Ground All Drones is a committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) created to address the use of drones, particularly armed drones. Drones are developed worldwide, not only by the U.S. but by other nations as well. In the U.S.unarmed surveillance drones could be used to spy on citizens, a clear violation of our Fourth Amendment Rights. The current focus of this committee is on the use of weaponized drones.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What does a military base in Germany have to do with US drones?

Call To End US Drone Warfare via Ramstein

All lethal US drone strikes are guided via the Satellite Relay Station located on the US Air Force Base Ramstein. More than 10,000 people worldwide have been killed by these drone strikes. The bin Ali Jaber family lost two of its members through a drone strike in Hadramout in Yemen. Now Reprieve and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) have filed a lawsuit against the German government in a German court on behalf of the bin Ali Jaber family. The suit demands that the German government “take legal and political responsibility for the US drone war in Yemen” and “forbid use of the Satellite Relay Station in Ramstein.”

Wednesday, May 27th 2015, 11 a.m., German Bundestag (Meadow) : this case will begin with a hearing before the high administrative court in Cologne. Here in the United States, we will organize actions in solidarity on or before May 26th as, due to local time differences, the hearing will be over by the dawn of May 27th in the United States.


The military base in Ramstein remains under the legal jurisdiction of the German federal government even though the US Air Force has been allowed to use the base. If illegal activities are conducted from Ramstein — such as extra-judicial killings – and the US judicial authorities do not condemn these crimes and mandate an end to them, then German justice authorities have a duty to act.

The United States Government claims the right to deploy killer drones everywhere in the world, but extrajudicial killing is against United States constitutional law as well as German and international law. Extra-judicial killing, the killing of ‘suspects’ is a grievous violation of the United States Constitution. The initiation and prosecution of wars in sovereign countries that do not threaten the US mainland are in violation of international Treaties the United States has signed and which have been ratified by our Congress. These include the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Judgement and the Kellogg Briand Pact, all signed into US Law at the time of their ratification.

Extra- judicial killings carried out by armed drones that are guided to their targets and controlled via Ramstein on German sovereign territory are also violations of both German law and international law. In deference to the suffering of drone victims, and to the deep antiwar sentiment of the German people, as citizens of the United States, we stand in solidarity with the bin Ali Jaber family of Yemen, and the urgent demand by German activists that the (German) Attorney General’s Office act to initiate investigations against military personnel working at Ramstein.

The Two-plus- Four-Treaty (the constitutional founding document of the reunited Federal Republic of Germany) grants Germany “complete sovereignty at home and abroad” and emphasizes that “there shall be only peaceful activities from German territory.”

In accordance with the Treaty and in solidarity with the German people and drone victims everywhere, we demand that:
The Attorney General’s Office immediately initiate investigations on the US military base Ramstein against those individuals who are participating in the operation of the Satellite Relay Station.
The German Government work for the immediate closing of the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein and abstain from acquiring weaponized drones for the German military.
— Action Coalition “Stop the US Drone war via Ramstein
 
Endorsed by Women Against Military Madness
If your organization is planning an action or wishes to endorse this Call, please write Judith@papillonweb.net 
 for this article online and sign-up form to endorse this Call
 http://reports.papillonweb.net/index.php/2015/05/18/call-to-end-us-drone-warfare-via-ramstein/#more-6

Monday, May 11, 2015

DRONES AND TARGETED KILLING -- LEGAL, MORAL AND GEOPOLITICAL ISSUES

Would you rather listen than read?

Here is Marjorie Cohn talking about and reading from the book she edited containing different articles about drones and targeted killing. Good variety of excellent information. Video published on Feb 11, 2015 on WeaponizedNews.Com


EXPERT ANALYSIS OF AN ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL PRACTICE

The Bush administration detained and tortured suspected terrorists; the Obama administration assassinates them. Assassination, or targeted killing, off the battlefield not only causes more resentment against the United States, it is also illegal. In this interdisciplinary collection, human rights and political activists, policy analysts, lawyers and legal scholars, a philosopher, a journalist and a sociologist examine different aspects of the U.S. policy of targeted killing with drones and other methods. It explores the legality, morality and geopolitical considerations of targeted killing and resulting civilian casualties, and evaluates the impact on relations between the United States and affected countries.

The book includes the documentation of civilian casualties by the leading non-governmental organization in this area; stories of civilians victimized by drones; an analysis of the first U.S. targeted killing lawsuit by the lawyer who brought the case; a discussion of the targeted killing cases in Israel by the director of PCATI which filed one of the lawsuits; the domestic use of drones; and the immorality of drones using Just War principles.

Contributors include: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Phyllis Bennis, Medea Benjamin, Marjorie Cohn, Richard Falk, Tom Hayden, Pardiss Kebriaei, Jane Mayer, Ishai Menuchin, Jeanne Mirer, John Quigley, Dr. Tom Reifer, Alice Ross, Jay Stanley, and Harry Van der Linden.



Drones and Targeted Killing
Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues

edited by Marjorie Cohn; foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Published 2015 • 6” x 9” • 296 pages

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Pacifist Protest Against the Peaceful Drone

This article appears in the Progressive magazine May 2015 issue. 

For some years, I thought I was, or hoped I was, a Christian pacifist, for I wished to honor Christ’s peace-enabling instruction to love our enemies, returning good for evil, and His unquestioning generosity to the poor. But finally, in a fit of realism, I was compelled to recognize how deeply in disfavor among Christians were the actual teachings of the Gospels as well as the undiscriminating social behavior of Jesus of Nazareth, who dealt out his kindnesses to God knows whom.

I was having enough trouble at the time with sheep-killing dogs, without inviting the animosity of fiscally costive and violent Christians. I therefore became merely a moral pacifist, for even the immoral normally are not offended by morals. I declared myself opposed, not to killing per se, but to mass killing, killing in cold blood, and killing for profit—in short, to industrial warfare.

In my heart, in fact, I could find no deep repugnance against killing people who deserve to be killed. And I understood perfectly the impulse and the satisfaction of killing some objectionable person in the heat of anger. I did object to wiping out the entire population of a city in order to kill a mere few who were despicable or dangerous, and also to indiscriminate attacks against large numbers of offenders at the risk of killing even a few who were innocent. That such epical destructions were imposed coldly or coolly as technological feats, from a distance, as “part of the job,” and greatly to the enrichment of war industrialists, seemed to me to compound their evil.

But then I was trumped by military technology. Just as I was settling fairly comfortably into my moral pacifism, along came precision weapons, sometimes known as smart weapons. Smart bombs gave me not too much trouble. A smart bomb, after all, despite its name is still a bomb. I found that I, at least, was too moral a man to wish to observe closely or tolerate pacifically the work of a smart bomb.

It was the advent of the drone that shook me, for it seemed actually to present the possibility of the selective killing of individual offenders, which offered the further attractions of being an act of passion and far cheaper than killing hundreds or thousands in order to kill one. I am very sure, contrary to the doctrine of progress, that the smartest, most precise weapons so far invented are swords and daggers, for each of them had its employer attached to its handle, which tended to eliminate the possibility of mistaken identity or collateral damage. But I thought the drone might be a pretty tolerable substitute.

Like most would-be pacifists, I suppose, I am an imaginative person. Until better informed, I imagined that when personalized drones had come online, our President’s office had been fitted with a drone-activating button in easy reach. And when the case against an evil-doer had been made beyond reasonable doubt by his military advisers, our President would cry out in hot-hearted passion: “Thus as ever, O enemy of peace!” He would punch the button, and down would topple his singular foe at a very appreciable savings to the Pentagon.

But, alas, the drone, in this case as in every other, would not be deployed directly by the President or by any of his underchiefs. It would be deployed in a foreign country, by a small technician at home in the United States, while he and our President would be having lunch, though not, of course, together. Also, the drones were not as precise as I had hoped, for they sometimes miss the designated enemy and hit an innocent bystander—the sort of operator’s error that we must classify as normal. The enemies of peace resent these errors just as much as we peace-lovers would. And so the drones have very likely made more enemies than they have killed.

So that ended my time as a moral pacifist supporter of precision warfare.

Meanwhile, as is the fashion in the industrial age, the technology of war has been busily seeking peacetime, or at least civilian, commodification. Even as our military drones are dealing death to despisers of peace and freedom, they are being marketed at home as toys, as mechanical substitutes for human workers at a very appreciable saving to corporations of the service economy, and, like all previous miracles of modern technology, as solutions to many previously unsolvable problems.

The drone, according to its evangelists, is on its way to becoming a transformative technology, like the automobile. But unlike the automobile, which established itself somewhat slowly because of its dependence on improved roads, the drone depends only on the air, which is already available, and apparently usable or abusable at no cost. And so the drones are already upon us in force, solving the problems of real estate agents, farmers, electric utilities, and hobbyists, as well as causing some official concern about safety and privacy. The proper officials and agencies, we are informed, are going to make rules to assure that drones will be used as lawfully and safely as automobiles. 

Well. The people who ought to be worried by all this will be the professional worriers. This will be no job for amateurs. Even so, the drone is entering the domestic economy, the homeland neighborhoods of peace and good will, from its ongoing history of spying and killing. Do the concerned officials—do the manufacturers and marketers—think that only the government is interested in spying and killing? As a reasonably observant moral pacifist, I have noticed that legitimate public violence breeds, and is bred from, illegitimate private violence. If official agencies of the government violate the privacy of citizens, as we know they do, why should not unofficial persons and businesses offend in the same way? If the government uses the latest devices of precision killing to kill its enemies, why may that not be taken as proof of the efficacy of those devices for the same use by private persons? As a person of imagination, I can easily imagine the handiness of a drone to the needs of a private entrepreneur in contractual murder. Would not killing by remote control be the ideal solution to some of his or her larger problems?

On behalf of private landowners like myself, moreover, I have a number of questions. Though I have never shot at an airplane passing across my land, or ever publicly objected to their passing across, it has seemed reasonable to me to suppose that my proprietary rights begin at a point at the center of the Earth, rise up from there to my surface boundaries, and from there extend outward, maintaining their vertical trajectories, infinitely into the sky—and, therefore, that I might very properly collect a toll for any use of the aerial right-of-way between my line fences. It will no doubt be wisest to let that go for the time being. But the coming of the drones does raise immediately the question as to how high, in present law and usage, my rights of property and privacy may extend above the surface of my land. My trees, for example, I believe to be standing free in my own air and light. Do I then not have the right, below at least the tops of my tallest trees, or the tallest trees of their species, to live and breathe freely in my own unharming peace? And do I then not have the right to shoot down with any weapon legally available to me a drone invading that space? How else might I effectively resist such an invasion? Locking gates, obviously, will be of no avail. 

What, then, are we to say in behalf of mere citizens, those who have no perceived need for spying or killing, who do not covet technological toys, who would like the service economy actually to serve, even if slowly, and who wish only to live in peace and quiet with their neighbors? Might they not reasonably feel that their properties, their privacy, their peace, even their lives, may be threatened by this “emerging industry”?

I do. I felt sufficiently threatened to revise my pacifism yet again. I became a luddite vigilante moral pacifist. In that capacity, I wrote the following letter to the National Rifle Association: 
Port Royal, Kentucky 40058
December 26, 2014. 
National Rifle Association
11250 Waples Mill Rd.
Fairfax, VA 22030 
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am a small landowner concerned about the rights of property and of personal privacy. As such, I look upon the encroachment of “drones” into the domestic life of our country as a significant danger. The small and affordable drones now being promoted and sold to the general public do not merely threaten the rights of property and privacy; they could also be the means of the destruction of property and of life. I therefore ask if you would be so kind as to tell me the kind of shotgun, shells, and shot that I would need to disable one of these invasive devices. Anything you can do to help me—if only the necessary specifications on a postcard—I would greatly appreciate. 
Sincerely,
Wendell Berry
WB/tb 

To my true and sincere disappointment, the NRA has given me no answer. If it had recommended an appropriate weapon, I would as promptly as possible have bought one. As a retired squirrel hunter I possess only a .22 caliber rifle which, given its disuse and my blurring eyesight, would virtually guarantee the safety even of a squirrel.

Perhaps the NRA entertained some paranoid fear of entrapment. (By me?) Or perhaps they failed to see my vision. What I foresaw was the advent of a new bloodless sport, which would require the purchase of a drone gun by almost every pacifist, as well as by such vegetarians and animal-rightists as might object to spying, killing, and the overcrowding of the atmosphere by countless fuming, noisy small aircraft. This could amount virtually to a new birth for the manufacturers of sporting firearms. I have had many pleasant thoughts relating to this possibility, but I will mention only one, which I believe to be both exemplary and suggestive: Since the drones would not be protected game birds, shooting them “over a baited field” would be perfectly legal. In the future now so ardently foreseen, it would be possible to have one of your friends order you a book from Amazon and then to shoot the delivery drone. Members of an urban neighborhood, worrying about the increase of pollution, the noise, the danger to pedestrians and to children at play, might individually order many books, bringing forth a volley of drones that could be met by a volley of gunfire from the concerned citizens, who might even salvage the books.

But now another, and a most disturbing, thought has occurred to me. Perhaps the NRA did not answer because officials there were embarrassed to tell me they have no answer. Perhaps, even probably, they would have had to tell me that the only anti-drone weapon would be another drone. I would then have no recourse except to purchase and deploy in my own defense an anti-drone drone, which would be to establish within my own domestic life and economy the one-upping logic of war itself. To this there can be no foreseeable end, except the exhaustion finally of raw materials and fuels.

This side of exhaustion, the logic of war is good for business. The business plan of industrial war—the production of products to be destroyed—is logically and economically perfect, sure to keep us thriving while the world lasts. So long as we have a supply of expendable metals and fuels, as well as expandable humans and other creatures, the economy will grow and the stock market will flourish.

But it was the need to oppose that very business plan, and to stand as far as possible aside from it, that turned me toward Christian pacifism to begin with. I see now that my arguing toward a pacifism more practical than Christian has been in vain. (I assume it would be about the same for pacifists of other faiths.) I see now that there is nothing in technology or law that can prevent us poor humans from reducing ourselves by the ever-renewing forms of violence against one another—and always for the sake of some high cause, such as the nation, the economy, God, freedom, or peace. That is the trap in which our animal feet, like our self-glorifying minds, are craftily caught. And so, the obvious risks notwithstanding, I now return to where I began. Our only peace, finally our only safety, is in the trying and dangerous countercraft, the neighborly love that endureth all things. Can we, can I, imagine it in this age of metals loosely flying? 


Wendell Berry is a poet, novelist, essayist, environmental activist, and farmer.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sack cartoon: Droning on, indiscriminately


 STEVE SACK  Star Tribune Saturday April 25, 2015

Germany is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War

By Jeremy Scahill on April 17, 2015    from The Intercept (TI)

A TOP-SECRET U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Intercept confirms that the sprawling U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany serves as the high-tech heart of America’s drone program. Ramstein is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries. The top-secret slide deck, dated July 2012, provides the most detailed blueprint seen to date of the technical architecture used to conduct strikes with Predator and Reaper drones.

Amid fierce European criticism of America’s targeted killing program, U.S. and German government officials have long downplayed Ramstein’s role in lethal U.S. drone operations and have issued carefully phrased evasions when confronted with direct questions about the base. But the slides show that the facilities at Ramstein perform an essential function in lethal drone strikes conducted by the CIA and the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.

The slides were provided by a source with knowledge of the U.S. government’s drone program who declined to be identified because of fears of retribution. According to the source, Ramstein’s importance to the U.S. drone war is difficult to overstate. “Ramstein carries the signal to tell the drone what to do and it returns the display of what the drone sees. Without Ramstein, drones could not function, at least not as they do now,” the source said.

The new evidence places German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an awkward position given Germany’s close diplomatic alliance with the United States. The German government has granted the U.S. the right to use the property, but only under the condition that the Americans do nothing there that violates German law.

The U.S. government maintains that its drone strikes against al Qaeda and its “associated forces” are legal, even outside of declared war zones. But German legal officials have suggested that such operations are only justifiable in actual war zones. Moreover, Germany has the right to prosecute “criminal offenses against international law … even when the offense was committed abroad and bears no relation to Germany,” according to Germany’s Code of Crimes against International Law, which passed in 2002.

This means that American personnel stationed at Ramstein could, in theory, be vulnerable to German prosecution if they provide drone pilots with data used in attacks.

While the German government has been reluctant to pursue such prosecutions, it may come under increasing pressure to do so. “It is simply murder,” says Björn Schiffbauer of the Institute for International Law at the University of Cologne. Legal experts interviewed by Der Spiegel claimed that U.S. personnel could be charged as war criminals by German prosecutors.
A top-secret slide confirms the central role Germany plays in the U.S. drone war.

RAMSTEIN IS ONE of the largest U.S. military bases outside the United States, hosting more than 16,000 military and civilian personnel. The relay center at Ramstein, which was completed in late 2013, sits in the middle of a massive forest and is adjacent to a baseball diamond used by students at the Ramstein American High School. The large compound, made of reinforced concrete and masonry walls and enclosed in a horseshoe of trees, has a sloped metal roof. Inside this building, air force squadrons can coordinate the signals necessary for a variety of drone surveillance and strike missions.

On two sides of the building are six massive golf ball-like fixtures known as satellite relay pads.
In a 2010 budget request for the Ramstein satellite station, the U.S. Air Force asserted that without the Germany-based facility, the drone program could face “significant degradation of operational capability” that could “have a serious impact on ongoing and future missions.” Predator and Reaper drones, as well as Global Hawk aircraft, would “use this site to conduct operations” in Africa and the Middle East, according to the request. It stated bluntly that without the use of Ramstein, drone “weapon strikes cannot be supported.”

“Because of multi-theater-wide operations, the respective SATCOM Relay Station must be located at Ramstein Air Base to provide most current information to the war-fighting commander at any time demanded,” according to the request. The relay station, according to that document, would also be used to support the operations of a secretive black ops Air Force program known as “Big Safari.”
The classified slide deck maps out an intricate spider web of facilities across the U.S. and the globe: from drone command centers on desert military bases in the U.S. to Ramstein to outposts in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Qatar and Bahrain and back to NSA facilities in Washington and Georgia.

What is clear is that most paths within America’s drone maze run through Ramstein.
Transatlantic cables connect U.S. drone pilots half a world away. (Illustration: Josh Begley)
Much more - Read the whole article please click HERE

Creech Air Force Base in Nevada is central to multiple prongs of the U.S. drone war. Personnel stationed at the facility are responsible for drone operations in Afghanistan — which has been on the receiving end of more drone strikes than any country in the world — and Pakistan, where the CIA has conducted a covert air war for the last decade. The agency’s campaign has killed thousands of people, including hundreds of civilians. Some drone missions are operated from other locations, such as Fort Gordon in Georgia and Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico.

The pilots at Creech and other ground control stations send their commands to the drones they operate via transatlantic fiber optic cables to Germany, where the Ramstein uplink bounces the signal to a satellite that connects to drones over Yemen, Somalia and other target countries. Ramstein is ideally situated as a satellite relay station to minimize the lag time between the commands of the pilots and their reception by the aircraft, called latency. Too much latency — which would be caused by additional satellite relays — would make swift maneuvers impossible. Video images from a drone could not be delivered to the U.S. in near real time. Without the speed and precise control an installation like Ramstein allows, pilots would practically be flying blind.

A diagram in the secret document shows how the process works. Ramstein’s satellite uplink station is used to route communications between the pilots and aircraft deployed in a variety of countries. Video from the drones is routed back through Ramstein and then relayed to a variety of U.S. intelligence and military facilities around the U.S. and the globe. Another diagram shows how pilots at Creech connect to Ramstein and then to the Predator Primary Satellite Link, which facilitates direct control of the drone wherever it is operating.

All of this — location, combined with the need to securely house the large quantities of equipment, buildings and personnel necessary to operate the satellite uplink — has made Ramstein one of the most viable sites available to the U.S. to serve this critical function in the drone war.

Much more - For the whole article please click HERE

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Graphic anti-drone video ad to run on television near US air force bases

Created by group of US military veterans who ask pilots to ‘refuse to fly’

Wednesday 1 April 2015

A group of US military veterans is hoping to put a stop to the use of drone strikes with a graphic TV ad campaign which will run near drone operating bases across the US this month.

The 15-second television spots – thought to be the first anti-drone ads to run on US television – will air during the daytime throughout April in the Sacramento region, near Beale air force base, and asks drone pilots to “please refuse to fly”.

Trailer

“We feel that it really comes down to the people who are doing the actual killing to put a stop to this,” said Nick Mottern, the coordinator of activist site KnowDrones.com and a navy veteran himself.

The ads are being sponsored by roughly 200-300 veterans from a Democratic party veterans’ group in Sacramento, KnowDrones.com and the city’s local chapter of Veterans for Peace, a group of US military veterans seeking world peace.

One of the ads features images of wounded and dead children, and will appear on television only after 10pm. The other, edited version will run 5am-9pm daily.

The Sacramento spots are part of a larger plan to run the advertisements near drone operations centers around the US. Last month, the more graphic ad ran in Las Vegas near Creech Air Force Base for one week.
“We felt that the president and the Congress had been totally unwilling not only to stop the killing, but to provide any information to the public on the scope of these attacks since they began,” said Mottern.

US drone use is one of the most controversial aspects of its foreign policy. An analysis by the human rights group Reprieve, released in November 2014, found that US operators targeting 41 men had ended up killing an estimated 1,147 people.

The coalition of veterans is hoping that the advertisements will reach drone pilots, support personnel and their families. Mottern said that the group understands the difficulties and consequences of violating orders, but believes the only way to put an end to drone killings is by having soldiers involved.

Congressional Research Service — links to reports

Secrecy News

Domestic Drones & Privacy, and More from CRS

from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS)
Posted on April 2, 2015 in CRS, Drones by

The anticipated deployment of thousands of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) — or drones — in American skies raises unresolved privacy concerns that have barely begun to be addressed, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

The CRS report provides “a primer on privacy issues related to various UAS operations, both public and private, including an overview of current UAS uses, the privacy interests implicated by these operations, and various potential approaches to UAS privacy regulation.” See Domestic Drones and Privacy: A Primer, March 30, 2015.

This week, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration arguing that the FAA was obliged to establish privacy rules for commercial drones and that it had failed to do so.

The privacy implications of drones have been discussed in several congressional hearings over the past two years, yielding these published hearing volumes:
U.S. Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Integration, Oversight, and Competitiveness, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, December 10, 2014
Eyes in the Sky: The Domestic Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems, House Judiciary Committee, May 17, 2013
The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations, Senate Judiciary Committee, March 20, 2013

* * *

Other new or updated CRS reports that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following.
Cyberwarfare and Cyberterrorism: In Brief, March 27, 2015
The United Kingdom: Background and Relations with the United States, March 27, 2015
Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention, March 26, 2015
Peace Talks in Colombia, March 31, 2015
Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile, March 31, 2015
Supervised Release (Parole): An Overview of Federal Law, March 5, 2015