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Why You Should Watch Drones For Free Online

6:52 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

 

There’s a chance to watch Drones, the movie, online on July 30th and then to join a discussion with filmmakers and experts.  There’s a preview video below. The movie’s website is at http://dronesthefilm.com and the free screening is at http://demandprogress.tv/drones

I saw a screening of this film back in November at the drone summit in DC. It’s wonderful. I was a bit put-off and staggered, to be frank, at the time, because someone involved with the film bragged about how inexpensively it had been made, and yet the budget was so unfathomably huge that I knew that if an anti-war organization had that kind of money we could hire organizers all over the world and quite possibly make the abolition of war a major mainstream force.

And, of course, you can’t simply ask if the money was well spent, because no one will say that it was spent to end the practice of drone murder. The director and the cast, of course, say they wanted to make a socially important film about a serious issue, but not what they wanted to accomplish, beyond raising questions and being entertaining. Everyone’s always happy to say that a film opposes racism or cruelty to animals or bullying, but not war.

But, you hundreds of millions of odd-balls who, like me, happen to give a damn whether your government is murdering people in your name with your money will, in fact, want to make this film a huge viral success.  I’m telling you, right now, it’s a good one. It is indeed entertaining. It’s not simple, predictable, pedantic, or preaching. But neither is the film itself reluctant to face head-on the banal, evil, arrogant mass-murder engaged in by these young people who dress up in pilots suits to sit at desks in trailers taking orders from military bureaucrats and private contractors, and ultimately from a president who reviews a list of potential men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays.

Drones look like a golden opportunity to war makers who don’t want to ask Congress or the U.N. or the public, don’t want to send in armies, just want to target people and groups for death anywhere in the world and obliterate them with the push of a button from an air-conditioned — or, sometimes not so air-conditioned — office.

But drones also look like a golden opportunity to those of us who have been trying to point out that murder and war are distinguished only by scale. I suspect that many who cannot see the bombing of a city as murder will see the drone-targeting of an individual as nothing else — particularly if they watch this film.

If you can watch the film and not want to Ban Weaponized Drones, watch it again.

So That’s Why They Kept the Drone Kill Memo Secret

8:05 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Now that the U.S. government has released parts of its We-Can-Kill-People-With-Drones memo, it’s hard to miss why it was kept secret until now.

A red drone missile is launched from the deck of a Navy vessel.

The redacted drone memo proves we practice “savage brute force in minimal disguise.”

Liberal professors and human rights groups and the United Nations were claiming an inability to know whether drone murders were legal or not because they hadn’t seen the memo that the White House said legalized them. Some may continue to claim that the redactions in the memo make judgment impossible.

I expect most, however, will now be willing to drop the pretense that ANY memo could possibly legalize murder.

Oh, and y’all can stop telling me not to use the impolite term “murder” to describe the, you know, murders — since “murder” is precisely the term used by the no-longer secret memo.

The memo considers a section of the U.S. code dealing with the murder of a U.S. citizen by another U.S. citizen abroad, drawing on another section that defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.”

David Barron, the memo’s author, needed a loophole to make murder-by-missile a lawful killing rather than an unlawful killing, so he pulls out the “public authority justification” under which the government gets to use force to enforce a law. It’s a novel twist, though, for the government to get to use force to violate the law, claiming the violation is legal on the Nixonian basis that it is the government doing it.

Alternatively, Barron suggests, a government gets to use force if doing so is part of a war. This, of course, ignores the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact and the illegality of wars, as well as the novelty of claiming that a war exists everywhere on earth forever and ever. (None of Barron’s arguments justify governmental murder on U.S. soil any less than off U.S. soil.)

In essence, Barron seems to argue, the people who wrote the laws were thinking about private citizens and terrorists, not the government (which, somehow, cannot be a terrorist), and therefore it’s OK for the government to violate the laws.

Then there’s the problem of Congressional authorization of war, or lack thereof, which Barron gets around by pretending that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was as broad as the White House pretends rather than worded to allow targeting only those responsible for the 911 attacks.

Then there are the facts of the matter in the case of Anwar al Awlaki, who was targeted for murder prior in time to the actions that President Obama has claimed justified that targeting.

Then there are the facts in the other cases of U.S. killings of U.S. citizens, which aren’t even redacted, as they’re never considered.

Then there are the vastly more numerous killings of non-U.S. citizens, which the memo does not even attempt to excuse.

In the end, the memo admits that calling something a war isn’t good enough; the targeted victim has to have been an imminent threat to the United States. But who gets to decide whether he or she was that? Why, whoever does the killing of course. And what happens if nobody ever even makes an unsupported assertion to that effect? Nothing, of course.

This is not the rule of law. This is savage brute force in minimal disguise. I don’t want to see any more of these memos. I want to see the video footage of the drone murders on a television. I want to see law professors and revolving-door State Department / human rights group hacks argue that dead children fall under the public authority justification.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Three Laws of Pentagon Robotics

6:28 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Sadly, the Pentagon has instead hired a bunch of philosophy professors from leading U.S. universities to tell them how to make robots murder people morally and ethically.

The three laws of robotics, according to science fiction author Isaac Asimov, are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

I would gladly have accepted a $20 million Pentagon contract for the job of pointing out these three laws.

OK, maybe $25 million.

Sadly, the Pentagon has instead hired a bunch of philosophy professors from leading U.S. universities to tell them how to make robots murder people morally and ethically.

Of course, this conflicts with the first law above. A robot designed to kill human beings is designed to violate the first law.

The whole project even more fundamentally violates the second law. The Pentagon is designing robots to obey orders precisely when they violate the first law, and to always obey orders without any exception. That’s the advantage of using a robot. The advantage is not in risking the well-being of a robot instead of a soldier. The Pentagon doesn’t care about that, except in certain situations in which too many deaths of its own humans create political difficulties. And there are just as many situations in which there are political advantages for the Pentagon in losing its own human lives: “The sacrifice of American lives is a crucial step in the ritual of commitment,” wrote William P. Bundy of the CIA, an advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. A moral being would disobey the orders these robots are being designed to carry-out, and — by being robots — to carry out without any question of refusal. Only a U.S. philosophy professor could imagine applying a varnish of “morality” to this project.

The Third Law should be a warning to us. Having tossed aside Laws one and two, what limitations are left to be applied should Law three be implemented? Assume the Pentagon designs its robots to protect their own existence, except when . . . what? Except when doing so would require disobeying a more important order? But which order is more important? Except when doing so would require killing the wrong kind of person(s)? But which are they? The humans not threatening the robot? That’s rather a failure as a limitation.

Let’s face it, the Pentagon needs brand new laws of robotics. May I suggest the following:

1. A Pentagon robot must kill and injure human beings as ordered.
2. A Pentagon robot must obey all orders, except where such orders result from human weakness and conflict with the mission to kill and injure.
3. A Pentagon robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

This set of laws differs from Asimov’s in a number of ways.  For one thing, it completely lacks morality.  It is designed for killing, not protecting.  By prioritizing killing in the First Law, rather than protecting, this set of laws also allows for the possibility of robots sacrificing themselves to kill rather than to protect — as well as the possibility of robots turning on their masters.

This set of laws differs much less — possibly not at all — from the set of laws currently followed by human members of the U.S. military.  The great distinction that people imagine between autonomous and piloted drones vanishes when you learn a little about the thought habits of human drone pilots.  They, like other members of the U.S. military, follow these laws:

1. A Pentagon human must kill and injure human beings as ordered.
2. A Pentagon human must obey all orders, except where such orders result from human weakness and conflict with the mission to kill and injure.
3. A Pentagon human must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The job of the philosophy professors is to apply these laws to robots while neither changing them nor letting on to have figured out what they are.  In other words, it’s just like teaching a course in the classics to a room full of students.  Thank goodness our academia has produced the men and women for this job. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Risk Prison to Protest Drone Murders?

6:32 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Judging from my email box in recent years — which often differs on this question with such sources of knowledge as my television or the New York Times — the conscience of our country lies somewhere near Syracuse, New York.  Here’s an email from an activist named Judy Bello, for example:

Drone

Why Risk Prison to Protest Drone Murders?

“Breaking news: 

MaryAnne Grady-Flores was convicted in DeWitt Town Court last night on 2nd Degree Contempt of an Order Of Protection.  Grady-Flores, who did not intend to violate the Order despite its immorality and invalidity, was taking pictures of others at the base – the Ash Wednesday Witnesses -  who engaged in nonviolent civil resistance blocking the front Gate to Hancock base for which they were subsequently acquitted.”In a heinous abuse of an instrument meant to protect the innocent from violence, Orders of Protection are being used to protect violent transgressions of international and moral law from citizen oversight. While trying to publicize and support a movement to ground the drones and end the wars which take countless innocent lives, Grady-Flores was arrested for noncompliance with an order that does not specify particulars outside of how you might attack another human, something she would never do. She understood the Order to mean that she was forbidden to join the protest.

The Guilty verdict was proffered by a jury 5 minutes after they had asked the judge for a legal definition of ‘keep away’, and he had replied that they ‘are the sole triers of fact’.

The two-day trial included testimony from Colonel Earl A. Evans who is the party protected by the OOP, Catholic Priests Father Bill Pickard and Tim Taugher, Catholic Workers Bill Frankel-Streit and Ellen Grady, sister. Grady-Flores also testified on her own behalf.

So, a woman dedicated to nonviolence was convicted of going near a military base, where a Colonel, not feeling safe enough with, you know, the military base, had a legal order of protection against her.  Of course this is a legalistic gimmick aimed at denying people their rights to speech and assembly, as at least one court has already ruled.  But it isn’t working.  These people are continuing to speak and assemble.  And they’re refusing to take plea bargains that would keep them out of prison.

I emailed another activist, Jack Gilroy, to ask what’s going on. Here’s what he sent back in response to my questions:

What is your background as an activist?

My activism began in 1964 with the Tonkin Bay lies. Later in that decade I took on the job as UpState NY Director of Committee of Responsibility, a group organized by Quaker MD’s who were treating Vietnamese war injured children. After Nixon blocked our confirmed hospital beds and plastic surgeons in upstate NY, my family and I emigrated to Australia. While there teaching high school I had my students help wake up Aussies to French Nuclear testing off the coast of Australia. Other groups (Greenpeace etc) were involved by the sight of fourth form (10th grade) Aussie kids on top of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting System) at the French Consulate in Sydney led to other actions around the country to press the French.

Back in the USA I had my senior high students watch as I climbed a fence into the largest store house of nuclear weapons in the USA. I was in a Santa Clause suit and a bag with candy and hand bills urging federal workers to find a real job….a life giving job.

Environment was major with my students and they commandeered the four corners of the original IBM setting in Endicott NY demanding that IBM pay per pound of hydroflorocarbons emitted each year…IBM the greatest polluter of the Ozone according to the EPA. Locals, with IBM the backbone of the job force, had no idea that their wonder company was doing wrong — until students contacted media and the story was blasted. Kids can make a difference.  (Two years later, President Bush met with IBM officials in the Rose Garden to award them for their winning reduction of ozone pollutants. Students by then were in college or elsewhere and of course, not mentioned.)  My main claim to fame is my thousands of students who understood I didn’t buy the lies fed to them by the text books and media bullshit. I hope they are questioning and acting. But being a sheep has its advantages even for the committed.

So, my activism has been education. Our play, The Bench, a story about apartheid, made it to many schools around the Southern Tier of NY while Mandela was still incarcerated at Robins Island. Today, my play, The Predator, (you helped clean up a few items in it) has been done around the nation in small group settings such as the Pittsburgh Foreign Affairs Council etc. I believe education is the key — slow, but it works if persistence is one’s forte.

I told you a bit about my activism to close the US Army School of the Americas and my southern jail, federal diesel therapy and various federal prisons for a six month ‘holiday’. It did close but opened up weeks later with a new name. C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.

Why do you believe protesting is a strategic tool?
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Why I Don’t Want to See the Drone Memo

3:31 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us a secret memo that gets us out of the bit about Thou-shalt-not-kill.

A blank inter-office memo form

Writing a memo won’t make murder legal, constitutional or ethical.

And, lo, as I was driving home from the committee hearing I was pulled over for speeding, and I said unto the officer, “I’ve got a memo that lets me speed. Would you like to see it?” and he said, “No thank you, and not your grocery list or your diary either.”

Transparency in drone murders has been a demand pushed by U.N. lawyers and pre-vetted Congressional witnesses, and not by the victims’ families. Nobody asks for transparency in child abuse or rape. “Oh, have you got a memo that explains how aliens commanded you to kill and eat those people? Oh, well that’s all right then.”

Seriously, what the filibuster?

I don’t want to see the memo that David Barron wrote “legalizing” the killing of U.S. citizens with drone strikes, after which (or is it beforehand?) I’ll decide whether he should be a federal judge.

Laws don’t work that way. A law is a public document, known to or knowable to all, and enforced equally on all. If a president can instruct a lawyer to write a memo legalizing murder, what can a president not instruct a lawyer to legalize? What’s left of legality?

Let’s assume that the memo argues with great obfuscation that, in essence, killing people with drones is part of a war and therefore legal, will we better off or worse off after watching all the human rights groups and lawyers bow down before that idol?

Just because Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch don’t recognize the U.N. Charter or the Kellogg Briand Pact is not a reason for us not to. Laws don’t work that way. Laws remain law until they are repealed. These laws have not been. If a memo can make a murder part of a war and therefore legal, we are obliged to ask: What makes the war legal?

The answer is not the U.S. government, not the pretense that the president can declare war, and not the pretense that Congress has declared eternal war everywhere. The U.S. government is in violation of the U.N. Charter and of the Kellogg Briand Pact.

Or let’s assume the memo says something else. The point is not what it says but its purported power to say it. The law against murder in Pakistan and the law against murder in Yemen don’t cease to exist in Pakistan and Yemen because a new Jay Bybee, willing to say whatever’s needed to become a judge, writes a secret memo — or a public memo.

And, as this conversation plays out, think what it will have U.S. editorial pages all silently assuming about the legality of murdering non-U.S. citizens. If a memo is needed to kill U.S. citizens, what about the other 99% of drone victims? That, too, is not how actual laws work. The laws against war don’t prevent war only on U.S. citizens. The laws of Pakistan don’t protect only U.S. citizens. The amendments in the U.S. bill of rights, for that matter, don’t apply only to U.S. citizens.

Now, the memo is likely to describe people who are an imminent threat to the United States. And our newspapers are likely to remind us that President Obama made a speech claiming that one of the four U.S. citizens known to have been killed under this program was such a threat. It will be tempting to point out that Anwar al Awlaki, on the contrary, was already on the kill list prior to the incident that Obama claims justified putting him there. It will be tempting to point out that nobody’s made even a blatantly false argument to justify killing the other three U.S. citizens, much less the thousands of other human beings.

We shouldn’t fall for those traps. A president is not legally allowed to invent criteria for killing people. Never mind that he doesn’t meet his own criteria. We should not be so indecent or so lawless as to engage in such a conversation.  We should not want to see the blood-soaked memo.

Read the rest of this entry →

Presidential Restraint Is Alive and Well

6:39 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

… among people who are not the president.

On Presidents Day, RootsAction.org set up a petition in response to this news:

“An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say,” the Associated Press reports — “and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.”

The petition reads:

“Mr. President, Without making any exception for the president, the Constitution requires adherence to the Fifth Amendment. ‘Due process’ is mandatory, not optional. Legality is a question of law, not policy. You are not allowed to kill whoever you want on your own say-so.”

Within the first several hours, over 10,000 people had signed. You can sign it too.

Here are some of the comments that people have posted:

“Has the CONSTITUTION become an – OPTION ???” —S. Schwenchy, CA

“And we thought Bush was a liar!” —Richard Wilkey, TN

“And you are also not allowed to pass judgement on someone before they are judged by a jury of their peers as you did in the case of Pvt. Manning. I thought you were better than that. My bad.” —John Nettleton, OR

“Please, just stop murdering suspicious people. This is like what happened to Trayvon Martin, but there’s no trial afterward.” —Tim Ferguson, CA

“Expedience is not an excuse. We can’t be the good guys just because we say so, we have to act on it too. Killing terrorists just creates more terrorists.” —Boola Lomuscio, MA

“A country which can imprison indefinitely its citizens without due process, without ever charging them with any wrongdoing is not a democracy. Period. Let alone the country which can KILL citizens without due process, without ever charging them with any wrongdoing. Obey the law. Obey the Constitution.” —Jamil Said, CA

“A President is nothing more than a servant, and if he commits a crime, it is ten times the crime and should have ten times the penalty.” —Ronald Denner, MI

“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.” —Robert Stevens

“All labels aside, ANY president who does not follow his oath needs to be impeached. It really is that simple.” —Robert Horan, OH

“All presidents seem to think that the Constitution is for the people to obey, not them. The 5th Amendment provides due process for American citizens. If one suspects criminal activity against the USA, then the suspect must have his day in court. This is part of the democratic process, and NO ONE, NOT EVEN THE PRESIDENT, IS ABOVE THE LAW!” —Robert Glasner, CA

“Amendment IV — ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures’ — Does that include the life of the person?” —David Bean, OR

“America is supposed to have the rule of law, not of men. I don’t care how well-intentioned people are; if the precedent is set, then less well-intentioned people will take advantage of it.” —Deborah Goldsmith, CA

“Among other reasons, drone strikes kill innocents without exception, and you know it, Mr. President, and that’s not something to accept regardless of what your military advisers believe.” —Marianne Kenady, WA

“Are we back in the dark ages where the king decides to behead anyone he wants? Seems that way. I don’t think that is where we want to be, none of us.” —Kenneth Walton, IA

“Are you still a constitutional lawyer? – - Then, why are you acting as you are? That is, choosing and selecting American citizens for annihilation.” —William See, OR

“Believe it or not, murder is murder. Murdering a murderer is still murder.” —Frank C Benjamin, NY

“Don’t stray from the mandates, including the Constitution, you have been sworn to uphold. People accused of crimes are supposed to be tried by a jury of their peers, not one man on a power trip.” —John Davis, ME

“Execution of citizens without any due process, especially a jury of peers, is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian government — no matter how much the tyrant pleads otherwise.” —Robert Anderson, CA

“Execution without arrest and fair trial is unethical, immoral and goes against all American values.” —Patricia Robinett, MO

“Extraordinary renditions and torture perpetrated by the Bush Administration was illegal and immoral. Killing without due process, especially an American citizen, is even worse.” —Audrey Bomse, FL

“Following our example, I guess it is ok for foreign governments to send drones over our territory to murder dissidents from their country?” —Michael JamesLong, OR

“For a constitutional lawyer, our President does not honor, in any way, shape or form, the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th & 8th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.” —Lisbeth Caccese, CA

Read thousands more, pick your favorites, add your own:
http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9288

Is a Policy a Law? Is Murder Murder?

10:15 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

A judge's gavel seen from above

Has the rule of law become meaningless to the Obama administration?

From the Associated Press:

An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.

Notice those words: “legally” and “policy.”  No longer does U.S. media make a distinction between the two.  Under George W. Bush, detention without trial, torture, murder, warrantless spying, and secret missile strikes were illegal.  Under Obama they are policy.  And policy makes them “legal” under the modified Nixonian understanding that if the President does it as a policy then it is legal.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the laws of the nations in which drone murders take place, treaties to which the U.S. is party, international law, and U.S. statutory law, murdering people remains illegal, despite being policy, just as it was illegal under the less strict policy of some months back.  The policy was made stricter in order to bring it into closer compliance with the law, of course — though it comes nowhere close — and yet the previous policy remains somehow “legal,” too, despite having not been strict enough.

Under that previous policy, thousands of people, including at least four U.S. citizens, have been blown to bits with missiles. President Obama gave a speech last year in which he attempted to justify one of those four U.S. deaths on the basis of evidence he claimed to have but would not reveal. He made no attempt to justify the other three.

The new policy remains that the president can murder anyone, anywhere, along with whoever is near them, but must express angst if the person targeted is a U.S. citizen.

The idea that such lunacy can have anything to do with law is facilitated by human rights groups’ and the United Nations’ and international lawyers’ deference to the White House, which has been carried to the extreme of establishing a consensus that we cannot know whether a drone murder was legal or not unless the president reveals his reasoning, intention, motivation, and the details of the particular murder.

No other possible criminal receives this treatment. When the police read you your rights, you are not entitled to object: “Put those handcuffs away, sir! I have a written policy justifying everything I did, and I refuse to show it to you. Therefore you have no grounds to know for certain that my justification is as insane and twisted as you might imagine it to be based merely on what I’ve done! Away with you, sir!”

The loss of a coherent conception of law is a grievous one, but that’s not all that’s at stake here.

Numerous top U.S. officials routinely admit that our drone wars in the Middle East and Africa are creating more enemies than they kill.  General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said in June 2010 that “for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” Veterans of U.S. kill teams in Iraq and Afghanistan interviewed in Jeremy Scahill’s book and film Dirty Wars said that whenever they worked their way through a list of people to kill, they were handed a larger list; the list grew as a result of working their way through it.  The wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the abuses of prisoners during them, became major recruiting tools for anti-U.S. terrorism. In 2006, U.S. intelligence agencies produced a National Intelligence Estimate that reached just that conclusion.

We are shredding the very concept of the rule of law in order to pursue a policy that endangers us, even as it helps to justify the erosion of our civil liberties, to damage the natural environment, and to impoverish us, as it kills many innocent people.  Maybe they’ve secretly got drones doing the thinking as well as the killing.

Read the rest of this entry →

Spring Days of Actions to End Drone Killings

9:40 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

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

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 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 RootsAction.org that has generated a petition with over 80,000 signers and to efforts by the Granny Peace Brigade (New York City), KnowDrones.org 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.

The following individuals and organizations endorse this Call:

Read the rest of this entry →

Debating a Drone

7:49 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Daddy Warbucks: May I have the first word?

Brother Pax: If I may have the last one.

DW: I’m sure you will, and you had the first one too. Before the drones came on the scene, you called them forth. You said “War costs too much money.” You said “War kills too many soldiers.” Well, here you go. War costs less money. And war kills nobody. And yet you aren’t satisfied.

BP: Now, this will be a very short debate if my position is to protest the murdering of people with drones, and your position is that drones kill nobody.  There must be more overlap in our worldviews than that if we are even to talk.

DW: You know perfectly well what I meant.

BP: It might be clearer if you tell me.

DW: Drones don’t kill pilots or soldiers. They only kill the people who need to be killed.

BP: Let me grant you part of that. We’ve had pilots and soldiers killed by suicide, by accident, by friendly fire, and by suicide bombings at drone bases. But let’s suppose they’ve been fewer than they might have been in some other form of war.

DW: There’s no question.

BP: There is always a question. Sometimes it’s a different question than the one being so insistently answered.

DW: Meaning?

BP: If the question is whether to have this kind of war or that kind of war, then we must choose the better kind of war (if we can make out what it is). But if the question is whether to have peace or to have war, then a different answer is available.

DW: Well, of course. We all want peace. But that comes after.

BP: Does it? Let’s go back to the “people who need to be killed.”

DW: Exactly.

BP: Who are they?

DW: Criminals, terrorists, threats to — in fact — kill a lot more people. Stopping them is the whole point.

BP: May I ask you a few questions that might seem unrelated?

DW: Go ahead.

BP: If the government doubled your taxes, would you trust it to do the right things with that money?

DW: No.

BP: Do you trust government officials’ campaign promises?

DW: No.

BP: Are you confident that the inspectors who allowed the flooding of the Gulf of Mexico with oil are doing a good job now?

DW: No.

BP: Do you believe politicians tell you a straight story about their new healthcare reforms?

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Germany Says No to Weaponized Drones

7:17 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Germany had planned to buy a fleet of “Euro Hawk” killer drones — perhaps in an effort to bring the European Union up to speed with certain other Nobel Peace laureates.

But something happened on the way to the celestial colosseum.

Of course, Captain Drone Man himself undoubtedly learned the news first, unless the NSA misplaced some of Frau Merkel’s emails under a pile of exchanges among nonviolent activists planning the upcoming drone summit in DC.

What happened was public pressure within a nation dedicated to peace and — at the moment — more resistant than Japan to being turned back toward war.  Germany has now said nein, nein, and hell nein to killer flying robots.  And not just to the use of weaponized drones within what Americans might call Der Homeland, but to Germany’s use of remote control murder planes against human beings anywhere on earth.

Earlier this month at the United Nations, several nations, including most prominently Brazil, denounced the criminality of murdering people around the globe with drones. Now Germany has taken a serious step in the direction of condemning armed drones to the status of land mines, poison gas, and nuclear weapons. If Germany can do it, we can all do it. And the scene in this video can go global:

http://youtu.be/kbJcQYVtZMo