Campaign Bulletin #11; April 19, 2014
By Nick Mottern
Don't forget: Weekly open conference call for activists every Wednesday, 9 pm EDT
(605) 562-3000, Access code - 484539#
Code Pink women march at Creech AFB on April 11, 2014.
On Friday, April 11, seven members of Code Pink were arrested at the front gate of Creech AFB, Indian Springs, NV, as they attempted to deliver a letter to the drone commander Col. Jim Cluff that calls for a halt to US drone attacks. (See Attachment A)
Those arrested and charged with trespass are:
Martha Hubert, San Francisco, CA
Edwina Vogan, Phoenix, AZ
Lisa Marcus, Seattle, WA
Catherine Houricade, Stockton, CA
Maggie Huntington, Flagstaff,Arizona
Renay Davis, San Francisco, CA
Toby Blome, El Cerrito, CA
Then on Wednesday, April 16, nine more protesters were arrested attempting to serve Colonel Cluff with a War Crimes Indictment (Attachment B) that also names President Obama and other officials.
Those arrested and charged with trespass are:
Vera Anderson, Las Vegas, NV
Barry Binks, Sacramento, CA
Darcy Ike, San Diego, CA
Seamus Knight, Los Angeles, CA
Robert Majors, Las Vegas, NV
Margaret McChesney, Phoenix, AZ
Marcus Page-Collonge, Sheep Ranch, CA
Dan Shay, Santa Rosa, CA
Brian Terrell, Maloy, Iowa
The nine anti-drone activists arrested at Creech on April 16, are (l to r): Vera Anderson, Marcus Page, Robert Majors, Margaret McChesney, Brian Terrell, Seamus Knight, Barry Binks, Dan Shay and Darcy Ike in front.
The arrests were part of two weeks of pro-peace and counter-drone war and anti-nuclear activities in the 2014 Sacred Peace Walk organized by the Nevada Desert Experience (NDE). http://nevadadesertexperience.org/programs/2014/nr.html
“We are also here to call upon the airmen and airwomen to consider the spiritual impact of the horrifying physical violence conducted by Creech AFB, said Marcus Page-Collonge, NDE council member, one of the nine arrested.
NDE volunteer John Amidon said: "The unconscionable killing of so many innocent people by drone strikes will forever be a stain on the USAF."
The arrests had a keen sense appropriateness because of the disclosure this week that US Air Force pilots at Creech have been conducting drone executions at the order of the CIA. See the article at the end of Attachment B and this link from Democracy Now:
Malachy Kilbride, an anti-drone activist in the Washington DC area, and a member of the National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance, sent an email blast on Thursday, April 17 asking to hear from people who would like to form an ad hoc committee to look into what laws may have been broken by having U.S. military drone “pilots” attacking in countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, that are not covered by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. firstname.lastname@example.org
Toby Blome, of Bay Area, CA, Code Pink, concluded an email in providing information about the Creech actions with this statement:
“We are successfully putting sustained pressure on the U.S. government to stop this brutal and illegal (drone) activity and to uphold the highest laws of this country and international laws. We need to continue this sustained pressure for global peace. Vera Anderson, a 26-year-old woman did her first civil resistance in her life yesterday at Creech AFB. (Emphasis Toby’s) We need all of those who can, to now step forward to the plate and join us. We have the power to stop the violence, we just need to use it…we hope you will join us!”
Here is a video of the April 11 arrests https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS21TawIC-w
Here are additional April 11 reports w/ photos:
Here is a report of the April 16 arrests in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Attachment C is a report by Martha Hubert of the first phase of her participation in the NDE.
PHOTO OF PEOPLE MARCHING IN A LINE CARRYING CROSSES
Photo provided by Rev. Sharon Delgado
On Friday, April 18, Good Friday, eleven counter-drone protesters, including Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, were detained at Beale AFB in a witness led by clergy and emphasizing the opposition of world and U.S. clergy to U.S. drone attacks.
Those detained in addition to Kathy were:
The Reverend Dr. Gerald O. (Jerry) Pedersen, former U.S. Marine, present as part of the Honor Guard on the U.S.S. Missouri during the surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II, retired Lutheran pastor, Sacramento, author of Unfinished Journey: From War to Peace, From Violence to Wholeness, member Veterans for Peace.
The Reverend John Auer, retired United Methodist Pastor, Wesley UMC, Fresno, California.
The Reverend Sharon Delgado, retired United Methodist Pastor, founding director of Earth Justice Ministries, author of Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, in Nevada City, California.
Michael Kerr, Bay Point, CA/Pittsburgh, PA
Rodger Stall, San Rafael, CA
Arthur (Buff) Whitman-Bradley, the Bay Area, CA
Nancy Reiner, the Bay Area
Bob Russell, Pleasant Hill, CA
Pamela Osgood, Grass Valley, CA
Describing the witness, Rev. Delgado said:
“Some were carrying crosses with artistic renderings of children killed by drones, we were trying to personally deliver our letter and the two statements to the base commander, Colonel Phillip Stewart.
“No handcuffs. We all got fingerprinted and photographed. We all got ban and bar letters. The only people who got citations were people who had been detained before: Sharon Delgado, Jerry Pedersen, Elizabeth Griswold, Michael Kerr. They told us we WILL get a court date.”
The letter and statements mentioned above were:
(1) A letter to Col. Stewart, as commander of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, which flies Global Hawk drones calling on him stop all operations “that in any way support drone attacks or involve surveillance of individuals and groups”. (See Attachment D.) Global Hawk operations are believed to include targeting assistance for Predator and Reaper hunter-killer drones.
(2) A statement by the World Council of Churches' Statement on the Use of Drones and the Right to Life and "A Call from the Faith Based Community to Stop Drone Killings," signed by religious leaders from around the country.
The march to the base entrance followed a Good Friday service attended by about 60 people and conducted by the four clergy who were detained; the group was also and addressed by Kathy.
A report from the event organizers said that they gathered at Beale, "in the shadow of killer drones, modern day equivalents of the cross, to pray, to act, and to build a community of peace."
Rev. Delgado said she is “delighted that people who have never come to Beale were drawn to come to this action.”
The next counter-drone event planned at Beale is the Veterans for Peace “Spring Days of Drone Action – 2014 on Mon. April 28, 3 – 5 pm and Tues. April 26, 6 – 8 am (See Events Planned, below.)
On Saturday, April 12, about 100 gathered at Bath Iron Works, Bath ME, to protest the “christening” of the $4 billion “stealth” destroyer USS Zumwalt, in a demonstration organized by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Regis Tremblay prepared this poignant video, interviewing people as the stood in line at the protest.
Bruce Gagnon, Secretary/Coordinator of Global Network, reports:
“We kept our eyes peeled for Jesus Christ but did not see him - we think it must have been an impostor who went inside the shipyard and did the 'christening'.
See Bulletin #10 for background on the protest.
Fort Wayne, IN
Here is a video of the “Fly Kites Not Drones” event on Sunday, April 13, at Headwaters Park in Fort Wayne, IN, sent in by Dave Lambert:
People gather at the “Fly Kites Not Drones” on April 12 on the Poughkeepsie-Highland Bridge at Poughkeepsie, NY, sponsored by Hudson Valley Drone Alert.
Andrew Dalton, of Hudson Valley Drone Alert, said that he and his wife Barbara Kidney had an excellent experience with the ‘FLY KITES NOT DRONES” event that was held last Saturday, April 12, on the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, 400 hundred feet above the Hudson River. Andrew said that early in the witness, people were ignoring the about a dozen protesters. The response improved, he said, when the group started singing songs like “Down by the Riverside”. There is a move on to name the bridge for Pete Seeger, who lived nearby in Beacon.
Barbara said that the experience encouraged her to want to do a counter-drone walk on April 26 or 27.
On Wednesday, April 16, Shirley Osgood was acquitted of the charge that she had carried her anti-drone war protest into Beale AFB near Sacraqmento, CA because Federal Judge Dale A. Drozd said there was insufficient evidence that Shirley had actually stepped foot onto the base.
Here is a detailed report of the proceedings from the Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/04/16/6330806/beale-protester-acquitted.html
On April 24 John Amidon will be speaking at Albany Friends Meeting, (7 pm, 727 Madison Ave.) about his trial on Monday, April 28th, 2014 in DeWitt (NY) Town Court, charged with criminal trespass and for wearing a mask, protesting the use of Reaper drones at Hancock Air Field in Syracuse, NY.
John’s trial is the first in a series of Hancock trials that will run over the next several months for about 30 protesters who face sentences of up to a year.
Twelve protesters were given sentences of two weeks earlier this year but served a little less time because of time served provisions.
In the course of three years of civil resistance at least 100 have been arrested at Hancock, gone to court, and about 20 have gone to jail; several are repeat offenders. As indicated by the above, the court has become more punitive this year. The court has also granted the base commander an order of protection, imposing additional legal risk on protesters.
So far, protesters have posted about $36,000 in bail in pending cases, most of the money from donations by the upstate counter-drone war community.
In sending out a notice of his Albany speaking date and his trial, John said:
“Why did I choose to wear a grim reaper mask? What is its significance? Are hundreds of children being murdered by the US Drone program in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries? Are we allowed to petition our government with grievances or will we be arrested even when legally participating in permitted demonstration and standing in a free speech zone?...
“The charges are attempted criminal trespass and loitering for wearing a mask. I am guilty of neither and I predict I will be found innocent. In any event I will promise you an interesting and provocative evening on april 24, 2014 and an interesting trial. Win or lose, jail or freedom must work to stop the murder of so many innocent people.
“Please come to my trial also on Monday, April 28th, 2014 in DeWitt Town Court, 5400 Butternut Drive, at 5 PM.”
By Barbara Kidney – Hudson Valley Drone Alert
(Editor’s Note: On the April 9 Spring Days of Drone Action conference call, I raised a question about how we might frame the argument against weaponized drones and drone surveillance within the context of the existential environmental issues facing us, and Barbara Kidney had made observations that I asked her to put into writing, presented here:)
Jeffrey Smith, anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) activist and author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, has framed the threat of GMOs as a unique and extremely important opportunity to save Nature and biological life. Never before, he posits, have humans had the opportunity to do this, because never before has the technology to destroy genetic integrity existed.
The issue of drones – the use of weaponized drones and drone surveillance - can be framed in a similar perspective. Never before has there been such a threat to privacy and safety, to the basic unalienable rights of humankind. By taking a position against the use of killer and spy drones, we take a stand for respecting unalienable human rights and against the use of violence for settling (or causing) disputes and for grabbing resources of other political entities (theft). If we fail to do so, the system-changing technology of drones, left in the hands of sociopaths, will continue to propel us into a realm of destruction of basic human rights and ethical behavioral norms, from which there may be no return.
The specific issues of GMO's, killer and spy drones, and others (fracking, nuclear energy, massive swindling by financiers, etc.) can be seen as specific symptoms of the more fundamental problem of sociopathic plutocracy. Sociopolitical systems have rewarded and continue to reward sociopathy, narcissism and money hoarding, resulting in a situation in which most decision-making power is given to uncaring, extremely greedy, narcissistic people devoid of ethics.
If this trend continues, in which extremely foolish, self-centered, personality-disordered people are given the most decision-making power, obviously, our planet is doomed. On the other hand, if a quorum of sane and ethical people act against the dysfunctional, immoral sociopolitical system, and act toward a functional, moral sociopolitical system, we can repair our planet and live in peace and justice. We, who are sane, ethical, and assertive, thus have an unparalleled opportunity to save humanity, and more importantly, the entire planet, from complete devastation.
Here are the minutes of the April 16 conference call:
Kevin Caron – Atlanta, GA – reported that Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas Watch will walk the full 120-mile distance of the April 26 – May 3 “Right to Peace” march from Ft. Benning, Georgia to Georgia Institute of Technology, where Medea Benjamin will speak.
A major subject of the march will be the research on “swarming” drones that is being done cooperatively by the Army and Georgia Tech. “Swarming” is sometimes used to describe a technology that enables drones to communicate with each other a swarm a target as insects might. Kevin said that Georgia Tech is also doing research on autonomous drones and that Ronald Arkin, a professor at Georgia Tech is a proponent of lethal autonomous weapons systems. See: http://chronicle.com/article/Moral-Robots-the-Future-of/134240/
Andrew Dalton and Barbara Kidney –Mid Hudson Valley, NY. Andrew and Barbara said that they are working to get the managers of the Earth Day Festival in New Paltz to permit them to have a table at this year’s festival for counter-drone outreach. They said that the festival has been sponsored for many years to a Reformed Church, and that festival committee unanimously rejected their request because the committee thought the subject to controversial for members of the church.
Andrew will appeal to the New Paltz Climate Coalition for help. Arguments as to why drones issues should be part of Earth Day were offered by those on the call; here they are:
1. The US military has the biggest carbon footprint of any single energy consumer.
2. Drones can be used against environmentalists, and almost certainly will be. Here is an article on the US drone program:
3. Drones are on the cutting edge of a US military policy that is being used to achieve resource control goals of major corporations, particularly with respect to oil. This is leading to plundering of precious, non-renewable resources and is a major fact in climate change.
Andrew will report next week on his progress.
Barbara is also going to organize a May 6 call-in to the White House demanding a stop to drone attacks in solidarity with those in Boston and New York City who, at noon that day, will be reading the names of drone victims.
The group also discussed H.R. 4372, and Nick expressed concerns that passage of the bill might have the effect of legitimizing “lethal direct action” and that it will not yield accurate casualty information.
Barbara said that Hudson Valley Drone Alert will be participating on May 3 in an event sponsored by Earth First. She said an Earth First member feels that drones present a real threat to people fighting to protect the environment and so the drone issue is welcome at the event.
Joan Nicholson – Kennett Square, PA – Speaking to the point about drones being used against environmental activists, Joan noted that there was a report on Democracy Now about environmental activists being killed in other parts of the world. http://www.alternet.org/activism/killing-natures-defenders-study-finds-global-surge-murders-environmental-activists?akid=11723.1138972.iKB2PE&rd=1&src=newsletter982463&t=16&paging=off¤t_page=1
She also reported that a local Quaker meeting had just passed a “minute”, a statement on the position of the meeting, opposing drone attacks. She said this is important because so few meetings have done this. (See Attachment E)
She said she had just held a screening of Dirty Wars for 40-45 people in her Kendal retirement community, and the movie “really had an impact” on the audience.
Joan does an individual peace vigil on Route 1 near her home during morning and evening drive time every weekday; she is approaching the six-year anniversary of the vigil in June. This gives her a unique way of measuring public feelings about war, and she reported that this week people showed a lot of support for her message that the U.S. should stay out of Ukraine. She has also shown a message calling for the U.S. to stay out of Venezuela.
Daniel Reihl – Lancaster, PA – said he is doing organizing in 13 Mennonite churches and with the local Green Party to achieve the “modest goal” of doubling the size of the delegation -from 12 to 24 - that travels 70 miles every month to the protest against the opening of a drone control base at the Air Guard base in Horsham, PA. As part of his campaign he showed Wounds of Waziristan to two Sunday school classes, building toward the next protest at Horsham on April 26.
April 28 – 29 – Beale AFB – Veterans for Peace Spring Days of Drone Action – 2014 as outline in this press release:
May 3 – Public witness at the National Security Agency, organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, to protest the agency’s “role in violations of international law, war crimes, and crimes against peace.” Final planning on May 2; if you would like to participate contact: email@example.com
May 6 – Reading of the Names of Drone Victims - Noon- 2 pm, Main Entrance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. A reading of names and speaking out “against new forms of warfare and the surveillance state.” Sponsored by Eastern Massachusetts Anti-Drone Network and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
A reading of the names will also occur on May 6 from noon until 2 pm in front of the headquarters of L-3 Communications at 600 Third Avenue in New York City, between E. 39th and E. 40th Streets. Sponsored by World Can’t Wait; the War Resisters League and KnowDrones.org
Here is a message that came this week from Tatiana Makovkin:
My name is Tatiana, and I curate an activist-art website affiliated with PopularResistance.org.
The site I manage is CreativeResistance.org.
We also published the story of the brilliant #NotaBugSplat giant portrait project. http://www.creativeresistance.org/category/news/
We feature this and many other art-oriented No Drone posts. If you search "Drones" on the site you can call up the variety of posts that have been published there: visual art, music, poetry, stories of creative activism...
I just featured Leah's (Leah Bolger’s) drone quilt project:
We are always looking for photos and video (on this and other movement issues), so please get in touch at info@creativeresistance if you'd like to submit something.
With very best wishes for the weekend, and in solidarity,
WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT
Colonel Jim Cluff
Creech Air Force Base
Indian Springs, Nevada
April 16, 2014
To President Obama, to Secretary of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to the full Military Chain of the Command, including Commander Colonel Jim Cluff, to all Service Members and civilian staff of Creech Air Base, and to the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Clark County, Nevada:
Each one of you, when you became a public servant, serving in a government position or when you joined the United States Armed Forces or police, you publicly promised to uphold the United States Constitution. We take this opportunity to call your attention to Article VI of the US Constitution, which states:
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary not with standing.”
This clause is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the Constitution and laws of the U.S., including treaties made under authority of the U.S. shall be supreme law of the land.
The Supremacy Clause provides part of the Supreme Law of the Land.
One Treaty duly ratified by the U.S. is the United Nations Charter. It was ratified by a vote of 89 to 2 in the U.S. Senate, and signed by the President in 1945. It remains in effect today. As such, it is part of supreme law of the land.
The Preamble of the U.N. Charter states that its purpose is to “save future generation from the scourge of war” and it further states, “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.”
This Treaty applies both collectively and individually to all three branches of government, on all levels, U.S. federal, state and local governments, starting with the executive branch: the U.S. President and the executive staff; the judicial branch: all judges
and staff members of the judiciary; the legislative branch: all members of the U.S. Armed Forces and all departments of Law Enforcement and all civilian staff, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, which includes Article VI.
Under the U.N. Charter and long established international laws, anyone--civilian, military, government officials, or judge- who knowingly participates in or supports illegal use of force against another nation or its people is committing a war crime.
Today you must recognize that when you promised to uphold the Constitution, you promised to obey Treaties and International Law – as part of the Supreme Law of the Land and furthermore, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice of the U.S., you are required to disobey any clearly unlawful order from a superior.
Based on all the above,
WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, BARAK OBAMA AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND TO COMMANDER COLONEL JIM CLUFF, EVERY DRONE CREW, AND SERVICE MEMBERS AT
CREECH AIR BASE, WITH CRIMES AGAINST PEACE &
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS, WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.
We charge that the United States Air Force, headquartered at Creech Air Force Base, home of the of the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Commander Colonel Jim Cluff, is maintaining and deploying the MQ-9 Reaper robotic aircraft, called drones.
These drones are being used not only in combat situations for the purpose of assassinations but also for killings far removed from combat zones without military defense, to assassinate individuals and groups far removed from military action.
Extra judicial killings, such as those the U.S. carries out by drones are intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force to commit murder in violation of U.S. and International Law.
It is a matter of public record that the US has used drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq for targeted killings to target specific individuals which has nearly always resulted in the deaths of many others.
There is no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can or cannot be used, no legal criteria for deciding which people can be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality of the decision to kill and the accuracy of the assassinations.
In support of this indictment we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones creates “a highly problematic blurring and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force.... The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum.... In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward applicable legal rules.” See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28, May 2010.
The drone attacks either originating at Creech or supported here are a deliberate illegal use of force against another nation, and as such are a felonious violation of Article VI of the US Constitution.
By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing warcrimes.
We demand that you stop participating in any part of the operations of MQ-9 drones immediately, being accountable to the people of United States and Afghanistan.
As citizens of this nation, which maintains over 700 military bases around the globe, and the largest, most deadly military arsenal in the world, we believe these words of Martin Luther King still hold true, ”the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”.
There is hope for a better world when WE, THE PEOPLE, hold our government accountable to the laws and treaties that govern the use of lethal force and war. To the extent that we ignore our laws and constitution and allow for the unchecked use of lethal force by our government, allowing the government to kill who ever it wants, where ever it wants, how ever it wants with no accountability, we make the world less safe for children everywhere.
We appeal to all United States citizens, military and civilian, and to all public officials, to do as required by the Nuremburg Principles I-VII, and by Conscience, to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them, and to resist them nonviolently.
The Nevada Desert Experience
CIA's Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel
Former drone operators claim in new documentary that CIA missions flown by USAF's 17th Reconnaissance Squadron
The Guardian, Monday 14 April 2014 09.30 EDT
The film – which has been three years in the making – identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which operates from a secure compound in a corner of Creech air force base, 45 miles from Las Vegas in the Mojave desert.
Several former drone operators have claimed that the unit's conventional air force personnel – rather than civilian contractors – have been flying the CIA's heavily armed Predator missions in Pakistan, a 10-year campaign which according to some estimates has killed more than 2,400 people.
Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project, said this posed questions of legality and oversight. "A lethal force apparatus in which the CIA and regular military collaborate as they are reportedly doing risks upending the checks and balances that restrict where and when lethal force is used, and thwart democratic accountability, which cannot take place in secrecy."
The Guardian approached the National Security Council, the CIA and the Pentagon for comment last week. The NSC and CIA declined to comment, while the Pentagon did not respond.
The role of the squadron, and the use of its regular air force personnel in the CIA's targeted killing programme, first emerged during interviews with two former special forces drone operators for a new documentary film, Drone.
Brandon Bryant, a former US Predator operator, told the film he decided to speak out after senior officials in the Obama administration gave a briefing last year in which they said they wanted to "transfer" control of the CIA's secret drones programme to the military.
Bryant said this was disingenuous because it was widely known in military circles that the US air force was already involved.
"There is a lie hidden within that truth. And the lie is that it's always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been."
Referring to the 17th squadron, another former drone operator, Michael Haas, added: "It's pretty widely known [among personnel] that the CIA controls their mission."
Six other former drone operators who worked alongside the unit, and who have extensive knowledge of the drone programme, have since corroborated the claims. None of them were prepared to go on the record because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Bryant said public scrutiny of the programme had focused so far on the CIA rather than the military, and it was time to acknowledge the role of those who had been carrying out missions on behalf of the agency's civilian analysts.
"Everyone talks about CIA over Pakistan, CIA double-tap, CIA over Yemen, CIA over Somalia. But I don't believe that they deserve the entirety of all that credit for the drone programme," he said. "They might drive the missions; they might say that these are the objectives – accomplish it. They don't fly it."
Another former drone operator based at Creech said members of the 17th were obsessively secretive.
"They don't hang out with anyone else. Once they got into the 17th and got upgraded operationally, they pretty much stopped talking to us. They would only hang out among themselves like a high school clique, a gang or something."
Shamsi said the revelations, if true, raised "a host of additional pressing questions about the legal framework under which the targeted killing programme is carried out and the basis for the secrecy that continues to shroud it."
She added: "It will come as a surprise to most Americans if the CIA is directing the military to carry out warlike activities. The agency should be collecting and analysing foreign intelligence, not presiding over a massive killing apparatus.
"We don't know precisely what rules the CIA is operating under, but what we do know makes clear that it's not abiding by the laws that strictly limit extrajudicial killing both in and out of traditional battlefields. Now we have to ask whether the regular military is violating those laws as well, under the secrecy that the CIA wields as sword and shield over its killing activities.
"Congressional hearings in the last year have made it embarrassingly clear that Congress has not exercised much oversight over the lethal programme."
In theory, the revelation could expose serving air force personnel to legal challenges based on their direct involvement in a programme that a UN special rapporteur and numerous other judicial experts are concerned may be wholly or partly in violation of international law.
Sitting 45 miles north-west of Las Vegas in the Mojave desert, Creech air force base has played a key role in the US drone programme since the 1990s.
The 432d wing oversees four conventional US air force Predator and Reaper squadrons, which carry out surveillance missions and air strikes in Afghanistan.
There is another, far more secretive cluster of units within the wing called the 732nd Operations Group, which states that it "employs remotely piloted aircraft in theatres across the globe year-round".
This operations group has four drone squadrons, which all appear to be linked with the CIA.
The 30th Reconnaissance Squadron "test-flies" the RQ-170 Sentinel, the CIA's stealth drone which made headlines after one was captured over Iran in December 2011.
The 22nd and 867th Reconnaissance Squadrons each fly Reaper drones, the more heavily armed successor to the Predator.
But it is the last of the four units – the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron – that is now under the most scrutiny.
It is understood to have 300 air crew and operates about 35 Predator drones – enough to provide five or six simultaneous missions during any 24-hour period.
It operates from within an inner compound at Creech, which even visiting military VIPs are unable to access, say former base personnel. Former workers at Creech say the unit was treated as the "crown jewels" of the drone programme.
"They wouldn't even let us walk by it, they were just so protective of it," said Haas, who for two years was a drone operator. He was also an operational trainer at Creech.
"From what I was able to gather, it was pretty much confirmed they were flying missions almost exclusively in Pakistan with the intent to strike."
In the Operations Cell, which receives video feeds from every drone "line" in progress at Creech, mission co-ordinators from the 17th were kept segregated from all the others.
Established as a regular drone squadron in 2002, the unit transitioned to its new "customer" in 2004 at the same time that CIA drone strikes began in Pakistan, former personnel have said.
The operators receive their orders from civilian CIA analysts who ultimately decide whether – and against whom – to carry out a strike, according to one former mid-level drone commander.
Creech air force base would only confirm that the 17th squadron was engaged in "global operations".
"The 732nd Operations Group oversees global operations of four squadrons – the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, 22nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 867th Reconnaissance Squadron. These squadrons are all still active … their mission is to perform high-quality, persistent, multi-role intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of combatant commanders' needs."
Although the agency's drone strikes have killed a number of senior figures in al-Qaida and the Taliban, the CIA also stands accused by two United Nations investigators of possible war crimes for some of its activities in Pakistan. They are probing the targeting of rescuers and the bombing of a public funeral.
• Tonje Schei's film Drone premieres on Arte on 15 April.
• Chris Woods is the author of Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars, which is published next winter in the US and Europe
CREECH AFB Report Back, (Part One)……by Martha Hubert
On Sunday, April 6th, Toby, Fred and I drove to Creech AFB via Fresno, where we visited the artist installation of a life size drone model.
We were greeted by Joseph DeLappe (the artist from Reno), Beverly and later, Teresa (both Fresno Activist friends).
We watched as the artist and his student assistants added the final wing to the Drone.
PHOTO OF A YELLOW DRONE MODEL ON THE GROUND
The point of this installation is to draw attention to drone warfare, and that it isn’t just another computer game.
Drone warfare is TERROR. We said our goodbyes and were on our way.
There were a lot of miles to cover before we reached Creech. We arrived at the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs, a short drive from Creech AFB, at 10:00 p.m. Sunday night, glad to get out of the car.
Monday morning our friend John (VFP Albany) joined the three of us from the Bay Area to protest at the base entry.
Our numbers were small, but our messages were many (and STRONG), thanks to Toby’s obsession with banner making.
Between protests on Monday, we visited the wild horses at Cold Creek, not far from Creech at a higher elevation (cooler too).
On Monday night we were joined by our friend Barry (VFP Sacramento).
He was especially popular with some of us since he brought Coffee for Tuesday morning.
It’s wonderful being back here on the Goddess Temple property.
The huge Cottonwood trees provide shade and a great place to work on making new banners.
Barry picked up Catherine at the Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon, while some of us stayed behind.
We had banners to make!
CAUTION: MILITARY LIFE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH
It was nice to have both Catherine and Barry back with us for Tuesday afternoon's commute.
Was it ever HOT out there! Those cold beers that we got at the Oasis Bar in the tiny town of Indian Springs were exceptionally good!
The desolate landscape in this part of the country is a rock hound’s dream come true.
The Goddess Temple and grounds are evolving in a beautiful way, thanks to Candace Ross, the Temple Priestess.
We’re fortunate to have the Temple Guest House for a place to stay, a place filled with love and creative energy.
Each day we greet the commuters in and out of the base with our signs and banners.
We’re out at the most busy entrance to the base 6-8 am and 3-5 pm, sometimes longer.
Wednesday morning we dressed in black with white masks, carried tiny coffins, a baby (doll), and the huge banner saying
DRONE WARFARE IS TERROR, as well as another saying MOTHERS SAY NO TO WAR.
The five of us had a funeral procession down the highway next to the base.
We were back at the base entrance Wednesday afternoon, focusing on Justice for Chelsea Manning and all whistleblowers.
Wednesday evening we brought our messages to Las Vegas, and had dinner at Bacco, Lt. Ehren Watada’s restaurant there.
Edwina, Lisa, John, Mark, Ming and others joined us for dinner.
While waiting for our meal, we kept busy cutting out paper drones for an upcoming action.
It was very fitting to show our support of the restaurant owned and managed by the brave veteran
who stood up to the lies of our government leading us to the war in Iraq. It was an excellent meal, enjoyed by all.
After dinner we split into two cars: one for grocery and hardware shopping and the other to pick up Renay and Peggy at the airport.
None of us got much sleep that night. Barry’s coffee was essential Thursday morning.
We were all up bright (well, it was actually dark) and early Thursday morning (with five new participants!)
We gathered at the entrance to Creech wearing white clothing and white masks.
We wore blue scarves in solidarity with the Blue Scarf Movement (thebluescarf.org)
"The Blue Scarf represents the expansive blue sky we all share and has become a global symbol for togetherness.
It was set in motion by a very brave group of women in Afghanistan ready to be heard and is now being worn around the world as a way for people to express their solidarity as global citizens for a better world."
Every day we’re joined by more protesters!
There’s one nut of a counter protestor, on his huge motorcycle with a big American flag. More on him later.
We’re having a blast. Let’s hope we’re having an impact!
TO BE CONTINUED
PLEASE FORWARD AS YOU SEE FIT
Good Friday, April 18, 2014
Colonel Phillip A. Stewart
Commander, 9th Reconnaissance Wing
General Delivery at PSC Box 5000
Beale Air Force Base, CA 95903
Dear Colonel Stewart:
We are writing because of our concerns about US drone attacks in countries around the world. As you know, some of us have been demonstrating regularly at Beale for the past few years because Global Hawk Drones are an integral part of the U.S. drone warfare program.
We call on you and your superiors up the chain of command to immediately halt drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and all other countries. We ask that you order an immediate halt to any and all operations by the 9th Reconnaissance Wing that in any way support drone attacks or involve surveillance of individuals and or groups.
We further demand that you and your superiors undertake full and independent investigations into all drone attacks and make public information on these attacks including, but not limited to, where these attacks have been and are being conducted, all casualty reports, video tapes of attacks, evaluations of the attacks and orders and authorizations for these attacks.
Several of us are hoping to deliver this letter to you in person, along with a copy of the World Council of Churches' "Statement on use of drones and denial of the right to life" and "A Call from the Faith Community to Stop Drone Warfare," which has been signed by religious leaders from around the country. Since you represent the leadership of the U.S. Air Force at Beale, we want to meet with you personally to explain our concerns.
We look forward to speaking with you.
A Call from the Faith-Based Community to Stop Drone Killings
As representatives of faith-based communities, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in countries where we are not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Some aspects that we find particularly disturbing include:
The President and his aides draw up a Kill List in which they play the role of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. People on this secret Kill List have never been charged, tried or convicted in a court of law, and are given no opportunity to surrender;
The labeling of all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, thus justifying their murder, is an extreme and macabre form of profiling;
-Drone strikes kill not only their intended targets, but innocent people, including children, violating the sanctity of human life;
-Drone strikes violate other nations’ sovereignty (Pakistan’s elected leaders, for example, have repeatedly called for an end to the strikes);
-Drones in the hands the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command keep the program veiled in secrecy. The lack of transparency and accountability violate the basic tenets of a democratic society;
-Drones make killing more abstract, impersonal, antiseptic, convenient and “easy”;
The Administration insists that because drones do not risk American lives, Congress need not be consulted, leading to a dangerous abuse of executive power;
-Drone strikes have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants. They fuel anti-American sentiment, radicalize local populations and perpetuate an endless cycle of violence.
-The example being set by the United States that a nation can go anywhere it wants and kill anyone it wants on the basis of secret information is leading to a world of chaos and lawlessness.
The world’s great religions teach us to cherish human life. This impersonal, risk-free killing of people on the other side of the globe runs counter to religious belief and the teachings of our traditions.
We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on the United Nations to regulate the international use of lethal drones in a fashion that promotes a just and peaceful world community, based on the rule of law, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.
Rev. John Auer, United Methodist Church, retired, Wesley UMC, Fresno, CA
Reverend Sharon Delgado, retired United Methodist pastor, Earth Justice Ministries
Linda Kuruhara, Diaconal Minister of the United Methodist Church, Lincoln, CA
Reverend Elizabeth Griswold, Parkside Community Church, United Church of Christ, Sacramento, CA
Reverend Dr. Gerald O. Pederson, Retired Lutheran Pastor, member Veterans for Peace, Sacramento, CA
Reverend Dr. Gerald O. Pederson, Retired Lutheran Pastor, member Veterans for Peace, Sacramento, CA.
Reverend Lesley Adams, Chaplain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Episcopal Priest
Reverend Dr. Eileen Altman, Associate Pastor, First Congregational Church, UCC, Palo Alto, CA
Reverend Dr. Israel Alvaran, United Methodist Church, San Francisco, CA
James Atwood, Retired, Presbyterian Church USA, Springfield, VA
Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles, CA
Jean Barker, Interfaith Community Organizer, Kennett Square, PA
Andra Baylus, Interfaith Bridge-Builder, Co-Founder of the DC Interfaith Peace Initiative
Rabbi Joseph Berman, Jamaica Plain, MA
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco, CA
Reverend Roy Birchard, San Francisco Fellowship of Reconciliation
Tsukina Blessing, Co-Founder Occupy Chaplains, Seattle, WA
Reverend Beth Bostrom, Wesley Foundation Director, United Methodist Minister, Miami, FL
Pastor Dale Bracey, Presbyterian Church
Reverend Dr. Matthew Braddock, Sr. Minister, Christ Congregational Church, Silver Spring, MD
Reverend Mary Karen Brown, Retired United Methodist Minister, North Bend, WA
Reverend Geoff Browning, Peacemaking Advocate Presbytery, San Jose
Patricia Bruno, Order of Preachers, Dominican Sisters, San Rafael, CA
Betty Campbell, Religious Sisters of Mercy
Reverend Sally Carlson, Deacon, Episcopal Church, Diocese of Olympia
Reverend Ewing W. Carroll, Jr., Retired, United Methodist Clergy and Missionary, Hong Kong
Pastor John Chamberlin, United Methodist Church, National Coordinator, East Timor Religious Outreach
Marilyn Chilcote, Pastor, Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, CA
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, Ph.D., Professor of Rabbinic Literature, American Jewish University
Reverend Bill Coop, National Committee of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Reverend Ben Daniel, Pastor, Foothill Presbyterian Church, San Jose, CA
Cantor Michael Davis, Rabbinical Council, Jewish Voices for Peace
Reverend Richard Deats, Pastor, Nyack, NY
Reverend Sandra Decker, Interfaith Community Minister, San Francisco, CA
Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International
Reverend Maureen A. Dickmann, Pastor, Rock Bridge Christian Church Columbia, MO
Reverend John P. Donovan, St. James Church, Johnson City, NY, Diocese of Syracuse
Reverend Dr. Frank Dunn, Senior Priest, St. Stephen Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
Reverend Deborah Espen, Director, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, Boise, ID Samina Faheem, Executive Director, American Muslim Voice
Reverend David Farley, Pastor, Echo Park Methodist Church, Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah, Chairwoman, National Association of Muslim American Women
Reverend John M. Fife, Former Moderator, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reverend Therese Fitzgerald, Buddhist Minister, Dharma Friends, Hana, HI
Reverend Dr. Jerrold L. Foltz, Wellspring United Church of Christ, Centreville, VA
Reverend John L. Freesemann, Pastor, Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church, San Jose, CA
Ronald Fujiyoshi, Retired Missionary of the United Church of Christ, Hilo, HI
JoAnn Yoon Fukumoto, Cal-Pac Conference, United Methodist Church
Dr. Linda Gaither, Chair, National Executive Council, Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Sister Bernie Galvin, Congregation of Divine Providence
Reverend Dr. Diana C. Gibson, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, Presbyterian Pastor
Sister Carol Gilbert, Order of Preachers, Jonah House, Baltimore, MD
Reverend David W. Good, Minister Emeritus, The First Congregational Church, Old Lyme,CT
Reverend Charlotte P. Gosselink, Kennett Square, PA
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Co-Founder Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
Pastor Donald F. Guest, Easter Hill United Methodist Church, Richmond, CA
Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Archdiocese of Detroit
Reverend Fritz Gutwein, Associate Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Washington, DC
Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, DC
Naqi Haider, Community Organizer/Executive Director of Muslims for Peace
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Director School for Conversion, Baptist Minister, Durham, NC
Dr. John Heidel, Past-President, Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii
Reverend Peter Hinde, Order of Carmelites, Doctor of Divinity
Reverend M. Lara Hoke, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Andover, MA
Reverend Joyce Hollyday, Co-Pastor, Circle of Mercy, Asheville, NC
Mark Johnson, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Reverend Alan Jones, Chair, Committee on Advocacy and Justice,Conference, United Methodist Church
Reverend Dave Grishaw-Jones, Senior Minister, First Congregational Church, Santa Cruz, CA
Reverend Stephen Kelly, S.J., Murray Jesuit Residence, Oakland, CA
Reverend Edwin Keener, Presbyterian Church USA, Honorable Retired
Elder Derrick Kikuchi, First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, CA
Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Los Angeles
Reverend Dr. Jonipher Kupono Kwong, Minister, First Unitarian Church, Honolulu, HI
Reverend Nicole Lamarche, Silicon, Valley United Church of Christ
Reverend Rich Lang, University Temple, United Methodist Church, Seattle, WA
Reverend Phil Lawson, Retired United Methodist
Reverend Deborah Lee, United Church of Christ, Director of Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives, Editor, Tikkun
Reverend John R.Long, First Presbyterian Church, Buffalo, NY
Reverend Kyle Lovett, Pastor, Crossroads UCC
Reverend Dr. Linda M. Maloney, Episcopal Priest, Diocese of Vermont
Dr. Wayne Martin, First Congregational Church, Eugene, OR
Reverend Bob Matthews, United Church of Christ, Alameda, CA
Cyrus McGoldrick, Civil Rights Manager, Council on American Islamic Relations, NY
Robert McKenzie, Parish Associate, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA
Kathy McNeely, Director, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Muslim Peace Coalition USA; Chairperson, Parliament of World Religions
Robert S. More, Chairperson, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
Michael Nagler, Founder, Metta Center for Nonviolence
Reverend Shannan Vance-Ocampo, Pastor, Presbyterian Church, North Plainfield, NJ
Imam Rashid Patch, Oakland, CA
Blair Pettyjohn, Ahimsa Christi, Peace Group of Dayspring Church
Father Bill Pickard, Vice President, Pax Christi of North Eastern PA
Sister Ardeth Platte, Order of Preachers, Jonah House, Baltimore, MD
Reverend Charles W. Rawlings, Los Gatos, CA
Shafi Refai, President, United Muslims of America, Fremont, CA
Reverend George Regis, Episcopal Church, Los Angeles, CA
Sister Megan Rice, Sisters of Holy Child Jesus
Imam Zaid Shakir, Lighthouse Mosque, Oakland, CA
Suzanne Shanley, Agape Community, Hardwick, MA
Reverend Dr. Timonthy F. Simpson, Editor, Political Theology, Presbyterian Church USA
Pastor John F. Steinbruck, Retired Lutheran Pastor, Retired Captain U.S. Navy
Jean Stokan, Director, Institute Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Nobuko Miyake-Stoner, Harris United Methodist Church, Honolulu, HI
Reverend Robert Miyake-Stoner, Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church, Pearl City, HI
Dr. Susan Stouffer, Director, Peace Center, United University Church, Los Angeles, CA
Father Tim Taugher, Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Binghamton, NY
Reverend Don Timmerman, Casa Maria Catholic Worker, Milwaukee, WI
Barbara DiTommaso, Director, Commission on Peace and Justice, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
Father Louie Vitale, Franciscan priest, Pace e Bene
Reverend Edward A. White, Presbyterian Minister, Washington, DC
Reverend Harry Williams, Oakland, CA
Pastor John Wimberly, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
Jim Winkler , General Secretary, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
Reverend Michael Yoshii, Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Alameda, CA
Father Jerry Zawada, Nevada Desert Experience
Find the pledge and the updated list of signatories at http://droneswatch.org/2012/07/29/a-call-from-the-faith-based-community-to-stop-drone-killings/
Minute on the government’s engagement in drone warfare. Adopted by Kendal Monthly Meeting on April 10, 2014.
As Friends (Quakers) who believe there is “that of God” in everyone and therefore every life is sacred, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in U.S. bases kill thousands of miles away men, women, and children by remote control. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have caused the deaths of rapidly increasing numbers of men, women, and children world-wide, including people in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, countries where the United States is not even at war.
We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on our government to initiate via the United Nations an international treaty controlling the development and use of drones.