DRONE ACTION ORGANIZERS BULLETIN – July 5, 2014

MONTHLY BULLETIN FOR DRONE ORGANIZERS  #2
July 5, 2014

Edited by Nick Mottern – Coordinator, Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare.

CONFERENCE CALLS:  The next organizer conference call will be held on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 9 pm EST; there will be another call on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, same time. 

The call-in number is: (605) 562-3000; access code – 484539#

1.    EDITORIAL: SUMMER IN THE STREETS
2.    SUPPORT MARY ANNE GRADY-FLORES, JACK GILROY AND RUSSELL BROWN
3.    SEVEN DRONE PROTESTERS FOUND GUILTY IN DES MOINES
4.    INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL ACTION DAY – OCT. 4 and
        KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE WEEK – OCT. 4 – 11

5.    HONEYWELL BOYCOTT UPDATE
6.    KILLER ROBOTS – THIS IS WHERE THE ARMS RACE STOPS 
7.    SURVEY RESULTS 
8.    COUNTER - DRONE WAR ORGANIZING IN LANCASTER, PA CHURCHES

 

Images

MQ-1 Predators surveillance drones at Balad Air Base, Iraq, in 2013. Reuters Photo

EDITORIAL: SUMMER IN THE STREETS

It is stunning for me, as I expect it is for you, to witness what can only be described as the insane, depraved act of sending armed U.S. drones and soldiers into Iraq. 

It is insane in the face of U.S. military history in Iraq, and it is depraved in view of the profound suffering that the U.S. has caused the Iraqi people, having killed nearly a million, destroyed their economy, social safety net and public utilities and poisoned and deformed people with depleted uranium and other military-generated toxins.   And, of course, this is the short list.

But the reinvasion by the U.S. is evidently totally fine and logical from the standpoint of protecting corporate investment in Iraq oil. 

And of course the much advertised use of drones is logical as a brilliant way of getting the U.S. public to accept the return of the US military to Iraq, given the popular American fantasy that drones mean no, or fewer, “boots on the ground”.

And It is clear too that the US corporate/government combine is totally willing and eager to begin a simple little, good old-fashioned drone assassination campaign in Iraq, as noted by Channel 24:

“Using US air assets to target the leaders of the Sunni-led insurgency is one of the options being prepared for Obama as he considers what support to provide to Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said in a radio interview.”

The article from Foreign Policy linked below unfortunately does not condemn the use of drones in Iraq, but it does lay out a series of complications in which drones are very likely to prompt decisions that will lead to a huge amount of additional suffering for Iraqis and Americans, including the drone pilots and sensor operators who will be doing the killing.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/06/30/obama_s_armed_drones_in_iraq_reek_of_mission_creep

The recent Stimson report speaks of drones leading to war, but, like the drone reports of the U.N. special rapporteurs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, it is totally obedient to the goals of the drone attacker, not to the essential need to protect the lives of those being attacked.  It is another report, the authors of which, in spite of the overwhelming moral, legal and pragmatic evidence against drone killing, cannot bring themselves to say: “Stop it.” 

For most who are reading this, these reports are merely disappointing.  Tor those under drone attack they are very likely seen as despicable.

We drone war protesters have a daunting challenge, but this is a moment when more people may be open to questioning US drone and military policy and when protest and street corner education can have a real impact.   The most interest may be at drone bases, where drone operators, already stretched with the work of drone slaughter in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, now have to prepare to kill in Iraq as well.  Appeals to refuse to fly drone missions may begin to resonate. 

It appears that summer days of action are upon us.               

Note: There will be a “Fly Kites Not Drones” event Sunday, July 6 at the Niagara Falls, NY drone base, 2720 Kirkbridge Drive, Niagara Falls, at 1:30 pm, preceded by a kite-making session at 9 am at Hyde Park in Niagara Falls. 

 

SUPPORT MARY ANNE GRADY-FLORES, JACK GILROY AND RUSSELL BROWN

If you can, please come to Syracuse, NY on Thursday, July 10 to support Mary Anne Grady-Flores, who stands liable to be sentenced on that day to up to a year in jail in DeWitt Town Court for violating an order of protection issued against her for protesting at the Hancock Air Base drone control center.

http://www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/letendre/2014/may/22/your-tax-dollars-work-folks/)

 

MaryAnne-630x270

Mary Anne Grady. Photo – Ithaca Week

Peg Gefell, of Upstate Drone Action, is organizing a lunch in support of Mary Anne that will be held at 2 pm on July 10 at the Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee St. in Syracuse, with Mary Anne attending.  If you can be there, please call Peg: (585) 313-6674. 

DeWitt court opens at 5 pm, but it is not known what time Mary Anne’s sentencing will occur.  The Court is at 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY 13057.

Please send financial support to: Mary Anne Grady-Flores, 514 North Plain St., Ithaca, NY 14850.

In addition, please attend the trials in July of two other Hancock protesters, both the evening in the DeWitt court.

Jack Gilroy – July 14 – 15 

Russell Brown – July 29 – 30

All these defendants are confronted by a judge, David Gideon, who has said in court that civil resistance at Hancock must stop.  Maximum support is needed by them personally and on behalf of all of our First Amendment rights.

For more information contact Syracuse Peace Council: (315) 472-5478

 

SEVEN DRONE PROTESTERS FOUND GUILTY IN DES MOINES

Seven people who were arrested at a March 17 St. Patrick’s Day protest against the opening of a Reaper drone control base in Des Moines were convicted of misdemeanor criminal trespass.  Five went to jail; two paid fines.

As you may remember, an attempt was made to have the cases taken out of court and submitted to a peacemaking circle.  This idea was rejected by the local Air National Guard, although it had been, remarkably, accepted by the prosecutor.

Here are links to reports, provided by Frank Cordaro, very worth reading, explaining in detail what happened:

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX IN DES MOINES (DM) "‘Peacemaking Circle’ could replace protester trials" DM Register Letter signed by 40 DM, May 20, 2014

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/iowa-peace-list/QrOhf-JDBLI

June 23-25 Trial of DM St. Pat’s 7 set - Air National Guard turns down offer of “Peacemaking Circle”… need support!

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/iowa-peace-list/9vtEVKb99aE

News Release: Jury Trial for 7 protesters arrested at the March 17 –St Patrick’s Day protest at the Air National Guard soon to be Drone Command Center in DM

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/iowa-peace-list/a0JjbJVn77k

Drone Protest Trial in DM - 2nd day (tomorrow!) Defendants testify....need court room support / Plus Day 1 Report by Steve Clemens, a defendant

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/VmsWhvg2p4o

Two day trial of the DM St Pat’s 7 concluded Tuesday ... all found guilty... 5 in jail tonight...

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/nXcZk5SIVjs

Two Trial and Two Jail blog entrees by Steve Clemens, one of the DM St Pat's 7 defendants

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/iowa-peace-list/KdUjmRKIh6

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Phil Berrigan Catholic Worker House

http://just.dmcatholicworker.org/

DMCW http://dmcatholicworker.org

Occupy the World Food Prize campaign

http://occupytheworldfoodprize.com

 

INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL ACTION DAY – OCT. 4 / KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE WEEK – OCT. 4 – 11

Please set aside Saturday, Oct. 4 to organize an event that will be part of an international Global Action Day to end drone killing and surveillance.

This initiative, coming out of Germany, will link counter-drone organizers in a number of countries.  Below is a link to the website that has been created for the Global Action Day where you can post your event and see others that are planned.

As you can see from the website, “Fly Kites Not Drones” will be a common theme and encouraged action.

http://globaldayofaction.nationbuilder.com/

Please note too that Oct. 4 – 11 is “Keep Space for Peace Week”, being organized by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.  For more information: http://www.space4peace.org

 

HONEYWELL BOYCOTT UPDATE

The final details are being completed on the website for the Honeywell Boycott, and it should be launched next week. 

 

KILLER ROBOTS – THIS IS WHERE THE ARMS RACE STOPS

Through the thoughtfulnee of Kevin Caron, a counter-drone war organizer in Atlanta, Mark Gubrud, a physicist and peace activist, participated in the June 25 organizers’ conference call to urge that we begin to do more to stop the spread of fully robotic drones, autonomous weapons that make the decision to kill based on data entered into their “brains”, without any human intervention. 

I asked Mark to write an article for the bulletin, which appears below.  In it, he points out, among other things, that it is U.S. policy to seize the lead in research on, and production of, autonomous weapons:

Killer Robots: This is Where the Arms Race Stops

By Mark Gubrud 

As activists know, our protests have drawn media attention to drone warfare and prompted well-connected individuals and NGOs to call for transparency, reform and restraints on US drone strikes – but not yet to end them altogether. Meanwhile, the robot arms race that began with remote-control killing by the United States has spread worldwide, and is now poised to enter a new phase: the transition to fully autonomous weapons that can select and attack targets outside of human control.

Few of us are aware, unfortunately, of the ongoing race to stop killer robots before it’s too late. A coalition of groups in two dozen nations has been working since last year to confront governments with a humanitarian demand to preemptively ban autonomous weapons and machine decision in the use of violent force. The issue has been debated in the United Nations First Committee, the Human Rights Council, the Advisory Board on Disarmament, and most significantly, in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), a 117-member Treaty which bans or regulates blinding lasers, landmines, incendiaries and other “excessively injurious” or “indiscriminate” weapons. Members of the CCW include the US, Russia, China and other major powers.

These nations met in May for the first informal experts meeting on autonomous weapons. I was there as a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control [http://icrac.net]. From the high level of interest and statements made, I can tell you that a majority of the diplomats shared our concerns, but most nations do not yet have national policies and were not ready to commit to a position. Russia and China, in particular, were clearly waiting to see what the US will do. Many friends and allies will also follow the US lead, although some, especially France, Germany and Japan, are leaning in favor of restrictions or a ban.

In November, the CCW will reconvene to consider whether to renew the discussion mandate, move the process forward toward negotiations, or abandon the issue. While abandonment is unlikely, failure to move the process forward would signal faltering and likely stalling of the effort to ban killer robots. This is apparently exactly what United States policy seeks – for the issue to bog down in the CCW and go nowhere while the robot arms race takes off and becomes ever harder to stop.

Most Americans are not aware that in November 2012, the Obama administration directed the military to develop, test, validate, acquire and use autonomous weapon systems. Many are under the impression that Directive 3000.09, “Autonomy in Weapon Systems,” represents a cautious policy, or even a moratorium on weapons that could kill people on their own decision. Nothing could be further from the truth. The policy sets bureaucratic requirements for validation and approval of autonomous weapons, but overrides the military’s own strong objections in making it clear that such weapons will be developed and used, and should be integrated into “operational mission planning.”

https://www.google.com/search?q=%5Bhttp%3A%2F%2Fthebulletin.org%2Fus-killer-robot-policy-full-speed-ahead%5D&oq=%5Bhttp%3A%2F%2Fthebulletin.org%2Fus-killer-robot-policy-full-speed-ahead%5D+&aqs=chrome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=91&ie=UTF-8

Some even accuse China or Russia of busting “an emergent global norm” against killer robots.  http://gubrud.net/?p=203

In reality, US technology leads the robot arms race and US policy is dragging the world into it. http://gubrud.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Bulletin-of-the-Atomic-Scientists-2014-Gubrud-32-42.pdf

This fateful decision was made quietly and could still be reversed at low political cost. It is urgent that Americans be made aware of the negative role that our policy is playing at a time when the world still has a chance to say “No” to killer robots. Activists have an important role to play in this, one that may directly determine the course of events on the global diplomatic stage. We can begin by calling attention to the issue of autonomous weapons as both the next stage of drones and as a distinct issue of weapons not under human control, making decisions to kill or use force according to algorithms.

This is where the arms race stops, and begins to reverse. No to killer robots!

Mark Gubrud is a physicist, expert on emerging technology, and longtime peace activist. For more information, see his blog at http://gubrud.net./

 

SURVEY RESULTS

In the last two bulletins, I asked people to respond to a survey on their experiences during the Spring Days of Action – 2014, and three people answered.

The first  response was from Daniel Riehl, in Lancaster, PA.

1. Do you think events you scheduled were effective in educating people on drone warfare and militarization?  What made the events successful, and how do you measure that?

The Horsham vigil is effective.  Mostly positive honks from the people.  People who attend learn about drones and about Horsham.  A passing high school girl asked a candidate who is running for Congress from that district about Horsham after she had passed and seen us there on several occasions  This event is scheduled by Brandywine Peace Communities together with at least a dozen other groups/

2. What do you think we can do to make our campaign more successful? 

Keep building.  Your weekly phone conferences are very good and your weekly bulletins keep us well informed and it's encouraging to know what others are doing across the nation and abroad.  Slowly our efforts are reaching more and more people.

3. Is there a way we can expand our campaign into the Deep South and to build it in key areas like Dayton, Ohio, a center of drone activity where organizing is difficult?

Unfortunately I don't know anyone in those two areas.

4.  A “Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing” is being planned for Oct. 4.   Oct. 4 – 7, the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space is organizing the “International Week of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space”.

Will you organize events for Oct. 4 and for the week of Oct. 4 -7?   Probably I will be active with the Brandywine Peace Community at that time in that effort

5. Would it be helpful to publish a monthly bulletin for organizers, similar to the weekly bulletin, and have a monthly organizers’ conference call?  If so, what would be the most useful features of such a bulletin?

I would be able to join the call.  I am so busy trying to get contacts in churches I probably won't have much time for organizing

6. The Honeywell Boycott/Divest (HBD) will be launched in June, with educational materials for organizers.  Would you be willing to do HBD coffee hours, leafleting at retailers and other outreach?

If I have time, I will.  I probably will have some time.

7.  What do you think of the idea of making a concerted effort to call on drone pilots and sensor operators to refuse to fly missions?

This is a tremendous idea and probably one of the better ones I have heard.   Yes, Yes, let's go with it

8.  Please add any other comments.   Thanks for the work you have done, building replicas and an organization.  Good Work!

The next response is from Barbara Kidney, of Drone Alert – Hudson Valley, in New York:

Here you go:

1. Yes, I think our actions (Drone Alert - Hudson Valley's) were effective, because, in multiple times, venues, & locations, we witnessed abt the immorality of predator & surveillance drones. If, in my geographical area, Drone Alert - Hudson Valley hadn't done this, I believe there would have been general silence in this area abt the drone issue- with the notable exceptions - thank goodness- of Jay Wenk's Woodstock drone ban resolution, & the multi group demo @ West Point graduation. For months, we (DAHV) showed films, had demos, distributed informative flyers & emails, blogged, got into two regional newspapers. Would have been a lot more silence without our noisemaking :) on the drone issue.

Additionally, we found the weekly conference calls coordinated by you, Nick, to have been a pleasant & valuable way to meet activists from all over the country, & on one occasion, from Pakistan as well, & to exchange & grow ideas.

2. Continue to do what we're doing, ie, witnessing abt the issue in various ways, AND coordinating more with each other. For ex, early in the spring campaign DAHV proposed several times, on the conference calls & hence through the Knowdrones Bulletins, abt the possibility of having a relay march/demo in NYS (& maybe surrounding areas) during summer. Our hope was to coordinate some marches/demos in the summer with groups in different localities in & around NYS. We of DAHV were hoping that some groups (from NYC, Albany, Hancock area, for ex) would chime in. But no one did. I'm not expressing this to be blameful. I'm sure we all are very busy with what we are doing, & it is wise to not take on more than one can chew. However, to be more effective, I perceive that increased coordination of effort in joint projects in feasible ways, occasionally, is one avenue for us activists everywhere to pursue. And actually, more coordination could lead to more efficient efforts- rather than just one or two voices crying in the wilderness, we could more commonly have a choir thundering across a large geographical area, at least at times.

Another avenue is to have more groups & people on the conference calls, not necessarily on every call (unless of course they want to!) but at least occasionally. I'm very happy that conference call participant Kevin Chan from Atlanta is bringing in International Committee for Robotic Arms Control expert Mark deBruhl (sp?) for our upcoming conference call. But I have been a little surprised & disappointed that at no time (as far as I know) was there participation in the conference calls from groups like Roots Action, CodePink, or Iccupy (except for Andrew & me in our small local Occupy group), for example.

4. Re Oct 4-7, I think it is highly probable that we will be participating, by spreading the word abt the global event & sponsoring local rallies.

3. Re Dayton- I have no familiarity. Re Deep South- I can only state the obvious- reach out to progressive groups there & see if anyone is willing to take on the drone issue in some way. Some places are more progressive than others. Obviously, a lot happening in GA, as Kevin reports. Gainesville FL has its progressives, as does St Augustine (check out the Present Moment Café there, for ex). I imagine there are progressive enclaves in MS & AL, certainly in New Orleans. Maybe we could tag onto Moral Mondays. And conservatives don't necessarily support domestic surveillance drones.

5. I guess we've settled on conference calls every other week. 
I like the Bulletins especially for minutes of the calls, important drone news (or at least links), ideas abt actions, from both actual actions & ideas pple have formulated.

6. DAHV will sign on to the Honeywell boycott. I'm not sure that our targeting Honeywell by having a rally in a shopping center or otherwise directly trying to influence pple in a shopping center wld be effective. Think we'd just be shown the door, & meet w a lot of puzzlement from the public. Think we're better off just doing what we've been doing w public outreach & education, & include info abt HW & exhortations to avoid buying from HW, & to contact them abt this, etc. But that's just my initial thoughts, will talk over w my cohorts.

7. I like the idea of making more direct contact with drone pilots, military. I think this a strategy to think abt. I also think it's of paramount importance to address moral issues (one of our flyers contained the quote "Thou shalt not kill") & to de-glamorize the military & to de-mythologize the "serving the country" & "protecting our freedoms" double speak crapola. Our terrorism needs to be called just that, & those (military & politicians) who carry it out need to hear, at least from sone of us, that they are shaming their country by barbaric & egregious violations of law & minimalistic ethical standards. I am not saying that we start a one on one conversation with a pilot for ex, so bluntly, I'm thinking more along general public expressions here, but on one on one conversations, I think we do well to cordially but firmly & clearly challenge the doublespeak slogans when they come up, with doses of reality.

Thanks for all your work, Nick. That's all she wrote!
Barbara

And finally, here is the response from Joan Nicholson, in Kennett Square, PA:

1. Do you think events you scheduled were effective in educating people on drone warfare and militarization?  What made the events successful, and how do you measure that?

 Films about U.S. drone warfare and "Ghosts of Jeju" (shown earlier) helped to raise awareness which resulted in a Friends Meeting giving its approval of a Minute calling for an end to the use of killer drones. It is being considered in other Meetings and will probably be approved in some form by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting at its annual session in July. Hopefully, a poster with photos that I took at Horsham will be displayed. The challenge is this: will words lead to ACTION. Some Meetings are nostalgically celebrating what happened 300 years ago, and the largest will continue it into October!

2. What do you think we can do to make our campaign more successful?

The real reasons for U.S. invasions, occupations, use of drones, etc.is rarely articulated, causing many in the general public to believe the propaganda promoters. They need to understand that the U.S. is trying to take over geo-strategic regions throughout the world in order to control access to valuable natural resources, and this is combined with a massive weapons industry eager for perpetual warfare. For instance, many may know about the oil in Iraq, but probably don't know about Afghanistan's natural gas and huge mineral resources (including lithium), and that it is considered to be a strategic region for the establishment of oil and gas pipelines.

Also, I don't think the term "innocent civilians" should ever be used, because It strongly implies that there are legitimate targets for the drones, which is false. 

3. Is there a way we can expand our campaign into the Deep South and to build it in key areas like Dayton, Ohio, a center of drone activity where organizing is difficult?

No response.

4.  A “Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing” is being planned for Oct. 4.   Oct. 4 –11, the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space is organizing the “International Week of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space”.

Will you organize events for Oct. 4 and for the week of Oct. 4 -11?

 I plan to be involved in whatever way I can.

5. Would it be helpful to publish a monthly bulletin for organizers, similar to the weekly bulletin, and have a monthly organizers’ conference call?  If so, what would be the most useful features of such a bulletin?

 I leave it for others to decide. You have provided a wonderful service!

6. The Honeywell Boycott/Divest (HBD) will be launched in June, with educational materials for organizers.  Would you be willing to do HBD coffee hours, leafleting at retailers and other outreach?

I am not sure at this point how I could use the information, but I look forward to having it.

7.  What do you think of the idea of making a concerted effort to call on drone pilots and sensor operators to refuse to fly missions?

It's a very good idea if people are in a position to do it.

8. Please add any other comments.

There is a big problem of propaganda in public schools that really needs attention, bit it seems impossible to gain access unless there's a connection with someone inside.

Many thanks for all your work!

Peace,

Joan Nicholson

 

COUNTER - DRONE WAR ORGANIZING IN LANCASTER, PA CHURCHES

As we know, religious institutions nationally and locally have been relatively silent about drone war and even less visible in organizing their membership to oppose drone killing and U.S. wars generally.

So it is heartening to see the work that Daniel Riehl and H.A. Pennert have been doing in Mennonite churches in Lancaster, PA, as noted in this article:

http://m.lancasteronline.com/lifestyle/faith_and_values/local-christians-unite-to-protest-for-peace/article_75749918-f6ec-11e3-8c42-0017a43b2370.html?mode=jqm

 

In solidarity,

Nick