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Know Drones Report


Campaign Bulletin #9; April 5, 2014
By Nick Mottern

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1.    ACTION REPORTS

  • Beale
  • Niagara Falls
  • Georgia Tech
  • Horsham
  • Kick-Off Forum

2.    COURT ACTION
3.    IDEAS/PLANNED EVENTS
4.    "TRANSPARENCY BILL" BEFORE CONGRESS - ANALYSIS
5.    MONSTERS IN THE SKY

 

ACTION REPORTS

  • BEALE AFB

 

IMG_5578 (1)[11]
Photo by Guarionex Delgado

(Members of Veterans for Peace (VFP) at the April 1 Beale AFB drone protest (l-r); Dr. Richard Gilchrist, Arcata, CA; Dr. Jerry Pederson, Sacramento, CA; John Reiger, President of VFP, Sacramento; Elliott Adams, Sharon Springs, NY; and Michael Kerr, Bayview, Ca.)

On April 1, Elliot Adams, former President of Veterans for Peace (VFP), and another VFP member Richard Gilchrist, were detained for an hour at Beale Air Force Base after crossing into the base to protest its operation of the Global Hawk drone, which is used, among other things, to assist Predator and Reaper drones in targeting.

I use the word “detained” because although it appeared they were arrested, Elliott reports: “Curiously we received no paperwork - no citation, no ban and bar, no appearance date.  Maybe something will come via mail later, but it surprised me we didn't get anything.”

This was also true of the demonstrators arrested in an Ash Wednesday action on March 5.  One of the arrestees, Sharon Delgado, describes that action in her blog at http://sharondelgado.org/2014/03/05/ash-wednesday-worship-and-arrests-at-beale/

This may signal a new approach by the base and local courts in handling civil resistance at Beale.  For more details, see the Court Action section below.

The Beale protesters, numbering about 15 were met with soaking rain, but their spirits were high, in part because of increasing publicity, particularly article in the Mar. 30 Sacramento Bee that dominated both the front and back pages.  This is the front page, with a link where you can read the whole article.

11891_500920080013775_302012254_n[5]http://www.sacbee.com/2014/03/29/6279355/drone-strikers-say-the-government.html

 “We are truly growing into a force… they must reckon with,” said Toby Blome, who also reported: “The exchanges with the airmen at the lunch hour was very intriguing.  Even if they came on "company mission" they truly seemed engaged in the dialogue.”

Here is a report of that encounter by Barry Binks, a VFP member:

Because they (the airmen) were present some of us felt constrained in what we could say. When they were asked if we could take their pictures they declined. (We take a lot of pictures and post them on Facebook so that was probably the right decision for them)  We decided we would go around the circle and introduce ourselves with name, hometown and a little history. Elliott warned the airmen that anything they said could be used against them.  They gave us just their basic info, claimed they were not involved in the drone program. We tried to get them more involved in our conversation but they were careful not to say too much.  I think all had been deployed in the Middle East at some time in their career and they are all career soldiers.  Some of our people explained why they are demonstrating against drones.  Both Elliott and Richard presented several arguments against drone warfare, the UN Charter, human rights, civilians killed, etc.  The airmen listened, made no excuses and claimed they were not aware of some of the things we told them have happened.  They claimed ignorance.  When we told them about material to read, etc they had nothing to say and didn’t visibly take any notes.  They all had enough pockets and equipment, (cell phones, etc) to have been recording the whole thing.  I am personally ambivalent about talking to these people. They always come out right away when we show up to protest and want to know “how many people coming? What are we going to do? How long will it last? etc”  I have ignored them or given them vague answers and I think so has every one else.  Sometimes being friendly has helped. Last time I was arrested they put on the handcuffs so loose that I was able to slip them off and hand them back, and it wasn’t a problem. They tell us they follow our Facebook pages and keep up with what we are doing.  I think this is just part of their job, and if they could get something criminal against us they would, so I don’t volunteer much.

This FaceBook link gives offers more photos of the April 1 action at Beale: 

https://www.facebook.com/OccupyBealeAirForceBase?ref=hl

For the next events scheduled at Beale see the Ideas/Planned Events section below.

 

  • NIAGARA FALLS

Also on April 1, about a dozen activists from Western New York Peace Center and Upstate (NY) Drone Action protested on at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on opening day of the new Reaper drone control center there.

Russell Brown, a VFP member, said that Martin Gugino attempted to deliver a letter to the base commander that he had just sent to Niagara County District Attorney Michael J. Violante and the Buffalo News, saying: “The Niagara Falls Airbase has taken an overt act to join in a criminal conspiracy.  We ask you to empanel a grand jury in preparation for bringing charges against all involved.”  (The full letter is in Attachment A)

Russell reports as follows on Martin’s action:  “He walked up to the gate to deliver a copy to the base commander. They have signs out in front of the gates that say no protesters beyond this point. Until Martin walked past the signs there were no police, sheriffs, or base police. After he walked up there a base vehicle pulled up to him with lights. He asked them to take his letter to the commander. They said they weren't mailmen and refused to take the letter. He walked back to us and the sheriffs and police showed up with all their lights on. They were friendly and said not to go on the base and left. Not much happened after that.” 

Commenting on the atmosphere at the base, Russell said: “What I realized is that we should bring our VFP flag to that site. We have 3 members that were at the demo. The people leaving the base were not friendly. A couple was down right nasty. But it might be helpful if they realize some of us were veterans, not ‘fucking scumbags’”.

The stunning poster that Russell created to announce the event appears in Attachment B.

A press report of the protest, with photos, appears here: http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/x539824010/Vigil-targets-use-of-drones-as-107th-starts-new-mission

Videos of the event may be seen at: http://bit.ly/1hzCOCc

 

  • HORSHAM

 

IMG_8835-X2
Photo by John Lien

(Buddhist peace walkers on the way from Massachusetts to Washington DC join the Mar. 29 protest of the planned drone control center in Horsham, PA)

Protests against the establishment of a drone control center at the Horsham (PA) Air Guard field resumed on Saturday, March 29, after a two-month winter break.   Bob Smith, Staff Coordinator of Brandywine Peace Community, reports:

The last Saturday of the month protest demonstrations to Stop the PA Drone War Command Center at the Horsham PA Air Guard Base, which began in April 2013, re-commenced in a driving, non-stop rain and wind.  The protest took the form of walk, entitled “Walk for a New Spring”, beginning at a Friends school two miles from the base.  About 25 walkers stepped off at 11:30am in a trek that took them by the old, now closed, Willow Grove Naval Air Station (NAS) from which the Horsham Air Guard and base for the 111th PA Air Guard Fighter Wing was cut out as part of the closure of Naval Air Station two decades ago.

At noon, the walkers arrived at the protest site on northern tip of the base where they met Buddhist monks and nuns, and friends.  The Buddhists were on their 13th annual "Walk for a New Spring" that took them from Leverett, MA to Washington, DC.  Simultaneously, another 35 or so people arrived, picking up large signs and banners saying "NO!" to the establishment of the drone war command center in Horsham.  

So far, virtually nothing has been done in developing the mammoth area left vacant by the closure of the Willow NAS, except for Horsham Air Guard station, which last March announced that it would host a U.S. Air Force drone command center.  All money, as noted in the state budget, for the PA Guard and Air National Guard comes through the Federal Budget.

Since the announcement of the establishment of the drone war command center, the Brandywine Peace Community, with the support of the American Friends Service Community, Mennonite churches in the Lancaster, PA area, and  a host of groups primarily in Eastern Pennsylvania,  have conducted a conscious multi-approach campaign to stop the command center which the Horsham Air Guard is now stating will open in 2015.

Here is a link to other photos of the event: http://artstat.smugmug.com/CFPA/Horsham-Drone-Protest-3292014/

See the Ideas/Planned Events section below for a listing of coming events related to Horsham.

 

  • GEORGIA TECH

A forum entitled “Who Owns the Drone” was held on April 1 at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in which about 10 people participated, including drone researchers at the school. 

The event, organized by Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition and Georgia WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions) intended to examine who decides how drone research is used and who profits, with a focus on the drone research being done at Georgia Tech in cooperation with the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, in Columbus Georgia. 

Kevin Caron, one of the organizers of the forum, said that the research includes “lethal autonomy”, how drones can engage targets without needing human intervention, and swarming, a way in which drones can communicate with each other to swarm a target in the way insects do.

A report on the forum by Emilia Kaiser, of WAND, appears here: http://gawand.org/2014/04/03/9366/

 

  • KICK-OFF FORUM
Kick off forum
Photo by Cat Watters

 (Madiha Tahir, Carl Dix, Maria LaHood, panelists (l-r) and Debra Sweet, moderator, at the April 2 kick-off forum of Spring Days of Action - 2014.)

On April 2, about 45 people attended the Spring Days of Drone Action kick-off forum at the Community Church in Manhattan, NY, organized by Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait.

Summarizing the presentations:

Madiha Tahir – maker of the film Wounds of Waziristan, said there is a need to press human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to begin calling for a halt to drone attacks rather than calling only for “transparency” about drone attacks.  She that it is “time to stop pretending that we don’t know” what is happening with drone attacks that there is plenty of evidence as to what is going on and that it needs to stop.  “Anything less” than calling for a halt, she said “is willful blindness.”

Maria LaHood – senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, asked how President Obama can say his drone strikes are legal while not releasing any significant information about them.  She said legislation has just been introduced in Congress for transparency on drone attacks, a small step relative to the harm being done, but it is a step. She said that U.S. courts have refused to intervene to prevent drone killing and to assist families of drone victims trying to prosecute those who have ordered drone attacks.  Nor, she said, does the U.S. heed the international community.  Since no institution will stop the attacks, she said, “it’s up to us to do it.”

Carl Dix – a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and founder with Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said that the U.S.  has been able to say its drone attacks are necessary, legal and just simply by classifying “every male of military age as an insurgent or a combatant…any women and children who get killed well that’s because those enemies were hiding among those women and children.”  He said what has happened with the drone attacks is like police violence against black and Latino Americans, it is the “criminalization of whole populations”, and “they are fair game.”  What we need, he said, is revolution, but even if one is not ready to undertake that, the drone attacks must be stopped.

In addition, Joan Pluene and Phyllis Cunningham of the Granny Peace Brigade explained what they are doing to win passage of a ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance in New York City, and their initiative at the United Nations to achieve a global ban.

Here are videos of each presentation, the Q &A and opening and closing remarks:

Madiha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC1qiCTb_jE SaveFrom.net

Maria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qah_YAULQlM&feature=youtu.be SaveFrom.net

Carl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ksqc9vfBQY SaveFrom.net

Granny Peace Brigade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KlUD8HIyoY SaveFrom.net

Q & A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooRmLYfLy-Y SaveFrom.net

Opening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtyz89tPJR8 SaveFrom.net

Closing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whIL1mJnRdE SaveFrom.net

Wounds of Waziristan, a 28-minute powerful, personal film, mentioned in the opening video, may be obtained at: http://www.journeyman.tv/66218/short-films/wounds-of-waziristan-hd.html.

 

COURT ACTION

On April 1, in Sacramento, CA, U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd refused to grant a jury trial to Shirley Osgood to defend herself against a misdemeanor charge for entering Beale AFB in protest of drone operations there.

http://www.modbee.com/2014/04/01/3271109/judge-denies-jury-trial-to-beale.html

Shirley’s case is particularly interesting because, there are indications that she is going to trial because this was her second arrest for protesting at Beale and that those being arrested for their first time there are not be charged and prosecuted.

MacGregor Eddy, who was arrested with Shirley at Beale on November 25, 2013, said that charges against her, Flora Rogers and Michael Kerr, member of VFP, have been dropped, and she speculates that this is because the three were first time offenders at the base, unlike Shirley.

1912160_473137822820213_189546933_o-1[1][1]

(Flora Rogers, MacGregor Eddy, Shirley Osgood and Michael Kerr being arrested at Beale on Nov. 25, 2013.)

This may be the reason that Elliott Adams and Richard Gilchrist were not given citations when they were detained at Beale for entering the base in their April 1 protest, as well as those arrested on March 5. (See Beale report above.)

MacGregor said that Judge Drozd, while denying Shirley the right to offer a necessity defense, did say that Shirley will be able to speak about her motives and intent.

MacGregor thinks that Sacramento is more liberal than some other parts of the state, and this is reflected in the courts.  She thinks that one reason that press coverage of the Beale protests has increased is because the arrests of protesters resulted in their cases landing in Sacramento courts.  Other factors are that the protests have been going on for 3 ½ years and that protesters have gotten to know reporters and how to do press work.  The first civil resistance arrests began a year and a half ago.

 

IDEAS/PLANNED EVENTS

Here is a report on this week’s conference call:

MacGregor Eddy – California – called in to call attention to the mass protest that is being organized at Beale AFB by Veterans for Peace April 28 – 29.  (See events listing below.)  She also discussed court handling of arrests at Beale, mentioned above.

Dave Lambert – Fort Wayne, IN – said that his group has been leafleting Raytheon and ITT facilities and that there will be a “Fly Kites Not Drones” event this Sunday, April 6.  Dave reported that Indiana has passed a drone control law that is awaiting the governor’s signature.  He said also that although Indiana and Ohio were not chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration to be included among the six new drone test zones, politicians from both states continue to plump for drone business.  See:

http://www.ibj.com/ohio-indiana-officials-explore-drone-opportunities/PARAMS/article/46956

Kevin Caron – Atlanta, GA – reported on the drone forum at Georgia Tech (See above report).  He was heading to Loyola University in New Orleans for the 6th Annual Student Peace Conference where he was to give a lecture on April 4 entitled “Killer Drones: Vehicle of Empire?”

Andrew Dalton and Barbara Kidney – Hudson Valley – Andrew reported that anticipated rain is causing them to postpone until April 12 the “Fly Kites Not Drones” event they are planning to hold at the center of Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge that crosses the Hudson River.  They are also continuing to try to get Quaker meetings to host memorial services for drone victims, which is proving very difficult.  Barbara is interested in approaching the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York asking for prosecution of drone war crimes, as has been done in Virginia by members of the National Campaign for Non-violent Resistance.  (See Bulletin #8), and she is exploring the idea of having her community create a “sister city” relationship with a community that has been attacked by drones.

Daniel Riehl – Lancaster, PA – said that protests are resuming on the last Saturday of each month in Horsham, PA, at the site of a planned drone control center and that he is among a group of Mennonites who have been carpooling to travel 70 miles to participate on a regular basis.  He said four Mennonite churches are involved and that they will be screening Wounds of Waziristan.

Daniel recommends Bill Quigley’s presentation “Illegality of US Drone Killings”.

http://paxchristiusa1.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/bill-quigleys-presentation-on-drones.pdf

 

PLANNED EVENTS

Whiteman AFB

Sun., April 6 – 2 pm

“Ground the Drones” peace demonstration (in Knob Noster, MO about 90 miles from greater Kansas City), with speakers Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, and Brian Terrell, Catholic Worker, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and drone activist who served six months in Federal prison after his arrest in a drone protest at Whiteman in 2012.

For more information, contact Jeff Stack with the Mid-MO Fellowship of

Reconciliation at: 573-499-4585.

 

Creech AFB

Sat., April 12 – Fri., April 18

https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/02/joint-statement-support-targeted-lethal-force-transparency-act

Sacred Peace Walk 2014

The Sacred Peace Walk (SPW) is Nevada Desert Experience's premier event. This 65-mile, annual pilgrimage to the Nevada Test Site (the NTS, now officially the Nevada National Security Site) begins on April 12th with an orientation in Las Vegas and preparation for our six-day walk starting on April 13th (Sunday). The Walkers arrive at Peace Camp on Thursday, April 17th after a day walking in Vegas and three days in the desert. In between is a day of reflection at the Sekhmet Temple, vigils against drones at Creech Air Force Base, and a "Peace-over" Seder. The SPW concludes on "Good Friday," as we greet the sunrise with the Western Shoshone and conclude with a Good Friday liturgy and procession to the entrance to the NTS later in the morning. 

 

“Fly Kites Not Drones” – Poughkeepsie, NY

Sat. April 12 – 2:45 pm

Gather on either side of the Walkway Over the Hudson (the very high, converted Poughkeepsie – Highland Railroad Bridge) Feel free to bring kites, balloons, your dog on a leash, drums, musical instruments and, of course, friends and family.  Rain date: April 13.  Info: (845) 699-3051.

 

Beale AFB

Friday, April 18:  

International Peace Activist, Kathy Kelly, to join Good Friday Vigil at Beale - 3-5pm, Main (Schneider Gate), North Beale Rd. (Kathy will attend Good Friday action at Livermore Labs that afternoon, and will speak in Grass Valley at 1pm on Saturday, April 19.) More Info: occupybeale@earth-justice.org

Mon. April 28-Tues. April 29:   

Veterans United Against Drone Warfare and Militarism

Sacramento Veterans for Peace is calling for a mass convergence of veterans and supporters to join in a united front against drone warfare and global militarization.  More Info: Barry Binks  bbinks@me.com

Sat. May 17 – Tues. May 27:

A 10-day “Walk to Peace; Resist Global Militarization/Drone Warfare" from San Francisco to Beale AFB. More details soon.  To sign up for one or more days: www.facebook.com/events/1380107975587685/?ref=22

 

“TRANSPARENCY” BILL IN CONGRESS

Impelled to penetrate the secrecy with which the U.S. government has attempted to conceal the intent and consequences of its drone wars, Joe Scarry and 14 organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are advocating passage of H.R. 4372 (Attachment C), entitled the “Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act”.   https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/02/joint-statement-support-targeted-lethal-force-transparency-act

The introduction of the bill on April 2 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) comes after the Mar. 28 release of a statement by leaders of the House’s Progressive Caucus, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) criticizing the Administration for boycotting a discussion by the UN Human Rights Council on drone use and calling for more Congress oversight of the U.S. drone wars.  They speak of annual public accounting of the number of civilian casualties as “a good start.” http://ellison.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/ellison-grijalva-un-vote-proves-we-need-more-transparency-on-drones

Joe is working to have a Call-In Day in support of the Schiff bill, and he has also been working to build political support for the Ellison-Grijalva statement. (See Attachment D)

The Ellison-Grijalva statement and the Schiff statement in support of his bill

https://schiff.house.gov/press-releases/reps-adam-schiff-and-walter-jones-introduce-bipartisan-bill-requiring-annual-reporting-on-drone-casualties/

show a worthy intention to require the Administration to reveal more information about it drone attacks.  But an examination of the meaning of the language of the bill suggests that passage would establish dangerous precedents while yielding little, if any, useful information.

First, it is obvious that the bill does nothing to stop drone attacks.

But, if one accepts that the bill has this shortcoming, what does the bill do?

One thing it appears is to do is to implicitly establish that “targeted lethal force” otherwise known as assassination, is fundamentally a legitimate activity of the U.S. government, in this case by drone.   

While, in my opinion, the bill says implicitly that assassination by drone is permissible anywhere, it says that reporting on these killings and numbers of those injured in drone attacks will not be required for Afghanistan, where the U.S. has conducted the most drone attacks, or “in a foreign country described by a future declaration of war or authorization for the use of military force.”

In addition the reporting requirements apply only to drone attacks outside the United States.  No reporting is required by the bill for the use of “targeted lethal force” by special operations units, cruise missile, airplanes or other means.

Examining the bill’s language through the lens of the Viet Nam War, it appears that it would have abetted the assassinations that were central to the Phoenix Program, which was intended, among other things, to systematically kill leaders of the Viet Cong. 

In establishing “targeted lethal force” as a legitimate activity, the bill ignores the issue of due process, which has been one of the casualties of the U.S. drone program.  Further, the bill implicitly denies that there are issues of due process within declared war zones.

The statement of the 14 organizations endorsing the bill suggests an unarticulated discomfort with the bill in relation to due process when it says “we do not necessarily agree that the terms ‘combatant’ and ‘civilian’ apply”, apparently referencing the essence of the bill which calls for annual government reporting on “civilians” and “combatants” killed by drones.

By establishing categories of “civilian’ and ‘combatant’, and giving an Administration the opportunity to define the categories, the bill implicitly legitimizes the killing of people deemed “bad” by administrative decision, not open judicial process, assuming capital punishment is acceptable. 

It is obvious that supporters of the Schiff bill agree with the laudable view expressed in the 14-organization statement that: “The Executive Branch should openly acknowledge and investigate reports of potentially unlawful killings, and ensure accountability for any violations of the law.”   The groups call on Congress to pass the bill, and “take this modest yet crucial step toward ending excessive secrecy about U.S. drone strikes.”

But while there is a need to learn everything we can about drone attacks, we know that secrecy is not so much the problem as the attacks themselves.  We have to be aware of the possibility that the Schiff bill may provide political and legal cover for assassination and drone attacks, protection that these actions don’t have now.

There is a wish on the part of some to make elimination of drone secrecy a legislative baby step that will open a window to drone atrocities that will bring a level of public revulsion that will lead to an end to U.S. drone attacks and drone surveillance.

The Schiff bill is unlikely to achieve that because full disclosure of the workings and effects of the drone program are not its goals.

More troubling is the fact the leaders of the Progressive Caucus and the aforementioned 14 organizations have not said that ending drone secrecy is the first step in ending drone attacks and drone surveillance.  What seems to be envisioned is a vague, multi-year process of limited disclosure that will in no way adequately challenge what is clearly an entrenched, growing, global U.S. program of drone execution and spying.

People now living under drones are unlikely to be patient with what appear to be imperatives of U.S. politics, as perceived by politicians in Washington DC.

I asked Madiha Tahir, maker of the film Wounds of Waziristan, to comment on the Schiff bill, and this is her response:

“As citizens of an ostensibly democratic state, governmental transparency is a laudable goal; we should know what our government are doing in our name. But, let's be clear: such transparency does little, if anything, for the victims and survivors of American militarism. Allowing the U.S. to forego transparency for its attacks on Afghanistan (and perhaps by extension, Pakistan), effectively legitimizes U.S. violence on, and occupation of, that country under the rubric of "armed conflict." The convergence between U.S. militarism and those who claim to advocate for its victims as typified in the Transparency Act is deeply troubling.”

(A personal note: I write the above with a certain amount of regret because I value greatly the counter-drone war work that Joe Scarry is doing as well as that of many others in the organizations that have endorsed the Schiff bill.)

 

MONSTERS IN THE SKY

Here is a video by Jill McLaughlin, a member of World Can’t Wait in San Francisco, that carries a powerful message as we enter the Spring Days of Action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff4oCdbOt6E&feature=youtu.be SaveFrom.net

In solidarity, and with thanks to all for the work you are doing so courageously,

Nick

 


 

ATTACHMENT A

NIAGARA FALLS LETTER

 


 

ATTACHMENT B

GASP

 


 

ATTACHMENT C

HR4372

 


 

ATTACHMENT D

REAL Progressives Demand that the U.S. Come Clean on Drone Killings

Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) have called the U.S. on the carpet for dodging the call from the international community to come clean about its drone killings.

Now it's time for all 62 other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to step up to the plate.

Grijalva and Ellison's initiative creates an opportunity for all of us to demand of our progressive representatives that they, too, take a stand. It's a simple yes-or-no, no-ifs-ands-or-buts question:

"Have you signed on to the CPC co-chairs' demand
that 'our intelligence agencies provide
an annual public accounting
of the number of civilian casualties
caused by drone strikes overseas'?"

BACKGROUND

The Grijalva-Ellison demand was provoked by a series of events at the United Nations.

First, in October, 2013, a pair of long-awaited reports by the U.N. special rapporteurs on counter-terrorism and on extrajudicial executions were published. The included an unambiguous demand for a full accounting of drone killings.

This was followed by a little-publicized General Assembly vote that use of drones in counter-terrorism must comply with international law.

By early 2014, people were beginning to realize that the government was succeeding in quashing debate about its extrajudicial executions simply through its silence. A consensus began to build around the key point of pressure: the need to bear down on the U.S. government to come clean about its drone killings.

When the U.N. Human Rights council convened in March to take up the matter of the drone killings, the U.S. government had a simple solution: boycott.

And thus it was the sight of the U.S. government fleeing a U.N. convocation into human rights that provoked the call by Reps. Grijalva and Ellison. "Instead of working closely with the international community to help strengthen current international standards on the use of drones, the U.S. government decided to boycott a discussion of the draft resolution. We are troubled by the ease with which dialogue and diplomacy—values at the center of the president’s foreign policy—were cast aside in this debate," they said in their statement.

"Today’s vote highlights the need for Congress to play a larger role in overseeing and regulating the use of lethal force abroad. Requiring that our intelligence agencies provide an annual public accounting of the number of civilian casualties caused by drone strikes overseas — a measure included in the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act — would be a good start," they said. (Emphasis added)

NEXT STEPS

Reps. Grijalva and Ellison issued their call in their capacity as co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  The clear next step is for every other member of the CPC to join the call. This is a simple but unambiguous assertion by Congress of authority in the U.S. drone killing program, and it is vital that there be unanimous support by the CPC.

Please look at the list below and write personally to the member who represents you.  Now is the time for us to insist on public statements from every member of Congress that they unreservedly support the call for the U.S. to come clean about its drone killings.

And if you live in Arizona or Minnesota . . . you have a thank you note to send.

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus

CA02 - Jared Huffman
CA11 - George Miller
CA13 - Barbara Lee
CA17 - Michael Honda
CA20 - Sam Farr
CA27 - Judy Chu
CA34 - Xavier Becerra
CA37 - Karen Bass
CA40 - Lucille Roybal-Allard
CA41 - Mark Takano
CA43 - Maxine Waters
CA44 - Janice Hahn
CA47 - Alan Lowenthal
CO02 - Jared Polis
CT03 - Rosa DeLauro
DC00 - Eleanor Norton
FL05 - Corrine Brown
FL09 - Alan Grayson
FL22 - Lois Frankel
FL24 - Frederica Wilson
GA04 - Henry Johnson
GA05 - John Lewis
IA02 - David Loebsack
IL04 - Luis Gutierrez
IL07 - Danny Davis
IN07 - André Carson
MA02 - James McGovern
MA04 - Joseph Kennedy
MA07 - Michael Capuano
MD04 - Donna Edwards
MD07 - Elijah Cummings
ME01 - Chellie Pingree
MI13 - John Conyers
MN08 - Richard Nolan
MO05 - Emanuel Cleaver
MS02 - Bennie Thompson
NJ06 - Frank Pallone
NJ12 - Rush Holt
NV04 - Steven Horsford
NY07 - Nydia Velázquez
NY08 - Hakeem Jeffries
NY09 - Yvette Clarke
NY10 - Jerrold Nadler
NY12 - Carolyn Maloney
NY13 - Charles Rangel
NY15 - José Serrano
NY25 - Louise Slaughter
OH11 - Marcia Fudge
OR01 - Suzanne Bonamici
OR04 - Peter DeFazio
PA02 - Chaka Fattah
PA17 - Matt Cartwright
RI01 - David Cicilline
TN09 - Steve Cohen
TX18 - Sheila Jackson Lee
TX30 - Eddie Johnson
VA08 - James Moran
VI00 - Donna Christensen
VT00 - Peter Welch
WA07 - Jim McDermott
WI02 - Mark Pocan
WI04 - Gwen Moore

Related posts

A 2013 U.N. report makes it clear that the U.S. has to report fully on all its drone attacks.

(See 2014: The Year of Transparency (for U.S. Drone Use)?)

The reason the Administration is hiding truth about drones is that they don't have a satisfactory answer for how decisions about drone strikes are made.  As we have known all along, we need the public to think about how crummy the whole drone program is, and then they will be ready to be on our side. The best way to get them really thinking is to shine a spotlight on the secrecy, evasiveness, and deceit involved in the U.S. drone program.

(See Drone Killings: Come Clean )

An Insider's Guide to the 7 S's (surveillance, secrecy, and assassinations) in the 2014 Midterms: linchpin races, scandal, principle, drone testing, and some "special" cases.

(See Will the 2014 Midterms be a Referendum on Obama's Surveillance, Secrecy, and Assassinations?)

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