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CNN reported on August 2 that Secretary of State John Kerry made some rather startling remarks regarding drone strikes. A look at a few of these remarks is instructive
Remark 1: “Following talks with the Pakistani government, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is making progress in the war on terror, and hopes to end the use of drone strikes ‘very soon.’”
This apparently means that the U.S., which has waged a war of terror for several years now, is making so much progress in doing so that drone strikes will no longer be required to kill and terrorize innocent people.
Remark 2: Regarding ending the strikes, Mr. Kerry said this: “We hope it's going to be very, very soon.” In this statement, he seems to indicate that ending the strikes is something outside of the control of the U.S. government; he ‘hopes’ the strikes will end soon.
By Dave Lindorff
Just for the sake of argument, let's suspend our disbelief for a moment and pretend (I know it's a stretch) that the Obama administration and the apologists for the nation's spy apparatus in Congress, Democratic and Republican, are telling us the gods' honest truth.
By Dave Lindorff
(This article was originally written on assignment forwww.counterpunch.org)
By Dave Lindorff
An article by TCBH! journalist Dave Lindorff in the May issue of American Banker magazine details how the mission of microlending has gotten off track, and why helping impoverished women is getting harder to do.
Islamabad: A Pakistani court on Thursday declared that US drone strikes in the country's lawless tribal belt were illegal and directed the Foreign Ministry to move a resolution against the attacks in the United Nations.
The Peshawar High Court issued the verdict against the strikes by CIA-operated spy planes in response to four petitions that contended the attacks killed civilians and caused collateral damage.
By Dave Lindorff
I ran the Boston Marathon back in 1968, and, my feet covered with blisters inside my Keds sneakers, dragged across the finish line to meet my waiting uncle at a time of about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It was close enough to the time that the current bombing happened in this year’s race -- about four hours from the starting gun -- that had I been running it this year, I might still been near enough to the finish line to have heard the blasts.
By John Grant
“The elite always has a Plan B, while people have no escape.”
- Ahmad Saadawi
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The HISTORY channel is catching righteous hell for crafting the character of Satan in its miniseries “The Bible” to bear an uncanny likeness to U.S. President Barak Obama.
Is it just coincidence that the dark-skinned Satan in this HISTORY channel miniseries looks hauntingly similar to the first black man to occupy the Oval Office seat in America’s White House?
By Ron Ridenour
Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!
We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.
By Dan DeWalt
‘If the President Does It, It Isn’t Illegal’
-- Richard M. Nixon
By Dave Lindorff
The US government doesn't like Iran. I get that. It claims, on pretty dubious grounds, that Iran might be planning, at some point down the road, to take some of the uranium it is processing into nuclear fuel to a higher level of purity and make it into an atomic bomb.
By Ann Wright, OpEdNews
Two-thirds of Palestinians killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) drones in the November, 2012 attack on Gaza were civilians. This statistic means that for the residents of Gaza, the ground-breaking investigation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights into the civilian impact and human rights implications of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing is very important.
More Palestinians Killed by Drones Alone in eight DAYS than Israelis Killed by rockets in eight YEARS
Two-thirds of Palestinians killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) drones in the November, 2012 attack on Gaza were civilians.
This statistic means that for the residents of Gaza, the ground-breaking investigation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights into the civilian impact and human rights implications of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing is very important.
By Dave Lindorff
For a masterpiece in cognitive dissonance, just look to the foreign editors and the managing editor of the New York Times, who ran two stories in Saturday’s paper without referencing each other at all.
By Dave Lindorff
I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. It reached its gut-churning nadir near the end where he said:
By Dave Lindorff
Most Americans, their minds focused at the moment on the tragic slaughter of 20 young children aged 5-10, along with five teachers and a school principal in Connecticut by a heavily-armed psychotic 21-year-old, are blissfully unaware that their last president, George W. Bush, along with five key members of his administration, were convicted in absentia of war crimes earlier this month at a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
By Rob Mulford
Seeds of Love
It’s a long, long way from Fairbanks, Alaska to Waziristan, “Pakistan the land which is suffering because of those who have no conscience”.[i] I had the honor and privilege to make that journey in October of 2012 as a part of a peace delegation organized and led by that group of courageous activists known as Code Pink: “Women for Peace”. It was our intention to go to the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas of Pakistan to bear witness to the injuries and deaths caused by that portion of United States led “war on terror” being executed via the use of Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicles (UAVs or drones).
By David Rose
The Mail on Sunday today reveals shocking new evidence of the full horrific impact of US drone attacks in Pakistan.
A damning dossier assembled from exhaustive research into the strikes’ targets sets out in heartbreaking detail the deaths of teachers, students and Pakistani policemen. It also describes how bereaved relatives are forced to gather their loved ones’ dismembered body parts in the aftermath of strikes.
By Dave Lindorff
Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.
Local activist and Peace Action Montgomery member Pam Bailey participated in the peace delegation to Pakistan earlier this month, focused on U.S. use of drones.
Join us Mon., Oct. 29, for a special presentation from Pam describing this CodePink-organized trip from Islamabad to Waziristan. Pam will share with us the Pakistani perspective of being on the receiving end of drones and give us her view of the implications for their increasing use world-wide.
Don’t miss this first-hand report from one of our war zones. Let’s discuss what the U.S. “kill list” really means. You may want to read Pam’s blogs about this extraordinary trip.
Mon., Oct. 29, 7:30 – 9 p.m.
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church
9601 Cedar Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814
Cosponsored by Peace Action Montgomery, Pax Christ, Veterans for Peace
Download a flier to post at your religious congregation or community center!
By Pam Bailey
Throughout my stay in Pakistan, I have been noting similarities in the challenges faced by the people in the frontier regions here and in Gaza. Both populations are under daily threat by foreign drones (U.S. vs. Israel), the movement of both groups is tightly controlled, and both peoples are judged by the world based on internal factions branded as “extremist.”
Whenever I speak about Gaza, invariably I will sooner rather than later be confronted with a question about the violence wrought by Hamas, often to the extent that the sins of the Israeli occupation (a primary motivator of Hamas actions) are brushed to the side. With Pakistan, it’s the Taliban that most often is raised when I talk or write about the evil of U.S. drone strikes. After all, how else, I am asked (even by some Pakistanis), can we destroy this dreaded terrorist group?
The shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan’s Swat valley this week brought a rush of emails into my inbox, from acquaintances who knew I was in the country as part of a delegation focused on highlighting the tragic consequences of drones.
Malala won fame in 2009 during Pakistani army operations to crush a Taliban insurgency that had taken hold in the Swat valley, near the Afghan border. At a young age, she campaigned for girls’ right to attend school, and she wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC about the chaos at the time, including the burning of girls’ schools. She wrote:
by Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman
Islamabad, Pakistan - Many Americans have an image of Pakistan and its people as "teeming with anti-Americanism."Americans see images on TV of angry Pakistani demonstrators burning American flags. Indeed, polls say three of four Pakistanis view the United States as an enemy.
But in the last week, we and thirty other Americans have been blessed with an experience few Americans have shared, seeing a more hopeful side of the relationship of the people of Pakistan to Americans. For the last week in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, and then in the nation’s tribal areas, our delegation that came to Pakistan to protest U.S. drones has been showered with tremendous hospitality, warmth and friendship.
By Pam Bailey
Our road to drone-ravaged Waziristan was a long and winding one, at times frightening, surrealistic and frustrating, but always exhilarating and significant.
It officially began Friday morning, when we joined officials from PTI, the political party of Imran Khan, and Clive Stafford-Smith from the UK’s Reprieve at a press conference at the Marriott in Islamabad. In a clear sign that the media were taking the proposed caravan to South Waziristan seriously, a phalanx of international, American and local media were lined up across the ballroom, clamoring for up-close shots and interviews.
By Pam Bailey
Abdul was just 20 years old when he drove his father to the medical clinic one day for an exam. He dropped his father off, then left to run a few errands, saying nonchalantly that he would be back by the time the tests were done. But..he never showed up at the clinic. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air. His family agonized over what had happened to the young man, who – as the oldest son -- had worked as a laborer to support his parents and siblings in the wake of his father’s disability. The family fell into debt as a result, and his brother fell ill. It was more than a year later when the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) informed them that Abdul was alive, but in prison, being held indefinitely, without formal charge or trial.
That incident could have been one of the infamous “disappearances” of Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime in the 1970s, for which he was condemned, indicted and tried for human rights violations. However, this incident occurred in 2005, in Pakistan. The jailer that kidnapped Abdul Halim Saifullah off the streets of Karachi, then imprisoned him without a word to anyone, access to a lawyer or trial, was the United States. It wasn’t until 2007 that his family was finally told where their son was being held – the infamous Bagram prison, the largest detention facility in the world and known as "Afghanistan's Guantanamo." In January of this year, Afghan investigators accused the U.S. Army of abusing detainees at Bagram, including torture.
Abdul's story was told by his father to a CodePink delegation that traveled to Pakistan to publicize the consequences of U.S. drone attacks in the war-torn region of Waziristan. Many organizations and individuals who have suffered at the hands of Americans sought an “audience” with the group, hoping the participants would advocate for their cause when they returned home. One of those organizations was the “Justice Project Pakistan,” modeled after and mentored by the UK’s Reprieve. JPP advocates for the most vulnerable of prisoners – primarily those facing the death penalty or who are detained beyond the rule of law in secret prisons. Included among the latter are 37 Pakistanis – one as young as 16, who was seized in circumstances similar to Abdul’s at the age of just 14. Although the U.S. handed Bagram over to the Afghan government in September, the transition did not include prisoners from other countries, such as Pakistan, of which there are 52. (A side note: It also did not include more than 600 Afghans who were detained after the agreement was signed in March; they all remain in U.S. custody.)
Sarah Belal, an Oxford-trained lawyer and director of JPP, interpreted for a group of men whose brothers and sons are being held in Bagram. According to the men, some of the prisoners had been visiting Afghanistan for work or education, but others were in their hometowns in Pakistan. Many Americans do not realize that for years, the United States has been running “search-and-seize” operations in Pakistan as well, detaining these nationals for years without formal charge or trial. The longest has been there since 2002.
When Belal asked the men how long they had waited, thinking their relatives were dead, before learning from the ICRC that they were in Bagram, the answers ranged from six months to as long as two years.
“Some have no idea why their son or brother was taken,” Belal said. “Others say their relative was mistaken for someone else, but they haven’t been released. No formal charges are ever filed, except for a label in an Excel sheet given to the Pakistani government, such as ‘suspected member of Taliban’ or ‘IED (improvised explosive device) manufacturer’. ”
Once they learn of their loved ones’ whereabouts, the families are allowed to see them only by video conference, once every two months. They must travel to Islamabad, a long distance for many who live in more distant regions of Pakistan. When they arrive, poor Internet connections often mean the trip is for naught. When they do talk, or send letters, the prisoners are not permitted to discuss how they were seized or under what conditions they are being held.
“We have been told by the few detainees who have been released that when there are first interned in Bagram, the prisoners are exposed to extreme temperatures, and the floors of their cages are covered with two feet of water,” Belal told the CodePink delegates. “It is one to two months before the ICRC is allowed to see them, and then they are moved to their ‘regular’ quarters.” Their lawyers are never allowed direct access.
The Pakistani prisoners are held together, in one big cage divided into small cubicles with only one open toilet for all 37. Teenagers are mixed with the adults. Fazal Karim, who was abducted in 2003 when he was traveling cross country for a business trip, was held in solitary confinement for the past five years. In 2011, the Pakistani embassy in Kabul announced that Fazal had been cleared for release. However, today, he is still in Bagram, with no explanation.
“The Pakistani government has been no help,” the father of 16-year-old Hamidullah Khan told the group through Belal. “We are Pakistani citizens, but we totally on our own, at the mercy of the United States.”
JPP has filed a petition with the Pakistani government on behalf of 10 of the detainees, including Abdul Halim Saifullah and Hamidullah Khan. In October 2011, a Pakistani justice ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to visit its citizens in Bagram. In February of this year, the High Court in Lahore directed the government of Pakistan to negotiate with the U.S. for the return of the detainees. However, no concrete results have yet been achieved, and on Sept. 25, the JPP proposed a draft memorandum of understanding which would, once signed by the U.S. and Pakistan, order the safe return of Pakistani citizens held in Bagram. The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16.
Prisoners’ cases are reviewed behind closed doors every six months, and even when they are told they will be released, it can take weeks or longer before it becomes reality.
“What is unsettling,” Belal said, “is that prisoners often come home speaking fluent English cuss words – with an American accent.”
By Leah Bolger
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)…increased use of anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant drugs…suicide. These are all issues that are plaguing American combat soldiers, and which the American media has reported on widely.
Yesterday the CODEPINK delegation to Pakistan heard directly from the victims of U.S. combat drones. We listened intently to the stories of these men who describe their lives in terms of “Before Drones” and “After Drones,” in much the same way that Americans refer to their lives “since 9/11.”
Imagine having up to 6 drones circling overhead 24 hours a day, making an incessant, constant buzzing sound that never ceases. The sound the drones make creates a deep-seated psychological fear—a sort of emotional torture. The lives of these people have changed completely, their culture and way of life destroyed.
This is a communal society, whose families of 60 to 70 people live in the same compound. The women cook together, the families eat and sleep together. Weddings and funerals are huge gatherings of friends and family—or at least they used to be. Now, “After Drones (AD)” everything has changed. Children aged 5 to 10 no longer go to school. Men are afraid to gather in groups of more than 2 or 3. Weddings, which used to be joyous affairs with music, dancing, and drumming, are now subdued events with only close family members present. And most sadly, since funerals have been the target of drone attacks, they are now small gatherings as well.
Because of cultural norms, the deaths of women are not reported. It is considered offensive to discuss the names, or take photographs of women, yet one stalwart journalist, Noor Beharam, has risked his life repeatedly to try to document the deaths of women and especially children. He believes that 670 women have been killed by drone strikes, and has taken photos of more than 100 children. Their bodies are often unrecognizable as human after the strikes. He showed us one photo of a man holding torn pieces of a woman’s dress that he found in the trees, in an attempt to document his wife’s death.
The Waziris are now raising a generation of children with psychological and emotional scars without an education. The use of Xanax is startling high, and suicide, which is a societal and religious taboo, is shocking. Seventeen Waziris have killed themselves due to the emotional terror of the U.S. drone program. This is something that is unheard of in this culture. Families are becoming displaced and moving to more urban areas in an attempt to avoid popular “strike areas.” The Pakistani Army has moved in and won’t allow them to cross into Afghanistan to visit their relatives there, though the entire region is Pashtun, and part of their cultural and historical heritage.
The U.S. government has created enemies where there were none. We have been told repeatedly about the concept of revenge, which is a dominant social force in Waziristan. The children of this region will remember what we have done to them, and their children, and their children. We have also been told repeatedly that the only way to possibly stop this spiral is to stop the drones. Just stop. These people will not accept monetary compensation even if it were offered, which it isn’t. They don’t want an apology, which they view as insincere. They just want us to stop the drones, so they can return to their “Before Drones” lives.
Leah Bolger is President of Veterans For Peace.
Americans ignore 'great risks,' travel to Pakistan to protest US drone strikes
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The Daily Mail Online
Imran Khan braves march into Pakistan's Taliban heartland
The folly of drone attacks and U.S. strategy
US Peace Activists Challenge Ambassador in Pakistan About Drones
Delegation of American Activists Confronts US Drone Strike Policy in Pakistan
Americans Press U.S. Ambassador for End to Drone Strikes in Pakistan, and the Ambassador Responds
The Huffington Post
Power of Pink: women hungry for drone protest
The Sydney Morning Herald
By Robert Naiman
Islamabad, Pakistan -- Sometimes, when some people insist that it's impossible to put some urgent problem on the table for discussion and redress, you have no choice but to undertake flamboyant action. Call it "propaganda by nonviolent deed."
This is the letter I sent to Ambassador Richard Hoagland after he met with the Codepink Delegation for Peace on October 3 stating that American policies are what have made Pakistan dangerous for Americans. -- Ann Wright
October 5, 2012
Ambassador Richard Hoagland
Dear Ambassador Hoagland,
Thank you and your staff for meeting with our American delegation for peace on October 3.
As you mentioned, your meeting with us demonstrates one of the strengths of American society-freedom of speech to criticize policies of one’s government.
We fully appreciate the United States warning about travel for Americans to Pakistan.
By Dave Lindorff
An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.