A widening discussion of the use of Drones for targeted assassination in war and in covert actions in countries where we are not at war, has developed since early 2010 when I first began actively protesting their use in these contexts. When I first began tracking news on drones for the Upstate Drone Action website in late 2010, it was slim pickings. I fit the entire first year of news on a single web page. Yet that was the peak of activity in the covert drone wars. Since then, discussion has increased while active drone strikes by the United States have decreased. According to the New America Foundation, the number of covert Drone Strikes per year has fallen from 122 in 2010 to 21 so far in 2013. Of course the more prolific strikes in Afghanistan aren’t covert, therefore aren’t counted or noted anywhere that I can find.
A year ago, President Obama defended his weekly meetings to select drone victims, and the use of something called a Matrix of Disposition. However he released very little concrete information, even in the course of Congressional hearings earlier this year, little concrete information emerged. Open lies were allowed to stand. The assertion was made repeatedly that there were zero civilian victims in the covert drone war, even after more than a hundred photos were brought out of children killed in drone attacks in Pakistan. Government officials admitted that all males of military age are counted as ‘militants’. It became apparent that many of the ‘militants’ killed were never identified before or after their deaths. Continue reading →
On Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 9 protesters were arrested at the front gate of Hancock Air Base, a control center for MQ-9 Reaper drone attacks in Afghanistan, a country enduring the largest number U.S. drone strikes in the world. Starting with the arrest of 39 people at Hancock in April of 2011, there have been 7 or 8 Civil Resistance actions at Hancock Base that have resulted in arrests. Most arrests targeted people standing in the driveway/access road leading to the Main Gate to the Base, although in April of 2012, 50 people, walking quietly in single file along the side of the road, were stopped by police about 2 blocks from the base, and 33 arrested for refusing to turn back. Most recently, 31 people were arrested at the base following peaceful permitted demonstration on April 28 of this year, for crossing the curb into the driveway of the base.
All charges are adjudicated in the small town, two-judge court in the town of DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse, NY in which Hancock is located. Base personnel work closely with local law enforcement, including DeWitt Town Police, the Onondaga Sheriff’s office and the Attorney General’s office to manage these events, including the astounding issuance of Orders of Protection to more than 50 nonviolent protesters to protect the military installation. This article explores the adjudication of a group of people of faith who came to Hancock to protest the murder of innocents to show how the legal system of this small upstate NY community has been contorted to protect ongoing drone operations from public criticism. Continue reading →
CONTACT: Clare Grady, (607) 273-6257
Ed Kinane, (315) 478-4571
DE WITT, NY JUDGE RE-ISSUES HANCOCK AIR BASE DEFENDANTS’ EXPIRED ORDERS OF PROTECTION, SUPPRESSING THEIR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO PROTEST DRONE WAR CRIMES THERE
In 2012 on October 25, seventeen U.S. Americans, as part of Upstate Drone Action’s ongoing campaign to expose the extensive killings of innocent civilians by weaponized Reaper drones piloted from Hancock Air Base, were arrested as they protested outside the base, blocking its three entrances. Continue reading →
How eloquent you each were!!!!! – each speaking to different parts, all together painting the whole picture (with beautiful overlapping aspects) . . . All coming from Hope, Love, Truth
Seemed to me it was
Father Bill P. with Faith in Hope (and the Franz testimony!
Father Bill F-S with an emphasis on history and justice;
Carmen with the World view, and current (and past) world events (on United Nations Day);
Ellen with such love and care for all including especially the children, the innocents suffering (and the kind assertiveness was really needed when JJokl continued to disrespect you with inattention and denying eye contact); and
Linda with that same point focused here in the US, now and into the future, especially the personal (seemed he might have cried at the mention of people saving his own children/grandchildren)
. . . You all showed your wonderful love and compassion for all – that would carry the day! Continue reading →
In a historic decision five Catholic Worker activists were acquitted earlier this evening of Disorderly Conduct charges for blocking the main entrance to Hancock Air Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard, Syracuse, New York. Hancock is a Reaper drone hub whose technicians pilot weaponized drones over Afghanistan.
The five went “pro se,” defending themselves in the De Witt town court of Judge Robert Jokl. In his closing statement Fr. Bill Picard said, “We pray for you, Judge Jokl, to have the courage to do the right and courageous thing.”
On Acquitting the Defendants, the Judge said that the ADA had not met the burden of proof for the charge of Disorderly Conduct because the protesters were not on public property, therefore could not be creating a ‘public’ nuisance. However, after the verdict was announced, the D.A. objected, and the judge said to him that he hadn’t found “mens rea,” Latin for “guilty mind.” The five defendants, with powerful eloquence, convinced the judge that their intent was to uphold, not break, the law. This acquittal marks a major breakthrough by those who have sought to strengthen international law, and stop U.S. war crimes, including extra-judicial murder by the illegal drones. Continue reading →
from The White Rose Reader: An Interview with Madiha Tahir by Paul Gottinger
Madiha Tahir is an independent journalist working in Pakistan. She is also a student in the United States. I met Madiha when she traveled with the CodePink Peace Delegation in Pakistan, of which I was a member. Madiha is a dedicated researcher on the issue of U.S. Drone strikes in the Tribal Regions of Pakistan and the local national and international political context in which these attacks occur. She is currently working on a documentary called “Wounds of Waziristan“.
Paul Gottinger is a freelance journalist covering issues related to the Middle East, Asia, and South America. He is Editor of the White Rose Reader, a left Journal published in Madison, WI. Continue reading →
On May 23, President Obama gave a major address from the National Defense University, ON THE FUTURE OF OUR FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM, in which he acknowledged for the first time the US government’s still officially secret program of assassination by remotely controlled drones. I was able to watch this televised speech from the privileged vantage of a federal prison on the last day of a sentence resulting from my protest of drones lethally operated from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri over various countries around the world.
Over the previous six months in the Federal Prison Camp at Yankton, South Dakota, I had watched from afar as the discussion on drone warfare emerged from the fringe and into the mainstream. Fellow prisoners brought me clippings on the subject from their local newspapers and kept me apprised of what they heard on the evening news. The American people seemed to be just awakening to the reality and consequences of wars being fought and assassinations carried out by unmanned but heavily armed planes controlled by combatants sitting at computer screens at stateside bases far from the conflict. Continue reading →
Declare a moratorium on drone strikes: The head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is calling on jihadists to retaliate for US drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. The Yemeni group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), where the US says the threats are emanating from, is also calling for retaliation for drones strikes (there have been four strikes in Yemen since July 28). Drone strikes have become the number one recruiting tool for extremists. By grounding the drones, we will stop creating new enemies faster than we can kill them.
Close the US drone base in Saudi Arabia: One of the reasons Osama bin Laden said he hated the United States was that the US had military bases in the Holy Lands in Saudi Arabia. President Bush quietly closed those bases in 2003 but in 2010 President Obama secretly reopened a base there for launching drones into Yemen. It’s a national security threat ripe for blowback. So are many of the over 800 US bases peppered all over the world. We can save billions of taxpayer dollars, and make ourselves safer, by closing them.
Niagara Falls Air National Guard Base is in transition to become a Drone Base. Buffalo peace activist Charley Bowman did a whole lot of research and came up with a plan to use the base as a Solar Energy source instead. The result would be more, better jobs for te community, and more profit for the base. Since Niagara Falls is already a huge source of green electricity, the resources to manage the power are already in place.
Nick Mottern of KnowDrones interviewed Charley about the Base, and his Plan, and his activism.
Following six months in federal prison, Brian Terrell is back on the farm in Maloy, IA. Just after Thanksgiving, Terrell left the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm for a federal prison in Yankton, SD. Terrell, 56, was given the maximum six month sentence stemming from his conviction last September of trespass at Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base in a protest against U.S. drone policy.
Ironically, Terrell was released a day following Pres. Barack Obama’s speech in which the president defended his drone policies, including targeted assassinations of U.S. citizens. While he was disappointed in the president’s drone comments, Terrell said Obama’s speech is a positive sign that the controversial U.S. drone policy is now facing public scrutiny, forcing the president to defend his actions. Continue reading →