Tag Archive | CODEPINK

Drone Facts

I have had a few postings on the topic of drones — a topic that I feel to be very important. CODEPINK has a very good Fact Sheet on the topic that I think is worth reposting:

What is a drone?

A drone, or “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV), is an unmanned aircraft that can be piloted remotely. Drones vary in size and weight and can be used for surveillance and attacks.

Where is the U.S. sending drones?

The U.S. uses drones primarily in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, but has also used drones in military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

What damage can a drone do? Signature strikes & double taps

Depending on the model of the drone, a drone such as a Reaper can carry thousands of pounds of payloads which result in high collateral damage. Predator drones have a less of a collateral impact, but the Hellfire missiles are lethal for the target.

Signature strikes occur when targets are killed based on suspicion. If someone appears to be engaging in “suspicious behavior,” such as associating with a “suspected militant,” carrying a weapon. Any behavior the U.S. deems “suspicious” can justify a signature strike.

A “double tap” occurs when a second drone strike follows the initial strike which results in the murder of those who may have rushed to the scene to understand what has happened, search for survivors, or assist the injured.

Who is the U.S. targeting?

The U.S. targets militants and suspected militants, especially al-Qaeda and its affiliates. However, the U.S.’ targets reflect a major problem of racial profiling, resulting in the murder of many innocent or low-level affiliates who are primarily young Muslim men.

Who approves the kill list?

CIA director John Brennan passes the list to President Obama who must approve every drone strike.

How accurate are drone strikes?

The accuracy rate for hitting the intended target is approximately 1.5-2%. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that 98% of victims of drone strikes are “collateral damage,” or in more human terms, civilians, children, or suspected militants who are either minor, low-level affiliates or whose involvement with militants has never been proven.

How many casualties have there been?

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that nearly 4,000 total casualties have resulted from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. As many as 954 have been civilians, and as many as 225 have been children. The high number of casualties includes anyone who the U.S. deems suspicious, which could mean they were driving suspected militants, attending a funeral of a suspected militant, or carrying a weapon.

Have there been American citizens killed by drone strikes?

Four American citizens have been killed by drone strikes. Anwar al-Awlaki, who was affiliated with al-Qaeda, and Samir Khan, were killed by a strike in 2011. A second strike killed al-Awlaki’s innocent 17-year-old son. In 2002, Ahmed Hijazi was killed. All of these victims were American citizens living in Yemen.

Are drone strikes a violation of international law?

The United Nations has stated that the U.S. use of drone strikes in Pakistan violates international law and is a threat to human rights not only because of the mass casualties drones strikes cause but also because the Pakistani government does not consent with the drone strikes. The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, released a statement expressing that the Government of Pakistan “considers US drone strikes to be counter-productive, contrary to international law, and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Authorization for the Use of Military Force, passed by U.S. Congress in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, legally empowers the president to “use all necessary and appropriate force” to pursue those responsible for acts of terrorism.

Preemptive self-defense violates international law, which states that nations may defend themselves against an immediate attack, but signature strikes and double taps do not attack those who pose an immediate threat. Rather, signature strikes target individuals who fit a profile, and double taps eliminate rescuers and other innocent people who rush to the scene of the first attack.

International human rights law does not allow the use of Hellfire missiles because their heavy fire power exceeds the limits of fire power allowed for law enforcement purposes, according to the American Society of International Law.

Do drones make us safer?

The justification for drone strikes is that they target “terrorists” and protect Americans and the citizens on the ground, when in reality these attacks result in high casualties, tarnish the United States’ reputation, and fuel retaliation. Drone strikes violate national sovereignty, and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly condemned the use of drone strikes in Pakistan. In general drones foster anti-American sentiment abroad and threaten our national security as well as the safety of those living in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.

Who are the Unmanned Systems Caucus?

The Unmanned Systems Caucus supports the rapid development, acquisition, and use of drones. The representatives that comprise the caucus are listed below:

Co-Chairs:

Buck McKeon (CA-25)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

Members:

Rob Bishop (UT-1)
Anne Marie Buerkle (NY-25)
Robert Brady (PA-1)
Mo Brooks (AL-5)
Madeleine Bordallo (Guam)
Larry Bucshon (IN-6)
Ken Calvert (CA-44)
André Carson (IN-7)
Tom Cole (OK-4)
Mike Conaway (TX-11)
Gerald Connolly (VA-11)
Joe Courtney (CT-2)
Kevin Cramer (ND-At-Large)
Ander Crenshaw (FL-4)
Blake Farenthold (TX-27)
Randy J. Forbes (VA-4)
Trent Franks (AZ-2)
Paul Gosar (AZ-1)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1)
Richard Hanna (NY-24)
Andy Harris (NY-24)
Vicky Hartzler (MO-4)
Joe Heck (NV-3)
Duncan Hunter (CA-52)
Darrell Issa (CA-49)
Lynn Jenkins (KS-2)
William Keating (MA-10)
Doug Lamborn (CO-5)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2)
Frank Lucas (OK-03)
Kevin McCarthy (CA-22)
Michael T. McCaul (TX-10)
Candice Miller (MI-10)
Pete Olson (TX-22)
Steven Palazzo (MS-04)
Steve Pearce (NM-02)
Mike Pompeo (KS-4)
Scott Rigell (VA-4)
Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46)
Thomas Rooney (FL-16)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-47)
Mike Simpson (ID-2)
David Schweikert (AZ-6)
Michael R. Turner (OH-3)
Joe Wilson (SC-2)
Robert J. Wittman (VA-1)
Don Young (AK-At-Large)

Does the U.S. use drones domestically?

Domestic drone use is currently limited to surveillance along the nation’s borders and within a few states, such as Texas and Florida. In February of 2013, the U.S. sent surveillance drones into Mexico to gather information about drug trafficking. The restrictions currently in place are due to concerns about air safety and infringement of  privacy. The push for drone use within the United States is strong, and drones manufacturers are considering the option of drones that would fire rubber bullets and spray tear gas to assist law enforcement.

How does drone surveillance violate the Fourth Amendment?

Because surveillance drones have thermal and x ray imaging capabilities, they are extremely pervasive. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, and surveillance drone technology violates those rights.

Is there a pro-drone lobby?

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is the largest pro-drone lobby. Their membership exceeds 7,500, and their vision, as listed on their website, reads, “To improve humanity by enabling the global use of robotic technology in everyday lives.” They function to organize conventions, fund student competitions that encourage an interest in robotics and technology, and release publications that concern drone technology. Their work emphasizes the technological significance of drones but fails to mention the near 4,000 civilian casualties of drone wars.

Who are the top drones manufacturers?

Top profiteers of the U.S.’s billions spent on drones include Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, AeroVironment, Prox Dynamics AS, Denel Dynamics, SAIC, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Textron, General Dynamics, DJI.

Predator and Reaper drones are built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a sister company to General Atomics. The drone factory is located about 25 miles northeast from the main headquarters in Poway, CA. Between 1998-2003 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems had won over $980,000,000 in defense contracts. General Atomics is a leading company in a multitude of high-tech resources giving generously to both Democrats and Republicans. In 2008, the General Atomics PAC spent $173,800 contributing to the Democrats and $211,300 to the Republicans.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune article “Prowling for Profit,”the Predator and Reaper generally cost $4 million to $12 million each. The U.S. Defense Appropriations FY2010 key investments included $489 million for 24 new Reaper drones.The upcoming U.S. Defense Appropriations FY2011 includes: $2.2 billion for procurement of Predator-class aircraft to increase the Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) available to deployed forces from 37 to 65 by 2013; and doubling procurement of the MQ-9 Reaper over the next few years.

What Senate Committees deal with the drones issue?

The Senate Judiciary Committee consists of 18 members who have jurisdiction over issues of federal criminal law in addition to issues of human rights, immigration law, intellectual property rights, antitrust law, and internet privacy. The Senate Judiciary Committee handles issues of drone policy and laws.

What is President Obama’s stance on drone strikes?

President Obama has defended the controversial use of drone strikes. He stated in his address on May 23, 2013, on U.S. drone and counterterror policy that drones are an essential component of national security. However, his administration continually stresses the effectiveness of the program, when, in reality, drones have an accuracy rate of 1.5-2%, have resulted in a few thousand civilian casualties, and serve to radicalize drone strike survivors against the United States.

Israel and drones

As far back as 1982 Israel used drones against Syria. In the early nineties Israelis drones were us in the Kosovo campaign. The Israeli Air Force invades the skies over Lebanon and patrols occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza with drones. Twenty-nice civilians, including eight children were killed in what appeared to be six missiles by drones in Gaza. In Beirut, Lebanon an Israeli drone fired and killed at least 6 civilians and wounding 16. Israel refuses to confirm whether it is using armed drones over Gaza.

Israel ranks second after the United States in the development and possession of drones, according to those in the industry. As the drones get bigger and move advanced the more expensive they become. Small drones cost tens of thousands of dollars. Big drones are hugely expensive. Some costs as much as $60 million. Elbit Systems Ltd and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd are the two manufacturers making the deadly drones — Heron TP/Eitan and Hermes 450. Between 2009-2018 the U.S. is scheduled to give Israel 30 billion dollars in military aid. The Israeli Air Force since at least 2005 have been training many operators and maintainers.

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For more from CODEPINK on drones, see DonesWatch.org and posts tagged “drones” in their blog, PINKtank  I note that CODEPINK and others, including The Nation magazine , have just hosted a successful summit on drones called, DRONES AROUND THE GLOBE: PROLIFERATION AND RESISTANCE, in Washington, DC at George Washington University.

I Declare World Peace, Not Drones.

Peace Day Shout-out

On this International Day of Peace, Peace Day of 2013, I would like to give a special shout-out to the passionate peaceniks:

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CODEPINK, along with others, has worked hard to prevent a U.S. attack on Syria and so far has succeeded. CODEPINK has been working hard to Ground the Drones, i.e. stop U.S. drone attacks, and to Close Guantanmo, the infamous U.S. prison of the war of terror on terror.

CODEPINK began with a vigil in front of the White House on November 17, 2002, trying to prevent the U.S.-led War in Iraq. They didn’t succeed in that endeavor, but they have been a group working against war and for peace ever since.

CODEPINK defines itself as ” a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.”  (See more here.) That last part of themselves is what they call their Bring Our War $$ Home campaign.

Visit their website,  check them out, get involved online and in action — both men and women.

Along with CODEPINK, I Declare World Peace.

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Greetings from America

This cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, Joel Pett of the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, on the U.S. drone strikes says it all for me. Is this what we have come to as a nation? Is this what we want for our foreign policy? Are Americans only of worth?

GTMO-HungerStrike-16

This is the chair used to force feed  U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who were captured in the indefinite Global War of Terror On Terror. At least 100 of the 166  prisoners there are on hunger strike. They are protesting their indefinite detention. (See  more Guantanamo Joint Medical Group Hunger Strike Response Photos here.)

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This is Diane Wilson, CODEPINK hunger striker for the closing of Guantanamo Bay Prison, who chained herself to the White House fence. (See story here and here.) (Diane explains her hunger strike here.)

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This is Julia Ward Howe. She wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but later, following the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, she wrote in 1870 The “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world,” later known as “Mother’s Day Proclamation” on behalf of world peace. (See here.)

Me? I love my country, the U.S. of A., but I am not a proud American. I, not to be naive, suggest the United States government be a practitioner in its foreign policy of what has come to be called the Golden Rule, the ethical maxim of the world’s religions and philosophies. After all, our recent defining event of 9-11 was blowback for the neglect of that rule. The Golden Rule does not say do to others before they do to us and to only treat Americans as we would wish to be treated.

As an American citizen and a mother, I Declare World Peace.

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See also the excellent post by Lisa Savage of CODEPINK  Maine: Sorry We Raised Our Kids to Kill.

The World House

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Some years ago a famous novelist died. Among his papers was found a list of suggested plots for future stories, the most prominently underscored being this one: “A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together.” This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great “world house” in which we have to live together-black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu-a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.

So begins an essay, a chapter from the book ~ Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr. that was posted by the Fellowship of Reconciliation following the events of 9-11.

Summarizing the essay, the FOR wrote:

In “The World House,” Dr. King calls us to: 1) transcend tribe, race, class, nation, and religion to embrace the vision of a World House; 2) eradicate at home and globally the Triple Evils of racism, poverty, and militarism; 3) curb excessive materialism and shift from a “thing”-oriented society to a “people”-oriented society; and 4) resist social injustice and resolve conflicts in the spirit of love embodied in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. He advocates a Marshall Plan to eradicate global poverty, a living wage, and a guaranteed minimum annual income for every American family. He urges the United Nations to experiment with the use of nonviolent direct action in international conflicts. The final paragraph warns of the “fierce urgency of now” and cautions that this may be the last chance to choose between chaos and community.

The FOR wrote that when Dr. King was addressing the conditions that breed Communism, we might today use the words, “terrorism” or “religious fanaticism.”  I would also venture to say that when Dr, King writes of  the racism of the former apartheid of South Africa that we today might think  of the new apartheid of the discrimination and oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel. (See here and here.) I believe that, according to this essay, Dr. King would be a proponent of CODEPINK and its campaigns for freedom and human rights for Palestinians and to Bring Our War $$ Home .

Dr. King’s life and efforts may have come out of and be a part of Black History, but many of his words hold for today and can even point us to the future. Read the full introduction and complete essay here.

Along with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I Declare World Peace.

PINK Peace Anniversary

I hereby give a shoutout to CODEPINK: Women for Peace observing ten years of declaring world peace.The group began with pink-clad women vigiling for peace in front of the White House from November 17, 2002 until International Women’s Day on March 8, 2003 in opposition to the impending U.S.-Iraq War. The anniversary site with its beginning is here and remembrances are posted here.

I and a few others formed a chapter of CODEPINK  here in my hometown of Frankfort, Kentucky to protest the war in Iraq. We held a few events, including ones for the UN International Day of Peace and Mother’s Day for Peace, and held weekly vigil on the sidewalk in front of our local federal building.  You can view our reports at CODEPINK’s site here.

I was the last lone wolf standing vigil for a while and left when I was no longer able due to family obligations.  Our local paper, The State Journal, had a story on me and the vigil for its weekly “Frankfort Faces” feature in August of 2009. You can view that piece with its photos here. I also had letters to the editor published in both The State Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader and I had two previous blogs, the last one being here.

I have been enamored of CODEPINK. The group describes itself on its About Us page as “a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.” That has made a lot of sense to me.

Of late, I have been especially impressed with and following its anti-drone campaign at DronesWatch.org. As a part of that campaign, CODEPINK organized a magnificent delegation to Pakistan last month.

Following President Obama’s re-election. CODEPINK issued a statement saying, “CODEPINK calls on President Obama to respect human rights and civil liberties by redirecting the billions of dollars in the bloated military budget into life-affirming activities instead, such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, green jobs and more.” The group plans to return before the White House on November 14 where it began — this time with pots and pans.

Happy Anniversary, CODEPINK! Thank you for being there. Keep on truckin’ for peace.

I Declare World Peace, too and still.

Miss Willoughby

Portrait of Miss Willoughby by George Romney (1734-1802)

This is the picture I am using as my avatar. Since it was painted by a Romney named George, the same name as Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romeny’s father, I feel I must explain.

My given middle name is Willoughby and my mother sometimes called me “Miss Willoughby,” especially when she wanted to give emphasis, such as when I did or said something I should not have. I discovered the painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. while on a trip as a high school student. I found a postcard of it and sent it to my mother.

In the lead-up to the U.S. War in Iraq, I aligned myself with CODEPINK: Women for Peace in protesting against the war. I still feel fondly aligned with them. I have chosen this painting as my avatar both for its name and for its pinkness, believing that peace, especially world peace, is so important and is pink in color.

I recently realized or remembered the name of the British painter, George Romney. Sunday’s Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader had an article, Obama’s taste in art is on view; Romney’s isn’t by Roger Catlin of The Washington Post, that included discussion of the painting and a picture of it. It seems that the painter is an ancestor of the Presidential candidate.

The girl Miss Willoughby of the painting, was, of course, a member of the upper echelon of British society. This seems fitting for the candidate Mitt Romney, a member of the upper 1% of the United States. I, of course, am not a member of that elite group. I guess, in this way, I may be using Miss Willoughby in a counter-cultural, maybe tongue-in-cheek, manner. I am for the 99%, not only of the United States or Britain, but of the world.

I would like to say that as Anne G. Woodhead, “Miss Willoughby,” I Declare World Peace.