SPRING DAYS OF DRONE ACTION - 2014
Campaign Bulletin #2 Feb. 15, 2014
By Nick Mottern
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- Suggestions for Action
- Send in Your Actions
- Scarry Thoughts
I begin this week’s Bulletin, speaking for all you readers I’m sure, by expressing admiration and thanks to Kareem Khan who suffered kidnapping and torture this last week for his determination to speak out against U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan. He credits his release to the work of activists, a group including Reprieve, Code Pink, film-maker Madiha Tahir, who made Wounds of Waziristan, in which Khan appears, and Zohra Ahmed.
This sorry incident is undeniable evidence of the sensitivity of the drone issue for not only the government of Pakistan but for that of the U.S.
The kidnapping came during a remarkable week in which the Associated Press reported that the Obama Administration is unapologetically debating whether to do a drone assassination of another American citizen, and Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald disclosed that NSA surveillance has enabled drone assassination targeting of victims based on cell phone transmissions alone.
The theme is pre-emptive killing and trashing of the notion of due process as a national policy, applied anywhere, outside and inside the U.S. (See Scarry Thoughts below.)
Further, Norman Solomon reported that the incorporation of consumer product services into the U.S. military-industrial complex has advanced further with Amazon’s garnering of a $600 million contract to provide the CIA with “cloud” computing services. This, says Solomon, will make Amazon an accessory in drone assassination.
At the same time 12 of our colleagues were released yesterday from a week in jail in upstate New York for their civil resistance at the Hancock drone control base outside Syracuse. One of their central arguments is that drone attacks violate international law and that they are living up to their responsibilities under the Nuremberg Principles. (Here is a link for reports on the Hancock case and civil resistance trials related to Beale AFB in California and the CIA in Virginia.)
Suggestions for Action:
With these things in mind our goals for the Spring Days of Drone Action - 2014, take on more resonance and urgency and also raise the question of what else we can do to stop the drone killing and surveillance in addition to protests at drone bases, drone manufacturers and schools doing drone research and the other outreach that we’ve been doing.
Here are suggestions for your consideration; several of which were discussed on this week’s organizers conference call (as indicated).
1. Joy First, in Wisconsin, urges nationwide visits to the offices of the U.S. Attorneys demanding action on drone war crimes. A copy of the letter she and other members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance presented to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia appears at the end of this newsletter. (Attachment A). Joy says she will be glad to discuss this with anyone interested in this process. Joyfirst5@gmail.com
2. The following suggestions were discussed on this week’s conference call
(Minutes of the call, thanks to Joan Livingston, appear in Attachment B):
- Approaching members of Congress with model legislation to defund drone attacks, drone surveillance and manufacture of weaponized and surveillance drones.
- Systematic outreach for teach-ins at houses of worship in the community.
- Systematic outreach to black and Hispanic communities.
- Marches, runs or walks to stop drone attacks and drone surveillance.
3. I suggest boycott and divestment against firms involved in drone manufacture, and I recommend Honeywell for its manufacture of the turbo-prop engines that power the MQ-9 Reaper drone. Please contact me if you would like to help organize such a campaign. email@example.com
4. A related suggestion is calling on local NPR stations to stop showing the Nightly News Hour as long as it takes advertising from drone maker and huge military contractor BAE Systems and calling for a local station boycott of any shows taking advertising from military contractors.
There will be more suggestions for actions in the next Bulletin. Please bring your ideas to this week’s conference call.
Last week I said that by this week we would have a webpage with a range of resources launched on the War is a Crime website, courtesy of David Swanson.
We are still gathering resource material and will have the webpage up by next week where it will appear also on World Beyond War.
Send in Your Dates as Soon as Possible
Please begin now to notify me of even tentative dates for actions you are planning for April and May. It is critical to have this information as soon as possible, particularly because it can be very encouraging for others.
Some Key Planning Dates
Mar. 21 - 24 - Although this is occurring in March, you may want to organize a “Fly Kites Not Drones” event in your community in solidarity with people in Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. The UK event is organized by Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK and endorsed by Voices in the US.
April 21 and May 21 - On these days, the Drone Campaign Network in the UK will hold its monthly Drone Watch Waddington protest at the RAF base in the town of Lincoln that houses a drone control base directing Reaper drone attacks in Afghanistan. These would be appropriate dates for solidarity actions at drone control bases in the US and other parts of the world.
In the next Bulletin
Information on the monster military-industrial complex subsidy that is the U.S. military “pivot” to Asia, a war-mongering effort that is being spear-headed by the introduction of drones.
“It’s terrifying that a major paper could be talking like this,” says Joe Scarry in transmitting this commentary:
We have a discussion list serve that has been generously established by Debra Sweet at World Can’t Wait to provide you with a space dedicated to exchanging information, ideas and resources.
To subscribe to this discussion list use this link:
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME AT ANY TIME: firstname.lastname@example.org
In solidarity and peace,
ATTACHMENT A – Letter to U.S. Attorney for the Easter District of Virginia
May 21, 2013
Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia,
United States Attorney’s Office
2100 Jamieson Ave
Alexandria, VA 22314
Dear Mr. MacBride,
We the undersigned citizens hereby petition the U.S Attorney in Fairfax County under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, to wit, we are bringing a criminal complaint requesting a war crimes indictment against President Barack Obama, CIA Director John Brennan, and other government personnel for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) which are used for extrajudicial and illegal purposes, causing the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and other places around the world.
Please accept this criminal complaint and take appropriate action against these war crimes.
Joy First | Malachy Kilbride | Max Obuszewski
Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
ATTACHMENT B – Minutes of 2/12/14 Conference Call.
Thanks to Joan Livingston.
Participants: Andrew Dalton (for his wife Barbara too), Dave Lambert, Joan Livingston and Nick Mottern
Nick asked each person about current plans in their area for Spring Days of Drone Action 2014. Most ideas are clearly still rough, though last year's general areas of focus (protests at universities/research institutions, demos at drone manufacturers; educational efforts; media/PR; &c.) are still in the mix.
RECENT activity, educational: Joan and Andrew both reported recent showings of the film, Unmanned. Wounds of Waziristan will also be shown in the Boston area in March (like Unmanned, that film is available on-line from "Democracy Now" with several linked stories; so anyone who wants to get out the projector --or cellphone, Andrew!--can show Madiha Tahir's film as well).
COMING UP: Nick raised several specific questions and proposals, including these:
--Are there people in your group/area who'd like to work with Congress (go to Congressional offices, call, etc.) on legislation? Nick proposes drafting model national legislation that would completely defund weaponized drones (goodbye, Drone Caucus)--vs. last year's emphasis on state and local legislation on banning domestic drones for surveillance.
--Has your group made any concerted, organized outreach efforts to local churches, temples, and/or mosques? Answer: All have worked with individual reps of (e.g.) Catholic Worker, Pax Christi, Quakers/Friends, and UU or nondenominational churches; but no specific outreach to entire congregations. (The lack of outreach to mosques seems notable, as drones disproportionately "hit" Muslims both at home, via surveillance, and abroad, via Hellfires. Could perhaps work with CAIR and related organizations on this too?)
--To what extent have you recruited African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color to participate in your anti-drone efforts? General agreement that outreach to POC on drones, vs. other issues, has been rare; but also that these communities --like Muslim communities -- are super-aware of police "lawlessness"/surveillance and of how militarized
U.S. cities have become. Nick believes that blacks in particular are "opposed to killing people abroad" and, as with any other group of American citizens, would be a receptive audience to the ways in which spending on wars and drones is against their own personal (financial and security) interests.
--Other ideas for Spring Days actions?
Marches. Nationally coordinated, regional, local? (Brainstorming.) These might include long-distance marches (like last fall's in Maine; and one in Iowa [?]); "relay races"; coordinating feeder marches from several different starting points, all converging in a single location (an effective tactic often used by Occupy Wall Street); a "Run Against the Drone/s." (Should add silent death marches; die-in's; and other demos that incorporate or complement marches.)
At the end of the call, we also discussed the plight of Kareem Khan, whose freedom was secured early today. While not part of Spring Days, such ad hoc efforts are of course one reason we have an anti-drone movement, and the need for further "interventions" isn't likely to end soon.
To quote Dave: At this point, "my pen ran out of ink." Or something similar happened to my memory. Look forward to any comments you'd like to add, and to talking –and planning/doing-- again soon. Best to all!