MONTHLY BULLETIN FOR DRONE ORGANIZERS #3
August 12, 2014
Edited by Nick Mottern – Coordinator, Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare.
Next organizers’ conference call: August 27, 2014 at 9 pm EST
Call in number: (605) 562-3000 - Access code: 484539#
PLEASE DO YOUR UTMOST TO JOIN THIS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT CALL WHEN WE WILL DISCUSS JOINT ACTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER.
1. Editorial: GAZA, IRAQ AND OUR TRAGIC DRONE FANTASY
2. ISRAELI DRONE IMPACT UNEXAMINED BY THE PRESS
3. OPENING A NEW FRONT IN DRONE PROTEST
4. RUSSELL BROWN DEFENDS HIMSELF AND WINS
5. COURT ACTIONS GROW / CONTRIBUTIONS NEEDED
6. BEALE WITNESS AND PLANS
7. HORSHAM DRONE BASE VIGILS CONTINUE
8. OCTOBER 4 INTERNATIONAL DRONE ACTIONS
Drones are doing in Gaza and Iraq what they have done in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, not only performing the work of occupation and killing but giving the political and military leaders who command them a completely false sense of their power to control the people whose privacy and lives they feel a God-given right to violate. Just because you can stalk a person doesn’t mean you can make that person love you; most likely it will make the person want to kill you.
But the leaders of the United States and Israel and other wannabe colonial “powers” have not only failed to learn from such horrible, failed efforts at technological domination as the Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they have failed to learn from the miserable fiasco of drone surveillance and attack in Gaza. For at least the last five years drones have been at the heart of Israel’s attempts to make life intolerable for the people of Gaza to the point where they would give up any sense of self or wish for personal or community freedom. See: http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/iopt0609web_0.pdf
The result is a situation of increased Gazan resistance, tragedy and hatred that threatens an expanding war that will suck in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and, of course, the United States.
Now in Iraq, the United States is using drones much the same way the Israelis are using them in Gaza. This assault, in concert with bombing by manned aircraft, is almost certainly part of preparations for a reintroduction of US military force into Iraq on a permanent basis. This can only bring widening war that could well engage Syria, Turkey and Iran. (Here is a link to a report on Unites States and Iranian drone operations in Iraq. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140727/DEFREG04/307270009/US-Iranian-Drones-Crowd-Iraqi-Air-Space)
Would these wars happen anyway, without drones? Possibly. But it is very obvious that drones are massively contributing to a fantastical sense of power to dominate that will only lead to more and more killing.
Grounding the drones is essential not only to save lives, but to bring the United States government and the American people a step closer to confronting the hideous history of United States imperialism and the sick desire to now advance this violent system by remote control.
(Speaking of imperialism, check out this article from the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/oil-erbil)
By Enrico Rodriguez
While mainstream media has of late been more open in reporting issues surrounding drone spying and killing, there has been very little coverage of the drone’s key role in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The story of massive civilian casualties in Gaza, rightfully, has received wide reporting, but the press hardly mentions drones in this context.
Browse through the stations and sites of the major networks for coverage of drones in Gaza and see which story surfaces most prominently in the search listing. It’s the report that Israeli forces downed a single drone coming from Gaza. The message: “Something destructive and lethal flew over and, thank God, they have it down! This, indeed, is worthy of headlines.”
Briefly on July 28, CNN viewers heard drones and got a sense, possibly for the first time, of their power to generate fear and destruction. http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/07/28/erin-penhaul-gaza-explosions-gunfire.cnn.html
And yet--even as ceasefires bring brief lulls in the bombing of Gaza--women and children still spend sleepless nights cowering under the constant watch of the countless drones that fly over the Gaza sky. Each sharp eye surveys each roof, and with each sharp gaze comes the dreaded possibility of the trigger being pulled.
Recently, the press has given some coverage of the drone story for reasons good and bad. The prevailing notion advanced by the US government is that drones reduce civilian casualties with greater accuracy and precision in hitting enemy targets. This video, which predates the current conflict, seems almost like an advertisement for the rationale behind “pinpoint” and “focused” drone killings: http://live.wsj.com/video/graphic-video-drones-kill-targets-in-gaza/F524AAD1-E07F-4F8C-A970-5CBE379E99C0.html#!F524AAD1-E07F-4F8C-A970-5CBE379E99C0
“We can see the suspect, find uninvolved civilians, and find the terrorists, distinguish between them; and, we focus our attack only on the terrorist.” – Drone pilot
Never mind the sad effort at validation of drone killings. (Note the leap from “innocent” to “terrorist” in the above quote.) The point is that the heavily touted drone spying and killing technology should have only improved since this report. Doesn’t that come with a higher expectation of fewer civilian deaths?
However, on the contrary, the overwhelming majority of deaths and injuries in Gaza have in fact been civilian. And, while the rationale now being peddled behind that statistic is that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, the question that mainstream media has yet to pursue is this: Why, with such powerful drone intelligence that is supposed to be mindful of civilian lives, the trigger is still being pulled notwithstanding?
Noam Chomsky noted on Democracy Now, August 11, 2014:
“…there’s something we have to remember about the United States: It’s not a democracy; it’s a plutocracy. There’s study after study that comes out in mainstream academic political science which shows what we all know or ought to know, that political decisions are made by a very small sector of extreme privilege and wealth, concentrated capital.”
In the face of the renewed wars in Gaza and Iraq in which drones are playing central roles, this is an essential moment to open a new front in counter-drone protest that involves a organized effort to smoke out corporate drone war profiteers in America’s plutocracy who are funding the political plutocrats who obediently vote for drone killing and spying and our “dirty (imperial) wars” generally.
A first step is the Boycott and Divest Honeywell campaign that focuses on David M. Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell International. Cote is extremely close to Barack Obama, as described on http://www.badhoneywell.org/, which also documents Honeywell’s support not only for the world’s #1 killer drone, but for the Israel Defense Forces, nuclear weapons and various other nefarious activities.
Most recently, Honeywell announced that it is producing portable refineries for war zones; for Iraq, for example. This technology will help oil companies to reduce their risk while extracting and refining oil in the midst of slaughter. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-05/honeywell-ships-mobile-refineries-to-danger-zone-fields.html
In September and October, actions will be held to promote the BadHoneywell campaign. At the moment, the focus is on using social media to spread the word.
Below is a meme that you can drag and drop into your email. Send it to everyone. (The picture is a little blurred because it was lifted from a news video; it is the only shot on line that shows Cote with his new beard.)
If you want to contact Cote directly, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s the address of his administrative assistant.
Also, please take the time to read http://www.badhoneywell.org/ and particularly the action items listed in the right hand column.
On July 31, 2013, a jury in DeWitt (NY) Town Court acquitted Russell Brown of all charges related to his arrest for protesting at the Hancock Air Field drone control base just outside Syracuse, NY.
Russell undertook a pro se defense and won what is believed to be one of a very few cases in the United States in which a jury appears to have endorsed civil resistance, in this case with respect to drone war.
As reported in the special organizers’ bulletin of July 24, 2014, seven people associated with The Atlantic Life Community were arrested outside the Hancock drone control base on July 23, and five were given extraordinarily high, basically illegal, bail requirements ranging from $10,000 to $2,500. This meant all went immediately to jail. Over the course of the next few days, bail reduction hearings were held, and nine days later, Joan Pleune, the last of the defendants to get a bail reduction, was released.
See Attachment A for details on the Atlantic Life arrests.
The July 24 arrests add to about 50 civil resistance cases that have resulted from the Hancock protests, and jury trials will be held in the DeWitt Court into at least into the first half of 2014. For information on the trial schedule see: http://upstatedroneaction.org
Money continues to be needed in Syracuse for legal defense and other expenses. Contributions generously have been made, and regrettably, more are needed.
Please send checks made out to Syracuse Peace Council, with notations in the memo line for Upstate Drone Action, to: Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY 13210.
In California, Barry Binks reports that a number of the 30 people arrested during four counter-drone war protests at Beale AFB this year will receive summonses to appear in Federal Court in Sacramento on September 7, 2014.
It is not immediately clear how many will be going to court, Barry says, because some of the 15 clergy arrested on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday were not cited and so may not receive summonses. He notes that of the 15 arrested on April 28, nine are members of Veterans for Peace as is at least one of the clergy.
About 20 people came together on the afternoon of July 28 for the Occupy Beale monthly drone war protest, gathering at the main and the Doolittle gates of Beale AFB. The next morning about the same number gathered again at the main and the Wheatland gates.
In August, Barry Binks reports, the group will focus on Gaza, the U.S. military support for Israel and how drones are being used in Gaza. There will be a witness on Monday, August 25 at the Wheatland Gate from 3 pm to 5 pm, followed by a potluck meal and camping outside the main gate of the base, where the witness will continue the next morning from 6 to 8 am.
“The theme for September,” Barry says, “will be ‘Campaign Nonviolence.’ We will coordinate our September 29 and 30 actions at Beale with over a hundred other actions around the country related to Campaign Nonviolence, calling for an end to war, poverty, and the climate crisis.”
Monthly witnesses against establishing a Reaper drone control center in Horsham (PA) continued in July, where the numbers turning out seem to be growing. Here is a report by Bob Smith, coordinator of the Brandywine (PA) Peace Community, beginning with a brief history of the witness:
“On July 26, 2014 about 65 - 75 people gathered in Horsham, Montgomery County, PA in front of the Horsham Air Guard Station to continue the monthly protest of the establishment of a drone war command center that has been going on since April 2013, convened and organized by the Brandywine Peace Community a month after the command center was announced at a press conference that included the center's congressional point person, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R, CD 7, which covers Horsham Township), the base commander and commander of the PA Air Guard, and a sampling of local politicians.
“Month after month we've gathered on the well-traveled, northern edge of the cyclone fenced base (where we stand is actually Air Guard property) marked with NO TRESPASS signs every few feet. We've stood with large signs and dramatic banners held up by stakes in the ground. There's been music by Brandywine Peace Community troubadour, Tom Mullian, and others. We've read the names of child drone strike victims as a large peace bell was intoned to each name. There have been speakers, some from the local Muslim community and large religious community. There has been the consistent participation and presence from members of the Mennonite community in Lancaster as well as our dear friends from LEPOCO in Bethlehem.
Drone War: Not in Our Name;
Drone War Command Center, Not in Our Backyard (nor anyone else's)
“In Philadelphia, meanwhile, we've handed out over 10,000 flyers at center city stop the drone command center demonstrations, the 2nd Friday of the month, which alternate between the SEPTA transit hub and the front of the Bellevue-Hyatt Hotel where on the top floor Governor Thomas Corbett has his SE PA regional office. Corbett, as governor, is still technically the head of the PA Guard and Air National Guard, though the U.S. Air Force fully funds the PA Guard and Air National Guard, and has for decades, under the provision which federalizes the guard "during times of war". Corbett did though announce his support for the PA drone command in Horsham.
“Corbett certainly hasn't shown anything like support for PA schools which are out of money, closing buildings, and laying off teachers right and left which is why our signs at pro school funding demonstrations and gubernatorial election events read: Choose: Our Schools or Millions for the Drone War Murder Command in Horsham, PA.
“Its been 14 months since the last Saturday of the month demonstration, and there has been a coming and going, with a ebb and flow, but the number of participants has remained in consistently in the 50, and not just gray hairs. A community is emerging in what is easily the largest regular peace demonstration in the Philadelphia area. Young people from the old Occupy encampment in Philadelphia have joined area Greens and some Libertarians (which has established it own website devoted to the protest campaign), Granny Peace Brigade Phila., people from South Jersey. When the protests began participation was mostly from Philadelphia, now we are seeing people much more from the surrounding area and around the state.
“The demonstration in July was particularly spirited as more guitars joined Tom Mullian, more honks (sign reads HONK to PA Drone War Command Center HERE), a large Native American drum kept beat, and some Woodstock aged "hippies" danced. Something's happening.
“The Air Force and PA Air Guard is still saying that the command center will become ‘operational’ (remote-controlled killing from Horsham) in 2015. When in 2015 we don't know. Don't think the Air Force will be announcing that remote-controlled killing from Horsham has commenced. Who knows.
“P.S. After the July 26th demonstration in Horsham, after we had packed up the drone replica display, banners, signs, sound system, couple of decorated canopies, and such, the woman from Granny Peace Brigade Phila. was left waiting for her husband sitting in middle of the grassy site with here large Native American drum which she beat throughout the demonstration. Our Granny friend returned to drumming as she waited for ride from her husband for a ride. After a short while, a Horsham police approached her saying that the demonstration was over and that the base commander had called the police saying the drumming was disturbing him and that he wanted her off the site. Our friend contested their cooperation with his request. To no avail, the police lifted up the heavy large drum and carried it off site to the chagrin of our friend. Guess the police know who to keep from being disturbed? Something is happening.”
More to follow and come!
Bob Smith, Brandywine Peace Community, Events at www.brandywinepeace.com, (610) 544-1818
As reported in previous bulletins, Oct. 4, 2014 is designated as the day for international actions for banning of weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
Please see the linked website and begin planning actions and registering them on the site: http://globaldayofaction.nationbuilder.com/
Thanks to you all.
For Immediate Release
23 July 2014
Ed Kinane 315-478-4571 Upstate Drone Action
Ellen Grady 607-279-8303 Ithaca Catholic Worker
Brian Hynes 718-838-2636 NY Catholic Worker, Atlantic Life Community
2 min. video of action: https://vimeo.com/101570904
Seven Arrested at Hancock Air Base
Halt Drone War Crimes!
Order of Protection Delivered for the Children of the World
Syracuse July 23, 2014 Earlier today eight Atlantic Life Community activists joined with Upstate Drone Action at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, in Syracuse, New York. Hancock is the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State Air National Guard. The 174th Attack Wing pilots weaponized MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan – killing and terrorizing an uncountable number of civilians.
The eight delivered a People’s War Crimes Indictment to the Hancock chain of command by affixing it to the fence after being refused by the base personnel. Also delivered was an Order of Protection on behalf of the children of the world who are subject to U.S. drone surveillance and attack.
The eight issued a statement that began with a list of names of persons who have been killed by drone strikes; “Syed Wali Shah, 7 years old, killed by an American drone strike. Momina Bibi, mother and midwife, killed by an American drone strike. Tarik Aziz, 16, killed by an American drone strike… This Must Stop! We are a community of peacemakers who resist war, racism and greed. We stand … in solidarity with men, women and children being terrorized by US military aggression.”
The group blocked the entrance to the base and took up positions for vigil. Brian Hynes, NYC Catholic Worker, was allowed to vigil on the side of the main entrance, usually prohibited. Seven from the group – from Vermont, Maryland, New York City, and Ithaca were arrested.
The seven are being charged with Trespass. Two of the defendants, Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy were also charged with violation of an Order of Protection. Liz McAlister and Erica Brock were charged with Disorderly Conduct. Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy are being held on $10,000 bail. Felton Davis, Erica Brock, and Joan Pleune are all being held on $2,500 bail.
Three of the arrested are grandmothers. On July 10th, 2014, drone activist and grandmother, Mary Anne Grady Flores, was sentenced to one year in jail for violation of the same Order of Protection, taken out on behalf of the Colonel of the base. She is currently out on $5,000 bail pending appeal. A higher court has found the order to be invalid.
Bill Ofenloch, NYC Catholic Worker 212- 369-1590
Liz McAlister, Jonah House, MD 443-804-6938
Felton Davis, NYC Catholic 212-777-9617
Martha Hennessy, NYC Catholic and Vermont 802-263-5591; 212-777-9612
Clare Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker 607-273-6257
>Joan Pleune, Granny Peace Brigade
Erica Brock, NYC Catholic Worker 213-247-9507
The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars www.upstatedroneaction.org is made up of antiwar organizations and formed around resistance to the MQ-9 Reaper Drone program at Hancock Field Air Force Base.