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Fall 2021 Shut Down Creech and National Solidarity Actions

Document assembled by Nick Mottern of Ban Killer Drones

From September 26 to October 2, 2021, about 30 protesters from 12 states gathered in the desert outside Creech AFB killer drone control center north of Las Vegas, NV to engage in calls to conscience and a blockade intended to end the U.S. killer drone program at Creech and worldwide. These Shut Down Creech (SDC) actions have been held over the last 12 years at what is viewed as the foremost center for U.S. drone killing and the training of drone operators.

From September 16 to Oct. 2, members of the Ban Killer Drones network in eight cities and towns held actions in solidarity with those at Creech. This is the first time that such coordinated solidarity actions have been held.

Here are reports on all these events.

SHUT DOWN CREECH

2021 SDC was a very unusual, important event not only because of the effectiveness of the vigils and blockades at the drone base, but because the SDC group, for the first time, carried their action into nearby, downtown Las Vegas and because, faced with a COVID-related disagreement, they were willing to undertake an extended process of respectful conversation to come to a place of agreement that enabled them to carry forward with unified, powerful action. It is also the first time that SDC, inspired by Veterans For Peace, handed out donuts to drivers headed toward the base.

Attached is a highly detailed, extremely educational report on 2021 SDC by Eleanor Levine, one of the chief organizers.

In addition, here is a link to another outstanding report on the event by Veterans For Peace, which includes a large, inspiring file of photos on the event. Of particular interest in this report is the special effort that was made to reach out to drone operators.

https://www.veteransforpeace.org/pressroom/news/2021/10/06/report-shut-down-creech-2021

And, here is a report that appeared in the Las Vegas Sun, which also includes a photo file.

Read the full article

Shut Down Creech SOLIDARITY EVENTS

Niagara Falls, NY

On September 16th, protesters connected with the Western New York Peace Center and Veterans For Peace protested the killing of 10 members of the Ahmadi family in Kabul on August 29, 2021, at the Niagara Falls Air National Guard base, the home of the 107th Attack Wing, the killer drone control unit.

Here is a press report and a Facebook recording of the action:

https://www.wbfo.org/2021-09-17/peace-activists-protest-at-niagara-falls-air-base-over-afghanistan-drone-attacks

https://www.facebook.com/137596229648417/posts/6097183917022922/?d=n

Tucson, AZ

An SDC solidarity vigil was held on Sept. 21st at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ. In the background is the Arizona Air National Gard headquarters and killer drone command modules. MQ-9 Reaper killer drones are controlled by the 214th Attack Group (“Black Sheep”), 162nd Wing, of the Arizona Air National Guard., located at Davis-Monthan.

On July 20, 2021, Kim Mathews participated in a demonstration at Davis-Monthan in support of drone whistle-blower Daniel Hale. (Below)

Hastings on Hudson, NY

Members of the peace and justice group Concerned Families of Westchester, in Westchester County, NY, handed out these two-sided flyers on September 25th, at its weekly vigil in the downtown of Hastings on Hudson.

Ten Reasons To Ban Killer Drones

On August 29th, a US drone fired a missile in Kabul that killed a suspected ISIS “terrorist” and nine members of his family. Weeks later, the Pentagon stated that the killing was “a tragic mistake.”

As U.S. citizens whose tax dollars went into buying the drone that made that attack, and the missile it fired, the blood of Zemari Ahmadi and his three children, Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10; Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, 30; the children of Ahmadi’s brother Romal: Arwin, 7, Benyamin, 6, and Hayat, 2; and two 3-year-old girls, Malika and Somaya is on our hands.

Mistake” or not, we know from documents released to the media by drone whistle-blower Daniel Hale that some 90 percent of those killed in US drone attacks in Afghanistan were civilians. (See other side of leaflet.)

Over the last decade, drones have become the preferred US weapon of war. US soldiers are at little risk, and the US population and Congress give the Pentagon a blank check to fight four, five, six wars as long as US casualties low.

Today, in Nevada, Syracuse, NY, and at other drone operating bases across the USA, protests are demanding an end to the use of assassination drones by the Pentagon. Here in Hastings, we join them.

* * *

Concerned Families of Westchester September 25, 2021

“Serving our community since 2001”
For more information email fbrodhead@aol.com

Pardon Daniel Hale, Drone Whistle Blower

We ask President Biden to pardon Daniel Hale. Daniel Hale pled guilty to one count of “retention and transmission of national defense information” in violation of the Espionage Act on March 31, 2021. On July 27th 2021, he was sentenced to almost four years in prison.

Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security.

While the courts have ruled that a defendant’s motive in a case related to the Espionage Act is irrelevant, we recognize that Hale’s motive was only to provide the American people with information about government misconduct. We believe that rather than harm our country, Hale’s revelations actually enhanced our democracy by providing critical information about what our government has been doing in our name. We also believe that Hale’s revelations help push our government to reassess its drone program in light of its violations of US and international law.

In a letter Daniel wrote to his judge explaining why he did what he did, Daniel said “The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person. So I contacted an investigative reporter with whom I had an established prior relationship and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.”

Daniel being sent to prison sets a terrible example for freedom of speech and sends a message that the American public does not have a right to know about government misconduct. For the right to free speech, and for the enhancement of our democracy, please consider pardoning Daniel Hale.

For more info – www.standwithdanielhale.org.

Syracuse, NY

Members of Upstate Drone Action spent the afternoon of Sunday, September 26th at the Westcott Street Cultural Fair in Syracuse, handing out literature and carrying posters addressing the U.S. drone program in dsolidarity with Shut Down Creech and Stand with Daniel Hale. 

Judy Bello, manager of the Upstate website, said: “It was a beautiful afternoon and we handed out hundreds of flyers to receptive festival participants.”

Here is a video of the event by Upstate member John Amidon.

Here are links to flyers used at the event:

UDA Trifold (This has info on Hancock Drone Base & UDA)

Shutdown Creech 2021  (Ban Killer Drones ref to recent murders in Kabul)

Upstate Drone Action conducts protests at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base outside Syracuse and the aforementioned Niagara Falls Air National Guard base. Hancock Field is home to the 174th Attack Wing, which controls MQ-9 Reaper killer drones and is also involved in training killer drone operators, assisting the 49th Attack Wing of the U.S. Air Force, based at Holloman AFB, New Mexico.

Kaneohe, HI

On Monday, September 27th, World Can’t Wait (WCW) and Veterans For Peace joined with other justice and peace groups to protest drone attacks at the gate of the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station. Carolyn Hadfield, of WCW, reports:

“We had less than a dozen people (at the base gate), but there were lots of motorists leaving the base after their shifts.  Not surprisingly, there wasn’t much support but a few showed very enthusiastic support and one woman came back to thank us saying that it was impossible to say anything opposing drones with anyone she knows and asked how to get involved…Following is a brief summary of what’s happening here.

Six Reaper drones will be based at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station (KBay) as part of the U.S. military restructuring for war with China. The Reaper was designed specifically to give the military and the CIA a “hunter-killer” drone capable of flying long distances. It was a Reaper Drone that killed 10 civilians in Kabul on August 29.   Two have now arrived, are at KBay, and will be part of a month-long Reaper exercise.  World Can’t Wait Hawai`i has joined with other local peace and justice groups to oppose the increasing militarization of Hawai`i and the use of militarized drones.”




Ithaca, NY Day of Atonement Events

Submitted by Mary Anne Grady Flores
video by Heriberto Rodriguez

10-7-21 ITHACA, NY – FAITH COMMUNITIES PROCESSION

A DAY OF ATONEMENT – 20 -YEARS OF WAR ON AFGHANISTAN & SUPPOSED “WAR ON TERROR.” CALLING ON FAITH LEADERS TO END SILENCE ON US DRONES, NUCLEAR WEAPONS, AND WAR.

Members of Ithaca’s Catholic Worker and other people from Ithaca faith communities & welcome the Ithaca community at large as we gather at DeWitt /Sean Greenwood Park to observe October 7, 2021, as a Day of Atonement, for the US – 20-year war against Afghanistan and the so-called “War on Terror,”

Today, we join communities supporting the work of the new organization Ban Killer Drones. ORG, from across the country. Communities are going to different cathedrals and houses of worship, calling on our faith leaders to end their silence about US endless wars and drone strikes. From Des Moines, IA, Greensburg, PA, New Haven, CT, Syracuse, NY, NYC, NY, Long Island, NY, Binghamton, NY, Broom Co., NY., Ithaca, NY, Brattleboro, VT, Portland, OR, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC, and other cities and towns around the country.

We’ll now hear from Holly Gump reading our statement:

Statement Day of Atonement – 20 years of War on Afghanistan 10-7-21

On October 7, 2001, the United States began a 20 year-long war against Afghanistan and initiated the so-called “War on Terror.”

As members of Ithaca faith communities, we are observing October 7, 2021 as a Day of Atonement, a day to repent for the silence of our places of worship concerning the war crimes of our government and military in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world. More than 1 million people were killed in these wars and 9 million refugees displaced from their homelands. Over 20 years of war the US has spent more than $21 Trillion on militarization, surveillance, and repression.

Emblematic of those war crimes is the August 29th U.S. revenge drone attack in Kabul that killed ten civilians, seven of whom were children.

As U.S. citizens whose tax dollars paid for the MQ-9 Reaper drone that made that attack and paid for the missile it fired, we bear responsibility for this tragedy and seek to prevent its repetition.

The names of the Ahmadi family victims are: Esmarai, (40)

Zeman Ahmadi and his three children, Zameer (20), Faisal (16), Farsad (10). Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, (30). The children of Ahmadi’s brother Romal: Arwin (7), Benyamin (6), and Ayat (2), Malika (3), and Somaya (2).

Today, October 7th, 2021, we gather to call for a REAL end to the 20 years of terror against the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

In our view this means:

-A ban on weaponized drones

-An end to “over the horizon” drone strikes anywhere in the world

-A rejection of the military build-up and threats of war with China, supporting dialog instead.

-A call for our religious leaders to speak out clearly and urgently for peace, including the abolition of nuclear weapons and reduction in the military budget

We urge religious leaders to share these points with their communities of worship and others to share with groups in the Ithaca Community at large.

AT ST. JOHNS EPICOPAL CHURCH: WE CALL ON THE FAITH LEADERS TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST US WARS.

“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to Speak is to Speak. Not to Act is to Act.”

3 – Footnotes about the US Military & Wars

A – The US military is the biggest cause of the

Climate Crisis, being the # 1 user carbon in the world, emitting more CO2 than many countries, over decades, causing massive climate disruption, desertification, super storms, sea level rise, and mass extinction of species.

B – This, in-turn, causes massive migration of millions of refugees looking to find shelter, food, jobs, and safety.

C – The US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone caused 9 million refugees and internally displaced people.

“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself!”

D – US Drone strikes have killed over 6,000 people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere. US Military Generals admit that for every 1 drone victim, 10 more people look at the US as the terrorists. The “Drone Papers” revealed by drone whistle blower, Daniel Hale, shows that 90 % of victims are bystanders, unintended victims, such as the Ahmadi family whose photos we hold here today.

“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself.”

AT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: WE CALL ON THE FAITH LEADERS TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST US WARS.

“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself.”

E – US military gave left-over equipment to US city Police Departments, like we saw used on the streets of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, and in Ferguson, to be used on people of color, and at to police at border communities.

Police Departments have many retired military personnel in their ranks repeating tactics used in their training for war, treating US civilians here as enemy combatant.

F – The US military budget uses almost 60 percent of total government expenditures, which steals from the needs of communities, especially from people of color who are left without basic human needs, like jobs, housing, health care.

    • “Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself.”

G – Veterans and drone pilots have some of the highest suicide rates in the country and some of the worst medical care, being prescribed pills to mask their deep pain and moral injury.

From Eleanor Levine of Code Pink, San Fransisco:

“Over 20 years, the U.S. has spent more than $21 Trillion on militarization, surveillance, and repression — all in the name of security.

These investments have shown us that the U.S. has the capacity and political will to invest in our biggest priorities.

But the COVID-19 pandemic, the January 6 Capitol insurrection, wildfires raging in the West, super storms in the South & on the East Coast, and even the fall of Afghanistan have shown us that these investments cannot buy us safety. The next 20 years present an opportunity to reconsider where we need to re-invest for a better future.”

AT FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH.

Neil Golder reads from Dan Berrigan’s Statement at Catonsville, MD draft board action during the Vietnam War. (Gender has been changed “men” to “people,” and From ‘Christian‘ to ‘People of Faith & Conscience‘.)

The time is past when good People can remain silent, when obedience can segregate people from public risk, when the poor can die without defense.

We ask our fellow people of faith and conscience to consider in their hearts a question which has tortured us, night and day, since the war began. How many must die before our voices are heard, how many must be tortured, dislocated, starved, maddened? How long must the world’s resources be raped in the service of legalized murder? When, at what point, will you say no to this war? We have chosen to say, with the gift of our liberty, if necessary our lives: the violence stops here, the death stops here, the suppression of the truth stops here, this war stops here. We wish also to place in question, by this act, all suppositions about normal times, about longings for an untroubled life in a somnolent church, about a neat time-table of ecclesiastical renewal which in respect to the needs of people, amounts to another form of time serving.

Beth Harris – speaks on the “War on Terror” against Palestinians since 1948, and against Haitians since 1804.

Clare Grady– shares the KBP7 Statement on Nuclear Disarmament from the KingsBayPlowshares7.org website, and about the Catholic Church’s deafening silence concerning nuclear weapons and war.

Thank you all for coming. Please share this message with your communities of faith and conscience.




Planned Day of Atonement Actions

DES MOINES, IA

The Des Moines (IA) Catholic Work and the Des Moines chapter of Veterans for Peace are calling on people to join them on the steps in front of St. Ambrose Cathedral for an hour-long vigil starting at 11 a.m. in solidarity with the national “Call to Action: A Day of Atonement” at places of worship.

Information: Frank Cordaro – Des Moines Catholic Worker – (515) 490-2490


GREENSBURG, PA

Pax Christi Greensburg will hold a vigil beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 7, 2021 on the sidewalk in front of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, 310 North Main St, Greensburg, PA.

Pax Christi members will then enter the Greensburg Cathedral on their knees for the 11:45 a.m. daily Mass during which it is expected to hear prayed by the celebrant

The Eucharist of Gospel Nonviolence

https://auscp.org/initiatives/gospel-non-violence/

Peace witnesses of all or no faith tradition — and not just Pax Christi Catholics — are invited to the vigil, bearing appropriate signs such as photos of the recent drone killing of 10 members of the Ahmadi family in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Information:  Fr. Bernard Survil, Priest of the Diocese of Greensburg, (ret.)

Ph  724-523-0291     bsurvil@uscatholicpriests.us


NEW HAVEN, CT

Stephen V. Kobasa and Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice will remember the cost of the continuing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa by placing the September stone on the Memorial Cairn at the intersection of Broadway, Elm and Park Streets in New Haven on Thursday, October 7 at 6 pm. Each stone in the cairn represents one month that has passed since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began. On each stone is a record of the deaths, civilian and military, reported during that month.


SYRACUSE, NY

On Oct. 7, Paul Welch, Director of Social Justice for the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, has arranged for people to gather at 11:30 a.m. at Columbus Circle in front of the Cathedral, where three speakers will address drones, war and nuclear weapons.  At 12:15 pm, they will walk a block to Plymouth United Methodist Church in Christ to discuss racism and islamophobia. In conclusion, they will visit an Episcopal church to talk about ways in which military activity adds to the climate emergency.

Information: Paul Welch – (315) 256-8613


NEW YORK CITY, NY

On Oct. 7th, at 11 a.m., members of Pax Christi New York City will hand out leaflets (see below) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. At noon they will join the march commemorating the start of the Afghanistan war, organized by the War Resisters League, starting at noon at the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street and continuing across 42nd Street to the Times Square Recruiting Station until 1:30 p.m. https://nycwarresistersdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2021/09/afghanistan2021_call-to-action.pdf


LONG ISLAND, NY

On Oct. 9th, at their weekly North Country vigil, Long Island peace activists will hold a “Fly Kites not Drones” action in solidarity with the 10/7 actions.


BINGHAMTON, NY

A Binghamton Veterans For Peace and Peace Action team will hold an event at three local places of worship on October 7 starting at 11 a.m.: St. Patrick’s Church, 9 Leroy St.; then to Tabernacle United Methodist Church on 83 Main St.; and on to Temple Concord on 9 Riverside Drive.  Participants will hold photos of the Ahmadi family and signs encouraging religious leaders to openly oppose the “Over the Horizon” drone attack plan and fear-mongering by the media, arms industry and U.S. government against China.


BROOME COUNTY, NY

Jim Clune, President of Broome County Peace Action, has written an opinion article in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin ending with a call to be at local churches on 10/7.


ITHACA, NY

Members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker are sponsoring a multi-denominational event:

A Day of Atonement, the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the War on Terror,

Thursday, October 7th at 10:30 a.m. in DeWitt / Sean Greenwood Park for a short procession with Buddhist drumming, and for an

11 a.m. press conference. We are joining other witnesses nationwide observing the Day of Atonement.

We will mourn the suffering and loss of life caused by the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq by the U. S. and call on the faith communities to end the silence on U.S. endless wars.

We also oppose the continuation of war-making by the weaponized drone program, “Over the Horizon” used anywhere in the world, the increased emphasis on militaristic solutions for conflict with China, and the nuclear weapons build-up. War is still not the answer.

Contact: Mary Anne Grady Flores gradyflores08@gmail.com


BRATTLEBORO, VT

On Sunday, October 10, zool Zulkowitz will vigil at a Congregational church with a banner: “Tax Dollars for Kids Daycare, Not for Killer Drones”


PORTLAND, OR

Peace and Justice Works rally on Friday, October 8th.

20 Years Later, the Afghan War
is Not Really Over
Friday, October 8, 2021 5:00 – 6 PM
at the Weekly Friday Rally for Peace and Justice
Pioneer Courthouse Square, SW Yamhill and Broadway
please mask up and stay distanced for safety

On Friday, October 8, Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity group will mark the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the US war on Afghanistan with a specially themed Friday Rally for Peace and Justice at 5 PM. Titled “20 Years Later, the Afghan War is Not Really Over,” the event will call attention to the ongoing US presence near and announced intentions to continue warfare in Afghanistan with an “over the horizon” military force. As usual the rally will last until about 5:20 PM followed by a short march around downtown Portland. PJW asks participants to wear masks and stay distanced for COVID safety.


PAX CHRISTI NEW YORK CITY – ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL FLYER

A Day of Atonement for the War in Afghanistan

October 7th, 2021

On August 26th, as the U.S. was withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, along with some Afghan allies, a suicide bomb detonated, killing 13 U.S. soldiers and nearly 100 Afghans, while wounding an additional 200 Afghan civilians. Within hours, our proudly Catholic President Biden proclaimed, “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

The very next day, a U.S. drone responded. The U.S. military claimed precision targeting of two ISIS-K terrorists, but witnesses on the ground reported seeing wounded children and women, as well as three dead—one man, one boy, and one woman. Then, two days later, another U.S. drone killed a family of 10, including seven young children. The father of the family worked for a California-based humanitarian organization. All were hoping for a visa to escape Afghanistan. In short, they were innocent allies, not enemies.

These incidents make it clear that warfare, especially drone warfare, is neither precise nor just. Religious leaders of many faiths, including the Catholic faith, have stated firmly that drones not only dehumanize warfare, they breed trauma among ordinary civilians and new enemies eager to retaliate with deadly force. The sanitized distancing between the attacker and the attacked actually increases the likelihood of more war.1 Such assaults totally violate such Christian teachings as, “Love your enemies” and “Forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven times.” They deny human dignity and the right to due process before sentencing. Even some military officers have admitted the high percentage of unintended, innocent victims of drone attacks.2

Instead of resorting to more and more bloodshed, we choose to heed the words of Pope Francis:

“I ask everyone to continue to assist those in need, and to pray that dialogue and solidarity may lead to the establishment of peaceful and fraternal coexistence, and offer hope for the future of the country [Afghanistan].” He added that “in historical moments like this we cannot remain indifferent.” For Christians it is a duty to respond.

Pope Francis reasoned, “I appeal to everyone to intensify prayer and practice fasting: prayer and fasting, prayer and penance. Now is the time to do it.”

He continued emphatically, “I’m serious: Intensify prayer and practice fasting, asking the Lord for mercy and forgiveness.”3

It is for these reasons that we have been called to observe this day as A Day of Atonement. Please join us., and please share with others.


1https://www.interfaithdronenetwork.org/images/docs/PCI%20on%20drones.pdf

2https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/09/07/no-longest-war-us-history-not-over

3https://catholicleader.com.au/news/pope-francis-calls-for-prayer-fasting-for-afghanistan/

Also see additional background reading:

https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2021/09/01/just-war-revenge-against-terrorists-aghanistan-241322

https://bankillerdrones.org/why-a-ban/

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2021/08/push-to-ban-killer-robots-gets-a-boost-from-the-vatican-and-the-pope/

https://providencemag.com/2020/10/pope-francis-and-the-problem-of-war-in-fratelli-tutti/

And sign the petition to Ban Killer Drones here:

https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6180

This leaflet prepared for Pax Christi New York State, https://www.facebook.com/Pax-Christi-New-York-State-100663832260872




We Gotta Stand with Daniel Hall, Drone Warfare Truth-Teller

On Saturday, July 17, 2021, activists representing many organizations, including the Ban Killer Drones campaign and Peace Action New York State, held a press conference in support of the whistleblower Daniel Hale, who revealed information about the U.S. drone warfare program.

Daniel Hale served in the Air Force as an intelligence analyst. His task was to identify targets for the US drone assassination program. Troubled by what he did and saw, after leaving the Air Force in 2013, Hale provided documents about the drone program to the media.  In 2019, four years after the documents were published, the Trump administration had him arrested and charged under the 1917 Espionage Act.  He is being held in prison in Alexandria, VA, and will be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on July 27, 2021.

Incomplete reports about US drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen alone found 16,901 people killed and 3,922 wounded.  The use of drones is spreading. Drone attacks have been carried out by at least 12 nations, primarily by the USA, but also by other governments, including France, Israel, Turkey, and the UK.

“Some people call me a whistleblower or a patriot, but I was simply concerned with speaking the truth.”  — Daniel Hale

Video by Wilton Vought

To learn more about Daniel Hale’s case and how you can support him, go to standwithdanielhale.org.

 

 




Art Against Drones

by Kathy Kelly, published on the Progressive, May 11, 2021
    Photos reprinted from CovertAction

At the High Line, a popular tourist attraction in New York City, visitors to the west side of Lower Manhattan ascend above street level to what was once an elevated freight train line and is now a tranquil and architecturally intriguing promenade. Here walkers enjoy a park-like openness where they can experience urban beauty, art, and the wonder of comradeship.

In late May, a Predator drone replica, appearing suddenly above the High Line promenade at 30th Street, might seem to scrutinize people below. The “gaze” of the sleek, white sculpture by Sam Durant, called “Untitled (drone),” in the shape of the U.S. military’s Predator killer drone, will sweep unpredictably over the people below, rotating atop its twenty-five-foot-high steel pole, its direction guided by the wind.

Unlike the real Predator, it won’t carry two Hellfire missiles and a surveillance camera. The drone’s death-delivering features are omitted from Durant’s sculpture. Nevertheless, he hopes it will generate discussion.

Untitled (drone)” is meant to animate questions “about the use of drones, surveillance, and targeted killings in places far and near,” said Durant in a statement “and whether as a society we agree with and want to continue these practices.”

Durant regards art as a place for exploring possibilities and alternatives.

[Source: www.wafaabilal.com]

In 2007, a similar desire to raise questions about remote killing motivated New York artist Wafaa Bilal, now a professor at NYU’s Tisch Gallery, to lock himself in a cubicle where, for a month, and at any hour of the day, he could be remotely targeted by a paint-ball gun blast. Anyone on the Internet who chose to could shoot at him.

He was shot at more than 60,000 times by people from 128 different countries. Bilal called the project “Domestic Tension.” In a resulting book, Shoot an Iraqi: Art Life and Resistance Under the Gun, Bilal and co-author Kary Lydersen chronicled the remarkable outcome of the “Domestic Tension” project.

Along with descriptions of constant paint-ball attacks against Bilal, they wrote of the Internet participants who instead wrestled with the controls to keep Bilal from being shot. And they described the death of Bilal’s brother, Hajj, who was killed by a U.S. air to ground missile in 2004.

Grappling with the terrible vulnerability to sudden death felt by people all across Iraq, Bilal, who grew up in Iraq, with this exhibit chose to partly experience the pervasive fear of being suddenly, and without warning, attacked remotely. He made himself vulnerable to people who might wish him harm.

Three years later, in June 2010, Bilal developed the “And Counting” art work in which a tattoo artist inked the names of Iraq’s major cities on Bilal’s back. The tattoo artist then used his needle to place “dots of ink, thousands and thousands of them—each representing a casualty of the Iraq war. The dots are tattooed near the city where the person died: red ink for the American soldiers, ultraviolet ink for the Iraqi civilians, invisible unless seen under black light.”

Bilal, Durant, and other artists who help us think about U.S. colonial warfare against the people of Iraq and other nations should surely be thanked. It’s helpful to compare Bilal’s and Durant’s projects.

The pristine, unsullied drone may be an apt metaphor for twenty-first-century U.S. warfare which can be entirely remote. Before driving home to dinner with their own loved ones, soldiers on another side of the world can kill suspected militants miles from any battlefield. The people assassinated by drone attacks may themselves be driving along a road, possibly headed toward their family homes.

U.S. technicians analyze miles of surveillance footage from drone cameras, but such surveillance doesn’t disclose information about the people a drone operator targets.

Image from a reaper drone during operation

In fact, as Andrew Cockburn wrote in the London Review of Books, “the laws of physics impose inherent restrictions of picture quality from distant drones that no amount of money can overcome. Unless pictured from low altitude and in clear weather, individuals appear as dots, cars as blurry blobs.”

On the other hand, Bilal’s exploration is deeply personal, connoting the anguish of victims. Bilal took great pains, including the pain of tattooing, to name the people whose dots appear on his back, people who had been killed.

Contemplating “Untitled (drone),” it’s unsettling to recall that no one in the U.S. can name the thirty Afghan laborers killed by a U.S. drone in 2019. A U.S. drone operator fired a missile into an encampment of Afghan migrant workers resting after a day of  harvesting pine nuts in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. An additional forty people were injured. To U.S. drone pilots, such victims may appear only as dots.

In many war zones, incredibly brave human rights documentarians risk their lives to record the testimonies of people suffering war-related human rights violations, including drone attacks striking civilians. Mwatana for Human Rights, based in Yemen, researches human rights abuses committed by all the warring parties in Yemen. In their report, “Death Falling from the Sky, Civilian Harm from the United States’ Use of Lethal Force in Yemen,” they examine twelve U.S. aerial attacks in Yemen, ten of them U.S. drone strikes, between 2017 and 2019.

The report says at least thirty-eight Yemeni civilians—nineteen men, thirteen children, and six women—were killed and seven others were injured in the attacks.

From the report, we learn of important roles the slain victims played as family and community members. We read of families bereft of income after the killing of wage earners including beekeepers, fishers, laborers, and drivers. Students described one of the men killed as a beloved teacher. Also among the dead were university students and housewives. Loved ones who mourn the deaths of those killed still fear hearing the hum of a drone.

Now it’s clear that the Houthis in Yemen have been able to use 3-D models to create their own drones which they have fired across a border, hitting targets in Saudi Arabia. This kind of proliferation has been entirely predictable.

The U.S. recently announced it plans to sell the United Arab Emirates fifty F-35 fighter jets, eighteen Reaper drones, and various missiles, bombs and munitions. The United Arab Emirates has used its weapons against its own people and has run ghastly clandestine prisons in Yemen where people are tortured and broken as human beings, a fate awaiting any Yemeni critic of their power.

The installation of a drone overlooking people in Manhattan can bring them into the larger discussion.

Upstate Drone Action Die in at Hancock Air National Guard Base

Outside of many military bases safely within the United States—from which drones are piloted to deal death over Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and other lands—activists have repeatedly staged artistic events. In 2011, at Hancock Field in Syracuse, thirty-eight activists were arrested for a “die-in” during which they simply lay down, at the gate, covering themselves with bloodied sheets.

The title of Sam Durant’s sculpture, “Untitled (drone),” means that in a sense it is officially nameless, like so many of the victims of the U.S. Predator drones it is designed to resemble.

Locals mourn one of 30 Afghan laborers killed in errant drone strike in Nangarhar province in 2019. [Source: taskandpurpose.com]

People in many parts of the world can’t speak up. Comparatively, we don’t face torture or death for protesting. We can tell the stories of the people being killed now by our drones, or watching the skies in terror of them.

We should tell those stories, those realities, to our elected representatives, to faith-based communities, to academics, to media and to our family and friends. And if you know anyone in New York City, tell them to be on the lookout for a Predator drone in lower Manhattan. This pretend drone could help us grapple with reality and accelerate an international push to ban killer drones.


Kathy Kelly has worked for nearly half a century to end military and economic wars. At times, her activism has led her to war zones and prisons. She can be reached at: Kathy.vcnv@gmail.com.




Ban Killer Drones: International Campaign of Civil Disobedience Necessary (P2)

by Brian Terrell, published on Covert Action, May 10, 2021

A large campaign of civil disobedience is necessary to abolish one of the U.S. military’s monstrous creations

The headline of the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan on November 30, 2012, page one above the fold with my photo, read “Terrell: American Drone Strikes Must Stop.”

I was served well by this article explaining my opposition to killing by remotely controlled drones, as that morning I “surrendered” myself to the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota, to begin a six-month prison sentence for protesting at a drone base in Missouri earlier that year.

“While many Americans may think drone strikes are a safe way to conduct war and improve the nation’s safety, one man will go to prison in Yankton today because of his belief that they are remotely committing crimes against humanity,” the paper reported.

That first afternoon, when I walked into the prison’s library, one inmate was reading that article aloud to the others, who broke into applause when they recognized me.

Protest outside Whiteman Air Force base, Missouri, April 7th, 2014. [Source: veteransforpeace.org]

It is a rare event for someone to go to prison for a federal misdemeanor like trespass and, in these days of mass incarceration and maximum-minimum sentencing, it is unusual for anyone to be incarcerated for so short a time as six months except in exchange for testifying against other accused defendants.

Having my crime and intention advertised to guards and prisoners alike saved me from the uncomfortable suspicion of being a snitch in prison. It also opened up many great discussions with my fellow inmates over those months.

The sentencing judge in this case had given me six weeks before presenting myself to the prison to put my affairs in order and I used that time traveling through Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, New York and Minnesota, speaking, protesting and organizing with other anti-drone activists.

A reporter from Missouri Public Radio called me during that time and requested an interview. She asked me a question I often hear, if I did not feel that I could do more for the cause by staying out of prison.

I responded by asking her if we would be having this interview if, instead of getting arrested and going to jail for it, I had simply called her station and expressed my concern that the United States was committing war crimes by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base. This reporter admitted that no, there would not be any interest in talking with me if that were the case.

Terrell (left) protests drones with Colonel Ann Wright (right), at Whiteman Air Force Base in 2012. [Source: flickr.com]

The shift captain who checked me out when my sentence was completed six months later told me that, while he respected the strength of my conviction, he felt I had done my cause a disservice by going to prison.

I had irresponsibly squandered any credibility I might have had, he told me. Who will listen to a convict? Within the following six months, my platform from which to speak out about drone warfare expanded to churches, libraries, schools, universities, Quaker meeting houses and community organizations around the U.S., the United Kingdom and Germany, including Yale Divinity School, Harvard Law School and Queen’s College in Birmingham, UK.

This was not the first time I had gone to jail protesting drones. In April 2009, about the time that President Obama made the Predator Drone the key to his “war on terror,” I took part in the first protest of drone warfare anywhere, at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Creech was where the drone wars began and where the CIA runs its clandestine program of extrajudicial executions.

Protesters temporarily block traffic outside Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. [Source: commondreams.org]

Louie Vitale, a Franciscan priest and activist with the Nevada Desert Experience, first noticed mysterious pilotless/windowless planes circling the desert while he was protesting at the Nevada nuclear test site nearby.

As a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Cold War, Louie first understood and alerted us to their grim significance. From that beginning, I have been arrested at Creech at least nine times, each time spending anywhere from a few hours to four days in the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas, one of the most squalid and cruel lockups in the country.

Louis Vitale (center), with legendary whistleblower Dan Ellsberg (right), and David Krieger, after arrest in 2012 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. [Source: oaklandvoices.us]

In February 2012, I was sentenced to ten days in the Jamestown Penitentiary for my part as one of the “Hancock 38.” The previous April we were arrested at the Syracuse, NY, civilian airport from where the New York Air National Guard flies weaponized drone missions.

Volk Field [Source: volkfield.eng.af.mil]

Twice I joined the regular actions of the “Occupy Beale” group in California, resisting the Global Hawk surveillance drones flown from Beale Air Force Base. Each of those times, federal prosecutors dropped the charges.

I have also been arrested twice at Wisconsin’s Volk Field, where the National Guard trains soldiers to pilot the Shadow, a surveillance drone that is used for “target acquisition” for armed drones and attack helicopters and, in 2017, I was lodged quite comfortably in the Juneau County Jail for five days after refusing to pay a fine on a trespass charge.

Acts of civil resistance such as these are responses to grave crimes of the state and not crimes in themselves, even when arrest and prosecution seem the immediate outcomes. Such actions are often required, but are not the whole of a campaign for change, either. In resistance to killer drones, such tactics as petitions, billboards, teach-ins, marches, pickets have also been effectively used and more will be needed as we go forward.

[Source: amazon.com]

Martin Luther King, Jr., explained the necessity of direct action in his 1963 Letter from the Birmingham Jail:

“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.

It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I just referred to the creation of tension as a part of the work of the nonviolent resister. This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.”

I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth.”

Nonviolent direct action is not the whole of a campaign for social betterment, but it is a necessary and indispensable component of any successful one.

The Late Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark addresses a gathering of about 50 defendants and supporters in front of the DeWitt Court House where the 38 Hancock drone protesters were on trial. [Source: mediasyracuse.com]

These actions in Nevada, California, Missouri, New York and Wisconsin and their ensuing courtroom dramas have raised the “constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth” in their communities at least to the extent that drone violence cannot be so easily ignored. We are responsible to build on these beginnings.

At the Syracuse trial of the “Hancock 38,” former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark was permitted to testify on our behalf on the subject of international law.

Judge Gideon, after listening to Mr. Clark speak of the Nuremberg Principles and other laws as they apply to drone warfare at length, leaned over the bench and asked him,

“This is all interesting, but what is the enforcement mechanism? Who is responsible for enforcing international law?”

They are,” responded Mr. Clark, pointing to the 31 defendants, “and so,” he said to Judge Gideon, “are you!

Activists Brian Terrell and Ghulam Hussein Ahmadi at the Border Free Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. [Graffiti by Kabul Knight; photo by Hakim]

As a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a 25-year campaign that ended in December 2020, I was privileged to have the community support, the time and the means to join with these local cells of drone resistance around the U.S. and abroad.

Voices had also raised drone awareness by organizing several “peace walks” to drone bases, hundreds of miles on foot—from Chicago to a Michigan National Guard base in Kalamazoo; from Madison, Wisconsin, to Volk Field; from Rock Island, Illinois, to the Iowa Air National Guard drone command center in Des Moines—each time meeting with community groups and talking to hundreds of people along the way.

 

Peace march toward Volk Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin to voice concern with U.S. drone policy. [Source: cnsblog.wordpress.com]

We itinerant Voices activists had a role in informing local anti-drone groups, in part because many of us have traveled to places under attack by armed drones, including Gaza, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan. I have visited Afghanistan, the nation most subjected to U.S. drone attacks and with the most drone casualties, five times between 2010 and 2018 and, with my colleagues, we have met with and often been befriended by Afghans who have lost limbs and loved ones in drone strikes.

We know many others who, fearing drone violence, have fled their village homes with their families to live in squalid and overcrowded refugee camps.

Activists from Voices in the United Kingdom have been resisting the use of armed drones by the Royal Air Force, including nonviolent resistance at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire and at factories there producing drones for Israel’s military.

CODEPINK Women for Peace anti-drone activists likewise have traveled to and established friendships in Pakistan, Palestine and other places targeted by weaponized drones.

CodePink founder Medea Benjamin protests drone war. [Source: codepink.org]

Banning weaponized drones is not an abstract “cause” but a real human obligation. Addressing resistance to the Vietnam War in 1966, Thomas Merton wrote, “It is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

Thomas Merton [Source: uscatholic.org]

Not every anti-drone activist needs to visit war zones, just as not all of us need to go to prison, but some of us need to do both of these and it is the reality of those personal relationships that keeps our resistance from the abstractions that would otherwise suffocate it.

To learn more about the international campaign to ban killer drones, see bankillerdrones.org.

*Featured Image: Brian Terrell (right), with Father Louie Vitale, at a 2009 anti-drone war protest at Creech Air Force Base, outside of Las Vegas, NV. [Source: Jeff Leys]




Ban Killer Drones: International Grassroots Movement to Ban Weaponized Drones Launched (P1)

by Jack Gilroy, published on Covert Action, May 10, 2021

An international grassroots movement to ban weaponized drones and military and police surveillance, entitled Ban Killer Drones, has been launched. Go to www.bankillerdrones.org to see the teamwork results of this excellent resource on the United States’s not-so-secret assassinations around the world.

Protests outside Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York, in 2014. [Source: Syracuse.com]

A group of long-time anti-drone war organizers, including Nick Mottern, Brian Terrell and Chelsea Faria, with support from two Nobel Peace Prize candidates, Kathy Kelly and David Swanson, worked to make this site the prime resource site to ban killer drones internationally.

Progressive readers will remember the years of struggle that produced the recent ban on nuclear weapons as well as the struggle that produced agreements on landmine and cluster bombs.

I remember well where I was on October 1, 2014: I was handcuffed tighter than I had ever been, wiggling my fingers to keep my hands from going numb. I had been stuffed prostrate between the front and rear seat of an Onondaga Sheriff’s Department car in Syracuse, New York.

DeWitt Town Court Judge Robert Jokl had just sent me on my way to the nearby Jamesville Correctional Facility to begin a three-month sentence for my participation in a die-in at the main gate of the NY Air National Guard 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field killer drone base.

Die-in outside Hancock drone base in April 2013. [Source: space4peace.org]

Lying on the floor, squeezed between the seats, I asked the two deputies to give me room to sit. The deputy in the passenger seat called out: “You’ll be at the jail in just 15 minutes or so, live with it.”

I lived with it, serving 60 days of my 90-day sentence, with time reduced for “good behavior.”

But I’m still mad as hell that my U.S. government continues to assassinate “suspected terrorists,” expands its drone war and encourages other countries to do the same.

It is time to promote a treaty to ban weaponized and surveillance drones world-wide.

Gilroy protesting outside Hancock Air Force base on Earth day, April 22, 2021. [Photo courtesy of Heriberto Rodriguez]

The Predator

When I became aware of the drone protests at Hancock Field, I had written coming-of-age novels about conscientious objectors from WWII and the Vietnam war, but now war was being waged in my own back yard and few seemed to know about it.

The resisters at Hancock were, of course, trying to educate the public.

Sadly, even when some Americans did learn of assassinations operating out of United States drone bases, the acts of drone terror seemed of little importance to them. After all, the terrorists were in foreign lands and we needed to “take them out” and not to worry about Hellfire missiles and bombs since they were in the Middle East, not in Syracuse.

Hancock’s 174th Attack Wing just did the electronic firing of weapons hovering over suspects thousands of miles away, seen of course by Attack Wing pilots with high-tech drone cameras via satellite.

[Source: 174attackwing.ang.af.mil]

I researched Predator and Reaper drones, spoke to folks who had been arrested for trespass at Hancock and was arrested a couple of times myself.

At the time, I was chair of the St. James Peace and Justice Committee in Johnson City, New York, 75 miles south of Syracuse. The headquarters of the Syracuse Diocese and the leader, Bishop William Cunningham, was hiking distance from the nearby weaponized drone base.

I had tried for more than two years with letters and phone calls to speak to Bishop Cunningham. My intent was to ask him his views on being so close to an institution that orchestrates assassinations, the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard, just up the road a bit from his residence.

Persistence paid off. The bishop agreed to meet with our team of six resisters.

I asked Bishop Cunningham what he thought of the morality of the Hancock weaponized drone base. Bishop Cunningham said: “It’s one way to keep our boys’ boots off foreign soil. We don’t need to be sending our young men off to war.” Then, a bit later, he noted: “You do know that a lot of Catholics work at Hancock, don’t you?”

We had assumed that to be so since we knew Bishop Cunningham had assigned one of his priests to minister to Hancock drone pilots.

Scene from The Predator: “I had hoped you’d go to one of the military academies.” Jay Becker as Major Jennifer Golden, drone pilot, and Sarah Latham as her daughter, Ella. [Source: awaketodrones.blogspot.com]

Realizing that the Bishop’s office was a dead end, I began to form a play in my mind of a young woman whose mother was a drone pilot at Creech. I decided to go with the title The Predator for obvious reasons.

In November 2013, the first staging of The Predator was done at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with students from Syracuse University and the University of Scranton as actors. The event was the annual Ignatian Family Teach-In, the largest annual Catholic social justice conference in the United States.

 

Jack Gilroy discusses The Predator. [Source: awaketodrones.blogspot.com]

Thankfully, I had a professional to assist: Aetna Thompson, a former member and singer with the satirical group in Washington called “The Capitol Steps.”

An eye-catching prop was set up on campus, a facsimile of a Reaper drone designed and made by Nick Mottern, of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and coordinator of https://www.knowdrones.com/

Nick drove the disassembled mock drone from his home to Route 81 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he showed me how to assemble it and then covered the mock Hellfire missiles with blankets—“just in case a State Trooper wonders about these rockets,” said Nick. The Reaper was my traveling mate in my old Volvo, the fuselage resting on my dashboard and the tail bumping my rear window.

Nick Mottern with mock drone. [Source: lehighvalleylive.com]

I drove south for our first gig at Georgetown University and then on to Ft. Benning, Georgia, where I stationed the Reaper mock-up at the entrance to the Columbus, Georgia, convention center, with a large sign tacked onto it announcing “THE PREDATOR.”

The Predator had legs, playing at many college campuses and church halls around the nation from around 2013 to 2017 with activists such as Ann Wright, former U.S. Army Colonel and U.S. diplomat and Kathy Kelly, Director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, taking on roles.

The play is still available to download (and tweak to bring it up-to-date) for any group to use.

Did the reflection, the thinking of the outlandish immorality and cowardly killing of people with high-tech American terrorism lead me to write the play? Quite likely, it was a factor. But I felt that what I had done with the play was not enough, hence my arrest and jailing, noted above.

Going International

The work of Up State Drone Action to expose the international crimes of the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock killer drone base has been outstanding. From the first direct action at Hancock in 2011 to Earth Day 2021, a team of creative artists have used street theater at the very edge of the killer drone base on East Malloy Rd in Syracuse, NY.

Developing themes for each action, Dan Burgevin of Trumansburg, NY, Ed Kinane of Syracuse, John Amidon of Albany, Ellen Grady of Ithaca and many others have used a varity of scenes and song to illustrate the crimes going on inside the 174th Attack Wing.

For example, the Syracuse District Attorney’s office liked to bring into court physical evidence (exhibits) to prove their case against the killer drone resisters. So, one action, called Big Books used huge facsimiles of anti-war books—8’x4’ and blocked the gate to the Hancock weaponized drone base. The local court room didn’t have room for the big books. Consequently, no big books were taken into court as exhibits by the Syracuse District Attorney’s Office.

Protestors display replicas of books that point to evils of the drone war. [Source: Photos courtesy of Ellen Grady and MaryAnne Grady who designed the book replicas]

Bill Quigley [Source: ignatiansolidarity.net]

Weaponized drones have nothing that is praiseworthy. Weaponized drones are unmanned weapons carriers used to assassinate people in foreign (for now) lands. The use of weaponized drones is immoral, illegal, racist (used mainly to kill people of color) and pragmatically stupid.

No other nation does what the United States does frequently: assassinate with weaponized drones in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Libya. The United States is still the greatest purveyor of violence in the world and killer drones have become our deadly calling card.

Funeral for pine-nut farmer killed in drone strike in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan in September 2019. [Source: theguardian.com]

Armed drones make bitter enemies around the world and create insecurity as they sow hate and vengeance.

Protest against U.S. drone strikes after drone attack in Multan, Pakistan, in 2012. [Source: foreignpolicy.com]

President Biden ended his inauguration speech with “May God bless America and God protect our troops.” That’s where we’re at: praising America and beseeching God to protect our troops.

The arms industry and the religious arm of the military-industrial complex are smiling. It is clear that we must reach outside our borders and build an international consensus to end drone killing and drone surveillance.

I encourage readers to join the movement to establish an international ban on weaponized and surveillance drones. Go to www.bankillerdrones.org to initiate international action while pressuring Joe Biden and the war-prone Democrats to end weaponized and surveillance drones.

*Featured Image: Anti-drone protest outside New York Air National Guard Base in April 2013. [Source: spaceforpeace.org]




Alice’s Nightmare in Droneland- Live at Hancock Air Base

Statement Read at the Alice’s Nightmare in Droneland Event:

from World Beyond War Blog, published October 29, 2020

We assemble her this morning to petition our government to end its use of killer MQ9 Reaper drones pilonted from Hancock Air Force Base. Hancock is home to the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard.  The 174th – together with all too many troops on other US bases across the planet – has been waging muderous war, in our name, against the people of the Islamic oil lands, against Iraqis, iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis, Syrians, Yemenis, Somalis, Libyans …

We come from across New York State and Beyond, united as the Upstate Drone Action Coalition, a grassroots assembly of nonviolent activists.  For years our local members have demonstrated here weekly, protesting Hancock’s role in these crimes against humanity.  A score of times for the past decade, Upstate Drone action – under cover of the first amendment of the U.S, Constitution – has engaged in civil resistance at Hancock’s very gate.  Dozens of us have been arrested, have gone to trial, and some have endured prison.  We persist because MQ9 drone attacks are evil.  They are shameful, barbaric, illegal, racist.  They are unjust, immoral, cowardly.  They are islamophobic…. They help generate the planet’s swelling ranks of refugees as human beings are displaced, maimed, killed, orphaned, widowed.  Sadly, drone attacks numb our conscience.

Weaponized drone attacks are naked terrorism.  What is ‘terrorism’, constantly invoked but rarely defined?  Genuine terrorism is violence  – or the threat of violence – perpetrated on civilians for political or economic gain.  Our nation is the greatest purveyor of terrorism on our planet.  U.S. terrorism spawns blowback.  Last January’s reaper drone assassination of Iran’s General Qassim Suliemani, for example, risked extreme retaliation.  Given teh volatility of our era, such attacks may very well spark nuclear war.   That is, global annihilation.

High-tech drone terrorism generates proliferation, with many nations racing – in defense – for mastery of the skies.  Weaponized and surveillance drones have already come home to roost.  Hancock’s Reaper drones, menacingly, have even surveilled our weekly demonstrations.

Friends, look around you.  See the imagery from that brilliant 19th century fable, Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. We call our 21st century tableau, ‘Alice’s Nightmare in Drone Land’.   Chesire cat, depicted here tells us drone assassination is madness.  Mad Hatter, knowing that the U.S. military is one of the world’s major polluters and consumers of oil, urges us to stop destroying our climate.

“Alice herself cries out, ‘Please don’t kill me – I’m not a terrorist.’  Let us open our hearts to teh anguished cries of every ‘Alice’, especially those mothers and children throughout the oil lands.  And if, finally, we would oupen our ears to our fellow humans, we might also come to hear the screams – carried by wind, fire and flood – of our anguished and very resistant planet.

James Ricks of Ithaca and Harry Murray of Rochester, long time Drone protesters and veterans of civil resistance at Hancock Field

Drone Warfare Update from Upstate Drone Action:

U.S. expanding drone strikes from Somalia into Kenya
Camp Simba is on Manda Bay, Kenya’s east coast, an airbase that the U.S. command has been using for over a decade. There, private Pentagon contractors have been flying surveillance flights throughout northern Africa and for drone attacks against Islamist militants in Somalia. The contractors also operate armed drones although they don’t make targeting decisions. This allows the U.S. Africa Command to maintain the quasi-legal distinction that only uniform-wearing service members, who are lawful combatants, make the decisions as to who to target and kill.

Although Kenya’s President has made public statements disavowing the Pentagon’s use of its territory, it is not a passive host to American military operations. It has received more military aid than any country in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the world’s top 5 recipients of U.S. counter-terrorism aid.

This use of private contractors is becoming more and more common. Aerex Aerospace is a major contractor at the Manda Bay airbase, having won $44M in federal contracts in 2019. The Paris based news site Africa Intelligence reports its pilots operate Reaper drones and other intelligence=gathering aircraft throughout West Africa. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have relied on contractors because they give some degree of plausible deniability. Last year, the Pentagon spent $370 billion, more than half the US military budget on contractors. (Brown and Boston Universities research)

There has been an expansion of lethal airstrikes with unaccounted civilian causalities in Somalia in the last three years. Human rights groups have reported 4-10 fold more civilian deaths from airstrikes than has the U.S. Africa Command. There is no reason to believe that lethal drone attacks in Kenya would be any more transparent.

The killing of Islamist militants based on suspicions and intelligence reports that later prove false has become the common practice in Somalia. The Trump administration has gone further, giving commanders expanded authority to order lethal drone strikes. As of late September, the military had not received executive approval to begin targeting in Kenya. But putting in place the infrastructure points toward yet another effort to expand an undeclared war in yet another country.

U.S. Arms Deal Integral part of UAE recognition of Israel

A previously secret part of the United Arab Emirates diplomatic recognition of the state of Israel has become public in recent months. The Emiratis had been pushing for at least six years to buy F-35 fighter planes and Predator and Reaper drones. Israel had objected to the sales based on its reliance on a 50-year U.S. policy of maintaining the country’s “qualitative military edge” over the neighboring Arab countries. Israel has a fleet of the stealth F-35 fighters and is a leading purveyor of advanced drone technology. Since 2017, Congress has prevented arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia because of the thousands of civilians killed in their proxy war with Iran in Yemen.

Previously the U.S. government had held back on selling the Reaper drones, made by Lockheed Martin, because sales are banned by an arms control pact among 35 nations. In July, the Trump administration announced it would bypass the relevant parts of the agreement and issues sales licenses.

One thing that continues to amaze me is that even prize winning journalists whose articles I pulled this information from; never refer to Israel as a nuclear weapons power. This back-story of the U.S. obsession with Iran’s nuclear weapons development is the pathetic public secrecy of our maintenance of nuclear superiority in the Middle East, not to mention everywhere else in the world.

Court Rules Against Trump drone killing policy

A U.S. district court has ordered the Trump administration to lift the total secrecy surrounding its rules for drone strikes and other killings abroad. This order comes as a result of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and New York Times in December 2017.

The Trump administration’s rules, known as the “Principles, Standards, and Procedures,” are believed to loosen Obama-era policy restrictions aimed at limiting civilian casualties in areas “outside of active hostilities,” such as in Yemen, Somalia, among others. The district court rejected the administration’s claim that it could not even confirm or deny whether the new rules exist. The Trump lethal force rules reportedly include lifting a requirement that a target must present a “continuing, imminent” threat to the United States, and permitting lethal strikes against a broader category of people, including those with no special skills or leadership roles. The Trump administration’s rules also reportedly eliminate the high-level vetting required for each individual strike, instead requiring only “higher-level approval” of “country plans” that will be reviewed annually.

Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU, had the following comment:

“Just like during the last administration, a court has decided that President Trump has stretched implausible claims of secrecy over the government’s killing rules too far. The government should not only acknowledge these new rules exist, but make them public.  Credible media and human rights groups have made clear that the Trump administration is killing more people in more places, with civilians and their communities bearing the brunt of tragic costs. We look forward to the government’s response and to ensuring the administration is held accountable for this country’s lethal force program abroad.”

Trump Sued Over U.S. Sanctions on War Crimes Investigation

The International Criminal Court (ICC )is in the midst of investigating possible war crimes committed by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In June the Trump administration issued executive orders sanctioning the Court. This has resulted in legal jeopardy for four law professors who have been providing legal advice and education to the ICC. The four, Diane Marie Amann of the University of Georgia School of Law, Milena Sterio of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Margaret deGuzman of Temple University’ Beasley School of Law and Gabor Rona of the Cardozo School of Law, have filed a lawsuit claiming the order violates their First Amendment rights. The federal sanctions regime threatens them with as many as 20 years in prison.

U.S. Drone Strike in Syria Kills a Child as well as two Al Qaeda operatives

Airwars, the London-based airstrike monitoring group, reports that on October 15th the U.S. military carried out a drone strike killing two senior Al Qaeda operatives in Saeed, a town west of Idlib in northwest Syria. The strike killed a child and wounded multiple other civilians.  The United Nations reported that two aid workers and their driver were injured, one of them critically, when the car they were traveling in was hit by shrapnel from a drone strike on another car in Idlib the same day. The U.S. Central Command has not reported on any civilian harmed in the killings. Neither Fox News nor the Washington Free Beacon, the only two news outlets to cover this strike, mentioned the suspected civilian causalities.




Shut Down Creech 2020

by Tobey Blome
Amazing week resisting killer drones at Shut Down Creech, culminating in a blockade and a 30 minute delay of commute traffic into the base early Friday morning, October 2nd, and no arrests.
Ground the Drones!
Toby, Maggie and all of earth’s Creechers!

Press Release

Contacts:   Toby Blomé, 510-501-5412;        Maggie Huntington, (602) 459-5257
 
Peaceful Anti-drone protestors block entrance to U.S. Assassin Drone Base;
Military traffic unable to enter base for half an hour.
 
A group of 15 peaceful protesters from Nevada, California, and Arizona converged for a weeklong protest at Creech Air Force Base to oppose the remote-controlled killing that takes place in the desert just north of Las Vegas.  Organized by CODEPINK and Veterans For Peace, the bi-annual protest known as “Shut Down Creech” was different due to the concerns and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially because many of the regular activists are elders, and are at higher risk of complications and death. The event included both social distancing and mask wearing at the twice daily commute hour protests at the base. Precautions were also followed during their entire stay at their base camp, “Camp Justice,” down the road from the base. In spite of the risks, these activists were compelled to participate and take a strong and determined stance against the illegal and inhumane remote killing by U.S. drones that occurs daily at the Nevada air base. 
 
Most of the activists were reluctant to engage in civil disobedience, as they often do, because of the risk of COVID-exposure during a possible jail detention.  However, 2 activists, Maggie Huntington from Flagstaff, Arizona, and Toby Blomé from El Cerrito, California ultimately participated in a “soft blockade” to impede commute traffic into the base for as long as they possibly could up until the point that the time limit expired that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police gave to warn blockaders of impending arrest.  Because the activists unexpectedly chose Friday morning for their blockade of resistance, the military and law enforcement officers were caught off guard.  In the early morning rush hour traffic, the women, aged 65 and 76 years old, stretched a large banner, “Stop Droning Afghanistan, 19 years ENOUGH!” across the entrance road into the killer drone base. They also placed in the road several small “coffins,” with names of other countries that are targets by U.S. drones, to impede traffic. They then read into a megaphone the names and ages of some of the victims of U.S. drone attacks memorialized on small pink paper drones.  The activists were able to remove themselves from the road in time to avoid arrest and simultaneously communicate a clear message of objection and noncompliance to the intolerable U.S. practice of remote killing, where hundreds of children have already died as “collateral damage.”  Due to the element of surprise, the alternative northerly gate, a mile up the roadway from the commuter gate, was closed, and it took significant time to open and receive traffic.  As a result military traffic was backed up all the way down highway 95, to the site of the blockade.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of cars were delayed into the base, for about a half hour.  Activists considered the action a very successful achievement toward their goal: To shut down Creech Air Force Base for as long as possible to halt the criminal activity taking place.      www.ShutDownCreech.blogspot.com
“I’m motivated to participate in this resistance, with the hope that we will teach the soldiers that they must take control of and understand the consequences of their actions,” said Maggie Huntington, one of the blockaders.  According to one Chinese Proverb, “To know and not to act is not to know.”   
Other Shut Down Creech demonstrations during the weeklong anti-drone protest included:  a solemn “funeral procession” along the highway with black clothing, white masks and small coffins;  LED light board letters in the dark of the early morning, declaring: “NO DRONES”; 
 –Observation…..without judgement….is the Highest Form……of Human Intelligence
 
Drone Attacks are……COWARDLY, BARBARIC, RACIST, WRONG, SHAMEFUL, UNJUST, IMMORAL……
Other commute vigil themes included:
War is Not Green/End War for Climate Justice  (The U.S. Military is the #1 Global User of Fossil Fuel)
WAR IS A LIE:   PRESIDENTS LIE, CONGRESS LIES, GENERALS LIE, CIA LIES, etc.



American Atrocities Continue To This Day

by Ed Kinane, Published in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, November 3, 2019

On March 16, 1968, at My Lai, a thatched-hut village in South Vietnam, demented U.S. soldiers slaughtered some 500 peasants. Fortunately — for our awareness of the savagery of war — news of this massacre leaked out.

Later, conscience-stricken veterans publicly testified that My Lai wasn’t an “aberration” or the only GI massacre. Reports of other massacres emerged from other sources (especially the leaked “Pentagon Papers”).

These atrocities underpinned the demolishing of a distant impoverished land — one that had never threatened U.S. people, “interests,” or borders.

Sound familiar?

Fifty years later, run-amuck militarism remains very much with us. On March 19, 2019 a U.S. drone killed 30 Afghan pine nut harvesters gathered at night around a campfire. A further 40 were reportedly wounded in the attack.

This, too, was no isolated event. But in the 21st century, such increasingly high-tech killing has evolved and normalized. Across the Islamic oil lands — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia — U.S. robotic drones attack first responders, wedding parties and funeral processions. Hundreds of the innocent and unarmed are being killed, and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, are being terrorized, spurring waves of refugees.

Given the much-touted “precision” of the Hellfire missiles — a Lockheed Martin product — that these soulless operations deploy, can we call such massacres “mistakes”? Or excuse them as due to some mystical, unaccountable “fog of war”?

Hundreds of the innocent and unarmed are being killed, and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, are being terrorized, spurring waves of refugees.  When do U.S. taxpayers demand: stop the killing? When will we no longer tolerate a demented commander-in-chief and the demented Pentagon that generates such terror?


Ed Kinane, of Syracuse, spent five months in Iraq with the human-rights group Voices in the Wilderness before, during and after “Shock and Awe.” A My Lai Memorial Exhibit will be displayed at the Broome County Public Library from Thursday through Saturday.