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War Opponents to Protest Honoring of John Brennan, Principal US Advocate of Drone Killings, at Fordham University Commencement Saturday 5/19
Fordham University’s commencement will attract advocates of justice this weekend, as Fordham awards an honorary doctorate to controversial commencement speaker, John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security.
Brennan, an alumnus of Fordham and former senior CIA official, recently defended the US program of “targeted killing” by drone as consistent with international law, despite repeated evidence that such strikes kill civilians and would-be rescuers. Brennan "is widely know for his advocacy of kidnapping-for-torture (aka 'extraordinary rendition') and killing 'militants' (including US citizens) with 'Hellfire' missiles fired by 'Predator' and 'Reaper' drone aircraft," wrote former CIA agent Ray McGovern, also a Fordham graduate.
“Public figures who promote the spreading and secret use of drones to kill people with impunity should not be honored, much less by a university with a religious connection,” said Stephanie Rugoff, coordinator of the protest for World Can’t Wait. The Know Drones tour will challenge the public to be at less distance from war being carried out in their names.
Nick Mottern, director of Know Drones and an organizer of the Fordham protests, said: "We are challenging the white-washing and willful disregard of US war atrocities at the highest levels of government, religion and academia."
On campus, opposition to the selection of the commencement speaker has resulted in a petition calling for a repudiation of Brennan as antithetical to Jesuit values. In addition, on a Facebook page concerned students have called on their fellow graduates to wear orange ribbons on their graduation gowns to symbolize opposition to the use of
torture and to stand up and turn their backs when Mr. Brennan begins to speak to
silently show their disagreement with his policies and what he stands for.
At three commencement-related occasions this weekend, the Know Drones tour, featuring large models of “Predator” drones, will witness to the carnage they cause abroad.
Friday, May 18 – 5:15 pm – Main Gate of Fordham University, 2853 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY – Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishhop of New York, will be presiding at the Fordham Baccalaureate Mass for the Fordham University Commencement for the Class of 2012. Organizers of the protest say they will “Urge the Cardinal to speak out against the drones controlled out of Hancock Air Base in Syracuse, NY, which is part of his ecclesiastical province”.
Saturday, May 19 – 9:15 am – Main Gate of Fordham University, 2853 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY – Fordham University will award an honorary degree to its Commencement Speaker John Brennan.
Sunday, May 20 – 3:15 pm - Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan, NY – The Fordham Graduate School of School Service will award an honorary degree to Congressman Edolphus Towns, a member of the Congressional Unmanned Systems (Drone) Caucus, a lobbying arm of the drone industry within the Congress. Opponents of the US use of drones say they will protest Town’s promotion of drones as “against the wishes and interests of people in his district.”