On Saturday, March 29, 2019, Bob Smith, staff organizer and co-founder of the Brandywine Peace Community, announced that Brandywine will begin organizing drone war protests at the office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf because Wolf has responsibility, along with federal officials, for U.S. drone attacks that are being controlled from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard base in Horsham, PA.
The Brandywine initiative is historic in U.S. anti-drone war organizing because it pins responsibility for U.S. drone attacks on state as well as federal officials.
Smith announced the new step in the focus of Brandywine and other area groups at the first of the monthly Horsham anti-drone war vigils of 2019, the latest in the series of vigils that have been held outside the gate of the base since 2013.
The Brandywine announcement says, in part:
“Now, after seven years of sustained protest, we need to bring pressure to bear on the person who, as civilian commander of the PA Air National Guard, can do something to stop this high-tech computerized madness. That person is Gov. Tom Wolf.”
(The full Brandywine statement is in Attachment A, below.)
Air Guard Key to U.S. Drone War
At this moment, 12 of the 28 killer drone control and training centers inside the U.S. are operated by Air National Guard units in these states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. (A full list of these bases is in Attachment B, below.)
No Escaping State Responsibility
Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania state legislators and Air National Guard officials may argue that the state’s Air National Guard has been federalized, relieving them of responsibility for drone war crimes, referring to the state constitution:
§ 7. Military power.
The Governor shall be commander-in-chief of the military forces of the Commonwealth, except when they shall be called into actual service of the United States. (May 16, 1967, P.L.1044, J.R.4)
However, the state constitution also requires officials to defend the inherent rights of "all people", which would include people under surveillance and attack by killer drones, wherever they are. Furthermore, governor and others with oversight responsibilities for the Air National Guard have duties under the Nuremberg Principles, along with all citizens, to act to prevent the Air National Guard from participating in war crimes, regardless of the behavior of federal officials.
And the governor has responsibility for the physical, emotional and moral well-being of members of the Air National Guard who are at substantial risk of stress, PTSD and moral injury due to drone operations.
Note: With respect to international law and drone war crimes, the next edition of the Drone Organizers Bulletin will report on a decision by a German court in March, 2019 that can give organizers very important arguments in addressing their state officials about U.S. drone war.
BAN PA DRONE WAR OPERATIONS
The public outcry in Horsham, PA, continues to make a moral statement against the madness of drone warfare, and the drone war remote command operation at the Horsham PA Air Guard Station. Now, after seven years of sustained protest, we need to bring pressure to bear on the person who, as civilian commander of the PA Air National Guard, can do something to stop this high-tech computerized madness. That person is Gov. Tom Wolf.
We protest at the Horsham Air Guard Station, where a drone war command center became operational in 2016. We protest because remote-controlled killing continues and must stop. We continue an appeal to drone war ‘“pilots” (computer operators) to walk away from the killing and take their hands off the killing sticks of the U.S. war-making empire.
We cannot and will not forget the United States is conducting a policy of daily killing by increasing the use of drone warfare, unchecked by U.S. media. We, citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, bring the power of conscience to bear on our governor. We appeal to him to stop our state’s participation in killing by drone warfare through the PA Air National Guard.
Due to decades of increasing war, virtually all funding for the Guard is provided by the federal government’s military budget, with unelected military chiefs making decisions about the use of the Guard and Air National Guard. However, our governor is the civilian head of these PA forces, and he was elected to represent and serve the people of Pennsylvania. So, we citizens of the Commonwealth bring our appeal for justice and sanity to our governor.
Our appeal is that the PA Air National Guard be removed and banned from all participation in U.S. drone war policy, domestically and/or around the world. This appeal includes but is not limited to the drone war remote command operation at Horsham Air Guard Station, and to training of drone war computer pilots (operators), and stationing of drones for training at Fort Indian Town Gap headquarters of the PA National Guard and PA Air National Guard. The killing must stop. Let it begin here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, called by its founder, William Penn, “a divine experiment.”
We will bring this appeal to bear on Gov. Tom Wolf, head of the PA Guard and Reserves and PA Air National Guard, through petition, public awareness, protest demonstrations, and nonviolent means that stress the unconstrained nature and consequences of drone warfare, our Commonwealth’s participation, and the supreme right of citizens to say: NO MORE! STOP IT.
There is simply too much need for care for people and communities in the Commonwealth to waste our state’s resources in this future of violence and death that is drone warfare and the perpetuation of endless war, now estimated to have killed 240,000 civilians and cost $5.9 trillion.
“Choose life,” says the Book of Deuteronomy, “so that you and your children may live.”
Call Gov. Tom Wolf, 717-787-2500.
Brandywine Peace Community
P.O. Box 29674, Philadelphia, PA 19144
US DRONE BASES – January, 2019
Armed drone control and or training.
Hancock Air National Guard Base – Syracuse, NY #
Niagara Falls Air National Guard Base – Niagara Falls, NY
Fort Drum (Army training with Grey Eagle drone), Watertown, NY
Horsham Air National Guard Base – Horsham, PA
Fort Indiantown Gap (Army National Guard trains with RQ-9 Shadow drones, which may be armed. The base has drawn attention of local anti-drone organizers but no protests to date.), Harrisburg, PA
Langley AFB – Hampton, VA
Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Fort Smith, AR
Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, TN
Hurlburt Field AFB, Mary Esther, FL (may receive drone unit from Cannon AFB)
Tyndall AFB, Panama City, FL*
Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, Houston, TX
Randolph AFB (Training), Universal City, TX
Fort Bragg (Army training with Grey Eagle drone), Fayetteville, NC*
Shaw AFB, Sumter, SC*
Springfield Air National Guard Base, Springfield, OH
Whiteman AFB, Knob Noster, MO
Iowa Air National Guard Base, Des Moines, IA
Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Battle Creek, MI
Volk Field (Army National Guard training with RQ-7 Shadow surveillance drones, which may be armed. Protests have occurred here).
Hector International Airport (Air National Guard), Fargo, ND
Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, SD
USAF Flight Training School, Pueblo, CO
Fort Carson (Army Grey Eagle training), Colorado Springs, CO *
Cannon AFB, Clovis, NM (unit may move to Tyndall AFB)
Holloman AFB (Training), Alamogordo, NM #
Creech AFB, Las Vegas, NV #
March Air Reserve Base, Riverside/Moreno Valley/Perris, CA – Air National Guard drone unit.
Beale, AFB (drone targeting), Marysville, CA
Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ – Air National Guard drone unit.
# Base expansion
Compiled from government and press reports by Nick Mottern, Knowdrones.com