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National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
Email mobuszewski at Verizon.net
John Brennan, Director
The Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20500
xxxx xx, 2013
Dear Mr. Brennan:
We followed with great interest the progress of your nomination by President Obama to be head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Now that the United States Senate has confirmed you as CIA director and you were sworn into office, we must write to you about our deep concerns regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, by the CIA in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places.
CIA-operated drones have been used to kill people who have not been convicted of any crime, including US citizens. As you know, in 2011 in Yemen CIA drone attacks were used to kill, first, Anwar Al-Awlaki and weeks later his son. They were U.S. citizens, who were never charged, brought to trial, or convicted of any crime.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights brought a lawsuit in US federal court against the Obama Administration regarding the assassination of Al-Awlaki. The suit was lost on procedural grounds, however, the judge in the case stated "Can the executive order the assassination of a US citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization?"
We find this case to be alarming as it goes directly to important constitutional issues, due process, and international law. We concur with Michael Ratner, recent president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who stated “The dire implications of this killing should not be lost on any of us. There appears to be no limit to the president's power to kill anywhere in the world, even if it involves killing a citizen of his own country. Today, it's in Yemen; tomorrow, it could be in the UK or even in the United States.”
In addition, the CIA drone program has been used to kill political opponents of foreign governments the US supports. This happened in 2010 in Yemen, when a state governor who opposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh was labeled as a leader of Al Qaeda and killed by CIA drones. We do not see actions like this as promoting peace or stability in this troubled region. In fact, violent actions like this on the part of the US military and the CIA in sovereign countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen will only promote more terrorism directed at the US.
We are also disturbed by the lack of transparency and oversight by our congress. In spite of positive statements about you and the drone program by members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, there appears to be lack of oversight and understanding of the CIA drone program. For example, committee chair Senator Diane Fienstein recently said, on the first day of your nomination hearing, that she didn’t know that all combat age males were considered targets by the US drone program. This particular fact of targeting of combat age males had been reported over a year ago by The New York Times and other news organizations. If facts like this are public knowledge and members of congress are still unaware, then how much more ignorant can they be of the CIA drone program if they aren’t informed by your agency?
In spite of assurances from President Obama that the victims of drone strikes are surgical targets, it has been reported that hundreds of victims who are innocent of crimes against the US have been killed including civilian men, women, and children. These people have names and families who love them. Furthermore, people attending funerals in Pakistan have been killed by drone strikes. Reporters with the United Kingdom based Bureau of Investigative Journalism have reported that “…between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.”
We hope that you will take our concerns seriously as it is our position that the use of these drones to kill alleged criminals or terrorists without trial and conviction of any crime is illegal and immoral and increases the ill will directed toward the United States.
We have written to President Obama and the Secretary of Defense several times in the past with our concerns. We must state again in this letter to you what we said to President Obama: “As members of peace and justice organizations opposed to your continuation of the Bush administration’s failed wars, we are writing to condemn your use of unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) to kill citizens in at least seven countries. Besides opposing your war policies, we have great concern for people caught up in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen. The use of drones is wrong on many levels: the illegality and immorality of assassinations, the violation of international law and the Constitutional protection of due process, the targeting of civilian populations, and the disregard of sovereignty. We are especially troubled by your refusal to release the flawed document which purportedly gives you legal cover to determine who is on the kill list…We believe U.S. wars and drone attacks have been demonstrable failures. Now is the time to take the risks of peace. Imagine leading a country which has denounced the madness of war, and instead wants to assist and make friendship with the people of the Middle East and Central Asia.”
We believe the US killer drone program by the CIA and the use of drones to kill by the U.S. military must be brought to an end immediately.
Because we take seriously our Nuremberg obligations, we ask that you respond and meet with us to discuss the termination of the use of drones by the CIA and the U.S. military. We would be prepared to meet with relevant policy-makers from the CIA, the Pentagon, and the Obama Administration to discuss our proposal to immediately end killer drone strikes and to start a process of healing with the victims of U.S. wars. Please give serious consideration to our proposal of reconciliation and diplomacy rather than pernicious killer drone strikes.
We look forward to your response. Rejecting our proposal will mean more death and destruction abroad. We will then continue to protest, risk arrest, and denounce the CIA and U.S. military use of killer drones and a foreign policy of endless wars.
Malachy Kilbride, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
(Signatures to follow in alphabetical order by last name, along with affiliation)