Action

VETERANS URGE DRONE OPERATORS, "REFUSE TO FLY"

At least 6,000 peoples’ lives have been unjustly taken by United States drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria.  These attacks are also undermining principles of international law and human rights, such as those enumerated in the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights, written in 1948 under the guidance of Eleanor Roosevelt with the blood of the atrocities of World War II freshly in mind.  The United States is a signatory to this declaration.

Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting in accordance within accordance of Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950:

“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.”

So, yes, you do have a choice – and liability under the law.  Choose the moral one. Choose the legal one.

Signed:

John Amidon Cpl E4 USMC 1965 – 1968
David Andre E5 California Army National Guard 1980 – 1986, 1988 - 1990
Kenneth Ashe E3 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971
Wendy Barranco SPC US Army 2003 – 2006
Andrew Berman SP4 US Army. 1971 - 1973
Barry Binks E5 US Army 1964-1967
Russell Brown CPL US Marine Corps 1966- 1968
Ben Chitty PO2 US Navy 1965 – 1969
Gerry Condon PVT US Army 1967 – 1969
Troy Cordray HM3 US Navy Reserve 1954 - 1958
Bill Distler E5 US Army 1966 - 1968
Carl Dix US Army Disciplinary Barracks Fort Leavenworth, KS 1968 - 1972
Arthur H. Dorland YN3 US Navy 1964 - 1967
Kelly Dougherty Sgt. – E-5 US Army National Guard 1996 – 2004
Jonathan Engle SFC (E-7) US Army 2004 – 2013
Mike Ferner HM3 US Navy 1969 - 1973
Edward Fox CAPT US Army Medical Corps 1968 - 1971
Bruce Gagnon SGT US Air Force 1971 – 1974
Daniel Garza E5 US Navy 2003 - 2009
Bill J. Gilson AE2 US Navy 1954 – 1958
Mike Hastie E5 US Army 1969 - 1972
Michael Hearington E1 US Army 171st Infantry 1970 – 1971
Dud Hendrick CAPT US Air Force 1963 - 1967
Herbert J. Hoffman SPC3 US Army 1954 - 1956
Matthew Hoh CPT US Marine Corps 1998 – 2008
Matt Howard CPL US Marine Corps 2001 – 2006
Aaron Hughes SGT (E-5) Illinois National Guard 2000 – 2006
Tarak Kauff PVT US Army Airborne Infantry 1959 - 1962
Barry Ladendorf LT US Navy 1964 – 1969
Erik Lobo PO3 US Navy 1976 - 1982
Maggie Martin SGT E-5 US Army 2001 – 2006
Kenneth E. Mayers MAJ US Marine Corps Reserve 1958 – 1966 (active duty) 1967 – 1978 (Reserves)
Ray McGovern CPT US Army 1962 - 1964
Nick Mottern LTJG US Navy 1960 – 1963
Carroll Nast CAPT US Air Force 1969 - 1979
Tom Palumbo SGT US Army/US Army Reserve 1978 - 1992
Bill Perry US Army 101st Airborne/Tet Offensive 1966 – 1968
Kyle Petlock 0-1 US Air Force 2000 – 2002
Charles R. Powell E4 US Air Force 1961 – 1965
Doug Rawlings SPC4 US Army Vietnam 1969 - 1970
John C. Reiger SPC5 US Army 1959 - 1962
Jovanni L. Reyes SSG US Army 1994 – 2005 Active Duty. 2005 – 2007 Reserves
Hannah Roberts LT (03) US Navy 2009 – 2014
Steven E. Saelzler E1 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1970
Benjamin Schrader E-4 US Army 2001 – 2005
Chuck Searcy E5 US Army 1966 – 1969
Robert L. Stebbins 1stLT US Army 1956 – 1958
Will Thomas E3 US Navy 1961 - 1963
Cres Vellucci E-5 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971
Claire White E5 US Air Force 2006 - 2012
Zachary Wigham SSgt. Massachusetts Air National Guard 2006 -2012
Ann Wright Colonel US Army (Retired)

MOMENTUM BUILDING FOR CREECH ACTION MAR. 4 - 6

People from across the country are making plans to be at Creech AFB outside Las Vegas, NV from Mar. 4 – 6 for the “Shut Down Creech!” anti-drone war protests.  This is an extremely important place to be if you can possibly make it.

Creech is a key center for the control of drone attacks and the training of drone operators.  Creech, along with Beale AFB in California and Cannon AFB in New Mexico, have more drone operators than other drone bases, according to 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662467.pdf

“Shutdown Creech” comes at a very critical time when drone operators are under increasing physical and emotional stress because of new missions being laid on in the growing U.S. war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, coming on top of sustaining drone attack levels in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.  U.S. drones are also believed to be attacking in Libya and possibly other places in Africa.

RT (Russian Television) reports on the pilot-stress situation, including an interview in the second clip with former drone operator Brandon Bryant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB jBi_bxw4&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop  and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQOv7xabARA

For complete information on “Shut Down Creech!” see the excellent, through blog postings at: http://shutdowncreech.blogspot.com/2014/12/day-by-day-program-for-shut-down-creech.html

See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG3dR-5viYY

COME TO WASHINGTON DC FOR “SPRING RISING”, MAR. 18 - 21

From March 18 through 21 people will be gathering in Washington for “Spring Rising – An anti-war intervention in DC”.

The idea for this marshaling of anti-war sentiment comes from Cindy Sheehan and from a call by Malachy Kilbride for a national mobilization that, hopefully, will peg the United States wars and militarism as a national issue that must be addressed.

The need, Malachy told me, is to “do something that will point the finger at the war machine, our lives and they way they are because of this war machine.  Beside all of that, these wars are wrong and they are destroying our planet.” 

He thinks it is critical to elevate the war issue now before the national focus shifts more and more to the 2016 election and a Presidential run by Hillary Clinton.

Over the four-day event there will be:
- Visits to Congressional offices organized by CODEPINK.
- A war criminals bus tour organized by Cindy, visiting government and corporate offices in DC.
- A teach-in organized by Debra Sweet, director of World Can’t Wait.
- And a rally and march, to include the White House, organized by ANSWER.

Some groups are already organizing buses.  If you are not able to attend, please  create events where you are calling for a halt to the U.S. air war, drone attacks, U.S. targeted killing in all forms and U.S. occupation.

For detailed information on “Spring Rising”: http://cindysheehanssoapbox.com/spring-rising-an-anti-war-intervention-in-dc.html

REPORT ON THE PRINCETON INTERRELIGIOUS DRONE CONFERENCE

By Nick Mottern

 

image from www.ptsem.edu

Photo: Princeton Theological Seminary

On January 16, 2015, I was among a group of anti-drone war advocates who went to visit New York Congressman Charlie Rangel in his office in Harlem. Almost the first thing out of his mouth was an expression of his disappointment that the religious community has not taken a strong position against the current United States wars. 

He was passing the buck, yes.  But he was also telling us, based on his considerable political experience, that it is hard, if not impossible, to stop a war when there is no outspoken opposition to the killing coming from preachers.

Indeed, religious leaders in the United States, on the national and local levels, have largely remained astoundingly and tragically silent about the nation’s current wars, including the expanding drone war now being waged in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Libya and possibly elsewhere in Africa.

 So, in the face of this, as well as the abysmal failure of mainstream and alternative journalists to cover the drone war or the new U.S. air war and the apathy about these wars even on the left, I was heartened at the announcement of the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare, to be held at Princeton (University) Theological Seminary (PTS) January 23 – 25, 2015.

 At the same time, I feared that the conference would end up making worthless recommendations that would do nothing more than effectively endorse the U.S. drone war.   And this nearly happened.

Patterned After Torture Conference

The idea for the conference came from the Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director from 2006 to 2013 of National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and it was organized with the collaboration of the Rev. Robert Moore, director of Coalition for Peace Action, in Princeton, and others.  It was modeled after a 2006 conference at PTS that focused on torture and resulted in the formation of NRCAT.

The conference, attended by about 150 people from 22 states, the District of Columbia, and Finland, was a teach-in on basic legal and ethical information on drone war, offered by 22 presenters.  The goals were to create policy recommendations on drone warfare for the U.S. government and the U.S. religious community and to formulate ways of engaging clergy and congregations in the drone war issue.

(This link http://www.peacecoalition.org/campaigns/67-interfaith-conference-on-drone-warfare/562-interfaith-conference-on-drone-warfare.html provides you with a press release on the conference, list of speakers and, importantly, videos of the presentations recorded by Wilton Vought, http://OtherVoicesOtherChoices.blog.com Peter Lumsdaine was a presenter not included in the linked list.)

“Assassins”

Perhaps the most important presentation on the nature of drone war, at least in my opinion, came from former Congressman Rush Holt.  Holt, a Democrat who announced in February 2014 that he would not run for reelection, had served as chair of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  In this position he had a remarkable vantage point, from almost from the beginning of the U.S. drone war program, to see first hand the terrible shortcomings of the drone program and to understand forces driving its expansion.

Holt said of drone operators: “They call themselves warfighters.  They are assassins.”

His presentation is a must see, beginning at 1: 14 : 43 in the first  conference session tape. https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-cl=84924572&v=sMgeDLbLX1c&x-yt-ts=1422411861

Holt gave, as you will see, what amounts to an insider’s indictment of U.S. drone operations that, for me, would, alone, lead to no other conclusion than that drone attacks should be permanently stopped.

Why are we Americans so indifferent?

The other critical presentation, from my standpoint, was offered by the Rev. George Hunsinger, Professor of Theology at PTS and founder of Interfaith Coalition Against Torture.  His talk, also a must see, starts at 2:09 in the third session tape. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p_E4uidgpc 

Reverend Hunsinger began by referring to a quote from George Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism: “A nationalist is someone who not only overlooks atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”  Reverend Hunsinger then said he would talk about “atrocities committed by our own side” and “our remarkable capacity as people, as citizens, and as members of congregations, as religious people, for not even hearing about them.  I think we need another whole conference on that second question.”

A concern “bearing down on me”, he said, is: “When does legitimate authority lose its legitimacy? It's a question that is already very much on my mind with regard to torture”, which, he said, “is built into our policies; its defended.”  Then he asked: “What about drones. What is it about drones that raises the question of rightful authority?”

He then noted that a statement he had written had been distributed throughout the hall just before his talk, which he said, might serve as “an organizing tool that might come out of this conference…you can do with this what you will.”

This statement, so humbly referred to by Reverend Hunsinger, provided strong, simple recommendations to the government and the religious community on how to respond to drone war:

“We cannot remain silent without becoming complicit.  As leaders and representatives of many religious traditions, we call upon the President and Congress:

- To abandon all use of weaponized drones.
- To abandon the ‘kill list’ program regardless of the technology employed.
- To ban the sale of weaponized drones.
- To compensate the families of those who have been wrongfully killed.
- To seek binding international treaties to implement these objectives.”

At the end of his presentation he read through these recommendations, his voice breaking with emotion as he proceeded.   After reading point number four, he interjected:

“Why are Americans so indifferent to the fate of the innocents in the countries where they have gone to war…This is a serious question for not only the American citizenry but for religious people.  We have failed somehow.  Why are people in our congregations not concerned?”

He then read point five, in conclusion, as his time ran out.

Before reporting on the outcome of the conference, I must say that all the presentations were well-prepared, thoughtful and informative.  If you have the time, I recommend you watch the tapes.

Just Say Halt

In order to reach recommendations for the federal government and religious institutions, the conference organizers selected a “listening committee” to take notes on all the presentations and comments from the audience and to draft proposed recommendations.  These were brought to the conference on Sunday, the final day, for comment and revision. I obviously hoped the committee would adopt Hunsinger’s points in total.

Instead the committee put this forward as its key recommendation:

“We call on the Administration to immediately halt targeted lethal drone strikes at least until the administration enhances transparency and accountability on the use of such strikes by public disclosures including but not limited to:

a.  Acknowledging strikes conducted.
b.  Accounting for victims.
c.  Explaining official criteria for selection of persons targeted.
d.  Citing legal justification for authorization of strikes.
e.  Detailing the methods of investigating deaths.
f.  Disclosing the standards for compensating victims.”

This wording brought an immediate reaction from several in the audience, objecting to its inherent approval for drone attacks.   I asked that the Hunsinger language be substituted, and a suggestion was made that the wording be changed as follows:

“We call on the Administration to immediately halt targeted drone strikes.”  Then the recommendation would pick up on the language talking about the need for “transparency”.  The “at least until” wording was dropped.

This compromise satisfied those of us who wanted to conference to come out for stopping drone attacks.

Without the Hunsinger recommendations and the weight of his prestige behind them, I doubt that that compromise could have been struck.

Elizabeth Beavers, a lobbyist in Washington, DC, for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, explained that the listening committee drafted the weaker language thinking that it would be more palatable to Congress.

The Rev. Mike Neuroth, moderator of the policy discussion, said that the inability of the committee to adopt the Hunsinger language on effectively banning drone use was because two denominations represented could not accept an absolute ban.  He declined to name the denominations, but based on a comment from the audience, it appeared that one of the objections came from one or more Catholics who wanted to reserve the right to use drones under the “just war” sanction.

Other suggestions were made for changes to other recommendations in the committee document, and Reverend Moore said a final version will be published soon, probably sometime in February. 

A show of hands also indicated that the conference supported the creation of a small staff to promote a halt in drone attacks and the other recommendations.  Reverend Killmer estimated this would cost about $150,000 for a year, a sum that seemed acceptable to the group.

As I walked to my car across the seminary campus, I felt hope rising that what was accomplished over the weekend might result in creating a long-needed structure for building resistance to drone warfare within the American religious community.  

HOW DO WE ADDRESS ISIS BEHEADINGS AND IMMOLATION?

  • We need to hear from you on this.

With the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot by ISIS, we anti-war workers are confronted again by the reality of hideous acts that for most of the U.S. public constitute a legitimate reason for the United States to expand its new war in Iraq and Syria.

These murders and the wide publicity given to them may well be the greatest obstacle to anti-war organizing that we face right now.

Debra Sweet has offered these links to readings about ISIS believing that we must educate ourselves to effectively respond.

Interview with Larry Everest on Iraq, ISIS, the US Empire and the Anti-War Movement

Unthinkable Thoughts in the Debate About ISIS in Iraq

As Obama Considers Drone Strikes in Iraq, Could U.S. Military Action Worsen Sectarian Conflict?

How do you, as an anti-war worker, respond to people who say:  “We have to eradicate ISIS; look what they are doing?”  

Please share your response and information sources that you find useful.  Write to: nickmottern@gmail.com  We need to hear from you.

DON’T FORGET TO WRITE TO KATHY KELLY IN PRISON

On Friday, January 23, Kathy Kelly began her three-month sentence in federal prison for her drone protest at Whiteman AFB in Missouri.

Here is the address where you can write to her. 

Kathy Kelly 04971-045
FMC Lexington
FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTER
SATELLITE CAMP
P.O. BOX 14525
LEXINGTON, KY 40512

In the interview she did with Medea Benjamin before entering prison, Kathy said she likes to read novels, particularly  “written by people from other countries”.  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/01/22/federal-prison-sentence-begins-anti-drone-activist

And here is a message from Kathy just before she entered prison. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cREN3PfSQpc