January 31, 2010
January 27, 2010
January 26, 2010
"Demand that they stop funding illegal war and occupation. Don't let them tell you that they "support the troops," so they have to vote for the money. We know better than that. This money is to support war, and to line the pockets of the military/industrial complex and war profiteers, not to help the troops.
Ask your representative to co-sponsor HR 3699, a bill to prohibit any increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan. This bill is ONE sentence long:"No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to increase the number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan so that the number of members serving in Afghanistan exceeds the number so serving on the date of the enactment of this Act."If HR 3699 were passed, it wouldn't matter if the defense budget was approved-it would be UNLAWFUL to spend any money on the escalation in Afghanistan. Congress needs to hear from us, and we have to make it clear that we are very serious in our demands to stop the wars and occupations. The only thing that will counter the power of the big money lobbyists, is the threat of losing their seat in Congress. Make it clear that you will not support anyone who votes for the money. This is an election year-we need to make sure that Congress feels like they need to please us, not big money."
January 22, 2010
42 Arrested at U.S. Capitol Denouncimg Obama's Broken Promises on Guantanamo, America's Broken Laws, and the Breaking of Lives by Torture
January 21, 2010
Washington, DC: In a dramatic protest, 42 activists with Witness
Against Torture were arrested this afternoon at the U.S. Capitol. The
protest comes on the eve of the since-voided deadline President Obama
had set for closing the prison camp at Guantanamo.
Those arrested on the Capitol steps held banners reading "Broken
Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives." Inside the Capitol, 14
activists performed a "memorial service" for the three men whose
deaths at Guantanamo in 2006 were initially reported as suicides and
callously described as "acts of asymmetrical warfare" by military
officials. New reports provide strong evidence that the men may have
been tortured to death at a CIA secret prison in Guantanamo.
The ceremony brought the names of the men-- Salah Ahmed Al-Salami,
Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani-- into the Capitol
Rotunda, where deceased presidents have lay in state. "We perform this
ceremony to recognize the humanity of those whose lives have been
broken by our government's policies of torture and indefinite
detention," says Jerica Arents of Chicago, Illinois, one of those
arrested in the Capitol.
Witness Against Torture has called for an immediate, independent
investigation of the deaths, as it has called for the criminal
investigation of all those who allegedly designed, executed, and
carried out torture policies.
Most of the 42 arrested at the Capitol did not carry identification,
taking instead the names of men at Guantanamo through arrest and
processing. "Taking the name of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif is a
necessary and real way of bringing his story to Congress," says Joshua
Brollier, a co-coordinator with Voices for Creative Nonviolence in
Chicago, Illinois. "Adnan was tortured and continues to be held after
eight years without charge or trial. It boggles the mind and breaks
the heart. It's time for Congress and the Obama administration to make
and fulfill a plan for his release." Brollier and others from Voices
will continue in Washington through February 2, participating in the
Peaceable Assembly Campaign to pressure Obama administration and
Congress to explore alternatives to U.S. militarism.
The actions at the Capitol followed a march of "Guantanamo prisoners"
dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods that began at the White
House and stopped at the Supreme Court before going to Capitol
grounds, home to the U.S. Congress. "Congress has played a horrible
role in refusing to check the power of the president and in supporting
torture," commented Matt Daloisio of New York City, a Witness Against
Torture organizer. "But it was important to pass by all of the
government institutions that have failed to uphold justice and protect
the rule of law."
Members of Witness Against Torture began a Fast for Justice on Monday,
January 11-- the date in 2002 when the first men were brought to
Guantanamo under the Bush administration's "war on terror."
One-hundred fifty people from around the country joined the 12 day
fast, which will end on Friday, January 22, the promised day for
"We were so hopeful last year," says Christine Gaunt, a grandmother
and third generation farmer from Grinnell, Iowa, who was arrested at
the Capitol. "But Obama has broken his promise to close Guantanamo.
I am acting today because I am horrified and ashamed that this illegal
prison continues to exist, and that those responsible for torture have
not been held to account. I am using my body to demand that my
government stop the insanity of torture and illegal detention."
Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being
in December 2005 when 24 activists walked through Cuba to the
Guantanamo base to condemn the prison camp and torture policies. Since
then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and
non-violent direct action.
January 18, 2010
"Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."Dr. Martin Luther King, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize
We're bicycling from San Francisco to Washington, DC between 24-July and 22-Sept, 2010, without motorized support. Cynthia McKinney, six term Member of Congress and 2008 Green Party nominee for President, is riding. The ride will demonstrate the bicycle as a transformational tool to solve the problems of Climate Change, Oil Wars, the Health Crisis, and the Economic Crunch. Along the way, riders will facilitate community discussions around the question "How can we support each other to live true to our best values?"
Our route, schedule, and discussion group are open to anybody with a free Google account. Please join us. If you would like to bicycle all or part of the route, plan a convergence ride, or host riders passing through your community, please e-mail email@example.com.
January 17, 2010
Broome County Peace Action: "We call on those who operate aircraft of any kind that kill Iraqis, Afghanis, or Pakistanis to desist"
At its December 8th monthly board meeting, Broome County Peace Action passed the following motion unanimously:Broome County Peace Action, a 134-member local chapter of national Peace Action, supports troops who, acting on their conscience, refuse to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan because they consider those wars and occupations to be illegal and immoral. Similarly, we support the deployed troops who for the same reason have applied for early discharge. We call on those who operate aircraft of any kind that kill Iraqis, Afghanis, or Pakistanis to desist. We admire the courage of all servicemen and women who actively resist these unjust wars. By rejecting their "mission" and disobeying orders at great personal risk, they are upholding the Constitution that empowers Congress alone to declare war, but does not empower the President to wage “preventive” wars that flout international law.After that, the board voted to forward the motion to Peace Action of New York State with the request that it be distributed to all the chapters in New York. It is our hope that upon receiving this statement, each chapter will consider adopting it as its own with the appropriate rewording. And, that they will publicize the reworded document in their community, as well as think of other ways in which their chapter might be supportive of our resisting troops.
Ann Clune, President pro tem
January 16, 2010
I was excited to read news stories about Cliff Cornell being released from prison. His is one of those war stories about a wonderful man who refused to fight in Iraq. He went to Canada, built a new life, was unjustly deported by the Harper Regime, arrested in the states, and sent to prison to serve a one year term.
He just had his sentenced reduced and he was released from prison early. A 'less than one year sentence' means he won't be considered a felon. Although he still faces an arduous task, he has a better though chance of returning to his friends in British Columbia.
From a C_FAX 1070 article:
"Well, I just got out this morning and the thing I'm looking forward to now is going home and seeing my family and friends I haven't seen in five years. That's the priority right now. After that I really don't know which way to go."Read War Resister released from U.S. prison wants to come back to Canada in the Canadian Press.
He says he is relieved to be free and now wants to return to Gabriola Island, and will contact a lawyer to find out how to re-apply for citizenship.
Gradually I notice a blur developing in front of my left eye. I take my reading glasses off to see if there is some dust or a fingerprint. Instead I find a tiny clear plastic rectangle with the gold numbers, 1.50, and a gold rectangular line functioning as a border. It's practically in the middle of the lens.
I've been wearing these glasses for reading for about a week. I never noticed it before. What happened to practicing "mindfulness"?
Sometimes my inability to function with my tiny problems makes me tired. The 'glasses' thing is very small, but as with a single word on a printed page, it is one of many in a day. When I examine all my petty little malfunctions, I wonder about how will I ever be able to contribute to helping the people that are victims of the huge and horrendous things going on around the world if I can't get out of my own way.
Tonight I'm tired. But my overwhelming feeling is joy because of Cliff's freedom. We love you Cliff and what you've done. Welcome home! -Russell
-thanks to We Move To Canada
January 14, 2010
by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Report
The Army has filed charges for a special court-martial against Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a single mother of a one-year-old baby. Hutchinson missed her deployment to Afghanistan late last year when her child-care plans for her son, Kamani, fell through at the last minute.
Hutchinson and her attorneys had been working with the Army in good faith to resolve her situation administratively, rather than through the criminal process, and still hoped that would have been the most fair and compassionate way for the Army to deal with the difficult situation.
Maj. Daniel Gallagher is the rear detachment commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, and is, according to Hutchinson's civilian attorney Rai Sue Sussman, "the one who signed the charges [against Hutchinson]."
"I am disappointed in Major Daniel Gallagher's decision to go ahead with filing charges, which shows a lack of compassion for this young mother and her infant son, and a lack of discretion in dealing with the situation fairly," Sussman wrote in a press release issued on Thursday. "The situation tends to show that the Army is not able to effectively and humanely counsel Army families in this situation. An infant and his mother were forcibly separated, when other options were available to the commander. This was a failure of her chain of command to properly counsel her, given her situation. On top of all this, criminal charges seem unnecessary."
Sussman explained that the Army claims to have offered to counsel Hutchinson with other options, but said she "can't imagine that they gave an offer beyond foster care - but they were unspecific in their press release [released Thursday] about what that child care would be."
The military's press release on the matter stated that Hutchinson's command had informed her of other options to take care of her child, but that she had refused these options.
Sussman said she speaks with Hutchinson regularly, and knows that government care for her infant is not something her client wants to do.
In previous instances when soldiers deploy and leave a child in state custody, when the parent returns they often experience problems in exercising their parental rights, and in some cases have even lost custody of their child.
Sussman explained to Truthout that she was taken aback by the Army's recent decision, particularly when she felt that negotiations were making progress.
"First we offered and put in an application for a Chapter 5A discharge for parenthood, which is an honorable discharge," she said, "But more recently we were willing to take a misconduct discharge to get things over with. But her commander rejected that and filed criminal charges. Hutchinson would really just like to put this all behind her."
Sussman feels that "in terms of equity and efficiency, and even punishment, I think the Army could do this a different way than a special court martial."
If Hutchinson is found guilty during a special court-martial, she could face up to a one year detention in a military brig, forfeiture of a percentage or all of her pay while in jail and has a guarantee she will not receive an honorable discharge from the military upon completion of her jail time, thereby forfeiting at least some, and likely all, of her benefits.
"To me, when we are willing to get an other-than-honorable discharge for the purposes of ending this situation and having some stability for her child, it's disappointing that he [Major Gallagher] feels it needs to be a criminal charge," Sussman told Truthout, "They are throwing the book at her, even though she's already been punished a lot. She's had her child taken away from her, she did three days in jail when she was arrested in November, then three weeks on 24-hour watch sleeping on a cot in the recreation room [at her barracks] after that, and then assigned to post."
Currently, Hutchinson remains assigned to Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Georgia, where she has been posted since February 2008.
In mid-November 2009, Hutchinson was jailed and threatened with a court-martial if she did not agree to deploy to Afghanistan. At the time, her son was placed into a county foster care system.
Prior to this, Hutchinson was, according to the family care plan of the US Army, allowed to fly to California and leave her son with her mother, Angelique Hughes of Oakland.
However, after a week of caring for the child, Hughes realized she was unable to care for Kamani along with her other duties of caring for a daughter with special-needs, her ailing mother and an ailing sister.
In late October, Angelique Hughes told Hutchinson and her commander, Captain Gassant, that she would be unable to care for Kamani after all. The Army then gave Hutchinson an extension of time in order to enable her to find someone else to care for Kamani. Meanwhile, Hughes brought Kamani back to Georgia to be with his mother.
However, only a few days before Hutchinson's original deployment date, she was told by the Army she would not get the time extension after all, and would have to deploy, despite not having found anyone to care for her child.
Faced with this choice, Specialist Hutchinson chose not to show up for her plane to Afghanistan. The military arrested her and placed her child in the county foster care system.
At that time, Sussman told Truthout, "I think they didn't believe her that she was unable to find someone to care for her infant. They think she's just trying to get out of her deployment. But she's just trying to find someone she can trust to take care of her baby. She has never intended to get out of her deployment."
Hutchinson's mother flew to Georgia and took temporary custody of the baby, but was quickly overwhelmed and did not feel able to provide long-term care for the child.
At the time, Sussman told Truthout that the Army's JAG attorney, Capt. Ed Whitford "told me they thought her chain of command thought she was trying to get out of her deployment by using her child as an excuse."
Major Gallagher also told Sussman in November that he did not believe it was a real family crisis, and that Hutchinson's "mother should have been able to take care of the baby."
In addition, according to Sussman, a First Sergeant Gephart "told me he thought she [Hutchinson] was pulling her family care plan stuff to get out of her deployment."
Sussman hopes that they are able to resolve the situation with a good solution for Hutchinson, "where she's not separated from her child and not given a criminal conviction. So I hope she can either beat the court martial or find a good resolution by working with the Army. But I'm pretty frustrated that they still want to punish her, even though she's been fully cooperative with them from the very beginning."
When Hutchinson returned from her holiday break last week, she brought Kamani with her. According to Sussman, Hutchinson hopes that if she is taken to jail again, she is given notice so that she can make proper arrangements for her son.
Sussman is clear about what she feels the Army has done to mishandle the situation: "The whole situation arose in large part because it was a failure of her chain of command to properly counsel her when this began, and now they are still failing to give her compassion and discretion when her child is involved, and they are treating her like there is no child involved and there was no excuse for her not to show up. When in reality, she was forced to choose between her child and her mission, which is obviously a difficult choice."
The following was published on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 by the Associated Press
Comes on top of record $708 billion request for next year
by Anne Gearan and Anne Flaherty
The Obama administration plans to ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year, The Associated Press has learned.© 2010 Associated Press
US soldiers, members of the protection squad of a Provincial Reconstruction team walk near Bargram Air Base, about 60 kms from Kabul on January 11. (AFP/File/Joel Saget) The administration also plans to tell Congress next month that its central military objectives for the next four years will include winning the current wars while preventing new ones, and its core missions will include both counterinsurgency and counterterror operations.
The administration's Quadrennial Defense Review, the main articulation of U.S. military doctrine, is due in Congress on Feb. 1. Top military commanders were briefed on the document at the Pentagon on Monday and Tuesday. They also received a preview of the administration's budget plans through 2015.
The four-year review outlines six crucial mission areas and spells out capabilities and goals the Pentagon wants to develop. The pilotless drones used for surveillance and attack missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a priority, with a goal of speeding up the purchase of new Reaper drones and expansion of Predator and Reaper drone flights through 2013.
The extra $33 billion in 2010 would go mostly toward expansion of the war in Afghanistan. Obama ordered an extra 30,000 troops for that war as part of an overhaul of the war strategy late last year.
The request for that additional funding will be sent to Congress at the same time as the record spending request for next year, making financing the war an especially difficult pill for some of Obama's Democratic allies to swallow.
Military officials have suggested that the 2011 request would top $700 billion for the first time, but the precise figure has not been made public.
U.S. officials outlined the coming requests on condition of anonymity because the budget request will not be sent to Congress until later this month.
January 12, 2010
By Matthew Hickman (U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command)
In preparation for the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, set for Jan. 9, scientists from the Research, Development and Engineering Command gave students a first-hand look at current and emerging technology and detailed the path to become involved in the creation of future battlefield technology as they visited high schools here Jan. 5-6.
"The kids have really been interested in the technology," said Bernard Theisen from the Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center at Warren, Mich. "Robotics in general, whether it be military or commercial, is a growing industry and the United States is trying to take advantage of it so we're trying to get kids involved and we're trying to build the industry here."
The RDECOM scientists and engineers involved in the program hope to leave a lasting impact on the students that they may consider a field in Army technology. The program has had a positive effect as feedback from students and school administrators has been supportive.
"The impact is very positive," said John Cua of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at Fort Monmouth, N.J. "The students are eager to learn and are happy to have this opportunity."
The impact could have an immediate effect as some of the students are participating in robotic competitions, Theisen said, and the teachers have been able to take this unique experience and build upon the interest.
"This gives the students a more in-depth idea of robotics," said Shayla Wallace, biology and robotics teacher at KIPP Prep High School. "The students will be competing in April at a robotics competition, so this is very good experience and soon they'll have to start building and programming."
Some of the students who were already interested in joining the Army were surprised to find out there was a field of robotics they had only seen before in video games. The experience served to reinforce their previous decisions and to also pursue an education that would allow them more interaction with the technology.
"Our teacher said robotics was used in the Army, but I didn't know it was this much," said Vicente Sanchez, a 9th grade student at KIPP Prep High School. "Me and my friend want to join the Army, so now we found another branch that we can go in to."
The TARDEC engineers aren't new to these types of programs, Theisen said, and engage students quite often in order to build the robotics industry. The San Antonio tour was just another in a long line of this type of community outreach.
"We have a program for middle schoolers we support called Robofest. We support high school programs, and for university we're the main sponsor for the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition," Theisen said.
The most important element for the scientists and engineers is that every student that wants an opportunity to interact with the technology gets one. They are in no hurry to leave and they are willing to spend as much time with the kids as possible.
"We want every kid to physically touch the robot," Theisen said. "We're here until they kick us out."
The engineers want the students to know that there are several different ways to support the Solider. "You don't just have to wear a green uniform," he said, "you can get a engineering degree and support them on the civilian end." Theisen hopes these programs encourage students to take that path.
"Hopefully, if they weren't thinking about pursuing a high-tech field, they'll leave here considering a career designing and repairing robots," he said.
January 10, 2010
We overlook the patterns we should disrupt - our courageous, outspoken War Resisters being persecuted.
These patterns bring us a feeling of unity with others around the world - wherever.
We delude ourselves to feel that we are part of the beginnings of a weaving on a global loom.
Recent/Innocent recruits - learn to kill.
Go to war - kill.
Filled with horror and shame - Refuse to do it again.
They see the systematically confused communities back home - They speak Out.
Tell the story - Share the truth.
Years evading the authorities and speaking out - they go to prison - for doing the right thing.
We watch the mercenaries in the kill-corporations like Blackwater (Xe): murder, abuse, harass, intimidate, terrorize - do whatever they want and nothing happens to them. They make a lot of money.
We also watch soldiers carry out missions that break (like rip, snap, crack) families and the people in them and then come home broken to broken families - sometimes the government tries to repair the broken soldiers - a new leg, some plastic surgery, counseling, pills - some good help, lots of bad help - for many no help.
We watch soldiers refuse to kill innocent people - refuse to harass and intimidate anymore - We watch as the government breaks up their families and locks up these Veterans.
We watch lethargic vets organizations beg for bandages and do nothing to help their resisting brothers and sisters who fought the same illegal wars again and again until they finally 'broke' in a different way - that is, they couldn't kill or terrorize any more.
We watch as the military lures them in, winds them up with a weapon, fills their heads with racist rhetoric and points them toward some innocent people in some foreign land. But when they see the pain and when they feel the pain, we watch them put down their weapons, turn around, and walk towards love and compassion. It's beautiful - so we lock them up.
All we do is watch.
And Congress sends more money to do it all again.
And we watch.
Mark Steel: L/Cpl Glenton's crime was to say we were making matters worse.
Politicians and newspapers love to revere a war hero from Afghanistan, so it's strange that they haven't got round to Lance-Corporal Joe Glenton. When Joe went out there he must have been warned he could end up being held in captivity, but he can't have expected that would mean getting locked away by the British Army.
His crime was to conclude that the war was making matters worse, and it was immoral to carry on fighting, and to say this publicly. So they put him in a military jail, presumably to stop him doing it again. Leave this dangerous felon at liberty and he might refuse to fight in the Congo, in Kashmir, in a re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth; who knows what danger he'd be to the public.
As a soldier, this must leave you in a state of confusion, as I doubt whether the initial briefing includes a section that goes, "Now then, men, during your tour of duty with the British Army, I implore you to remain vigilant and wary at all times of the wily foes known as the British Army."
Joe Glenton might have escaped arrest if he'd been prepared to keep his opposition to the war quiet, rather than speak about his experience openly. Because, as a soldier, he's not supposed to air an opinion about the war. But every week there are reports in which soldiers tell us we're slowly winning, and none of them get court-martialled. So the real crime wasn't to voice an opinion but to voice the wrong opinion.
In any case Army leaders make statements about every aspect of the war, to the extent that Richard Dannatt, head of the whole force, criticised the Government just before announcing his allegiance to the Tories. Maybe there's a formula that goes, "Officers of the rank of Captain or above shall he be entitled to thoughts. (However, ranks down to Sergeant-Major may be permitted certain impulses, at the rate of up to three per calendar month)."
It must be hard for a soldier not to hold an opinion on the war, when they can see they're often arming one set of warlords against another, to the extent we call the ones we like the "Moderate Taliban". Presumably these are the ones who say "One tower was fine, but we shouldn't have done the two".
There must be signs all round the barracks saying,"You are ordered not to notice that the honest government you're risking your lives to defend fiddled the election so blatantly the UN ordered it to be re-run – or that the heroin production you were told you'd be eliminating has gone up – or that many of the civilians you're here to protect want you to leave. You must also be careful not to remember that one of the reasons given for the war was to capture Bin Laden, which we never did. Therefore anyone who sees him must not notice him, as this will serve to dampen morale."This might be why Joe described his time in the barracks since his imprisonment by saying"The response was fantastic. Soldiers shook my hand and patted me on the back. One guy said, 'You're saying what everyone else is thinking'. Talking to soldiers in other units, you get the impression that people are questioning why we're in Afghanistan."This questioning has spread through every layer of society, to the extent that the audience for a recent Question Time in Wootton Bassett, the town that lines the streets for each returning dead soldier, warmed to the arguments of anti-war campaigner Salma Yaqoob. So the politicians and supporters of the war must be thankful to Anjem Choudary, who's planned a march through Wootton Bassett for his group called Islam4UK.
To give him credit, no one could accuse Islam4UK of pandering to Middle England. If one of his supporters suggested "Maybe we should call ourselves Islam4UK, except for Surrey", he'd probably say "If you're going soft you can sod off and join the Liberal Democrats". Next week, you assume, he'll announce a parade demanding the ritual slaughter of all kittens live on Blue Peter.
The march allows supporters of the war to define the situation as sensible Britain versus militant Islam. But sensible Britain is turning against this war.
Joe Glenton has recently been released on bail, and his court martial takes place in three weeks, around the time another participant in war will be giving his evidence. So the rules seem to be that if you tell a lie to start a war, you're called up seven years later for a polite inquiry. And if you tell the truth to stop a war you're likely to get banged up. To someone somewhere I presume this all makes sense.
There's a phrase originating with the peace activism of the American Quaker movement: "Speak Truth to Power." One can hardly speak more directly to power than addressing the Presidential Administration of the United States. This past October, students at Islamabad's Islamic International University had a message for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One student summed up many of her colleagues' frustration. "We don't need America," she said. "Things were better before they came here."
The students were mourning loss of life at their University where, a week earlier, two suicide bombers walked onto the campus wearing explosive devices and left seven students dead and dozens of others seriously injured. Since the spring of 2009, under pressure from U.S. leaders to "do more" to dislodge militant Taliban groups, the Pakistani government has been waging military offensives throughout the northwest of the country. These bombing attacks have displaced millions and the Pakistani government has apparently given open permission for similar attacks by unmanned U.S. aerial drones. Every week, Pakistani militant groups have launched a new retaliatory atrocity in Pakistan, killing hundreds more civilians in markets, schools, government buildings, mosques and sports facilities. Who can blame the student who believed that her family and friends were better off before the U.S. began insisting that Pakistan cooperate with U.S. military goals in the region?
In neighboring Afghanistan, 2009 was the deadliest year for Afghan children since 2001, according to the Afghanistan Rights Monitor. In a January 6 statement, the group noted that in 2009 about 1050 children had died in suicide attacks, roadside blasts, air strikes and the cross-fire between Taliban insurgents and pro-government forces, both Afghan and foreign. The group's director, Ajmal Samadi, noted that this figure amounted to nearly three children per day. It's estimated that nearly one third of these children's deaths were caused by US/NATO coalition forces. This week, hundreds of Afghans have taken to the streets in protest after the Afghan government said its investigation has established that all 10 people killed by U.S. led forces on January 3rd, in a remote village in Kunar province, were civilians and that eight of those killed were schoolchildren, aged 12-14. The London Times reports that the U.S.-led troops were accused of dragging the innocent children from their beds, handcuffing several of them, and then killing all eight of them.
Stories of carnage, horror and impoverishment aren't new in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. Ten years ago, each of these countries suffered under severely repressive governance and extremes of poverty. In the case of Iraq, these conditions were made immeasurably worse by U.S.-imposed economic sanctions that punished innocent Iraqi citizens for their inability to rise from under Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, all the while rendering them completely dependent on Hussein's regime to meet their basic survival needs. Yet in all this suffering that preceded the U.S. invasions of the region, there were very few accounts of suicide bombings in the lands where the U.S. is now at war. The kidnapping and torture industries, now rife in all three countries, had not developed, and their entire economies had not been hobbled by blatant official corruption.
What has U.S. invasion and occupation unleashed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? And how are these wars creating security for U.S. people?
The New York Times reported on November 14, 2009 that, according to internal U.S. government estimates, it costs one million dollars to keep one soldier in Afghanistan for one year. Consider this sum in light of the fact that, in Afghanistan, district governors earn 70 dollars per month. Their operation budget is 15 dollars per month, and half of them have no dedicated office. Or, in light of the UN estimate that the Gross Domestic Product, per capita, in Afghanistan, is less than $1,000 per year. Or that The United Nation's Children's Fund, better known as UNICEF, says Afghanistan is the worst place in the world to be born, having the highest infant mortality rate in the world with 257 deaths per 1,000 live births. Only 70 percent of Afghans have access to clean water.
Kai Eide, the outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Afghanistan, briefed the UN Security Council on January 5, 2010. With regard to military activities, he bluntly stated that "civilian casualties, house searches, and detention policies are sources of recruitment for the insurgency."
President Obama's administration is soon expected to request another "emergency" supplemental expenditure for the Iraq and Afghan wars, this time for between 40 and 50 billion dollars. If (some would say, when) this figure is approved, it will make 2010 fiscally the most costly year of the ongoing War on Terror, surpassing President Bush's expenditures by a significant margin. Before the year is out, President Obama will also have submitted a budget item to fund the wars in 2011, with military services already planning to request something in the range of $160 to $165 billion.
The U.S. Constitution states that Congress shall make no law to abridge the right of people to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance. We are deeply aggrieved by the folly of these wars. Our right to free speech is irrelevant if we don't exercise it, and so we intend to raise the lament of those who bear the brunt of our wars but whose voices seldom reach U.S. government figures. For two weeks this January, leading up to the date when President Obama is due to submit his budget for Fiscal Year 2011 to Congress, Voices for Creative Nonviolence and friends will gather in Washington D.C. for a "Peaceable Assembly Campaign" project. (www.peaceableassemblycampaign.org)
We'll be meeting with elected representatives to raise questions about the folly and the crime of war, holding daily vigils at the White House, and engaging in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to emphasize our refusal to cooperate with the war makers.
Please join us in this year-long campaign, whether in Washington D.C. this month, or participating locally where you live. Visit the Voices website, www.vcnv.org, to learn more about ways to become involved, both locally through this coming summer and in the Days of Resistance in Washington.
We'll be there from January 19th through February 2nd.
Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kathy Kelly's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
January 8, 2010
American military personnel are continuing to take their own lives in unprecedented numbers, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wars drag on. By late November, at least 334 members of the armed forces had committed suicide in 2009, more than the 319 who were killed in Afghanistan or the 150 who died in Iraq. While a final figure is not available, the toll of military suicides last year was the worst since records began to be kept in 1980.
The Army, National Guard and Army Reserve lost at least 211 personnel to suicide. More than half of those who took their lives had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Army suicide rate of 20.2 per 100,000 personnel is higher than that registered among males aged 19 to 29, the gender age bracket with the highest rate among the general population. Before 2001, the Army rarely suffered 10 suicides per 100,000 soldiers.
The Navy lost at least 47 active duty personnel in 2009, the Air Force 34 and the Marine Corp, which has been flung into some of the bloodiest fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, 42. The Marine suicide rate has soared since 2001 from 12 to at least 19.5 per 100,000.
For every death, at least five members of the armed forces were hospitalised for attempting to take their life. According to the Navy Times, 2 percent of Army; 2.3 percent of Marines and 3 percent of Navy respondents to the military’s own survey of 28,536 members from all branches reported they had attempted suicide at some point. The “Defense Survey of Health-Related Behaviors” also found “dangerous levels” of alcohol abuse and the illicit use of drugs such as pain killers by 12 percent of personnel.
The trigger for a suicide attempt varied from case to case: relationship breakdowns, financial problems, substance abuse, tensions with other members of their unit, a traumatic event. What is clear, however, is that military service has seriously impacted on the physical and mental health of the victims.
The suicide figures for serving personnel are only one indication. The most alarming statistics are those on mental illness related to the hundreds of thousands of veterans of the two wars who have left the military and sought to reintegrate into civilian life.
While there is no exact figure, studies estimate that as many as 20 to 30 percent of veterans suffer some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), hindering their ability to hold down jobs, maintain relationships, overcome substance abuse and, in some cases, maintain their will to live. The worsening economic conditions facing working people in the US are aggravating the difficulties.
A survey last year found that at least 15 percent of former soldiers in the 20 to 24 age bracket were unemployed. An article by the Florida Today site on January 3 reported that 450 of the 800 homeless in Brevard County were Iraq or Afghanistan veterans. Shelters in California are reporting twice as many requests for assistance from new veterans compared with 2007. At the current rate, they will eventually outnumber the more than 100,000 homeless Vietnam vets.
A study of veterans with PTSD published last August by the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that 47 percent had had suicidal thoughts before seeking treatment and 3 percent had attempted to kill themselves. The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has been compelled to substantially upgrade its services. Since its 24-hour, seven-days a week suicide hotline was belatedly established in July 2007, it has counselled over 185,000 veterans or their families and claims to have prevented at least 5,000 suicides. It now has 400 counselors dedicated to suicide prevention though even the Pentagon admits far more are needed.
People who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan make up a growing proportion of the 6,400 veterans that VA estimates take their own lives each year. A 2007 CBS study put the rate among male veterans aged 20 to 24 at four times the national average—more than 40 per 100,000 per year.
The suicide estimates do not include the hundreds of young veterans who die each year in auto accidents, many of which are linked with excessive speed or driving under the influence and kill or injure others as well. In 2008, veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan were 75 percent more likely to die in an auto accident than non-veterans and 148 percent more likely to die in a motorcycle crash. Suicide statistics also do not count deaths that are classified as accidental drug-related overdoses.
American society will continue to pay for the harm caused by the Iraq and Afghan wars for decades to come. There is a growing medical consensus that a significant factor in PTSD is actual physical damage to the brain. Developments in vehicle and body armour, combined with advances in medical treatment, have enabled thousands of soldiers to survive bomb blasts that might have taken their lives in earlier conflicts. They survive with trauma to their brain however.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury estimated in early 2009 that between 45,000 to 90,000 veterans of the two wars had been left with “severe and lasting symptoms” of brain injury. Overall, the Defense Department estimates that as many as 20 percent of veterans had suffered some degree of brain injury due to bomb blasts while in Iraq or Afghanistan—a staggering 360,000 men and women.
January 7, 2010
At least 15 people were killed today and many more wounded when a US drone launched a pair of attacks against a mud dwelling just outside of the North Waziristan town of Miramshah, near the Afghan border.
The first strike, in the early afternoon, killed at least eight people and collapsed the structure, trapping others underneath. When local villagers arrived on the scene to try to dig the others out of the rubbe, a second missile was fired, killing seven more people.
The identities of the victims are not yet known, but reports have the owner of the dwelling, Abdur Rehman, among the slain. An anonymous Pakistani security source claimed Rehman was a “local commander” and identified every single person killed, even the locals who gathered for the rescue operation, as “terrorists.”
But a local intelligence official told a different story, saying that they could not confirm that any of the victims was a member of any militant group. Rehman was also identified by locals as an important local tribal leader, but not necessarily with any affiliation to any militant group.
The attacks were by far the deadliest of the new year. In 2009 the US killed an estimated 708 people in 44 drone strikes against Pakistan, and despite security sources labeling virtually every one a “suspect” officials now say that nearly 700 of them had no known connection to any group and were apparently innocent civilians.
In Afghanistan, hundreds have taken to the streets of Kabul and elsewhere to protest the US killing of civilians. The incident that has sparked the most outrage took place in eastern Kunar on December 27th, when ten Afghans, eight of them schoolchildren, were killed. According to the Times of London, US-led troops dragged innocent children from their beds and shot them during a nighttime raid. Afghan government investigators said the eight students were aged from eleven to seventeen, all but one of them from the same family.
-see Democracy Now VIDEO
January 6, 2010
Sacred Peace Walk - walking meditation and a prayer-action at the Nevada Test Site and Creech AFB, March 29-April 5, 2010
The Nevada Desert Experience has been working for many years to educate us and end the testing of weapons of mass destruction at the Nevada Test Site. In recent years they have been also focused on the drones and the assassinations and killings conducted by the military at Creech AFB near Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out their site and learn about the history of the area and their past actions.
Sacred Peace Walk
March 29 - April 5, 2010
Please note that this year's walk includes the Mahavir Janant (Jain), Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter (Christian), Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu), Passover (Jewish), and Theravadin New Year (Buddhist).
This is a walking meditation and a prayer-action against the development and testing of new weapons of mass destruction at the Nevada Test Site and Creech Air Force Base.
We walk in the footsteps of a long legacy of peace walkers and spiritual leaders to draw attention to the nuclear dangers that continue to threaten our sacred planet and the community of life. Please join us in transforming fears into compassion and apathy into action in NDE's 2009 Sacred Peace Walk.
NDE's 62-mile, annual pilgrimage to the Nevada Test Site will begin on March 30th with an orientation in Las Vegas and preparation for our six-day walk starting on March 29th. The main Walk ends on Sunday, with an extra special action on Monday for those who can hang out longer in the desert.
We have a support vehicle available for those who need extra support, and for emergencies as well. Some Walkers on the Sacred Peace Walk only come for a few days--all are welcome to do as much or as little of the SPW as the Spirit calls...
'Small boy' nuclear test (1962) photo: US Dept Of Energy
Full-scale nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site were stopped in 1992, in large part to grassroots pressure by Nevada Desert Experience and others. What is going on there now that motivates our action?
The government is working on new and expanded plans for the Nevada Test Site. Some of it is couched in the language of anti-terrorism and treaty verification, but the overarching work there undermines our commitment to nuclear disarmament. They are currently deciding on the scope of an update to the Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement to govern activities there for the next 10 years. Calling for the SWEIS to consider the environmental consequences of nuclear weapons and war in as broad a context possible, NDE made the following points when submitting comments:
1. The scope of the SWEIS needs to include the possibility of closing the NTS in its entirety. Closing the Test Site would be a concrete, confidence-building sign to the world that the United States will not enlarge or re-shape its nuclear stockpile and is sincere in working for nuclear disarmament.
2. The Nevada Test Site land rightfully belongs to the Western Shoshone Nation, and their wishes should be paramount. The Treaty of Ruby Valley (1863) grants their Nation the NTS land and more. They should have the final say regarding any of the work mentioned in this message or the SWEIS.
3. Stockpile Stewardship undermines our moral position as a nation in the face of other countries seeking nuclear weapons. Proposed NTS work must not undermine the obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons as per Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Tonopah Test Range (TTR), sub-critical tests, Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) and other Stockpile Stewardship programs should be eliminated.
4. No quantity or quality of environmental education programs like "Operation Clean Desert" with its "Dr. Proton" and "Adam the Atom" justify keeping the NTS open. No single polluter can compare with the United States military. Nothing in the world can cause as much environmental devastation in as short a time, lasting for as long a time, as nuclear weapons. Any educational programs conducted by the NTS or its managers must be as a warning against further contamination and destruction.
5. If not closed in its entirety, the Nevada Test Site should be closed to all but "Environmental Restoration." No new hazards or toxins should be introduced to the NTS, including low or mixed level waste from other military sites. At least one of the test shot sites needs to be characterized fully to track off-site drift of contaminants. Groundwater monitoring stations need to be better designed and placed, and they must test for other contaminants in addition to tritium. Evidence of plutonium drifting much faster than expected needs to be further researched.
6. Any project such as the Nonproliferation Test and Evaluation Complex (NPTEC) needs to be conducted in support of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) mandate to monitor NPT compliance. Furthermore, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization has the task of monitoring compliance with the CTBT, not the United States. While individual countries have an interest in being able to verify treaty compliance, the United States needs to focus more on taking concrete steps towards disarming than worrying about other countries.
7. The Renewable Energy Option has potential for positive use, but the Western Shoshone should determine what happens at the NTS.
8. The lives of workers at the NTS, but developing or maintaining nuclear weapons shouldn't be viewed as a jobs program.
The Stockpile Stewardship Program was established in response to the Fiscal Year 1994 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 103-160), which requires, in the absence of nuclear testing, a program to:
1. Support a focused, multifaceted program to increase the understanding of the enduring stockpile;
2. Predict, detect, and evaluate potential problems of the aging of the stockpile;
3. Refurbish and re-manufacture weapons and components, as required; and
4. Maintain the science and engineering institutions needed to support the nation’s nuclear deterrent, now and in the future.
Stockpile stewardship is inconsistent with the mandate under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which requires that the United States and other nuclear armed countries to work to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Under the pretense of making sure that what nuclear arms exist are reliable and safe, new types of bombs and delivery systems continue to be designed and tested.
The US is actively seeking new warhead designs for new warfighting scenarios under the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. . . .
New missiles and other delivery systems that are more accurate have prompted weapons designers to promote the manufacture of new, smaller nuclear warheads. The size of the bomb doesn't change the fact that a new weapon is in contradiction of the agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the stockpile.
What is happening at the Nevada Test Site?
The Nevada Test Site is home to classified research. As such, one can't be sure of all that is going on there. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) maintains a website that describes research and facilities at the NTS. Much of the currently listed activities
Capabilities specific to the Nevada Test Site include: Atlas, the Big Explosives Experimental Facility (BEEF), the Device Assembly Facility (DAF), the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) Facility, and the U1a Complex for subcritical nuclear tests.
The last subcritical nuclear explosion was in 2006. According to the Nevada Site Office of the DOE-NNSA, they hope to conduct three new sub-crit tests by the end of 2009.
The Atlas pulsed-power program is in "cold standby" meaning that the building with the machinery has no electricity. At this time there are no plans to restart Atlas experiments. BEEF has "limited activity" according the the Nevada Site Office. The DAF remains ready ready to assemble bomb tests, though none are scheduled. Because of the DAF is the most secured most "hardened" of research facilities, it gets used for other experiments with highly radioactive materials. The DAF also houses the JASPER
What is happening at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs?
Creech AFB is home to the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing which is responsible for flying the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper "unmanned aircraft systems" (UAS), sometimes called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and commonly refered to as "drones." Most drones are small and slow, equiped with cameras for spying. However, the Predator and Reaper are armed, and control for the firing of Hellfire missiles or the dropping of bombs (which the Reaper can also carry) comes from crews at Creech. Ground crews on site where a drone is deployed launch and land the aircraft. Control is transfered to Creech or one of a few other air force bases during a mission.
Since NDE first vigilled outside Creech Air Force Base in September 2008, demonstrating against Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attacks, several other groups around the country have taken up our call. The Drone, as UAVs are commonly referred to, has become the icon of Obama’s wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The military is responding to the widespread deaths of civilians by these robotic hunter-killers and the outcry against them, but not by reducing the attacks. Rather, they are adjusting their “spin” here and “in theatre.” They are also designing smaller missiles, allowing UAVs to carry more of them—not a positive development, even if each one destroys less. The resource page on the NDE website has links to many articles and reports about these weapons.
We continue to receive much encouragement to link our work for nuclear disarmament to the need to stop these new weapons from becoming the new arms precipice like the A-bomb before it. The following excerpt from our April action, Ground the Drones...Lest We Reap the Whirlwind expresses well our opposition to these tools of war:
With audacity that would confound Orwell, the Pentagon touts the “true hunter-killer role” of these robot “drones.” Armed with Hellfire missiles and other weaponry, they have names that suit their lethal uses: the MQ-9 Reaper and the MQ-1 Predator. Such tools can kill but not pacify. By killing civilians, UAV drones do not prevent or eliminate terrorism, but instead incite more violence and retaliation.
Proponents of the use of UAVs insist that there is a great advantage to fighting wars in “real-time” (with a 2-second satellite delay from Nevada to the Middle-East) by pilots sitting at consoles in offices on air bases far from the dangerous front line of military activity. With less risk to the lives of our soldiers and hence to the popularity and careers of politicians, the deaths of “enemy” noncombatants by the thousands are counted acceptable. The illusion that war can be waged with no domestic cost dehumanizes both us and our enemies. It fosters a callous disregard for human life that can lead to even more recklessness on the part of politicians.
The idea that technology can provide a cleaner and safer battlefield is seductive but has been proven a lie. From the catapult and crossbow, through the use of poison gas and airplanes in World War I, the atom bomb, helicopters and napalm in Vietnam to the “smart bombs” of the Gulf War, war has only grown deadlier. Technological advances may reduce the danger of casualties among the military personnel in the short run, but with each advance the number of civilian deaths multiplies and every war of the past century has numbered more children than soldiers among its victims.
Why is Nevada Desert Experience bringing attention to Creech Air Force Base?
NDE's mission includes mobilizing people of all faiths "to work toward nuclear abolition and nonviolent social change." While the drones aren't armed with nuclear weapons (although some may contain depleted uranium, poisoning people and the environment), the United States' history of threatening to use nuclear weapons and the various ways the U.S. has selectively spread nuclear technology including for nuclear weapons and hasn't worked to really eliminate nuclear weapons but rather wants to enhance our nuclear threat by modernization, every modern war or conflict that includes the United States, is a nuclear war in spirit, and a radioactive war in practical physics.
Remote military systems like UAVs are able to threaten others without putting one's own soldiers in harm's way. That seems like an obvious "good" in a military sense. But new weapons get used and used again. NDE has based our years of activism on engaging the opposition, not trying to harm or even berate the opposition. NDE doesn't support new weapons development.
One tactic of NDE's praxis of nonviolence is to facilitate the EXPERIENCE of this part of the Mojave desert, here in Nevada and Newe Sogobia.
Living in the desert for a week on the Sacred Peace Walk in the context of an interfaith community helps people respect and adore our desert. Creech AFB, Nellis AFB, the Yucca Mountain Project and the NTS are all situated in this awesome, delicate, intense desert. The violence of our opponents in this land and abroad can be thwarted through the practice of loving all living beings, including the vibrant wilderness of this desert.
Physical distance doesn't always insulate one from the harmful effects of killing. It is easier to drop a bomb and leave than to see the death and destruction that one has caused. Still, the sensor operators in UAV crews are watching, and feeling the remorse that comes with such violence. More chaplains and counselors have been brought in, and we can take solace that the video-gaming of making war isn't as dehumanizing as we might fear.
Nestled between Nellis Air Force Base, with its world-leading stockpile of nuclear weapons, and the Nevada Test Site, the most bombed place on Earth, Creech Air Force Base is in the heart of the desert that NDE reveres and is yet another desecration of this beautiful land.
Will 2010 Be The Time? Will This Be The Place?Join a spiritual pilgrimage from the the epitome of unsustainable excess consumption to the place of the greatest violence on earth. Come help us stop this suicidal nuclear violence! Come walk the ways of peace in the desert! Hundreds of people have walked from Las Vegas, Nevada to the Nevada (Nuclear) Test Site for the cause of abolishing nuclear weapons. (The Test Site is situated unlawfully on lands belonging to the Western Shoshone Nation. Since 1951 the U.S. has contaminated the desert and the earth 1000 feet below by exploding over 900 nuclear weapons tests which included over 1000 detonations of nuclear bombs.)
-Read more at The Nevada Desert Experience
"A great big THANK YOU to all of you who wrote me and/or sent good wishes my way during my 22+ days of incarceration, ended this morning at 7:30 on a 25 day sentence for telling the Senate to stop spending BLOOD MONEY to kill Afghans and Pakistanis. The guards and my sister inmates were of course amazed at the nearly 100 pieces of mail I received, as many as 25 in one day. I'll be writing about my experience and sending some individual notes in the coming days, but I just wanted to stop the flow of mail anyway!"Peace, Ellen Barfield
January 3, 2010
Cindy Sheehan said Facebook deleted an invitation to the CIA Drone Protest in Langley, Virginia, scheduled for Jan. 16, 2010. Sheehan said "the CIA is becoming overly involved in terrorizing populations." Sheehan joins a powerhouse of women activists to lead the CIA Drone Protest, including Cynthia McKinney, Ann Wright, Kathy Kelly and Debra Sweet.
"We had an event with over 250 confirmed guests and it was deleted by Facebook," Sheehan said. "We are going to the source of one of the big problems in the US Empire -- the CIA -- to protest its extra-judicial killings of people in Pakistan. We are against the use of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and manned aerial vehicles, but we believe that it is very dangerous that the CIA is becoming overly involved in terrorizing populations," Sheehan said.
The protest will focus on the civilian deaths from drones in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the role of private contract mercenaries in the killing of civilians, carried out in the name of the US.
"Recently, it has been reported in mainstream media that the United States Central Intelligence Agency has been working in cooperation with Private Military Contractors (PMCs--also known as mercenaries) in waging secret operations in utilizing drone attacks. Under this veil of secrecy it can only be assumed that impunity for war crimes is being actively cultivated within the highest level of Department of Defense operations, via proxy by the Central Intelligence Agency (which then sub-contracts out the directives)" Sheehan said in a statement.
Meanwhile, at the US borders of Mexico and Canada, the US has expanded the use of dangerous and expensive drones. Even though a drone crashed near Nogales, Arizona, on April 25, 2006, the US has expanded drones at the borders without regard for the safety of people on the ground or the expense.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is the latest profiteer in the border xenophobia business, with its new $13.5 million dollar drone, the US said in an announcement that the drones would also patrol off the coast of Florida beginning this month. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems also built the $6.5 million dollar drone that crashed near Nogales, a crash so loud that residents thought a bomb had exploded.
Earlier, the US announced that the drones (killing civilians and used for rogue assassinations, in Iraq and Afghanistan) were controlled by Airforce soldiers at Davis Monthan Airforce Base in Tucson. The announcement came at the same time that the FBI announced that so many military soldiers, police officers, prison guards, etc., wanted to smuggle cocaine for cash, that the FBI sting, Operation Lively Green, had to be shut down. Airforce officers were among about 100 military personnel, including high school military recruiters in Tucson, charged with smuggling cocaine from Nogales, Arizona, to Phoenix.
The Seattle Times, published a photo of the remote control killing computers in Tucson with this caption in December:
"Members of the 214th Reconnaissance Group fly a Predator aircraft drone in support of ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan from Davis-Monthan Air Base in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this year. The CIA's covert program uses drones over Pakistan."See photo and read more about remote controlled killing from Tucson: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2010420031_ciadrones04.html
Read more about military personnel arrested at the Arizona border for smuggling drugs: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=ie7&q=Operation+Lively+Green&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&rlz=1I7TSHB_enUS341US341
FIRST PROTEST AGAINST CIA DRONE ATTACKS COMING TO LANGLEY, VIRGINIA
From Cindy Sheehan:
On January 16th, 2010 from 1 pm to 4 pm activists will descend upon the home of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia to protest the immoral, illegal, and inhumane use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs--also known as drones).
Speaking at this event will be:- Cindy Sheehan (world renowned U.S. anti-war/peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee)
- Cynthia McKinney (former six term member of the U.S. House of Representatives and former Green Party candidate for President of the United States)
- Ann Wright (retired United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.)
- Kathy Kelly (U.S. peace activist, pacifist and author, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, one of the founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence)
- Debra Sweet (Brooklyn-based director of World Can't Wait)
- Bruce Gagnon (coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space)
- Joshua Smith (anti-war/peace activist, analyst and coordinator)
- David Rovics (musician)
By some reports the current implementation and planned operational expansion of the strike-capable drone programs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have to date yielded up to 33% civilian (non-combatant) deaths. To any sane and honorable person this statistic alone should prove that the "actionable intelligence" and robotic delivery vehicle do not yield a proper basis and/or method for credible attack. The primary and proven case against drone attacks is that they pose a public danger that can only be deemed as indiscriminate bombing.
On the day of the event, activists will demand that the United States and its allies adhere to the protection of civilians (non-combatants) in international armed conflicts in accordance with the multiple existing conventions, protocols and customary international laws. These same activists will, of course, also demand an end to the wars and occupations currently under way and an immediate withdrawal of all troops and contractors.
Drones operate in the theater of war by being fueled and maintained at airbases within their locale but which are remotely piloted via satellite connected ground control stations half-way around the world and from an environment disassociated with any human connection to reality of their actions. The psychological aspect of this endeavor will ultimately create a false sense that war is easier to condone, safer to conduct and more acceptable in U.S. public and political opinion to initiate.
Recently, it has been reported in mainstream media that the United States Central Intelligence Agency has been working in cooperation with Private Military Contractors (PMCs--also known as "mercenaries") in waging secret operations in utilizing drone attacks. Under this veil secrecy it can only be assumed that impunity for war crimes is being actively cultivated within the highest level of Department of Defense operations via proxy by the Central Intelligence Agency (which then sub-contracts out the directives).
The most well known drone is the propeller driven Predator A (MQ-1). This drone began as merely a streaming video reconnaissance tool but was soon armed with Hellfire missiles. The United States Military then upgraded the entire drone arsenal with what has become a an even more ruthless killer--the Predator B "Reaper" (MQ-9). With millions upon millions, of U.S. taxpayer funded dollars the Reaper became higher, faster and strong with increased size and fuel capacity, quicker engagement via a turbo-prop engine and a larger weapons payload/assortment. The Reaper is seemingly a "steroid raged monster" that cowardly stalks it's prey. The next evolution is the Predator C "Avenger" which will employ stealth design/materials, jet engine and highly advanced optics systems.Within the oration of the activists at this event the most frightening aspect of future drone programs will be explained and spelled out to attendees and to the press.
The three most notable facts are(1) that drone programs currently under development will soon yield a series of UAV aircraft that will operate in a fully autonomous mode (meaning that no human will be controlling the craft remotely),(2) that the UAV program is destined to become the primary type of air power for the U.S. military which will also be tasked with the ability to carry out nuclear strikes, and(3) the use of drones will morph into rapid and various domestic roles as well (operating in, around and over cities of the United States)
Downloadable pdf flyer