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UPDATE: 12 arrested today.
Jerry Berrigan, who died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, was a husband, a father, a brother, a teacher and someone who – like his brothers Dan and Phil – dedicated his entire life to Jesus’ command to love one another. Jerry came to the base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able, in Jerry’s words, “to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”
As more and more evidence mounts regarding the illegality of U.S. drone policies, from the “Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, to the four drone pilots who have come forward to speak out about what this policy is doing, we bring Jerry’s image here to the gates to remember that this is where he would be, speaking out and putting his body on the line to say a clear “NO” to killing. Because Jerry Berrigan knew that it matters where we put our bodies.
In 2008 Jerry was asked by The Syracuse Post Standard if there was anything he would change in his life. Jerry replied, “I would have resisted more often and been arrested more often.” In our memorial today we use an image of Jerry from The Syracuse Post Standard where he is being arrested for opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
As we are installing this Jerry Berrigan Memorial Drone Blockade, we also remember Mary Anne Grady Flores who is serving a six month sentence here in the Onondaga County jail because the courts in this county believe that the colonel at this highly armed base needs protection from citizens calling attention to the drone killings. We challenge the courts to apply the law as it was meant to be applied; to protect victims not victimizers.
Syracuse has a great history of men named Jerry and resistance to injustice. We call to mind “The Jerry Rescue” memorial that stands across the street from The Federal Court house where Syracusans in 1851 literally got in the way of the illegal and immoral Fugitive Slave law and the officials who tried take a man named Jerry back to enslavement in the South. They opened the prison gates for him to go to freedom. Our intent for this memorial today in honor of Jerry Berrigan, is to get in the way of the illegal and immoral use of killer drones. And to stand in solidarity with all those resisting other injustice – from Black Lives Matter to those putting their bodies to halt climate change.
Thank you Jerry Berrigan for your life and example. Your Spirit lives on!
Beth Adams (Leverett, MA), Bev Rice (Manhattan), Bill Ofenloch (NYC), Brian Hynes (Bronx), Charley Bowman (Buffalo), Ed Kinane (Syracuse, NY), James Ricks (Ithaca), Joan Pleune (Brooklyn), Joan Wages (Roanoke, VA), Pete Perry (Syracuse, NY), Ray McGovern (Arlington, VA), Steve Baggarly (VA)
By Joy First
Joyce Ellwanger was found guilty of trespassing by Judge Paul Curran in Juneau County court on Friday January 22, 2016. Though Curran never formerly pronounced a verdict saying Joyce was guilty, he said she trespassed and he imposed a sentence in another heavy-handed trial for the nine activists who were arrested at Volk Field in August 2015.
Refusing our request to consolidate the cases, Judge Curran has already found Jim Murphy and Bonnie Block to be guilty. Jim spent five days in jail, and Bonnie asked for community service, but Curran refused and said that if she didn’t pay the fine it would be attached to her income tax. Four trials are remaining and coming up in February.
The DA, Michael Solvey, continued his familiar defense in Joyce’s trial. He called the county sheriff and a deputy sheriff to take the stand, establishing Joyce’s identity and that she did indeed cross onto the base.
DRONE WAR OPPONENT MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES HAS BEGUN SERVING SIX MONTHS IN JAIL
By Nick Mottern, KnowDrones
As many of you know Mary Anne Grady Flores, 59, grandmother of three, a caterer, with responsibility with her other family members for caring from her critically ill mother, began serving a six-month jail sentence on Tuesday night, January 19, 2016 in connection with a drone protest at the Hancock Air National Guard drone control center hear Syracuse, NY.
Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, who has also been arrested at Hancock, says: “All the drone trials are bogus, and Mary Anne’s charges, trial and sentencing were particularly egregious. (A statement from Colonel Wright appears below.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES
1. Speaking on Thursday, January 21 from jail, Mary Anne said that the #1 thing she would like to be done in support is for people to organize local anti-drone war teach-ins or other events. She would like the events to include identifying the similarities between drone killing and killings by police in terms of lack of due process and accountability. See Mary Anne’s statement below.
2. Send money to support Mary Anne and the anti-drone war movement in Upstate New York, for example in paying legal fees. Please make out your check to:
Ithaca Catholic Workers, write Mary Anne Grady Flores in the memo line, and send the check to:
Ithaca Catholic Workers
514 N. Plain Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
3. Send Mary Anne a letter, addressed to:
Mary Anne Grady Flores – Inmate #12001966
Jamesville Correctional Facility
PO Box 143
Jamesville, NY 13078
Here is the report from the Syracuse Post Standard on Mary Anne’s surrendering at court for imprisonment, followed by her statement immediately before her imprisonment.
Mary Anne’s statement:
and that of her attorney, Lance Salisbury:
Also statements by Mary Anne’s sister, Ellen Grady
and Carol Baum of the Syracuse Peace Council
Mary Anne’s imprisonment has received wide press coverage including:
Colonel Ann Wright's Statement 1-19-16
As Grandmother Mary Ann Grady Flores is taken to jail today for violating an “Order of Protection” requested by the Commander of the U.S. National Guard Hancock Drone base, Syracuse, NY, I, as a retired U.S. Army Colonel with 29 years in the US military find it quite embarrassing and ludicrous that a U.S. military commander decided that his personal security so threatened by peaceful, non-violent protesters of the drone policies of the United States that he applied for an “Order of Protection” from the courts—and that the courts issued the “Order” without any evidence that any protester had ever even seen the Commander, much less constituted a threat to him.
I would have expected a U.S. military commander to have had the courage to meet with the group of concerned citizens rather than obtaining a cowardly “Order of Protection.” Had I been the commander, I certainly would have met with the citizens and would never have contemplated getting an "Order of Protection.
I have just returned from South Korea and Okinawa where citizen protesters daily block gates to military bases where highly contentious runways and ports are being built. Each day police remove non-violent protesters from the gates, but they have never been prohibited from exercising their rights to protest, a right that is under siege by the military and the courts in Syracuse, New York.
As further evidence of how contorted the law enforcement and judicial process in the U.S. is about protests, while armed, white militia hold a federal wildlife reserve in Oregon in protest of the government having too much land and are not even arrested, Mary Ann Grady Flores, a peaceful grandmother who stepped on a double line and therefore violated an “Order of Protection” is going to jail for six months.
The actions by the U.S. military at Hancock drone base and the town courts of DeWitt, New York are blatant measures taken unconstitutionally to silence dissent against the assassin drone weapons policy and intimidate protesters. They both should be ashamed.
US Army Colonel (retired)
Mary Anne Grady Flores to be taken into custody Tuesday, January 19
Ithaca, NY. On January 12, the National Day of Action to Stop Killer Drones, grandmother and drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores learned that she is to go back to jail for six months starting Tuesday, January 19. She is to report to the Dewitt Town Court (5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY) at 5pm to be remanded to Jamesville Correctional Facility, East Syracuse NY.
Mary Anne had been out on appeal of a lower court convicting her of violating an order of protection. It had been given on behalf of Col. Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (in Syracuse, NY), to “protect” him from nonviolent anti-drone activists. She had been charged with violating the order while taking pictures of eight Catholics protesting the US drone assassination program at Hancock on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Onondaga County Court Judge Miller upheld the lower court conviction. Of note is that all eight Catholic drone resisters were acquitted because they went to uphold law, not break it.
Orders of protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, have been used by the Court and the Base in an attempt to deter protest and suppress free speech. Judge Miller also upheld a lower court ruling on the Hancock 17, seventeen nonviolent drone resisters given orders of protection, jail time, and fines.
Mary Anne, a grandmother of three, has been a part of The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, resisting the drone assassination program since 2011. According to leaked military documents called the Drone Paperssent to the Intercept, 90% of drone assassinations target and kill civilians, including children. On the National Day of Action, drone resisters were arrested at Creech Air Force Base (Nevada), Beale AFB (California), and Volk AFB (Wisconsin), and Ramstein AFB, Germany and in Pakistan, all a part of the worldwide resistance to drones.
Mary Anne received the verdict and sentence by mail, even though she was originally told to appear in County Court on January 22 to hear the court's decision. This may have been an attempt to prevent a full courtroom and press with cameras from attending, as occurred at the time of her original sentence.
By Joy First
Father Jim Murphy of Highland, WI was found guilty of trespass during a bench trial on January 4, 2016. With Judge Paul Curran presiding over the Juneau County proceedings we saw another miscarriage of justice in our continuing struggle to end drone warfare. Jim will be spending five days in the Juneau County jail after stating he would not pay a $232 fine.
Jim was arrested on August 25, 2015 along with eight other activists, for stepping onto the base at Volk Field, an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin where they train pilots to operate the Shadow Drones. This action was at the end of an eight-day 90 mile walk from Madison, WI to Volk Field organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
The prosecutor, DA Solovey, called three witnesses - the chief of security at Volk Field, the Juneau County Sheriff, and a deputy sheriff - to establish Jim’s identity, that he did walk onto the base, and that he was not authorized to do so. Jim declined to cross-examine the county’s witnesses.
Jim took the stand in his defense and stated his name as Jim Murphy. Curran wanted it noted for the record that Jim was a Catholic priest and was officially Father James Murphy. Jim began to read a prepared statement condemning drone warfare. He was interrupted by Curran who said that this is only about the trespass charge, nonetheless he allowed Jim to continue with his statement. However, Solovey quickly objected and the judge said Jim could not finish his statement. The judge also commented that Obama does not care what his court has to say about drone warfare.
Jim was persistent and asked for the court’s indulgence to complete his statement, and finally Curran decided to allow him to finish.
Jim eloquently reminded us that, “We cannot remain silent without becoming complicit.” I hope the judge heard that and thought about what his silence means. Jim finished by saying, “You view this as a trespass charge. I view it as a long tradition of opposition to war.”
Judge Curran ruled that Jim was guilty of trespass and said he would have to pay a $232 fine. Jim said he was not able to pay the fine and would do the jail time instead. Curran seemed very uncomfortable with this prospect (because he was a priest?) and finally Curran responded that he knew Jim really couldn’t pay the fine and so he would sentence him to five days in jail and spare him the lecture about Juneau County’s financial difficulties.
This was in reference to the lecture given by Judge Curran when two activists from earlier trials took the jail time rather than pay the fine. The judge told them that Juneau County is one of the poorest counties in the state and admonished the activists for using county money to put them in jail in lieu of paying the fine. I guess Judge Curran must have some kind of insider knowledge – or more likely some deep-seated prejudice – so that he can determine that it is ok for some of us to choose jail time, but not for all of us.
The judge could have saved the county a lot of money by granting our motion for consolidation, but he refused to do so. There will be seven more trials, with Bonnie Block coming next on January 8. In the meantime, keep up the resistance and join us in DC on January 12 for the Real State of the Union action.
Talk Nation Radio: Cian Westmoreland, former U.S. Air Force technician in Afghanistan, speaks against war
Cian Westmoreland is a former Air Force technician who served in Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan at the 73rd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. He assisted in building a signal relay station that was used for transmitting and receiving data, radio, and radar picture for unmanned and manned missions for approximately 250,000 square miles over Afghanistan. In a report provided to him after his tour, he was credited with assisting in 2,400 close air support missions and 200+ kills of supposed enemies. The UNAMA report for that year, 2009, claimed however that this number also included 359 civilians killed in airstrikes. Westmoreland discusses his experience.
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We now know this. A young man who had successfully killed on a large scale went to his religious leader with doubts and was told that mass killing was part of God's plan. The young man continued killing until he had participated in killing sprees that took 1,626 lives -- men, women, and children.
I repeat: his death count was not the 16 or 9 or 22 lives that make top news stories, but 1,626 dead and mutilated bodies.
Do such things bother you?
What if you learned that this young man's name was Brandon Bryant, and that he killed as a drone pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and that he was presented with a certificate for his 1,626 kills and congratulated on a job well done by the United States of America? What if you learned that his religious leader was a Christian chaplain?
Do such things still bother you?
What if you learned that most of the people killed by U.S. drones are civilians? That the pilots "double-tap," meaning that they send a missile into a wedding party or a house and then wait for people to try to help the injured and send a second missile into them? That as a result one hears the injured screaming for hours until they die, as no one comes to help? That a drone pilot sent a missile into a group of children from which three children survived who recognized their dead brothers but had no idea that various pieces of flesh were what was left of their Mom and Dad and consequently cried out for those now gone-forever individuals?
Is this troubling?
What if President Obama's claim of few or no civilian deaths was proven false by well-documented reporting? And by the fact that most victims are targeted without even knowing their names?
What if a leading candidate for president in the past week were to both declare that the way to win a war is to start killing whole families, and stage a public Christian prayer session in order to win over a certain demographic of voters?
Is that bothering?
What if it became clear that police officers in the United States have been murdering people at a higher rate than drone pilots? Would you want to see police videos of their killings? Would you want to see drone videos of their killings? We have thus far gained limited access to the former and none to the latter.
What if it were discovered that gun murders in San Bernardino are almost routine. Would they all be equally tragic?
My point is not to cease caring about the tragedy that the television stations tell you to care about. I wish everyone would care 1,000 times more, and even better do something to take away the guns and the hatred and the culture of violence and the economic injustice and the alienation.
My point is that there are other tragedies that go unmentioned, including larger ones. And exploiting one tragedy to fuel hatred toward a large segment of the human population of earth is madness.
Academic’s Research Shows NY Times, Wash. Post Don’t Do Follow-up Reporting to See if Civilians Killed in U.S. Drone Strikes
By now you know the drill: The CIA or U.S. military forces unleash a drone strike or other aerial bombardment in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia or any other country that the United States claims the right to attack.
A U.S. government spokesperson reports 5 or 7 or 17 or 25 or whatever number of “militants” killed — Taliban, or al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State fighters — according to its fill-in-the-blanks press release. Wire services, mainstream newspapers, television newscasters dutifully report in brief fashion on another successful drone or missile strike, fulfilling minimal journalistic standards by attributing it to the Pentagon, or intelligence or U.S. government sources — sometimes even naming the spokesperson who issued the news release.
And then — usually nothing. Yes, sometimes someone with a little clout raises a stink — say the Afghan president, or some prominent local official who was an eyewitness to the attack, or Doctors without Borders after the U.S. attack on their Afghanistan hospital in October. (* See footnote.) In such challenges to the Americans’ claims of killing only “militants,” these pesky eyewitnesses contend that many of those killed were actually noncombatants, even women and children.
But on those occasions when U.S. officials are confronted with too-strong evidence of civilian casualties, they typically issue an apology (while not usually admitting civilians were actually killed), promise an investigation — and then that’s the last we ever seem to hear of it in the mainstream press.
Now, an American University (A.U.) academic, Jeff Bachman, has documented what some readers may have surmised in reading drone news coverage over the years, but didn’t have the data to back it up. In examining articles by The New York Times and Washington Post in the immediate aftermath of U.S. drone strikes between 2009 and 2014, Bachman concluded:
“Both papers have substantially underrepresented the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, failed to correct the public record when evidence emerged that their reporting was wrong and ignored the importance of international law.”
Bachman’s research dovetails with The Intercept’s recently published “Drone Papers” articles, which among other things document the U.S. government’s lying to the press and public about the number of noncombatants killed in drone strikes.
Bachman, professional lecturer in human rights and the co-director of Global Affairs M.A. Program at A.U.’s School of International Service, examined a sample of 81 Times articles and 26 Post articles published within two days of particular drone strikes between 2009 and 2014. He then compared the two papers’ reporting to the research and tracking of drone strikes by the London-based The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ). He said he considered TBIJ’s data authoritative “because they used a methodology that has been endorsed by the Center for Civilians in Conflict and Human Rights” at Columbia University’s Law School.
In the drone attacks reported on by The Times, TBIJ found civilians killed in 26 of the 81 attacks. The Times, though, reported civilians killed in only two of those attacks, Bachman wrote.
Looking at The Post’s coverage of drone attacks, Bachman found that TBIJ reported civilians killed in 7 of the 26 attacks, while The Post reported civilians killed in only one attack.
In the 33 strikes that produced civilian casualties, TBIJ found that between 180 and 302 civilians were killed — yet Times and Post articles reported on the deaths of only nine civilians in the three stories in which they noted that there were civilian casualties.
“This trend of underreporting of civilian casualties means readers are not being informed of the real consequences of drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan,” Bachman wrote. “It represents a failure by journalists at these papers to view critical government claims regarding who is killed in particular strikes.”
Even worse, Bachman reports what happened when he contacted both newspapers to question them “about the inaccuracies in their reporting on civilian casualties, and to see whether either newspaper published corrections” about civilian deaths from drone strikes. “The answer from both was that they had not,” he wrote.
Read Bachman’s article to see the full summary of his findings and the exact comments he reports receiving from Times and Post representatives. But for one sample of mainstream media indifference to this issue, consider what Bachman reported he was told by Sylvester Monroe, The Post’s assistant managing editor.
Monroe, wrote Bachman, “stated that when using ‘official sources’ it is impossible to ‘independently verify which of the dead were members of militant groups and which might have been innocent civilians.’”
According to Bachman, Monroe added this amazing disclosure: “Even if the CIA were to acknowledge that its count was inaccurate, it would not be up to us to run a correction.” Let that sink in: The Post will apparently not make corrections of a spy agency’s lies and misrepresentations even in the unlikely event the agency itself admits them.
Bachman also noted that the term “human rights” — and various equivalents — showed up in only 5 of The Times’s 81 drone attack stories, and in only one of the 26 Post articles. The term “laws of war” or “laws of armed conflict” — needed to “place the drone strikes in their international legal context” — were not mentioned in any of the articles.
“Without government transparency and accurate reporting, whistleblowers, like the source of The Intercept’s ‘Drone Papers,’ are the only source for information that will allow us to understand the real consequences of the drone strikes,” Bachman concluded.
- The recent October 2 multiple U.S. bombings on the Doctor Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where at least 30 staff, patients and others were killed, might prove to be that unique case that events will force to be seriously investigated. But don’t count on it. In the Kunduz hospital case, eyewitnesses — Westerners/doctors from a highly respected international humanitarian medical organization making allegations that the bombings were deliberate — could not be so easily written off by the Pentagon and our usually incurious mainstream media. Doctors without Borders has called the multiple bombardments on the hospital a possible war crime and wants the attack investigated by an international inquiry under the Geneva Conventions. Instead, General John F. Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, has appointed a two-star general from another command to head what Campbell termed an independent investigation — a far cry from what Doctors Without Borders has called for. Keeping the investigation within the military’s own house makes it much more likely that we may be heading for one of those mistakes-were-made Pentagon reports, rather than a war-crimes-were-committed report. Even this inadequate, conflicted investigative step, though, is far more than usually happens when ordinary civilians are killed by U.S. attacks and there are no Westerners or credentialed people to witness them.
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Chicago media outlets are reporting that drones have been banned from most of Chicago's skies and cannot fly over you or your property without your permission. The text of the ordinance, however, makes exceptions for police that will require eternal vigilance.
Local legislative action around drones began in U.S. cities in early 2013 with the public demand for resolutions opposing foreign drone murders by the military and CIA (and related training in U.S. skies), combined with public concern about domestic U.S. police departments that had begun acquiring weaponized and surveillance drones. This quickly expanded to include concerns about private drones -- among other reasons, because surveillance footage from private drones could be acquired by governments. As near misses between drones and passenger aircraft began piling up, those issues of safety were added to the mix.
Chicago has now passed a modified version of an ordinance that forbids any drone "that is equipped with a firearm or other weapon" and any drone flown "with intent to use such small unmanned aircraft or anything attached to it to cause harm to persons or property." The new law also bans any drone flight "for the purpose of conducting surveillance, unless expressly permitted by law."
Then come the exceptions: "nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person who is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration . . . ." And: "nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of a drone by a law enforcement agency in accordance with Section 15 of the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act, codified at 725 ILCS 167/1 et seq., or its successor provision."
That Illinois law allows police to use drones whenever they claim there is "a high risk of a terrorist attack" or they obtain a 45-day warrant from a court, or they decide they don't have time to bother obtaining a warrant and must act swiftly "to prevent imminent harm to life or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence," or they're attempting to locate a missing person but not undertaking a criminal investigation, or they're solely doing crime scene or traffic crash scene photography (with a warrant if on private property), or there is a disaster or public health emergency (which need not have been formally declared).
None of that explicitly allows weaponized drones for police, except in so far as the word "terrorist" is generally taken to allow just about anything. So, does Chicago's ban on weaponized drones remain intact for police? I'm pessimistic. I don't think the ban on entering the sky over private property or flying at night or flying drunk or any of the other bans survive for police. The law says "nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of a drone by a law enforcement agency. . . ."
How police drone use works out, I think, depends entirely on how the state law is interpreted and enforced. Who will monitor police drone use? Who will punish violations? The new Chicago ordinance includes penalties: "Any person who violates this section or any rule promulgated thereunder shall be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $5,000.00 for each offense, or may be incarcerated for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense." But that sounds like a penalty for an individual, not a government agency.
I'm afraid what has been created is a policy of restricting drone use by individuals in Chicago, without effectively restricting it by the entities most likely to violate rights, intimidate, restrict ability to exercise free speech or assemble or petition the government for redress of grievances, and to use unjustifiable force.
This question is far from settled. Chicago is only one city. Other cities and states could choose to clearly ban weaponized drones, and to ban police surveillance drones under a clear system of supervision, oversight, and accountability.
No more veterans!: November 11 or Armistice Day Began as a Time to Contemplate Peace, Not to Celebrate War and Warriors
By Dave Lindorff
By Doug Noble, Upstate (NY) Drone Action Coalition
"Our entire Middle East policy seems to be based on firing drones," Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Intercept. "They're enamored by the ability of special operations and the CIA to find a guy in the middle of the desert in some shitty little village and drop a bomb on his head and kill him."
Targeted killing by drones remains the US weapon of choice, famously called “the only game in town,” by former CIA director Leon Panetta. This despite a decade of worldwide moral outrage over its overwhelming civilian casualties, violations of international law, disregard for national sovereignty, dismissal of due process, and continuing secrecy. The Obama administration recently announced that the drone killing program will in fact be increased by 50 % in the coming two years.
Now government documents leaked to the Intercept show conclusively that the US drone program kills thousands of innocents on bad intelligence and careless targeting while being falsely portrayed as a program of impeccable planning and precision execution. The recently leaked “Drone Papers” reveal the extent of willful ineptitude in US drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, which rely on systematically faulty intelligence and astonishing inaccuracies in identifying targets. These revelations only further confirm what many of us already knew about the appalling failure, relentless deception and criminal lethality of the US drone program.
But it’s even worse. Careless execution and public distortion are one thing. If the US were in fact relying on a proven military technology and strategy to defeat terrorists and “keep America safe,” despite setbacks and innocent lives lost, there are those who could justify the cost.
But what is perhaps most insidious of all is the fact that many studies long available to military planners have shown decisively that the use of weaponized drones in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts is both ineffective and counterproductive. Even more, the historical record and recent research shows quite clearly that the “decapitation” strategy driving such drone use - the assassination of high value targets - has itself been both unsuccessful and counterproductive in defeating insurgent or terrorist organizations.
So the drone warriors have known all along it wouldn’t work: that killer drones and kill lists would slaughter thousands of civilians but never defeat terrorists. They’ve known this conclusively from decades of military experience and volumes of research studies. Yet they continue to do it anyway, ever more expansively, ever more mindlessly. Why? Because they can (and because they have no Plan B).
Weaponized drones were in fact first proposed by the US military in 2000, prior to 9/11, as a means to both target and kill, with the same aircraft, the Number One high value target, Osama Bin Laden. For this purpose, Predator surveillance drones were fitted with Hellfire missiles still available from the Gulf War. The name “Hellfire,” an acronym for “heliborne-launched fire-and-forget missile,” was originally designed as an “anti-tank guided missile (AGM),“ somehow now redeployed for remote precision killing of individuals, or, as one Air Force article called it, “warhead to forehead.”
These weaponized drones have been used ever since, as the weapon of choice in US operations all over the Middle East and North Africa. Now, given all the moral and legal controversy surrounding their use, some have begun to question if these weaponized drones have even been effective in defeating terrorists. As Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus asked recently, “Are we winning the drone war?”
It’s hard to know since, as a recent Stimson Center Task Force on US Drone Policy report explains, “after more than 10 years of use, the U.S. drone program remains so shrouded in secrecy that we do not have enough information to make an educated assessment of its effectiveness … Without a clear understanding of the drone program’s strategy, goals, and metric(s) used for evaluation, … experts … cannot make informed assessments regarding the program’s efficacy.”
The Stimson Report observed that “on May 23, 2013, President Obama delivered a major speech at the National Defense University in which … he pledged to continue the difficult task of ensuring that the use of lethal UAVs is .. strategically sound.’ The Report’s authors recommend that the US government conduct a thoroughgoing evaluation of the impact of UAV strikes on terrorist organizations, with regard to capabilities, threats currently posed, morale and recruiting, as well as their impact on public opinion, litigation, and defense policy.” Nothing is expected to be forthcoming any time soon.
President Obama did provide a metric of drone effectiveness in a major speech in 2014: “Our actions should meet a simple test: We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.” Though hardly a robust definition of victory, even by this measure, given the growing numbers of new recruits in Al Qaeda, ISIS and other groups, it would appear that the US strategy has been decidedly ineffective. But since there are no clear numbers from the Obama administration of enemies killed and new recruits created, this metric of effectiveness is decidedly unhelpful.
Historical precedent and longstanding military doctrine, though, offer insight into the potential effectiveness of Obama’s drone war. What follows is a brief sampling of conclusions drawn by research scholars, both within and without the military, who have examined the historical record and the military evidence. These scholars all agree that drone strikes are useless to defeat counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, but they all concede as well that the US military will continue into the future to rely on them anyway, as “the only game in town.”
James A. Russell, a researcher at the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, concludes in his article “The False Promise of Aerial Policing,” that “the idea of aerial policing is dangerous and deeply flawed, yet mysteriously it has become a panacea for states seeking to apply force in the modern era…. Aerial policing is an intellectual and strategic house of cards built on shaky foundations ... [it] represents the triumph of tactics over strategy, turning fundamental truths about the nature of war on their head.”
Aerial policing grew out of theories of airpower that the airplane had revolutionized war by making it unnecessary for armies to clash on the ground and destroy one another. Instead, they argued, an opponent’s armies, his means of waging war, and even his will to fight could be destroyed from the air via strategic bombardment. The conduct of this strike war, they argued, reduced operations and warfare to an engineering problem of identifying and striking targets.
World War II was the great laboratory to try out these ideas, as the United States and Britain sought to pound Germany into submission via strategic bombing. The lessons of the war for strategic bombardment, however, went unlearned. The allied bombers missed most of what they were aiming at, did not end Germany’s means to wage war, and did not convince the German people to give up the fight.
The mythology of the airpower advocates endured through the Vietnam War, despite another failure of airpower to achieve strategic effect. More recently, America’s special forces set about creating an insurgent targeting methodology that had its roots in the engineering approach employed by the airpower advocates. The targeting methodology was eagerly seized upon by airpower enthusiasts to assassinate suspected terrorists around the world with America’s new generation of robots in the sky.
America’s strategic retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan after 15 years is a monument to the failure of … clever tactics championed by counterinsurgency advocates and their precise targeting methods. Yet America’s response to this strategic failure has been to double down, showering more money and responsibility on the Special Forces and similar organizations that achieved no positive strategic effect in battle over the last 15 years.
He concludes that “… drones are at most, weak substitutes for traditional counterinsurgency operations. While drones have the capability to punish and deter insurgent organizations, they do not alone contribute to the establishment of effective state authority in direct and meaningful ways, which … requires large numbers of ground forces and civilians to provide services to, and gain intelligence from, the local population.”
The groups targeted by drones operate in areas where the United States and the [local] national government cannot or will not engage "on the ground" in large numbers. Drones are most useful in precisely such areas, since they allow the United States to project force when it and the national government have few other options
But the absence of boots on the ground makes it more difficult to gather human intelligence on the activities of militant groups that can be used to target drone strikes. Ungoverned spaces also can allow armed groups to proliferate and form complex and short-lived alliances that are difficult for outsiders to understand, increasing the challenge of targeting only militants who oppose the United States. Drones, then, are most useful for counterterrorism in precisely those settings where the challenges of counterterrorism are the greatest, and the ability to collect intelligence is the weakest. This means that the bar for the successful use of drones to counter terrorism is set quite high.… The evidence from the most sustained campaign to rely on drone strikes to deter and punish insurgent organizations in Pakistan suggests this technology has limited capacity to achieve these objectives. Despite these limitations, drone technology seems very likely to spread both within the U.S. Armed Forces, the armed forces of other countries, and even insurgent organizations.
Philosopher and historian Gregoire Chamayou, in his book A Theory of the Drone, cites a 2009 op-ed by David Kilcullen, influential US military advisor on counterinsurgency, which called for a moratorium on drone strikes in Pakistan. Kilcullen viewed them as dangerously counterproductive, driving the population into the arms of extremists. Kilcullen drew direct parallels between the current drone program and the infamous failures of earlier French and British aerial bombardment campaigns in Algeria and Pakistan. He also opposed the technological fetishism of drone use, which “displays every characteristic of a tactic - or, more accurately, a piece of technology, - substituting for a strategy.”
Gregoire notes that “air force strategists are well aware of the objections that [counterinsurgency] theorists never fail to raise, …that what is being presented as a new strategy has already been tried out, with remarkably disastrous results.” He cites in military doctrine the “truism that COIN [counterinsurgency] is about boots on the ground and that airpower is counterproductive.”
Gregoire observes,“Dronized manhunting represents the triumph... of antiterrorism over counterinsurgency. According to this logic, the total body count and a list of hunting trophies take the place of a strategic evaluation of the political effects of armed violence. Successes become statistics.” Never mind that drone strikes multiply new enemies. The strategic plan of drone counterinsurgency now seems to be that an armada of killer drones is capable of eliminating new recruits as fast as they are created: “as soon as a head grows back, cut it off,” in a pattern of ongoing eradication. This assessment coincides with the Stimson report conclusion that “the availability of lethal UAVs has fueled a ‘whack-a-mole’ approach to counterterrorism.”
The whistleblower source for the Drone Papers concludes: “The military is easily capable of adapting to change, but they don’t like to stop anything they feel is making their lives easier, or is to their benefit. And this certainly is, in their eyes, a very quick, clean way of doing things. It’s a very slick, efficient way to conduct the war, without having to have the massive ground invasion mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan. ... but at this point, they have become so addicted to this machine, to this way of doing business, that it seems like it’s going to become harder and harder to pull them away from it the longer they’re allowed to continue operating in this way.”
In addition to research on drone killings, some scholars have been researching the strategy underpinning US drone strikes, namely, the “decapitation” strategy (our own manner of beheading the enemy). This strategy assumes that the assassination of leaders and other key players - so-called “high value targets” (HVTs) - within an enemy insurgent or terrorist group will eventually defeat the group itself.
Scholars, though, come to the opposite conclusion.
RAND researcher Patrick B. Johnston, in his article "Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns," notes:
“Regardless of whether a government’s adversary is a state, a terrorist organization, or a guerrilla insurgency, the scholarly opinion has been that high-value targeting is ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. … The data also show conclusively that killing or capturing insurgent leaders is usually not a silver bullet, since governments were only around 25% more likely to defeat insurgencies following the successful removal of top insurgent leaders.
In his review of the relevant literature, “The ABCs of HVT: Key Lessons from High Value Targeting Campaigns Against Insurgents and Terrorists,” Matt Frankel of the Brookings Institution, concludes:
“The final implication for the United States is that it is vital that any HVT campaign take place as part of a larger strategy, not merely as an end to itself. Remote strikes and targeted raids need to be combined with broader operations, both military and non-military, to achieve maximum effectiveness.
The United States will face an uphill battle in utilizing HVT campaigns successfully, since it will always be operating as a third-party force. If the goals of the host government and the third-party force are divergent, there is little chance for success.
It is clear that as long as Al Qaeda remains a global force, U.S.-sponsored HVT operations will continue. But if the United States continues to conduct HVT operations in a vacuum, …it will continue to be doomed to failure.”
Professor of International Affairs Jenna Jordan, concludes in her article “Why Terrorist Groups Survive Decapitation Strikes”
“The targeting of terrorist leaders affiliated with al-Qaida has been the cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism policy since 2001. ..Targeting al-Qaida is not likely to result in organizational decline or long-term degradation [since] its bureaucratic organization and communal support have allowed it to withstand frequent attacks on its leadership.”
However, she cautions, “Regardless of the effectiveness and potential for adverse consequences of its decapitation strategy, the United States is likely to continue targeting al-Qaida leaders because U.S. policymakers view the killing of high-level targets as successes in themselves.”
The publication this year of the Drone Papers reveals that the Obama administration, the US military, and the CIA have been lying all along about the drone assassination program, its targets and its civilian casualties. These documents also expose the obscene disregard for human lives pervading the entire operation, as the drone warriors pursue their technological dreams. “Throughout human history,” the Stimson Report reminds us, “the ability to project force across significant distances has been a much sought-after military capability… and since the dawn of mechanization, militaries have sought to replace people with machines.” In this context, drones are the unholy grail. The Drone Papers reveal that in its pursuit these Dr Strangeloves have been well aware of the horrific human costs of their enterprise and that they couldn’t care less.
What I've tried to show here is something more: that these military miscreants have also known all along that their drone technology and targeting strategy are militarily bankrupt. They could not but be aware from military history and doctrine that these approaches have absolutely no possibility of defeating terrorist groups or keeping America safe. They must know that in fact the opposite is true, that their nefarious enterprise only further endangers us all. And yet they will continue ever more brazenly their Reaper madness, the scholars here all agree, until we find some way to stop them.
Recommendations and Report of the Stimson Center Task Force on US Drone Policy, Second Edition. Research Director: Rachel Stohl, April 2015 http://www.stimson.org/images/uploads/research-pdfs/task_force_report_FINAL_WEB_062414.pd
Rachel Stohl, “Just how effective is the US drone program anyway?”
Doyle McManus, “Are we winning the drone war?” Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2015
Patrick B. Johnston, "Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns," International Security, 36(4):47-79, 2012
Frankel, Matt(2011) 'The ABCs of HVT: Key Lessons from High Value Targeting Campaigns Against Insurgents and Terrorists', Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 34: 1, 17 — 3
Jenna Jordan , “Why Terrorist Groups Survive Decapitation Strikes,” International Security, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Spring 2014), pp. 7–38,
Gregoire Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, The New Press, 2015
Richard Whittle, Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution. Henry Holt & Co., 2014
Andrew Cockburn, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, Henry Holt & Co., 2015
Jeremy Scahill et al., The Drone Papers. https://theintercept.com/drone-papers
Creech AFB Drone Center Near Last Vegas Focus of Graphic Commercials on CNN, ESPN & other Networks This Week
Spots Plead with Drone Pilots to 'Refuse to Fly'
LAS VEGAS, NV– Disturbing images of children killed and mutilated by U.S. drones are shown in graphic and controversial television commercials that begin airing in Las Vegas on Monday/Oct. 26 on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and other cable networks.
The spots are airing in conjunction with 14 trials starting Monday in Las Vegas of anti-drone demonstrators arrested last March at protests at Creech AFB. The trials begin at 1 p.m. this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Additionally, this week, a series of protests at Creech AFB's drone center – the major drone operating and training facility in the nation – will be held all this week by CodePink and other people opposed to the U.S. drone program.
The commercials can be seen here: http://youtu.be/dP4vYOUDjQ8
Sponsored by KnowDrones.com, the spots also ran last February and March in Las Vegas – it was the first time any anti-drones advertising had appeared on U.S. television. Since then, the spots have run near drone operation centers from California to New York.
The 15-second commercial shows an image from a drone operations video screen, an explosion, civilians searching through rubble after the drone attack, a Hellfire missile loaded onto a drone and images of children killed and mutilated by the attack.
On-screen text charges "Drone Killing Violates Law and Morality," and then ends with a plea for "Drone Pilots. Please Refuse to Fly. No one has to obey an immoral law."
The television spot's appeal to pilots to "Refuse to Fly" is aimed at Creech AFB drone pilots, sensor operators, support personnel and their families as well as the general public.
"We produced this spot to make the point as powerfully as possible that drone killing is horrifying, illegal and immoral," said Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com.
The "senior digital organizer" of Bernie Sanders for President volunteers Aidan King, has this to say:
"I was so excited about Obama. And I still think he's done amazing things. But I wanted more follow-through," says King, listing "drone strikes, kill lists, NSA spying on Americans, the expansion of Bush-administration policies, a failed drug war, failed foreign policy," and the increasing influence of money in politics as his main concerns. "I put a lot of stake in authenticity," he says. "And I've been exposed to Bernie's politics and his honesty since I was in diapers."
Was this last week? Was Senator Vitter there?
Because here's Senator Sanders announcing yet again this week, as he's done before, that as president he would murder people with drones. (Yes, he only favors the good drone murders, not the bad ones, exactly what Obama says too.)
There's actually no knock on Sanders' honesty here. There's no indication of inconsistency, no reason to imagine he's lying. He may be 100% USDOD-grade authentic. But what about his staff and volunteers? And what about journalists? Is it responsible journalism to publish an article on people working for Bernie in order to end drone murders and not include any mention of the fact that Sanders is in favor of them? Is it responsible, for that matter, to be reporting on candidates' volunteers prior to and instead of ever reporting on what those candidates would do if elected? The Nation does lots of great reporting, but its interview of Sanders pretended 96% of humanity and 54% of the federal budget didn't exist, and the magazine has never made up for that by reporting on Sanders' foreign policy. So all a Nation reader gets is the golly gee report on the dude just out of diapers who is putting in long hours to end drone strikes by electing Bernie.
"I was so excited about Obama." There's an opening remark that reveals a similar level of misguided ignorance in the past. "And I still think he's done amazing things." One has a heck of a time imagining what those are and how they outweigh what comes next. "But I wanted more follow-through." More follow through? On what? He then lists drone strikes, kill lists, NSA spying on Americans, the expansion of Bush-administration policies, a failed drug war, failed foreign policy, and the increasing influence of money in politics." He surely doesn't want more follow through on any of these crimes and abuses and outrages. He wants them halted.
And so do I. So why should I give the poor guy a hard time? Millions and millions of people aren't doing a damn thing for the world. They're sitting on their butts watching TV while Rome burns. Several political candidates openly want to radically enlarge the military (yet again) and launch any number of wars. Why pick on Bernie?
I'm not picking on anyone. I'm well aware of such obvious facts and numerous others. I think such facts are good things to know, no matter what you decide to do about them. I'd just add a few more. You want to spend the next many months calling people on the phone and telling them Bernie is against drone murders, knock yourself out. I just think you should do it with open eyes. You shouldn't actually believe what you're saying.
I'm also of course, as we all are, painfully familiar with the argument that Bernie simply must secretly agree with the progressive views of his volunteers, but that in order to get elected he has to put on a pretense of sucking a good bit, whether it's to please the public or the media or the military industrial complex depending on the variation. We were told the exact same thing about Obama. It didn't work then and it won't work now. You can't pretend someone secretly agrees with you and then expect him to keep the promises you fantasized.
If you look at the facts and adopt for just the moment the crazy hypothesis that you're more or less right about Bernie's authenticity but wrong about his closet anti-militarism, you'll find that he's nowhere near as bad as Obama was, is, and shall continue to be for well over a year more. No mere human is going to out warmonger Hillary Clinton, though Jim Webb and a whole crowd of Republicans will try. You can make more or less the same argument you make to yourself to justify volunteering for Bernie, after facing the facts, as you made before.
So why do I care?
Because there are activists working night and day, strategically, courageously, with pure principles and endless dedication to actually end drone murders, and they need your help, and they need it now. They have built the awareness of these horrors that has led to volunteers wanting to end them. But volunteers volunteer in the wrong places. Instead of joining the peace movement and educating, organizing, lobbying, protesting, reporting, suing, artistically moving, and nonviolently resisting drone murders and the militarism that is risking war with Russia prior to the next corporate-bought election in the U.S. -- instead of following the path that has tended to effect change over recent centuries and needs to do so in Paris next month if the climate is to have any hope, they instead dedicate themselves to one candidate or another, start making apologies for them, start living out fantasies about them, and start arguing with other peace activists who are working their fingers to the bone for some other candidate, or with activists who haven't gone all election yet in a year that has no election in it.
If we ever have real elections we'll need people to work on them, and there's always a chance working on them now will help bring that about, and if you'd asked me months ago I'd have said the media would never let Sanders get this far. So, if you want to do the election thing, go ahead. Do it with Sanders who disagrees with you. Do it with Jill Stein who agrees with you. Do it with one of the others. But do it with a bit of honesty and with awareness that it's not the only thing you could be doing.
165-MILE WALK FROM SYRACUSE TO NIAGARA FALLS
Oct. 7th – 21st, 2015
Oct 7, 2015: Undrone Upstate is a pro-peace, anti-drone demonstration and walk to educate the public on drone operations in the Western New York region. The group will be walking about 165 miles from the Hancock Air National Guard Base, a national Reaper hub, to the Niagara Falls Air National Guard Base. Both bases are sites of drone operations, including training and remote piloting of drones over Afghanistan. The walk will include outreach programs at colleges and community centers along the way, including Rochester, Brockport, and Niagara Falls.
Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence will speak at a kickoff event Sept 6 at 7pm at All Saints’ Church, 1340 Lancaster Avenue, Syracuse and join the walkers for the first few days. Kathy has been to Afghanistan many times as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, joined other walks for peace and justice, and has been arrested protesting drone warfare outside of U.S. military bases.
Medea Benjamin of CodePink will join the walkers when they arrive for a rally at Niagara Falls Air Base. (Details on website below) Medea has written ‘Drone Warfare’, a book that clearly describes the disturbing issues that surround drone warfare. CodePink has facilitated anti-drone conferences in Washington DC and CodePink members are a regular force at drone protests at Creech Airforce Base in Nevada.
Targeted drone assassination is Obama’s favored weapon against "global terrorism." Outdoor markets, wedding parties, and village meetings have all been subjected to drone attacks, carried out on secret evidence and with little regard for human bystanders. The Department of Defense plans to increase its use of drones by 50 percent over the next four years.
The purpose of the walk is to heighten public awareness of the mindless murder and relentless terror perpetrated in our names by the criminal use of killer drones on terror suspects. Members of Upstate Drone action were among the first to investigate drone warfare and actively begin protesting this illegal and immoral campaign.
For details of events associated with the Undrone Upstate walk, go to upstatedroneaction.org/unup-itinerary.html, or go to the Undrone Upstate Facebook page.
DRONES KILL CHILDREN -- DRONES FLY, CHILDREN DIE
The United Nations General Assembly has declared today, September 21, 2015, an International World Day of Peace. As we stand here at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, its “hunter/killer” MQ9 Reaper drone arrogantly patrols Afghan skies 24/7 -- killing innocent children there and likely elsewhere.
We U.S. citizens and taxpayers look on with horror at the millions of refugees fleeing airborne terror and are shamed by our unconsented complicity. Too many drone victims are precious and beloved children. We bring their images and their silenced voices to Hancock today.
By Joy First
Voices for Creative Nonviolence engaged with a number of Wisconsin peace groups to organize an 8-day 90-mile walk across southwest Wisconsin from August 18-25. The purpose of the walk was to call attention and make connections between the militarized police violence at home and the military using violence abroad through drone warfare and by other means. In both cases the victims are people of color, which forces us to reflect on the systemic racism of our society.
The walk began at the City/County/Jail complex in Madison on August 18. Dane County has one of the highest rates of racial disparity of any county in the country on many issues, including when it comes to incarceration - hence starting the walk at the jail. In fact, in order to make the prison population match the general population in Dane County, we would need to release 350 Black people. This is horrific, especially when we understand that so many people of color are in jail for nonviolent crimes and crimes of poverty that could better be solved by more positive interventions. It is up to all of us to stand up with our brothers and sisters and proclaim that “Black Lives Matter!”
By Kathy Kelly
"This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Imagine children lustily singing the above lines which eventually became a civil rights anthem. Their innocence and happy resolve enlightens us. Yes! In the face of wars, refugee crises, weapon proliferation and unaddressed climate change impacts, let us echo the common sense of children. Let goodness shine. Or, as our young friends in Afghanistan have put it, #Enough! They write the word, in Dari, on the palms of their hands and show it to cameras, wanting to shout out their desire to abolish all wars.
This past summer, collaborating with Wisconsin activists, we decided to feature this refrain on signs and announcements for a 90-mile walk campaigning to end targeted drone assassinations abroad, and the similarly racist impunity granted to an increasingly militarized police force when they kill brown and black people within the U.S.
Cable Provider Has Strong Links to Military Industry, Including Snowden Employer and Drone Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton
CLOVIS, NM – An international cable provider with links to the war industry is refusing to air television commercials produced by U.S. military veterans that are critical of the U.S. drone program, according to vets involved in the production of the spots.
While the controversial commercials – which urge U.S. military personnel to "Refuse to Fly" military drones – have run elsewhere in the U.S. without incident, Suddenlink Cable refused to air them. They were pulled after just a few days of being on the air.
Suddenlink is linked to a financial backer, The Carlyle Group, a major international arms investor which owns drone contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's former employer, according to KnowDrones.com, sponsor of the anti-drone commercials.
Booz Allen Hamilton is now contracting with the U.S. Air Force to do drone targeting analysis, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Suddenlink, the nation's seventh largest cable provider with 1.4 million customers in 17 states, pulled the spots within days of when they began airing in early July in Clovis, NM, seven miles from Cannon AFB. The base is home to the 3rd and 33rd Special Operations Squadrons that are reported to control MQ-9 Reaper drones in the skies over Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen and possibly elsewhere.
Suddenlink, despite repeated requests, refused to give any reason for cancelling the anti-drone commercials.
The anti-drone commercials have run on FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and other networks on Comcast, Cox and Time Warner throughout the country since early 2015, including near drone operation centers near Las Vegas, Sacramento, New York and Florida. The spots can be seen here.
Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, said Suddenlink's decision to censor the ads may be because Suddenlink is controlled by Altice, owned by Patrick Drahi, described by the newspaper Haaretz as a "Franco-Israeli telecoms billionaire." Drahi is connected to the war industry through his association with the Carlyle and Cinven private equity firms; both are invested in the arms industry, and both are invested in Altice, which bought 70 percent of Suddenlink in May, 2015 for $9.1 billion.
"Suddenlink's decision to kill our ads raises the extremely disturbing possibility of censorship at the behest of Mr. Drahi, Carlyle, Booz Allen and the U.S. military. Through the images of children killed in drone attacks the American people can see the illegality and immorality of the U.S. policy of systematically killing people without due process. Suddenlink's decision to censor the spots shows how powerful the commercials are, and it reveals connections that give power to people who profit from war to literally remove the truth from the public airwaves so that Americans only see the sanitized version of how their tax dollars are killing and mutilating people around the world," said Mottern.
The “Refuse to Fly” message in the ad is reinforced by a letter from about 50 veterans to drone operators urging “drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/assassination missions.”
No, I’m not referring to the U.S. election. I’m referring to “Bycatch.” The name refers not to fish accidentally caught and killed while trying to catch and kill other fish, but to humans murdered in a game in which the player hopes to murder certain other humans but knows that he or she stands a good chance of murdering some bycatch.
The Nazis never reached this height of banality in the general German public, but had they done so it would be a sinister feature of tens of thousands of Hollywood movies. If Russians sat around playing a board game that involved blowing up Ukrainian children, the Washington Post would have already published several front-page articles.
This is a game that puts you in the shoes of one particular human being, thus far, but imagines several engaging in the same activity in competition. In Bycatch you become Barack Obama going through his Tuesday murder list. But Bycatch imagines as many nations as people playing the game, each engaging in a drone murder spree against the others. Here’s an excerpt from the rules:
“How to strike
“Suspects hiding in other nations can be eliminated by means of a strike. You choose the opponent you wish to target and go through these steps:
“Discard two identical citizens who are not suspects from your hand.
“Remove three consecutive citizens from your chosen opponent’s hand.
“Show these cards to the other players.
“Place them face down in front of you.
“Failed Strike: If none of the eliminated citizens are suspects, they are all collateral damage.
“Successful Strike: If at least one eliminated citizen is a suspect, do the following:
- Place the current intelligence card face down on top of the eliminated citizens.
- Reveal a new intelligence card.
“The remaining citizens are collateral damage.”
“Add 100 points for each suspect eliminated by a strike. Use the intelligence cards to identify eliminated suspects.
“Collateral Damage: Detract 10 points for each citizen in a strike who was not a suspect.”
So, if you casually murder three “wrong” people, you lose 30 points. But if you only murder two “wrong” people and murder one “right” person, you gain 80 points. I wonder what people will do?
This is a game to be played by well-off people who can afford to purchase such crap and to sit around playing with it. And it’s being marketed to them with a wink by people who know better. The game’s would-be profiteers have this to say about it:
“Appealing artwork helps you empathize with your citizens and the horrors of drone strikes and collateral damage.”
Right. Because tossing lives around on playing cards and making more points the more you murder is a well-established path to empathy.
I thought I couldn’t grow any more disgusted with the human race. I was wrong.
The White House, State Department and Pentagon officials maintain that the drone attacks are aimed at targeting the Al-Qaeda terrorists in these countries and crushing their strongholds; however, figures indicate that the majority of the victims of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles dispatched to the region are civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has recently revealed that between 2004 and 2015, there have been 418 drone strikes against Pakistan alone, resulting in the killing of 2,460 to 3,967 people, including at least 423 civilians. That’s while some sources put the number of civilian casualties in Pakistan during the 11-year period at 962.
An American peace activist and speaker tells Fars News Agency that the drone strategy was not a blunder which President Bush committed, rather it was a “crime” that he perpetrated and President Obama perpetuated.
According to the 58-year-old Brian Terrell, the US government is not only claiming innocent lives through drone attacks, but endangering its own security and undermining its public stature.
“The reality that US drone strikes are a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda is good news for war profiteers, even as it is alarming to anyone who is interested in the security of the US and the peace and stability of the counties where they are occurring,” he said.
“Instead of manufacturing weapons in order to wage war, the US is now waging war in order to manufacture more weapons,” Terrell noted.
Brian Terrell lives and works on a small farm in Maloy, Iowa. He has traveled to many regions across the world for public speaking events, including in Europe, Latin America, and Korea. He has also visited Palestine, Bahrain, and Iraq and returned from his second visit to Afghanistan last February. He is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence and event coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience.
FNA talked to Mr. Terrell about the US government’s military policy and its conduct with regard to the crisis-hit Middle East, the drone attacks and the legacy of the “War on Terror.” The following is the full text of the interview.
Four anti-drone resisters were sentenced tonight in Judge Joseph J. Zavaglia’s DeWitt (NY) Town Court for alleged trespass at a “die-in” on April 28, 2013 at Hancock Air Base, home to the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard, just north of Syracuse, NY. At their four-day trial this past June trial the six-person jury acquitted the four of disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration.
The four are members of Upstate Drone Action Coalition – a scrupulously nonviolent, loosely-knit grassroots network which, since 2009 has actively opposed the Hancock Reaper drones flying missions over Afghanistan. The Reaper, an unmanned robot, is notorious for violating international law by killing, maiming and terrorizing civilians in several U.S. undeclared wars.
There have been over 160 anti-drone arrests at Hancock resulting in bails as high as $10,000, numerous trials, many incarcerations, and Orders of Protection (a legal device usually meant to protect spouses and other vulnerable persons against violence).
The four defendants are: Joan Pleune of Brooklyn, Beverly Rice of Manhattan, Ellen Barfield of Baltimore, and Jules Orkin of Bergenfield, New Jersey. Pleune is a former Freedom Rider; Barfield, Rice and Orkin are active with Veterans for Peace.
All four were identically sentenced to one year’s conditional discharge, $250 fine, $125 court costs and a two-year order of protection. Both Pleune and Rice told Judge Zavaglia, through their attorney Lewis Oliver, that they would not agree to the conditional discharge – which led him to sentence the two to 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary. Pleune and Rice were taken from court in handcuffs.
It's not terrorism if it's retaliation: Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Legitimate Act of War
By Dave Lindorff
I'm not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.
Military Vets Sponsor 'Uncensored' Counter U.S. Drone War TV Commercial on CNN, FoxNews, ESPN Near Cannon AFB/Special Ops Drone Control Center in Clovis, New Mexico
CLOVIS, NM – A graphic and controversial 15-second television commercial – showing images of children killed in drone attacks – began airing in July uncensored in Clovis, NM near Cannon AFB, a major U.S. drone control site. The spot has been censored or modified by cable providers near other U.S. drone control centers where it has run over the past few months.
CNN, FoxNews, ESPN and other cable networks locally are carrying the uncensored spot throughout July.
The uncensored paid advertisement, which calls on drone operators to “Please Refuse to Fly,” is being carried by local cable provider Suddenlink. It can be found here: http://youtu.be/8mdu4bzWgd0. A second spot can be found at https://youtu.be/ibrCbiLyKZc.
In other markets cable providers have permitted the ad to be shown only after 10 p.m., or not at all. In these cases a censored ad has been shown that does not include images of dead children, although it does criticize the deadly U.S. drone attacks. All anti-drone TV commercials can be found at www.KnowDrones.com.
By Jack Balkwill
How many days has it been
Since I was born?
How many days
'Til I die?
Do I know any ways
I can make you laugh?
Or do I only know how
To make you cry?
― Leon Russell, Stranger in a Strange Land