Drones

Submitted by tnjp on May 26, 2013 - 3:52pm.

Why I Spoke Out at Obama's Foreign Policy Speech
On topics from Guantánamo to drone strikes, I couldn’t let the president act as if he were some helpless official at the mercy of Congress.
Medea Benjamin
May 24, 2013

Having worked for years on the issues of drones and Guantánamo, I was delighted to get a pass (the source will remain anonymous) to attend President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University. I had read many press reports anticipating what the president might say. There was much talk about major policy shifts that would include transparency with the public, new guidelines for the use of drones, taking lethal drones out of the purview of the CIA, and in the case of Guantánamo, invoking the “waiver system” to begin the transfer of prisoners already cleared for release.

Sitting at the back of the auditorium, I hung on every word the president said. I kept waiting to hear an announcement about changes that would represent a significant shift in policy. Unfortunately, I heard nice words, not the resetting of failed policies.

Instead of announcing the transfer of drone strikes from the CIA to the exclusive domain of the military, Obama never even mentioned the CIA—much less acknowledge the killing spree that the CIA has been carrying out in Pakistan during his administration. While there were predictions that he would declare an end to signature strikes, strikes based merely on suspicious behavior that have been responsible for so many civilian casualties, no such announcement was made.

The bulk of the president’s speech was devoted to justifying drone strikes. I was shocked when the president claimed that his administration did everything it could to capture suspects instead of killing them. That is just not true.

Submitted by tnjp on May 25, 2013 - 2:39pm.

You Gotta Love Medea Benjamin

If you're an advocate for Peace and Justice you just gotta love Medea Benjamin. She consistently speaks out when the rest of us only wish we could. As co-founder of CodePink she's been at it for over a decade, repeatedly speaking truth to power at the risk of losing personal freedom and physical harm. She may be diminutive in size but posses a gargantuan spirit.

Her latest exploit? Speaking out against President Obama's policies during his counter-terrorism policy speech at the National Defense University. As Obama said himself - "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to..."

Witness it yourself in the below videos, reports, and interviews...

President Obama Heckled By Code Pink Leader Madea Benjamin. Guantanamo Gitmo Speech

Medea Benjamin v. President Obama: CodePink Founder Disrupts Speech, Criticizing Drone, Gitmo Policy

Submitted by tnjp on May 23, 2013 - 4:21pm.

Scahill spoke at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy NY on May 22, 2013 on the eve of President Obama's address on drone policy, just after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote a letter to members of Congress acknowledging the deaths of four Americans, including Anwar al-Awlaki, in counterterrorism strikes "outside of areas of active hostilities." Though these strikes had long been the subject of press reports about the administration's use of drones, the letter marks the first time the classified operations have been publicly acknowledged.

Submitted by tnjp on April 25, 2013 - 6:02pm.

Apr24, 2013
Drone Strike Testimony: Not News?
By Peter Hart

Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee held an unusual–and at times quite critical–public hearing about the U.S. drone program. The most noteworthy testimony came from Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni writer and activist who spoke movingly about a drone attack on his village last week.

Al-Muslimi had spent a year in the United States, and had returned to his country to share his positive experiences in the U.S.–that is, until the United States attacked his village:

In the past, what Wessab's villagers knew of the U.S. was based on my stories about my wonderful experiences here. The friendships and values I experienced and described to the villagers helped them understand the America that I know and that I love. Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time. What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America in Wessab....

Submitted by tnjp on April 12, 2013 - 3:41pm.


April 11, 2013 by Common Dreams
Two Obamas, Two Classes of Children
by Ralph Nader
An Associated Press photograph brought the horror of little children lying dead outside of their home to an American Audience. At least 10 Afghan children and some of their mothers were struck down by an airstrike on their extended family household by order of President Barack Obama. He probably decided on what his aides describe as the routine weekly “Terror Tuesday” at the White House. On that day, Mr. Obama typically receives the advice about which “militants” should live or die thousands of miles away from drones or aircraft. Even if households far from war zones are often destroyed in clear violation of the laws of war, the president is not deterred.

These Obama airstrikes are launched knowing that very often there is “collateral damage,” that is a form of “so sorry terrorism.” How can the president explain the vaporization of a dozen pre-teen Afghan boys collecting firewood for their families on a hillside? The local spotter-informants must have been disoriented by all those $100 bills in rewards. Imagine a direct strike killing and injuring scores of people in a funeral procession following a previous fatal strike that was the occasion of this processional mourning. Remember the December 2009 Obama strike on an alleged al-Qaida training camp in Yemen, using tomahawk missiles and – get this – cluster bombs, that killed 14 women and 21 children. Again and again “so sorry terrorism” ravages family households far from the battlefields...

Submitted by tnjp on March 20, 2013 - 11:25pm.

10 Years Later and I’m Still Protesting War
Posted on Mar 19, 2013
By Col. Ann Wright

Ten years ago, I resigned my post in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. I had worked in the U.S. government for most of my life, first in the Army and Army Reserves, retiring as a colonel, and then as a diplomat. I served in U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone and Micronesia. I helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001.

Yet after serving in eight presidential administrations, beginning under Lyndon Johnson during the war on Vietnam, I ended my career in the U.S. government in opposition to another conflict—the war on Iraq.

A decade after I stepped down as the deputy ambassador in the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia, the war in Iraq is over for Americans, but continues for Iraqis. The whirlwind of sectarian violence brought on by the U.S. invasion and occupation continues to blow there.

The war on Afghanistan is now in its 13th year and as the anniversary of my resignation day approaches, I find myself outside the gates of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, protesting war and, in particular, President Obama’s killer drone programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Although Obama’s kill list, the CIA drone attacks in the undeclared war on Pakistan and the assassination of three American citizens by drone in Yemen receive most of the media and congressional attention, the incredibly large number of drone strikes in Afghanistan has gotten scant coverage—and that is why I am at Creech...

Submitted by tnjp on March 16, 2013 - 10:12pm.

Take Action - Sign the letter to Sec. Hagel

Dear Secretary Hagel,

Congratulations on your confirmation to the office of Secretary of Defense. As you take the reins of this new position, Veterans For Peace would like to express to you some ideas about what we would like to see from this office. Veterans For Peace (VFP) has been around since 1985 and was formed by a Viet Nam veteran with the intention of creating a bridge between the peace movement and veterans. VFP members believe that our collective experience as veterans allows us to speak about the true costs and consequences of war and militarism with a voice of credibility and true standing. We feel a responsibility to speak out against war and militarism, particularly when it is manifested in illegal and immoral wars of choice and aggression. We appreciate very much that President Obama has chosen you--someone who has seen first-hand the horrors of combat--to fill the position of Secretary of Defense. Like the members of VFP, your voice will carry an extraordinary credibility, because you understand war in a way that a civilian cannot. It will not be easy to dismiss your words when you caution against military force, or speak in favor of abiding by the Geneva Conventions. We hope that you will become a force for reshaping the Department of Defense, by consideration of the following:

1. Refuse to put troops into harm’s way as part of an illegal, immoral war of aggression. The 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), signed as a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 has been used, first by the Bush administration, and now by the Obama administration, as a blank check for perpetual war. As the Secretary of Defense, you should refuse to deploy any combat troops until Congress provides a legally binding authorization to do so. As a combat veteran, you truly understand that no one should be asked to kill or be killed for a war of choice, particularly one that has not even been legally authorized. Demand adherence to the War Powers Act.

2. Take responsibility for the deaths, damage and harm done by the U.S. The “Collateral Murder” video leaked to Wikileaks showed the world just one instance of war crimes conducted by U.S. forces. For the United States to have any moral credibility whatsoever, we must take responsibility for our actions.

3. State unequivocally that the U.S. will abide by the Geneva Conventions and will not torture, or participate in the extraordinary rendition of prisoners.

4. Stop the illegal use of combat drones that are responsible the extrajudicial assassinations of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

5. Call for the closure of all U.S. military bases in foreign countries. The U.S. currently has military troops stationed in more than 150 countries around the world. Bringing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and around the world back to the U.S. will send a strong message to the international community that the U.S. is not interested in hegemony, or in being the world’s policeman.

6. Call for the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons, and immediately take nuclear weapons off of naval vessels. There can never be a justified use of a nuclear weapon and if the U.S. is going to demand that other countries refrain from obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities, then it needs to lead the way in disarmament.

7. Stop the use of Depleted Uranium weapons. “DU” weapons violate the Geneva Conventions. Once exploded, DU particulates enter ground water, travel on air currents, and are inhaled by innocent civilians. DU weapons are responsible for a huge spike in deformities, birth defects and other ailments in Iraq where they were widely used.

8. End foreign military sales to countries who violate international laws and basic human rights, and who have child soldiers.

9. Push to become a signatory to the Land Mine treaty. The international community recognizes land mines and cluster bombs as weapons that kill a high number of civilians, often long after the “official” conflict is over.

10. Slash the Pentagon budget. The U.S. spends more on the military and war than the rest of the world combined.

Submitted by tnjp on March 12, 2013 - 5:13pm.


St. Pete for Peace 10 year anniversary video, edited by Tyler Pridemore.

We've participated in hundreds of actions (rallies, marches, demonstrations, protests, cornerings, banner drops, etc.) surrounding these topics:

Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Haiti, Egypt, Quran burning, BP oil spill, bailouts, homeless issues (tent city, Food Not Bombs feedings), gay rights, immigrant rights, police killings, torture photos, weapon manufacturers, Wikileaks, and of course free speech.

We've also shown over 300 free-of-charge socially conscious movies, hosted concerts (David Rovics and Evan Greer), guest speakers (Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan), and hosted a musical radio show on WMNF.

St. Pete for Peace publishes and maintains an array of fact sheets, one of which was published in a college text book. We've also developed and maintained the www.OccupyArrests.com and www.USinAfrica.com websites.

It's because of the efforts of a wide range of people including you, who fight the good fight for others, that we can celebrate 10 years of resistance!!...

Submitted by tnjp on November 27, 2012 - 8:45pm.

Mr. President: How Do You Define Precise?
Sunday, 25 November 2012
By Robert Greenwald, War Costs

"I want to make sure that people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties…. For the most part, they have been very precise, precision strikes against al- Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it's been applied."
President Obama, January 2012

I have interviewed many people over the years of doing documentaries.  Currently in Pakistan filming with victims of drone attacks (ahead of the film, follow my trip at warcosts.comFacebook and Twitter), I have never had a more haunting and harrowing experience than looking into the eyes of person after person, children and adults, and hearing them talk about their homes, villages and families destroyed by drone attacks. The pain is palpable, their fear still radiates. And even a question about the CIA sets off terror alerts in peoples' eyes....

Submitted by tnjp on August 5, 2012 - 12:28pm.

The Obama administration has torpedoed the arms trade treaty

Though nothing in the UN treaty would impact on its domestic gun laws, the US is the world's largest weapons exporter
Amy Goodman
guardian.co.uk, Friday 3 August 2012 04.00 EDT

What is more heavily regulated, global trade of bananas or battleships? In late June, activists gathered in New York's Times Square to make the absurd point that, unbelievably, "there are more rules governing your ability to trade a banana from one country to the next than governing your ability to trade an AK-47 or a military helicopter". So said Amnesty International USA's Suzanne Nossel at the protest, just before the start of the UN conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which ran from 2 July to 27 July. Thanks to a last-minute declaration by the United States that it "needed more time" to review the short, 11-page treaty text, the conference ended last week in failure.

There isn't much that could be considered controversial in the treaty. Signatory governments agree not to export weapons to countries that are under an arms embargo, or to export weapons that would facilitate "the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes" or other violations of international humanitarian law. Exports of arms are banned if they will facilitate "gender-based violence or violence against children" or be used for "transnational organised crime". Why does the US need more time than the more than 90 other countries that had sufficient time to read and approve the text? The answer lies in the power of the gun lobby, the arms industry and the apparent inability of Barack Obama to do the right thing, especially if it contradicts a cold, political calculation.

Submitted by tnjp on July 29, 2012 - 5:39pm.

a speech at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland...
Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, The Great Charter, Its Fate, and Ours | TomDispatch
Destroying the Commons
How the Magna Carta Became a Minor Carta
By Noam Chomsky

Down the road only a few generations, the millennium of Magna Carta, one of the great events in the establishment of civil and human rights, will arrive. Whether it will be celebrated, mourned, or ignored is not at all clear.

That should be a matter of serious immediate concern. What we do right now, or fail to do, will determine what kind of world will greet that event. It is not an attractive prospect if present tendencies persist -- not least, because the Great Charter is being shredded before our eyes.

The first scholarly edition of Magna Carta was published by the eminent jurist William Blackstone. It was not an easy task. There was no good text available. As he wrote, “the body of the charter has been unfortunately gnawn by rats” -- a comment that carries grim symbolism today, as we take up the task the rats left unfinished...

Submitted by tnjp on October 15, 2010 - 8:41pm.

Antiwar Activism Marks 10th Year of War - UFPJ report

Antiwar activists across the US marked the war anniversary with protests last week. Mock drone attacks dramatized the human cost of war in Madison, WI [ www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRuNVp8Vrvs ] and Boston [ www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovCbTqHC2lE ], and in Washington, DC [ www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLqJ3eDX6Xk ] at the Capitol, Union Station, and Dupont Circle (video). There was a die-in in Springfield, Oregon, and check out the great op-ed by Dan Goldrich in the Register Guard. On Long Island, Veterans for Peace and other peace activists demonstrated for an end to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiXIVL7L-9E ] (video). And in San Francisco, Daniel Ellsberg joined a panel on "Anti-War Perspectives from the Left and Right", which brought together antiwar voices from a range of political perspectives...

Submitted by tnjp on October 9, 2010 - 11:51am.

Barack Obama accused of exaggerating terror threat for political gain

• Pakistani diplomat launches scathing attack on White House
• European intelligence claims raised terror alerts 'nonsensical'

Simon Tisdall and Richard Norton-Taylor
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 7 October 2010
A US terror alert issued this week about al-Qaida plots to attack targets in western Europe was politically motivated and not based on credible new information, senior Pakistani diplomats and European intelligence officials have told the Guardian.

The non-specific US warning, which despite its vagueness led Britain, France and other countries to raise their overseas terror alert levels, was an attempt to justify a recent escalation in US drone and helicopter attacks inside Pakistan that have "set the country on fire", said Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the high commissioner to Britain.

Hasan, a veteran diplomat who is close to Pakistan's president, suggested the Obama administration was playing politics with the terror threat before next month's midterm congressional elections, in which the Republicans are expected to make big gains.

He also claimed President Obama was reacting to pressure to demonstrate that his Afghan war strategy and this year's troop surge, which are unpopular with the American public, were necessary...

Syndicate content