Campaign Bulletin #3

SPRING DAYS OF DRONE ACTION - 2014
Feb. 22, 2014

By Nick Mottern

Don't forget: Weekly open conference call for activists every Wednesday, 9 pm EST
(605) 562-3000, Access code - 484539#

Photo-The Nation Report.org Marchers heading from Rock Island IL to Des Moines in June 2013 to protest the installation of a drone control site at the Iowa National Guard base at Des Moines Airport. A drone protest weekend is planned in Des Moines for St. Patrick’s weekend, starting Friday, March 14, 2014.

Coming Events
Looking out of my window at the cold, foggy, winter afternoon sky I am compelled to use the above picture to introduce a listing of counter-drone actions coming soon.  

On this week’s conference call, MacGregor Eddy drew attention to the vigils at Beale AFB near Sacramento, CA planned for Feb. 24 (3-5pm) and Feb. 25 (6-9 am) where retired Army Colonel Ann Wright will be appearing. Global

Hawk surveillance drones, used for targeting, among other things, are based at Beale.  See http://occupybealeafb.org/#   MacGregor urges all who can to attend.

Over 100 Catholic Workers from throughout the Midwest, along with members of Veterans for Peace and other activists, will rally at the Iowa Air National Guard 132nd Attack Wing facility in Des Moines on Saturday, March 15 (10 - 11:15 am) This is part of a St. Patrick’s Day weekend program that will include speakers Kathy Kelly, Elliott Adams and Daniel Hale, billed as “Chasing the snakes and drones out of Iowa…” Contact: frank.cordaro@gmail.com

On the same weekend the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will be holding an organizing conference in Santa Barbara, CA, and on March 14 (4 pm) there will be a vigil at the front gate of Vandenberg AFB, a space and missile testing center that, among other things, puts satellites into space.  For details on the weekend: http://www.space4peace.org  (See also the item below on the Pacific “pivot”.)

Please remember March 21 - 24 for organizing a “Fly Kites Not Drones” event in your community in solidarity with people under attack in Afghanistan and with organizers who are holding kite-flying events in the United Kingdom.

Event Ideas
This week’s conference call was devoted to discussing events people are planning for April and May and to commenting on the idea of a boycott/divestment campaign against Honeywell Corp., maker of the engine that propels the MQ-9 Reaper drone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKQsVy7HG8k

Those participating in the call: David Sladky – St. Louis, MO; Carmen Solari – Burlington, VT; TJ – Seattle, WA; Johnny Barber – Brooklyn, NY; Andrew Dalton and Barbara Kidney – Hudson Valley, NY; Russell Brown – Buffalo, NY;  MacGregor Eddy- Sacramento, CA; Judy Bello –Rochester, NY and me.

David, who is a member of Veterans for Peace is planning to take a Reaper drone replica to the events in Des Moines, mentioned above, and to also participate in protests at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, which has a drone control center.  His group will also be visiting a large St. Louis farmers’ market with the replica.

Carmen reported that the Peace & Justice Center, where she works in Burlington, Vermont, is offering communities a variety of speakers and resources on drones. (See Attachment A) The Center will be preparing presentations that may be useful to activists everywhere, which we will circulate through the weekly bulletin.

TJ and Johnny plan to do leafleting and other outreach in their communities in April and May.

Barbara and Andrew are opening a website “Drone Alert Hudson Valley”, and they hope to work with religious groups on public memorial services for people killed in drone attacks at which letters of sympathy (See Attachment B) will be available for people to sign.   

Barbara and Andrew are also planning to focus attention on Ametek Rotron, a firm doing drone related work located in Woodstock, NY, and they are going to explore the idea of a relay march that would go from the Hudson Valley to the Hancock Air Base drone control center outside Syracuse.

Russell said that his group in Buffalo had not made specific plans for April and May yet but that they are involved in continuing street outreach and are engaged with the protests at Hancock and in supporting people on trial for protests there. (See Weekly Bulletin #2)

MacGregor, whose report of actions at Beale is noted above, said that her group, which has been doing vigils every month at Beale for three years, is planning a witness for Ash Wednesday, April 16.
Judy, who just completed a week in a cold jail after her conviction in connection with a Hancock protest, said that plans for April and May will be discussed this Sunday at a meeting of the Upstate NY Coalition to Ground Drones & End the Wars.
 
Honeywell Boycott
The idea of a boycott against Honeywell received approval by those on the conference call, although David was skeptical that it would have a real financial impact on the company.  I noted that there might be a greater chance of having a boycott felt by Honeywell because the company has a substantial business in consumer products: thermostats; home security systems; First Alert smoke and CO detectors; fans; humidifiers; and air filters, among others.

Several people also suggested a boycott against Amazon because of their engaging in a $600 million contract with the CIA for data processing and storage.  Andrew has found that people are quite surprised and disapproving when they hear about the deal.

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE BOYCOTT IDEAS. nickmottern@earthlink.net
 
Webpage - Resource for Activists
A "Spring Days of Drone Action" webpage will be posted this week by David Swanson on the World Beyond War and War Is A Crime websites to increase outreach beyond KnowDrones.org.

The webpage will link to expanded, up-dated, resources for drone activists appearing on KnowDrones; please check out the arts section.

PLEASE SUBMIT RESOURCES THAT YOU FIND VALUABLE.  nickmottern@earthlink.net
 
No Drones to the Pacific/Block the "Pivot"
Bruce Gagnon, Secretary/Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, has urged that we give attention to the “pivot” to the Pacific.

This is a U.S. plan that includes basing 60 percent of U.S. naval forces in Asia, compared to 50% there now.  One goal seems to be to intimidate China.  See  http://www.space4peace.org/newsletter/Space%20Alert%2029.pdf

Looking at the chart in Attachment C, it appears that the U.S. already has ample naval forces in the Pacific, more than any other nation, including China.  A reading of the thin press coverage on the “pivot”, suggests the U.S. has a comprehensive military plan for the Pacific, involving all military branches, the goal of which is to achieve overwhelming political and economic dominance in this vast region, based on military power.

This scheme must be seen in relation to the Administration’s push for the Trans Pacific Partnership, an exploitative trade system that is likely to lead to protest and insurgency.  Although the trade deal is slowed for the moment in Congress, the military plans are proceeding.  

“I wouldn’t be too concerned about folks saying the ‘pivot’ is a dud,” Bruce says, “just ask activists in Guam, Australia, the Philippines, Hawaii, Okinawa, Japan, South Korea and more about the new and/or expanding bases for U.S. forces being moved there…it’s real as sin.”

I have not been able to quickly find a cost estimate for the “pivot”, but the head of the House Armed Services Committee, California Republican Howard “Buck” McKeon, said at a hearing on the shift in January that he is concerned about the dollar cost as well as taking military assets away from the Middle East.  

But how likely “Buck” is to oppose the “pivot”, or even ask hard questions about it, given the fact that: (a) “Buck” is also the chair of the House Unmanned Systems Caucus, the lobbying arm of the drone industry in the House and (b) the Administration is making it clear that drones will be a key part of its “pivot”.  

The US is shipping Global Hawk surveillance drones to Japan to assist it in its confrontation with China over rights in the South China Sea, a confrontation in which oil is a factor.  The US also has positioned drones in Australia, which has become key to the targeting US drone attacks.  This article gives a detailed analysis of Australia’s very deep military involvement with the U.S.: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-military-presence-in-australia-the-asia-pacific-pivot-and-global-nato/5357653

The U.S. has conducted at least one drone attack in the Philippines and appears to be conducting drone surveillance there too.

This NYTimes op-ed article describes what kind of drone war world is likely to be shaping up in the Pacific. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/drones-and-the-rivalry-between-the-us-and-china.html?_r=0
The “pivot” is a huge subsidy to the military industrial complex to offset a reduction of spending for Afghanistan.  It is being sold to the public as contributing to stability and security, as by House Democrat Adam Smith of Washington State, who is quoted as follows by Congressional Quarterly: “The more we can do to defuse tensions and to avoid conflict through cooperative efforts with our allies and partners, the more we can help to realize growth and prosperity in the region.”

It is worth noting that, according to Open Secrets.org, Mr. Smith’s top campaign contributors going into the Congressional elections this Fall include these drone and other war contractors: Northrup Grumman; ship builders Huntington Ingalls Industries; Boeing; SAIC; Lockheed Martin; General Atomics (maker of the airframes of the Predator and Reaper drones); Honeywell; and Raytheon.
The Pacific “pivot” is a gigantic, decades long, money-sucking, extremely dangerous plan in which drones are a critical factor.
 
“No Drones to the Pacific / Block the Pivot.”
 


 

ATTACHMENT A

COMING TO A VERMONT TOWN NEAR YOU!!
2014 Cost of War Series: Focus on Drones
Help us educate your community about drones
In order to spread awareness about drones YOU can partner with the Peace & Justice Center to bring an educational film or speaker to your community.  We would also like to help organize actions around the state.

Here are some ideas:
- Wounds of Waziristan – film by Madiha Tahir documenting the killing of civilians and destruction caused by drones in Pakistan.
- Filmed lecture on violated international laws– made specifically for our series, featuring law professor Mary Ellen O’Connell.
- Peace & Justice Center Speakers – ask us to help lead discussions and/or speak at local actions. More information on back.
- From March 21 – 24 participate in “Fly Kites Not Drones” event in your community in solidarity with people in Afghanistan.
- Naming the Dead” – create an action that includes reading the names of those who have been killed in drone strikes.

Support a town hall resolution against drones
Several towns across the United States have recently passed resolutions against the use of drones for both domestic surveillance and international strikes.  Before any more human rights violations occur Vermonters need to take measures to educate and subsequently act to defend our rights here at home and those of our fellow global community members.  Therefore, after bringing educational events to your town it is crucial to take action through your local government. We are hoping to have a state-wide movement against the use of drones organized for Town Meeting Day 2015. However, if you are inspired to bring up a resolution from the floor on March 4, 2014, do it.
 

For more information, ideas or support contact Kyle Silliman-Smith at program@pjcvt.org or 802-863-2345 x6

Basic information on drones
The United States drone strike program, which began in 2001 under the Bush Administration, has proliferated under the Obama Administration to 381 strikes in Pakistan, 69 in Yemen and 8 in Somalia.  While the CIA touts these strikes as incredibly precise and claims that the majority of the victims are their intended terrorist targets, in actuality, thousands of civilians are killed as “collateral damage.”  Such killings are violations of countless international treaties and declarations such as the UN Charter, delineating state sovereignty, the Geneva Conventions that protect civilian’s rights in times of war and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.     

In addition, the United States Government has been focusing on using drones for national surveillance.  Recently, Congress has tasked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with incorporating drones into the national airspace system by 2015.  This would force the FAA to rewrite laws governing “navigable airspace,” allowing drones to fly down into people’s backyards as opposed to prohibiting aircrafts from operating within 500 feet of any object or person.  Such changes would be direct violations of the First and Fourth Amendments protecting Americans privacy and right to due process.  

Peace & Justice Center speakers
Kyle Silliman-Smith has a background in peace work through education, direct action and the arts. Her experience in program development and management has involved bringing together artists, activists and community partners for successful public programs. Over the years she has helped organized workshops, lectures, protests, classes, sit-ins, meetings and performances to nurture a culture of peace through education. She is a Program Manager at the PJC and works primarily on the Cost of War: Focus on Drones Series and the Recruiting for Peace Program. Contact her at kyle@pjcvt.org or 802-863-2345 x6.

Carmen Solari graduated with a dual degree in English and Religion from the University of Vermont in 2011. During her time at UVM she lived in the Global Social Justice House, worked with Students Against the War, and studied in Tamil Nadu, India where she worked with the children of the village and their mothers leading women's empowerment groups. In addition to being the PJC’s Fair Trade Programs Manager, Carmen is actively involved in the resistant to drones as a member of an organizing group from CODEPINK’s 2013 Drone Summit. Contact her at carmen@pjcvt.org or 802-863-2345 x3.

Lydia Bates is a senior studying political science at the University of Vermont.  She has extensive experience in human rights and humanitarian law studies and is headed to American University in the fall in pursuit of a MA in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs.  
 


 

ATTACHMENT B

Recipient
Recipient's Address (eg Embassy of Pakistan)

To   (eg, People of Pakistan):

We, people who live in and near (whatever location, state, USA), extend our deepest sympathy to the people of (recipient location), who have been suffering murder, terror, & devastation by US drones.
Please be aware that our government is doing this against our will, and we are outraged and saddened by this tragedy. Please be aware that we are protestingthe use of drones as agents of death and terror, and are demanding that our officials ban this most inhumane practice.
Please also be aware that our government often violates principles of democracy and human rights, but we pledge to do what we can to hold our government accountable to these principles.

Yours in sympathy, & in hope of a peaceful & joyous human community worldwide,
(Signatures)
 


 

ATTACHMENT C