DRONE ACTION ORGANIZERS BULLETIN – December 3, 2014

MONTHLY BULLETIN FOR DRONE ORGANIZERS
December 3, 2014

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

In this month's bulletin:

1.    2015 Spring Mobilization Meeting – Washington, DC – Dec. 20, 2014.
2.    Jack Gilroy’s Probation Keeps Him Away From Hancock.
3.    Dec. 12 – Anniversary of Yemen Wedding Party Drone Massacre.
4.    Dec. 20 – 21- Pre-Christmas Honeywell Boycott Picketing.
5.    “Shut Down Creech AFB” Set for Mar. 4 – 6.
6.    The Spread of Drone Attacks and Addressing Drone Operators. 
7.    Survey Results and Observations on Our Achievements and Challenges. 

 

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Women Against War display Leah Bolger’s quilt project in the New York State Legislative Office Building on October 20. 2014; one of a series of counter-drone war events that the group organized in the Albany, NY area. For details: Attachment A. Photo by Connie Frisbee Houde

DEC. 20 SPRING MOBILIZATION MEETING IN DC.

The Spring 2015 National Mobilization meeting will be held from 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, Dec. 20 at the Friends Meeting of Washington, 2111 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC, just north of DuPont Circe.

The purpose of the meeting is to make plans for achieving a national mobilization in Spring 2015 to:

1. End US military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and all US drone surveillance and attacks worldwide.

2. Close US military bases overseas, stopping a shift of US military forces to Asia and dismantle the US nuclear arsenal.

3. Reverse the militarization of US police forces and the assault on people of color.

4. Educate the public on the connections between US military operations and acceleration of climate change.

5. Encourage anti-militarism outreach to schools.

We will make specific plans of action that will include:

A. The date(s) for the mobilization. 

The following dates have been suggested so far:

Thursday, March 19 – Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  The best dates for maximum participation are probably Mar. 20 and 21.  Note: Cindy Sheehan has announced a time frame for an anti-war re-enactment in Washington, DC that will likely include these dates.   It is important to note too that Code Pink, Veterans for Peace and the Nevada Desert Experience are calling for a mass mobilization to shut down Creech AFB on Mar. 4 – 6.  (See below.)

Wednesday, April 22 – Earth Day.  Also an opportunity for action.

B. Engaging organizations that need to be approached that are not represented at the meeting.

C. Places – Washington, DC; regionally, and if so, key cities and locations - special look at how to mobilize in the South, a region usually not involved in anti-war actions.

D. Essential activities, actions that must be organized for the mobilization to be successful: teach-ins; rallies, march(es); other.

E. Formation of a mobilization steering committee and a division of labor to organize the activities/actions that are decided on.

Please feel free to send comments on the above.

PLEASE RSVP SO THAT WE WILL KNOW WHAT SIZE ROOM TO SET UP AND, OF COURSE, COFFEE, TEA AND REFRESHMENTS ARRANGEMENTS.  Email: nickmottern@earthlink.net

 

JACK GILROY’S PROBATION KEEPS HIM AWAY FROM HANCOCK.

On Nov. 28 Jack Gilroy stepped out of 60 days in jail for his protest at Hancock Air Base drone control center, just outside Syracuse, NY in Onondaga County, New York, only to find out that his three years probation imprisons him in Broome County, where he lives.

Jack has been told that the only exception to his confinement to Broome County is to visit with his lawyer in Ithaca, which is in Tompkins County. 

The confinement order clearly is intended to prevent Jack from going to Hancock Air Base, a drone control for attacks in Afghanistan and probably elsewhere, given the expansion of the drone war.  (See item 6. Below.)

The confinement order, Jack said, shows close collaboration between the local court in DeWitt and the federal government.

Attachment B is an article that Jack has submitted to the New York Times.

Jack was sentenced on October 1, 2014 to 90 days in jail, three years probation and a $1,000 fine after being found guilty in a July 15 jury trial in DeWitt Court, charged with trespass and obstructing government administration.   He served 60 days because it is customary to knock a third off such a sentence for good behavior.  It is the longest time to be served so far by any Hancock protester.

Mary Anne Grady Flores has been sentenced to one year for violating an order of protection, but she was let of jail after seven days while her appeal is heard.

As this bulletin “goes to press” Mark Colville is headed for the DeWitt court, facing two years in jail for his Hancock protest.  Here is his interview today on Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/12/3/peace_activist_faces_up_to_two

And here is an article in the weekly Syracuse New Times addressing the question of why people are protesting at Hancock; this is the first coverage that the newspaper has given the protest: http://www.syracusenewtimes.com/protest/

 

DEC. 12 – ANNIVERSARY OF YEMEN WEDDING PARTY DRONE MASSACRE.

On Dec. 12, 2013, United States drone operators attacked wedding party in Yemen killing at least 12 people.  Here is the account of Abullah Huhammad Al-Tisi, who witnessed the attacked, quoted on Democracy Now Feb. 21, 2014 http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/21/turning_a_wedding_into_a_funeral

 “We were having a traditional marriage ceremony. According to our traditions, the whole tribe has to go to the bride’s tribe. We were in about 12 to 15 cars with 60 to 70 men on board. He had lunch at the bride’s village at Al Abu Saraimah. Then we left to head back to the groom’s village.

“A drone was hovering overhead all morning. There were one or two of them. One of the missiles hit the car. The car was totally burned. Four other cars were also struck. When we stopped, we heard the drone fire. Blood was everywhere, and the people killed and injured were scattered everywhere. The area was full of blood, dead bodies and injured people. I was injured. I saw the missile hit the vehicle behind the car my son was driving.”

This article contains more details and videos of the attack and the funeral for the victims.

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/19/the-aftermath-of-drone-strikes-on-a-wedding-convoy-in-yemen/?_r=0

Please try to schedule a counter-drone war witness on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 to honor those who were slaughtered and wounded.  Here in the lower Hudson Valley there will be a protest in front of the office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey that will call for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Middle East and Afghanistan as well as an end to drone attacks.

 

DEC. 20 -21 HONEYWELL BOYCOTT PICKETING AND FLYERS.

Please try to organize a picketing of Honeywell products outside your local Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target or Apple store because of Honeywell engines, navigational and targeting equipment are used in the MQ-9 Reaper drone.  December 20 and 21 are selected for this witness to catch shoppers on the last weekend before Christmas. 

Apple store 11-12 MQ & MJ[5]

Mathias Quackenbush, an organizer of the Honeywell Boycott and Divest campaign, and Maria Johnson speaking to shoppers in front of the downtown San Francisco Apple store on Nov. 12, 2014. (Apple is being picketed because it is a joint software deal with Apple.) Photo by Sarah Menefee - Occupy SF Action Coalition.

Attachment C is a boycott flyer being used in San Francisco.  Attachment D is a boycott flyer being used in New York, which also includes a call for ending U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Syria.

“SHUT DOWN CREECH AFB” SET FOR MAR. 4 – 6.

Our colleagues on the West Coast are planning an extremely important action Mar. 4 - 6 at Creech AFB in Nevada a drone control center for Air Force and CIA drone attacks.   Here is the announcement:

“Hottest News:  CodePink, Veterans for Peace and Nevada Desert Experience are collaborating on a massive mobilization Mar. 4-6 to 

"SHUT DOWN CREECH AIR FORCE BASE".....a call made by retired Col. Ann Wright at our fall CodePink Creech Convergence just 2 weeks ago.

Creech AFB is less than an hour north of Las Vegas, Nevada, and is where the U.S. Air Force does the targeted killing for the CIA, as well as non-CIA drone killing.

Calling on all activists to participate in this massive showing against drone warfare, and bring lots of friends......we want thousands!  

Please help get the word out.  More details to come soon.

(March is a beautiful time to be in the high desert)

Here is a link to an extremely interesting article about strengthening “security” at Creech: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/creech-afb-raze-casino-over-security-concerns

 

THE SPREAD OF DRONE ATTACKS AND ADDRESSING DRONE OPERATORS.

Below is a link to a November 18, 2014 CNN report that announces a shortage of US drones, talks about them being used now in Libya and speaks of the drone shortage as “compromising” the US air war against ISIS.

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/11/18/tsr-dnt-sciutto-drone-shortage-threatens-war-on-isis.cnn.html

This suggests that drone operators are also under increased pressure, coming on top of several years of stress because of a shortage of operators.  See:

http://www.livescience.com/39644-drone-pilots-shortage.html  and

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140416/DEFREG02/304160035/GAO-US-Air-Force-Improve-Morale-Drone-Pilots

Given these signs of stress, on top of the stress of drone killing, described in the movie  “Unmanned: America’s Drone War”, it may be a time to amplify the appeal to drone operators to refuse to fly drone missions on moral and legal grounds.

 

SURVEY RESULTS AND OBSERVATIONS ON OUR ACHIEVEMENTS AND PROBLEMS.

Attachment E shows the results of the survey just conducted among counter-drone activists.  The survey was mailed to about 900 people and 160 responded, which, I am told, is a good response rate.  You can read the results for yourself, but I want to note that I am encouraged to see that many of those responding are keeping counter-drone war work as their top priority and find value in maintaining the counter-drone war network.

Last week Elsa Rassbach, who lives in Berlin and who was the primary organizer of the Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing, asked me for my thoughts on “the achievements, issues, problems and next steps for US and international anti-drone campaigning and what strategies you would propose.”   In response, I wrote the following, which I publish here in the hope that this will encourage you, the reader, to submit your thoughts, which can be published in the next bulletin.

1. Achievements

In terms of achievements of the counter-drone movement in the US, I would start out with the civil disobedience that has been sustained over several years at Hancock, Beale, Creech, Whiteman, the CIA at Langley, VA, and recently the Des Moines, drone bases.  These actions have established a moral prohibition against the use of drones as weapons of war and intimidation.   The actions have, therefore, kept the focus on the need to stop the drone killing and, of course, the surveillance on which the killing is based.   These actions have, at Hancock, resulted in a series of over 50 arrests and, consequently a series of trials in the local court that have generated continuing publicity in the Syracuse area and more widely.  This has been very demanding on the protesters, but the group is standing strong and determined.   Arrests in the other areas have also drawn very important publicity and provide a dramatic resistance that, I believe, commands respect from the press and a growing number among the general public.

In addition to these actions, there are some regularly scheduled counter-drone war vigils, such as the one that happens the last Saturday of every month at the site of a new drone base in Horsham, PA.     There are also counter-drone actions that are organized periodically by local groups based on their own timetables and inspiration.

We have had considerable success in organizing counter-drone events to happen within specific time frames in the Spring and, this year, the Global Action Day in October, which resulted in events spread out over a week’s time.   People like to have a specific time period to organize around, in large part because almost every counter-drone war activist is involved in other struggles and cannot do only counter-drone work.  This system seems to be the most successful for achieving wide-spread counter-drone actions.   We have found success in creating a US network of counter-drone organizers who can commit widely varying amounts of time to the work and who want to be informed of plans for local and national actions, and it is critical that this model be expanded to engage counter-drone workers around the world.   How to expand and support such an information network needs to be discussed now. 

2. Problems

A.  Confusion and Lack of Information. - The use of drones in the context of the air war against the Islamic State has caused some people to fall away from counter-drone work because they feel that the IS must be attacked and destroyed, influenced very much by the beheadings.   Further, the use of drones for general war has, I believe, shifted attention away from the lone drone assassinations and has made drone war seem to be inevitable.   The fundamental reasons that drones are unacceptable weapons remain the same, but I think the new situation has tended to obscure this reality.

Part of this problem is, I think, that we have not done a good job within the counter-drone war movement of identifying the unique characteristics of drones that make them different than any other weapon.   I would list these characteristics as follows:

1. Violation of Privacy: Drones are capable of watching individuals and groups for hours, days and weeks at a time; they provides visual information that can be integrated with information gathered through electronic surveillance.

2. Violation of Due Process, the Right to Life and National Sovereignty: Drones are capable of killing individuals and groups based on the ongoing surveillance, particularly in remote places, without introducing military personnel and in the traditional interpretation of violation of national borders.

3. Marketing Tool for War: The announcement that drones will be used in a war creates the impression that no or fewer military personnel of the drone-using nation will be killed.  However cowardly, this can make a war involving thousands of troops more palatable even when drones are not involved in the preponderance of combat, as in Afghanistan.   This elevation of the drone as a kind of fantasy weapon the enables war without consequences to the attacker not only can and does contribute to opening widespread hostilities but apparently leads politicians and military leaders to think they are indomitable and beyond accountability.   The brief history we have of drone attacks suggests that they are a military and political failure if one looks at Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the places where most drone attacks have been conducted.   That is, if a reduction in violence and political stability are the goals of drone attacks.  Of course these may not be the goals of the United States and its Western allies, whose corporations have found considerable profits from fishing in the bloodied waters of what are commonly called "failed states."   An example would be Honeywell International's marketing of portable oil refineries that are designed precisely for use in conflict zones.

Even though the new US air war has somewhat expanded the mission for drones, the three characteristics mentioned continue to be, as strongly as ever, the primary reasons for banning drone surveillance.   This means that we counter-drone activists must discuss these factors among ourselves for clarity and an invigorated sense of purpose.  This conversation, of course, will include the use of drones by law enforcement agencies to suppress domestic dissent.

With respect to Item 3, above, the use of the drone to replace US troops, to conquer at little or no human cost to the US population, is also seen in the US determination to propagandize, arm and train Iraqis, Afghans and Syrians to fight and die for US purposes.   This policy of creating of "drone troops" is, of course, despicable but has come under no criticism in the US.  In fact, it is just one step down the moral ladder from using the US professional military to fight wars that benefit corporations while the vast majority of the US public experiences no physical suffering or torment from repeated combat tours.

In this regard, here in the US, we need to do much more education within the counter-drone war movement on the use of the US military to capture resources, notably oil and minerals for multinational corporations.   Absent US military intervention, these resources would still be available for sale, but not at the current levels of corporate profit.   This all relates, of course, to climate change, but the specifics are not well known or understood even on the left in the US.

B. Recruiting. - Counter-drone war activists, who are largely people in their 50s. 60s and 70s, in devoting their total energies at protesting drone atrocities, have not had the time to systematically recruit and train younger people.  This is a huge problem, but there is the very real possibility that the Ferguson protests will generate much more receptivity to addressing militarism and militarization. Moving into 2015, there will likely be more discussion within anti-war groups about engaging with younger people, particularly those working on Ferguson issues, mass incarceration and climate change.

C.  Interaction with national politicians. - For the last decade at least, US anti-war and counter-drone war workers have found it fruitless to meet with their members of Congress.  With the 2014 elections, political power in Washington has shifted significantly to Congress.   New methods are going to have to be developed to pressure Congress.  One way may be to begin to hit at the amounts of money individual members of Congress take from weapons makers, and how these members dutifully vote for war.   Another may be to video-tape and publicize meetings between anti-war people and members of Congress.   This is something that is rarely done in the US, but given the politicians’ support for drone surveillance and electronic surveillance it would seem they should not object to having their “business” video-taped.  The strategy of exposing the control of politics by wealth in relation to individual legislators and war will, with luck, generate public curiosity and anger.

D. The United Nations – Several fledgling steps have been taken to introduce an international ban on drone surveillance and drone attacks.   I believe there is some interest in such a ban within the Pakistani and Brazilian delegations, but there needs to be stimulation in other countries for this ban.  The concept of an international ban is extremely important not only in stopping current drone spying and killing but in preventing the introduction of fully robotic drones. 

***

In closing out this issue of the bulletin, I want to wish you blessings as we enter the holiday season and pray that we people of Earth will achieve a dramatic reduction of violence and a dramatic increase in cooperation and love in 2015.

In solidarity,

Nick

 


ATTACHMENT A

Women Against War’s Fall 2014 Drone Education Program

In October and November 2014, Women Against War http://www.womenagainstwar.org/wordpress/ , based in the Albany, NY area, organized a elaborate, varied program of education on drone war that used Leah Bolger’s quilt project as a focal point.

Here is a link to the program schedule: http://www.womenagainstwar.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ground-the-drones-lr-edited.pdf

Here is a link to a well-intended panel discussion held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy: RPI Drone Forum Oct 31, 2014, that includes presentations by Mary Anne Grady-Flores; Ed Kinane and Ben Kuebrick and an a Q. & A. session that is also well worth watching.

Finally, here is a link to the Waging Peace blog of Women Against War that appears on the Albany Times Union website.   It includes reports by Mickie Lynn and Maude Easter on the drone education program, as well as other commentary.  http://blog.timesunion.com/wagingpeace/date/2014/

 


ATTACHMENT B

Punish the Bearer of Bad News

I just spent two months as a prisoner in Jamesville Penitentiary in Jamesville, NY.

I was jailed for my involvement in an April 28, 2013 solemn funeral procession at Hancock Air Force drone base in Syracuse, NY.  I joined 30 others to carry the message to “stop the killing”.  Hancock’s 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard, flies missiles and drops bombs via satellite from drones thousands of miles from Syracuse. The targets are suspected “terrorists” somewhere in the Middle East.

Stanford University Law School’s International Human Rights Conflict Resolution Clinic and New York University Law School”s Global Justice Clinic, working independently with The Bureau for Independent Journalism, spent years collecting data on United States drone strikes in Pakistan.  The findings are grim.  In their report titled: Living Under Drones, only 2% of the killings have been confirmed ‘suspected terrorists’ by the law schools study. Thousands have been killed, thousands wounded--body parts scattered in cities and countryside by our killer drones. There are no estimates of psychological damage to millions who live under drones 24/7. The killings by American drone missiles may be the best recruitment tool for more Middle East terrorists.

My ‘crime’ was being a nonviolent messenger outside the main gate to Hancock. I was convicted of trespass and obstructing government administration. I was handcuffed and sent to Jamesville Penitentiary in Syracuse. As the oldest prisoner at Jamesville at 79, I was also the only political prisoner- a prisoner of conscience. Before my sentence, I was offered a plea bargain. Plead guilty and have all charges dropped or go to trial and face 1 year and 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary.  As a former High School teacher of Participation in Government, I could not say I was guilty of a crime for practicing my 1st amendment rights of assembly, speech, press and religion.

Thankfully, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, did not support arresting  Wall Street demonstrators during the United Nations Climate Summit in September of this year. “I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic,” Mr. de Blasio said when asked about disruptions caused by the Wall Street Demonstration. The NY City Mayor noted: “The right of people to make their voices heard, regardless of their views, is a fundamental American value, and we’ll protect that value.”

It should be noted that those of us arrested did not block traffic at Hancock Drone base on April 28, 2013.

The refusal of the DeWitt Town Court in East Syracuse to recognize 1st Amendment rights of assembly is akin to the medieval act of killing the messenger of bad news. The insistence of the DeWitt court to collaborate with the military to stop nonviolent protest near the Hancock Attack Wing  is in violation of the United States Constitution. The DeWitt Court Order of Protection to stay away from the assassination base  begs the question: Is there collusion between the DeWitt court and the military to suppress constitutional rights?

Jack Gilroy

 


ATTACHMENT C

We Boycott and Divest Honeywell because of their manufacture of navigational and propulsive technology for Reaper drones, making them hundreds of millions of dollars to for their work supplying one of the most potent tools there is for extrajudicial killing and American imperialism. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia- for communities throughout the middle east U.S. drones have become synonymous with indiscriminate terror and death.

This has been the case for over a decade now, at the cost of thousands of civilian lives lost and communities destroyed, and at the cost of a perpetuation of the cycle of violence that continues to be driven by American policies in the middle east.

U.S. policies in Iraq have killed 133000 civilians in the past decade- is it any wonder then that even a radical and barbaric group like ISIS, a group that the U.S. once funded and armed, can command such significant popular support in what they bill as a crusade against western imperialism?

Do your part to break the circuit of war and imperialism- join us in boycotting Honeywell’s consumer products and pressuring our churches, schools, and other institutions to divest from all war profiteers. Then be vocal and spread the word so that your actions impact the behavior of these companies.

With the help of Honeywell and the rest of the military-industrial complex, the cycle of violence continues. Many innocent people have already been killed, without due process, in our current bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria Meanwhile, ISIS recruitment numbers are soaring. The bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq is a murderous reaction to an enemy that poses no real threat to the American people. It is serving only to reap brutal destruction on a country already torn apart by decades of U.S. intervention. Sign the pledge at BadHoneywell.org to tell Honeywell: stop your complicity in extrajudicial drone killing!

Why have we been subject to such hysteria and fear-mongering? And why was bombing presented to us as the only plausible response- why were we never led to question the possibility of a nonviolent solution despite the fact that no credible analysts believe that the militaristic strategy being employed will do anything but put our nation at greater risk?

Part of the answer is that war is more profitable. The bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria has already cost billions of dollars. And this brings us back to Honeywell, and its weapons contracts worth hundreds of millions- and their widespread campaign contributions to politicians on both sides of the aisle, which they use to buy the policies that suit their profit margins, silencing your voice and the voices of all ordinary americans.

That’s why we’re speaking out in the language Honeywell understands: Money.

Sign the pledge at BaDHoneywell.org Follow us on twitter @Badhoneywell and on facebook at Boycott/Divest Honeywell International, Inc.

Obama-cote

Cote


ATTACHMENT D

ATTENTION WAL-MART SHOPPERS!

Please consider not buying any HONEYWELL products – such as heaters, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers and thermostats.

Honeywell

HONEYWELL is a war profiteer, making hundreds of millions on weapons, including the engine and other equipment for the MQ-9 Reaper drone, the world’s #1 killer drone.

The Reaper and other US killer drones are responsible for the illegal killing of thousands in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and now more in Iraq and Syria, where they are key to the new war.

Funeral

Members of a wedding party killed by US drones in Yemen December 2013.

HONEYWELL spends millions to “buy” members of Congress who make decisions that bring the company millions and millions in profit.

A list of other things HONEYWELL is doing is on the other side.

HONEYWELL is also involved in:

-         Making nuclear weapons.

-         Fracking.

-         Canadian tar sands mining for oil.

-         The Keystone XL Pipeline.

-         Making weapons for the Israeli Defense Force.

-         The Trans-Pacific Partnership tradedeal that will harm US workers.

-         Attempts to cut Social Security and other benefit programs.

-         Environmental contamination.

-         Corporate Misconduct.

For more information: www.badhoneywell.org

PLEASE CALL YOUR CONGRESS PERSON, (Name / phone) SAY NO TROOPS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN AND NO MORE AIR WAR, INCLUDING DRONE WAR.


ATTACHMENT E

Click here to view the Survey Data