How an Inventive, Imperialist (Evil) System Uses Drones
Thanks to Medea Benjamin, Code Pink, Reprieve, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the attention and energy of 400 who gathered this past Saturday at Georgetown Law School, we were able to consider Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation & Resistance. It was a very worthwhile weekend which will impact how people act on and respond to U.S. use of drones.
Most movingly, we heard from three people who traveled from Yemen to speak of U.S. drone strikes. Kevin Gosztola on Faisal bin Ali Jaber’s calm, deliberate description of the attack that killed his brother and nephew, just after his own son’s wedding:
Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, presented on the claim that the U.S. drone programs violate international law. She recounts in Voices from the Drone Summit:
Former military intelligence Analyst Daniel Hale told us that he was 14 on 9/11/01. When he reported to work in 2012, he passed constant photos of 9/11, aimed at directing his “mission” to kill terrorists. He related an incident in 2012 where the military’s qualification for a drone strike was whether the target was “of military age.” “This struck me as ridiculous” he said, that children were considered targets. My tweeted note: “Hale had thought he was defending US interests, told terrorists were cowards, but began to think US military shooting drones are cowards.”
Pardiss Kebriaei and Mary Ellen O’Connell joined Cohn in speaking about the legal challenge to drone strikes, exposing the Obama/Bush administration’s legal justification as very basically counter to the Geneva Convention and the UN Charter (which themselves are effectively U.S. law).
Very interesting to me was a presentation by Dalit Baum (@dalitbaum) on the use of autonomous weapons by Israel. Baum described unmanned bulldozers knocking down homes. Why? The Israeli military needed to remove human operators because 1) they might talk afterward, and 2) they might lose their nerve. Baum also showed a chilling video clip of a drone killing of several Bedouin youth near the Wall in Gaza by Israeli drones. We learned that the major drone producing countries are the U.S., the U.K., and Israel, with Israel producing 41% of the world’s drones.
There’s more. We worked hard on Sunday on how to spread opposition to drones way beyond the existing too tiny movement. Monday night, The Illuminator and Granny Peace Brigade lit up midtown: