You are browsing the archive for drone.

50 Organizations Seek Ban on Armed Drones

10:25 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Fifty organizations and over 75,000 individuals are asking . . .

  • the United Nations Secretary General to investigate the concerns of Navi Pillay, the U.N.’s top human rights official, that drone attacks violate international law — and to ultimately pursue sanctions against nations using, possessing, or manufacturing weaponized drones;
  • the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate grounds for the criminal prosecution of those responsible for drone attacks;
  • the U.S. Secretary of State, and the ambassadors to the United States from the nations of the world, to support a treaty forbidding the possession or use of weaponized drones;
  • President Barack Obama, to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his “kill list” program regardless of the technology employed;
  • the Majority and Minority Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, to ban the use or sale of weaponized drones.
  • the governments of each of our nations around the world, to ban the use or sale of weaponized drones.

At http://BanWeaponizedDrones.org over 75,000 people have signed a petition, many adding their own statements.

At the United Nations this month, Brazil, China, Venezuela and other nations denounced U.S. drone wars as illegal.[1]

In the countries where the drones strike, popular and elite opinion condemns the entire program as criminal. This is the view of Pakistan’s courts, Yemen’s National Dialogue, Yemen’s Human Rights Ministry and large numbers of well-known figures in Yemen. Popular movements in both Pakistan and Yemen continue to protest against the killing.

The Geneva-based human rights group Alkarama agrees: “Whether they hit civilians and/or alleged al-Qaeda combatants and associates, the U.S. targeted killings policy in Yemen constitutes a blatant violation of international human rights law.”[2]

Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights agrees: “Any of these attacks are completely illegal. It’s not about who they’re targeting, or whether it’s a civilian or whether it’s a so-called combatant. … These drone attacks are absolutely 100% illegal.”[3]

Sarah Ludford, Member of the European Parliament, agrees: “U.S. drone killings operate in disregard of the long-established international legal framework about when it is lawful to kill people.”[4]

Joy First of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, recently told the judge who was trying her for the crime of protesting drone kills at CIA headquarters: “According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values. It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters to speak out.”

Joy quoted Robert Jackson, the U.S. chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who said: “The very essence of the Nuremberg Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.” And she added: “Your honor, the bottom line is that thousands of innocent people are dying and it is up to all of us to do everything we can to stop the pain and suffering and death being inflicted on these people by our government.”[5]

These organizations back the campaign to ban weaponized drones:

Alaskans For Peace and Justice
Antiwar.com
Arlington Green Party
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

BFUU
Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Brave New Foundation
Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases
Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
Code Pink
Drone Free Zone
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Granny Peace Brigade-NY
Hoosiers for Peace and Justice
Indiana Anti-Drone Project
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
Jeannette Rankin Peace Center
KnowDrones.com
LA Laborfest
Montrose Peace Vigil
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Nevada Desert Experience
The Northampton Committee to Stop War
On Earth Peace
Peace of Mind Project
People United for Peace of Santa Cruz County (PUP)
RootsAction.org
Santa Cruz Against Drones (SCAD)
Simple Gifts Inc.
Sitkans for Peace and Justice
United for Peace and Justice
Veracity Now
Veterans For Peace
Veterans For Peace Chapter 10
Veterans For Peace Chapter 27
Veterans For Peace Chapter 91
Veterans For Peace Chapter 154
Veterans For Peace, Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter, Baltimore, MD
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
WarIsACrime.org
War Resisters League
Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice
West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)
Women Standing
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section
World Can’t Wait
Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear DisarmamentRootsAction.org is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection — and defunding endless wars.  RootsAction is endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, and many others.

http://rootsaction.org

Footnotes:

1. Guardian: Brazil, China and Venezuela Sharply Critical of ‘Illegal’ Program
2. Alkarama: Why the American Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law
3. TheRealNews.com: Michael Ratner on Illegality of Drones
4. Truthout: How Europeans Are Opposing Drone and Robot Warfare
5. Joy First: Who Is the Real Threat to Communities?

Drones from the Other Side

8:53 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Imagine you awake to the sound of a machine noisily buzzing over your house, and another machine nearby in the sky, and another. These machines and others like them have been around for months. They never leave. While you live in the United States, the machines belong to the government of Pakistan. The machines are unmanned drones armed with missiles. Every once in a while they blow up a house or a car or a couple of kids playing soccer or a grandmother walking to the store, sometimes a McDonald’s or a shopping center.

Imagine that you’ve learned to live with this. The popularity of homeschooling has skyrocketed, as nobody wants to send their kids outside. Telecommuting is now the norm for those able to maintain employment.  But there’s no getting used to the change. Your kids wake up screaming and refuse to sleep. Your rage makes you physically ill. Antidepressants are on everybody’s shopping lists, but shopping is a life-and-death proposition.  Canada is facing an immigration crisis.  So is Mexico.

Now, Pakistan claims to be targeting evil criminals with surgical precision. And some in the U.S. government go along with this. But others object. The U.S. Supreme Court declares the drone deaths to be murder or war — murder being illegal under U.S. law, and war being illegal under the U.N. Charter via Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Congress insists that criminals must be indicted and prosecuted, that negotiations with hostile groups cannot succeed while drones tear the negotiators limb from limb, and that Pakistan has no right to put its robots in our skies no matter what its good intentions.  Statements agreeing with this opposition to the drones are signed by everybody who’s anybody. Popular demonstrations against the drones, and — bravely — in the face of the drones, dwarf anything seen before. In fact, the world joins in, and people protest Pakistan’s murder spree all over the globe. Human rights groups in various countries denounce it as criminal. The Pakistani prime minister reportedly checks off men, women, and children to kill on a list at regular Tuesday meetings. He’s burned in effigy across the United States.

But Pakistani human rights groups take a different tack.  In their view, some of the drone murders in the United States are illegal and some are not.  It depends on the knowledge and intentions of the Pakistani officials — did they know those kids were just playing soccer or did they believe their soccer ball was an imminent threat to the nation of Pakistan? Was blowing up those kids necessary, discrete, and proportionate?  Were they militants or civilians? Was blowing them up part of an armed conflict or an act of law enforcement, and what type of armed conflict or what law was being enforced? Pakistan, these groups argue, must not blow people up without identifying them, without verifying that they cannot be captured, and without taking care not to kill too many civilians in the process. Further, Pakistan must reveal the details of its legal reasoning and decision making, so that the process has transparency. Indeed, Pakistan must begin running its proposed drone killings by a judge who must sign off on them — a Pakistani judge, but a judge nonetheless.

The Pakistani human rights groups are not made up of evil people. They very much mean well. They want to reduce the number of Americans killed by drones. And they are not permitted to declare all drone killing illegal, because these killings might be part of a war, and these groups have adopted as a matter of strict principle the position that wars must never be opposed, only tactics within wars. They believe this makes them “objective” and “credible,” and it certainly does do that with certain people. These Pakistani human rights groups are not pulling the trigger, they’re trying to stop it being pulled as often. Lumping them together with the Pakistani military would be Bushian (with us or against us) thinking. But it’s harder to see that from under the drones here in the United States with the kids wailing and Uncle Joe’s brains still staining the side of the Pizza Hut, than it would be perhaps in Pakistan or at the United Nations Headquarters in Islamabad.

From here in the United States, the cries are for justice. Many want the prime minister of Pakistan prosecuted for murder. Many are beginning to view the absence of such legal justice as grounds for violence. I’m growing worried over what my neighbors and even myself might unleash on the rest of the world.  I’m beginning to fall in love with the feeling of hatred.

##

Read more about drones.

Watch the Wounds of Waziristan video.

Do a die-in like this one.

Read the rest of this entry →

A New Model Drone Resolution

8:18 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

In the absence of state or federal laws, localities around the United States are proceeding to put unmanned aerial vehicles in our skies as they see fit.  The federal government has authorized the flight of 30,000 drones, and the use of drones up to 400 feet by police departments, at least 300 of which already have surveillance drones in operation.

A drone aircraft.

Could city and state laws be the answer to keeping drones out of our lives?

Concerns include the following: drones can crash into airplanes, buildings, and each other; drones can fall out of the sky; drones can produce noise pollution; drones can produce visual pollution if put to the same use that everything from brick walls to urinals has been put to, viz. advertising; drones can be used to spy on us whether by private or public entities; police surveillance with drones will violate our Fourth Amendment rights as all existing technologies are currently used to do; police forces that view the public as their enemy will deploy drones armed with rubber bullets, tear gas, or other weapons; and ultimately a program run by the U.S. military and the CIA that has targeted and murdered three U.S. citizens that we know of, along with thousands of other men, women, and children, may eventually find it acceptable to include U.S. soil in its otherwise unlimited field of operations.

Contrary concerns over banning or restricting drones include these: drones could conceivably be put to positive or non-offensive use by departments fighting forest fires, first responders in rural areas, farmers, artistic photographers, real estate agents, tourism offices, and hobbyists; states and localities are limited in their control of air space by federal law.

Few if any localities have thus far made their desires known or created ordinances to regulate the use of drones, but state legislatures, including the General Assembly here in Virginia, are taking up bills.  With the City of Charlottesville, where I live, planning to address the issue on February 19th, I’ve taken a look at (and plagiarized liberally from) numerous draft resolutions, including those from several cities that are now considering taking action: Berkeley, Buffalo, Madison, Ft. Wayne, et alia, as well as a draft resolution from anti-drone activist Nick Mottern, and one from the Rutherford Institute.  The result is the following draft resolution that I offer for consideration, comment, and modification:

A RESOLUTION

Read the rest of this entry →