United Nations... of Drones & Dirty Wars?
by Debra Sweet This week World Can't Wait joinskNOwdrones.com and Granny Peace Brigade in ambitious outreach across Manhattan to protest U.S. drones for warfare & surveillance. We have 3 replica drones and volunteers of all ages. We talk about how drones are used in targeted killing. Each lunch hour we're in key parts of the city, talking to people about why secret, dirty, wars employing horrific technology should be opposed. The campaign, which is being launched while the U.N. General Assembly meets here in NYC, includes a demand for a world ban on weaponized and surveillance drones.
The outrageous use of drones by the U.S. is in news this week, as the U.N. meets.
“‘So,’ he asked, ‘does your organisation have anything to do with terrorism in Yemen?’
“I replied, ‘My organisation addresses counter-terrorism abuses inside the country.’
“’Exactly!’ He said. ‘Why doesn’t your organisation do something about the terrorism that happens in your country, instead of focusing on the counter-terrorism abuses?’
“What could I reply? Of course I oppose terrorism. But I also oppose the secret air war in my country – waged by the US, apparently with covert support from the UK and others. The drone war in my homeland has claimed innocent lives and terrorised civilians. It operates wholly outside the law, and serves only to fuel anti-western sentiment.
“These are considered views. I formed them in conversations with dozens of witnesses, victims, and officials across Yemen. I was not about to apologise for them to this interrogator.”
Glenn Greenwald tied this to NSA documents UK detention of Reprieve activist consistent with NSA’s view of drone opponents as ‘threats’ and ‘adversaries’
“Top secret US government documents obtained by the Guardian from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden characterize even the most basic political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of ‘propaganda campaigns’ from America’s ‘adversaries’.”
Excerpts of those documents, straight from the horses’ mouths, are published by The Guardian. My friend John Hanrahan, a former Washington Post reporter, nailed the role of ruling-class media in fostering the actual government propaganda campaignagainst drone critics by the un-named government sources in Why is the New York Times enabling a U.S. government smear campaign against reporters exposing the drone wars?
In a related case of repression on those working to expose the drones, Shazad Akbar, a Pakistani attorney who works with Reprieve to expose the U.S. drone war in Pakistan, and seeks reparations for its victims, has been denied a visa to enter the U.S. to testify at a hearing convened by U.S. Representative Alan Grayson about drone killings. In Obama administration blocks drone victims’ lawyer from testifying in congress, Akbar says:
“Failing to grant me a visa silences the 156 civilian drone strike victims and families that I represent. These families, who have lost children, parents, and siblings, are now trying through legal means to achieve justice. They have powerful stories to tell in their own voices, but will not travel without me, their legal representative.”
Robert Greenwald just produced a short film which focuses on one of the families Akbar represents, and who would come along to the U.S. to testify in Congress if the visa is granted to him.
Greenwald says you can help get Mr. Akbar into the country (as our protests did in 2012):
- Call the State dept. directly at 202-647-4000
- Follow up with an email demanding the State Dept. issue a visa for Shahzad