Campaign Bulletin #14

Campaign Bulletin #14; May 10, 2014
By Nick Mottern

Don't forget: Weekly open conference call for activists every Wednesday, 9 pm EST
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1.    ACTION REPORTS
2.    COURT ACTION/LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
3.    LOCAL DRONE BANS
4.    IDEAS
5.    EVENTS PLANNED
5.   MARTHA HUBERT'S REPORT

 

ACTION REPORTS

National Security Agency

Drone-protest-at-NSA-arrests[1]Protesters are arrested on May 3 as they attempt to enter the headquarters of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, MD.  Photo by Robert Brone, DC Media Group through PopularResistance.org

On May 3, three people were arrested at the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, MD, near Baltimore, protesting NSA involvement in U.S. drone attacks.

Those arrested in the demonstration, organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), were:

Ellen Barfield - Baltimore, MD
Marilyn Carlisle - Baltimore, MD
Manijeh Saba - Somerset County, NJ

They are charged under Federal law with: failure to comply with a lawful order; entering protected property; and disorderly conduct.

The three were arrested when they walked toward a guard house, singing “Peace, Shalom”, seeking a meeting with anyone who had the authority to respond to a letter that NCNR had sent to NSA Director Vice Admiral Michael Rogers calling on the NSA to end its involvement in US drone attacks.  (Attachment A)  NCNR had received no response to the letter, sent on April 28.

They were among about 20 protesters who gathered in the afternoon along Route 32 near the NSA.  Each person read the names of five children killed in drone attacks, then simulated a drone attack and conducted a die-in, which lasted about 20 minutes.  Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Roman Catholic priest, “wailed and ministered to the victims,” reported the NCNR press statement, which noted that Dick Ochs, accompanying himself on the guitar, sang a drone song of his own composition.

Joan Nicholson, one of the protesters, said that reading the names of drone victims was very moving, that after each name was spoken, the group said: “Forgive us, we remember you.” 

Here is a report of the protest by Malachy Kilbride, one of the organizers, responding to questions I sent him:

What was the atmosphere like?  Photos seem to show police very tense.

The action began earlier than the moment we were stopped by the police. We began by gathering at the public parking lot outside the main gates of the NSA where there is a memorial and some US Air Force and Navy fighter planes. It is also just outside the NSA's National Cryptologic Museum. When our number had gathered we proceeded to an area nearby where there is a grassy hill next to the highway by the NSA building complex. We held signs and banners showing our opposition to the US drone program and the NSA's role in it.

After a while we read the names of drone victims focusing on child drone victims in Pakistan but acknowledging that the list is far longer with many victims of male and female of many ages. Then one in our group acted as someone who saw a drone fly overhead we all took on the roles of people fleeing the drones but then killed. We did a die in on the spot.

According to Max Obuszewski of Baltimore, who has participated in many protests there over the decades, this was the first known die-in at the NSA. We all lay on the ground while one in our group, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, went from victim to victim crying and mourning. After being on the ground for 15-20 minutes she then went about telling us to rise up "As we have much work to do."

Up until this moment the police were friendly, at ease, and professional. We then gathered and proceeded to go out into the public road in the direction of the main gates of the NSA. At this point the police got nervous, I would say. As we made our way to the gate one officer stood in the road and told us to stop and go into the public parking lot. We refused and remained in the road. Shortly after this most of us knelt or sat on the ground. Max then came out from our group to talk to the police. He explained we had written a letter requesting a meeting and we needed to speak with someone in a position of authority or policy.

Were you within eyesight of the NSA building; was there any interaction with NSA officials, or passersby?

Yes, the whole time we were in eyesight of the buildings on the grounds of the NSA. As the three were being arrested a public relations specialist with the NSA came to speak with us. He said they knew were coming and had seen the information about us on the internet. 

How many demonstrations have there been at the NSA in the last few years, and have any people gone to jail?

I do not know the number. But every July 4 for many years there has been a demonstration. Max (Obuszewski) will have all the details on this going back decades. (See below.)  I don't think anyone has gone to jail in years if at all for an NSA action. I think maybe one of the Berrigans years ago.

Do you think there will be more witnesses there?

Yes. The NSA plays an integral role in the US drone program and the authorities there are responsible in part for the victims of the drone attacks and the violations of international law. And of course, this will only be for the drone program. The NSA has a lot to answer for on many other counts too including violations of US law and the constitution.

Is there anything else you want to say?

It is so important for each one of us to listen to our conscience and to follow what we are being called to do in confronting those in positions of power who use the violence of empire to kill, maim, and to occupy the lands of the poor and oppressed. We must not worry about notions of success and effectiveness as defined by our society but to act on the truth that all people are equal and deserve to live without fear of violence and oppression. We must actively resist the empire's wars and oppression with nonviolence as the most powerful tool to bring about liberation and justice for all.

Here is Max’s report on the history of protest at the NSA:

“We generally go to the NSA on July 4 and in October for Keep Space for Peace Week.  And we started in 1996.  I would estimate there have been ten risk-arrest actions at the NSA.  For example, on July 4, 1996, Phil Berrigan, Jeremy Scahill and I blocked a gate.  However, security chose not to arrest us.

“On October 12, 2001, Ellen Barfield, Sister Carol Gilbert, Sister Ardeth Platte and I managed to get through a gate.  Two of us held a banner, and the nuns poured blood on a parking lot.  They hit us with three charges, including conspiracy, which carries a 20-year sentence.  We were arraigned the following February.  But we never went to trial.

“I have been arrested some six times at the NSA, but have never been to trial.  In fact, there has only been one trial.  Five of us were arrested in October 2002, but the government dropped the charges on three of us.  We all did the same thing.  Cindy Farquhar and Marilyn Carlisle went to a two-day trial in August 2003, and I was a witness. They were convicted of one charge, and the other charge was dismissed.  They paid a fine.  So no one has gone to jail for an arrest at the NSA.

“Most importantly, through discovery in that trial, we got the documents that the NSA, Baltimore City Police, NSA Police and others were spying on us.  It was not until 2008 that the ACLU got more documents, and it was discovered that 53 of us were in a terrorist data base.”

Here is a link to a report and photos provide on Popular Resistance.org: http://www.popularresistance.org/three-arrested-at-drone-protest-at-nsa-headquaters/

March from Ft. Benning to Georgia Tech

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Photo by Azi Ebrahimi

Marchers approach Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA at the conclusion of “The Right to Peace Walk- 2014”.

On April 26 “The Right to Peace Walk - 2014” began at Fort Benning, GA, covering 120 miles to protest US military support of repressive Latin American governments and the involvement of Georgia Institute of Technology in drone research being undertaken cooperatively with the Army at Fort Benning.

One of the Georgia Tech / Fort Benning research projects involves the study of drone swarming, wherein drones communicate with each other, like a swarm of insects, in attacking targets.

The march, organized by Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, in cooperation with the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and Georgia WAND, ended on May 3 with a rally at Georgia Tech attended by 80 – 100 people.  

See this video for images of the march of 40 to 45 people as they went from the King Center in Atlanta to Georgia Tech and for speeches made at Georgia Tech, which was also celebrating graduation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpZjQBsLii4&feature=youtu.be  The speakers are: Maria Luisa Rosal, field organizer for SOAW, and Kevin Caron, of Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition.

Kevin said that the only demand of Georgia Tech was on the march flyer:

"The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition is asking Georgia Tech to halt all drone research until the U.S. government stops breaking international law by using this technology to kill people without due process."

Of particular concern, Kevin said, is the work being done by Georgia Tech researcher Ronald Arkin on what he calls “Lethal Autonomous Robotics (LARS).   “The goal of this technology,” Kevin says, is:

“to eliminate the need for humans behind drones.  If successful, drones will fly completely autonomously, operating by using a series of code.  They will also "select" and engage targets" autonomously.  In short, these drones will fly around and chose who/what to fire upon by themselves, without the intervention of human beings.”

Maria Luisa, one of four people who hiked the full length of Peace Walk, said that the thing that most impressed her on the walk is “how little is known about drones.”  The walkers passed through rural areas as they left Columbus, the home of Fort Benning, and she said the more rural the area, “the less and less people knew what was going on beyond their communities.”   (See the Ideas section below.)

The other three who walked the whole way were: Rev. Roy Bourgeois, SOAW founder; Kevin Moran, of Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition; and Irene Rojas de Cambias, of Marietta, GA.

The marchers stopped at Stewart Detention Center, in Lumpkin, which, Maria Luisa said, is the largest immigrant detention center and largest private prison in the U.S., housing 1,800 and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America. 

For information on the Steward Detention Center, which has a notoriously bad history, see: http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/sites/detentionwatchnetwork.org/files/ExposeClose/Expose-Stewart11-15.pdf

Kevin Caron estimated that about 80 people participated in the walk at one time or another, including “youth, teenage, middle-aged, and older people.”

An important message of the march, Maria Luisa said, was pointing out that criminalization of immigrants, like drone attacks, are “examples of U.S. foreign policy.” 

While schools are closing in the U.S., she continued, $28 million is being spent on a new campus for the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, now know as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

Reaper drones are being used for surveillance in the increasing militarization of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and Maria Luisa said that she heard a report of U.S. drones being used in Columbia for “following social movements.”

Military forces from Columbia are among those trained at SOA/WHINSEC.

Here is a link to a podcast of an extremely informative interview with Kevin Caron conducted by Heather Gray on her program Just Peace on WRFG – Radio Free Georgia:

http://hmcgray.podomatic.com/entry/2014-05-09T04_52_19-07_00

For a voluminous series of photos of the march, scroll down through the photo links here: https://www.facebook.com/events/612859198797705/

Code Pink Drone Attack Wedding

On Sunday, May 4, Code Pink responded to the escalation in U.S. drone attacks in Yemen with a dramatization in front of the White House of a drone attack on a wedding of white Americans.

Here are reports and videos of the event:

http://www.popularresistance.org/drone-protest-wedding-reception-held-at-white-house/

http://baltimorepostexaminer.com/codepink-stages-drone-attack-wedding-front-white-house/2014/05/04

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hizvcnL2xQE&feature=youtu.be

This Facebook  page shows comments on the event:

https://www.facebook.com/codepinkalert/photos/a.192092444694.126286.192052299694/10152394883134695/?type=1&theater

And here is a very effective Twitter message:

WATCH: They said 'I do' ...then something shocking happened (at the White House!) http://bit.ly/1nlYNhw via @codepink 

Readings of Names of Drone Victims

Joan Ecklein, of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, had the idea of doing a formal reading of names of those killed by U.S. drone attacks at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in protest of the schools work on military drones, with the date set for May 6.  She suggested others around the country join in, and a reading the same day was held in front of L-3 Communications in New York City because L-3 makes components for the MQ-9 Reaper drone as well as its own drones.  Another reading was held on May 7in Bloomington, Indiana.  Here are reports of the events.

Massachusetts institute of Technology

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Photo by Joan Livingston

Protesters of military drone research being done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reading names of people killed by U.S. drones at the entrance to MIT on May 6.

At noon on May 6, about 40 people gathered at the front steps to the main entrance of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and read names of people killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan and Yemen, protesting military drone research at MIT.

Joan said that she feared that only four or five readers would show up, and she was surprised and thrilled with the turnout.   As it turned out, she said, the readers were positioned so that they encountered a lot of students, heading out for lunch, and the protesters quickly ran out of flyers, “they went like hot cakes.”

The flyers appear in Attachment B.

Here is a report on the event by Susan McLucas, who was master of ceremonies and helped Joan in making the dramatic posters showing pictures of drone attack victims:

“It seemed to me that people were reasonably interested in what we were doing.  At any given time, a handful of people were stopped, listening to us.  We gave out 100 fliers that we often use and needed more and we could have used more of the handout about the MIT connection.  We brought 40 and then copied up another 50 and still ran out.  I would call that pretty much interest.  I'll attach the fliers, our Two Faces of Drones (that we made based on another group's handout, maybe you guys') and then the MIT one.

“We had good talks from Subrata Ghoshroy, the creator of the new handout on the MIT (war drone) connection (See Attachment B); Nancy Murray who worked for a long time at the ACLU and is now retired; Paul Shannon from the AFSC; Joan Ecklein from WILPF; Joan Livingston, and I hope what I said was good.  I also sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow (drones fly by, created by the Grannies and reworked by me).  We only got about half way through our list of names.  I'd marked in highlighting the ones I could find that we had posters for.

“We had posters of Bibi Mamana, the mid-wife and grandmother who was picking okra with her grandchildren when she was killed and whose family went to Congress to testify, the grandson Zubair commenting that he no longer likes sunny days, because that's when the drones come, Tarik Aziz, the 16-year old anti-drone activist, killed in Waziristan in 2011, Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, son of Anwar Al-Awlaki who was looking for his father in Yemen in 2011, Malik Daud Khan, leader of the jirga that got droned in 2011 in Pakistan, Naeem Ullah, a 10-year-old in Waziristan who was in a house next to one bombed with "militants" in it in 2010, and three orphans from the Bismullah family whose parents were killed when the US was trying to hit the Haqqani Network, including the girl whose face has been made famous by the huge portrait of her that is used to give a face for drone pilots to see, a Yemeni protest and a little girl in a party dress running from dark smoke that we labeled “Drone Terror”.  Behind each poster were the details, when we knew them, which we did in all but the last two signs. 

“One man from Pakistan signed up to work with our drone group and said how much he appreciated our being our there talking about this today. That was nice to hear.

“We got a little rain and a few people suggested we might want to close down early but we had said we'd be there two hours and we stayed. 

We had done a press release, but we didn't see any press (as usual), except a friend from MIT radio and our own videographer.  We hope the video gets around, once it's edited.

“It was our first public protest in a while. Over the winter we'd confined ourselves to film screenings for logistical reasons.  It was nice to be out there, and I hope we made an impact on some people.”

Robert Funke, a member of Veterans for Peace (VFP), offered these observations:

 “It was a beautiful day; some people actually stopped by and asked questions and made comments, (I had an interesting conversation with a former First Lieutenant).  Planting seeds to bring these things down, that’s what it is all about.”

Other VFP membera participating were: David Bonner, Joan Livingston and Joe Kebartas.  Joan kindly provided the following links to additional coverage, with comment:

There is an excellent audio summary produced by Chuck Rosina, including interviews with passersby, here:  

http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/75532

In addition to the audio coverage, there are two YouTubes so far, one of Nancy Murray’s talk, and one by MIT researcher Subrata Ghoshroy (who explains why the “Pentagon on the Charles” was an appropriate target for protest:

Government Fairy Tales About Drones: Drone Protest at MIT

http://youtu.be/QTJSDVoXb4k

The Pentagon and the University: Drone Protest at MIT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQJ-Jqgd178&feature=share&list=UUnkZdkVFSfo1A-PiwTd0giA

Here is a link to a summary of the event by Mathias Quackenbush that highlight’s the Subrata Ghoshroy’s presentation:

http://nodronesnewengland.blogspot.com/2014/05/mit-pentagon-on-charles.html

(Another video--"Highlights Clips"--is currently being put together. These two were  tweeted to the NoDronesNetwork, and posted on Facebook--along with many photo albums.)

L-3 Communications – New York City

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Photo by Nick Mottern

Protesters in front of L-3 Communications in New York City reading names of U.S. drone victims.

(l-r) Debra Sweet, Johanna Bon, Stephanie Rugoff, Judy Homanich, Marty Rajandran, George Homanich, Barbara Walker and Vicki McFadden.

On May 6, 10 people gathered at 600 Third Avenue in New York City, the international headquarters of L-3 Communications to read names of people killed in U.S. drone attacks.  L-3, one of the world’s largest military contractors, was chosen for the protest because it make components for the MQ-9 Reaper drone as well as producing its own military drones.

The reading had a stark, prayerful feeling, and it appeared to command respect from the few people who paused to understand what was going on.  Two women offered, at separate times, to participate in the reading.  But most people hurried past, and most exiting 600 Third Avenue, appeared to be intentionally avoiding the witness. 

Several people took cell phone pictures.  The only negative response came from an angry man who said a thousand more people like those we were named should be killed.

For me, Nick Mottern, reading the names was the first time that I was struck emotionally by just how many individuals were dead from drone attacks, people who have left their families and the earth, are gone, not coming back.

Bloomington, IN

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Photo provided by Timothy Baer

Nasrin Farrokh, David Keppel (partially hidden), Timothy Baer, Kadhim Shaaban and Yusuf Nur at the reading of names of drone victims held in front of the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington, IN on May 7, 2014.

On May 7, twenty-four people gathered at the Civil War Memorial in front of the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington, IN for a formal reading of the names of people killed by U.S. drones in a “No Drones Peace Vigil.”

Timothy Baer, organizer for the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, was the master of ceremonies for the event, and he provided the following report:

“…Four people read 114 names of people in Pakistan and Yemen who have been killed by U.S. drone strikes, including names of many of the 69 children who were killed in the attack on the madrassa in Chenagai, Pakistan on Oct. 30, 2006.

“Timothy Baer…gave an introduction about the U.S. drone program and why it should be ended, and encouraged everyone to contact President Obama to call for an end to drone strikes. Those reading names were a female singer/ performing artist originally from Iran (Nasrin Farrokh), a businessman originally from Iraq (Kadhim Shaaban), an Indiana University professor originally from Somalia (Yusuf Nur), and an Oxford graduate/ writer/ Peace activist who is the son of a U.S. diplomat (David Keppel), who also recounted about the period between 9/11 and the launch of U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how a return to diplomacy and a change of policy is now needed.

“The MQ-9 Reaper drone replica with a nearly 12’ wingspan statically hovered over the assembled group and drew attention from passersby. Full color signs promoting the Drones Quilt Project exhibit, the ‘Not A Bug Splat’ project in Pakistan, and maps of areas where U.S. drone attacks occur were displayed. Newly printed signs were held, that read: “Respect Human Rights, No More Drone Attacks”, “End Extra-Judicial Assassinations”, “End U.S. Drone Wars”, and “Stop Drone Killings”.

“Copies of the Drone Control Act, the proposed local anti-drone resolution, and anti-drone literature, as well as contact information for President Obama and Indiana members of Congress, were available and taken.

“People were encouraged to use pre-paid postcards and a suggested message to write to President Obama to end drone killings/ extra-judicial assassinations and to support international law. Eight postcards were written by participants and collected to be mailed.

The Indiana Daily Student (Indiana University’s newspaper) had a reporter at the vigil and interviewed a few people.

http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=98177

 “An independent photojournalist was present. The Herald-Times (Bloomington’s daily newspaper) was not present despite having two media releases sent to them and a phone call to the news editor was made on Wednesday morning.

“Community radio station WFHB did have an excellent 3.5 minute news piece on the event that aired while the names were being read, and contributed to at least 2 or 3 people coming over to the Courthouse Square during the second half of the Peace Vigil.

“Read and listen to the news story at: http://wfhb.org/uncategorized/bpac-protests-drone-use/

“A video-recording and several photos were taken to document the event.”

 

COURT ACTION/LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

On May 8, four people arrested in an April, 2013 counter-drone war protest at Hancock air base outside Syracuse, NY were told by DeWitt Town Judge David Gideon that they can go to trial as a group, but not until in March, 2015.

Ellen Barfield, Jules Orkin, Joan Pleune and Beverly Rice were arrested along with 27 others at the entrance to Hancock, which houses the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard, which operates MQ-9 Reaper drones, attacking in Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere.  The four were charged with obstructing governmental administration, a charge that could result in up to one year in jail.

The prosecutor, Jordan MacNamara, offered the four a plea "bargain" that would have resulted in no jail time, but extended for two further years the "order of protection" (OOP) levied when they were first arrested. The extended OOP would forbid the four, among other things, to demonstrate at Hancock without a permit. All four declined the "deal," insisting on a jury trial.

Judge Gideon extended the orders of protection against them for another two years.

Judge Gideon wanted to have each of the four tried separately, but their lawyer, Lewis Oliver, after some vigorous advocating, persuaded the judge that they should be tried as a group.

Some of the others arrested in 2013, due to job or family circumstances, accepted a plea deal similar to the one offered the four. The others who declined the deal have each been given separate jury trial dates beginning next month and strung out at about one a month through the middle of 2015.

The DeWitt judges are said to be under pressure to cut down the expense of the Hancock trials, and it appears that their preference for individual trials is part of a strategy to cut costs.  It will be apparent in June whether their strategy also includes limiting testimony to simply whether defendants were arrested on the entrance to the base, excluding arguments as to the reasoning for their actions.

Here is a commentary on the DeWitt orders of protection:

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/05/03/bryant-colonel-need-protection-woman/8634001/

LEGAL DEFENSE FUNDS NEED YOUR SUPPORT

Civil resistance to drone attacks and drone surveillance is expensive in terms of bail and costs of legal filings and records, even when people represent themselves or have the benefit of free legal representation. 

As noted in Bulletin #11, bail costs for protesters at Hancock Air Base total $36,000 so far.

Please consider contributing what you can to Upstate Drone Action and the Granny Peace Brigade for the legal support of people facing court in connection with the protests at Hancock Air Base.

Checks can be made out to:

1. Upstate Drone Action and sent to: Upstate Drone Action c/o The Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse NY 13210.

2. Granny Peace Brigade with the following in the memo line: “Joan and Bev defense”.  Checks should be mailed to: Granny Peace Brigade, c/o Gray Panthers, 244 Madison Avenue, #396, New York, NY 10016

 

LOCAL DRONE BANS

Leverett, MA

On May 3, the Leverett, MA Town Meeting approved a resolution banning drone surveillance and weapons carrying drones, joining the few other communities in the U.S. that have passed some form of drone ban.

The Leverett resolution, passed with the leadership of Leverett resident Beth Adams, also instructs members of Congress to introduce a bill that would end  “extrajudicial killing by armed drone aircraft, to specifically withhold money for that purpose, and to make restitution” to the victims.

This is believed to be the first such local initiative in the U.S. to address U.S. drone attacks that have been underway since 2002.    

Beth reported that among supporters of the drone resolution was Ann Ferguson, philosopher and Professor Emerita of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who attended:

“to express deep concern about Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency extrajudicial murders and surveillance of citizens living in economically and politically strategic areas of the Middle East. These drone bombings clearly violate international law and the Constitution…individuals are targeted without legal justification or due process in countries where no war has been declared. These immoral killings are committed by pilots sitting at computers using ‘joy sticks’ causing them inner conflict and PTSD. These traumatizing attacks fuel anti-American sentiment and prolong the War on Terror.  The only winners of this endless conflict are the corporations that continue exploiting land, resources and local workers and the manufacturers of drones, missiles and bombs.”

Beth is also working with residents of Amherst to win passage of similar resolution at their town meeting, sometime within the next two weeks, and she has her sights set on Springfield, MA among others.

Berkeley, CA

On April 29, the Berkeley, CA City Council had the opportunity to approve a drone ban and chose to kick the can down the road.

Robert Meola, who has been working to get the resolution passed for more than two years, said that the resolution is not dead but that the council said nothing about when it will act, if at all.

Here is a blistering article on the council’s handling of the resolution in the on-line Berkeley Daily Planet:

http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2014-05-02/article/42073?headline=The-Public-Calls-for-a-No-Drone-Zone-The-City-Council-Dithers--By-Gar-Smith##42073

Here is additional coverage:

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/04/30/drone-technology-in-berkeley-may-see-further-study/

http://www.contracostatimes.com/west-county-times/ci_25667351/berkeley-council-takes-cautious-look-at-issue-drones

 

CODE PINK MOBILIZING LOCAL DRONE BAN ACTION

Dear friends and activists,

Here at CODEPINK we're excited to announce that we have launched a campaign to pass 100 local resolutions restricting the use of drones in our communities. While there’s been much discussion about the dangers of drones being used in the US by law enforcement and other government agencies, only a few cities have passed resolutions to regulate their use or impose a moratorium until such regulations are in place. Restricting the use of drones in our communities is important for our privacy and our safety. It’s also important to make sure that drones used here at home are never weaponized, like they are overseas.

We have a great action toolkit, including a short video, that takes you step-by-step through the resolution process. Check out the campaign here and contact me if you are interested or have any questions!

Peace,

Alli, Medea and the CODEPINK team.

 

IDEAS

Here are the minutes of the May 7 organizers’ conference call:

Daniel Riehl – Lancaster, PA – said that he is doing systematic outreach to 20 churches in the Lancaster area to increase the number going to Horsham each month to protest the opening of a drone control base there from 14 to 50 by the summer.   “It’s a slow painful job,” he said, “ but we’re making progress.”  In his presentations to churches he uses the film Wounds of Waziristan

http://www.journeyman.tv/66218/short-films/wounds-of-waziristan-hd.html and a PowerPoint show prepared by Bill Quigley that outlines legal issues presented by U.S. drone attacks http://paxchristiusa1.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/bill-quigleys-presentation-on-drones.pdf.

Kevin Caron – Atlanta, GA – reported on the march from Ft. Benning to Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta (See above.)   Kevin suggested that it would be important for groups in the United States and from overseas that are working on the drone war issue to get together and draft a statement, defining their common goals.  Nick said that this will be done in advance of joint international actions planned for Oct. 4 and that he will circulate information on how to comment of the statement as soon as possible.

Andrew Dalton and Barbara Kidney – Drone Alert – Hudson Valley – said there will be “pop-up” leafleting actions on May 17 on the pedestrian bridge across the Hudson at Poughkeepsie and another on May 24 in New Paltz.  They will read names of victims of drone attacks and at the same time write the names on large sheets of paper and ask people to comment and/or making drawings near the names.  They plan to have a event on Memorial Day in memory of those killed by drones and may use the paper sheets with the names as part of that witness.  Barbara reported that arrangements have been made to show Wounds of Waziristan in the first week of November at the New Paltz Quaker meeting, with timing set to coincide with a gathering of Quakers from other meetings at the New Paltz meeting.  Barbara suggested that we try to get information about drone protests now underway to Pakistan radio stations and press agencies, and she said she would try to work on this.

Kyle Silliman-Smith – Burlington, VT – Kyle is program manager at Peace and Justice Center in Burlington, a statewide organization.  She reported that the center took 13 people to the April 27 protest at Hancock air base in Syracuse, had shown Wounds of Waziristan in Montpelier and participated in a discussion of Dirty Wars when it was screened in April at the White River (Junction) Indie (film) Festival.

Kyle also reported on a new initiative to reach out with drone education to people living in rural Vermont to respond to requests from supporters around the state.  She said that in some cases those doing the education, whether from the center’s staff or local people, may meet with only five people in a living room.

“It takes time and cultivation,” she said, but she said, “we’re excited to empower their communities.”

She said the goal is to build a strong base for action, for instance for putting pressure of members of Congress to end drone attacks.  The goal, Kyle said, is to “inspire people to do something…to always have a plan; how can you take action”. 

“Our focus,” she said, “is on educating everyone” and to achieve goals generated “by the people.”

Joan Nicholson – Kennett Square, PA – reported on participating in the May 3 protest at the NSA (See report above).

 

EVENTS PLANNED

Here is a listing of selected up-coming events:

Bloomington, IN

May 3 – 18 – Opening reception May 3 1 – 4 pm Room 1-C – Display of Leah Bolger’s traveling Drone Quilt Project at the Monroe County Public Library, sponsored by Bloomington Peace Action Council and the Bloomington branch of Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom.  Contact: BPACpeace@hotmail.com

San Diego, CA

May 15 -17 - San Diego “Drone Days of Action” will include a street theater drone attack; a light display by the Overpass Light Brigade; a protest at drone maker Northrup-Grumman; a demonstration at the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, responsible for, among other things, intelligence and surveillance; and a “Stop the Drones” planning convergence.  For details:

http://www.sdcpj.org

Albuquerque, NM

May 17 - 6-9 pm – Drone protest of the keynote speech by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce banquet at the Sheraton Uptown, corner of Louisiana and Menaul NW.  For more information: (505) 858-0882.

Philadelphia, PA

May 17 – 1 – 3 pm – Anti-Drone Action on Market Street between 5th and 6th with speaker Medea Benjamin, Co-founder of Code Pink, sponsored by the Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia.  Contact: Barbara Cicalese -  bacicalese@comcast.net or (215) 896-9839.

Minneapolis / St. Paul

May 17 – 1 pm – “Stop the Wars, Ground the Drones” rally, initiated by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition (612-522- 1861/ 612- 827-5364) Gather at Hiawatha and Lake Street, Minneapolis.

San Francisco, CA

May 17-27:  "WALK TO PEACE, To Resist Global Militarization and Drone Warfare".  Any help offered will be very welcomed! For details:  

https://www.facebook.com/events/1380107975587685/

Kansas City, MO

May 30 – June 1 – Trifecta Resista – As follows:

Fri., May 30, 4-9 pm: Kickoff of weekend at DeLaSalle Education Center 3737 Troost, Kansas City, MO, 64109, with nonviolence training, supper, input on Trifecta sites, and small-group sharing.

Sat., May 31: Demonstrations at Fort Leavenworth (at 10 a.m.—Chelsea is now serving a 35-year sentence there) and Bannister Federal Complex (at 3 pm), and meals and gatherings at DeLaSalle. At 7 pm, talks by Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright and others.

Sun., June 1: Early breakfast, then departure from DeLaSalle at about 11 a.m., a gathering at Knob Noster State Park at 1 pm, and demonstration at nearby Whiteman AFB at 2 pm. See http://www.trifectaresista.org

Chicago, IL – Battle Creek, MI

June 3 – 14 – “On the Road to Ground the Drones” walk from Chicago along Lake Michigan’s south shore and through Michigan to Battle Creek, proposed site of a new drone command center, 165 miles, organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. For more information:

http://vcnv.org/vcnv-calendar/covering-ground-2-ground-the-drones

 

MARTHA HUBERT’S REPORTS ON CREECH EXPERIENCE

In Bulletin #11, with the report of drone protests at Creech AFB in Nevada, there was Part One of Martha Hubert’s description of her experience during the Nevada Desert Experience, which included that Creech protest. 

Attachment C is the second and final part of her report.

Thanks to all for the tremendous amount of imagination and just plain hard work that you are putting forth.

In solidarity,

Nick

 


ATTACHMENT A

April 28, 2014

Vice Admiral Michael S. Rogers
Director, National Security Agency
Chief, Central Security Service
National Security Agency
Fort George G. Meade, MD  20755
 
Dear Admiral Rogers:
 
As members of peace and justice groups with grave concern for the National Security Agency’s role in the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen, we are writing to request a meeting.  We are deeply concerned about our government’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, to assassinate people in the countries listed above. As you know the NSA is involved in this assassination program by providing potential targets for the president's "kill list."
 
We are aware that the NSA is open 24 hours a day,7 days a week. Therefore, we are suggesting a meeting at the NSA on Saturday, May 3, 2014. We are confident that someone in a policy-making capacity will be available to meet with us and to arrange a subsequent meeting due to the important nature of our concern.
 
At the meeting, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance representatives will urge you to support an end to this assassination program which we believe to be illegal.  Please confirm that a meeting can take place on May 3.  
 
In 2011 in Yemen, CIA drone attacks were used to kill, first, Anwar Al-Awlaki and weeks later his son. They were U.S. citizens, who were never charged, brought to trial, or convicted of any crime. In fact, four other U.S. citizens have been assassinated by killer drone strikes without any pretense of due process.
 
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights brought a lawsuit in US federal court against the Obama Administration regarding the assassination of Al-Awlaki. The suit was lost on procedural grounds; however, the judge in the case stated "Can the executive order the assassination of a US citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization?"
 
The killer drone strikes only promote more terrorism directed at the US. This point was made by Malala Yousafzai when she met with President Obama and his family.  On Oct. 11, 2013 Philip Rucker of THE WASHINGTON POST wrote this: “Yousafzai said she was honored to meet Obama and that she raised concerns with him about the administration's use of drones, saying they are ‘fueling terrorism.’”
 
We are also disturbed by the lack of transparency and oversight by congress. In spite of assurances from President Obama that the victims of drone strikes are surgical targets, it has been reported that hundreds of victims who are innocent of crimes against the US have been killed including civilian men, women, and children. These people have names and families who love them.
 
According to a report, “US: Reassess Targeted Killings in Yemen,” released on October 21, 2013 by Human Rights Watch “United States targeted airstrikes against alleged terrorists in Yemen have killed civilians in violation of international law." The report added that the strikes are creating a public backlash that undermines US efforts against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
 
We hope that you will take our concerns seriously, as it is our position that killer drone strikes are wrong on many levels: the illegality and immorality of assassinations, the violation of international law and the constitutional protection of due process, the targeting of civilian populations, and the disregard of sovereignty. We have great concern for people caught up in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen.  We believe the US killer drone program must be brought to an end immediately.
 
Please respond to our request to meet and to discuss your role in terminating the National Security Agency's role in this assassination program. This is an opportunity to consider our proposal of reconciliation and diplomacy rather than pernicious killer drone strikes.  A U.S. policy of endless wars must be placed in the dustbin of history.  We look forward to your response.
 
In peace,
 
Max Obuszewski
On behalf of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

 


ATTACHMENT B

Here are flyers that were distributed on May 6, 2014 at a reading at Massachusetts Institute of Technology of names of people killed in U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen.

The reading was sponsored by:

Eastern Massachusetts Anti-Drone Network; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; MIT Western Hemisphere Project; Boston United National Antiwar Coalition; South Asians for Global Justice; Alliance for a Secular & Democratic South Asia; and Massachusetts Global Action.

http://www.knowdrones.com/spring-days-of-action-2014/Bulletins/Drone%20Handout%20Two%20Faces.pdf

http://www.knowdrones.com/spring-days-of-action-2014/Bulletins/Drone%20Research%20at%20MIT_a%20brief%20commentary_April%202014.pdf

http://www.knowdrones.com/spring-days-of-action-2014/Bulletins/Over%20the%20Rainbow%20Susan%27s%20drones%20words.pdf

 


ATTACHMENT C

CODE PINK AT CREECH AFB – PART TWO
By Martha Hubert

This is the second and concluding report by Martha Hubert of her experiences while participating in the 2014 drone protest at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.  Part One of her report appears in Bulletin #11.

For the afternoon commute on Thursday, April 10th, we focused on KITES.  We were joined by Kit and Keith from Washington state, and Josie from New Mexico. FLY KITES NOT DRONES!

PastedGraphic

We had dozens of hand made kites as well as a few store bought ones, beautiful artwork and signage.  Many thanks to Shirley Osgood and the folks in Grass Valley for their contributions to this effort. And thanks to Barry for bringing them! Most of the kites were held by hand or strung together horizontally, though there was one brave soul (Lisa) who pranced around our protest with Renay’s kite high in the air.  It was quite windy, and a bit unpredictable; but what a sight to behold!

On Thursday evening, Candace invited us to the Temple for a beautiful ritual dedicated to our activism for PEACE. During the ritual we were joined by Liz and Maggie from Arizona.

We regrouped at the Temple Guest House and discussed our intentions for Friday (Civil Disobedience). After much discussion, we finally settled on the seven of us who were willing to be arrested, and started writing a letter to the base commander.

Here is the letter we wrote to be delivered to the base on Friday morning 4/11:

April 11, 2014

Commander Col. Jim Cluff
President Barack Obama
CIA Director John Brennan

We are here today as Americans who are deeply concerned about the global use of drones. We are here to say, no more use of drones starting today. We come from many places in the western United States, leaving families, time off from work and other commitments to be here.  We will not tolerate the use of our military and our tax dollars to continue the killing of men, women and children  without due process.

Some of us have been here many times, watching the drones fly overhead, as the service members go back and forth to the base.  Our message has been “No More!”  We have lobbied the president and our congressional representatives with the same message: “No more weaponized drones, no more killing!”
As concerned citizens we are here today to demand the following:

  • An immediate ban on the use of all drones used for extrajudicial killing. The US must immediately stop this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.
  • Halt all drone surveillance worldwide, as it assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights. US drone surveillance is currently terrorizing domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.
  • Prohibit the sale and distribution of weaponized drones and related technology to foreign countries in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom and security.
  • Stop global militarization.  Close all US bases in foreign lands now. A nation’s military should be used for defense purposes only and the sovereignty of all nations should be respected.
  • Halt the US occupation of foreign lands. It is illegal, immoral and perpetuates endless wars while sacrificing desperately needed services at home.

We are often accused of “trespassing”. However it is our view that the real trespassing is that of our military in its extrajudicial killings.

Signed by

Toby Blome
Renay Davis
Catherine Hourcade
Maggie Huntington
Martha Hubert
Lisa Marcus
Edwina Vogan

 
ProWarProtester

There was one obnoxious motorcycle riding, flag waving counter protester we’d been seeing for the past few days. Here you see him greeting us with the oh so familiar middle finger salute.

It was interesting that the police didn’t have a problem with this guy parking his bike on the shoulder of the road for two hours, though we would never have been permitted to park there. He wasn’t alone this time. There were already a few other counter protesters whom we’d never seen there before. Fortunately they were considerably outnumbered by our group. In addition to the large number of fellow activists in our contingent, we were joined by other peace activists from the Nevada Desert Experience in Las Vegas.

Here you see Catherine and Renay with the pink paper drones strung between them. ABOLISH WAR).

 
Renay_Catherine_Creech

I led the funeral procession with a large sign that Toby made DRONES KILL CHILDREN. I was followed by the six other arrestees (Catherine Hourcade, Renay Davis, Toby Blome, Edwina Vogan, Maggie Huntington, and Lisa Marcus (holding another one of Toby’s great signs: ABOLISH WAR).

Procession

We were all wearing pink paper drones (each with the name of a drone victim) strung around our necks.  Our supporters (Liz, Susan, Migene, Kit, Keith, Barry, Eleanor, Peggy, …) followed with Josie keeping a steady drumbeat going as we walked beside highway 95, along the perimeter of the base. As advised by one of the police officers, the drum beat quickened as we scurried across the oncoming traffic into the base, so that we could all get across the base entry safely.  After processing back and forth a bit, we angled down to the base entry “boundary” and those of us who risked arrest kept going until (and sometimes after) we were stopped by “law enforcement” - mostly Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. At first, they grabbed some of us roughly, though that didn’t last long.  We actually had some decent conversations with some of the arresting officers. Toby observed a significant positive change in the attitudes of the Las Vegas officers throughout the entire arrest/detainment/jail experience. Many of them were very interested in hearing what we had to share about drone warfare, asking us questions and even joking with us in a humorous and friendly way. There was a significantly increased tolerance to our intentions and actions.

TobyArrested

Here you see Toby talking with one of the officers before the arrest (with Nico, our friend from Reno who is making a documentary on Drone Proliferation in Nevada).

There was a somewhat playful mood as we wiggled around crossing the (arbitrary) boundary and approached the gate entrance as close as possible. They really didn’t want to arrest us. But our actions were making a statement, and the arrests were part of our plan. Along with confronting the President and the Congress, we feel it’s important to confront the judicial branch of the government, and the arrest process is an important part of that picture.

 

Lisa Martha Arrest

Lisa and Martha being arrested

Our supporters were in full force with signage and singing as we were reigned in and put in transport for the trip to the Las Vegas jail. They held us there in the base driveway for a while, long enough for us to think we’d be cited and released. But, that didn’t happen. They split the seven of us into four cars to drive to Las Vegas. I went solo in the back seat of a police car. After talking with the driver, struggling to be heard through the bullet proof glass, I settled on listening to his country music and looking out the window. Though Edwina and I were arrested last, we were the first to arrive at the police station. (I noticed that my driver was going considerably above the speed limit.) They took our shoes, socks and jewelry, and we were given floppy sandals to wear. We were photographed and finger printed, went through a “medical exam”, and were sent to sit and wait for the process to continue.  One by one, we saw our activist friends going through the same. Edwina was pulled aside because of an unresolved prior arrest during an earlier drone protest at Creech (walking in the wrong direction on the side of a highway???). I was sent off to a cell where I met two inmates, already there. They were both very nice; one a vegan sex worker and another young woman was there for yelling at her young child when he had a tantrum (child endangerment). The young mother snuck behind the “privacy wall” in the cell to express breast milk. She had another child, a newborn who wasn’t being fed and her loaded breasts were quite painful. Those two were taken away, and I was alone for a while.

Then Catherine, Maggie and Renay showed up in my cell. We sang some songs, and tried to entertain each other. By mid afternoon I was called, given my possessions, and released out the back door of the jail, where I waited alone for the others to come out. It was a little tough since all I had was $20 and my drivers license. Next time I’ll bring my cell phone! After waiting alone for 45 minutes or so, the others started appearing, all but Edwina, whom we didn’t see until quite late that evening due to her outstanding bench warrant.

Thanks to the amazing support from NDE Las Vegas friends, Marcus, John, Mary Lou and Ming, Lisa hightailed it out of there to catch a plane.  Catherine, Maggie and Renay were given a ride back to Indian Springs for the afternoon Creech vigil.

Fred drove down from Indian Springs to join Toby and me as we waited for Edwina’s release. It seemed like forever. They had told us it would be up to four hours, but when the first four hours ended, they said it could be another four hours. Ugh. Finally Edwina appeared. She was starved, though in remarkably good spirits, happy to be released. We stopped at a restaurant on the way back to Indian Springs. We were back at the Goddess Temple Guest House a little after midnight. That was one LONG day!

Saturday we took the day off and some of us visited Bailey’s Hot springs in nearby Beatty, NV.

On Sunday Renay, Susan, Eleanor and I drove back to the Bay area, through Death Valley and the mountains, a beautiful way to go.

Toby, Fred, Catherine and Barry stayed behind for NDE’s Peace Walk. http://www.nevadadesertexperience.org/programs/2014/peacewalk2014.htm

QuestionAuthority

We’ll surely be back to continue questioning authority!

And we won’t be alone. The Wednesday after our Friday arrests, nine more were arrested at Creech, including Barry Binks, our VFP friend from Sacramento.

Not Bad! Sixteen arrests in one week!

Thanks to Josie Lenwell, Fred Bialy and John Amidon for the pictures I didn’t take!

Please excuse any omissions and/or errors.This report back is to the best of my memory.