Tuesday, June 3, 2014




Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace and Justice.

   (Newsletter #1, Dec. 29, 2010; #2 July 20, 2011; #3 Feb. 16, 2012; #4 May 3, 2012; #5 June 9, 2012; #6 Oct. 12, 2012; #7 Dec. 20, 2012; #8 Jan. 22, 2013; #9, Feb. 16, 2013; #10 May 11, 2013; #11 May 29, 2013; #12 Nov. 1, 2013; #13 Dec. 28, 2013.)  See Newsletters on ACLU, Air War, Assassinations, CIA, Civil Liberties, Constitution and Drones, Democracy and Drones, Extra-Judicial Killing, Geneva Conventions, International Law, Killing Civilians, Media and Drones, Obama, Pakistan War, Pentagon, Privacy,  Surveillance, Terror, War Crimes, and more.

My blog:   War Department/Peace Department
My Newsletters:
Visit OMNI’s Library.

“Act in such a way that the principle according to which the action is performed can be accepted as a universal law.”   Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative.  Ahimsa.  Nonviolence.  Reverence for life.

DRONE WATCH:  www.MuckRock.com , a free, online data-base.


Contents Drone/Assassination/Extra-Judicial Murder Newsletter #14

Stop Drones

FCNL, Telephone Briefing

David Cole, How Many People Have We Killed?  Demand Transparency, Record the


Gagnon, Spring Campaign Against Drones and Global Militarization

Rabbi Lerner, Heather Linebaugh, Stop Drone War Campaign

Know Drones: Spring Days of Action

Progressive Secretary, Stop Double Tap

Richard Clarke, Obama’s Excesses

Drone Complex and Contexts

Drones in Yemen   EDIT

Conn Hallinan, Drone Pandora’s Box

Engelhardt, Murdock Paper’s Crass Headline

Akbar Akmed, From War on Terror to War on Tribal Islam

Greeenwald’s New Film, Unmanned

Lawyer Who Justified Murder Nominated to Be Judge

Al Jazeera, Israel’s Drone Industry (via HAW)

Recent Related Newsletters

Contact President Obama

Contact Senators

Earlier Newsletters

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Drone Strikes or Shared Security?: Join Me June 16 for a Conversation

Diane Randall, FCNL dianerandall@fcnl.org via fcnl.bounces.plusthree.com 

10:55 AM (12 minutes ago)

to me

Dear Friend,
President Obama envisions a world in which armed drone strikes and U.S. military training in other countries become the preferred role for military force in U.S. foreign policy. But what are the consequences of this approach, which the president outlined in his speech at West Point last week?
FCNL's Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Michael Shank is recently returned from Yemen, where he saw first-hand the results of U.S. drone strikes and the missed opportunities for a more effective U.S. foreign policy. Please join Michael and me on a special telephone briefing for FCNL supporters on Monday, June 16 at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Michael and I will also talk about current legislative efforts to promote our shared security as a nation and a world—by repealing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, addressing the role of water scarcity in fueling conflict and more. We’ll also answer your questions and talk about ways you can be active with FCNL on issues you care about.
Mark your calendar now and plan to join the call on Monday, June 16 at 8 p.m. Eastern by dialing toll-free, 866-261-3182.
RSVPs are appreciated but not required to dianerandall@fcnl.org. Please send your questions as well.
I hope to speak with you on Monday, June 16 at 8 p.m.
Diane Randall
Executive Secretary


We seek a world free of war and the threat of war.
We seek a society with equity and justice for all.
We seek a community where every person's potential may be fulfilled.
We seek an earth resto




How Many Have We Killed? by David Cole

The wreckage of a car destroyed by a US drone strike in Azan, Yemen, February 2013. (Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters/Corbis)On Monday, The New York Times reported that “the Senate has quietly stripped a provision from an intelligence bill that would have required President Obama to make public each year the number of people killed or injured in targeted killing operations in Pakistan and other countries where the United States uses lethal force.” National security officials in the Obama administration objected strongly to having to notify the public of the results and scope of their dirty work, and the Senate acceded. So much for what President Obama has called “the most transparent administration in history.”
The Senate’s decision is particularly troubling in view of how reticent the administration itself continues to be about the drone program. To date, Obama has publicly admitted to the deaths of only four people in targeted killing operations. That came in May 2013, when, in conjunction with a speech at the National Defense University, and, in his words, “to facilitate transparency and debate on the issue,” President Obama acknowledged for the first time that the United States had killed four Americans in drone strikes. But according to credible accounts, Obama has overseen the killing of several thousand people in drone strikes since taking office. Why only admit to the four Americans’ deaths? Is the issue of targeted killings only appropriate for debate when we kill our own citizens? Don’t all human beings have a right to life?
In the NDU speech, President Obama also announced new limits on the use of drones “beyond the Afghan theater.” He proclaimed that drone strikes would be authorized away from the battlefield only when necessary to respond to “continuing and imminent threats” posed by people who cannot be captured or otherwise countermanded. Most important, he said, “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured—the highest standard we can set.” Yet in December, a US drone strike in Yemen reportedly struck a wedding party. The New York Times reported that while some of the victims may have been linked to al-Qaeda, the strike killed “at least a half dozen innocent people, according to a number of tribal leaders and witnesses.”
The decision to drop the requirement to report on the number of people we kill in drone strikes fittingly if depressingly came on the ten-year anniversary of CBS’s airing of the photos of torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. To this day, the United States has not held accountable any senior official for torture inflicted during the “war on terror”—not at Abu Ghraib, not at Guantanamo, not at Bagram Air Force Base, and not in the CIA’s secret prisons, or “black sites.” President Obama has stuck to his commitment to look forward, not backward, and his administration has opposed all efforts to hold the perpetrators of these abuses to account. Indeed, the administration has classified even the memories of the survivors of torture in CIA black sites, now housed at Guantanamo, maintaining that they and their lawyers cannot under any circumstance even talk publically about their mistreatment.
To be fair, Obama deserves some credit for both banning torture and achieving some transparency on the subject. In one of his first acts as president, he formally prohibited the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that his predecessor had approved—and that Bush and Cheney both proudly proclaim in their memoirs they would approve all over again. Shortly thereafter, Obama declassified the chilling secret memoranda, drafted by various Justice Department lawyers in the Bush Administration, that were designed to give legal cover to the CIA’s torture program. And most recently, in March, Obama said that he thinks that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s interrogation program, the only comprehensive review based on access to classified information to date of the agency’s treatment of prisoners, should be declassified and released to the public. (The committee has voted to declassify and release a six hundred-page executive summary from the 6,300 page report, and it is now up to the president to live up to his statement and declassify it.)
But it’s one thing to demand transparency for a predecessor’s wrongs. It’s another to support it in regard to one’s own dubious actions. In the past, some have argued that the United States cannot be transparent about targeted killings in countries like Pakistan and Yemen because their governments approved of our use of lethal force within their borders on the condition that we not admit that we were doing so. The morality of such an agreement is itself deeply questionable; presumably the plausible deniability is demanded because no government could openly admit to its people that it had given another sovereign the green light to kill by remote control inside its own borders. But the deniability is no longer plausible.
As long ago as September, 2012, the Yemeni President Abed Raboo Mansour Hadi disclosed that he signed off on every US drone strike in Yemen, and in April 2013, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf similarly admitted that his government had agreed to targeted killings in Pakistan. Following the strike on the Yemeni wedding party last December, the government there conceded that civilians were killed, provided reparations to the survivors, and suspended permission to the United States to conduct further drone strikes until the incident was investigated. But the US has not even publicly acknowledged its own involvement—namely, as the killer.
International law acknowledges that killing is not always illegal or wrong, and that a government has the authority to do so as a last resort in genuine self-defense. But if the US government’s targeted killings are lawful, we should have no hesitation in making them public. Surely the least we can do is to literally count and report the lives we’ve taken. Yet even that, for “the most transparent administration in history,” is apparently too much.
© 2014 New York Review of Books
David Cole
David Cole, The Nation's legal affairs correspondent, is the author, most recently, of The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable (New Press



Spring Days of Action to End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance and Global Militarization
Global Network [globalnet@mindspring.com]
Thursday, January 30, 2014 12:20 PM
                    CALL FOR SPRING DAYS OF ACTION – 2014

 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

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:

Lyn Adamson – Co-chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Dennis Apel – Guadalupe Catholic Worker, California
Judy Bello – Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars
Medea Benjamin – Code Pink
Leah Bolger – Former National President, Veterans for Peace
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Sung-Hee Choi – Gangjeong Village International Team, Jeju, Korea
Chelsea C. Faria – Graduate student, Yale  Divinity School; Promoting Enduring Peace
Sandy Fessler – Rochester (NY) Against War
Joy First
Bruce K. Gagnon - Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Holly Gwinn Graham – Singer/songwriter, Olympia, WA.
Regina Hagen - Darmstaedter Friedensforum, Germany
Kathy Kelly – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Malachy Kilbride
Marilyn Levin and Joe Lombardo – Co-Coordinators, United National Antiwar Coalition
Tamara Lorincz – Halifax Peace Coalition, Canada
Nick Mottern – KnowDrones.org
Agneta Norberg – Swedish Peace Council
Pepperwolf – Director, Women Against Military Madness
Lindis Percy, Coordinator, Campaign for the Accountability of American
  Bases  CAAB UK
Mathias Quackenbush – San Francisco, CA
Lisa Savage – Code Pink, State of Maine
Janice Sevre-Duszynska
Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck- Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen, Germany
Cindy Sheehan
Lucia Wilkes Smith – Convener, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) – Ground
   Military Drones Committee
David Soumis – Veterans for Peace; No Drones Wisconsin
Debra Sweet – World Can’t Wait
David Swanson - WarisACrime.org
Brian Terrell – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
United National Antiwar Coalition
Veterans for Peace 
Dave Webb – Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
Curt Wechsler – Fire John Yoo! (a project of World Can’t Wait) – San Francisco, CA
Paki Wieland, Northampton (MA) Committee to Stop War(s)
Loring Wirbel – Citizens for Peace in Space (Colorado Springs, CO)
Women Against Military Madness
Ann Wright – Retired US Army colonel and former diplomat
Leila Zand - Fellowship of Reconciliation

Sign-On Info: Until we have installed a program that will enable people to post their endorsements, please ask people to send them to me at my email: nickmottern@earthlink.net    I will update the list daily; it should be only a few days until the endorsement link is installed, and I will send full details.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
http://space4peace.blogspot.com/  (blog)




ikkun  to heal, repair and transform the world
A note from Rabbi Michael Lerner
·  Heather Linebaugh's personal account of her work on the US drone program gives one set of reasons for why that program should be stopped immediately. Another reason was given by the Prime Minister of Pakistan two days ago: the use of drones in Pakistan violates the national sovereignty of that country and is protested by almost everyone there who learn to hate Americans for doing this to their country.  A third reason: unless drones are banned by an international treaty  with the same seriousness that chemical warfare was banned, we may live to see the day when powers hostile to the U.S. launch drones that kill or main you, your neighbors, your children, your friends. It could happen here--and sophisticated drones could be much harder to head off than other forms of attack. And the source of drone attacks may be hard to identify as drones start to become an accepted weapon by many countries, including small dictatorships that will eventually be ovethrown (some by people who wish to strike back at the US for supporting their repressive governments, as for example Egyptian Muslims watching as the US refuses to call the recent coup a coup so that we can still fund the military dictatorship which is every day proclaiming some new assault on freedm and democracy of the Egyptian people). 
·            Stopping Drone Warfare is just one of the campaigns sponsored by Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives. But we are one voice that is not just AGAINST!!! Unlike many voices in the progressive world that know what they are against but rarely put forward what they are for, we have a positive vision, spelled out in Rabbi Lerner's books Sprit Matters, The Politics of Meaning, and The Left Hand of God, and summarized in our Spiritual Covenant with America (read that atwww.spiritualprogressives.org).
·           And like dozens of other non-profits, we are asking you to donate to make a tax-deductible contribution to Tikkun and/or our education and communal arm The Network of Spiritual Progressives. You can do so by mailing a check to Tikkun at 2342 Shattuck Ave, #1200,  Berkeley, Ca. 94704  OR by donating on line at www.tikkun.org/nextgen/donate
·           We really would appreciate your help--at any level. Stretch yourself a little to keep our unique voice alive!!!
·            Warm regards,
         Michael   (Rabbi Michael Lerner   rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com)
·  P.S. It's not too late to sign up for our training of spiritual activists to become involved in the existing world of American social change.www.spiritualprogressives.org/training.


1.                             call for spring days of action - 2014 - KnowDrones.com

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 ...

2.                             Spring Days of Action to End Drone Killing, Drone ...

Michael Moore
Jan 31, 2014 - Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action– 2014, ... How attack and surveillance drones have become a key element in a ..... They all know that earth's food and water sources are wholly contaminated.

3.                             KNOWDRONES

Salsa Labs
Provides drone replicas and educational materials to support citizen action ... Spring Days of Action to End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance, Global Militarization .... Know Drones Public Forums Mottern, Voss & Wieland @ Amherst Media, 3-5 ...

4.                             Spring Days of Action to End Drone Killing, Drone ...

warisacrime.org › Blogs  davidswanson's blog
Jan 30, 2014 - Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action – 2014, a coordinated campaign in April and May to: End Drone Killing, Drone ...

5.                             Spring Days of Action to End U.S. Drone Killing & Surveillance

www.worldcantwait.net › Take Action  Materials in English
Spring Days of Action to End U.S. Drone Killing & Surveillance ... In April & May, make it known to the world that we will not accept the killing from a distance, and ...

6.                             Spring Days of Actions to End Drone Killings | MyFDL

Jan 30, 2014 - Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action – 2014, a coordinated campaign in April and May to: End Drone Killing, Drone ...

7.                             Know Drones USA | Facebook

The No/Know Drones Network is made up of Military Vets, Citizen Activists and ...Spring Days of Drone Action 2014 Campaign Bulletin # 10 #springdays ...

8.                             Action Alert: - Join Spring Days of Drone Actions

Veterans for Peace
Mar 26, 2014 - 10 Suggested Ideas for Spring Days of Actions Against Drones ... Check the Know Drones calendar; Join the VFP Drones working group.

9.                             No Drones Network

5 days ago - As we have known all along, we need the public to think about how crummy .... Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action ...

10.                         Know Drones Public Forum | American Friends Service ...

3 days ago - Founder of the www.KnowDrones.com informational website and coordinator of the “Spring Days of Action 2014”, Nick has initiated a 2014 ...

Stop Drone Warfare

by Heather Linebaugh  in the Guardian, U.K.  Dec. 29th

I worked on the US drone programme. The public should know what really goes on
Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them some questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"
Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.
I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from mosque.
The US and British militaries insist that this is such an expert program, but it's curious that they feel the need to deliver faulty informationfew or no statistics about civilian deaths and twisted technology reports on the capabilities of our UAVs. These specific incidents are not isolated, and the civilian casualty rate has not changed, despite what our defense representatives might like to tell us.
What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is a far cry from clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited clouds and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: "The feed is so pixelated, what if it's a shovel, and not a weapon?" I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian's life all because of a bad image or angle.
It's also important for the public to grasp that there are human beings operating and analysing intelligence these UAVs. I know because I was one of them, and nothing can prepare you for an almost daily routine of flying combat aerial surveillance missions over a war zone. UAV proponents claim that troops who do this kind of work are not affected by observing this combat because they are never directly in danger physically.
But here's the thing: I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end. I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die. Horrifying barely covers it. And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.
Of course, we are trained to not experience these feelings, and we fight it, and become bitter. Some troops seek help in mental health clinics provided by the military, but we are limited on who we can talk to and where, because of the secrecy of our missions. I find it interesting that the suicide statistics in this career field aren't reported, nor are the data on how many troops working in UAV positions are heavily medicated for depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.
Recently, the Guardian ran a commentary by Britain's secretary of state for defence Philip Hammond. I wish I could talk to him about the two friends and colleagues I lost, within one year leaving the military, to suicide. I am sure he has not been notified of that little bit of the secret UAV program, or he would surely take a closer look at the full scope of the program before defending it again.
The UAV's in the Middle East are used as a weapon, not as protection, and as long as our public remains ignorant to this, this serious thr

REMINDER: Tell the President to end 'Double Tap' drone strikes

Progressive Secretary PS.ActionReply@gmail.com via uark.edu 

to James
Progressive Secretary Logo

Dear Dick, 

Here is a new Progressive Secretary letter. You will be able to edit your name, address, etc. in the next step.

This letter supports an action by Watchdog.net asking the President to stop "double-tap" drone strikes. "Double-tap" means that after attacking the main targets, we attack again, mostly killing innocents that try to clear bodies.

Our letter will be sent to President Obama.

Mr. President, do you want to be remembered for war crimes?

U.S. drone strikes are employing a sick strategy called “double-tap,” in which a target is bombed multiple times in relatively quick succession. As a result, civilians coming to aid those bombed in the first strike are killed or wounded in the second.

The tactic has caused such fear that rescuers often wait hours before approaching the scene of an attack, leaving the injured to suffer and die.

Ban the practice of double-tap drone strikes. They are war crimes. They cause unnecessary bloodshed and death. You are better than this, Mr. President. We are better than this.
Click here to send this letter or to learn more (you can edit the subject or the letter itself in the next step, if you wish).
Kathie Turner, Executive Director
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Former Counterterrorism Czar Richard Clarke: US Drone Program Under Obama ‘Got Out of Hand’

Amy Goodman, Video Interview, NationofChange, June 2, 2014: According to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, U.S. drones have since killed people in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Richard Clarke served as the nation’s top counterterrorism official under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before resigning in 2003 in protest of the Iraq War has just written a novel about drone warfare called, “Sting of the Drone.” Democracy Now talks to Clarke about the book and his concerns about President Obama’s escalation of the drone war.


Reprieve: Drone Attacks Bring Yemeni Government to Brink of No Confidence Vote

Pandora and the Drones

Drones are a growth industry with, aside from the U.S., states such as Israel, Britain, Sweden, Iran, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and even Lebanon in possession of the more lethal varieties.
Israeli drones. Wikimedia Commons
Israeli drones. Wikimedia Commons
In November 2001, when the CIA assassinated al-Qaeda commander Mohammed Atef with a killer drone in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the U.S. held a virtual monopoly on the technology of lethal robots. Today, more than 70 countries in the world deploy drones, 16 of them the deadly variety, and many of those drones target rural people living on the margins of the modern world.
Armed drones have been hailed as a technological breakthrough in the fight against terrorists who, in the words of President Obama, “take refuge in remote tribal regions…hide in caves and walled compounds…train in empty deserts and rugged mountains.” But much of the butcher’s bill for the drones has fallen on people who live in those deserts and mountains, many of whom are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or get swept into a definition of “terrorist” so broad it that embraces virtually all adult males.
Since 2004—the year the “drone war” began in earnest—missile-firing robots have killed somewhere between 3,741 and 5,825 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and injured another 1,371 to 1,836. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that this death toll includes between 460 to 1,067 “civilians” and as many as 214 children.
But, because how the U.S. defines “civilian” is classified, it is almost impossible to determine exactly who the victims are. Up until recently, it appears that being between the ages of 18 and 60 while carrying a weapon or attending a funeral for a drone victim was sufficient to get you incinerated.
In his May address to the National Defense University, however, President Obama claimed to have narrowed the circumstances under which deadly force can be used.  Rather than the impossibly broad rationale of “self-defense,” future attacks would be restricted to individuals who pose a “continuing and imminent threat to the American people” and who could not be “feasibly apprehended.” The President added that there had to be a “near certainty that no civilians would be killed or injured.”
As national security expert and constitutional law professor David Cole points out, the new criteria certainly are a more “demanding standard,” but one that will be extremely difficult to evaluate since the definition of everything from “threat” to “civilian” is classified. Over the past year there has been a drop in the number of drone strikes, which could reflect the new standards or be a response to growing anger at the use of the robots. Some 97 percent of Pakistanis are opposed to the use of drone strikes in that country’s northwest border region.
The drones that roam at will in the skies over Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are going global, and the terror and death they sow in those three countries now threatens to replicate itself in western China, Eastern Turkey and northern Iraq, highland Peru, South Asia, and the Amazon basin.
Drones have become a multi-billion dollar industry, and countries across the planet are building and buying them. Many are used for surveillance, but the U.S., Britain, Sweden, Iran, Russia, China, Lebanon, Taiwan, Italy, Israel, France, Germany, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all own the more lethal varieties. The world’s biggest drone maker is Israel.
For a sure-fire killer you want a Made-in-the-USA-by-General-Atomics Predator or Reaper, but there are other dangerous drones out there and they are expanding at a geometric pace.
Iran recently unveiled a missile-firing “Fotros” robot to join its “Shahad 129” armed drone. China claims its “Sharp Sword” drone has stealth capacity. A Russian combat drone is coming off the drawing boards next year. And a European consortium of France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Greece and Switzerland is developing the armed Dassault nEURon drone. Between 2005 and 2011, the number of drone programs worldwide jumped from 195 to 680. In 2001, the U.S. had 50 drones. Today it has more than 7,500.
While drone promoters claim that robot warfare is the future, they rarely mention who are the drones’ most likely targets. Except for surveillance purposes, drones are not very useful on a modern battlefield, because they are too slow. Their advantage is that they can stay aloft for a very long time—24 to 40 hours is not at all unusual—and their cameras give commanders a real-time picture of what is going on. But as the Iranians recently demonstrated by downing a U.S. RQ-170 stealth drone, they are vulnerable to even middle-level anti-craft systems.
“Predators and Reapers are useless in a contested environment,” says U.S. Gen. Mike Hostage, chief of Air Combat Command. “I couldn’t [put one] into the Strait of Hormuz without putting airplanes there to protect it.”
But over the tribal areas of Pakistan, the rural villages of Yemen and the coast of Somalia they are virtually invulnerable. Flying at an altitude beyond the range of small arms fire—which, in any case, is highly inaccurate—they strike without warning. Since the drone’s weapon of choice, the Hellfire missile, is supersonic, there is no sound before an explosion: a village compound, a car, a gathering, simply vanishes in a fury cloud of high explosives.
Besides dealing out death, the drones terrify. Forensic psychologist Peter Schaapveld found that drones inflicted widespread posttraumatic stress syndrome in Yemeni villagers exposed to them. Kat Craig of the British organization Reprieve, who accompanied Schaapveld, says the terror of the drones “amounts to psychological torture and collective punishment.”
But do they work? They have certainly killed leading figures in al Qaeda, the Haqqani Group, and the Taliban, but it is an open question whether this makes a difference in the fight against terrorism. Indeed, a number of analysts argue that the drones end up acting as recruiting sergeants by attacking societies where honor and revenge are powerful currents.
In his book “The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s war on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam,” anthropologist Akbar Ahmed argues that the drone war’s major victims are not ideologically committed terrorists, but tribal people. And further, that when a drone sows death and injury among these people, their response is to seek retribution and a remedy for dishonor.
For people living on the margins of the modern world, honor and revenge are anything but atavistic throwbacks to a previous era. They are cultural rules that help moderate inter-community violence in the absence of centralized authority and a way to short circuit feuds and war.
Kinship systems can function similarly, and, in the case of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the drone war ends up creating a broader base for groups like the Taliban. The major target of drones in those countries is the Pashtun tribe, which makes up a plurality of Afghanistan and a majority in Pakistan’s tribal areas. From the outside, Pashtun clans are a factious lot until they encounter an outsider. Then the tribe’s segmentary lineage system kicks in and fulfills the old Pashtun adage: “Me against my brother; my brother and me against our cousins; my brother, me and our cousins against everyone else.”
Occupying someone else’s lands is dangerous and expensive, hence the siren lure of drones as a risk-free and cheap way to intimidate the locals and get them to hand over their land or resources. Will the next targets be indigenous people resisting the exploitation of their lands by oil and gas companies, soybean growers, or logging interests?
The fight against “terrorism” may be the rationale for using drones, but the targets are more likely to be Baluchs in northwest Pakistan, Uyghurs in Western China, Berbers in North Africa, and insurgents in Nigeria. Some 14 countries in Latin America are purchasing drones or setting up their own programs, but with the exception of Brazil, those countries have established no guidelines for how they will be used.
The explosion of drone weapons, and the secrecy that shields their use was the spur behind the Global Drone Summit in Washington, titled “Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance” and organized by Codepink, the Institute for Policy Studies, The Nation Magazine, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Lawyers Guild. The Nov. 16 meeting drew anti-drone activists from around the world to map out plans to challenge the secrecy and the spread of drones.
Zeus gave Pandora a box, and her husband, Epimetheus, the key, instructing them not to open it. But Pandora could not resist exploring what was inside, and thus released fear, envy, hate, disease and war on the world. The box of armed drones, but its furies are not yet fully deployed. There is still time to close it and ban a weapon of war aimed primarily at the powerless and the peripheral.
For more of Conn Hallinan’s essays visit Dispatches From the Edge. Meanwhile, his novels about the ancient Romans can be found at The Middle Empire Series.

Tom Engelhardt, Washington's Wedding Album From Hell 
TomDispatch , RSN, Dec. 28, 2013
Engelhardt writes: "The headline - 'Bride and Boom!' - was spectacular, if you think killing people in distant lands is a blast and a half. Of course, you have to imagine that smirk line in giant black letters with a monstrous exclamation point covering most of the bottom third of the front page of the Murdoch-owned New York Post." 

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Terror: The Hidden Source.   Review by Malise Ruthven

The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam.

by Akbar Ahmed
Brookings, 424 pp., $32.95
ruthven_1-102413.jpgKhaled Abdullah/Reuters
A tribesman near a building damaged by a US drone strike that targeted suspected al-Qaeda militants last year, Azan, Yemen, February 2013
Tolstoy’s novella Hadji Murad opens with the image of a beautiful thistle flower, wrenched from a ditch, that the narrator seeks to add to his bouquet. His effort to pluck it, however, proved a very difficult task. Not only did the stalk prick on every side—even through the handkerchief I wrapped round my hand—but it was so tough that I had to struggle with it for nearly five minutes, breaking the fibres one by one; and when I had at last plucked it, the stalk was all frayed, and the flower itself no longer seemed so fresh and beautiful…. But what energy and tenacity! With what determination it defended itself, and how dearly it sold its life!
This late masterpiece, written in 1904 but never published in Tolstoy’s lifetime, was based on a real-life episode. In 1851 the Avar warlord Hajimurad al-Khunzaki, a confederate of the Imam Shamil, who led the resistance to Russia’s annexation of the Caucasus, betrayed his ally and went over to the Russians. In Tolstoy’s story he is driven by ambition, hoping to govern the Caucasian tribes under the “white tsar.”
The most telling portrayals in the story—apart from Hadji Murad himself, with his thistle-like mix of bravery, integrity, cunning, confusion, and childlike candor—are the complementary, almost symmetrical descriptions of Tsar Nicholas I and the Imam Shamil, both of whom are depicted as cold-eyed, ruthless autocrats who represent opposing forces of absolutism. As Tolstoy himself explained:
It is not only Haji Murad and his tragic end that interest me. I am fascinated by the parallel between the two main figures pitted against each other: Shamil and Nicholas I. They represent the two poles of absolutism—Asiatic and European.
The reality, however, was a great deal more complicated than a clash of absolutisms. Far from being the cold and ruthless autocrat depicted by Tolstoy, Shamil, as the murshid, or spiritual guide, of the orthodox Muslim Khalidiyya-Naqshbandiyya order, was a leader who sustained the loyalty of the warring Caucasian tribes by diplomacy rather than force. A Russian source described him as “a man of great tact and a subtle politician.” His charismatic appeal was underpinned by his reputation for piety and evenhandedness in dispensing justice in accordance with Islamic sharia norms. These had been severely tested when the Russians introduced alcohol into the region, corrupting, by sharia standards, the tribal chiefs who became their clients.
As a renowned warlord and tribal leader, Hadji Murad had been a Russian loyalist, defending Avaristan in the eastern part of Daghestan against Shamil’s encroachments. It was only after the Russians had replaced him as their client in Avaristan by a rival who had him arrested and abused that Hadji Murad responded to Shamil’s overtures and joined the jihad.
The result of his defection in January 1841 had been dramatic: by April Shamil ruled an area three times as large as at the beginning of 1840, with a cascade of formerly compliant clans joining the jihad. Hadji Murad’s rift with Shamil was a classic example of hubris. Hoping to be named his successor as imam, he refused to recognize the nomination of Shamil’s eldest son, Ghazi Muhammad. Faced with this challenge to his authority, Shamil convened a secret council that charged Hadji Murad with treason and sentenced him to death. Warned by friends, he redefected to the Russians in November 1851.
As an anthropologist with deep knowledge and direct experience of tribal systems, Akbar Ahmed demonstrates in The Thistle and the Drone how richly Tolstoy’s thistle metaphor applies to contemporary conditions in regions, distant from urban centers, where clans resist the writ of government while also engaging with it. He points to their “love of freedom” to act without external constraints, as well as egalitarianism, [and] a tribal lineage system defined by common ancestors and clans, a martial tradition, and a highly developed code of honor and revenge—these are the thistle-like characteristics of the tribal societies…. Moreover, as with the thistle, there is a clear correlation between their prickliness, or toughness, and the level of force used by those who wish to subdue these societies, as the Americans discovered after 9/11.
Ahmed is especially troubled by the use of drones against Muslim tribal groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, but his analysis of the nature of the state and its relation with tribal peoples has application far beyond the condition of Muslim tribal societies. As he sees it, the use of unmanned aircraft as a leading counterinsurgency weapon has morphed into a campaign against tribal peoples generally, with the US president disposing of “Zeus-like power to hurl thunderbolts from the sky and obliterate anyone with impunity.”
Flying at 50,000 feet above ground, and therefore out of sight of its intended victims, the drone could hover overhead unblinkingly for twenty-four hours, with little escaping its scrutiny before it struck. For a Muslim tribesman, this manner of combat not only was dishonorable but also smacked of sacrilege. By appropriating the powers of God through the drone, in its capacity to see and not be seen and deliver death without warning, trial, or judgment, Americans were by definition blasphemous.
The Zeus-like power, he writes, is especially damaging to children. A Pakistani observer notes that drones circling the skies in Waziristan on Pakistan’s notoriously lawless northwest frontier “produce a monotonous buzz, almost like the sound of a generator,” making it difficult for young children to sleep. Jennifer Gibson, who contributed to a report jointly commissioned by the Stanford and New York University law schools, goes further: “Drones terrorize the civilian population. They subject whole communities to the constant threat of random annihilation.” The use of drone strikes peaked in 2010, and although the number of strikes on Pakistan has fallen each year since then, it is estimated that between 88 and 143 people there have been killed by drones this year.
Discussions about the use of drones, in the US as in Europe, have tended to focus on questions of legality and constitutionality. Their wider strategic purpose in fighting America’s enemies may be taken as a given. Scott Shane, of The New York Times, has questioned the sincerity of CIA director John Brennan’s denial that the administration prefers targeted killings to the messy business of trying to arrest suspected terrorists, which involves issues of extradition, American troops on foreign soil, and cumbersome legal processes. Shane writes:
Since Mr. Obama took office, the CIA and military have killed about 3,000 people in counterterrorist strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, mostly using drones. Only a handful have been caught and brought to this country; an unknown number have been imprisoned by other countries with intelligence and other support from the United States.
Citing counterterrorism specialists inside and outside of government, Shane suggested that the policy of assassination or “targeted killings” has been shaped by, among other things, the decreasing urgency of interrogation as a mode of gaining intelligence “at a time when the terrorist threat has diminished and the United States has deep intelligence on its enemies.”
The claim of “deep intelligence” is questionable. As Kenneth Roth has argued in these pages,1 the Obama administration may have “dispensed with its predecessor’s language of the ‘global war on terror’” but its basic approach is similar; and in his book Ahmed suggests that the “deep intelligence” claimed for the US is profoundly inadequate, not to say deeply flawed.
The fundamental error, according to Ahmed, is that US leaders believe they are facing a threat from enemies whose motivation is primarily ideological. This was clearly stated by President Obama in his speech at the National Defense University last May, when he said that most, though not all, of the terrorism faced by America
is fueled by a common ideology—a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam. And this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks.
Although al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations had suffered setbacks, said Obama, the ideology persisted, motivated by “the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings.” The primary task facing the United States must be to defeat the threat by winning “a battle of wills, a battle of ideas.” Since it was not possible for America to deploy a team of Special Forces to capture every terrorist, it sometimes had to take “lethal, targeted action against al-Qaeda and its associated forces, including with remotely piloted aircraft commonly referred to as drones.”
In a striking reference to the terrain where the terrorists operated, the president stated:
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates try to gain a foothold in some of the most distant and unforgiving places on Earth. They take refuge in remote tribal regions. They hide in caves and walled compounds. They train in empty deserts and rugged mountains.
The Thistle and the Drone—published some time before Obama’s speech—makes a clear argument that the president and his advisers are putting the al-Qaeda cart before the tribal horse. This impression is reinforced by the recent events in Yemen, where an alleged plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) led to the closure of US embassies throughout the Middle East and North Africa—a move that seemed to contradict Obama’s claim that Americans were safer as a result of his efforts. Rather than exploiting the denizens of “remote tribal regions” as Obama’s speech proclaimed, the terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda and its affiliates are actively engaging the responses of tribal peoples (the thistles of Tolstoy’s metaphor) whose cultures are facing destruction from the forces of modern society—including national governments—currently led by the United States.
Ahmed’s book is a radical analysis based on extensive anthropological detail too complex to be easily summarized. A good example of his approach, however, is his analysis of the background of the September 11 hijackers. It is well known that fifteen of the nineteen terrorists were Saudi nationals. Less well known or indeed understood is their tribal background. The official report of the 9/11 Commission, based on information provided by the Saudi authorities, states that four of the thirteen “muscle hijackers”—the operatives whose job was to storm the cockpits and control the passengers—came from the al-Bahah region, “an isolated and undeveloped area of Saudi Arabia, and shared the same tribal affiliation.” Three of them shared the same al-Ghamdi surname; five others came from Asir Province, described as a poor, “weakly policed area” that borders Yemen, with two of these, Wail and Waleed al-Shehri, actually brothers.
Apart from the brief reference to “tribal affiliation,” the September 11 report skates over the fact that all of these “muscle hijackers” hailed from the contiguous regions of al-Bahah and Asir or from the Wadi Hadhramaut in southern Yemen where Osama bin Laden’s own family came from. Drawing on politically loaded information provided by Saudi intelligence and the waterboarding inflicted on two al-Qaeda operatives, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the would-be hijacker Ramzi Binalshibh, the report focuses mainly on personal contacts, training, and ideological influences. It goes so far as to state that “ethnicity generally was not a factor in the selection of operatives unless it was important for security or operational reasons.”

Here is the website for Robert Greenwald's Drone documentary "Unmanned: America's Drone Wars."

Drone Lawyer: Kill a 16 Year-Old, Get a Promotion

Medea Benjamin, Op-Ed, NationofChange, May 16, 2014: If you think that as a U.S. citizen you’re entitled to a trial by jury before the government can decide to kill you—you’re wrong. During his stint as a lawyer at the Department of Justice, David Barron was able to manipulate constitutional law so as to legally justify killing American citizens with drone strikes. If you’re wondering what the justification for that is, that’s just too bad—he legal memos are classified. What’s suspicious is that now the Obama Administration wants to appoint the lawyer who wrote that legal memos to become a high-ranking judge for life.

By People & Power, Aljazeera, posted May 1
On Israel as a user, and the leading exporter, of military drones


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Contents Drone Newsletter #11 

Robert Greenwald Film Needs Our Help

Extra-Judicial Killing, UN Rapporteur

Medea Benjamin Challenges President Obama

Sprusansky on Muslimi and Obama Admin. Preference for Killing

BOOKS ON DRONES (in reverse chronological order)

    Scahill, Dirty Wars

    Benjamin, Drone Warfare

   Engelhart and Turse, Terminator Planet

   Cavallaro, Living Under Drones (a long report)


Contents #12 Nov. 1, 2013

Goodman, Resistance to Obama’s Drone Wars

United Nations:  Put Drones Under International Law

Draft Drone Ban Treaty

Malala to Obama: Drones Cause Terrorism

Dirty War Film

    Jeremy Scahill

     Amnesty International

     Palast, Drones, Missiles, Etc.

FAIR, Media Not Examining Drone Attacks Against Alleged “Terrorists” in Yemen

Savage and Baker, Obama Limits Targets and Shifts to Military Control


Contents #13   Dec. 28, 2013

Drones Coming to Ark. NG 188th at Ft. Smith

ANSWER Demonstration

Moyers on Drones.

New Greenwald Film, Unmanned: America’s Drone War

      Moyers & Co. Nov. 3

Democracy Now:  Tahir, Director, Wounds of Waziristan, New Film on US Drone War in Pakistan

Porter, CIA Revenge Strike Blocks Pakistan Peace Initiative

Extra! Media Downplay Drones

Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killing

Reprieve Organization Defending People Sentenced to Death

Hina Shamsi, ACLU vs. Targeted Killing, Extra-judicial Murder

CCR & ACLU  Suit Soon to Be Decided by USSC




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