Drone Pilots Open Letter, Telling the Truth

Drone Pilots’ Open Letter to President Obama, Ash Carter and John Brennan

To:

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Secretary Ashton B. Carter
Department of Defense

Director John O. Brennan
Central Intelligence Agency

November 18, 2015

Dear President Obama, Secretary Carter and Director Brennan:

We are former Air Force service members. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.

When the guilt of our roles in facilitating this systematic loss of innocent life became too much, all of us succumbed to PTSD. We were cut loose by the same government we gave so much to ­­ sent out in the world without adequate medical care, reliable public health services, or necessary benefits. Some of us are now homeless. Others of us barely make it.

We witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our country’s leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program. We cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the attacks in Paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has overseas and at home. Such silence would violate the very oaths we took to support and defend the Constitution.

We request that you consider our perspective, though perhaps that request is in vain given the unprecedented prosecution of truth­tellers who came before us like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. For the sake of this country, we hope it is otherwise.

Sincerely,

Brandon Bryant
Staff Sergeant
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator
SERE Instructor Trainee
USAF Joint Special Operations Command
3rd Special Operations Squadron
Disabled Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran
Founder of Project RED HAND

Cian Westmoreland
Senior Airman
RF Transmissions Systems
USAF CENTCOM
73rd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron
Disabled Afghanistan Veteran
Project RED HAND‘s Sustainable
Technology Director

Stephen Lewis
Senior Airman
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator
USAF Joint Special Operations Command
3rd Special Operations Squadron
Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran

Michael Haas
Senior Airman
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator Instructor
USAF Air Combat Command
15th Reconnaissance Squadron
Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran




Col Ann Wright Addresses Col. Evans’ OOP

Colonel Ann Wright’s Statement 1-19-16

As Grandmother Mary Ann Grady Flores is taken to jail today for violating an “Order of Protection” requested by the Commander of the U.S. National Guard Hancock Drone base, Syracuse, NY, I, as a retired U.S. Army Colonel with 29 years in the US military find it quite embarrassing and ludicrous that a U.S. military commander decided that his personal security so threatened by peaceful, non-violent protesters of the drone policies of the United States that he applied for an “Order of Protection” from the courts—and that the courts issued the “Order” without any evidence that any protester had ever even seen the Commander, much less constituted a threat to him.

I would have expected a U.S. military commander to have had the courage to meet with the group of concerned citizens rather than obtaining a cowardly “Order of Protection.” Had I been the commander, I certainly would have met with the citizens and would never have contemplated getting an “Order of Protection.

I have just returned from South Korea and Okinawa where citizen protesters daily block gates to military bases where highly contentious runways and ports are being built.  Each day police remove non-violent protesters from the gates, but they have never been prohibited from exercising their rights to protest, a right that is under siege by the military and the courts in Syracuse, New York.

As further evidence of how contorted the law enforcement and judicial process in the U.S. is about protests, while armed, white militia hold a federal wildlife reserve in Oregon in protest of the government having too much land and are not even arrested, Mary Ann Grady Flores, a peaceful grandmother who stepped on a double line and therefore violated an “Order of Protection” is going to jail for six months.

The actions by the U.S. military at Hancock drone base and the town courts of DeWitt, New York are blatant measures taken unconstitutionally to silence dissent against the assassin drone weapons policy and intimidate protesters.  They both should be ashamed.

 

Ann Wright

US Army Colonel (retired)

 




Peace Not War

Peace is the Way

Guest post by Rob Mulford, cross-posted from the News-Miner Community Perspective
The Daily News Miner of Interior Alaska, Jan 3, 2016

Editor’s note: Some of us met Rob in Pakistan where we both participated in a peace delegation which took us into Waziristan and gave us an opportunity to talk to people from different segments of society in Pakistan. Rob has been watching the growth of the drone program in Alaska, and his initiative to infiltrate the planning has resulted in an inside perspective on the overweening hubris behind US militarism and the imperialist drive to rule the world.

What our Leaders are Saying

On Nov. 15, the News-Miner quoted Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan as well as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the recent “terror” attacks in Paris.

“The truth is… they hate us for who we are, what we stand for. Democracy, religious freedom, tolerance, equality… What we need to do is … take the fight to them, so they don’t show up on our shores.” – Senator Dan Sullivan

“The desire of radical Islam to attack our nation remains ever so present. This is not the time to reduce investment in our national security, whether abroad or here in the homeland.” – Senator Lisa Murkowski

“This election is not only about electing a president, it’s about choosing our next commander in chief. All the other issues we want to deal with depend on us being secure and strong. We are at war with violent extremism.” – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

An Inside View of the Military Planners

Hellfire missileIn December 2011, I attended the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA) Special Operations Summit in Tampa, Florida, a yearly event held for the military, private contractors and government agencies involved intelligence and special operations. I did this surreptitiously as a control systems integrator. The conference forbade members of the press from attending, and we were assured that no one was recording the sessions so the attendees were free to openly discuss their clandestine programs.

One of the presentations, covering the technology end of the summit’s focus, Human Geography, included PowerPoint slides depicting automated models of human communities. These models look somewhat like organic molecules. I learned that individual atoms in the models represent actual individual human beings, although dehumanized by reclassification as agents. Clusters of atoms represented actual groups of human beings such as villages, tribes, families, professional associations, businesses and religious groups. Each agent and cluster had associated with it data, both historical and dynamic, of that particular object’s cultural, religious, economic, political and military characteristics. The interconnecting lines represented interrelationships between the various objects. Near real-time dynamic data driving these models was supplied by: “human intelligence” like that gathered by Human Terrain Systems field teams; signals intelligence coming from sources like the monitoring of cell phone traffic and drone sensors.

This technology, known as Dynamic Network Analysis, is one of the instruments used to generate drone targets. The people that do this they call “human geographers” and “targeters.” I receive several help-wanted ads every week from companies looking to fill these positions.

During the session’s discussion period, one of the special operators said the term “high value target” is generally misconceived to mean a leader of a terrorist cell or someone responsible for acts of terror. He said, “If we take out a leader, they just replace him in short order.” He explained they found it much more useful to use the models to find inter tribal and inter familial connections, like those made by marriage. He said when we take out one of these connections, it disrupts their network (i.e. inter-tribal and inter-familial relations) and has more tactical value. He explained that they were using this method presently to target the Haqqani (tribal) network in Pakistan.

Meeting the Victims

In the fall of 2012, I had the honor and privilege to be a member of a Code Pink peace delegation, invited to Pakistan by Pakistani human rights attorney Shahzad Akbar, to witness the devastation caused by U.S. drone warfare there.

One of the highlights of our visit was an 11-hour caravan to Waziristan. En route we stopped at many villages were we were greeted by crowds of Pakistanis, most in their youth, returning our peace sign salutes in kind. When we reached Dera Ismail Khan, in Pakistan’s Federally Administrated Tribal Area it was glowing in the moonlight. Once again crowds of youth lined the street. I placed my hands on the window of the bus. A Pakistani placed his opposite mine. Soon the bus was rocking from others on the bus and in the crowd sharing this loving expression. The next morning we joined thousands of Pakistanis on a farm near the village of Tank chanting, “We want peace”. My tears welled.

If we symptomatically diagnose “their” reaction to “their” pain, how can we in all honestly claim, “They hate us for who we are”, if our actions toward “them” have indeed been guided by, “Democracy, religious freedom, tolerance, equality”? To do so defies logic as well as common decency.

Peace Not War

US “investment” in military solutions from 2001 to the present total more than $8.7 trillion. The world is no less broken today. If your car were malfunctioning, how long would you go on paying a mechanic to beat it with a sledgehammer, 14 years plus? The world “invested” more than 75 million lives in World War II. That’s the equivalent to 40,000 violent deaths per day for five years. Do we really want to go there again? Are these, in themselves, not examples of violent extremism?

I believe that we can do very well without a commander in chief. After all, the Department of Defense is no older than I am. We cannot, however, even begin to address those issues that we need to deal with, like global climate change, while we remain on this deathly path. Let’s begin forging swords into ploughshares by demilitarizing our local economy. As the ever spiritually mindful A. J. Muste said, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

Rob Mulford is an Interior resident and peace activist.




Press Release: MAGF OOP Conviction Upheld on Appeal

Jan. 13, 2016
PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release

Grandma Drone Protester Remanded to Jail for 6 Months

Mary Anne Grady Flores to be taken into custody Tuesday, January 19

Ithaca, NY. On January 12, the National Day of Action to Stop Killer Drones, grandmother and drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores learned that she is to go back to jail for six months starting Tuesday, January 19. She is to report to the Dewitt Town Court (5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY) at 5pm to be remanded to Jamesville Correctional Facility, East Syracuse NY.

Mary Anne had been out on appeal of a lower court convicting her of violating an order of protection. It had been given on behalf of Col. Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (in Syracuse, NY), to “protect” him from nonviolent anti-drone activists. She had been charged with violating the order while taking pictures of eight Catholics protesting the US drone assassination program at Hancock on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Onondaga County Court Judge Miller upheld the lower court conviction. Of note is that all eight Catholic drone resisters were acquitted because they went to uphold law, not break it.

Orders of protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, have been used by the Court and the Base in an attempt to deter protest and suppress free speech. Judge Miller also upheld a lower court ruling on the Hancock 17, seventeen nonviolent drone resisters given orders of protection, jail time, and fines.

Mary Anne, a grandmother of three, has been a part of The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, resisting the drone assassination program since 2011. According to leaked military documents called the Drone Papers sent to the Intercept, 90% of drone assassinations target and kill civilians, including children. On the National Day of Action, drone resisters were arrested at Creech Air Force Base (Nevada), Beale AFB (California), and Volk AFB (Wisconsin), and Ramstein AFB, Germany and in Pakistan, all a part of the worldwide resistance to drones.

Mary Anne received the verdict and sentence by mail, even though she was originally told to appear in County Court on January 22 to hear the court’s decision. This may have been an attempt to prevent a full courtroom and press with cameras from attending, as occurred at the time of her original sentence.

www.upstatedroneaction.org

Press Release
Documentation

###




Minnie Bruce Pratt on Drones and Our Work

SU Professor, Minnie Bruce Pratt, on Drones and our work at Hancock Base, originally published in Workers World.

Minnie recently spoke to Ed Kinane about her articles, so I thought it would be nice to draw attention to them here in our blog.

http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/10/25/brave-new-resister-explodes-secret-u-s-drone-kills/

Spanish translation:   http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/10/27/resistente-expone-asesinatos-por-drones-eua/

http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/10/18/undrone-upstate-walk-opposes-u-s-wars/

http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/08/22/jury-acquits-anti-drone-protester/

http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/05/02/anti-drone-events-central-new-york/

http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/03/23/protests-decry-12-years-of-u-s-wars-abroad/

http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/10/09/anti-drone-protest-stop-u-s-wars/

http://www.workers.org/articles/2013/05/19/drone-base-picketed/




Press Release: Drone Protesters’ Charges Dismissed

16 December 2015                                                                              contact: Ed Kinane, 315) 478-4571 home
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                info: www.upstatedroneaction.org

ANTI-REAPER DRONE PROTESTERS’
  CHARGES DISMISSED IN DEWITT TOWN COURT

This afternoon, December 16, town of DeWitt (NY) judge Robert Jokl dismissed the charges against the five anti-Reaper drone protesters arrested on September 21, 2015. The protesters had blocked the main entrance of Hancock Air Force Base near Syracuse with three long one-word banners reading DRONES  KILL  CHILDREN.

Hancock is the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard.
The five Central New Yorkers  are from Syracuse and Ithaca, and are each active in the Upstate Drone Action Coalition.

That Coalition alleges that the 174th Attack Wing commits ongoing war crime for its weaponized Reaper drone missions over Afghanistan. The robotic unmanned Reapers operated by remote control notoriously kill many civilians both within and beyond war zones through the Middle East and West Asia.

Pro bono attorney Jonathan Wallace argued before Judge Jokl  that the prosecution’s paperwork was woefully inadequate. That the prosecutor failed to even appear in court probably did not help his case.

The five – along with many others — have each been arrested and incarcerated for previous nonviolent anti-drone protests at Hancock:

  • Dan Burgevin
  • Ed Kinane
  • Bonny Mahoney
  • Julienne Oldfield
  • James Ricks.

Since 2010 scores of Upstate Drone Action members have been arrested for their nonviolent rotests at Hancock.

###




Undrone Upstate Walk 2015 – Gallery

Click an image to view a slideshow.




Medea Benjamin Speaks at Hallwalls

Undrone Upstate Walkers Rally at Niagara Fall Air National Guard Base With Medea Benjamin, then head into Buffalo to hear her speak.

A rapper named Alex started off the show with some great music. Then Russell Brown of the Undrone Upstate Walk ers spoke, followed by Medea. I made the audio recording of their presentations which follows. There will eventually be a video, but if you just want to hear what was said, listen to the recordings below.


Alex calls for Peace.   He did a song before this, but I missed most of it while fiddling with my phone to get it set up.

Russell Talks about Undrone Upstate

Medea Benjamin's Talk 



Drones, Black Lives Matter, the European Refugee Crisis

Drones, Black Lives Matter, the European Refugee Crisis:
What do They Have in Common?

Panel discussion at Nazareth College in Rochester with walker Russell Brown, Professor Harry Murray and Yaqub Shabbaz, a social sciences student and community organizer from Chicago.   Below is an audio recording of this fascinating conversation.   I have broken out the introduction, each individual speaker and the following discussion for convenient listening.

Introductory Remarks by Harry Murray:

Yaqub Shabbaz speaks about Black Lives Matter:

Russell Brown speaks about Drones and the Undrone Upstate Walk:

Harry Murray speaks to the EU refugee problem and ties the issues together:

Discussion:




Press Release: Hancock Drone Base Gates Closed, Drones Kill Children

PRESS RELEASE

Date: September 21, 2015
Contacts: John Amidon: 518-312-6442
Ellen Grady: 607-279-8303

Drones Kill Children
Hancock Drone Base Gates Closed

   FIVE ARRESTED HOLDING HUGE “DRONES KILL CHILDREN” BANNERS          

            ACROSS HANCOCK REAPER DRONE BASE MAIN ENTRANCE

This morning, September 21, the U.N.-designated World Day of Peace, five members of the grassroots human rights coalition, Upstate (NY) Drone Action [upstatedroneaction.org], were arrested as they held aloft three large banners together spanning the Hancock’s main entrance and exit driveways.

Hancock is on East Molloy Road in the town of DeWitt just north of Syracuse, NY. It hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard, home of the “hunter/killer” [the Pentagon’s phrase] MQ9 Reaper drone.

Reapers are unmanned robotic assassins flying missions 24/7 over Afghanistan and other Islamic nations.

One of those arrested noted,

“The Reaper not only kills and maims humans, it destroys homes, and displaces and terrorizes whole communities. U.S. taxpayers pay for such terrorism which perpetuates violence and generates enormous ill will against the United States.”

Today’s event at Hancock’s main gate is only one incident there in Upstate Drone Action’s persistent nonviolent campaign to expose the Hancock war crime. Since 2010 there have been over 165 anti-war-crime arrests at the base, resulting in extreme bails, maximum fines, incarcerations, and Orders of Protection…as well as some acquittals.

Those arrested: Bonny Mahoney, Ed Kinane & Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse and Dan Burgevin and James Ricks of Ithaca. All were detained but released by Onondaga County Sheriffs around noon with appearance tickets charging them with trespass and disorderly conduct. Their court date is 6 p.m., October 14, in the DeWitt (NY) Town Court.

###

DRONES KILL CHILDREN – DRONES FLY, CHILDREN DIE

The United Nations General Assembly has declared today, September 21, 2015, as International World Day of Peace. As we stand here at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, its “hunter/killer” MQ9 Reaper Drone arrogantly patrols Afghan skies 24/7—killing innocent children there and likely elsewhere.

We, US citizens and taxpayers, look on with horror at the millions of refugees fleeing airborne terror and are shamed by our unconsented complicity. Too many drone victims are precious and beloved children. We bring their images and their silenced voices to Hancock today.

As members of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition/To Ground the Drones and End the Wars, we come to this War Base—home of the Reaper and the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard—seeking to prevent the murder of these innocents, both on this day and for all days.

Our intent is to uphold law, both domestic and international.
Our intent is to bring the images of their victims both to the Hancock chain of command and to the US public.

Specifically, our intent is to day NO to the maiming, murder and terrorizing of children.

Since 2010, this grassroots Coalition has sought to expose state-sponsored drone war crime. This crime is multi-layered. It includes extrajudicial execution/assassination, contempt for due process, the undermining of international law and national sovereignty, the murder of the undeniably innocent—both within and beyond any recognized zone of war.

Unjustified on any level, save “might makes right,” such terrorism prepares fertile ground for perpetual conflict. This criminality benefits few besides war-profiteering corporations.

To the extent that WE, THE PEOPLE ignore our laws and our Constitution—allowing our government to kill whomever it wants, wherever it wants, however it wants—we make the world less safe for children here and everywhere. We demand that the Hancock chain of command and the Unites states STOP THE KILLING!

Upstate Drone Action Coalition/
To Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Town of Dewitt, New York
21 September 2015

For more information on the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the wars can be found at http://upstatedroneaction.org/.

Coverage in Syracuse Post Standard: http://www.syracuse.com/crime/index.ssf/2015/09/five_anti-drone_protesters_arrested_at_hancock_airfield.html