NYU Students Harrased for Opposing Drone Murder

To our classmates and Members of the NYU Community:

Below, please find our response to recent events at NYU Law concerning student organizing around and support for the Statement of No Confidence in Harold Koh.

***

“We do not kill our cattle the way the US is killing humans in Waziristan with drones.” –Rafiq ur Rehman 

In the fall of 2013, Rafiq ur Rehman traveled with his 13-year-old son, Zubair, and 9-year-old daughter, Nabila, from their small village in North Waziristan to Capitol Hill. Their purpose in making this long and painful trek was simple: to appeal to the hearts of U.S. lawmakers by sharing stories of the carnage wrought upon their community and upon their family by U.S. drone strikes. In 2012, a U.S. drone strike had killed Rafiq’s elderly mother and severely wounded two of his young children.

Only five members of Congress showed up.

The suffering of thousands of individuals like Rafiq, Zubair, and Nabila, moved a few of us to author a Statement of No Confidence in Harold H. Koh. The Statement is fairly simple. It argues that due to Mr. Koh’s role as a key legal architect of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program, a program that violates International Human Rights Law, the Law School should not have hired him to teach that particular body of law. The petition extensively documents the factual basis for our position—and echoes the concerns of other students, academics, and human rights activists.

The gravity of targeted killings via drones and the factual basis upon which we built our petition warranted this expression of disaffection. Academic institutions, after all, are supposed to be places for honest and critical debates. At times, we have known NYU Law to be such a place—that is, a setting where compassionate and thoughtful people confront, rather than dismiss uncomfortable facts.

While we welcomed disagreement with the petition, we never fathomed that some faculty and administrators would, intentionally or not, work hard to quash our expression of dissent and intimidate numerous students. Professor Ryan Goodman, for instance, emailed every individual signatory of the petition, including some of his own students and advisees, and urged them to withdraw their support for the Statement. Withdrawal, he stated, “will reflect well on us as a community.” Due to the power imbalances between students and faculty, we find his request inappropriate.

Stephen Bright, meanwhile, a Yale Law professor and known anti-death penalty lawyer, sent a disparaging email to his former intern, an organizer of the petition and an aspiring anti-death penalty lawyer, following repeated phone calls. He asked her whether she didn’t have better things to do with her time, and later claimed that the petition arose out of ignorance and inexperience. Concerning our corporate colleagues who signed the petition, Mr. Bright asked, “Does someone who is going to a firm to make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year representing corporations [have] any position to express a lack of confidence in Harold Koh?” Finally, another student was told that s/he was not welcome at Human Rights First for an internship since the organization held Harold Koh in high regard and was aware of the student’s signature on the petition.[1]

Rather than a trial of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program, and the distortion of Human Rights Law that it represents, what we have seen unfolding over the past few weeks is the trial of students, mostly women and students of color, who have been dismissed as “naïve” and maligned as “smearers.” There has been no acknowledgement of the concern for human life that prompted the petition, or any acknowledgement that the more than 260 supporters of the students’ Statement include lawyers, students, scholars and pacifists from all over the globe.

Figuring prominently in this trial is Dean Trevor Morrison, who preemptively announced his verdict prior to meeting with the authors of the recent CoLR Statement: “[allegations of intimidation] are unfounded.” Ironically, the Dean himself, in his first-year constitutional law class, had described the petition as “smear,” “wholly inaccurate” and, once again, urged students to withhold support.  Two of his students did, in fact, withdraw their signatures from the petition despite privately expressing agreement with its merits.

Soon after, the Dean initiated a meeting with the organizers of the petition, ostensibly for the purpose of making our upcoming event “productive.” In the process, he called our public letters “vitriol unseen in the law school” and accused us of “inflicting wounds that will not heal.” His words, uttered to three students of color, two of whom are of South Asian descent, revealed a painful truth: the wounds inflicted upon the egos of the powerful are recognized and defended, while the wounds of Rafiq, Zubair, Nabila and thousands of unnamed others fail to register—not in our university discourse or in the government’s civilian casualty count. This, more than anything else, illustrates what this petition aims to counter and why it is so important.

For all that has been said by some members of the faculty and administration, we have been saddened by the silences prevailing in their responses. None of the thousands of people assassinated by U.S. drones are mentioned—not once. There has been no questioning of the “Drone War’s” legitimacy or meaningful engagement with our concern that Mr. Koh did in fact provide the legal rationale and cover for this program. There has been no reflection upon the relationship between state-sponsored violence abroad and state-sponsored violence here at home, in places like Ferguson, North Charleston, and New York. And there has been little concern with human rights becoming a field that legitimizes U.S. global hegemony by masking its questionable interference in the social and political structures of other nations.

Indeed, the silences do not stop there. Neither the facts nor the sources that we extensively cite and upon which we base our critique, were genuinely examined. Rather, they were largely dismissed.  Meanwhile, we have been accused of leveling attacks that are not “evidence-based” and of launching nothing more than a “smear” campaign.  We wonder: if we have gotten the facts wrong about Mr. Koh’s well-documented role in shaping and defending the U.S. government’s targeted killing program, why haven’t the true facts surfaced? Why are we asked to blindly take the word of his friends, who speak of past actions that have no bearing on his role in this particular violation?

We have sought to understand the troubling responses that we have received from some faculty and administrators. It occurs to us that those in government who defend drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now the Philippines, or who justify wars whether in Iraq or Libya, expect to waltz comfortably through the revolving door from government back into the academy, while demanding silence concerning these crimes.

We desire to break these silences in order to demand accountability and to express our outrage with the devaluation of human life that the U.S. extrajudicial killing program reflects.

The Undersigned,
Aman Singh
Lisa Sangoi
Amanda Bass
Dami Obaro
Saif Ansari
Jon Laks

________

[1] For these reasons, the NYU Law student signatories are temporarily unavailable for public viewing.




Drone Pilots, Please Don’t Fly

Nick Motten of Knowdrones.com has created a video ad to run on TV that calls out to drone pilots asking them to stop flying. The ad is quite graphic and emotionally demanding. It has stirred up some controversy and interest in areas where it has been shown so far.

Here is the Ad:

Airing ads is a very expensive business.  But, Nick has been getting great responses to the ads when he has aired them.   What follows is a report from his website, KnowDrones.com

You can support this effort through the GoFundMe Page

We need your help to continue an extraordinary campaign that uses a 15-second television commercial to show the UNCENSORED TRUTH about drone murder to hundreds of thousands, or more, U.S. television viewers!

We are now entering the second phase of this advertising campaign, and we are asking you to please contribute toward a total of $8,000 that will be needed, minimally, to run the TV ad in areas surrounding drone control centers at Hancock Air National Guard Base outside Syracuse, NY; Niagara Falls Air National Guard Base; Whiteman AFB near Knob Noster, MO; and Cannon AFB near Clovis, NM.

The campaign is being coordinated with local cable companies and networks by Information in the Public Interest, an activist social justice ad agency that produces issue-advertising for only progressive peace, environmental and social justice causes, operated by Cres Vellucci, a member of Veterans for Peace and other anti-war groups. Contributions are not tax deductible because the agency does political work.  All the money collected goes directly to buying airtime for the commercials.  $25 may buy a spot on CNN, $50 a spot on MSNBC (depending on the rates in local areas).

Please contribute whatever you can, and circulate this appeal far and wide.

Thank you for considering this request.

In solidarity,

Nick Mottern, http://www.knowdrones.com/
Cres Vellucci, Vets for Peace and Information in the Public Interest

So Far: 

On February 27, this first-ever TV commercial began a week-long run on various cable channels in Las Vegas, NV, including CNN and MSNBC, showing viewers living near the Creech AFB drone control center what they probably have never seen before – children killed and mutilated by U.S. drones.  It’s graphic but necessary.

On Mar 31, the same commercial began a month’s run on CNN, MSNBC and even FoxNews in and around Beale AFB outside Sacramento, CA, a base critical to supporting U.S. killer drone operations.

We consider these showings to be a remarkable achievement because until now the images of those killed and injured by U.S. drones have been kept off of American television screens.

In addition to showing drone victims, the voice-over on the ad says: “Drone pilots, please refuse to fly.”

There is growing news coverage about the commercials.  Here is a link to an article in the Sacramento Bee, the major paper in northern California and part of the McClatchy Company news chain: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article17894003.html

This resulted in this article in Air Force Times, which will be read by many Air Force people and their families around the world:

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2015/04/09/commercials-against-drone-strikes/25532163/

Vice News followed with this report: https://news.vice.com/article/graphic-new-veteran-sponsored-ads-are-asking-drone-pilots-not-to-fly

Here is a link to an RT report also resulting from the showing of the ad near Beale: http://youtu.be/GTdlqqdrZ1U

And this is a report on KFBK, a radio station with a wide reach in northern California: http://www.kfbk.com/articles/kfbk-news-461777/new-tv-ads-take-aim-at-13461862/

The Guardian published this piece:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/01/anti-drone-television-ad-us-air-force-bases-california-nevada

***  All video clips and footage in the advertisements come from the independent short documentary film, Wounds of Waziristan (www.woundsofwaziristan.com), directed by filmmaker and journalist, Madiha Tahir and co-produced by Messiah Rhodes and AJ Russo. The half-hour film features two survivors of drone attacks. One of them, Saddam, can be seen in the ad holding the photo of his dead niece. The documentary was released on Vice Motherboard as well as Democracy Now! marking the first time that Americans saw an extended portrayal of the consequences of drone attacks.

Here are links to additional coverage of this campaign.  Please note particularly David Swanson’s report that was critical in generating other coverage and which includes a list quotes addressing the illegality and immorality of drone war as well as a drone war fact sheet.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/ – search/david+swanson+refuse+to+fly/14c6e0f2c7d26fe6

http://m.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/anti-drone-protesters-arrested-creech-air-force-base

http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-03-05/peace/nv-protesters-american-drones-killing-children/a44947-1

 




My Five Days in “Pod A” at the Juneau County Jail

Guest Post by Bonnie Block

On April 1, 2015 a six person jury found me guilty of trespassing at the Volk Field Open House because I handed out leaflets with four questions about drone warfare in the parking lot of the Wisconsin National Guard Museum. National Guard personnel deemed that “propaganda” sight unseen. The result was my arrest, being charged with trespass, pretrial motions to greatly limit the evidence I could present to the jury and ultimately the trial. The fine was $232 but I felt I couldn’t in good conscience pay it.

So Judge Paul Curran sentenced me to serve five days in the county jail. After I was “booked in” and issued my orange jump suit and orange plastic clogs, I was escorted to Pod A where I became the 7th woman living in a two-story cinderblock room about 35 by 15 feet. The front half was common space with metal tables with stools or benches attached, a TV high the wall, a cabinet with the various request forms and some books & games or puzzles and two phones. The front wall was one-way glass so guards in the “bubble” could see in but we couldn’t see out.

The back half of the room was divided into two levels each of which had five bunk- beds and a bathroom with shower. There were seven narrow windows on each level but they were opaque so no one could see out. The TV was on from 8 am till 11 pm (or 12:30 am on weekends) as were bright florescent lights which were dimmed after “lockdown” but never turned off.

[NOTE: The Juneau County Jail was built in 2002 and its website describes the jail like this: “This modern Pod design allows Jail Deputies to restrict and control the movement of prisoners throughout the facility, while minimizing the staff needed to monitor and control the population. This layout places Pod’s or housing units around a centralized control center from which a single deputy can monitor all of the cells and each pod. The Control Deputy can control cell doors, lights, water, inmate’s communications and inmate movement. CCTV monitoring is conducted from the central control station as well.”]

I set my small storage box and bedding on Cot #2 as directed and the guard left slamming the metal door shut. I introduced myself to four of the women (the other two were napping) and told them why I was there. We talked a while and then I went to make my bed. One of the women came to help because the sheets were only about 2/3 the length of the blue plastic mat that served as a mattress, but if you knotted them together just right you could cover the whole pad.

A few hours later as I was working on a puzzle, I realized I was chilly because I only had a short sleeved shirt and no socks (my socks, bra, and turtleneck were the wrong color so they stayed in storage in the booking area). I went to put my towel around my neck like a shawl. Immediately there was a voice over the intercom: “Ladies, please inform the new person what the rules are.” The rules are that you cannot cover your neck or face. I put the towel back and rubbed my arms. Without a word one of the women went to her box and brought me a thermal long-sleeved shirt and another brought me a warm pair of socks — both regulation white. Thanks to their generosity I was comfortable for the rest of my stay.

As I listened to these women for the next few days I heard stories of being victimized or suffering abuse, of addiction to drugs, of homelessness, of illness, of needing dental care or surgery, of poverty and unemployment, and of more than a dozen children in foster care or cared for by relatives while their mothers were locked up. Five of the six women were there because they couldn’t make bail or were on a probation hold. Only one had already been tried and sentenced to one year in jail.

I entered the Jail voluntarily to make a public witness with support from family and friends and knowing I would get out in five days. They entered abruptly and now sit waiting weeks or months for a court date, or a visitor (allowed once a week) or till they could make a phone call ($1.50 a minute to a corporation called Securus which someone outside has to pay in advance and then accept the collect calls.) They waited for mail or finding a book that looked interesting, or for the Friday commissary pick-up (assuming someone had put money in their account.) And they walked—54 times around the common area was a mile and you counted it off with a deck of cards.

I’ve seen clients in various Wisconsin jails and prisons and I’ve visited fellow resisters in jail — but it’s very different to have metal doors clang shut and know that you’ve lost your freedom. I expected there to be regimentation and rules — but I had no idea of how frustrating and aggravating the guard’s collective punishment mindset would be. I knew I’d be locked up in a confined space — but didn’t understand what happens when you don’t know if it’s day or night and feel cut off from the natural world. I knew there would be little privacy and a lot of surveillance—but I didn’t know how dehumanizing that would feel.

In short, I have been one of the absurdly privileged people who has not had to face the punitive U.S. criminal justice system—just as I have not lived in countries beneath the Hellfire Missiles carried by U.S. drones that I’m working hard to stop. As I was writing this reflection a few days after I got out of jail, the daily e-mail from Campaign Nonviolence arrived and put both of these things into context.
“No one today can afford to be innocent, or to indulge themselves in ignorance of the nature of contemporary governments, politics and social orders. The national polities of the modern world are “states” which maintain their existence by deliberately fostered craving and fear: monstrous protection rackets.” [Gary Snyder, The Path of Compassion: Writings on Socially Engaged Buddhism, p. 83]

It is precisely our “craving and fear” which makes us wrongly believe we are protected from the “terrorists” by our government’s program of targeted assassination via drones. And it is precisely “a protection racket” which makes us think spending billions on jails and prisons is being “tough on crime” and that we’re safer if we lock people up in cells or Pods without adequate services or diversion programs and often before they’ve even been convicted of a crime.

Just as we can’t kill our way to peace and security, we can’t imprison our way to public safety and justice. Militarism and drone warfare are not the answer. Nor are jails the answer. Those who have created the current systems are not going to be the ones who fix it. That’s up to us as nonviolent, determined, and relentlessly persistent activists.

———————————

Bonnie’s description of her experiences will resonate with many of us who have spent a few days in the county lockup.    Five days in jail for distributing flyers opposing drone warfare.  Such is life in the land of the free.  The questions on Bonnies Leaflet should be shared widely:  Four Questions that Will help you Understand What Military Drones Do

Here is Bonnie’s note regarding publishing her description: I read the postings and rarely reply but this time I’m attaching my reflections about the five days I spent in the Juneau County Jail for refusing to pay the fine when I was found guilty of trespassing at Volk Field’s open house last May.  Fr. Jim Murphy and I were arrested for leafletting with four questions about drones.  The questions are also attached in a quarter page handout which the National Guard personnel declared was “propaganda” without even reading it.  





Press Release: Creech Peacewalk

Nevada Desert Experience Annual SACRED PEACE WALK 2015
to the NEVADA NATIONAL SECURITY SITE, YUCCA MOUNTAIN & CREECH AIR FORCE BASE
MARCH 28 TO APRIL 3

The Annual 65-Mile Peace Walk begins this Sunday, March 29, 8:30 AM, at the Atomic Testing Museum, 755 E Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV.

A Powerful, 65-Mile Walking Meditation across the Mojave Desert, in the name of Peace. Responding to renewed calls to resume testing of nuclear weapons and to store high level nuclear waste and increased usage of drone assassinations, all at government facilities in Nevada, local peace activists will be joined by others from around the United States, Europe and Japan, for the Nevada Desert Experience’s Sacred Peace Walk (S.P.W.).  Many of those walking are Buddhist Monks and Nuns from Japan, and are including the SPW as a leg of their own walk from San Francisco to the United Nations, in New York City, for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference taking place in May.

This 65-mile, annual pilgrimage to the Nevada National Security Site (formerly The Nevada Test Site/NTS) begins on March 28 with an orientation in Las Vegas. On March 29 (Palm Sunday) at 8:30 AM, the walkers will start their trek from the Atomic Testing Museum with a short program of prayer and song. By Tuesday evening, March 31, the walkers expect to be in Cactus Springs where they will be guests at the Temple of Goddess Spirituality. The next morning, April 1, the walkers will engage in a nonviolent protest at Creech Air Force Base. Later that day, they will join with members of the Western Shoshone Nation on the south side of Yucca Mountain to pray for the healing of the Earth. The SPW concludes on Good Friday as we greet the sunrise with the Western Shoshone, and then have a Good Friday liturgy and procession to the entrance to the Nevada Test Site later in the morning.

Contact
Brian Terrell (773) 853-1886
John Amidon: (518) 312-6442
Mary Lou Anderson (702) 572-7249 or Visit Us at: nevadadesertexperience.org




March 19 2015 Hancock Field Education

On March 19,  drone protesters brought some books to block the front gate at Hancock Air National Guard Base. The United Nations Charter, Living Under Drones, Dirty Wars and You Never Die Twice.    Here is a record of the event as it unfolded:

Video by Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center




8′ Giant Books Close Hancock Drone Base Gates

Action Educate Hancock: At 9:15 am on March 19, the 12th anniversary of the U.S.’ illegal invasion of Iraq, seven members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars shut the main gate of the Hancock Drone Base (near Syracuse, NY) with a giant copy of the UN Charter and three other giant books – Dirty Wars (Jeremy Scahill), Living Under Drones (NYU and Stanford Law Schools), and You Never Die Twice (Reprieve). 

The nonviolent activists also held a banner quoting Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, stating that every treaty signed becomes the supreme law of the land. They brought the books to Hancock to remind everyone at the base of the signed treaties that prohibit the killing of civilians and assassinations of human beings.

The group also attempted yet again to deliver a citizen’s indictment for war crimes to the Hancock Air Base chain of command.

One of the giant books, Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan, states that such missions are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of noncombatants, including women and children, in that region.

One of those arrested, Fr. Bill Pickard of Scranton, PA, stated, “The Reaper drone not only kills and maims humans; it destroys homes and displaces and terrorizes whole communities. U.S. taxpayers pay for such terrorism which perpetuates the violence and generates enormous ill will against the United States.”

Hancock hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the NY Air National Guard – the MQ9 Reaper drone hub. Drones flying over Afghanistan are piloted from the base. It is also a training center for drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians

Today’s action at Hancock’s main gate is one chapter in the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars’ five-year scrupulously nonviolent campaign to expose the Hancock war crimes. Since 2010 there have been over 160 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock, resulting in extreme bails, maximum fines, incarcerations, and Orders of Protection…as well as some acquittals.

Those arrested for closing the gate with giant books were:

Danny Burns, Ithaca, 607-280-0369 (cell)
Brian Hynes, Bronx, 718-838-2636 (cell)
Ed Kinane, Syracuse, 315-478-4571 (home)
Julienne Oldfield, Syracuse, 315-475-6151 (home)
Fr. Bill Pickard, Scranton, 570-498-3789 (cell)
Bev Rice, NYC, 646-335-2404 (cell)
James Ricks, Ithaca, 607-280-7794 (cell)

###




Shut Down Creech

34 peole were arrested shutting down Creech Airforce Base with a Die In in front of the gate.   Several hundred people had gathered from around the country to protest the Reaper drrones flown from Creech.

Video by John Amidon




German Activists in Solidarity with US Drone Protesters

Elsa Rassbach sent the following in support of the Creech events, an antiwar convergence to Shut Down Creech Drone operations:

“SHUT DOWN CREECH!” – MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY FROM THE GERMAN DRONE CAMPAIGN 

The German Drone Campaign (Drohnen-Kampagne) sends greetings of solidarity for your courageous actions on March 4th-6th in Nevada to “Shut Down Creech!”

The German Drone Campaign was founded in March 2013. Since then nearly 150 organizations and tens of thousands of individuals in Germany have endorsed our call against the use of drone technology for war, surveillance and oppression.

We in Germany have been inspired by the strong efforts and the many sacrifices made by U.S. citizens to stop murder by drone, beginning with actions of civil disobedience in Creech in 2009.  We were honored to work together with you on mounting the successful Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing on October 4, 2014, with more than 60 local actions worldwide (see http://globaldayofaction.nationbuilder.com/view_all_events_oct_1st_12th).  In Berlin, we flew kites at the historic Reichstag, which is now the seat of the GermanParliament:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uwehiksch/sets/72157647956651900/with/15253158070/

Under German law, extra-judicial “targeted” drone killings are murders that must be prosecuted.  Each of the U.S. drone murders begins with a phone call from the drone pilot at Creech or another base in the U.S. to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, according to the testimony of former drone pilots in the U.S.A.  If the German government were to prohibit the use of Ramstein Air Base for the illegal U.S. drone strikes, which by law it must, this would immediately put a stop these drone murders.
The Drone Campaign and other concerned German citizens, as well as leading German media, NGOs, and Members of the German Parliament,  have taken first steps to end the complicity of the German government in allowing the use of U.S. military  bases in Germany, such as Ramstein and AFRICOM, for the illegal U.S. drone wars.
And in February 2014 European Parliament  passed by an overwhelming majority (534 to 49) a Joint Resolution demanding that the European Council and the European states “ensure that the Member States, in conformity with their legal obligations, do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states.”

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+MOTION+P7-RC-2014-0201+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

We see it as our special responsibility to build a movement in Germany which will bring sufficient pressure on the German government so as to end the illegal U.S. drone wars that are killing and terrorizing so many innocent people.

Let us work together hand in hand going forward to end the use of drones for surveillance and killing.

Thank you for your courageous efforts!

German Drone Campaign (Drohnen-Kampagne)

————————————  and this —————————–

For immediate release
Hundreds of Activists Converge on Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, USA
 
In Germany activists vow to end the use of Ramstein and AFRICOM for the illegal US drone wars
In Germany, contact Elsa Rassbach, CODEPINK in Berlin +49 (0) 30 326 015 40 or +49 (0) 170 738 1450
 
Photos:
Videos:
_____________________



Shut Down Creech!

Gather at Creech to say “NO” to Drone Killing
March 4-6, 2015

Shut down Creech Pink Drone Trailer, by John Amidon




Lack of transparency in the CIA and military drone killings

You Never Die Twice: Lack of Transparency in the CIA and Military Drone Killings

By Mickie Lynn,
Republished from her blog in the Albany Times Union, Waging Peace.

This week Women Against War and members of several other Capital District peace groups joined in a Statewide lobbying initiative of our two Senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer,  after having to re-schedule our Monday appointments due to the foot of snow and more that fell on the area. Women Against War had already held a long,  productive lobbying meeting on the topic of Weaponized Drones with David Connors, Senator Gillibrand’s Regional Director, in October.  So we decided to just deliver the excellent packet prepared by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars to their office. 

At the courthouse in DeWitt, NY, May 16, 2014, Ed Kinane, Teresa B. Grady &Mary Anne Grady Flores
At the courthouse in DeWitt, NY, May 16, 2014, Ed Kinane, Teresa B. Grady & Mary Anne Grady Flores

But we took the opportunity to  set up a lobbying session with Senator Schumer’s Regional Director, Steve Mann . In both cases we asked that they pass our information on to the legislative aides in Washington, D.C.  It was nice to be part of an effort that visited regional offices all over the state, each delegation creating their own materials to add to the Upstate Drone Coalition’s printouts and talking points.

Drones Kill Civilians, banner and signs at Legislative Office Building, photo by Mabel Leon
Drones Kill Civilians, banner and signs at Legislative Office Building, photo by Mabel Leon

If you want to read more about our visits to our two Senators, I’ve written a detailed report with links to the packets that we distributed, and our local lobbying materials as well.    The links to each of the materials gathered by the Upstate Drone Coalition can be read on their website.  Since they have been demonstrating for 4 years now and appearing in DeWitt town court where some have been tried and sentenced they have heard many stories about drone killings of civilians that have moved and inspired them.  You can read their “Talking Points” to find out more.

Hancock Air Base Drone Protest, April 2011
Hancock Air Base Drone Protest, April 2011

In this particular article I wanted to share two documents from their packet  that moved me  the most and made me rededicate my efforts to stop the use of kill lists, secret drone programs, and such indiscriminate targeting as classifying all men of a certain age range as ” military targets” or targeting people for death because of their location or behavior – as seen by drone sensors, or the dropping of bombs and missiles on homes, fields, gardens, and other infrastructure where civilians are most likely to be killed while present but unseen or unidentified.

You Never Die Twice: MULTIPLE KILLS IN THE US DRONE PROGRAM”, report by human rights charity, Reprieve.
You Never Die Twice: MULTIPLE KILLS IN THE US DRONE PROGRAM”, report by human rights charity, Reprieve.

US drone strikes kill 28 unknown people for every intended target, new Reprieve report reveals

US drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have killed as many as 1,147 unknown people in failed attempts to kill 41 named individuals, a report by human rights charity Reprieve has found.   The report looks at deaths resulting from US drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan between November 2002 and November 2014. It identifies 41 men who appeared to have been killed multiple times – drawing into question the Obama administration’s repeated claims that the covert drone program is ‘precise.’   While the US drone program is shrouded in secrecy, security sources regularly brief the media on the names of those suspected militants targeted or killed in the strikes. Frequently, those individuals are reported to have been targeted or killed on multiple occasions.   Reprieve’s assessment is the first to provide an estimate of the number of people – including in some cases children – who are killed each time the US apparently attempts to assassinate a ‘high value target.’ Due to the US Government’s refusal to publish any information relating to the program, or the ‘Kill List’ said to determine its targets, the analysis is limited to existing, publicly-available data from media reports and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. […]

And in the case of high value targets who receive the most publicity and the greatest numbers of attempt to kill them without trials the rate of civilian deaths is even higher for every strike.

Jennifer Gibson, Staff Attorney at Reprieve who compiled the report, said:These ‘high value targets’ appear to be doing the impossible – dying not once, not twice, but as many as six times. At the same time, hundreds of unknown men, women and children are also caught in the crosshairs. President Obama continues to insist drone strikes are ‘precise’, but when targeting one person instead kills as many as 128 others, there’s only one conclusion that can be drawn – there’s nothing targeted about the US drone program.

This is a very detailed report, footnoted and citing many examples.  Some names may be familiar to you from the media.  You can read the complete report here. The second article is a letter from an Afghan man whose brother-in-law, and four friends were killed in a US drone strike.  His name is Raz Mohammad. I’ve heard his story before because his letter asking for the drone attacks to stop is one that several nonviolent drone resisters have cited as their inspiration to act.

Raz Soeaks out on the use of weaponized drones in Afghanistan
Raz Soeaks out on the use of weaponized drones in Afghanistan

Afghan Peace Volunteer Says Drones Bury Beautiful Lives: Raz Mohammad Interviewed by Kathy Kelly by Hakim and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

January 10, 2013

Raz Mohammad: Salam ‘aleikum.  I am Raz Mohammad.  I’m from Maidan Wardak province and I’m Pashtun.

You can read his interview by Kathy Kelly and see a video at this website Here’s the text of his letter that so moved and inspired me and many other anti-drone activists:

On Friday the 30th of May, 2008, my brother-in-law was killed by a drone along with four of his friends.  My brother-in-law was a student and he was innocent.  Accountability from the US Military for this incident was non-existent. The incident created a situation which was beyond imagination. It affected the minds of my sister and all members of my family.  When my nephew was 5 years old, he asked his mother “Where is father?” My sister replied “He was killed by a computer.” These negative effects persist on all of us to this day. I am worried for my family and for the people of my village.  I request that the United States courts protect my family and my village. Signed by Raz Mohammad, translated by Dr.Hakim in Afghanistan, written 11/25/13,