Friday, June 10, 2016


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

Contents:  OMNI Drone Watch Newsletter #18
Drone Information
Contacting the 188th Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard
Drone Strike Kills Somalia Shabab Leader (Is it murder by our president without Declaration of War?)
Drone Crashes (no problem, a grim Reaper costs only $14 mil)
Turse, Bases Worldwide (there were 60 bases when Turse wrote, an unknown number under construction, as in Ft. Smite, AR; btw, Turse wrote the book on mass killing in Vietnam War)
Bureau of Investigative Journalism (up to date data)
Gusterson, Remote Control Warfare (the nooks and crannies and many points of view)

Citizen Resistance
Mennonites (reflect at their high school then demonstrate at the drone command center
Chomsky, Drone Terrorism (C. possesses almost supernatural x-ray detection of cant)
Opposing Drones in the Arts:  A Poem, Books, Some Quilts, a Film
Poem by Gerry Sloan
VFP: Drones Quilt Project
Feature Film about Drone Pilots and PTSD
The Assassination Complex by Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald
Gordon, American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for
      Post-9/121 War Crimes
Derber and Magrass, Bully Nation
More Organizations and Actions
Know Drones:  Las Vegas Symposium, April 2016
Nick Mottern, Know Drones (looks like a good international drone watch)
Nuclear Resister June 2, 2016 (includes half a dozen articles on drones)
Former Drone Pilots Speak Out (revelations from inside damning)
Retirees urge Refuse to Fly, get another job, this one’s illegal
Democracy Now, Bacevich: President Obama’s Drone War and
      Middle East War
Moyers & Co., Bacevich: Drone War Unconstitutional
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), DC Rally Against Drones
Civil Disobedience (see Nuclear Resister above)
VFP Members Arrested at Creech April 1, 2016

Drone Information

[Major Heath provided me the following information quickly and in a friendly manner.  –Dick]
Major G. Heath Allen is Executive Officer and Public Relations Officer for the 188th Wing.
Allen, G HEATH Maj USAF 188 WG (US)
HEATH ALLEN, Major, AR ANG Air National Guard
Executive Officer, 188th Wing
Office: 479.573.5221
DSN: 778.5221
Cell: 479.871.0771
Office e-mail:
188th SARC HOTLINE: 479.719.6667
SAFE helpline: 877.995.5247

 to Dick Bennett  3-21-16
Please see the attached mission briefing and info below.  This should
provide solid start for your project.
Quick Facts:
- We're not slated to have MQ-9 Reapers at our location. The 188th will be
flying them remotely in the applicable Area of Responsibility.
- Won't be fully operational in all three primary mission sets until around
- The 3 primary mission sets are:
Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MQ-9 Reapers) conducts both kinetic and non-kinetic missions;
Distributed Common Ground Station (real-time ISR processing, exploitation, and dissemination of intel products for variety of DoD and coalition customers);
Targeting (focused on other nation's ground-based space capabilities but conducts array of targeting missions).
History website:
MQ-9 Reaper factsheet:

[As you have just read, the official name of the Pentagon’s unpiloted aircraft is Remotely Piloted Aircraft, but the plane has been popularly nicknamed the “drone,” the term in general usage.  –D]

US drone strike kills key al-Shabaab leader in Somalia
Pentagon press secretary said an airstrike conducted on Thursday targeted Hassan Ali Dhoore, a ‘senior leader’ of the Somali militant group al-Shabaab.
 On 5 March US-piloted warplanes and drones attacked a Somali training camp for al-Shabaab killing a key leader and two others.
The Guardian, Friday 1 April 2016  Last modified on Saturday 2 April 2016
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A US drone strike in Somalia has killed a key leader of the al-Shabaab militant group who was involved in two attacks in Mogadishu more than a year ago, killing Americans, several US officials said on Friday.
It was the US military’s second strike in a month on terrorist targets in Somalia, a country against which the US has never declared war.

MORE DRONE CRASHES.  Space Alert! (Winter/Spring 2016), p. 10.
Washington Post reported…that a record number of Air Force drones crashed in major accidents last year,” especially the “advanced ‘hunter-killer- drone, the Reaper, which has become the Pentagon’s favored weapon” against “militants groups.”  Now brace yourself:  each Reaper “cost about $14 million each to replace.”  The AF’s “other primary drone model, the Predator, also suffered heavy casualties.”

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·         Email increasingly dot the planet.  There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth at an air base in the United Arab Emirates that almost no one talks about. 
And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities [60 total] to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide.  Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous -- until now.
Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases -- some little more than desolate airstrips, others sophisticated command and control centers filled with computer screens and high-tech electronic equipment -- are the backbone of a new American robotic way of war.  They are also the latest development in a long-evolving saga of American power projection abroad -- in this case, remote-controlled strikes anywhere on the planet with a minimal foreign “footprint” and little accountability.
Using military documents, press accounts, and other open source information, an in-depth analysis by TomDispatch has identified at least 60 bases integral to U.S. military and CIA drone operations.  There may, however, be more, since a cloak of secrecy about drone warfare leaves the full size and scope of these bases distinctly in the shadows.
A Galaxy of Bases
Over the last decade, the American use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has expanded exponentially, as has media coverage of their use.  On September 21st, the Wall Street Journal reported that the military has deployed missile-armed MQ-9 Reaper drones on the “island nation of Seychelles to intensify attacks on al Qaeda affiliates, particularly in Somalia.”  A day earlier, a Washington Post piece also mentioned the same base on the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, as well as one in the African nation of Djibouti, another under construction in Ethiopia, and a secret CIA airstrip being built for drones in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. (Some suspect it's Saudi Arabia.)
Post journalists Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock reported that the “Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen.”  Within days, the Post also reported that a drone from the new CIA base in that unidentified Middle Eastern country had carried out the assassination of radical al-Qaeda preacher and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.  
With the killing of al-Awlaki, the Obama Administration has expanded its armed drone campaign to no fewer than six countries, though the CIA, which killed al-Awlaki, refuses to officially acknowledgeits drone assassination program.  The Air Force is less coy about its drone operations, yet there are many aspects of those, too, that remain in the shadows.  Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel John Haynes recently told TomDispatch that, “for operational security reasons, we do not discuss worldwide operating locations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, to include numbers of locations around the world.”
Still, those 60 military and CIA bases worldwide, directly connected to the drone program, tell us much about America’s war-making future.  From command and control and piloting to maintenance and arming, these facilities perform key functions that allow drone campaigns to continue expanding, as they have for more than a decade.  Other bases are already under construction or in the planning stages.  [Ft. Smith, AR, Ebbington NGAFB, 188th Wing].   When presented with our list of Air Force sites within America’s galaxy of drone bases, Lieutenant Colonel Haynes responded, “I have nothing further to add to what I’ve already said.”
Even in the face of government secrecy, however, much can be discovered.  Here, then, for the record is a TomDispatch accounting of America’s drone bases in the United States and around the world.     MORE
The Near Abroad
News reports have frequently focused on Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas as ground zero in America’s military drone campaign.  Sitting in darkened, air-conditioned rooms 7,500 miles from Afghanistan, drone pilots dressed in flight suits remotely control MQ-9 Reapers and their progenitors, the less heavily-armed MQ-1 Predators. Beside them, sensor operators manipulate the TV camera, infrared camera, and other high-tech sensors on board the plane.  Their faces are lit up by digital displays showing video feeds from the battle zone.  By squeezing a trigger on a joystick, one of those Air Force “pilots” can loose a Hellfire missile on a person half a world away.
While Creech gets the lion’s share of media attention -- it even has its own drones on site -- numerous other bases on U.S. soil have played critical roles in America’s drone wars.  The same video-game-style warfare is carried out by U.S and British pilots not far away at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base, the home of the Air Force’s 2nd Special Operations Squadron (SOS).  According to a factsheet provided to TomDispatch by the Air Force, the 2nd SOS and its drone operators are scheduled to be relocated to the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in Florida in the coming months.
Reapers or Predators are also being flown from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, March Air Reserve Base in California, Springfield Air National Guard Base in Ohio, Cannon Air Force Base and Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Ellington Airport in Houston, Texas, the Air National Guard base in Fargo, North Dakota, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York.  Recently, it was announced that Reapers flown by Hancock’s pilots would begin taking off on training missions from the Army’s Fort Drum, also in New York State. 
Meanwhile, at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, according to a report by the New York Times, teams of camouflage-clad Air Force analysts sit in a secret intelligence and surveillance installation monitoring cell-phone intercepts, high-altitude photographs, and most notably, multiple screens of streaming live video from drones in Afghanistan.  They call it “Death TV” and are constantly instant-messaging with and talking to commanders on the ground in order to supply them with real-time intelligence on enemy troop movements.  Air Force analysts also closely monitor the battlefield from Air Force Special Operations Command in Florida and a facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.
CIA drone operators also reportedly pilot their aircraft from the Agency’s nearby Langley, Virginia headquarters.  It was from here that analysts apparently watched footage of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, for example, thanks to video sent back by the RQ-170 Sentinel, an advanced drone nicknamed the “Beast of Kandahar.”  According to Air Force documents, the Sentinel is flown from both Creech Air Force Base and Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.
Predators, Reapers, and Sentinels are just part of the story.  At Beale Air Force Base in California, Air Force personnel pilot the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned drone used for long-range, high-altitude surveillance missions, some of them originating from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam (a staging ground for drone flights over Asia).  Other Global Hawks are stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, while the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio manages the Global Hawk as well as the Predator and Reaper programs for the Air Force. 
Other bases have been intimately involved in training drone operators, including Randolph Air Force Base in Texas and New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base, as is the Army’s Fort Huachuca in Arizona, which is home to “the world’s largest UAV training center,” according to a report by National Defense magazine.  There, hundreds of employees of defense giant General Dynamics train military personnel to fly smaller tactical drones like the Hunter and the Shadow.  The physical testing of drones goes on at adjoining Libby Army Airfield and “two UAV runways located approximately four miles west of Libby,” according to Global Security, an on-line clearinghouse for military information.  
Additionally, small drone training for the Army is carried out at Fort Benning in Georgia while at Fort Rucker, Alabama -- “the home of Army aviation” -- the Unmanned Aircraft Systems program coordinates doctrine, strategy, and concepts pertaining to UAVs.  Recently, Fort Benning also saw the early testing of true robotic drones -- which fly without human guidance or a hand on any joystick.  This, wrote the Washington Post, is considered the next step toward a future in which drones will “hunt, identify, and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans.”
The Army has also carried out UAV training exercises at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and, earlier this year, the Navy launched its X-47B, a next-generation semi-autonomous stealth drone, on its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California.  That flying robot -- designed to operate from the decks of aircraft carriers -- has since been sent on to Maryland’s Naval Air Station Patuxent River for further testing.  At nearby Webster Field, the Navy worked out kinks in its Fire Scout pilotless helicopter, which has also been tested at Fort Rucker and Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, as well as Florida’s Mayport Naval Station and Jacksonville Naval Air Station.  The latter base was also where the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aerial system was developed.  It is now based there and at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State.
Foreign Jewels in the Crown
The Navy is actively looking for a suitable site in the Western Pacific for a BAMS base, and is currently in talks with several Persian Gulf states about a site in the Middle East.  It already has Global Hawks perched at its base in Sigonella, Italy.
The Air Force is now negotiating with Turkey to relocate some of the Predator drones still operating in Iraq to the giant air base at Incirlik next year.  Many different UAVs have been based in Iraq since the American invasion of that country, including small tactical models like the Raven-B that troops launched by hand from Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Shadow UAVs that flew from Forward Operating Base Normandy in Baqubah Province, Predators operating out of Balad Airbase, miniature Desert Hawk drones launched from Tallil Air Base, and Scan Eagles based at Al Asad Air Base.
Elsewhere in the Greater Middle East, according to Aviation Week, the military is launching Global Hawks from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, piloted by personnel stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Marylandto track “shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Arabian Sea.”  There are unconfirmed reports that the CIA may be operating drones from the Emirates as well.  In the past, other UAVs have apparently been flown from Kuwait’s Ali Al Salem Air Base and Al Jaber Air Base, as well as Seeb Air Base in Oman.    
At Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the Air Force runs an air operations command and control facility, critical to the drone wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The new secret CIA base on the Arabian peninsula, used to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, may or may not be the airstrip in Saudi Arabiawhose existence a senior U.S. military official recently confirmed to Fox News.  In the past, the CIA has also operated UAVs out of Tuzel, Uzbekistan.
In neighboring Afghanistan, drones fly from many bases including Jalalabad Air Base, Kandahar Air Field, the air base at Bagram, Camp Leatherneck, Camp Dwyer, Combat Outpost Payne, Forward Operating Base (FOB) Edinburgh and FOB Delaram II, to name a few.  Afghan bases are, however, more than just locations where drones take off and land. 
It is a common misconception that U.S.-based operators are the only ones who “fly” America’s armed drones.  In fact, in and around America’s war zones, UAVs begin and end their flights under the control of local “pilots.”  Take Afghanistan’s massive Bagram Air Base.  After performing preflight checks alongside a technician who focuses on the drone’s sensors, a local airman sits in front of a Dell computer tower and multiple monitors, two keyboards, a joystick, a throttle, a rollerball, a mouse, and various switches, overseeing the plane’s takeoff before handing it over to a stateside counterpart with a similar electronics set-up.  After the mission is complete, the controls are transferred back to the local operators for the landing.  Additionally, crews in Afghanistan perform general maintenance and repairs on the drones.
In the wake of a devastating suicide attack by an al-Qaeda double agent that killed CIA officers and contractors at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost in 2009, it came to light that the facility was heavily involved in target selection for drone strikes across the border in Pakistan.  The drones themselves, as the Washington Post noted at the time, were “flown from separate bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Both the Air Force and the CIA have conducted operations in Pakistani air space, with some missions originating in Afghanistan and others from inside Pakistan.  In 2006, images of what appear to be Predator drones stationed at Shamsi Air Base in Pakistan's Balochistan province were found on Google Earth and later published.  In 2009, the New York Times reported that operatives from Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, had taken over the task of arming Predator drones at the CIA’s “hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
Following the May Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, that country’s leaders reportedly ordered the United States to leave Shamsi.  The Obama administration evidently refused and word leaked out, according to the Washington Post, that the base was actually owned and sublet to the U.S. by the United Arab Emirates, which had built the airfield “as an arrival point for falconry and other hunting expeditions in Pakistan.” 
The U.S. and Pakistani governments have since claimed that Shamsi is no longer being used for drone strikes.  True or not, the U.S. evidently also uses other Pakistani bases for its drones, including possibly PAF Base Shahbaz, located near the city of Jacocobad, and another base located near Ghazi.  
The New Scramble for Africa
Recently, the headline story, when it comes to the expansion of the empire of drone bases, has been Africa.  For the last decade, the U.S. military has been operating out of Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion base in the tiny African nation of Djibouti.  Not long after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it became a base for Predator drones and has since been used to conduct missions over neighboring Somalia.   
For some time, rumors have also been circulating about a secret American base in Ethiopia.  Recently, a U.S. official revealed to the Washington Post that discussions about a drone base there had been underway for up to four years, “but that plan was delayed because ‘the Ethiopians were not all that jazzed.’” Now construction is evidently underway, if not complete.
Then, of course, there is that base on the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.  A small fleet of Navy and Air Force drones began operating openly there in 2009 to track pirates in the region’s waters.  Classified diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks, however, reveal that those drones have also secretly been used to carry out missions in Somalia.  “Based in a hangar located about a quarter-mile from the main passenger terminal at the airport,” the Post reports, the base consists of three or four “Reapers and about 100 U.S. military personnel and contractors, according to the cables.” 
The U.S. has also recently sent four smaller tactical drones to the African nations of Uganda and Burundi for use by those countries’ militaries.
New and Old Empires
Even if the Pentagon budget were to begin to shrink, expansion of America’s empire of drone bases is a sure thing in the years to come.  Drones are now the bedrock of Washington’s future military planning and -- with counterinsurgency out of favor -- the preferred way of carrying out wars abroad. 
During the eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency, as the U.S. was building up its drone fleets, the country launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and carried out limited strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, using drones in at least four of those countries.  In less than three years under President Obama, the U.S. has launched drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.  It maintains that it has carte blanche to kill suspected enemies in any nation (or at least any nation in the global south).  
According to a report by the Congressional Budget Office published earlier this year, “the Department of Defense plans to purchase about 730 new medium-sized and large unmanned aircraft systems” over the next decade.  In practical terms, this means more drones like the Reaper.
Military officials told the Wall Street Journal that the Reaper “can fly 1,150 miles from base, conduct missions, and return home… [T]he time a drone can stay aloft depends on how heavily armed it is.”  According to a drone operator training document obtained by TomDispatch, at maximum payload, meaning with 3,750 pounds worth of Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 or GBU-30 bombs on board, the Reaper can remain aloft for 16 to 20 hours.  
Even a glance at a world map tells you that, if the U.S. is to carry out ever more drone strikes across the developing world, it will need more bases for its future UAVs.  As an unnamed senior military official pointed out to a Washington Post reporter, speaking of all those new drone bases clustered around the Somali and Yemeni war zones, “If you look at it geographically, it makes sense -- you get out a ruler and draw the distances [drones] can fly and where they take off from.”
Earlier this year, an analysis by TomDispatch determined that there are more than 1,000 U.S. military bases scattered across the globe -- a shadowy base-world providing plenty of existing sites that can, and no doubt will, host drones.  But facilities selected for a pre-drone world may not always prove optimal locations for America’s current and future undeclared wars and assassination campaigns.  So further expansion in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia is a likelihood.   
What are the Air Force’s plans in this regard?  Lieutenant Colonel John Haynes was typically circumspect, saying, “We are constantly evaluating potential operating locations based on evolving mission needs.”  If the last decade is any indication, those “needs” will only continue to grow.
This article originally appeared on
Nick Turse is a historian, essayist, and investigative journalist. The associate editor and a senior editor at, his latest book is The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso Books).  This article marks another of Turse’s joint Alternet/TomDispatch investigative reports on U.S. national security policy and the American empire.

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Drone: Remote Control Warfare


Drones are changing the conduct of war. Deployed at presidential discretion, they can be used in regular war zones or to kill people in such countries as Yemen and Somalia, where the United States is not officially at war. Advocates say that drones are more precise than conventional bombers, allowing warfare with minimal civilian deaths while keeping American pilots out of harm’s way. Critics say that drones are cowardly and that they often kill innocent civilians while terrorizing entire villages on the ground. In this book, Hugh Gusterson explores the significance of drone warfare from multiple perspectives, drawing on accounts by drone operators, victims of drone attacks, anti-drone activists, human rights activists, international lawyers, journalists, military thinkers, and academic experts. 

Gusterson examines the way drone warfare has created commuter warriors and redefined the space of the battlefield. He looks at the paradoxical mix of closeness and distance involved in remote killing: is it easier than killing someone on the physical battlefield if you have to watch onscreen? He suggests a new way of understanding the debate over civilian casualties of drone attacks. He maps “ethical slippage” over time in the Obama administration’s targeting practices. And he contrasts Obama administration officials’ legal justification of drone attacks with arguments by international lawyers and NGOs.

About the Author

Hugh Gusterson is Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of Nuclear Rites and People of the Bomb: Portraits of America’s Nuclear Complex.

Citizen Resistance
Drone Warfare and God’s Call to Peacemaking

Friday, June 24 from 7:00-9:00 Pm; and Saturday, June 25 from 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, 1000 Forty Foot Road, Lansdale, PA 19446 
Culminating with a public witness/demonstration from 1:00 - 2:30 PM on Saturday, June 25 at the Horsham Drone Warfare Command Center, County Line & Easton Road, Horsham, PA 19044.

Published on Monday, January 19, 2015 by Common Dreams
Noam Chomsky: Obama's Drone Program 'The Most Extreme Terrorist Campaign of Modern Times'
Famed linguist takes aim at western hypocrisy on terrorism.

Noam Chomsky speaking in May, 2014.  (Photo:  Chatham House/flickr/cc)
World-renowned linguist and scholar Noam Chomsky has criticized what he sees as Western hypocrisy following the recent terror attacks in Paris and the idea that there are two kinds of terrorism: "theirs versus ours."
In an op-ed published Monday at, Chomsky notes how the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a supermarket last week sparked millions to demonstrate under the banner "I am Charlie" and prompted inquiries "into the roots of these shocking assaults in Islamic culture and exploring ways to counter the murderous wave of Islamic terrorism without sacrificing our values."
No such inquiry into western culture and Christianity came from Anders Breivik's 2011 attack in Norway that killed scores of people.
Nor did NATO's 1999 missile strike on Serbian state television headquarters that killed 16 journalists spark "Je Suis Charlie"-like demonstrations. In fact, Chomsky writes, that attack was lauded by U.S. officials.
That civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams described the Charlie Hebdo attack as "the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory," is not surprising, Chomsky writes, when one understands "'living memory,' a category carefully constructed to include Their crimes against us while scrupulously excluding Our crimes against them—the latter not crimes but noble defense of the highest values, sometimes inadvertently flawed."
Other omissions of attacks on journalists noted by Chomsky: Israel's assault on Gaza this summer whose casualties included many journalists, and the dozens of journalists in Honduras that have been killed since the coup in 2009.
Offering further proof of what he describes as western hypocrisy towards terrorism, Chomsky takes at aim at Obama's drone program, which he describes as "the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times."
It "target[s] people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby," he writes.
DRONES IN THE ARTS: Poem, Quilts, Film, Books

By Gerald Sloan (April 2016)

Authorized personnel go over
the bomb site with flashlight
and tweezers, retrieving
the fragments of bodies.
How can you bury the dead

when there is no head?
Can they be reconstructed
like an archaeological find
or assembled like a puzzle
one piece at a time?

Drones Quilt Project
          A project to remember the victims of US combat drones
The idea for the Drones Quilt Project started with a group of women in the UK who wanted to create what they called “a visual petition” to present to Parliament.  From their website:
“The quilt is a work of advocacy. It’s a really simple project designed to raise awareness about drones and remind the government that those killed by drones are human beings, whose lives are sacred. Each square of the quilt is made by someone like you, who writes their name and then the name of a victim on a square of fabric. By doing so you advocate for that person, you put your name next to theirs as a sign that you stand in solidarity with them. These are then sewn together to create a visual petition.”
The idea resonated with activists in the U.S., particularly since it is the U.S. that is responsible for thousands of deaths by combat drones, and so the U.S. version of the Drones Quilt Project was born.
Since then, dozens of quilt blocks from all over the country have been turned into quilts, and form the basis of the Drones Quilt Project exhibit.  Accompanying the quilts are informational posters describing the illegality of the combat drones program as well as the real damage they are causing.  A third component of the exhibit is a two-sided handout listing resources as well as suggestions for taking action in opposition to these combat drones.
The quilts measure 66” x 66” and weigh 2.5 lbs each.  The posters are 20” x 30” and there are four of them.  There are currently five completed quilts and we are soliciting more quilt blocks so we may begin the sixth. 
It is our hope that this exhibit will help educate the public about the illegal and immoral use of combat drones.   @dronesquilt   FB: Drones Quilt Project
Drones Quilt Project Coordinator:  Leah Bolger,, 541-207-7761
‘Good Kill’: Drone Pilots Get PTSD, Civilians Die Nameless
A new movie from Andrew Niccol stars Ethan Hawke as a pilot fighting terrorists from the ’burbs of Las Vegas.
By Ali Gharib, Twitter, MAY 15, 2015
US drone pilot seems counterintuitive. A joystick and some computer screens in a shipping container–sized office cube outside Las Vegas—it ain’t exactly the stuff of a Hollywood action thriller. But that’s just the setting director Andrew Niccol gives us in his new drama Good Kill, which opened in theaters on Friday.
The film, written and directed by Niccol, follows Maj. Tommy Egan, an Air Force pilot who used to fly fighter planes, played by a convincing Ethan Hawke, at the height of the escalation of the drone war around 2010. Unmanned aerial vehicles, as drones are properly known, are becoming all the rage. War from a safe distance—“We’ve got no skin in the game,” Egan complains at one point—has its obvious appeal, and everyone at the base on the Las Vegas outskirts knows it. Egan’s commanding officer at one point tells a group of new recruits, “Drones aren’t going anywhere. In fact they’re going everywhere.”
The increase in drone attacks coincided with a more active CIA role in the program; in the film, a disembodied voice referred to only as “Langley” calls in strikes and communicates with the drone pilots’ cubicle via speakerphone, making repeated decisions that the “collateral damage”—civilian casualties—is worth it to blow up some “high-value target” or another. And, with the CIA’s more prominent role, civilian casualties do indeed climb. “Splash,” the drone pilots say after each explosion, followed by a less and less enthusiastic echo of “good kill,” giving the film its title.
The falling enthusiasm of some, far from all, of the drone operators gives the movie its tension. Though not a typical war movie—the explosions happen, without any audio, on a screen within a screen—Good Kill does explore what has become a common theme of today’s war films: post-traumatic stress disorder. This, like the civilian casualties, which are ripped right from headlines, is a real phenomenon: A 2013 study found drone pilots are just as likely as pilots in manned aircraft to suffer PTSD.   MORE


Democracy Now! Daily Digest May 3, 2016

As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional ... Read More →

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wrote the foreword for the new book by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The InterceptThe Assassination Complex: Inside the ... Read More →

American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes by Rebecca Gordon.  2016.
·        Details
No subject is more hotly debated than the extreme measures that our government has taken after 9/11 in the name of national security. Torture, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, secret detention centers (or “black sites”), massive surveillance of citizens. But while the press occasionally exposes the dark side of the war on terror and congressional investigators sometimes raise alarms about the abuses committed by U.S. intelligence agencies and armed forces, no high U.S. official has been prosecuted for these violations – which many legal observers around the world consider war crimes.

The United States helped establish the international principles guiding the prosecution of war crimes – starting with the Nuremberg tribunal following World War II, when Nazi officials were held accountable for their crimes against humanity. But the American government and legal system have consistently refused to apply these same principles to our own officials. Now Rebecca Gordon takes on the explosive task of “indicting” the officials who – in a just society – should be put on trial for war crimes. Some might dismiss this as a symbolic exercise. But what is at stake here is the very soul of the nation.  (from the book)

[Considerable attention is given to “drone assassination”: 3, 29, 120, 164-75 and more.   –Dick]

Another new book arrived today 6-10
Charles Derber & Yale MagrassBully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society. 2016.   Related?  The entire chain of Drone command projects domination.. 

“Inside Drone Warfare” – The Las Vegas Symposium Tapes
Thanks to the financial contributions by many of you who are reading this, the “Inside Drone Warfare” symposium was held at the University of Nevada/Las Vegas School of Law on March 30, 2016 - in the shadow of Creech AFB, the largest drone control and training center in the U.S.
The entire symposium was videotaped and divided into five parts, linked below. These tapes will give you a profound emotional as well as informational understanding of the impact of the U.S. drone war program on the drone operators and their victims, all of whom have been abandoned by the U.S. legal system.
Please remember that the seriousness and emotion evinced by the drone whistleblowers comes not only from their experiences in the drone program but because they constantly face the threat of government reprisal.
Here are links to press coverage of the event:
If you would like a DVD of these tapes to use in study groups, to send to public officials or for other purposes, please contact There will be a slight cost, yet to be determined.
·         Ann Wright introduces the symposium.
·         Whistle-blowers’ lawyer Jesselyn Radack speaks about common problems among drone operators and observes: “most of the people in the program definitely have struggles of conscience”.
·         Former drone operator Cian Westmoreland describes experiences in the drone program after saying that what bothered him the most was the “diffusion of responsibility” within the drone program; and he speaks of the “civility” of the killing. He also talks about the impact of war on children.
·         Former CIA counter-terrorism officer Chris Aaron concludes after his experience in the drone program that: “We absolutely are sowing the seeds for the next round of people to hate us.” There is “a lot of guess work” involved in drone targeting he says, and he believes that “we are essentially setting ourselves up for what we would have to call a perpetual war.”
·         Universalist Unitarian Minister and Reserve Army Chaplain Chris Antal tells about being kicked out of Afghanistan by the Army after giving a sermon critical of U.S. military involvement there, including drone warfare.
·         Reprieve lawyer Shelby Sullivan-Bennis discusses Reprieve’s work in representing the families of drone victims and says that “U.S. courts are kangaroo courts with respect to national security.” She says Reprieve brings cases in the U.S. not with any expectation of winning but in the hope that press coverage of the cases will educate the U.S. public about drone war. ”This is very much a war of public opinion,” she says.
·         Shelby follows up her presentation by presenting an extremely moving video interview with a Yemeni man whose brother-in-law was killed by U.S. drones. Describing the impact of drone attacks on a Yemeni town, he says that “for the people killing has become normal…” They say: “maybe the bombs will fall on us, it doesn’t matter. We’ll die; it doesn’t matter to us.…It’s become all the same whether you’re with Al Qaeda or a normal peaceful citizen you are going to get killed all the same. It’s all the same. You might be alive today and dead tomorrow.”
·         Marjorie Cohn, human rights lawyer, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and editor of “Drones and Targeted Killing”, outlines how drone war violates international law and discusses how American exceptionalism provides an emotional underpinning for drone attacks which leads to the kind of thinking that “it’s preferable that foreign little girls get killed as opposed to U.S., American little girls.” She also says that the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Nuremberg Principles establish…a duty to disobey unlawful orders, and “it is my feeling that this defense could also be used for drone pilots who refuse to carry out orders, direct orders really, to kill people with drones.”
·         Brian Terrell, Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, delivers a timeless, must-see commentary on the philosophical basis for drone war protest and war protest generally in which he says, “when we go to Creech and places like it … we cannot be there to blame other people…”
·         A brief question and answer session that includes commentary on the drone war movies “The Good Kill” and “Eye in the Sky”, ways of supporting whistleblowers and protest messaging at drone bases.

JUNE 9, 2016

The articles for this bulletin, listed below, appear on the front page of


You can also refer to all published bulletins anytime via this link:
 In solidarity,
Nick Mottern
Coordinator, Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare
Copyright © 2016 Nick Mottern, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have expressed a concern about drones.
Our mailing address is: 
Nick Mottern
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NUCLEAR RESISTER  (June 2, 2016)
Page 1, “Shut Down Creech!  Drone War Resistance in Nevada”
“The 65-mile Sacred Peace Walk from Las Vegas to the Nevada nuclear weapons test site, sponsored annually by the Nevada Desert Experience, stopped at Creech as they passed by on March 23,” the first day of the annual peace camp, multiple protests and arrests.  P. 5 gives report of arrests at the test site. 
Page 3, “New York Drone Resister Out on Appeal.”  Faulty title; article pertains to two resisters.
     Mary Anne Grady Flores out on bail while she challenges validity of a protection order granted to Col. Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing.  She needs financial help, see p. 7.
     Three days after she was released Nazareth College Professor of Sociology Harry Murray was in court for sentencing for his trespass at Hancock in 2013.  Murray had filed a 3,300 word memorandum with the court regarding civil disobedience against drones.
Page 4, “Feds Dismiss Drone Protesters Yet Again.”
P. 5, “Peace Drone Flies at Air Show.”

FORMER DRONE PILOTS SPEAK OUT.  Space Alert! (Winter/Spring 2016), p. 11.
The reported that former drone operators in the U.S. Air Force “have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterized the program.”  In response, the Air Force has tried to silence the former airmen.

From Drone Watch #17
Retired and Former U.S. Military Personnel Urge Drone Operators to Refuse to Fly Missions.  Veterans for Peace E-News, June 5, 2015. VFP members have signed onto to a letter urging United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance or assassination missions.  <Letter>
n a letter released by, 44 former members of the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines whose ranks range from private to colonel and whose military service spans 60 years, “urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions.  <Signators of the Letter>  From Veterans for Peace Weekly E-News, June 19, 2015.

Andrew Bacevich: America's War for the Greater Middle East Cannot Be Won. Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, APRIL 08, 2016.  STORY.  WATCH FULL SHOW
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Andrew Bacevich. He has written a new book called America’s War for the Greater Middle East. I wanted to turn to Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch is reiterating its call for the United States to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, after the group said it found evidence the Saudi-led coalition used U.S.-supplied bombs in the deadly airstrikes on a crowded market in Yemen last month. The strikes killed at least 97 civilians, including 25 children. Medical clinic worker Othman Saleh spoke out about the aftermath of the attack.

OTHMAN SALEH: [translated] We received 44 wounded in total, including women, children and elders. Of those 44, two people died. Three others were in critical condition. They had to be taken to the ICU.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Yemen, the ongoing drone strikes there. In just our headlines today, speaking of drone strikes, Afghan officials saying at least 17 civilians killed in U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan on Wednesday—first strike reportedly hitting a truck of a local elder going to resolve a land dispute, killing the elder and 11 others; the second drone reportedly striking and killing two people going to collect the bodies; and a third strike reportedly killing three men who went to see what happened. This expanded drone war, which is President Obama’s?

ANDREW BACEVICH: There’s no question about it. I mean, and it has to be one of the most disappointing parts of his legacy, I think. You know, the president—we elected the president because he said that he was going to end the Iraq War responsibly. Sadly, he also said that he was going to escalate the Afghanistan War. He did that, without any particular success. My assessment of the president is that he understands that invading and occupying countries in the Islamic world basically doesn’t work, and so he is—he is refraining from trying to repeat that mistake. Alas, he has now turned to other methods of employing American military power, with missile-firing UAVs one very good example. And there is little evidence that those alternatives are all that much more effective, albeit, at least from a U.S. point of view—a U.S. point of view only—they aren’t as costly.

For some reason, I mean—I’m with Clausewitz: War is the continuation of politics by other means. War makes sense only if you are able to achieve your political purposes at some reasonable cost. And we have been fighting a war in the Greater Middle East without achieving, in any conclusive sense, any positive political outcomes. And yet the tendency is to evaluate our conduct there in operational military concerns, of winning fights as opposed to accomplishing political objectives. And that’s yet another problem.   MORE (see link above).

“Writing a Blank Check on War for the President”
How the United States became a prisoner of war and Congress went MIA.  BY ANDREW BACEVICH.  mOYERS & cO.,  APRIL 6, 2016.
A US Navy seaman fires a shot line in March of 2016 from the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez, which is supporting Operation Inherent Resolve in the Arabian Gulf. (Photo: Department of Defense)
This post originally appeared at TomDispatch.
Let’s face it: in times of war, the Constitution tends to take a beating. With the safety or survival of the nation said to be at risk, the basic law of the land — otherwise considered sacrosanct — becomes nonbinding, subject to being waived at the whim of government authorities who are impatient, scared, panicky or just plain pissed off.
The examples are legion. . . . [For Bacevich’s historical survey presidential usurpation of the authority to go to war, click on TomDispatch above.]
To leap almost four decades ahead, think of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) that was passed by Congress in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 as the grandchild of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. This document required (directed, called upon, requested, invited, urged) President George W. Bush “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”  In plain language: here’s a blank check; feel free to fill it in any way you like.
Forever War
As a practical matter, one specific individual — Osama bin Laden — had hatched the 9/11 plot. A single organization — al-Qaeda — had conspired to pull it off. And just one nation — backward, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan — had provided assistance, offering sanctuary to bin Laden and his henchmen. Yet nearly 15 years later, the AUMF remains operative and has become the basis for military actions against innumerable individuals, organizations and nations with no involvement whatsoever in the murderous events of September 11, 2001.
Consider the following less than comprehensive list of four developments, all of which occurred just within the last month and a half:
*In Yemen, a US airstrike killed at least 50 individuals, said to be members of an Islamist organization that did not exist on 9/11.
*In Somalia, another US airstrike killed a reported 150 militants, reputedly members of al-Shabab, a very nasty outfit, even if one with no real agenda beyond Somalia itself.
*In Syria, pursuant to the campaign of assassination that is the latest spin-off of the Iraq War, US special operations forces bumped off the reputed “finance minister” of the Islamic State, another terror group that didn’t even exist in September 2001.
*In Libya, according to press reports, the Pentagon is again gearing up for “decisive military action” — that is, a new round of air strikes and special operations attacks to quell the disorder resulting from the US-orchestrated air campaign that in 2011 destabilized that country. An airstrike conducted in late February gave a hint of what is to come: it killed approximately 50 Islamic State militants (and possibly two Serbian diplomatic captives).
Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Libya share at least this in common: none of them, nor any of the groups targeted, had a hand in the 9/11 attacks.
Imagine if, within a matter of weeks, China were to launch raids into Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, with punitive action against the Philippines in the offing. Or if Russia, having given a swift kick to Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan, leaked its plans to teach Poland a lesson for mismanaging its internal affairs. Were Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin to order such actions, the halls of Congress would ring with fierce denunciations. Members of both houses would jostle for places in front of the TV cameras to condemn the perpetrators for recklessly violating international law and undermining the prospects for world peace. Having no jurisdiction over the actions of other sovereign states, senators and representatives would break down the doors to seize the opportunity to get in their two cents worth.  No one would be able to stop them. Who does Xi think he is! How dare Putin!

When Obama in 2015 went so far as to ask Congress to pass a new AUMF addressing the specific threat posed by the Islamic State — that is, essentially rubberstamping the war he had already launched on his own in Syria and Iraq — the Republican leadership took no action.
Yet when an American president undertakes analogous actions over which the legislative branch does have jurisdiction, members of Congress either yawn or avert their eyes.
In this regard, Republicans are especially egregious offenders. On matters where President Obama is clearly acting in accordance with the Constitution — for example, in nominating someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court — they spare no effort to thwart him, concocting bizarre arguments nowhere found in the Constitution to justify their obstructionism. Yet when this same president cites the 2001 AUMF as the basis for initiating hostilities hither and yon, something that is on the face of it not legal but ludicrous, they passively assent.
Indeed, when Obama in 2015 went so far as to ask Congress to pass a new AUMF addressing the specific threat posed by the Islamic State — that is, essentially rubberstamping the war he had already launched on his own in Syria and Iraq — the Republican leadership took no action. Looking forward to the day when Obama departs office, Senator Mitch McConnell with his trademark hypocrisy worried aloud that a new AUMF might constrain his successor. The next president will “have to clean up this mess, created by all of this passivity over the last eight years,” the majority leader remarked. In that regard, “an authorization to use military force that ties the president’s hands behind his back is not something I would want to do.” The proper role of Congress was to get out of the way and give this commander-in-chief carte blanche so that the next one would enjoy comparably unlimited prerogatives.
Collaborating with a president they roundly despise — implicitly concurring in Obama’s questionable claim that “existing statutes [already] provide me with the authority I need” to make war on ISIS — the GOP-controlled Congress thereby transformed the post-9/11 AUMF into what has now become, in effect, a writ of permanent and limitless armed conflict. In Iraq and Syria, for instance, what began as a limited but open-ended campaign of air strikes authorized by President Obama in August 2014 has expanded to include an ever-larger contingent of US trainers and advisers for the Iraqi military, special operations forces conducting raids in both Iraq and Syria, the first new all – US forward fire base in Iraq, and at least 5,000 US military personnel now on the ground, a number that continues to grow incrementally.

Remember Barack Obama campaigning back in 2008 and solemnly pledging to end the Iraq War? What he neglected to mention at the time was that he was retaining the prerogative to plunge the country into another Iraq War on his own ticket. So has he now done, with members of Congress passively assenting and the country essentially a POW.
By now, through its inaction, the legislative branch has, in fact, surrendered the final remnant of authority it retained on matters relating to whether, when, against whom and for what purpose the United States should go to war. Nothing now remains but to pay the bills, which Congress routinely does, citing a solemn obligation to “support the troops.” In this way does the performance of lesser duties provide an excuse for shirking far greater ones.
In military circles, there is a term to describe this type of behavior. It’s called cowardice.
ANDREW BACEVICH   Andrew Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. A graduate of the US Military Academy, he received his PhD in American diplomatic history from Princeton University. Bacevich is also the author of the new released book America’s War for the Greater Middle East

National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR),
The Real State of the Union Protest – January 12, 2016
Please do your utmost to participate in this extremely important protest in Washington, DC, organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), that embody the first mass response to the dramatic spread of the U.S. drone assassination campaign as well as the expansion of bombing and introduction of special operations units in the Middle East and Libya.
Here is the NCNR call for the protest:
Join the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance and friends for
January 12, 2016 1:30 pm
On the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court building, across from the Capitol
Because of the wars:
- We are making enemies across the globe.
- We have no money left to help those who are struggling and living in poverty.
- Our Mother Earth is dying and the climate is in crisis.
- Violence is escalating here at home, especially against people of color.
As Obama delivers his final State of the Union address, we call on him to speak the truth.  The Union, and indeed the whole world, is ravaged after years of endless war. 
What can we do?  Join us on January 12 for a peaceful rally and hear inspiring speakers with real solutions.  Bring signs and banners, and materials to share with others in making signs.  If you are considering risking arrest in an action of nonviolent civil resistance, contact
Here is the schedule for the day:
11:00 a.m. - People can begin gathering at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Captiol St. NE, for networking and making signs.
11:30-12:30 – Those risking arrest will meet at the church for final planning of action.
12:30-1:30 - Open mic giving activists an opportunity to share information on their group and what they are doing in working for peace and justice.
1:30 – Rally, with signs and banners, speakers and reading of the Real State of the Union petition (See below) on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court, 1 First Street, NE, across the street from the Capitol.
Sometime around 2:30 or 3:00 - Those risking arrest will attempt to deliver the petition to Congress and the President in an action of nonviolent civil resistance.  If you are planning to risk arrest or want to find out more, contact
Note: Protests are also being planned at Creech AFB, Las Vegas, and Beale AFB, Marysville CA. For more information contact Toby Blome –
Veterans and Activists Arrested Protesting Drone Terror at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.  VFP Weekly E-News, April 1, 2016.
Veterans For Peace national President Barry Ladendorf, Board member Tarak Kauff, and Advisory Board member Ann Wright were among eight peace activists who were arrested early Thursday morning ]3-31], after physically blocking the main gate to Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Also arrested were VFP members Barry Binks (long time, often arrested drone protester), Ken Mayers, Chris Kundson and Leslie Harris, along with Joan Pleume of the New York Granny Peace Brigade.

Contents:  OMNI Drone Watch Newsletter #17
Drone Information
New Drone Command Center Under Construction at Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Ft. Smith, AR
Global Drone Bases, More Under Construction, More Planned
Facts About the MQ-9 Reaper
Normalizing Drones, Capitalism Will Commodify Everything
Moyers & Co., Drone Wars Documents Leaked
Film, Eye In the Sky: Step by Step with Helen Mirren
Pentagon’s War Planning:  Increasing the Drones
Obama’s War
Dick: News Reporting as Inadvertent Editorial Writing
3 types
VFP Drone Quilts at OMNI
Appeals to Drone “Pilots” to Walk Away
Protesters at Battle Creek Drone Center.
Civil Disobedience
12 Arrested at Hancock AFB Drone Command
Code Pink Members Arrested at Creech AFB
2 Arrested at Volk Field Air National Guard Base
Dick, War of Terror
Dick, Wars and Warming

Contents Drone Newsletter #15 and #16 at end


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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)