Sunday, February 16, 2014

Spring Days of Action to End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance, Global Militarization

Solano Peace, Freedom & Justice Coalition will join several anti-drone organizations and anti-drone supporters as they coordinate a campaign in April and May that will focus on drone bases, drone facilities, test sites and drone manufacturers.
The campaign will encourage activists around the world to win passage of local laws that prohibit weaponized drones and drone surveillance from being used in their communities as well as seeking national laws to bar the use of weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
The campaign will draw attention to the call for a ban on weaponized drones by that has generated a petition with over 80,000 signers
and to lend solidarity to efforts by the Granny Peace Brigade (New York City), and others to achieve an international ban on both weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
The campaign will also urge participation in the World Beyond War movement.
For more information, visit []

Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action – 2014, a coordinated campaign in April and May to: End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance and Global Militarization!
The campaign will focus on drone bases, drone research facilities and test sites and drone manufacturers.
The campaign will provide information on:

1. The suffering of tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza who are under drone attack, documenting the killing, the wounding and the devastating impact of constant drone surveillance on community life.

2. How attack and surveillance drones have become a key element in a massive wave of surveillance, clandestine military attacks and militarization generated by the United States to protect a global system of manufacture and oil and mineral exploitation that is creating unemployment and poverty, accelerating the waste of nonrenewable resources and contributing to environmental destruction and global warming.
In addition to cases in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, we will examine President Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific, where the United States has already sold and deployed drones in the vanguard of a shift of 60% of its military forces to try to control China and to enforce the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We will show, among other things, how this surge of "pivot" forces, greatly enabled by drones, and supported by the US military-industrial complex, will hit every American community with even deeper cuts in the already fragile social programs on which people rely for survival.  In short, we will connect drones and militarization with "austerity" in America.

3. How drone attacks have effectively destroyed international and domestic legal protection of the rights to life, privacy, freedom of assembly and free speech and have opened the way for new levels of surveillance and repression around the world, and how, in the United States, increasing drone surveillance, added to surveillance by the National Security Agency and police, provides a new weapon to repress black, Hispanic, immigrant and low-income communities and to intimidate Americans who are increasingly unsettled by lack of jobs, economic inequality, corporate control of politics and the prospect of endless war.

We will discuss how the United States government and corporations conspire secretly to monitor US citizens and particularly how the Administration is accelerating drone surveillance operations and surveillance inside the United States with the same disregard for transparency and law that it applies to other countries, all with the cooperation of the Congress.

The following individuals and organizations endorse this Call:
* Lyn Adamson – Co-chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
* Dennis Apel – Guadalupe Catholic Worker, California
* Judy Bello – Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars
* Medea Benjamin – Code Pink
* Leah Bolger – Former National President, Veterans for Peace
* Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
* Sung-Hee Choi – Gangjeong Village International Team, Jeju, Korea
* Chelsea C. Faria – Graduate student, Yale  Divinity School; Promoting Enduring Peace
* Sandy Fessler – Rochester (NY) Against War
* Joy First
* Bruce K. Gagnon - Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
* Holly Gwinn Graham – Singer/songwriter, Olympia, WA.
* Regina Hagen - Darmstaedter Friedensforum, Germany
* Kathy Kelly – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
* Malachy Kilbride
* Marilyn Levin and Joe Lombardo – Co-Coordinators, United National Antiwar Coalition
*  Tamara Lorincz – Halifax Peace Coalition, Canada
* Nick Mottern –
* Agneta Norberg – Swedish Peace Council
* Pepperwolf – Director, Women Against Military Madness
* Lindis Percy, Coordinator, Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases  CAAB UK
* Mathias Quackenbush – San Francisco, CA
* Lisa Savage – Code Pink, State of Maine
* Janice Sevre-Duszynska
* Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck- Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen, Germany
* Cindy Sheehan
* Lucia Wilkes Smith – Convener, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) – Ground Military Drones Committee
* David Soumis – Veterans for Peace; No Drones Wisconsin
* Debra Sweet – World Can’t Wait
* David Swanson -
* Brian Terrell – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
* United National Antiwar Coalition
* Veterans for Peace
* Dave Webb – Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
* Curt Wechsler – Fire John Yoo! (a project of World Can’t Wait) – San Francisco, CA
* Paki Wieland, Northampton (MA) Committee to Stop War(s)
* Loring Wirbel – Citizens for Peace in Space (Colorado Springs, CO)
* Women Against Military Madness
* Ann Wright – Retired US Army colonel and former diplomat
* Leila Zand - Fellowship of Reconciliation

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Statement on use of drones and denial of the right to life, 2014-02-12 from World Council of Churches Executive Committee, at Bossey, Switzerland

1. The use of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has increasingly posed serious threats to humanity, especially the right to life. The UAVs, either controlled by “pilots” from the ground or autonomously following a pre-programmed mission, can kill innocent civilians. Over the past decade, the expanded use of drones has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges. The use of drones has grown quickly in recent years because, unlike manned aircraft, they now can stay in the air for many more hours than previously.  Additionally, they are much less expensive to operate than military aircraft as they are flown remotely without a flight crew. It is also extremely worrying that the UAV industry has been slowly growing over the years. The fear is that the number of countries with the capacity to use drones is likely to increase significantly in the near future.

2. Now rapid advances in UAV technology are permitting countries with high-tech militaries, including the United States of America, Israel, Russia and the United Kingdom, to move towards systems that would give full combat autonomy to machines. The use of UAVs, first made operational in the Balkans war, has subsequently escalated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and most recently in Pakistan. Despite arguments as to the benefits of the use of drones in reducing the risk of military casualties, it has been consistently observed that drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications. Such strikes also set dangerous precedents in inter-state relations. As per international law, the drone operations by any State that involve the use of force on the territory of another State, without its consent, is a violation of a country’s sovereignty.

3. Since 2004, the USA has been engaged in an undeclared war in Pakistan against the suspected militants or “terrorists”. Hundreds of missile attacks from unmanned aircraft have been carried out against suspected militants, with the vast majority of US drone strikes in Pakistan having taken place in North Waziristan. The USA’s ongoing use of drones in Pakistan’s territory is a violation of that nation's sovereignty, as it is being conducted without the consent of the country’s legitimate government. As Pakistan categorically has stated that it does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory, this is a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Pakistan has been expressing its fears that the drone campaign would ultimately be counter-productive, as it would further contribute to radicalizing a whole new generation and thereby perpetuating the problem of terrorism in the country and in the region.

4. A report of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions focused on lethal autonomous robots and the protection of life, observed that “drones enable a State to perform targeted killing without exercising effective control over territory and without having the individual in custody.” The report further observed, “the use of drones by States to exercise essentially a global policing function to counter potential threats presents a danger to the protection of life.” When drones enable a State to perform targeted killing without effective control over territory, such targeting can result in killing innocent people, which is a violation of the right to life. While taking note of the report of the Special Rapporteur, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2013 and urged the international community to observe international laws with regard to the use of remotely piloted aircraft. The resolution also noted the recommendations, including the urgent and imperative need to seek agreement among Member States on legal questions pertaining to remotely piloted aircraft operations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon speaking at the National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan (13 August 2013) stated that “the use of armed drones – like any other weapons should be subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law. Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian causalities”. It is widely recognized that a significant challenge to assessing the legality of US drone strikes in Pakistan or other countries is due mainly to the uncertainty about which set of international law or standards should be applied.

5. The use of drones ultimately kills people and denies their right to life.  The right to life is a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and, in particular, should not to be unjustly killed by another human being. It is also our firm belief that the measures taken by any State threatening the life and dignity of the human person cannot be justified. In this context, the use of extraterritorial force within another State’s territory and sovereignty cannot be justified when it threatens the life of innocent people. We believe the sanctity of life and  the biblical message call us to protect the right to life; deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter (Proverbs 24:11).
It is in this context that the World Council of Churches expresses its deep concern about the targeted killings by drones carried out in different countries.
The executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting at Bossey, Switzerland, from 7 to 12 February 2014, therefore:
* Condemns drone strikes by any country, especially the unlawful policies and practices of the use of lethal force against terrorism;
* Affirms the WCC’s conviction that every person is made in the image and likeness of God, and hence every human life is sacred and has an inherent dignity;
* Urges all States using drones to be transparent about the development, acquisition and use of drones and publically disclose the legal basis for the use of drones, exercising operational responsibility;
* Calls on States where armed drones are used to respect and recognize the duty to protect the right to life of their subjects and oppose the violation of human rights and principles of international humanitarian law by foreign powers;
* Urges the international community to oppose the unlawful policies and practices, particularly of US Drone strikes in Pakistan;
* Requests that the international community refrain from transfers of drones weapons that can be used to commit serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law;
* Urges the US government to ensure justice for victims of unlawful drone strikes, including family members of the victims of unlawful killings, and to avail effective access to remedies, especially restitution, compensation to families of civilians killed or injured, and adequate protection for their rehabilitation;
* Believes that it is our duty to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute, to speak up and judge fairly, to defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The “Wheatland 4” anti-drone protesters

"California anti-drone protesters convicted of trespassing; Sentenced to 10 hours of Community Service and a $10 fee; Judge Claire warns of harsher consequences next time due to “ban & bar” orders served to them at the time of arrest"
2014-02-11 from "Nuclear Resister" newsletter []:
The "Wheatland 5" (Photograph by Toby Blome)

The “Wheatland 4” were arrested in April last year, while protesting drone warfare at Beale Air Force Base. They were found guilty of trespassing after a day-long trial in a Sacramento Federal Court on Monday, February 3.

In last April’s protest, over a dozen activists blocked the main traffic artery into the base for over an hour. They were hoping that they could, even temporarily, put a halt to illegal assassination and possibly save some lives.  When highway patrol arrived to break up the blockade, five of the protesters proceeded to enter base property to deliver a letter to the base commander, Col. Phil Stewart.  The letter charged Col. Stewart, President Barack Obama and all military personnel involved in drone warfare, with crimes against humanity and violations of international and national laws.  They are all guilty of denying the right for due process.  While each activist was being arrested, she or he handed a copy of the letter to the serviceperson arresting them, requesting that it be delivered to the commander.  Before being released, the arrestees were given a “Ban & Bar” letter, signed by Col. Phil Stewart. This letter formally ordered them not to enter or re-enter Beale AFB, and warned of a penalty “fine” of an undisclosed amount and/or maximum imprisonment of 6 months should the order be violated.  One of the arrestees, Barry Binks, had his charges dropped before the trial date, due to his veteran status.

On Monday, after a lively pre-trial anti-drone rally with local media coverage, the courtroom filled with anti-drone activist supporters.  The defendants – Martha Hubert, Robin Ryan, Bill Doub and Toby Blomé – all felt strongly that they were not interested in arguing over whether or not they trespassed. In their eyes, they were there to put illegal U.S. drone warfare on trial.  They wanted to focus on their intent, which was not to trespass, but to hold their government and military officials accountable for crimes against humanity.  They publicly resisted this illegal activity through nonviolent direct action. They wanted to educate Beale AFB personnel about drone warfare and it’s negative effects on the perpetrators as well as the victims.

Judge Claire had already denied them their constitutional right to a jury trial, and had denied them the right to use the “Defense of Necessity” argument or to discuss the Nuremberg Principles.  In the defendants’ eyes, justice had already failed.  The first half of the trial included witnesses from the base giving minute and monotonous details of the legal boundaries of the base property, what signs were posted to sufficiently (or insufficiently) warn visitors, etc.  The wonderful pro bono defense attorneys proceeded to find ways to get the charges dismissed based on loopholes, discrepancies, or mismanagement of the arrest. The military video of the arrest included footage of a highway patrol officer actually pushing some of the defendants onto the base property.  Called to witness, defendants Robin and Bill did an excellent job speaking for all of the defendants, testifying and emphasizing for the court record our intent to stop wrongdoing, bring accountability and save lives.

Toward the end of the trial, Mark Reichel, Toby’s attorney, inadvertently noticed a quote on the back side of a scribbled note handed to him earlier by Toby.  Atty. Reichel leaned over to Toby and whispered with enthusiasm, something to the effect:   “This is good.  This is really, really good.  Do you mind if I read it to the judge?”  Ultimately, Judge Claire gave the defense attorney permission to read the excerpt from the NY Times letter to the editor, written by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu.  It speaks for all of us seeking an end to drone killings:
“Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.”

Ultimately, Judge Claire found all four defendants guilty of trespassing and sentenced them to ten hours of community service. She denied the prosecution’s request for a “deterrent” fine of $300.  However, the judge did alert the defendants to expect a harsher sentence next time due to the “Ban & Bar” letter that was served them by the military at the time of their arrest.

Of note:  A sentencing trial concluded last Friday in NY, for 12 activists who were arrested for an anti-drone protest at Hancock AFB in October of 2012 and recently convicted of disorderly conduct (hooliganism), though acquitted of trespassing. All 12 activists were given the maximum sentence of 15 days in jail and total fines of $375.  They were immediately placed under arrest to serve at least 2/3 of their time.

In Sacramento, though Judge Claire convicted the Beale AFB protesters of trespassing, she did allow the defendants to give post-sentencing statements. To avoid redundancy, each defendant spoke to different aspects of what motivates them to protest at Beale AFB. Bill spoke about his opposition to drone warfare and his hopes for a peaceful world for his grandchildren.  Robin told personal stories of wedding parties attacked, and PTSD suffered by our military.  Toby spoke of her personal experience, trying to right these wrongs, many futile visits to congressional offices, and never getting through to our “representatives”. Conventional approaches are ineffective, making it necessary to use “unconventional” tactics. Martha addressed the failings of the justice system.  For this case to be about trespassing is a farce.  Delivering a letter to the base commander at Beale AFB that day was exactly where these activists should have been as concerned citizens.


Sentencing Statements:

‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant Martha Hubert’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14


We pay taxes. This is OUR base and OUR military. It was NOT our intention to trespass.
We entered the base to deliver a letter to the base commander. We firmly believe that drone warfare is not in the best interest of our country nor the countries inflicted with this scourge. The military endangers itself by the use of drone warfare, making militants where there were none, making enemies where we should be making friends. What good is it for drones to kill unarmed civilians, so many of whom are children? The so-called “War on Terror” is Terror. We have no right to invade and terrorize other countries in the name of spreading democracy. Their natural resources do not belong to us. Arms manufacturers and other multi-national corporations do not deserve the exorbitant profits awarded to them by proliferating conflicts. We entered the base out of Compassion. We need to invest in life sustaining practices. Our planet is under assault. Healthcare is a mess. Education is underfunded. The disparity between the rich and the poor is accelerating at a rapid pace. Alternative energy is not given anywhere near the funding of the war machine. Our representatives aren’t representing us. We come directly to the military because our previous protests have fallen on deaf ears. We were NOT trespassing. Delivering a letter to the base was exactly where we belonged as concerned citizens.

Our government should not ignore the Nuremburg Principles. The United States Government does not have the right to be judge, jury and executioner. Due to the NSA and other draconian governmental organizations, it is very difficult to get adequate information in order to be informed citizens. National Security has been used as an excuse to keep the public in the dark. Fortunately, brave truth tellers have come forward to let us know what’s really happening. Having studied these issues, we feel that it is our responsibility to share pertinent information with the public. We cannot have a democracy without informed citizens.

It is important to come to the aid of innocent drone victims and not be silent when we know about the shameful activities of our government done in our name. Justice calls for a fair trial. A fair trial includes a judge and a jury in a court of law. This has been denied to drone victims, be they innocent of any wrong doing or not. Our government is NOT above the law. Money and politics are so entwined that Justice suffers as a result. We entered the base over a matter of life and death; not only the life and death of innocent victims and victims of our economic draft. We’re concerned with the life of what we call democracy in this country. We were NOT trespassing.

‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant William (Bill) Doub’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14

Honorable Judge Claire, members of the Prosecution, members of the Defense, and those who have chosen to witness this trial today, I am not guilty of this offense.

I was arrested at Beale air force base blocking the access road to try to call attention to and stop the armed drones and ‘intelligence’ aircraft the U.S. sends to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere to murder our alleged enemies and many innocent bystanders. We should ask if these people are really a threat to us and will murdering or attacking them really decrease the threat to us.

Please join me in supporting the individuals who oppose drones and in trying to find other work for those who depend on drone related work to make a living. Our drone war is certain to make our enemies stronger and make it more difficult for us to communicate with them.

Instead, I want a world for my 3 grandchildren, their generation and generations to follow that is a peaceful, just world without war and terror.

On April 30, 2013 we were delivering an Open Letter to Beale Air Force Base Personnel that summarizes our demands. I will now close by reading that letter. Thank you for your time and compassion.


We, the people, charge the US President, Barack Obama and the full military chain of command, to Beale Air Force Base Colonel Phil Stewart, 9th Reconnaissance Wing Commander, every drone crew and service member at Beale Air Force Base, and every other U.S. base involved directly or indirectly with the U.S. drone program, with crimes against humanity, with violations of part of the Supreme Law of the Land, extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and killing of innocent civilians.

U.S. military and CIA Drone attacks have killed thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, in the Middle East, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In the name of combating terrorism against the US, we are terrorizing innocent people and creating many more enemies and potential terrorists in the process.

Our government has become a lawless power, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, just because it can. The US uses remote-controlled drones to kill women in their kitchens, elders meeting in their jirgas, mourners at funerals, and rescuers who try to help the wounded. By most independent studies, the vast majority of those killed are civilians.

We therefore demand:
(1) An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing

(2) A halt to all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia

(3) A prohibition on the sale and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries, in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom, and security, and

(4) An immediate end to this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.

‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant Toby Blome’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14

Your honorable Judge Claire, respectful attorneys and my fellow citizens present in the courtroom today,

My Co-defendants, Robin and Bill, have expressed very eloquently the many reasons why we four defendants strongly oppose drone warfare. In my testimony I will explain some of the reasons why, on April 30, 2013, we chose an unconventional approach at Beale AFB to try to stop illegal U.S. drone killings.

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution clearly states our right, as U.S. citizens, to petition our government for a redress of grievances. However, our modern society has devolved to the point that conventional methods of petitioning government officials are most often futile, especially when involving issues of foreign policy. The following examples will support this fact.

In early 2003, millions and millions of people around the world rallied and marched in the streets to try to stop the pending illegal and unjustified invasion of Iraq; A war based purely on lies, with a cost of over $3 trillion to US taxpayers. An unprecedented unified world voice said emphatically: NO WAR! Our government and the Pentagon were deaf to the world’s cries for peace & reason and 13 years later Iraq remains in ruins with no stable future in sight.

In 2006, I joined the “Troops Home Fast” campaign, where citizens from all over the country participated in a hunger fast to protest the Iraq War. Dozens of us traveled to DC to fast publicly in front of the White House. While on a water only fast for 3 weeks, I and Father Louis Vitale, a Franciscan monk, visited nearly every Senator’s office in DC, hand delivering an educational letter about our campaign, talking with staff, and inviting each Senator to talk with us. Not a single senator or staff person responded to our effort.

In 2007, in San Francisco, I joined a coalition of 60-75 people representing 15-20 peace organizations in the Bay Area, gathering every Wednesday for 5 consecutive weeks in the S.F. office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. We requested from her staff a formal meeting with Ms. Pelosi to discuss our

objections to her funding of the Iraq War. Not only did she refuse to meet with us, she continued to support war funding throughout the war, against the will of the vast majority of her S. F. constituents.

All of these examples provide concrete evidence that traditional ways to appeal to our elected officials through letters, phone calls, mass marches in the streets, are useless or severely ineffective at best. All four of us could share innumerable personal stories of how our voices are ignored by our government. It appears that “We The People” don’t count.

As the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo unfolded, we all witnessed absolutely no accountability and no justice for the tortured. Shockingly, the orchestrators of these war crimes are serving as judges in our courts, professors in our universities, and profiting from public presentations and book sales of their memoirs.

Reflecting on Guantanamo, a total of 779 men have been detained there. The vast majority were not captured in the heat of battle, but were exchanged for bounty payments, with no evidence of wrongdoing. After months and years of abuse and torture, over 600 have been released without charges, 9 have died. Where is justice?

Fast forward to the Obama Administration and drone killing. If our government and the military industrial complex can so easily capture and hold hundreds of innocent human beings for years under horrendous conditions, what errors are being made in our name with targeted U.S. assassination? No country in the world should ever wield such unimaginable power. It is illegal! Many of the so called “militants” that we have eliminated with drone missiles were, as in Guantanamo, also identified by informants who received bounty payments. Is wrongful execution by hellfire missile preferable to wrongful indefinite detention? With a government that is practicing such unrestrained abuses without any oversight by other branches of the government, is that a government that would listen to the voices of justice in conventional ways that have previously failed?

The 5th Amendment to our beloved Constitution is quite clear and simple: “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.”

We have a choice: The 5th Amendment vs. Terror Tuesdays and Obama’s “Kill List.”

Four U.S. citizens have now been executed by drone missiles, in violation of our constitution. One, Abdulrahman Al-Alawki, was a 16 year old boy born in Denver Colorado. 5 other boys were killed by the same drone attack that killed Abdulrahman that day in Yemen. President Obama refuses to release any legal memos or make meaningful public discourse to explain the justification for these killings.

Last February I participated in a protest at the Senate confirmation hearing of John Brennan to head the CIA. For years John Brennan has been the architect of the secret CIA drone program. The morning of the hearing I learned that the CIA and the Obama Administration do not even notify the Intelligence Committee of our Senate which countries they are using drones for targeted killing. Where are the checks and balances if Congress doesn’t even know where the killing is taking place? What happened to the rule of law?

At Brennan’s confirmation hearing, our very own Senator Feinstein, chair of the Intelligence Committee, told the American public about in her opening statement that there have been only single digit civilian deaths per year from drone attacks. All independent research indicates many more than that, and nearly 200 children in Pakistan alone have been killed. When 4 of us visited Senator Feinstein’s office the next morning to deliver a list of the names of nearly 200 children that have been killed by drones, her own aide confessed that they already know there have been more than single digit civilian deaths per year. He refused to clarify. However, while caught off his guard, he unconsciously admitted to the willful dishonesty by his boss, a California Senator. President Obama and John Brennan have also repeatedly lied to the public about the drone program. Is a government without integrity expected to be concerned about the wishes of its people?

And our other California Senator, Barbara Boxer? Over the last 2 years we have made repeated visits to her offices in DC, Oakland and Sacramento to express our deepest concerns about drone warfare. Her staff are either totally unavailable, or, if they do meet with us, they have not taken any follow up actions to address our concerns. A recent phone call to her DC office confirmed that Senator Boxer still refuses to take any public stance on this

very illegal and controversial subject. Another government official unwilling to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Where should a citizen turn? What choices are left? What effective means do we have to change the disastrous and unprecedented course we are taking with drone warfare? The unlimited powers that are being unleashed are unfathomable. From the examples that I have given, do you think that we can have any hope that petitions, or letters or phone calls will make an ounce of difference? Especially when so much of the truth is being hidden from the vast majority of Americans? How do we change course, and how do we hold our elected officials accountable when so much of the public is in the dark.

(This italicized section was only paraphrased in the court due to restraints from the judge)

A country who fails to remember it’s past is doomed to repeat it. This book, “Kill Anything that Moves,” is the result of 10 years of thorough research by Nick Turse, gleaned from military documents and interviews with Vietnam War veterans and civilian survivors in Vietnam. It is a very painful book to read, and every page is filled with the disheartening details of how it was the Pentagon’s strategy to systematically slaughter the South Vietnamese people through aerial bombardment, the burning of thousands of small villages, starvation via destruction of their rice crops, and more. The atrocities are endless. I ask Your Honor: Where were the checks and balances in our government 50 years ago? How did such systematic atrocities continue to be committed throughout the 10 year course of that war, without effective objections by our Congress? What has changed since then? As Robin pointed out, our soldiers are serious victims of these horrendous foreign policies forced upon them. One day in the future there will be a courageous graduate student who will put 10 years of research into documenting the atrocities of the Afghanistan, Iraq and U.S. secret drone wars. What country is next?

In October last year, I was fortunate to be part of the CodePink Peace Delegation to Pakistan. We met with drone victims and heard their many tragic personal stories. A journalist, Karim Khan, told of coming home one night to find his compound destroyed, and his 18 year old son and his youngest brother kiIled by a drone strike. Also killed was a visiting stone mason, who was building the new village mosque. None of them were militants. When will this madness end? I now have a deeper responsibility to act in their defense, for my government shows absolutely no regard for the value of their lives. We learned that the U.S. embassy in Islamabad does not even accept formal or

informal complaints by citizens who have lost loved ones to U.S. drone strikes. Our foreign embassies have sadly become nothing more than huge expensive fortresses to house CIA and Special Forces to protect them in their dirty war games.

With these examples, Your Honor, I hope I have successfully explained why conventional ways cannot and will not work in influencing our government to change its disastrous course. We defendants and other activists who come to Beale AFB every month, envision a different America. A world where we embrace the children and people of Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia as our brothers and sisters that we share a common humanity with. Every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and no life is worth sacrificing to protect corporate profits at home or abroad.

We were not trespassing at Beale AFB. We were acting in one of the few ways that we have left to make a difference. We came with the intent to hold our military and political leaders accountable to crimes against humanity when our representatives in Congress have failed to do so. And equally important, we came to educate the military personnel at Beale AFB about the wrongfulness of U.S. policies, to remind them of their responsibility to protect the innocent and to encourage them to come over to the side of peace.

‘Wheatland 4’ Co-Defendant Robin Ryan’s Sentencing Statement 2.3.14

Honorable Judge Claire, members of the Prosecution, members of the Defense, and those who have chosen to witness this trial today,

I engaged in protest and civil disobedience on the road to Beale, out of a rational, persistent and heartfelt need to raise awareness of the illegal and immoral nature of U.S. drone warfare, to educate others about the ill effects of our covert war policies, to make public the names and images of innocent children we can name who have died by U.S. drone strikes, and to call attention to the fact that the UAV surveillance tactics engaged in by the military personnel at Beale do play a critical part in the eventual deaths, dismemberment and terrorizing of fellow human beings. We aren’t legally at war with these countries. Why are we there?

Drone strikes hurt the American people.

American military personnel are forced to carry out the orders of their Commander-in-Chief and their superior officers, placing them in moral dilemmas and compromising their ethics. Refusing orders can result in a dishonorable discharge — while whistleblowing about the indiscriminate killing from drone strikes may very well result in a prison sentence, as it has in the case of Private Chelsea Manning.

PTSD and suicide is endemic among current military personnel and veterans alike, including those who make the UAV programs run. The military does its best to downplay this problem and the conditions that create it. Drone pilots are among those who suicide.

Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, two American citizens assassinated by drones while living abroad, are testament to the harmful and illegal nature of our drone policy.

Our U.S. drone program is counterproductive. It fosters hate and escalates terrorism around the world.

Drone strikes hurt people abroad. They can and they do kill indiscriminately.

All men of military age can be defined as militants, and may be under suspicion.

Individuals, families, communities and entire villages in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia are under constant surveillance by drones such as the Global Hawk, flown out of Beale AFB. In addition to killing innocent civilians, U.S. hellfire missiles, dropped in secondary strikes, have killed those who have come out to provide emergency medical assistance to injured and dead parties.

Last October, a 13 yr. old Pakistani boy named Zabair testified before Congress that he and his younger sister were injured in a drone strike the previous October in Waziristan, and that his 67-year-old grandmother, who was a village midwife and not a militant, was killed by a CIA drone while picking okra. This family’s testimony marked the first time that Congress had ever heard from civilian victims of an alleged U.S. drone strike.

A recent drone strike in Yemen claimed the lives of 13 civilians who were attending a wedding ceremony. The ceremony was mistaken for an Al Queda gathering, proving that the image quality of drone surveillance equipment is very low and not fit for combat.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has stated that since 2004, Pakistan alone has been hit by 381 drone strikes, and between 416-951 civilians have been killed. Other independent reports name nearly 200 children killed in Pakistan and Yemen – lovely, worthy children.

When I call our American legal system to mind, I would rather think of the ways in which it sets precedents for truth, justice, and civil rights protections than be reminded of the non- transparent ways it fails to prosecute those who commit real and ongoing war crimes.

When I call my President to mind, I would rather not have to call him out for his ongoing role in ordering these drone strikes. I recall his remarks about Trayvon Martin last July, when he stated, “if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed, potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see? “

When I call myself to mind, I would rather be truthful and outspoken against wrongdoings and unlawful actions that abuse or destroy life, than I would submit to a silent complicity of these wrongdoings.

As a conscious individual acting in good conscience, my intention was not to trespass, but to deliver a message to the public, the Beale base commander and its personnel. Judge Claire, I am not guilty. We, the defendants, are not guilty.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters Jailed

"Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters' Verdict Is In: All found guilty of disorderly conduct but acquitted of trespassing; Order of Protection extended 2 years; Judge decides to send a message"
2014-02-09 from the Syracuse Peace Council:
Contacts: -
Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, Ithaca NY, (607) 279-8303
Elliott Adams, Past President of Veterans for Peace, Sharon Springs NY, (518) 441-2697
Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse NY, (315) 472-5478, (315) 383-5738

On Friday, February 7, Town of DeWitt Court Judge David Gideon found twelve of the Hancock Drone War Crimes Resisters guilty of disorderly conduct, but acquitted them of trespassing.They had gone to Hancock Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, NY, on Oct. 25, 2012, to bring a Citizens War Crimes Indictment to the base and symbolically block the gates. Their nonviolent action had called for an end to drone warfare.
Saying, "At some point this has to stop," the judge gave the defendants the maximum sentence - 15 days in jail (starting immediately) and a $250 fine with a $125 court surcharge. He also imposed a two-year Order of Protection, prohibiting the defendants from going to the home, school, business or place of employment of Col. Earl A. Evans, Commander of Hancock's mission support group. Considering that the defendants had never met or knew of him before their arrest, it is clear the intent is to keep people away from the base. Defendant Rae Kramer stated, "No person on the base was intimidated by us, that is clear. But the end result is to deprive me of my 1st Amendment Rights."
In their sentencing statements, the defendants spoke from their hearts and minds. Some reaffirmed their legal duties as citizens to stop war crimes. Clare Grady said, "We went there to stop the war crimes. That was our intent." James Ricks hoped the judge would "sentence us to community service to investigate the war crimes they are committing at the base." Judy Bello said, "The people suffering are so significant. It requires a persistent response," and argued that the international law argument is indeed valid. Mark Scibilia-Carver quoted the Pope saying "violence is a lie," and "Faith and violence are incompatible." Mark Colville challenged the Court, stating, "This court has been found guilty of stopping it's ears to the laws that are in place to protect life. This court has been found guilty of stopping it's ears to the voices of the victims of the drones."
The defendants were prepared for whatever sentence the judge imposed. In the words of Ed Kinane, "Any penalty this court can impose on me is trivial compared to the death sentences imposed on the drone victims."
Of the five defendants not sentenced, one, Elliott Adams, is to be sentenced later. Two others had their cases dismissed on technical grounds, and the remaining two had plead guilty earlier.
The defendants are part of the Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, which seeks to educate the public and Hancock Air Base personnel about the war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan with the MQ-9 Reaper Drone piloted from Hancock Air National Guard Base. See
Video of the sentencing and sentencing statements will be available soon at [].
Defendants who were sentenced:
* Judy Bello, Rochester, NY
* Daniel Burgevin, Trumansburg, NY
* Mark Colville, New Haven, CT
* Clare Grady, Ithaca, NY
* Mary Anne Grady Flores, Ithaca, NY
* Martha Hennessy, New York, NY
* Brian Hynes, Bronx, NY
* Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY
* Rae Kramer, Syracuse, NY
* James Ricks, Ithaca, NY
* Mark Scibilia-Carver, Trumansburg, NY
* Patricia Weiland, Northampton, MA

Thursday, February 6, 2014

USA National Nuclear Security Administration illegally but successfully tests new nuclear bomb design

No Nukes! [link]

"US successfully tests B-61 atomic bomb" 
2014-02-06 from "Press TV" []:

The US has successfully tested an updated version of a B-61 atomic bomb in defiance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which calls for nuclear disarmament.
The National Nuclear Security Administration said in a statement that the test was conducted on Tuesday by the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, National Journal reported.
The analysis "is a significant achievement and gives us confidence in our ability to move forward with our efforts to increase the safety and security of the bomb," Don Cook, NNSA deputy administrator for defense programs, said.
The test was meant to verify how a new model of the B-61 bomb would work under routine conditions or accident scenarios, according to the NNSA.
The analysis also included the targeting accuracy of the revamped model of the nuclear gravity bomb also called Mod-12.
Engineering work for Mod-12, which has been underway for two years, is aimed at keeping B-61 bombs ready for potential use and bolstering their security.
The initial test "provides data for analytical model correlation and validation, insight into component environments and evaluation of developmental hardware," the NNSA said. "The mechanical environment test series will assist in qualifying the final B-61‐12 design against the full suite of environments."