were bombed by drone aircraft, would understand the symbolism of asking to break bread with the base commander.

Judge Whitworth said he understood that we oppose war, but he could recommend over 100 better ways to make our point that wouldn’t be breaking the law.  

The prosecution recommended the maximum six month sentence.  “Ms. Kelly needs to be rehabilitated,” said an earnest young military lawyer. The judge paged through a four page summary of past convictions and agreed that I hadn’t yet learned not to break the law. 

What I’ve learned from past experiences in prison is that the criminal justice system uses prison as a weapon against defendants who often have next to no resources to defend themselves.  A prosecutor can threaten a defendant with an onerously long prison sentence along with heavy fines if the defendant doesn’t agree to plea bargain. 

In his article “Why Innocent People Plead Guilty,” Jed S. Rakoff draws attention to the institution of plea bargaining which now ensures that less than 3% of federal cases go to trial at all.  “Of the 2.2 million U.S. people now in prison,” Rakoff writes, “well over 2 million are there as a result of plea bargains dictated by the government’s prosecutors, who effectively dictate the sentence as well.”

“In 2012, the average sentence for federal narcotics defendants who entered into any kind of plea bargain was five years and four months,” Rakoff writes, “while the average sentence for defendants who went to trial was sixteen years.”  
 
It’s one thing to read about the shameful racism and discrimination of the U.S.  criminal justice system. It’s quite another to sit next to a woman who is facing ten or more years in prison, isolated from children she has not held in years, and to learn from her about the circumstances that led to her imprisonment. 

Many women prisoners, unable to find decent jobs in the regular economy, turn to the underground economy. Distant relatives of mine knew plenty about such an economy several generations ago, in Boston. They couldn’t get work, as Irish immigrants, and so they got into the bootlegging business when alcohol was prohibited. But no one sent them to prison for 10 years if they were caught.

Women prisoners may feel waves of guilt, remorse, defiance, and despair. In spite of facing extremely harsh punishment, harsh emotions, and traumatic isolation, most of the women I’ve met in prison have shown extraordinary strength of character.

When I was in Pekin Prison, we would routinely see young men, shackled and handcuffed, shuffling off of the bus to spend their first day in their medium-high security prison next door.  The median sentence there was 27 years. We knew they’d be old men, many of them grandfathers, by the time they walked out again.

The U.S. is the undisputed world leader in incarceration, as it is the world leader in military dominance.  Only one in 28 of drone victims are the intended, guilty or innocent, targets.   One third of women in prison worldwide, are, at this moment, in U.S. prisons.  The crimes that most threaten the safety and livelihood of people in the U.S. of course remain the crimes of the powerful, of the corporations that taint our skies with carbon and acid rainfall, peddle weapons  around an already suffering globe,  shut down factories and whole economies in pursuit of quick wealth, and send our young people to war.

Chief Executive Officers of major corporations that produce products inimical to human survival will most likely never be charged much less convicted of any crime.  I don’t want to see them jailed.  I do want to see them rehabilitated

Each time I’ve left a U.S. prison, I’ve felt as though I was leaving the scene of a crime. When I return to the U.S. from sites of our war making, abroad, I feel the same way. Emerging back into the regular world seems tantamount to accepting a contract, pledging to forget the punishments we visit on impoverished people.  I’m invited to forget about the people still trapped inside nightmare worlds we have made for them.  
 
On January 23, 2015, when I report to whichever prison the Bureau of Prisons selects, I’ll have a short time to reconnect with the reality endured by incarcerated people.  It’s not the rehabilitation the prosecutor and judge had in mind, but it will help me be a more empathic and mindful abolitionist, intent on ending all wars.

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)

Statement of a Drone Protester

Jack Gilroy was released from Jamesville Penitentiary the day after Thankgiving. Below is his sentencing statement given before the Town of DeWitt Court near Syracuse, NY. The Assistant DA for Syracuse asked that he be given a year and 15 days. "Mr. Gilroy is a criminal. His sentencing statement is a clear indication that he has no remorse for his criminal acts." Gilroy tells me: "My crime, of course, was a die in before the gate of the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Drone assassination. My message was to stop the killling. Currently, I am confined to Broome County, NY. I will need a travel pass to go to another county to see my appeal lawyers. Additionally, my Probation Officer said in all her years she has never seen such a large community service sentence...1500 hours."

STATEMENT MADE IN COURT:

I thank the court for the opportunity to make a statement.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.  It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...

Howard Zinn….WWII Bombardier who became one of the great nonviolent peace makers of the 20th century

Your honor, all of us who resist violence are hopeful that someday, the judicial system will recognize the right to speak out in opposition to violence without being charged with a crime.

My conviction of trespass and obstructing government administration is in itself an obstruction of my United States Constitutional right to object to the crimes of my government.

Yet it has to be asked: Is judicial support of illegal acts of the United States government unconstitutional? Are judicial decisions that allow illegal government acts simply enablers of the system of illegality? Is the refusal by this court to hear the truth of assassinations emanating from Hancock mask the immorality and illegality of drones fired from Hancock into areas only the Gang of Eight, the NSA and CIA know?

Is the court acting out of Fear? Are you acting out of a sense of local and national duty to follow illegal and immoral orders?

Judge Jokl, if you really wanted to get to the reasons so many nonviolent people take the nonviolent message to the gates of Hancock Drone base to STOP THE KILLING then you would have allowed my only witness, Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell of Notre Dame School of Law. You rejected her by masking the assassinations that we protest. Assassinations known by Prof. O’Connell-- a major legal voice for justice –to be illegal.

Here is part of what Professor O’Connell, a leading expert on United States Constitutional law, and who has testified several times before Congress on International Law—letting the truth be known that international law is accepted by our US Constitution as supreme law of the land:

“International Law is the law of the United States. As such, it is obligatory upon all whose actions are attributable to the United States under international law, it is binding on Congress, on the President of the United States and the Executive Branch, on the states—on state legislatures and state officials, down to the lowest official of city, town or village, on the courts, on the federal courts, from the Supreme Court down to the federal magistrate or administrative judge and on states courts, from the highest court of appeals to the village magistrate or police court judge

Judge JokI, I practiced my first amendment right of nonviolent speech, assembly, and petition… to call on my government to stop the killing of innocent people. I practiced my first amendment right to assemble, to speak, to practice my Catholic Social teaching that killing is wrong and that the first principle of Catholic Social teaching is the dignity and worth of human beings…I participated in a solemn funeral procession to clearly announce that my government is engaging in killing of innocent people…

Those of us who took oaths of nonviolence before we practiced our constitutional rights are not criminals. We’re the messengers…practicing a long respected tradition of American history. The real criminals are those who order the killings including the President of the United States and his gang of eight who each week decide who will die without being officially charged, without having a hearing, having a trial….Yet, this DeWitt Court acts to suppress our nonviolent right of assembly and speech and charge us as criminals.

Our national leaders with Town and Village courts in support kill suspects and surrounding family and friends based on so called “intelligence”. A US military drone operator noted how very little is done to insure civilians are not killed in strikes. He said as reported by journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald: People get hung up that we’re targeting a list of bad guys. It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people we’re going after their cell phones in the hope the other person on the other end of the missile is the bad guy.”

Years ago, I was at a protest near the Pentagon of another type of assassination our country and their enabling courts have protected. Specifically, …training Latino soldiers to kill teachers, union leaders and clergy who are considered enemies of the state in many Latin American countries. As we gathered about 60 people lied on the ground outside of the Pentagon doing a die in with fake blood on their bodies. It was April, a cold day and many of the people lying on the concrete were elderly. Federal Marshalls took hoses and fired the cold water on the people lying down. A woman next to me asked the US Marshall if he would do the same if it was poison gas. He answered: “If I’m given orders, Mame, I’d just do my duty.”

Are you just doing your duty, Judge Jokl? Is your demeanor, your attitude, your very evident dislike of those of us who practice our legal right to object to the killings part of your duty?

I have honorable discharges from both the US Navy and US Army. I took an oath to do my duty but to not obey an illegal order.

Judge Jokl, you are an enabler of those who order extrajudicial killings. Shame on all those mask crimes by calling the protestors the criminals.

Whatever your sentence of me, I forgive you. I may not accept the injustice but know how you and others in the system are trapped. I only hope that your conscience will some day awaken you to recognize the real criminals, the national and local purveyors of violence….that is not us, the nonviolent resisters who call out to stop the killing.

My final hope is that you will somehow find the courage to stand in support of our nonviolent constitutionally correct resistance to assassinations by speaking out for truth. It may cost you your job but it could make your life more livable.

Torture "Architect" Mistaken in Claim Nobody's Punished for Drone Murders

A psychologist who played a key role in a U.S. torture program said on a video yesterday that torture was excusable because blowing up families with a drone is worse (and nobody's punished for that). Well, of course the existence of something worse is no excuse for torture. And he's wrong that no one is punished for drone murders. The protesters are. Latest example:

"Missouri judge convicts and sentences two peace activists for protesting drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base.

"Jefferson City, MO—On December 10, a federal magistrate found Georgia Walker, of  Kansas  City, MO and Chicagoan Kathy Kelly guilty of criminal trespass to a military installation  as a result of their June 1 effort to deliver a loaf of bread and a citizens’ indictment of drone warfare to authorities at Whiteman AFB.   Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced Kelly to three months in prison and Walker to one year of supervised probation. 

"In testimony, Kelly, who recently returned from Afghanistan, recounted her conversation with an Afghan mother whose son, a recent police academy graduate, was killed by a drone as he sat with colleagues in a garden.  “I’m educated and humbled by experiences talking with people who’ve been trapped and impoverished by U.S. warfare,” said Kelly. 'The U.S. prison system also traps and impoverishes people.  In coming months, I’ll surely learn more about who goes to prison and why.'

"During sentencing, prosecution attorneys asked that Walker be sentenced to five years of probation and banned from going within 500 feet of any military base.  Judge Whitworth imposed a sentence of one year probation with a condition that Walker refrain from approaching any military base for one year. Walker coordinates an organization that provides re-entry services to newly released prisoners throughout Missouri.  Noting that the condition to stay away from military bases will affect her ability to travel in the region, Walker expressed concern that this condition will limit her work among former prisoners.    

"Kelly’s work as a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence places her alongside people in a working class neighborhood of Kabul.  She said that the day’s proceedings offered a valuable opportunity to shed light on experiences of Afghan families whose grievances are seldom heard. At the conclusion of the sentencing, Kelly said that every branch of U.S. government, including the judicial branch, shares responsibility for suffering caused when drones target and kill civilians."

On December 3, Mark Colville, a protester of drone murders at Hancock Air Base in New York, was sentenced to a one year conditional release, $1000 fine, $255 court costs, and to give a DNA sample to NY State. "This sentence was a great departure from what Judge Jokl threatened to give Mark," said Ellen Grady. "We are relieved that the judge did not give him the maximum and we in the courtroom were very moved by Mark's powerful statement to the court. May the resistance continue!"

This was Colville's statement in court:

"Judge Jokl:

"I am standing here before you tonight because I tried to intervene on behalf of a family in Afghanistan whose members have experienced the unspeakable trauma of witnessing loved ones being blown to pieces, murdered by hellfire missiles fired from remote control aircraft like those flown from the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Airbase. I stand here, under judgement in this court, because a member of that family, Raz Mohammad, wrote an urgent plea to the courts of the United States, to our government and military, to stop these unprovoked attacks on his people, and I made a conscientious decision to carry Mr. Mohammad’s plea to the gates of Hancock. Make no mistake: I am proud of that decision. As a husband and father myself, and as a child of God, I do not hesitate to affirm that the actions for which I stand subject to punishment in this court tonight were responsible, loving and nonviolent. As such, no sentence that you pronounce here can either condemn me or deligitimize what I’ve done, nor will it have any impact on the truth of similar actions undertaken by dozens of others who are still awaiting trial in this court.

"The drone base within your jurisdiction is part of a military/intelligence undertaking that is not only founded upon criminality, but is also, by any sober analysis, allowed to operate beyond the reach of law. Extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations, acts of state terrorism, the deliberate targeting of civilians- all of these crimes form the essence of the weaponized drone program that the United States government claims to be legal in its prosecution of the so called “war on terror”. Recent studies have shown that for every targeted person killed in a drone strike, twenty eight people of undetermined identity have also been slaughtered. The military admits to employing a mode of operation called “double-tapping”, in which a weaponized drone is directed back to strike a target a second time, after first responders have arrived to help the wounded. Yet never has any of this been subject to congressional approval or, more importantly, to the scrutiny of U.S. courts. In this case, you had the opportunity, from where you sit, to change that. You’ve heard the testimony of several trials similar to mine; you know what the reality is. You also heard the desperate plea of Raz Mohammad, which was read in open court during this trial. What you chose was to further legitimize these crimes by ignoring them. The faces of dead children, murdered by our nation’s hand, had no place in this court. They were excluded. Objected to. Irrelevant. Until that changes, this court continues to take an active, crucial role in condemning the innocent to death. In so doing, this court condemns itself.

"And I think it's fitting to end with the words of Raz that were sent to me this afternoon on behalf of his sister, widowed after a drone attack killed her young husband:

"'My sister says that for the sake of her 7 year old son, she doesn’t want to bear any grudges or take revenge against the U.S./NATO forces for the drone attack that killed his father. But, she asks that the U.S./NATO forces end their drone attacks in Afghanistan, and that they give an open account of deaths cause by drone attacks in this country.'"

Plans are being made for big national protests at Shaw Air Base in South Carolina (dates to be determined) and at Creech Air Base in Nevada (that one March 1-4).

Actions at Hancock Air Base in New York are ongoing, as at Beale in CA and Battle Creek, MI.

Want to get involved in opposing drone murder?

Sign BanWeaponizedDrones.org

Organize with KnowDrones

Support Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Get your city or state to oppose drones.

Get anti-drone shirts, stickers, hats, etc.

Brian Terrell, who has spent 6 months behind bars already for opposing murder by drone, offers some useful insights in an article called Redefining “Imminent”.

So does a victim's child in My father was killed by a computer, says 7 year old Afghan child.

As does drone murder protester Joy First in  What Happens When You Talk With Americans About Drone Murders.

Find more articles here.

Here's Statement Made to Judge Who Set Drone Protester Free

Last night Mark Colville was sentenced to a one year conditional release, $1000 fine, $255 court costs, and has to give a DNA sample for NY State.

"This sentence was a great departure from what Judge Jokl threatened to give Mark," said Ellen Grady. "We are relieved that the judge did not give him the maximum and we in the courtroom were very moved by Mark's powerful statement to the court.

"May the resistance continue!"

This was Colville's statement in court:

"Judge Jokl:

"I am standing here before you tonight because I tried to intervene on behalf of a family in Afghanistan whose members have experienced the unspeakable trauma of witnessing loved ones being blown to pieces, murdered by hellfire missiles fired from remote control aircraft like those flown from the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Airbase. I stand here, under judgement in this court, because a member of that family, Raz Mohammad, wrote an urgent plea to the courts of the United States, to our government and military, to stop these unprovoked attacks on his people, and I made a conscientious decision to carry Mr. Mohammad’s plea to the gates of Hancock. Make no mistake: I am proud of that decision. As a husband and father myself, and as a child of God, I do not hesitate to affirm that the actions for which I stand subject to punishment in this court tonight were responsible, loving and nonviolent. As such, no sentence that you pronounce here can either condemn me or deligitimize what I’ve done, nor will it have any impact on the truth of similar actions undertaken by dozens of others who are still awaiting trial in this court.

"The drone base within your jurisdiction is part of a military/intelligence undertaking that is not only founded upon criminality, but is also, by any sober analysis, allowed to operate beyond the reach of law. Extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations, acts of state terrorism, the deliberate targeting of civilians- all of these crimes form the essence of the weaponized drone program that the United States government claims to be legal in its prosecution of the so called “war on terror”. Recent studies have shown that for every targeted person killed in a drone strike, twenty eight people of undetermined identity have also been slaughtered. The military admits to employing a mode of operation called “double-tapping”, in which a weaponized drone is directed back to strike a target a second time, after first responders have arrived to help the wounded. Yet never has any of this been subject to congressional approval or, more importantly, to the scrutiny of U.S. courts. In this case, you had the opportunity, from where you sit, to change that. You’ve heard the testimony of several trials similar to mine; you know what the reality is. You also heard the desperate plea of Raz Mohammad, which was read in open court during this trial. What you chose was to further legitimize these crimes by ignoring them. The faces of dead children, murdered by our nation’s hand, had no place in this court. They were excluded. Objected to. Irrelevant. Until that changes, this court continues to take an active, crucial role in condemning the innocent to death. In so doing, this court condemns itself.

"And I think it's fitting to end with the words of Raz that were sent to me this afternoon on behalf of his sister, widowed after a drone attack killed her young husband:

"'My sister says that for the sake of her 7 year old son, she doesn’t want to bear any grudges or take revenge against the U.S./NATO forces for the drone attack that killed his father. But, she asks that the U.S./NATO forces end their drone attacks in Afghanistan, and that they give an open account of deaths cause by drone attacks in this country.'"

Celebration erupts outside DeWitt Town Court when drone protester receives conditional release

16489317-mmmain

Luz Catarineau had to walk outside Wednesday to be heard above the cheering and singing in DeWitt Town Court. She punched in the phone number of her son, Justin, a college student in New York City. When he answered, she said:

"Your father is not going to jail."

For the Connecticut family, that was a big surprise.

Catarineau's husband Mark Colville, 53, is one of dozens of demonstrators arrested in recent years outside the gates of Hancock Air Base for protesting American drone attacks in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq.

READ THE REST AT SYRACUSE.COM.

 

UPDATE:

Surprise Conditional Discharge for Hancock Drone Resister Mark Colville

Mark Colville, a Catholic Worker from New Haven Connecticut was sentenced this afternoon in DeWitt Town Court on 5 charges stemming from a protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on December 9 of last year, when he and two Yale Divinity School students presented flowers and a People’s Order of Protection for the children of Afghanistan and their families at the guard gate. In a surprise decision, Judge Robert Jokl sentenced Colville to a 1 year Conditional Discharge and $1000 fine.  He said that sending Colville to prison would not serve justice, nor would parole serve any good purpose, and he did not issue a permanent Order of Protection. 

Colville was facing 2 years in jail on 5 counts including Contempt of a Judicial Judgment and Obstructing Governmental Administration.

In his pre-sentencing statement Colville said that he had come to the base in response to an “urgent, personal plea” by Afghan youth Raz Mohammad on behalf of his family.     Mohammad’s brother in law was killed in a drone strike in 2008.   Earlier today Mohammad wrote to Colville   My sister says that for the sake of her 7 year old son, she doesn’t want to bear any grudges or take revenge against the U.S. NATO forces for the drone attack that killed his father. But, she asks that the U.S./NATO forces end their drone attacks in Afghanistan, and that they give an open account of deaths cause by drone attacks in this country.”

In his pre-sentencing remarks, Attorney Jonathon Wallace said that the law is like a sail; that without the wind of public morality, it is nothing more than a pile of cloth on the floor.   Colville called out the Judge, saying that nothing will change until someone sitting in his chair decides to apply the laws that are there to protect the innocent. 

Colville’s protest is part of a worldwide nonviolent movement against the use of weaponized drones. On July 10, 2014, Mary Anne Grady Flores from Ithaca was sentenced to a year in prison for violating an Order of Protection. She is currently free on appeal. Jack Gilroy from Binghamton was just released after two months in jail for his nonviolent protest on April 28, 2013. He faces three years on probation. On December 10, Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse will be tried for her act of civil resistance at the same April protest. There are 11 more trials scheduled for Hancock protesters in DeWitt between now and next July.  There are more 11 trials scheduled for Hancock protesters.

Hancock Air National Guard Base is a training site for pilots, technicians and sensor operators. Heavily armed Reapers piloted at Hancock fly lethal missions over Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere. Hancock pilots also fly test flights from Fort Drum over Lake Ontario.  Upstate Drone Action has been protesting the Drones at Hancock Base since 2009 with bimonthly vigils, annual rallies, educational events and nonviolent civil resistance.    For more information go to upstatedroneaction.org

Hancock Drone Resister to be Sentenced Wed, Dec. 3

Press Conference at 3pm, Sentencing at 4 pm

Mark Colville of New Haven CT will be sentenced on Wednesday December 3, 2014 in DeWitt Town Court (5400 Butternut Dr., East Syracuse).  On September he was convicted of charges stemming from a December 9, 2013 protest in which he and two others stood outside the closed gate of Hancock Air Base singing hymns and holding a sign that said “The People’s Order of Protection for the Children of Afghanistan and their Families from Reaper Drones.”    Colville was convicted of two misdemeanors, - Obstructing governmental administration and contempt of a judicial order, and three violations -trespass and two counts of disorderly conduct.   The contempt charge was for violating an Order of Protection held by the base commander, a man Colville had never met.

Colville, a Catholic Worker who has devoted his life to working with the poor and disenfranchised, has met a member of an Afghan family who live with drones, and who have lost a loved one to drones.  He came to the base on behalf of this family and the many others so threatened   According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism “Afghanistan is the most heavily drone-bombed country in the world” and “a 2013 study found that drone strikes are significantly more likely to kill non-combatants than those carried out by other aircraft.”                 

Colville’s protest is part of a worldwide nonviolent movement against the use of weaponized drones. Locally, on July 10, 2014, Mary Anne Grady Flores from Ithaca was sentenced to a year in prison for violating an Order of Protection.  She is currently free on appeal.  Jack Gilroy from Binghamton was just released after two months in jail for his nonviolent  protest on April 28, 2013.  He faces three years on probation. On December 10, Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse will be tried for her act of civil resistance at the same April protest, and faces a year in prison if convicted.  There are 11 more trials scheduled for Hancock protesters in DeWitt between now and next July stemming from the April 28 protest.

Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for MQ-9 Reaper drone support.  It is a training site for pilots, technicians and sensor operators.    Heavily armed Reapers piloted at Hancock fly lethal missions over Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere.   Hancock pilots also fly test flights from Fort Drum over Lake Ontario. 

Upstate Drone Action has been protesting the Drones at Hancock Base since 2009 with bimonthly vigils, annual rallies, educational events and nonviolent civil resistance. 

For more information go to upstatedroneaction.org

Redefining “Imminent”

How the U.S. Department of Justice Makes Murder Respectable, Kills the Innocent and Jails their Defenders

Political language can be used, George Orwell said in 1946, “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In order to justify its global assassination program, the Obama administration has had to stretch words beyond their natural breaking points. For instance, any male 14 years or older found dead in a drone strike zone is a “combatant” unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving him innocent. We are also informed that the constitutional guarantee of “due process” does not imply that the government must precede an execution with a trial. I think the one word most degraded and twisted these days, to the goriest ends, is the word “imminent.”

Just what constitutes an “imminent” threat? Our government has long taken bold advantage of the American public’s willingness to support lavish spending on armaments and to accept civilian casualties in military adventures abroad and depletion of domestic programs at home, when told these are necessary responses to deflect precisely such threats. The government has vastly expanded the meaning of the word “imminent.” This new definition is crucial to the U.S. drone program, designed for projecting lethal force throughout the world. It provides a legal and moral pretext for the annihilation of people far away who pose no real threat to us at all.

The use of armed remotely controlled drones as the United States’ favored weapon in its “war on terror” is increasing exponentially in recent years, raising many disturbing questions. Wielding 500 pound bombs and Hellfire missiles, Predator and Reaper drones are not the precise and surgical instruments of war so effusively praised by President Obama for “narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among.” It is widely acknowledged that the majority of those killed in drone attacks are unintended, collateral victims. The deaths of the drones’ intended targets and how they are chosen should be no less troubling.

Those deliberately targeted by drones are often far from conflict zones, often they are in countries with whom the U.S. is not at war and on some occasions have been U.S. citizens. They are rarely “taken out” in the heat of battle or while engaged in hostile actions and are more likely to be killed (with anyone in their vicinity) at a wedding, at a funeral, at work, hoeing in the garden, driving down the highway or enjoying a meal with family and friends. These deaths are counted as something other than murder only for the curious insistence by the government’s lawyers that each of these victims represent an “imminent” threat to our lives and safety here at home in the U.S.

In February 2013, a U.S. Department of Justice White Paper, “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or an Associated Force,” was leaked by NBC News. This paper sheds some light on the legal justification for drone assassinations and explains the new and more flexible definition of the word “imminent.” “First,” it declares, “the condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

Before the Department of Justice lawyers got a hold of it, the meaning of the word “imminent” was unmistakably clear. Various dictionaries of the English language are all in agreement that that the word “imminent” explicitly denotes something definite and immediate, “likely to occur at any moment,” “impending,” “ready to take place,” “looming,” “pending,” “threatening,” “around the corner.” Nor has the legal definition of the word left room for ambiguity. After World War II, the Nuremberg Tribunal reaffirmed a 19th-century formulation of customary international law written by Daniel Webster, which said that the necessity for preemptive use of force in self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” That was in the past. Now, any possible future threat – and any person on earth arguably might pose one – however remote, can satisfy the new definition. As far as the Justice Department is concerned, an “imminent” threat is now whomever an “informed high-level U.S. government official” determines to be such, based on evidence known to that official alone, never to be made public or reviewed by any court.

The breadth of the government’s definition of “imminent” is murderous in its enormity. It is all the more ironic that the same Department of Justice will also regularly define the word so narrowly as to convict and imprison law abiding and responsible citizens who act to defend the innocent from genuinely imminent harm by the actions of the U.S. government. On example especially relevant to the issue of killing by drone is the case of the “Creech 14.”

14 activists enter Creech Air Force Base, April, 200914 activists enter Creech Air Force Base, April, 2009

After the first act of nonviolent resistance to the lethal use of unmanned and remotely controlled drones in the United States took place at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada back in April, 2009, it took more than a year before the 14 of us accused of criminal trespass had our day in court. As this was the first opportunity for activists to “put drones on trial” at a time when few Americans were aware they even existed, we were especially diligent in preparing our case, to argue clearly and cogently, not in order to keep ourselves out of jail but for the sake of those who have died and those who live in fear of the drones. With coaching by some fine trial lawyers, our intention was to represent ourselves and drawing on humanitarian international law, to offer a strong defense of necessity, even while we were aware that there was little chance that the court would hear our arguments.

The defense of necessity, that one has not committed a crime if an act that is otherwise illegal was done to prevent a greater harm or crime from being perpetrated, is recognized by the Supreme Court as a part of the common law. It is not an exotic or even a particularly unusual defense. “The rationale behind the necessity defense is that sometimes, in a particular situation, a technical breach of the law is more advantageous to society than the consequence of strict adherence to the law,” says West’s Encyclopedia of American Law “The defense is often used successfully in cases that involve a Trespass on property to save a person’s life or property.” It might appear, then, that this defense is a natural one for minor infractions such as our alleged trespass, intended to stop the use of drones in a war of aggression, the crime against peace that the Nuremburg Tribunal named “the supreme international crime.”

In reality, though, courts in the U.S. almost never allow the necessity defense to be raised in cases like ours. Most of us were experienced enough not to be surprised when we finally got to the Justice Court in Las Vegas in September, 2010, and Judge Jensen ruled in lockstep with his judicial colleagues. He insisted at the onset of our case that he was having none of it. “Go ahead,” he said, allowing us to call our expert witnesses but sternly forbidding us from asking them any questions that matter. “Understand, it is only going to be limited to trespass, what knowledge he or she has, if any, whether you were or were not out at the base. We’re not getting into international laws; that’s not the issue. That’s not the issue. What the government is doing wrong, that’s not the issue. The issue is trespass.”

Our co-defendant Steve Kelly followed the judge’s instructions and questioned our first witness, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, about his firsthand knowledge of trespass laws from working at the Department of Justice during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Steve specifically guided the witness to speak of “the cases of trespass … of lunch counter activities where laws stated you were not to sit at certain lunch counters” in the struggle for civil rights. Ramsey Clark acknowledged that those arrested for violating these laws had not committed crimes. Steve pushed his luck with the judge and offered the classic illustration of the necessity defense: “A situation where there is a ‘no trespassing’ sign and there is smoke coming out of a door or a window and a person is up on the upper floor in need of help. To enter that building, in a real narrow technical sense, would be trespass. Is there a possibility, in the long run, it wouldn’t be trespass to help the person upstairs?” Ramsey replied, “We would hope so, wouldn’t we? To have a baby burn to death or something, because of a ‘no trespass’ sign would be poor public policy to put it mildly. Criminal.”

Judge Jensen by this time was obviously intrigued. His ruling to limit the testimony to trespass held, but as his fascination grew, so his interpretation of his own order grew more elastic. Over the repeated objections of the prosecution team, the judge allowed limited but powerful testimony from Ramsey and our other witnesses, retired US Army Colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright and Loyola Law School Professor Bill Quigley that put our alleged trespass into its context as an act to stop a heinous crime.

I had the honor of making the closing statement for the accused, which I ended with, “We 14 are the ones who are seeing the smoke from the burning house and we are not going to be stopped by a ‘no trespassing’ sign from going to the burning children.”

Our appreciation for a judge’s extraordinary attention to the facts of the case aside, we still expected nothing but an immediate conviction and sentencing. Judge Jensen surprised us: “I consider it more than just a plain trespass trial. A lot of serious issues are at stake here. So I’m going to take it under advisement and I will render a written decision. And it may take me two to three months to do so, because I want to make sure that I’m right on whatever I rule on.”

When we returned to Las Vegas in January, 2011, Judge Jensen read his decision that it was just a plain trespass trial, after all and we were guilty. Among several justifications for convicting us, the judge rejected what he called “the Defendants’ claim of necessity” because “first, the Defendants failed to show that their protest was designed to prevent ‘imminent’ harm.” He faulted our case for not presenting the court with “evidence that any military activities involving drones were being conducted or about to be conducted on the day of the Defendants’ arrest,” seeming to forget that he had ordered us not to submit any such evidence, even if we had it.

Judge Jensen’s verdict was amply supported by the precedents he cited, including a 1991 appellate court ruling, U.S. v Schoon, that concerned a protest aimed to “keep US tax dollars out of El Salvador” at an IRS office in Tucson. In this protest, the Ninth Circuit ruled, “the requisite imminence was lacking.” In other words, because the harm protested was taking place in El Salvador, a trespass in Tucson cannot be justified. So, Judge Jensen reasoned, burning children in a house in Afghanistan cannot excuse a trespass in Nevada.

The NBC leak of that Department of Justice White Paper wouldn’t happen for two more years (call it suppression of evidence?) and as far as Judge Jensen knew, the dictionary definition of “imminent” was still operant. Even so, had we been allowed to testify beyond the narrow confines set at trial, we would have shown that with new satellite technology, the lethal threat we were addressing there is always imminent by any reasonable definition of the word. Although the victims of drone violence on the day of our arrest were indeed far away in Afghanistan and Iraq, those crimes were actually being committed by combatants sitting at computer screens, engaged in real-time hostilities in trailers on the base, not so far at all from where we were apprehended by Air Force police.

The government does not believe that it needs to have “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future” to establish an imminent threat and so carry out extrajudicial executions of human beings anywhere on the planet. Citizens who act to stop killing by drones, on the other hand, are required to have specific “evidence that any military activities involving drones were being conducted or about to be conducted,” in order to justify nonviolently entering into government property. The government’s position on this lacks coherence, at best. Even after the publication of its White Paper, the Department of Justice continues to block defendants accused of trespass from even mentioning the fact that they were arrested while responding to an imminent threat to innocent life, and the courts obligingly accept this contradiction.

The defense of necessity does not simply justify actions that technically violate the law. “Necessity,” says West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, is “a defense asserted by a criminal or civil defendant that he or she had no choice but to break the law.” As Ramsey Clark testified in a Las Vegas courtroom five years ago, “to have a baby burn to death because of a ‘no trespass sign’ would be poor public policy to put it mildly.” In a time of burning children, the “no trespassing” signs attached to the fences that protect the crimes executed with drones and other instruments of terror hold no potency and they do not command our obedience. The courts that do not recognize this reality allow themselves to be used as instruments of governmental malfeasance.

Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker at Whiteman Air Force BaseKathy Kelly and Georgia Walker at Whiteman Air Force Base There have been many more trials since the Creech 14 and in the meanwhile, many more children have been incinerated by missiles fired from drones. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, Georgia Walker and Kathy Kelly will go to trial in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri, after they peacefully brought their grievance and a loaf of bread onto Whiteman Air Force Base, another in the growing number of stateside remote control killer drone centers.

Two years ago in that same court in a similar case, Judge Whitworth rejected the necessity defense offered by Ron Faust and me, subsequently sentencing Ron to five years of probation and sending me to prison for six months. It is to be hoped that Judge Whitworth will take advantage of this second chance that Kathy and Georgia courageously offer and exonerate himself and his profession.

My father was killed by a computer, says 7 year old Afghan child

By Dr. Hakim

Imal, a 7 year old Afghan student in the 2nd grade, came to visit us in Kabul.

As Imal grew up, he kept asking his mother where his father was. His mother finally told Imal that his father had been killed by a drone when he was still a baby.

If you could see Imal in this video, you would want to hug Imal immediately.

Imal

If Imal were a white American kid, this tragedy would not have befallen his father. Which American would allow any U.S. citizen to be killed by a foreign drone?

Suppose the UK wanted to hunt ‘terrorists’ in the U.S., with their drones, and every Tuesday, David Cameron signed a ‘secret kill list’ like Obama does. Drones operated from Waddington Base in the UK fly over U.S. skies to drop bombs on their targets, and the bombs leave a 7 year old American kid, say, John, fatherless.

John’s father is killed, shattered to charred pieces by a bomb, dropped by a drone, operated by a human, under orders from the Prime Minister /Commander-in-Chief.

“John, we’re sorry that your father happened to be near our ‘terrorist’ target.’ He was collateral damage. It was ‘worth it’ for the sake of UK national security.”

Unfortunately, no U.S. official or military personnel had met with Imal’s widowed mother to apologize.

Raz, Imal’s uncle who brought him to visit us, asked his young nephew, “Will you bring me some marbles to play with?”

Imal was friendly, like any other 7 year old kid. “Yes!” His voice was a trusting one, eager to be a good friend and playmate.

“Do you also play with walnuts? Tell us how you play with walnuts,” Raz requests.

“We put them in a line, and flick a walnut to hit other walnuts, like playing with marbles,” Imal explains diligently, like he was telling a story we should all be interested in.

“Besides beans, what other food do you like?”

“I also like….potatoes...and meat……and….rice!” All of us were smiling with the familiar love of Afghan oiled ‘palao’ or ‘Qabuli’ rice.”

Imal knew what my laptop was. He said, “We can look at photos & watch films…”

But, then, it seemed that he took on the understanding of an older person when his voice became serious.

”My father was killed by a computer.”

I wanted to tell Imal that nowadays, it takes children and young people like Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai to tell us adults the plain facts.

When Malala was 16 years old and met with the Obamas at the White House, Malala had told Obama that drones were fuelling terrorism.

Do we get it? Drones are employed in the ‘war against terrorism’, but instead, drones fuel terrorism.

How many drone attacks are there in Afghanistan every month, and how many women, children and young men like Imal’s father are killed?

We don’t know. It’s not a transparent strategy.

We would all want to know everything about the possible effects of a drone strategy on our children, especially if our country was the most drone-bombed country in the world, like Afghanistan is.

A Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s ‘Naming the Dead’ report says that fewer than 4% of the people killed by drone attacks in Pakistan have been identified by available records as named members of Al Qaeda. If this is true for drone attack victims in Afghanistan too, then 96% of drone victims in Afghanistan have been innocent civilians like Imal’s father.

In another Bureau of Investigative Journalism report,  ‘Tracking drone strikes in Afghanistan’, (July, 2014),the Bureau states that “nobody systematically publishes insurgent and civilian deaths from drones on a strike-by-strike basis. Neither the US nor UK authorities publishes data on the casualties of their drone operations.”

So, we are unable to find out for Imal’s mother if it was a U.S./UK drone that killed her husband, and who the drone operator was.

If Imal were John, could he or his mother sue David Cameron? Stop the drone? Stop the human drone operator? Disable the computer?

We gave Imal a Borderfree blue scarf, and thanked him for coming.

His eyes were bright and cheerful, taking in the photos on the wall, including a poster of Gandhi and Badshah Khan. Badshah Khan was a Pashtun like Imal, and has been called the Frontier Gandhi for his lifelong struggle for nonviolence.

I have been thinking hard about Imal, about whether anyone would hear him, when few among the elites who declare wars and order drone strikes seem to have heard the now famous Malala, not even President Obama.

“I wish to tell the world, ‘We don’t want war. Don’t fight!’”

Imal with poster of Badshah Khan

Dr Hakim is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 9 years, including being a friend and mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

What Happens When You Talk With Americans About Drone Murders

By Joy First  

Mount Horeb, Wisc. -- Bonnie Block, Jim Murphy, Lars and Patty Prip, Mary Beth Schlagheck, and I were at Rest Area 10 along I- 90/94, about 5 miles south of Mauston, from 10:00 am – noon on Thursday October 9, 2014.  We had a model drone and a stack of flyers “6 Things You Should Know About Drones” to help us in reaching the public and so they can learn more about what is going on just up the road at Volk Field Air National Guard Base.  We were there in solidarity with others around the country as part of “Keep Space for Peace Week” and global days of actions against drones sponsored by Code Pink, Know Drones, and other groups.

We chose to leaflet at this particular rest area because it is the closest one to Volk Field Air National Guard Base, about 20 miles south of the base.  We, as Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, have been vigiling outside the gates of Volk Field for almost three years, protesting the training there of pilots who operate the Shadow Drones.  We are at the base with our signs every 4th Tuesday of the month from 3:30-4:30.  At 4:00 pm around 100 cars leave the base and drive right past us and so we have a lot of exposure. 

Jim has been urging us to try leafleting at the rest area for a couple of years and it turned out to be an excellent opportunity for public education.  We were able to connect with a real cross-section of middle America and we had a chance to hand out our leaflets and talk to people about what is going on at Volk Field, as well as in the drone wars overseas.  A fair number of people were very supportive and engaged with us.  Quite a few seemed like they did not have a lot of feelings about drone warfare one way or the other.  There were a small number of people who were very unhappy to see us there and let loose with some pretty unfriendly language.

Shortly after we arrived at the rest area and began setting up the drone, the manager of the rest area came out and told us we would have to pack up and leave.  We said we were on public property and that we planned to stay there until noon.  We also told her that we would not block anyone or act threatening, and we gave her a flyer.  She became upset and angry when we told her this and she said that if we didn’t leave she would have to call the State Patrol and she didn’t think that we would want it to go that far.  We responded that we would like her to call the State Patrol because we knew we had the right to be there.  She left in a huff.

It was 15 minutes or so before a plain clothes officer dressed in a suit with a neat crew cut and a badge around his neck approached us.  He said that he had been told there was a disturbance, and he asked us if there was a disturbance.  Jim responded by asking if it looked like there was a disturbance.  The officer angrily replied that he would be asking the questions and we would answer. 

We explained to him what we were doing, that we were on public property and it was our constitutional right to be there.  We told him we were not blocking anyone and if they didn’t want a flyer we didn’t push it.

At that point a uniformed State Patrol officer arrived at the scene.  The officer we were talking to said that the uniformed officer would be taking over.  After the two of them talked for several minutes, the uniformed officer came over and we told him what we were doing.  He told us that some people might not appreciate our position, and he said that if they started saying things we didn’t like we should turn the other cheek.  We told him we practice nonviolence and are good at de-escalating those kinds of situations.  He told us to have a good day and walked away.  It felt like this was a small win for us.  It is not often that the police are called and they end up telling us to go ahead and keep doing what we are doing.

Several minutes later a Juneau County Sheriff car pulled into the rest area and parked.  He didn’t talk to us, but spent several minutes talking to someone in an unmarked police car before they both drove away.  Citizen activism seemed to have won out for the day.  

I want to relate a story about one man I talked to.  As I handed him a leaflet, he said he was supportive of what we are doing.  But, he said, his grandson was in the military and operated a camera for the drones and he didn’t kill children.  (One of our signs said “Drones Kill Children”.)  I replied that there are many innocent people, including many children, who are being killed by drone attacks in countries overseas.  He said again that his grandson didn’t kill children.  I told him that we had a list of names of many of the children who have been killed.  He said again that his grandson was a family man with four children and he wouldn’t kill children.  He added that he had been a nurse assisting in surgery with children for many years and he knew what it was like for traumatized children and his grandson would not kill children.

This story really illustrates the disconnect and denial going on in our society, about how much we want to believe that we are the good guys, that we wouldn’t hurt others.  Yet, people are dying all around the world as a result of our government’s policies.  It seems like there are not enough people speaking out against what is going on because so many people refuse to really look at the death and destruction our military is leaving all around the globe.  It is so much easier to close our eyes.  I think this was a genuinely good man that I talked to, and there are so many good people like him.  How do we get these good people to wake up and join the fight, to be able to admit to and take responsibility for the horrors that our government, and we, are perpetrating around the world?

All six of us who were there felt like it was a successful venture and we all agreed that we need to go back to the rest area where we can reach people who would otherwise not be reached.  It is impossible to know what kind of impact we may have had, but we are hopeful that we touched a few people.

Please consider rest areas near you as a possible place for demonstrations.  We no longer have town squares.  It is illegal, at least in Wisconsin, to protest at shopping malls because they are privately owned.  It is not always easy to find a public space where there are a lot people, but this was a good test today and we discovered that the police will not try to prevent us from demonstrating at a rest area in Wisconsin.  But then again, who knows what may happen the next time.  All I know for sure is that we will be back.

Drone victims sue German government for facilitating strikes in Yemen

From REPRIEVE:

A Yemeni man, whose nephew and brother-in-law were killed in a 2012 drone strike, has travelled to Germany to sue the government for facilitating drone strikes of the sort in which his relatives died.  
 
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an engineer for the Yemeni environmental protection agency, lost his brother-in-law Salim, a local imam known for preaching against al-Qaeda, and his nephew Waleed, a policeman, in a drone strike in August 2012. Mr bin Ali Jaber has filed litigation asking the German government to stop the use of Ramstein Air Base in assisting the US’ covert drones programme. Mr bin Ali Jaber is also asking that the German government acknowledge that allowing the US to use Ramstein to facilitate drone strikes in Yemen – a country with which the US is not at war - is unlawful. 
 
Ramstein Air Base, in South West Germany, is the crucial connector for all data transfer between the US and Yemeni air space. The data – which enables the pilots in the US to operate the drones in real time – is transferred via fibre optic cable from the US to Germany and the Air Base Ramstein. From there the data is transmitted through a satellite-relay-station to the drone which is started by technicians at the US military base in Djibouti.
 
Faisal is represented in the litigation, which was filed today, by international human rights NGO Reprieve and the European Centre for Constitutional Human Rights (ECCHR).
 
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, said: “Were it not for the help of Germany and Ramstein, men like my brother-in-law and nephew might still be alive today. It is quite simple: without Germany, US drones would not fly. I am here to ask that the German people and Parliament be told the full extent of what is happening in their country, and that the German government stop Ramstein being used to help the US’ illegal and devastating drone war in my country.”
 
Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: “The US’ covert drone war has killed thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children, in countries with which we are not at war.  Without the help of the British and German governments these deaths would never have been possible. Europe cannot hide behind the US: by allowing the use of bases, personnel or technology, we are complicit in this drone war. If European governments withdrew their support, people like Faisal and his children would have a better chance for a future without this paralyzing threat from the skies.”
 
Andreas Schueller, head of the international crimes and accountability programme at ECCHR, said: “Ramstein is crucial for US drone warfare. Germany has to bring it to an end – if not it is complicit in the death of civilians. The German government must no longer hide behind status-of-forces agreements and admit its responsibility for civilian deaths caused by US drone warfare.”

THREE NSA DRONE PROTESTERS ACQUITTED ON 1 CHARGE, LOW FINES ON OTHERS

A quick but comprehensive trial today in US District Court in Baltimore, MD,
for 3 women who protested drone targeting at the National Security Agency
at Ft Meade, MD, resulted in acquittal on one charge and conviction but low
fines on the other two charges.
 
Allowed to speak rather freely, in less than 3 hours Marilyn Carlisle and Ellen
Barfield of Baltimore, and Manijeh Saba of Somerset, NJ, and their activist
colleague Malachy Kilbride of Camp Springs, MD, essentially put NSA
surveillance for drone targeting on trial by showing photos, naming names and
mourning children killed by drones, and asserted their First Amendment and
Nuremberg justifications. As defendant Saba in the closing statement said,
"Why would we, in a democracy, be expected to obey an order that violates
exercise of our Constitutional rights and responsibilities?"
 
Refusing to comment on drones or the NSA, Magistrate Judge Timothy
Sullivan exclaimed that it was "way beyond my pay grade" to make rulings
on government policies. He did agree with the defendants that areas which
are generally open to public access cannot become "protected property"
when certain activities take place, and denied the "attempting to enter...",
essentially a trespass, charge. He convicted the women on failure to comply
and disorderly conduct charges, but gave respectively $25 and $5 fines,
which with fees for processing total $100, much less than the possible $1365
fines and fees the women had faced.
 
The testimony of potential witnesses Col. (Rtd) Ann Wright and Code Pink
leader Medea Benjamin, with expertise in the illegality and immorality of
drones, was not surprisingly ruled inadmissible. 
 
The courtroom was gratifyingly full of over a dozen supporters, who Judge
Sullivan acknowledged as likely to join future NSA actions after he heard that
Keep Space for Peace Week, a frequent time to demonstrate at the NSA to
protest space weapons, is appropriately happening this week.

Honolulu Participates in The Global Day of Action Against Drones

World Can't Wait Hawai`i reports:   “Saturday our drone replica was flying above the corner of Kalakaua and Kapahulu Avenues in Waikiki. About a dozen people held signs and banners or passed out brochures against drone warfare and surveillance. This busy corner in front of the Honolulu Zoo and across from Waikiki Beach is a spot where there residents, tourists and a significant number of military personnel pass by. Trolleys and buses loaded with tourists pass by on their way to popular tourist spots. Responses were tremendously mixed. A number of drivers of tourist trolleys and buses honked their horns. A taxi driver stopped to ask whether there were military drones in Hawai`i (yes!).

Challenging Drone Warfare in a U.S. Court

By Kathy Kelly

On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility.  The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare.  Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging the commander to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones) for surveillance and attacks.

The prosecutor, USAF Captain Daniel Saunders, said that if Kelly and Walker would plead guilty to the charge, he would seek a punishment of one month in prison and a $500 fine.  Kelly and Walker told the prosecutor that they could accept a “no contest” plea but were not willing to plead guilty.  The prosecutor then said he would recommend a three month prison sentence and a $500 fine.  The judge refused to accept a “no contest” plea.  Kelly and Walker then requested a trial which has been set for December 10, 2014.

Brian Terrell, who also attended the hearing, has previously been tried before Judge Whitworth on the same charge. In October of 2012,  Whitworth sentenced him to the maximum penalty of six months in prison.  His co-defendant, Ron Faust, also went to trial and was initially sentenced to five years probation which was later reduced to one year. Mark Kenney, also a co-defendant, had pled guilty and received a four month sentence.

Kathy Kelly noted that drone strikes on October 7, 2014 killed seven people in Pakistan and that this is the third day in a row of drone attacks in Pakistan’s Waziristan area. On October 6th, eight people were killed and six wounded. Today also marks the thirteenth year of U.S. war in Afghanistan, a country which was considered, in 2013, to be the epicenter of drone warfare. 

“I feel we’re compelled by our conscience, “ Georgia Walker told a gathering of 35 people in Kansas City, the previous evening.  “We’re compelled by our own spirituality, to keep speaking up and to keep getting people to know that silence is complicity.  We have to speak out to say ‘Not in my Name.’” 

"I’m sure that Georgia and I didn’t commit a crime,” said Kathy Kelly. “We tried to send out an alarm about a crime that’s being committed at the base.  Innocent people, including children are killed by the drone strikes.”

Kelly and Walker later met with supporters and attorneys to discuss plans for a vigorous defense on December 10th, International Human Rights Day. 

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)

Three Women to Be Tried on October 9 for Protesting Drones

Three long-time activist women will stand trial on Thursday 9 October, 2014, in US District Court in Baltimore, MD, for protesting National Security Agency surveillance which provides targeting information for US drone attacks around the world.

  • Court Interpreter/Translator Manijeh Saba from Somerset, NJ,
  • Headstart Case Manager Marilyn Carlisle from Baltimore, MD, and
  • US Army veteran and full-time peace activist Ellen Barfield from Baltimore, MD,

each face 3 charges with assessed fines totalling over $1300 for seeking on 3 May, 2014 to present at the NSA gate at Ft Meade, MD a letter requesting a meeting with National Security Agency Director Vice-Admiral Michael Rogers to discuss NSA drone targeting and citizen abhorrence of that practice.

The women will go Pro se, or defend themselves in court, with expert advice from DC Attorney Mark Goldstone. They hope to elicit expert testimony on NSA targeting for murderous US drone attacks from Medea Benjamin, a leader of women's peace group
Code Pink, and Col. (Rtd.) Ann Wright, a former Army officer and diplomat now active with Veterans For Peace and Code Pink.

Supporters are urged to attend the trial at 101 W Lombard St, Baltimore,MD, 21201, in Courtroom 7-C beginning at 10am.

79-Year-Old Sentenced to Prison for Protesting Drone Murders

HANCOCK REAPER DRONE PROTESTER, JACK GILROY, 79, SENTENCED TO 3 MONTHS & THREE YEARS PROBATION. IMMEDIATELY INCARCERATED.
 
October 1, 2014, Syracuse, NY.
 
   John “Jack” Gilroy, 79, of Endwell, NY and Upstate Drone Action, was sentenced to three months incarceration, three years probation, and $1000 fine by De Witt (NY) Town Judge Robert Jokl.
 
 "It's time for our justice system to identify the real criminals...not those who carry the message to stop the killing to the gates of Hancock Air Base," said Gilroy in his sentencing statement.  Gilroy was convicted by a six-person jury on July 15th of trespass and obstructing government administration after a two day jury trial.
 
The trial was based on Gilroy’s participation in a solemn funeral procession and die-in outside  Hancock’s main gate. The event symbolized the terrorizing and killing of innocent people by MQ9 Reaper drone missiles and bombs piloted by Hancock’s 174th Attack Wing. Hancock, near Syracuse, is one of many drone bases perpetrating US drone attacks in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
 
"I was proud of the way Jack spoke truth to power, stood for nonviolence instead of war, and brought the reality and names of victims of drones into the court," said Fr. Tim Taugher,Gilroy’s long-time friend and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Binghamton.  "Our courts can't allow the truth to be heard. This is one of many ways our country is trying to squelch truth, debate, dialogue, and discussion of the morality of the use of drones.”
 
Immediately upon sentencing, Gilroy, a military veteran and retired high school teacher, was taken in handcuffs to Jamesville Penitentiary.
                                                                              
On Sunday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. Upstate Drone Action will host (legally permitted) street theatre at Hancock’s front gate, 6000 East Molloy Rd, Town of DeWitt. (Park in BOCES lot on Thompson Rd.) Bicyclists against drone warfare, artists, teachers, medical people, union activists and others against drone warfare will converge at Hancock as part of  the world-wide Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing.
                                                                        
Donations for Jack Gilroy's fine and appeal can be sent to:
Syracuse Peace Council
2013 E Genesee St,
Syracuse, NY 13210.
Please note in memo: “Gilroy fine and appeal fund.”

What laws of war? We do what we want!: Obama Admits US Bombing Attacks in Syria Pay Little Heed to Protecting Civilians

By Dave Lindorff

 

In a perverse way, maybe it's progress that the US is now admitting that it doesn't really care about how many civilians it kills in its efforts to "decapitate" a few suspected terrorist leaders.

Who's On First?: The War of the Heads

By John Grant

 

Ain’t no time to wonder why.
Whoopee, we’re all gonna die.

                  - Country Joe MacDonald

 

Drone Protester Faces Sentencing for Exercising His Rights

Jack Gilroy, 79, member of the Upstate Drone Coalition, will be sentenced by Judge Robert Jokl on Wednesday, October 1st at 4:30 PM at the DeWitt Court House, 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY 13057-8509.

Gilroy was convicted of trespass and obstructing government administration. The maximum penalty is one year and 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary.

Gilroy’s trial was based on participation in a solemn funeral procession and die-in to illustrate the death and destruction of innocent people by drone missiles and bombs fired out of MQ9 Reaper drones piloted from Hancock Air Force Base near Syracuse, NY.

Hancock is one of many drone bases around the United States doing assassinations of Muslim suspects in foreign nations. Gilroy had an opportunity to plead guilty without penalty but noted that “the guilty are not those who carry the message to stop the killing.”

Gilroy and the scores of others arrested at the gates of the 174th Attack Wing all take oaths of non- violence. The Gandhian Wave of nonviolent resisters to drone warfare by the 174th Air National Guard has been ongoing for the past four years.

On Sunday, Oct. 5 at 1 pm, the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars will be hosting a permitted street theatre including bicyclists against drone warfare, artists, teachers, medical people, union activists and all others against drone warfare will be protesting at Hancock Airbase as part of the world wide protests of the Global Days of Action.

Read an interview of Gilroy here.

John Oliver on Drones

Drone Protester Found Guilty, Could Face Years in Prison

Syracuse, NY -- Carrying flowers and three documents to Hancock drone base can result in severe consequences. Drone resister, Mark Colville, of the Amistad Catholic Worker, in New Haven, Connecticut, was found guilty, after a two day trial and fifty minutes of deliberation by a De Witt Town Court jury.
 
On December 9th, 2013, Colville and two Yale Divinity students, brought a People's Order of Protection to the front gate of the base to prevent further victims of drone attacks perpetrated from inside Hancock Airbase.  This action was in response to a request on Nov. 25th, 2013, by Raz Mohammad, an Afghan, who's brother-in law was killed by a U.S. drone strike. Gate personnel rejected the petition. 
 
Colville, who's not an attorney chose to represent himself. He faced five charges, including violation of the Order of Protection, (O.O.P's) (max - 1 yr) given on behalf of Colonel Evans. Activists are challenging the validity of these O.O.P.'s, which the Colonel acknowledged in court, in two separate cases, are served "to keep the protesters away from my base". Colville was also charged with Obstruction of Government  Administration (max. 1 yr), 2 Disorderly Conduct charges (15 days max each), and Trespass (15 days max). 
 
Colville's action is a part of a global campaign to ban weaponized drones. Locally, the five year Upstate Drone Coalition campaign has resulted in multiple trials, acquittals and convictions, including the sentencing of grandmother, Mary Anne Grady Flores, to one year for taking photos of an Ash Wednesday witness from the cross walk in front of the base. She was found guilty of violation of her O.O.P.'s. 
 
After trial Colville stated, "This court, by its conduct, continues to condemn itself by manipulating and misapplying the law, intentionally disregarding the cries for justice from those who the law is supposed to protect. The petition that we brought to the base, the People's Order of Protection, demanding that we give relief to the innocent victims of these horrible drone killing machines remains unresponded to.  We will continue to tell the truth in the streets of the Town of De Witt and in its court room until true justice flows down like a mighty river." 
 
An hour before trial, in judge's chambers, Assistant District Attorney McNamara and Mark Coville met with Judge Jokl, who promised to sentence Colville to the maximum penalty allowed. When Colville asked "Why?" The judge responded, "Because I think you deserve it." 
 
Sentencing will be on Dec. 3rd, at 4pm, at 5400 Butternut Drive, De Witt Town Court, E. Syracuse.  
 
                               

 

Republicans, Democrats, War and Corporate Profits

            In 1969, at the height of the U.S. war against Vietnam, Edwin Starr recorded a song called ‘War’, that reached number one on the charts. Among the lyrics are these:

War: What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing!

            Much as one would like to believe these simple lyrics, there are facts that belie them. In a report from the Financial Times from March of 2013, it is stated that private contractors earned at least a whopping $139 billion dollars from the U.S. war against Iraq up to that time, and that total is ever increasing. Kellogg, Brown and Root, a former subsidiary of Haliburton, the company once run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, the architect of this war, earned nearly $40 billion.

Another Drone Protester Found Not-Guilty

From upstatedroneaction.org

Eve Tetaz, 83, found NOT GUILTY last night in De Witt town court for opposing Reaper Drone War Crime at 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY

Immediately after Onondaga County prosecutor Jordan McNamara rested his case against DC peace and justice activist Eve Tetaz, DeWitt town judge David Gideon granted Ms Tetaz’ motion to dismiss. Ms Tetaz represented herself pro se with the support of DC attorney Mark Goldstone.

Ms. Tetaz had been arrested on April 28, 2013, along with 30 others as she stood reading aloud Preamble to the UN Charter and the First Amendment of the Constitution on the edge of the driveway leading into the Hancock Reaper drone base on East Molloy Rd., Town of De Witt. The prosecution’s video of Ms Tetaz’ arrest showed the arresting officer grabbing those documents from her hands and tossing them aside.

When police ordered her to stop, Ms Tetaz continued her reading aloud, facing the base, thereby expressing her First Amendment right to peacefully “petition my government for redress of grievances” – i.e. the war crimes being committed by the weaponized Reaper drone robots piloted over Afghanistan by the Hancock Attack Wing.

Ms. Tetaz’ trial is one of the ongoing series of trials of those arrested on April 28, 2013 scheduled through spring of 2015. Many will be jury trials due to the misdemeanor charge of obstruction of government administration. The next jury trial -- that of Bronx Catholic Worker Mark Colville -- will begin at 8:30 a.m. this Thursday, Sept 18.

Drone firms bought influence at NATO summit

By REPRIEVE
 
Arms companies which provide key components for the drones used by the US to carry out secret strikes in violation of international law bought access to last week's NATO summit, research by legal charity Reprieve has found.
 
Among the firms which paid up to £300,000 to ‘exhibit’ at the summit in Newport, Wales were:

  • General Dynamics, manufacturer of the Hellfire missiles used in the vast majority of drone strikes.
  • Raytheon, manufacturer of the targeting system for the ‘Reaper’ drone which, along with the ‘Predator,’ is used by the CIA and other covert agencies to carry out strikes outside of warzones.
  • Lockheed Martin, which acts as a contractor to provide support services for the Reaper and Predator.
  • MBDA, a European firm which is producing ‘Brimstone,’ a variant of the Hellfire missile which it is promoting for use by Reaper and Predator drones.

Strikes carried out by Predators and Reapers flown by the CIA or Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have proved controversial as they have been carried out in countries with which or in which the US is not at war – such as Yemen and Pakistan.  As a result, they are in violation of both international and domestic law. 
 
Despite having been responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths, they take place with little or no oversight – with President Obama refusing even to formally acknowledge that such strikes are taking place.
 
Commenting, Reprieve Legal Director, Kat Craig said: “The illegal use of drones to carry out secret bombings is one of the most controversial issues around, so it is deeply worrying to see those firms who may profit most from it able to buy access to such a high-level summit.  It is unacceptable that the US’ drone campaign, and the UK’s support for it, has been allowed to remain in the shadows for so long.  President Obama must be far more open about it, as must his European allies, especially the UK and Germany, about the support they provide.  Allowing drone manufacturers to buy access to our politicians behind closed doors is no way to ensure we get the transparency we need.”

DRONE ACTION ORGANIZERS BULLETIN – August 12, 2014


From KnowDrones.com

Edited by Nick Mottern – Coordinator, Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare.

Next organizers’ conference call: August 27, 2014 at 9 pm EST
Call in number: (605) 562-3000 - Access code: 484539#

PLEASE DO YOUR UTMOST TO JOIN THIS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT CALL WHEN WE WILL DISCUSS JOINT ACTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER. 

1.    Editorial: GAZA, IRAQ AND OUR TRAGIC DRONE FANTASY
2.    ISRAELI DRONE IMPACT UNEXAMINED BY THE PRESS
3.    OPENING A NEW FRONT IN DRONE PROTEST
4.    RUSSELL BROWN DEFENDS HIMSELF AND WINS
5.    COURT ACTIONS GROW / CONTRIBUTIONS NEEDED
6.    BEALE WITNESS AND PLANS 
7.    HORSHAM DRONE BASE VIGILS CONTINUE 
8.    OCTOBER 4 INTERNATIONAL DRONE ACTIONS

 

Bilde
An MQ-9 Reaper UAV taxies after landing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. US, Iranian and Iraqi unmanned vehicles share airspace over Iraqi skies. (Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson / US Air Force) from DefenseNews.com

Drone Protester Aquitted by Jury

ACQUITTED! Vietnam Vet Drone Resister 

Syracuse July 31, 2014   After two hours of deliberation,Vietnam Veteran and Buffalonian Russell Brown,  was acquitted tonight by a six person jury in DeWitt Town Court, East Syracuse. He was facing charges of Obstruction of Governmental Administration (OGA), a misdemeanor carrying up to a year incarceration and up to $1000 fine, as well as Disorderly Conduct charge, a violation.   Mr. Brown who went before the court Pro Se (he served as his own counsel) was assisted by Buffalo Attorneys Daire Irwin and Paul Fallon.  

Mr. Brown was arrested during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on April 28, 2013. In a roadway across from the Airbase, he lay down to symbolize the death of drone victims.  There are biweekly demonstrations at Hancock Airbase.  Several times a year there are larger demonstrations and nationally coordinated events.  On six occasions there have been arrests, leading to six trials since 2011. Mr. Brown's trial is the second acquittal. There are twenty activists are facing prosecution, working with Upstate Drone Action.

During testimony, Russell told what he did leading up to the "Global April Days of Action" gathering in Syracuse. This included his writing a poem that links the drone attacks conducted at Hancock with the missions he conducted in Vietnam.  A marine from 1965 - 1967, he told of the war he experienced. His participation in senseless killing and brutality in Vietnam informed his understanding of the Drone War Program at the 174th Attack Wing.  Russell now finds allegiance with the victims of the drone attacks.

Laying on the street with "blood" spattered clothes lifted a weight of guilt from Russel.  Transforming guilt to regret makes possible a voice: poet, marcher in a 'legal' protest, drone victim laying in the street were deemed protected speech.  The message was closely attended by the jury.  Brian Hynes said, "They saw the human power of the message and the public value of the method used to deliver it. Drones kill senselessly and illegally and traumatize our airmen."

Russell said that the wars of the last decade brought back his experiences in Vietnam. “Lying in that road was the most peaceful moment I've experienced since I left Vietnam,” he said. "I was silent then in the face of those atrocities and I can't be silent anymore."

The jury was smiling as they returned to give the verdict. Later one juror asked a supporter to "Thank Russell for us!  My brother was in the Vietnam War and lost his leg. We know what the vets went through."  The juror also acknowledged the PTSD drone pilots experience.  Another juror said, "We did what was needed to be done.  It was fair and just".

 

                                                ###

Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for drone assassinations, support and operation, particularly in Afghanistan. The Niagara Falls Air Base is also embarking on a mission to operate weaponized drones.  The Hancock emerged following arrests at Creech Airforce Base in Nevada, and the Gandhian Wave of protest there has spearheaded national and international movements against the use of drones for assassination in countries we are not at war with and wars of occupation.

 

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, supported by local organizations such as the WNY Peace Center, works nonviolently to stop the scourge of assassination and community terror perpetrated by weaponized drones.  The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones is in coalition with the global movement to end the drone assassinations and to stop US imperialism and militarization.


The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

$10,000 Bail Reduced to $100 for 2 Drone Resisters

Vietnam Vet Drone Resister's Trial Ongoing in DeWitt Town Court

 Syracuse July 31, 2014 Vietnam Veteran and Buffalo resident Russell Brown’s trial began today in DeWitt Town Court in East Syracuse.  Mr. Brown is representing himself and is facing charges stemming from his arrest during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, on April 28, 2013. Mr. Brown laid down peacefully with red paint to symbolize the death of drone victims in a roadway across from the Airbase. He is charged with Obstruction of Governmental Administration (OGA), a misdemeanor carrying up to a year incarceration and up to $1000 fine, as well as Disorderly Conduct charge, a violation.

Mr. Brown’s trial follows about a dozen trials since 2011 in the DeWitt Town Court and  is one of 20 upcoming trials of drone resisters working with Upstate Drone Action there.

Judge David S. Gideon imposed an Order of Protection (OOP) on Mr Brown on behalf of Colonel Greg Semmel, the Hancock commandant.  The OOPs have been imposed on more than 50 nonviolent civil resisters arrested at the Hancock Reaper drone hub in DeWitt since October 2012. Under oath, a military official acknowledged that the protesters were acting nonviolently and posed no threat to the Airbase or military personnel.

Before a six-person jury,  defense witness Jessica Azulay testified on Wednesday that Mr. Brown was well beyond the military base and was not obstructing traffic as the roadway had been blocked by local police ahead of the demonstration.  She spoke in support of his constitutional right to protest.

Mr Brown said that the wars of the last decade brought back his experiences in Vietnam. “Lying in that road was the most peaceful moment I experienced since I left Vietnam,” he said.

                                                                                    ***

In other news of drone resistance, two upstate drone resisters had their bail drastically reduced after being arrested on July 23 outside Hancock.  Clare Grady of the Ithaca Catholic Worker and Martha Hennessy from New York Catholic Worker had been charged with violating an Order of Protection.  Judge Jokl of the DeWitt Town Court set their bail at $10,000 each. During a bail reduction hearing Monday Ms. Hennessy’s bail was reduced to $100.  Yesterday, Ms. Grady’s bail was also reduced to $100. Both women have been released, having been incarcerated for several days in the Onondaga County Justice Center.

Three  other co-defendants, Joan Pleune, 75 year-old, Civil Rights Movement Freedom Rider, and NYC Catholic Workers Erica Brock and Felton Davis remain in jail on $2,500 bail each. Ms. Pleune has a bail reduction hearing Thursday morning in Syracuse.

                                                                                            ***

Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for drone assassinations, support and operation, particularly in Afghanistan. The Niagara Falls Air Base is also embarking on a mission to operate weaponized drones.

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars [also known as Upstate Drone Action], supported by local organizations such as the Western NY Peace Center, works nonviolently to stop the scourge of assassination and community terror perpetrated by weaponized drones.  The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones is in coalition with the global movement to end the drone assassinations and to stop US imperialism and militarization.

Seven Arrested at Hancock Air Base Calling a Halt to Drone War Crimes: Order of Protection Delivered for the Children of the World

Seven Arrested at Hancock Air Base 

Halt Drone War Crimes! 

Order of Protection Delivered for the Children of the World

Syracuse July 23, 2014   Earlier today eight Atlantic Life Community activists joined with Upstate Drone Action at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, in Syracuse, New York. Hancock is the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State Air National Guard. The 174th Attack Wing pilots weaponized MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan – killing and terrorizing an uncountable number of civilians.

`

The eight delivered a People’s War Crimes Indictment to the Hancock chain of command by affixing it to the fence after being refused by the base personnel.  Also delivered was an Order of Protection on behalf of the children of the world who are subject to U.S. drone surveillance and attack.

The eight issued a statement that began with a list of names of persons who have been killed by drone strikes; “Syed Wali Shah, 7 years old, killed by an American drone strike. Momina Bibi, mother and midwife, killed by an American drone strike. Tarik Aziz, 16, killed by an American drone strike…  This Must Stop!  We are a community of peacemakers who resist war, racism and greed. We stand … in solidarity with men, women and children being terrorized by US military aggression.”

The group blocked the entrance to the base and took up positions for vigil.  Brian Hynes, NYC Catholic Worker, was allowed to vigil on the side of the main entrance, usually prohibited.  Seven from the group – from Vermont, Maryland, New York City, and Ithaca were arrested.

The seven are being charged with Trespass. Two of the defendants, Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy were also charged with violation of an Order of Protection.  Liz McAlister and Erica Brock were charged with Disorderly Conduct. Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy are being held on $10,000 bail. Felton Davis, Erica Brock, and Joan Pleune are all being held on $2,500 bail.

Three of the arrested are grandmothers.  On July 10th, 2014, drone activist and grandmother, Mary Anne Grady Flores, was sentenced to one year in jail for violation of the same Order of Protection, taken out on behalf of the Colonel of the base.  She is currently out on $5,000 bail pending appeal. A higher court has found the order to be invalid.  

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Warswww.upstatedroneaction.org is made up of antiwar organizations and formed around resistance to the MQ-9 Reaper Drone program at Hancock Field Air Force Base.

 ###
 
 
 

Support WarIsACrime



Donate.








Tweet your Congress critters here.


Advertise on this site!




Facebook      Twitter





Our Store:



















Movie Memorabilia.



The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.