Mary Anne Grady Flores OOP Appeal

On October 11th, the appeal of Mary Anne Grady Flores conviction for violating her Order of Protection was argued before the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany by Attorney Lance Salisbury.    For those who are interested in better understanding the issues, I have posted a video of the press conference they held after leaving the courtroom below.  The court will return a decision within 60 days from October 11, when the appeal was heard.

Video by Heriberto Rodriguez

Among those present with Mary Anne  and Lance were Ed Kinane, Ann Tiffany, Julianne Oldfield, John Amidon, Kathy Manley, Kathy Kelly, Ellen Grady

Photos by Heriberto Rodriguez

Other articles related to Mary Anne Grady Flores conviction and her appeal:

PR: Mary Anne Grady Flores OOP Appeal

Grandma Drone Protester Appeal Scheduled

Amicus Brief for Mary Anne Grady Flores

Grandma Drone Resister Released on Stay

Grandma Drone Protester’s Second Jail Letter

Grandma Drone Resistor’s Letter from Jail

Grandma Drone Protester Begins 6 Month Sentence

Col. Ann Wright Addresses Col. Evans’ OOP

Press Release: MAGF Conviction Upheld on Appeal

I have even more history on the subject, but am still working on pulling from the archive.  If you want to see the full story beginning with the original action and trial, stay tuned.

 

 

 

 




PR: Mary Anne Grady Flores OOP Appeal

PRESS RELEASE: October 10th, 2017
Contact: Mary Anne Grady Flores 607-280-8797
Ed Kinane 315-478-4571
upstatedroneaction.org
knowdrones.com

Wednesday October 11th Grandma Drone Protester,
Mary Anne Grady Flores, Appeal to be heard by NYS Court of Appeal

2pm Ithaca, N.Y.  On Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, the long-awaited appeals case of Mary Anne Grady Flores, one of many grandma drone protesters at NYS Hancock MQ-9 Reaper Drone Base, will be heard by the N.Y.S. Court of Appeals, 20 Eagle Street, Albany, NY 12207. Depending on the verdict, Grady Flores, who has already served 56 days, may complete another 65 days in Jamesville, Onondaga County Jail, E. Syracuse. The NYS Court of Appeals, the highest court in NY State, with a panel of seven judges, will render a decision in one to six months.

Watch tomorrow-Wednesday, 20 minutes: 2:15-2:40 pm NYS Court of Appeals Live Stream.  At 3:15pm a press conference with Mary Anne’s attorney Lance Salisbury, drone activists Kathy Kelly, Ed Kinane, and others will be held in the park across from the court, posted live on Grady Flores Facebook page.
On Feb. 13th, 2013, Ash Wednesday, Ithaca Catholic Worker, Grady Flores took pictures of Catholic protesters from the road, unknowingly crossing what Hancock claims to be its boundary, “the double yellow line in the middle of the road.”  Where she stood in the road violated her “order of protection” (OOP) which was given to protesters by a local DeWitt Court judge on behalf of Colonel Evans to keep protesters away from the base. In an appeal the OOP of another drone protester had been ruled invalid by Onondaga County Judge Brunetti because the OOP didn’t delineate how close or far people had to be from the base.  Judge David S. Gideon sentenced Grady Flores to a year in jail to stop others protesters. Many, however, returned despite having an OOP.

Grady Flores’ appeal contends that an order of protections cannot be used on behalf of property. Normally OOPs are given on behalf of a victim or a witness. The use of a form of protective order developed to address domestic violence to deter protesters and chill speech raises important First Amendment issues in which NY Civil Liberties Union has taken an interest filing a friend of the court brief by NYC attorney Jonathan Wallace.

In Grady Flores’ 2014 sentencing she said, “Who is the real victim here? The commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of US drone attacks?” According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism Drone Warfare page, approximately 10,000 people have been killed by drones since 2001. October 6th and 7th were the 16th anniversary of both the beginning of the Afghan war and the first US drone strike, with drone attacks worsening during the Trump administration. More US bombs and missiles were dropped on Afghanistan in September than in any other month for nearly seven years, higher than any month since November 2010.

Drone warfare is a profitable enterprise for numerous military contractors, making fortunes off of the murder of defenseless people around the world. Hancock is the largest training and maintenance center for the US MQ-9 Reaper drone program. Extra judicial killings are executed by Air Force crews sitting in front of computer screens in the Syracuse base, killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a five-month period in 2015, up to 90% of drone assassination victims were civilians. The base shares facilities with civilian Syracuse International Airport.  Hancock Air National Guard Base has been the site of protests of the US killer drone program since 2010, resulting in over 200 arrests and numerous trials, appeals, numerous incarcerations some ending in acquittal.




Protesters Speak Out at Hancock (Video)

Hancock is a Reaper Drone hub on the US mainland which is focused on training drone pilots and technicians, and flies deadly Reaper drone missions over Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Hancock is scheduled to increase it’s personnel by half over the coming year.   Upstate Drone Action members have been engaging in civil resistance at Hancock since 2011.

On September 26th, activists delivered a People’s Indictment to the base and stood in the inbound lane of the main entrance to Hancock with signs and images of the ongoing holocaust caused by drone killing. After about an hour the activists were arrested and charged with Trespass and Disorderly Conduct.

Heriberto Rodriguez filmed the following series of interviews with activists at the base shortly before their arrests.




Gallery of Images from Hancock Resistance, 9/25/2017

Here is a gallery of images from “Rich Man’s War, Poor People’s Blood“, a civil resistance action by Upstate Drone Action at Hancock Air National Guard Base that resulted in 7 arrests on September 25, 2017.

Click on an image to see it enlarged in a frame.   The photographer’s name is highlighted on hover.   Right click on an image to see it full sized for download.   You can click through the framed images as a slideshow.




People’s Indictment (Update with video)

FOR WAR CRIMES PERPETRATED BY THE 174TH ATTACK WING
OF THE NEW YORK NATIONAL GUARD AT HANCOCK AIR FORCE BASE, SYRACUSE, NY

Video recorded by Charley Bowman of Buffalo, NY.   Speaking: Ed Kinane, Julianne Oldfield, Dan Burgevin.

Since 2010 the 174th Attack Wing, via satellite, has been remotely piloting weaponized MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan – perhaps the poorest and most vulnerable nation in the world. U.S. weaponized drones are also known to target people in Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere in the Islamic oil lands. Those who participate in these operations may believe they are fighting “terrorism”; in fact they are unwitting cogs in a war — on behalf of corporate profiteers — whose main instrument is terrorism.

The Reaper maims and kills untold numbers of human beings and terrorizes whole communities. Reaper aggression generates both internal and external refugees; generates hatred toward the U.S. (bolstering recruitment for hostile groups); heightens global insecurity as other state and non-state powers join the weaponized drones arm race; and, by blatantly violating such law, undermines both U.S. and international law.
U.S. drone killing violates due process and national sovereignty. It involves intentional, premeditated extrajudicial murder and the massacre of civilians.

These crimes violate Article VI of the United States Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges of every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of the U.S., including treaties made under authority of the U.S. shall be the supreme law of the land.

One such treaty, since 1945 the supreme law of the United States, is the United Nations Charter. The Charter’s Preamble states that its purpose is to “save future generations from the scourge of war “. It further states that “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.” This Treaty applies to federal, state and local branches of U.S. government as well as to law enforcement and to U.S. Armed Forces personnel – all of whom are sworn to uphold the Constitution.

Since 2010 Upstate Drone Action — impelled by our conscience – has sought to expose Hancock AFB war crimes and to awaken Hancock AFB personnel and their chain of command to their role in perpetrating these crimes. Today, as on many former occasions, we come to Hancock to renew that wake-up call.  People of Hancock: we urge you – we implore you — to stop the killing.

UPSTATE DRONE ACTION




PR: Rich Man’s War; Poor People’s Blood (Update with Video)

UpstateDroneAction.org
Livestream on Youtube by Other Voices, Other Choices

Rich Man’s War; Poor People’s Blood

7 Arrested at Hancock Reaper Drone Base with Giant Bloody Dollars

Monday, 25 September 2017 at 9 AM, 7 members of the grassroots group Upstate Drone Action once again were arrested as they delivered a citizen’s war crime indictment to the chain of command at Hancock Air Force Base. Upstate Drone Action also placed a huge dollar sign [$] dripping with “blood” in the main entrance way to the base. The six-foot high dollar sign dramatizes what the group believes determines the many overseas wars the Pentagon/CIA engages in: corporate greed.

Hancock AFB — on East Molloy Rd, town of DeWitt, County of Onondaga, State of New York, just north of Syracuse – hosts the 174th Attack [sic] Wing of the NY National Guard. The 174th is one of two Reaper drone Attack Wings in New York State. Piloted from Hancock, the MQ9 Reaper drone is an unmanned, satellite-directed assassin flown over Afghanistan. CIA also uses such airborne robots for its clandestine, illegal, lethal missions over Northwest Pakistan and other majority-Islamic nations and oil lands.

According to “LIVING UNDER DRONES: Death, Injury and Trauma to civilians from US Practices in Pakistan,” published by Stanford University and New York University Law Schools, such missions are responsible for the deaths of many hundreds of noncombatants, including women and children, in that region.


Short review of events with interviews by John Amidon

According to Julienne Oldfield,

The Hancock Reaper terrorizes whole communities, generating desperate refugees.

Mark Scibilia-Carver adds that

U.S. taxpayers fund this terrorism keeping the pot boiling and creating enormous ill will toward the United States – instead of funding health, education and infrastructure here.”

Today’s action at Hancock’s main gate is simply one episode in Upstate Drone Action’s persistent nonviolent campaign to expose Reaper drone war crime. Since 2010 there have been some 200 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock in about a dozen such street theater actions. These have resulted in extreme bails, maximum fines, Orders of Protection, and incarcerations…as well as some acquittals.

Those arrested: Ann Tiffany, Syracuse …. Dan Burgevin, Trumansburg, NY …. Ed Kinane, Syracuse …. Harry Murray, Rochester …. Julienne Oldfield, Syracuse …. Mark Scibilia-Carver, Trumansburg, NY …. Rae Kramer, Syracuse ….

They were charged with Disorderly Conduct and Trespass, and released with Arraignment tickets.

###




Ed Kinane Talks to David Swanson

Ed Kinane was featured on David Swanson’s Talk Nation Radio show this week.  It’s a great interview drawing on our local actions as well as Ed’s knowledge of the drone program and his compassion for the victims of US drone wars.

If you have half an hour to listen you can go to David’s page or if you would like just to listen here, use the player below:

 




Grandma Drone Protester Appeal Hearing Scheduled

Press Release

Ithaca, N.Y.  The long-awaited appeals case of Mary Anne Grady Flores, one of many Grandma drone protesters at Hancock MQ-9 Reaper Drone Base, will be heard by the panel of judges of the N.Y.S. Court of Appeals in Albany, on Oct. 11, 2017. Depending on the verdict, Grady Flores, who has already served 56 days, may have to complete 65 days in Jamesville, Onondaga County Jail, E. Syracuse.

On Feb. 13th, 2013, Ash Wednesday, Ithaca Catholic Worker Grady Flores took pictures of eight Catholic protesters from the roadway, unknowingly crossing what Hancock claims to be its boundary, “the double yellow line in the middle of the road.”  Where she stood in the roadway violated a domestic violence, stay away “order of protection” (OOP’s) given by local DeWitt Court on behalf of Colonel Earl A. Evans of the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard Base.  In another drone protester appeal the OOP had been ruled invalid by Onondaga County Judge Brunetti because the OOP didn’t delineate how close or far people had to be from the base. Grady Flores’ OOP’s was from a previous nonviolent witness at the base, Oct. 25, 2012.

Colonel Evans testified during her 2014 trial that he didn’t know Grady Flores or ever speak with her.  He said he, “That’s just a piece of paper. I just want the protesters away from my base.”  Judge David S. Gideon sentenced Grady Flores to a year in jail, unsuccessfully trying to stop 50 others, many who returned to protest despite having OOP’s.

Grady Flores’ appeal contends that you cannot take an order of protection out on behalf of property. Her appeal, written by Ithaca attorney Lance Salisbury, also argues that the order threatens her First Amendment protected right of free speech. NYC attorney Jonathan Wallace of the National Lawyers Guild has submitted an amicus brief in support of her case.

The eight Catholics photographed were protesting Hancock Killer Drones, atoning for the killing and maiming of child drone victims on that February Ash Wednesday. They were acquitted of their only charge, disorderly conduct, explaining their intent was to uphold law and sound the alarm of laws being violated by the base, such as extrajudicial killing, violation of drone victims’ right to due process, violation of sovereignty laws. They contended they were there to enforce law, not there to break law.

Hancock is the largest training and maintenance center for the US MQ-9 Reaper drone program. Extra judicial killings are executed by Air Force crews sitting in front of computer screens in the Syracuse base, killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a five-month period in 2015, up to 90% of drone assassination victims were civilians. The base shares facilities with civilian Syracuse International Airport.  Hancock Air National Guard Base has been the site of protests of the US killer drone program since 2010, resulting in about 200 arrests and numerous trials, appeals, numerous incarcerations some ending in acquittal.

###

Some Background Information:

Hancock Protester Mary Anne Grady Flores’ appeal will be heard in NYS Court of Appeals.     She was convicted of violating an order of protection by standing in the street in front of the base taking photographs.    The Ithaca office of Parole had submitted a pre-sentencing report that suggested Mary Anne should not be given jail time a she was not a threat to the commander or anyone else and jail time would severely impact her family and her job, but an irate judge Gideon sentenced her to a year in jail.

The OOP was requested by the Commander of Hancock Base at the time to keep known protesters from protesting at the base.   Mary Anne was not protesting that day.  She was doing press.   The people arrested for protesting that day were acquitted of their disorderly conduct charges by Judge Jokl who found there was no intent to cause harm.  In any case, should the base commander be able to use an ‘order of protection’ to secure the perimeter of the base property from unwanted information sharing?   Does this really constitute a personal threat to him, and if not, how is the order of protection legal? These are among the issues that need to be addressed by the court.

 




Another Forgotten Drone Victim

In Pakistan in October of 2012, my group of peace activists met Malik Jalal, who spoke to us about the effect of drones on his community in Waziristan and later accompanied our caravan up to Tank, a town on the edge of Waziristan, where we joined a lively anti-war rally.    I specifically remember Malik Jalal as a handsome man in the prime of life, accustomed to having authority.   He had a full beard and wore the garb of a Tribal leader, and spoke about the suffering of his people living under drones.  There was humor in his expression and I remember that he laughed and his eyes twinkled when members of our delegation told of being arrested for sitting outside a military base demanding an end to drone wars.    Only in response to a direct question did he talk about his own experience.   He said that he sometimes slept in the mountains so as not to put his family at risk.

Last summer, in 2016, saw a photo of a man visiting London to share his experience with living under drones and demand that the drones stop flying over Waziristan.   His name was Malik Jalal.    I thought I recognized the man I had met in Pakistan, but an organizer with my group dismissed the possibility out of hand.   I waited a little, then went to my photos and took out a photo to compare with the one in the British news article. **   I was then certain it was the same man.   He had aged, and his beard was shorter.   He was dressed in ordinary Afghan and Pakhtun garb rather than the robes of a Chieftain.   But it was the same Malik Jalal we had met in Pakistan.   It was sad, really, to see him so much aged in the few years since we had met him.

This week, when I was researching the story of Faisal bin Ali Jabar, I noticed an article on the Reprieve website about Malik Jalal.   They are the ones who hosted him in London last summer, and also hosted the CodePink Peace Delegation to meet Waziri Drone victims in Pakistan.     I think the headline I saw last summer was in the Guardian.   In any case, what interested me were the details of Malik Jalal’s story.   When we met him in Pakistan, he had primarily focused his remarks on the suffering of his people.   I imagine he did the same when he was in London.   However, the article on the Reprieve website described how he was targeted and stalked by US drones.   On repeated occasions, people were blown up by drone in proximity to Jalal’s path; a friend expecting him for  dinner, people at a meeting he was on his way to attend, a family member who was driving his car, and even a random car the same color as his own traveling down the road behind him.

Malik Jalal is not an Al Qaeda operative or member of the Taliban.   As a Malik, he is a tribal leader on the payroll of the Pakistani government.  He works as a moderator in resolving tribal disputes and is a senior member of the North Waziristan Peace Committee.    While carrying out his duties, he might occasionally attend a meeting with a Taliban member present.   They too belong to local tribes, and some hold positions of authority.   But there is no possible justification for stalking Malik Jalal to try to kill him, terrorizing his family and  killing a number of innocent people who were mistaken for him.  But Malik Jalal says that the reason he is being targeted is because he came forward and spoke out against the drone strikes on other members of his community.

In 2011, Reprieve called a Jirga with a lawyer named Shahzad Akbar to bring together the people of Waziristan who wished to end the drone killing in their towns and villages.   Another person who came forward to try to end the drone strikes in Waziristan, and they were many, was a teenage boy who offered to search for missile parts in the vicinity around his home town.   The Jirga (town hall meeting) must have been infiltrated by CIA agents because within a few days this 16 year old boy was incinerated by a drone strike while driving down the road with his 11 year old cousin.  Reprieve and Shahzad Akbar, however, have persevered in their efforts to end drone killing in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere, and they have continued to work with members of the community like Malik Jalal who are willing to come forward with information and to demand that the murderous drone strikes end.

Today, we don’t hear about this issue very often in the mainstream news.   The war in Afghanistan is going badly.   After hearing Malik Jalal’s story, this is not surprise.      It may be that there are less drone strikes in Pakistan this year, but although the drone strikes in Afghanistan are neither tracked or recorded, they are surely occurring at an accelerated pace.  If we are loosing there, perhaps we should look at other solutions than war.     There is no moral justification for the US war in Afghanistan and no moral or legal justification for bombing people in the tribal region of Pakistan,  a country which is not at war with us.   Code Pink invited Shahzad Akbar to come and speak in the US in 2013, but he was unable to get a visa.   The Afghan Peace Volunteers and their mentor, Hakim were invited a couple of years later, but also failed to receive visas.  These are all peace activists who can inform us about the damage done by US wars in their countries.

Drone wars have drifted out of our attention, but that is not an accident.   Since the early days of broad political resistance to the use of drones for targeted killing (execution of suspects) and surveillance, it is become more and more difficult to get specific information about drone strikes.   They are reported together with manned air strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.   But what they don’t tell us is that over time, drone strikes have become the majority of aerial attacks.   Drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan are not reported at all.   Google doesn’t bring in the news from foreign news outlets about local drone strikes the way it used to.   The news is disappearing before our eyes.

How can we support a peace that will allow a country like Afghanistan to reintegrate?   Malik Jalal’s story gives us some ideas.   The tribal councils can go a long ways towards restoring balance if they can be safely held.   Americans have a strongly negative understanding of tribes because they are the indigenous power structure in countries like Afghanistan that have been resistant to westernization.   But is westernization right for Afghanistan, or Pakistan?   Maybe not.  The United States works through militarization.   That is strong suit of U.S. foreign policy.   Therefore, the only tribal representatives who are empowered through U.S. intervention are violent warlords.   These same men are then brought together with westernized rulers to govern the country.

Malik Jalal and his ilk are grass roots leaders who come from the communities they govern and take personal responsibility for the welfare of the people.   Tribal leaders at this level actually do represent the people.   They can lead an independence movement that really is independent of foreign intervention.   These are the men who attend tribal councils and support the public welfare.   Warlords and western educated ideologues only have coercive relationships with the people.    Grass roots movements are dependent on the people on the ground and their local representatives, men like Malik Jalal.   Unfortunately, they cannot safely meet with US drones on the wing.   In 2011, a US drone strike in Waziristan killed 54 men at a tribal Jirga where they were meeting to discuss a local mine.

Men like Malik Jalal are deemed terrorists, threatened and targeted by drone strikes, and driven from their homes.   Why?   They represent the people and not the power structure the U.S. is attempting to impose on their countries.   This is true in many places.   Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Sadrist movement in Iraq are both engaged in the national political system as well as supporting powerful militias that are determined to protect their countries and their people.   So called ‘Signature’ strikes which target ‘suspicious’ gatherings make any kind of meeting or gathering dangerous.   People are isolated and alienated.    Grass roots governance is not the worst basis for the blasted tribal society of Afghanistan.  But, drones cause a barrier to that possibility.

I liked Malik Jalal so I wanted to tell you his story.   Unfortunately, though the Independent covered his visit in a respectful manner as did the Daily News,  but they along with some members of the U.S. press wonder why he is in London and has not been arrested.   Clarissa Ward,  a bold modern woman, a professional journalist, became a friend of Al Qaeda in Syria, willing to report from East Aleppo while it was still held by Ahrar Al Sham, Al Nusra and ISIS last fall, standing in an empty street dressed in a black dress with veil and hijab in a city where women were liberated from that requirement decades ago.

Under the Tabloid style headline: I’m on the U.S. Kill List Pakistani Elder Claims.  Clarissa Ward tells you that she doesn’t buy his claim.   Ms. Ward criticizes Malik Jalal as paranoid and a complainer.   She wonders how he could he have got a visa to the UK if he were on the U.S. ‘kill list’.   Malik Jalal didn’t jump on a plane to NY because he could never get a visa there, and men identified for targeted killing are routinely not arrested.  The idea is to avoid the complexity of a legal confrontation.   Dead men tell no tales.

Clarissa Ward is both arrogant and ignorant.   She doesn’t listen.  Clarissa Ward didn’t meet Malik Jalal near the beginning of his ordeal when he spoke to a group of foreign peace activists on behalf of his community without mentioning his own suffering.   Her world is firmly under control unlike the real world she pretends to unveil for her listeners.   Ms. Ward pretends.   That is her job.   Malik Jalal lives the nightmare the pretenders want to erase.   Jalal was brought to London by Reprieve, an organization that defends drone strike victims, Guantanamo prisoners and men on death row.   Reprieve is the real deal.  Malik Jalal represents the real people of Waziristan.

Jalal came to London for relief nearly 4 years after sharing his story, along with several other survivors of drone strike victims, with my delegation in Islamabad.   He he had come forward to a meeting arranged and facilitated by Shahzad Akbar to reach a broader audience.   We brought their stories back but it wasn’t enough to end the killing and was soon dropped by the ever busy news cycle.  Malik Jalal says that he fears to go home now.  He doesn’t want to die and he wants his family to be safe.   Imagine!  What if your friends and family members were regularly killed when they attempted to interact with you?  It was sad for me to see the man who so proudly represented his people 4 years before, now terrorized into leaving his country to seek relief.   It was heartbreaking to see his face lined with stress to the point where those who had met him with me did not recognize him, and so did not support him.

But this is, and has been from the start, the U.S. pretense of ‘a War on Terrorism’.    Peace loving leaders of  indigenous communities, men like Malik Jalal,  are threatened, stalked and then ridiculed.  Extremist murderers holed up in East Aleppo flying ISIS and Al Nusra (Al Qaeda) flags and shelling civilian housing and schools that happen to border their territory in West Aleppo are presented as noble ‘rebels’ and their defeat continues to be mourned by the U.S. mainstream media and some alternative venues, even as residents of liberated communities return home in the hundreds of thousands.    Clarissa Ward happily complied with the oppressive demands with regard to women’s dress asserted by a mostly foreign force controlling the area.   She presents this as adopting to a ‘Syrian’ cultural requirement.   Apparently she never took the time to research the common culture of Syria before the war began.

In Yemen, the drone strikes against AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) were gobbled up by a war against all the people of Yemen.  Now AQAP, a Saudi ally on the ground, controls vastly more territory in Yemen than before the war, while the United States gives unbounded support to the Saudi air war that is tearing the country apart.  They claim to be fighting AQAP with a deadly drone strike here and there, while they are all in supporting the Saudi war against Houthi ‘Shia terrorists’, an indigenous militia that is broadly popular movement in the north part of the country who are allied with the remnants of the Yemeni army.   The ‘internationally recognized’ government of Yemen that the Saudis and their allies claim to fight for is a joke; one man; a single, unpopular, temporary ‘president’ who refused to call an election when his term had ended, for some reason internationally recognized as the rightful ruler of Yemen.   The United States and the United Nations are ready to stand by while Yemen is subjected to a genocidal mix of famine and disease caused by U.S. assisted bombing of public infrastructure and a siege enabled by U.S. and western European ships in the Arab Sea blocking access to Yemeni ports.

We call Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Sadrists in Iraq ‘terrorists’ despite the fact that both organizations are deeply involved in the politics of their respective countries, both support secular governance despite the fact that they are movements lead by Shia clerics, and both groups have political alliances with movements backed by other religious organizations.  Muqtada al Sadr has met with the Kurdish government and with the respected Council of Sunni Scholars.   Hezbollah is allied with one of the Christian currents in Lebanon, supports the liberation of Palestine and has seen the danger of a regional wave of extremist violence.   Both Hezbollah and the Sadrists are popular grass roots organizations that grew out of civil wars initiated by western interventions.  Both  have powerful militias, but neither has fought beyond the mandate to protect their own country.  Yet the U.S. designates them as the most dangerous of terrorists in league with their sworn enemies in ISIS and Al Qaeda because Hezbollah is capable of defending Lebanon against Israel, and the Sadrists support a secular socialist government in Iraq.

Populist leaders and grass roots leaders are the ultimate enemy of American hegemony.   They operate below the radar when they are at their best.   They are trusted because they are men who come from the people and who have not forgotten their roots, and because they choose to support the welfare of the people above their own.  They can’t be bought and they don’t make good proxies for empire.

And so dear Malik Jalal, you have my highest respect wherever you are, in London or somewhere in Pakistan.   I pray that one day you will be able to go home and live in peace with your family.   And that all the victims of U.S. aggression and the violence of U.S. allies will be restored to your homes and your lives.   I bow to your suffering and to your dignity.   I raise your name so that you and the others like you will not be forgotten.

**

I went to look for a video recording I made of Malik Jalal in Pakistan in late 2012, but YouTube had removed (deleted) it from my account since the last time I looked – some time in the last few months.




Yemeni Drone Victim Sues US Government

Faisal bin Ali Jabar Sues Germany

Image from Common Dreams

In the spring of 2014, Faisal bin Ali Jabar sued the German Government for the drone killing of his brother-in-law and nephew in Yemen.   Jabar’s brother-in-law was an imam, and very much opposed to the program of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).   When some low level AQAP militants came to town and threatened people in his congregation, he decided to meet with them and attempt to convince them to leave his people alone.   He took along a young man who was a local policeman, Jabar’s nephew.    The suit brought out some information, including the fact that there is a repeater on the US Ramstein Base that was necessary for all US drone strikes in the Middle East and North Africa.

Essentially, there is a trunk line from the US Drone Base in Creech Nevada to Ramstein in Germany, where the signal is received and forwarded to the satellite which provides the data streams that direct the drones.    On this basis, Mr. Jabar sued the German government for the wrongful death of his relatives.   The last I remember hearing was that the case was turned down, but the judge encouraged the plaintiff to appeal.   The case brought a light on the treaty obligations that Germany has been under since World War II that require it to refrain from war making and the hypocrisy of the Americans who have a base there that is necessary to bring about the slaughter of thousands, the majority of them innocent civilians.

The case raised a discussion of these issues in Germany, and Americans were informed, and participated to support the German peace movement in pressuring the German government to push back against their American benefactors who have become parasitic in this context and who are placing Germany in a contradiction with its own laws and the laws of the European Union as well as the constraints placed on it by the United Nations since World War II.   You can read more about this campaign and the legal issues in Germany on the site, Action Reports.

Faisal Ali Bin Jabar came to the United States to testify before Congress a few months later about the human cost of Drone strikes in Yemen where both targeted strikes and so called ‘signature’ strikes against people whose behavior is suspicious were both common at the time.   The strike against his relatives was a ‘Signature’ strike.   The three militants they went to meet were under observation due to their ‘suspicious’ pattern of activity and it seemed a propitious time to strike when a couple of more men would be taken out as well.   After that I didn’t hear more about Mr. Jabar’s case.

Background of Interim Events: the Saudi War on Yemen

In the spring of 2015, Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen with assistance from the United States and the United Kingdom who have provided weapons, but also intelligence, guidance and in-air fueling for the US made jets Saudi pilots fly ever since.   Saudi Arabia formed a coalition with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Gulf states and called in markers from Pakistan and Egypt,   and hired mercenary foot soldiers from around the world to lay waste to the impoverished and embattled country of Yemen.    The United States has not only assisted the Saudi ‘coalition’ in making war on Yemen over the last 2 years, but provided political cover for them at the United Nations and assisted in maintaining a siege on Yemen that is killing more people than the bombing.

AQAP, the original US target of drone bombs, has been empowered by the war.   When the war began, the US withdrew its diplomatic staff from Sana’a, and it also withdrew the personnel from the a military base they were using there, which was immediately taken over by AQAP,  an ally of the Saudi coalition, who now control significant territory in Yemen.   Meanwhile, the US continues to bomb AQAP with drones and other means, which puts it in a rather contradictory position as it is both supporting the Saudi aggression in Yemen, and attacking one of it’s affiliates.

It’s not a surprise that Mr. Jabar’s case has fallen off the radar.   From the very beginning of the war in early 2015, the Saudi coalition has bombed schools and hospitals, water purification plants and power plants, factories and farms and people’s homes.   The civilian infrastructure of the country is in ruins.    Civilians are starving to death and a cholera epidemic is raging.   Children are dying in significant numbers.   The statistics of injury and death are deeply underestimated.    Saada, the Houthi capital in the north of Yemen has been leveled, along with numerous towns and villages.

We keep hearing that Yemen is on the brink of faming.   But it certainly appears that Yemen crossed that brink more than a year ago.   They are talking about 10,000 civilians dead from the war right now, but a Yemeni student in the US quoted in today’s Moon of Alabama blog says that since early 2015, more people have died from hunger and disease in Yemen than from the war. Of course, those people also died from the war.    In Key Facts About the Yemen War, published in June of 2016, Al Jazeera reported that

Both sides have been accused of killing civilians: the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has estimated that Saudi-led coalition air strikes caused almost two-thirds of reported civilian deaths.

And then, of course, you have the mercenaries on the ground and the siege.   According to the article in Al Jazeera, there were 2,800 civilian deaths reported in Yemen in January of 2016, and 8,000 total.   If air strikes are the main killer, the proportion seems off.   There are lots of militias fighting in Yemen, but all the members were civilians when the war started, who were moved to act by the ongoing violence.   The Houthis were a force of a couple of thousand camped out in Sana’a, demonstrating against the government.

Faisal bin Ali Jabar Sues the US for Wrongful Death of his Family Members

Car involved in Drone Strike on Jabar’s relatives

So, I was surprised last week when I received a newsletter from Reprieve stating that Mr. Jabar’s Appeal of his wrongful death case against the US Government was heard last December.     Kathleen McLellan and Jesselynn Radack filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of whistle blowers Brandon Bryant, Lisa Ling and Cian Westmoreland, all involved in the Drone program prior to their leaving the military.  Apparently, the original lawsuit was adjudicated in 2015.   I found an article in the Guardian, but nothing in the US press on the subject.   Of course, nearly two years have passed and much has changed.   The Guardian focused on the human element: Yemeni man denied apology from US for drone strike that killed his family.  Jabar actually offered to drop if suit if President US President and Top Drone Barak Obama would offer condolences as he has to western victims of drone strikes.   This of course was not going to happen.

So, it turns out that the reason I heard about Mr. Jabar’s Appeal just now is that the case was heard in December of 2016, but the decision was presented in July of 2017.    The Judges who heard the appeal upheld the original court decision.   The decision was that the judiciary does not have the authority or the expertise to contradict a decision by the Executive with regard to war and peace.   So, in matters of ‘war and peace’, ‘checks and balances’ do not apply.   Therefore, despite the fact that all were sympathetic with the complainant and recognized the merit of the case itself, the court declined to decide it.

*** Court Documents

And so, this critical case was not only dismissed on questionable grounds, but it has been lost in the fog of an escalating war on a country that is no threat whatsoever to the United States or Saudi Arabia for that matter, a poor country whose people have been struggling for security, independence and some kind of democratic governance for decades.