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U.S. Ambassador Acknowledges Need to Compensate Drone Victims, and Admits They Exist

By Robert Naiman
Islamabad, Pakistan -- Sometimes, when some people insist that it's impossible to put some urgent problem on the table for discussion and redress, you have no choice but to undertake flamboyant action. Call it "propaganda by nonviolent deed."

On Wednesday, as a member of a U.S. peace delegationto Pakistan organized by Code Pink, I delivered a petition from more than 3,000 Americans to Acting U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland calling for an end to the CIA drone strike policy in Pakistan.

I also delivered a letter from Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Jody Williams, Tom Hayden, Patch Adams, Glenn Greenwald, Juan Cole and other prominent Americans, including former U.S. government officials, calling for an end to the drone strikes. The letter concludes:

U.S. Civilians Try to Inform U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan About Pakistan

This is the letter I sent to Ambassador Richard Hoagland after he met with the Codepink Delegation for Peace on October 3 stating that American policies are what have made Pakistan dangerous for Americans. -- Ann Wright

October 5, 2012

Ambassador Richard Hoagland
US Embassy
Islamabad, Pakistan
Dear Ambassador Hoagland,

Thank you and your staff for meeting with our American delegation for peace on October 3.

As you mentioned, your meeting with us demonstrates one of the strengths of American society-freedom of speech to criticize policies of one’s government.

-

We fully appreciate the United States warning about travel for Americans to Pakistan.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Americans in Pakistan Meet Families of Victims Obama Says Don't Exist

Thirty-two U.S. peace activists, including 6 members of Veterans For Peace are taking part in a peace delegation to Pakistan organized by the anti-war group Code Pink.

See video: http://vimeo.com/50666774

Wednesday the delegation met with U.S. Charge d'Affaires Richard Hoagland.  U.S. peace activist Robert Naiman asked about reports of secondary attacks on rescuers of drone victims.  Ambassador Hoagland denied that rescuers are targeted, but not that strikes are launched on the same location just struck minutes before.

Hoagland also said that he agreed with President Obama that the number of civilian deaths was near zero, but later seemed to contradict himself when he said that number he believed was accurate was in "two digits."  When asked to be more specific as to whether that number was closer to 10 or 99, he declined.

Americans' Calls to End Drone Strikes Delivered to US Embassy Pakistan

Letter signed by Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Tom Hayden, Patch Adams, other prominent Americans; 3,000 petition signatures from US citizens delivered to Acting Ambassador Richard Hoagland;
Hoagland disputes allegations U.S. drone strikes target civilian rescuers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-3 October 2012-Today a group of US peace advocates delivered a letter to the US embassy in Islamabad signed by twenty-six leading US authors, film directors, professors, activists, and a Nobel Peace laureate, calling upon US authorities to end US drone strikes in Pakistan, and to bring US drone strike policy into compliance with US and international law. The letter, which was organized by the US group Just Foreign Policy can be found online at http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1312.

CODEPINK Peace Delegation now in Pakistan, Meeting with Victims of Obama's Drone Strikes

Islamabad, Pakistan--- Today the full CODEPINK delegation to Pakistan will arrive in Islamabad to begin a week of activities to express their opposition to US drone strikes in Pakistan.  A pre-delegation group of American activists has been on the ground in Pakistan for several days meeting with think tanks, human rights organizations, and military and academic institutions.

 

The response from Pakistanis has been overwhelmingly positive and welcoming, and many plan to join the CODEPINK contingent as it marches to South Waziristan to protest US drone strikes on October 7th. "We are already receiving an outpouring of support from Pakistani people who are heartened to learn that there are Americans with a conscience who are willing to come all the way to Pakistan to show solidarity and apologize for the drone strikes that have brought so much death and destruction to the impoverished people of north Pakistan," said CODEPINK cofounder and delegation leader Medea Benjamin.

 

On Wednesday, October 3, the delegation will meet with two victims from the first drone strike ever conducted during Obama's presidency on January 23, 2009, which killed nine people-all civilians. One victim is Fahim Qureshi, who lost an eye, and had to have abdominal surgery because the drone missile pierced his stomach. He also lost 4 members of his family. The other victim is Mohammad Ejaz, who lost 2 family members.  

 

Afterwards the delegation will meet with lawyers of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights who brought a lawsuit in the Peshawar High Court against the Pakistani government for its involvement in drone strikes and another case in Islamabad against CIA officials for committing murder on Pakistani soil. The delegation will then deliver petitions with tens of thousands of American signatures opposing the lethal U.S. use of drones to U.S. Embassy officials. 

 

Delegates are available for interviews, and updates from the trip will be posted periodically on www.droneswatch.org.

Children and Drones

from children...

“oh please!...
stop killing us!...
we’re just children!...
you killed the others!...
you killed our mother!...
you killed our father!...
and then our sister!...
and our brother!...
and for what?!...
our family’s dead!...
you blew them apart!...
our father’s smart head!...
our mother’s sweet heart!...
all they did was work hard!...
our father plowed the fields!...
our mother cooked our food!...
sister’s wounds were healed!...
and brother’s pigeon cooed!...
now they’re dead and gone!...
and it’s all because of you!...
why do you kill like this?!...
we don’t even know you!...
but you still kill us dead!...
yes this is what you do!...
so what is life to you?!...
even we know better!...
than to be like you!...
stop what you do!...
stop killing us!...
you did enough!...
you killed so much!...
just stay away from us!”...

Image from Ashley.

Text from sallysense.

Online petition to sign.

U.S. and U.K. War Veterans Against Drones

"What, quite unmanned in folly?" --Lady MacBeth

This past Thursday was a beautiful day for a protest, both in London, England, and in San Diego, California.  Fortunately for those of us who still care about peace and justice in the world -- even to the point of opposing cold-blooded murder no matter who does the murdering or how far away the victim is -- Veterans For Peace has become an international organization.

General Atomics is the manufacturer of the Predator and Reaper UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) in service with the U.S. and U.K. militaries. These drones have  been used in numerous attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. People targeted by these weapons are killed from above without warning and without due legal process. Numerous entirely innocent people including women and children have been killed by these weapon systems.  Here's a former British drone pilot who just admitted that he was minutes away from murdering "an insurgent" when he realized it was a little kid playing in the dirt.

Many of us remember taking over General Atomics' offices in Washington, D.C., last October (video).  That's me and Tighe Barry, with filmmaker Dennis Trainor Jr., going in the side door and opening the front door for the crowd.

As it happens, General Atomics does its evil work in San Diego and London.  Veterans for Peace has no tolerance for murderous robot planes, wherever they're made.  Mike Reid, executive director of Veterans For Peace, said on Thursday, "If we oppose murder at close range, we should oppose it at long distance.  If we oppose it when it's risky and difficult, we should be horrified of a practice that makes it trivial and easy.  Imagining that drone wars don't damage the very culture of the people engaged in them is naive.  Those manufacturing these instruments of death, in particular, should think long and hard about the road they are on."

They had a chance to do just that on Thursday.  "On a bright autumn afternoon," reports Ben Griffin, "VFP UK headed to Tower 42, which contains the offices of General Atomics in London. We took our placards bearing the slogans 'GROUND THE DRONES' and 'GENERAL ATOMICS, DEATH FROM ABOVE.'  We unfurled our VFP flag donated by Gerry Condon and set about handing out our flyers."

"Within minutes we were joined by over 20 nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. They had heard about our protest and wanted to join in. They were soon into full song and dealt with an inquiring policeman effectively. Folks from Occupy, Friends of Bradley Manning, London Catholic Worker and supporters of Julian Assange also turned up."

Griffin's remarks to that crowd included this:

"People are targeted with these weapons without being identified and are killed from above without warning. Numerous innocent civilians including women and children have been killed as a result of these attacks. Mosques, schools, funerals and meetings of elders have all been attacked by drones. People responding to drone strikes by pulling the wounded out of buildings have also been attacked with these weapons. We must spread the word about these weapons, and the hidden wars they are used in."

And the word was spread to passing cars honking their support, passersby stopping to inquire, and many people who worked in the building, some of them surprised to learn that General Atomics was there as well. 

A bit later on Thursday, the afternoon sun reached General Atomics in Poway, California, where, Dave Patterson reports, "Veterans For Peace, Chapter 91, had terrific posters and banners.  I think I can say that our momentum is picking up for this cause now in week 6 of sequential demonstrations."

Here's a terrific video.

If you're in Southern California on a Thursday, join the protest from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and General Atomics Way in Poway, CA.

Veterans For Peace is calling for the grounding of Predator and Reaper Drones and for General Atomics to stop manufacturing them.  Other members of VFP are currently traveling from the United States to Pakistan as part of a delegation organized by Code Pink to visit one area where U.S. drone strikes have become frequent.  VFP is part of a coalition organizing an online petition in support of banning weaponized drones.

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

##

David Swanson is an associate (meaning non-veteran) member of and a paid contractor for Veterans For Peace.

I Was Minutes Away From Ordering a Drone Strike on an 'Insurgent' ... Until I Realized It Was Just a Child at Play

I find myself caught between the need to follow the drone debate and the need to avoid unpleasant memories it stirs. I used  drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – during the nadir of my military career that was an operational tour in  Afghanistan. I remember cuing up a US Predator strike before deciding the computer screen wasn't depicting a Taliban insurgent burying an improvised explosive device in the road; rather, a child playing in the dirt.
 

The US is the World's Biggest War-Monger

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a massive deception campaign in the US, and in its global propaganda, which seeks to portray the United States as a poor set-upon nation that would like world peace but just has to keep a military stationed around the globe to “police” all the world’s “trouble spots.”


Rutherford Institute Issues Model Drone Legislation, Calls on Congress to Protect Americans from Weaponized Drones and Police Spy Drone

Rutherford.org

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, is calling on the United States Senate Judiciary Committee to protect the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens from police use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. In the wake of the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act, it is expected that at least 30,000 drones will occupy U.S. airspace by 2020. In alerting the Senate Judiciary Committee to the dangers posed by drones to citizens’ privacy and civil liberties, The Rutherford Institute has made model legislation available, titled “Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act,” that would not only prohibit the federal government from using data recorded via police spy drones in criminal prosecutions but would also prevent police agencies from utilizing drones outfitted with anti-personnel devices such as tasers and tear gas.

The Rutherford Institute’s letter to the Committee on the Judiciary, model drone legislation and companion fact sheet are available at www.rutherford.org.

“These drones—aerial, robotic threats to privacy and security—are being unleashed on the American populace before any real protocols to protect our privacy rights have been put in place and in such a way as to completely alter the landscape of our lives and our freedoms,” said Whitehead. “It is critical that Congress not only give serious consideration to the dangers posed to our freedoms by these aerial devices but ensure that the American people are protected against any resulting incursions on their rights as provided for by the U.S. Constitution.”

As The Rutherford Institute’s fact sheet on drones details, the FAA Reauthorization Act, signed into law by President Obama in early 2012, has opened the door for drones, once confined to the battlefields over Iraq and Afghanistan, to be used domestically for a wide range of functions, both public and private, governmental and corporate. Yet without proper safeguards, these devices, some of which are deceptively small and capable of videotaping the facial expressions of people on the ground from hundreds of feet in the air, will usher in a new age of surveillance in American society. Not even those indoors, in the privacy of their homes, will be safe from these aerial spies, which can be equipped with technology capable of peering through walls. In addition to their surveillance capabilities, drone manufacturers have confirmed that drones can also be equipped with automatic weapons, grenade launchers, tear gas, and tasers. Aside from the very serious and grave implications for privacy and civil liberties raised by Whitehead, there are also a number of safety issues involved with drone technology, with the paramount concern being that drones have a history of malfunctioning mid-air. Drones are also vulnerable to hackers, allowing unauthorized persons to access information gathered via drone, or to take control of the drone’s flight path. Noting that the safety and privacy issues posed by the implementation of drone technology are a bi-partisan concern, Whitehead concludes by calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to ensure that drone technology is fully vetted by a commission charged with studying its impact on the safety and privacy of Americans. “In the meantime, however,” states Whitehead, “it is imperative that Congress assures the citizens of this country that their privacy, safety, and civil liberties will not be jeopardized for the sake of expedience, economy and security.

September: Drones Protests and Resistance Activity Accelerates Nationwide

From No Drones Network


ILLINOIS - Occupy Obama drew attention to Barack Obama's drone victims with a funeral procession in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which ended up at Obama 2012 Campaign HQ. (Coffins were marked "hope" and "change.")

Anti-drone activity has continued around the country in recent weeks -- see descriptions below. (In addition, see the links at right for updates from other locations.)


NORTH CAROLINA - The Democratic National Convention (DNC) drew to a close, but the NOrth Carolina protests against the Democratic administration's drone killings continue.

CALIFORNIA - The City of Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission finalized "no drone zone" language to send to the full City Council for a vote. Consideration will likely be scheduled for November.

MISSOURI - A federal judge found drones resisters guilty of trespass . . . and meanwhile U.S. war crimes continue.

OHIO - During it's tour of Ohio, the Know Drones tour put pressure on Ohio Rep. Michael Turner to Stop the Drones! This effort gained the attention of anti-drones groups around the country and was a heavily viewed web page.

Please send links to news of other drones protests around the country to Joe Scarry -- jtscarry [at] yahoo.com .

(See additional updates from the August/September period.)


Congressional Research Service document on legal basis for drone strikes

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/target.pdf   This document by CRS Legislative Attorney Jennifer Elsea makes it clear that the US Government's drone program is based on the ancient legal principle of "shoot first, ask (legal) questions later".  Her analysis demonstrates that these killings run afoul of almost every legal principle regarding the use of lethal force outside of a declared war between nations, from the Caroline principle to the UN Charter to the specific provisions of the 2001 AUMF.  And of course it speaks volumes that the CRS has to speculate on the U.S. government's justification for killing people in the first place - this is the extent of our democracy, that Congress employs people to parse speeches by administration officials to find out what the policy of our country is regarding our right to not be killed in cold blood.

 

Veterans For Peace Supports Conscientious Objection to Drones

Two conscientious nonviolent activists, Brian Terrell and Ron Faust, were convicted on Monday of trespassing, for having attempted to deliver a document listing concerns about drones to the commander of Whiteman Air Force Base near Jefferson City, Mo., last April. A third protester, Mark Kenney of Omaha, Neb., is serving a four-month sentence after having pled guilty in June to trespassing.

Veterans For Peace members were among those participating in a demonstration last April, and again on Monday, in support of Faust and Terrell, who will be sentenced in the coming weeks.  Veterans For Peace applauds nonviolent resistance to the illegal and immoral use of drones, and stands in solidarity with those taking these risks to serve their country and the world.

Protesters gather in DeWitt to push anti-drone message

Drone Protest at the Hancock Air Base Syracuse.com

Enlarge Left to right, Richard Weiskopf and Ed Kinane, both of Syracuse, are shown during The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars demonstration at the Hancock Air Base Sunday to protest the use of drones that are operated out of the base. The protest coincides with the base's name change ceremony. It is changing its name from 174th Fighter Wing to Attack Wing.

Michelle Gabel/The Post-Standard The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars Protests the Use of Drones Operated Out of the Hancock Air Base gallery (8 photos)

DeWitt, NY -- Forty-one people with signs, a drum and voices parked themselves across from the gate to the New York Air National Guard headquarters at Hancock Field Sunday to protest the United States' use of unmanned drones in Pakistan and other countries.

"Americans just don't understand what is happening over there," said Judy Bello, of Rochester.

"Using drone to target assassinations is against international law," said Jim Clune, of Binghamton.

The group Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drone and End the Wars chose Sunday for its event because the 174th Fighter Wing at Hancock was changing its name to 174th Attack Wing, which reflects the change in mission at the base from flying fighter aircraft to MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft.

Although eight Onondaga County Sheriff's patrol cars and three town of DeWitt Police patrol cars were on hand, no one was arrested. The protesters stayed on the south side of Molloy Road during their 90-minute event.

Ground the Drones Event in Charlottesville, Va., With Nick Mottern

Sign up on FaceBook.

Did you know that drones . . .

·      can cost $28 million? The Airforce has 60 and hopes to have 330.

·      are used for targeted killing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Pakistan with no legal basis for defining the scope of the area where drones can and cannot be used, no rigorous criteria for deciding which people will be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality and accuracy of the killings, and no mechanisms of accountability.

·      are killing civilians, Americans, non-Americans, adults, children.

·      are being produced to spy on U.S. citizens.

Nick Mottern is a journalist and member of Knowdrones. He is currently on tour with a model drone, having conversations with folks across the country about the financial or moral costs of drones.

FLYER: PDF.

“SANTA’S SLEIGH”…OR DRONES OVER THE AMERICAS

By Ed Kinane

SYRACUSE, NY. --  Like the School of the Americas, the weaponized drone perpetrates terrorism. As Predator drones come to Ft. Benning, some SOA Watch activists are applying our SOAW experience to “outing” the Predator and Reaper drones already in our midst.

   Syracuse’s Hancock Air National Guard Base has become one of the national hubs for piloting -- via computer screen and satellite -- the Reaper over Afghanistan. For three years upstate New York activists have been trying to educate our public and Hancock personnel about the war crimes being committed by these robotic killers [www.upstatedroneaction.org].

Drone Wars: The Movie

Talk Nation Radio: How Drones Appear from the Receiving End

Rafia Zakaria, a Pakistani-American writer, reports on how drones look from thousands of miles away from the desks at which they are "piloted."  Zakaria is a columnist for the English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn, a blogger for Ms. Magazine and for Human Rights Now, and a director for Amnesty International USA.  Drones will not look the same to you after listening to her.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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The Drone and the Bomb

By Ed Kinane

The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki belong always before us.  The agony of those two cities must remain our dark beacon.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki wasn’t so much about targets as about audiences. We – or rather, the very highest reaches of the US government – annihilated a couple hundred thousand nameless, unarmed, undefended human beings to warn the world: “Don’t mess with us; we run things now.”

Thanks to its atomic prowess – showcased at H/N – for over 65 years the US has been able to hold the planet hostage. It deploys nuclear blackmail to further its corporations’ grip on the world’s resources and markets. But such gunboat diplomacy has only partially succeeded.

The Soviets soon acquired the Bomb. For nearly four decades that other evil empire terrorized us here in our previously invincible Homeland. So the pitiless logic of proliferation made us all far less safe.

The Big Lie(s)

Attack of the Drones

Choppers heading to Pinon Canyon

Fort Carson officials have decided that having a new combat aviation brigade of 113 helicopters and support troops conduct training at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site won't do any permanent damage to the 238,000-acre training range northeast of Trinidad.

CNN Expert’s Civilian Drone Death Numbers Don’t Add Up

CNN’s national security expert Peter Bergen speaking at a recent event (Miller Center/ Flickr)

Following recent revelations by the New York Times that all military-aged males in Waziristan are considered fair game by the CIA in its drone strikes, many US journalists have been reassessing how they report on deaths in the attacks.

So when CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen produced a graph claiming that no civilians have been killed in Pakistan this year by US drones, his views were bound to attract criticism. Conor Friedersdorf, a columnist at The Atlantic, accused CNN and Bergen of running ‘bogus data‘, for example.

Bergen is also a director of the New America Foundation, which for more than three years has run a database on CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and produces estimates of numbers killed. That data is the most frequent source of statistics for the US media, including CNN itself. So the accuracy of its material is important.

Yet there are credible reports of civilian deaths in Pakistan this year. And unlike the New America Foundation the Bureau actively tracks those claims.

America’s Drones Are Homeward Bound

 

The ShadowHawk drone is made by Vanguard Defense Industries.

By Col. Ann Wright

Americans have been protesting and getting arrested at U.S. drone bases and research institutions for years, and some members of Congress are starting to respond to the pressure.

But it’s not that drones are being used to extrajudicially execute people, including Americans, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia that has U.S. lawmakers concerned. Rather it’s the possible and probable violation of Americans’ privacy in the United States by unlawful drone surveillance that has caught the attention of legislators.

READ THE REST.

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