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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)

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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)

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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:
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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,




Stop U.S. drone warfare now

LEDE -AP915761441397.jpg

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night.(Photo: AP)

I just spent two months as a prisoner in Jamesville Penitentiary.

I was jailed for my involvement in an April 28, 2013, solemn funeral procession at Hancock Air Force drone base in Syracuse. I joined 30 others to carry the message to “stop the killing.” Hancock’s 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard flies missiles and drops bombs via satellite from drones thousands of miles from Syracuse. The targets are suspected “terrorists” somewhere in the Middle East. 

Stanford University Law School’s International Human Rights Conflict Resolution Clinic and New York University Law School”s Global Justice Clinic, working independently with The Bureau for Independent Journalism, spent years collecting data on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The findings are grim. In their report titled “Living Under Drones,” only 2 percent of the killings have been confirmed “suspected terrorists” by the law schools’ study.

Thousands have been killed, thousands wounded — body parts scattered in cities and countryside by our killer drones. There are no estimates of psychological damage to millions who live under drones 24/7. The killings by American drone missiles may be the best recruitment tool for more Middle East terrorists.

My “crime” was being a nonviolent messenger outside the main gate to Hancock. I was convicted of trespass and obstructing government administration. I was handcuffed and sent to Jamesville Penitentiary in Syracuse. As the oldest prisoner at Jamesville at 79, I was also the only political prisoner — a prisoner of conscience.

Before my sentence, I was offered a plea bargain: Plead guilty and have all charges dropped, or go to trial and face a year and 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary. As a former high school teacher of Participation in Government classes, I could not say I was guilty of a crime for practicing my First Amendment rights of assembly, speech, press and religion.

Thankfully, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did not support arresting Wall Street demonstrators during the U.N. Climate Summit in September of this year. “I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic,” de Blasio said when asked about disruptions caused by the Wall Street demonstration. “The right of people to make their voices heard, regardless of their views, is a fundamental American value, and we’ll protect that value.”

It should be noted that those of us arrested did not block traffic at Hancock Drone base on April 28, 2013.

The refusal of the DeWitt town court in East Syracuse to recognize First Amendment rights of assembly is akin to the medieval act of killing the messenger of bad news. The insistence of the DeWitt court to collaborate with the military to stop nonviolent protest near the Hancock Attack Wing is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The DeWitt court order of protection to stay away from the assassination base begs the question: Is there collusion between the DeWitt court and the military to suppress constitutional rights?

Gilroy is a lifetime anti-war activist who has been working with the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.   He is a resident of  Endwell, NY.