Thirty-one of 38 accused activists were found guilty on Thursday for their role in a protest against U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The activists were arrested on April 22 at the New York Air National Guard base at Hancock Field near Syracuse, New York, after trespassing to protest the MQ-9 Reaper drones, which the 174th Fighter Wing of the Guard has remotely flown over Afghanistan since late 2009. The protesters draped themselves in white clothes splattered with blood-red pigment and then staged a “die-in” at the main entrance to the base. They said their act of nonviolent civil disobedience aimed to visualize the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan by drones operated by personnel sitting in front of computers thousands of miles away. The group calls themselves the Hancock 38 Drone Resisters. Following the guilty verdict, four of the activists were sentenced to 15-day terms in prison while a number of others were given fines and community service. We speak to Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general turned outspoken human rights activist, who testified at the trial that the drones violate international law. We’re also joined by Harry Murray, one of the Hancock 38 and a co-defendant in the trial. “Having a drone control center established at Hancock Air Base has really brought the war home to central New York,” Murray says. “Having people who are actually killing human beings in Afghanistan working right in Syracuse really makes Syracuse and upstate New York a war zone.” Clark says drones are “a weapon of extreme provocation and extreme danger, extreme inaccuracy… International law, I believe, does prohibit the use of drones.”
Ramsey Clark, lawyer and former U.S. attorney general.
Harry Murray, one of the Hancock 38 Drone Resisters and a co-defendant in the trial. He is professor of sociology and anthropology at Nazareth College, where he also serves as director of the peace and justice studies major.
Read the whole interview here…
Catholic Worker-Led Protests Against Nukes & Drones in Nevada
WHEN: Sunday October, 9, 2011
WHERE: 9:00 a.m. Gate of Nevada National Security Site, Mercury, NV
1:00 p.m. Gates of Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, NV
***VISUALS: Signs, Banners, Puppets and Props, Civil-Resistance***
(Las Vegas) The largest anti-war demonstration ever at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, and the largest anti-nuclear civil resistance action in at least six years at the Nevada Test Site (now officially called the Nevada National Security Site or NNSS) will take place on Sunday, October 9. Over 200 radical pacifists from across the globe will swell the ranks of local activists because of the International Catholic Worker (CW)gathering in Las Vegas October 7 and 8. The CW gathering culminates with the antinuclear, anti-drone demonstrations which also mark the 10th tragic anniversary of the US
invasion of Afghanistan.
Creech Air Force Base is the headquarters of the USAF’s 432nd Air Wing of Predator and Reaper drones which operates armed remotely piloted aircraft in various foreign countries.
The NNSS continues to support the country’s nuclear weapons programs, has a mandate to restart full-scale nuclear bomb tests within two years if so ordered by the President,and receives and stores radioactive waste on land that legally belongs to the Western Shoshone Nation.
Jim Haber, Coordinator of Nevada Desert Experience which has a long history of peace activism in Nevada commented, “We are making connections to the Occupy Everywhere movement as well, but our prime focus is against war and killing as epitomized first by nuclear weapons and now drone assassins. Both rely on anti-democratic, secretive sites like these, the militarization of space, the desecration of ecosystems, and the swallowing of money that could otherwise be used to solve, rather than create social problems.”
“We are at an important milestone with 10 years of occupation in Afghanistan (and 8 in Iraq), expending millions of our tax dollars on unmanned aerial vehicles which are responsible for thousands of civilian deaths. The wars have bankrupted our country. It’s time to stop the deadly drone strikes,” states Nancy Mancias, CODEPINK Ground the Drones campaigner.
The protests are also part of the Keep Space for Peace Week: International Week of
Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space taking place between October 1-8. Keep Space for Peace Week is co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace &
Freedom, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK), Swedish Peace Council, Drone
Campaign Network (UK), and United Against Drones (U.S.). A complete list of global
protests can be found here.
Jim Haber, Nevada Desert Experience, 702-646-4814 (office), 415-828-2506 (mobile)
Brian Terrell, Catholic Worker, 773-853-1886 (mobile)
In many ways, it’s the perfect weapon for a war-weary nation that suddenly finds itself on a tight budget.
Missile-armed drones are playing a greater role than ever in U.S. counter-terror operations, as President Barack Obama winds down land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington’s focus expands to militant havens such as Somalia and Yemen where there are no U.S. troops permanently on the ground.
One week after Pakistan’s Defense Minister publicly demanded that the US leave its Shamsi air base in the Balochistan Province, the Obama Adminsitration is reporting that the base is “fully operational” and still in US hands.
The US immediately rejected the call to leave the base, insisting they will remain in control. Though the base is reportedly no longer used for drone attacks, it is used to launch surveillance drones, which help in the controversial drone attacks.
Which are continuing to this day. Indeed, just today a US drone attacked a house in North Waziristan, killing six people and wounding an unknown number of others. As usual, the slain were termed “suspects” but there was no indication of their identities.
US officials downplayed the risk of losing the Shamsi base, despite Pakistani demands, saying that the CIA already has a “backup plan” in place for launching the surveillance drones, presumably out of Afghanistan, if Shamsi is ever taken back by Pakistan.
DATTA KHEL, Pakistan — This was once an oasis of calm, a peaceful town in a region famous worldwide for its lawlessness and violence. But in 2007, all that changed when Datta Khel became the primary target of unmanned U.S. drones armed with hellfire missiles.
Even with the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden outside of Islamabad on May 2, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials believe this town is the command and control center for members of Al Qaeda and its remaining senior leadership. It is also, they say, home to the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani Network, a Pakistan militant group that has launched continuous attacks on U.S. and NATO forces operating in Afghanistan.
Many of these militants have poured into Datta Khel, which borders northeastern Afghanistan, and the nearby town of Mir Ali in recent years as they have fled Pakistani military operations in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley.
Concerns that the US is once again escalating its attacks against Pakistan’s tribal areas appear all the stronger today, as drones attacked a vehicle in North Waziristan Agency, killing three suspects.
Future drone attacks might be a seriously risky matter, however, as Pakistan’s Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Rao Suleman reported that the air force is now prepared to shoot down future drones if given authorization to do so by the Zardari government.
The drones have been hugely unpopular in Pakistan, and the government has recently issued repeated demands for their halt. The fact that the attacks have continued and escalated have put the Pakistani military into a position of needing to assert itself.
Marshal Suleman also revealed an unusual fact about the drone flights, which have come out of an air base in Balochistan. According to Suleman, the Shamsi Air Base has actually been under the control of the United Arab Emirates since the 1990s.