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.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"I thought punishment usually came after the crime."

Is the picture of the United States, that of a "Drone State?

Hollywood summer films criticise US drone strike policies

29 July 2014 Last updated 3 September 2014
  
Many of them are action films designed to be escapist entertainment, but many also address topical themes straight out of the news.

This year some of Hollywood's most successful films - and some television shows - are taking on the debate over President Obama's use of drones.

The BBC's Tom Brook reports.
 View short video report here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Activists Sound Alarm As More Police Departments Consider Using Drones

Anti-war groups call for increased scrutiny over use of drones as law enforcement tools.
Members of the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team fly their search and rescue drone during a demonstration, in Brigham City, Utah. (AP Photo)
Police departments in the U.S. are increasingly considering the use of drones as a law enforcement tool, even as civil rights groups and media turn up scrutiny of police militarization in the wake of brutal crackdowns on anti-brutality protesters in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities.

The Baltimore Sun reported on Sunday that agencies in several Maryland counties are considering testing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for intelligence gathering and “high-risk tactical raids.” That news comes less than a week after anti-war activists in California protested against “mission creep” by the Los Angeles Police Department, which recently acquired several of their own drones. Indiana police departments also recently announced their plan to pursue adding drones to their weapons arsenal.

In a letter (pdf) to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Drone-Free LA spokesperson Hamid Kahn expressed “deep concerns about the recent ‘gifting’ of two Draganflyer X Drones” by the Seattle Police Department to the LAPD. “We believe the acquisition of drones signifies a giant step forward in the militarization of local law enforcement that is normalizing continued surveillance and violations of human rights of our communities,” Kahn wrote.

The SPD originally purchased the unmanned aerial vehicles using a federal grant called the Urban Areas Security Initiative — a common example of the effects of the government’s pervasive, $34-billion militarization program that enables domestic police departments to acquire and trade tools and weapons intended for warfare. In a June press conference, LAPD chief Charlie Beck said drones would be useful in “standoffs, perimeters, suspects hiding,” and defended the department’s acquisition of the UAVs by stating, “When retailers start talking about using them to deliver packages, we would be silly not to at least have a discussion of whether we want to use them in law enforcement.”

But while many police departments claim that they would use the vehicles strictly for high-risk scenarios, critics have sounded the alarm over the risks of drone use, particularly by entities they say are as historically oppressive as American law enforcement agencies.

Finish article here. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Israel Drones Gaza Human Rights Worker to Death

August 12, 2014 http://www.juancole.com/2014/08/israel-drones-worker.html

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A rights group Monday condemned an Israeli drone attack on Gaza that killed a Palestinian worker for a human rights organization the day before, a statement said.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that an Israeli drone attack killed 43-year-old Anwar al-Zaanin, a staff member of al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, at 1:20 p.m. on Sunday in Beit Hanoun.

PCHR said Zaanin was standing near a number of maintenance workers from the Beit Hanoun municipality who were repairing a water network near his house when an Israeli drone fired a missile at them.

“As a result, al-Zaanin was seriously wounded and 2 workers were moderately wounded: Majdi Mousa Shabat, 41; and Sofian Khalil Abu Harbid, 40. They were all evacuated to the hospital, but al-Zaanin succumbed to his wounds,” the report said.

“While PCHR expresses deep sadness for al-Zaanin’s death and passes condolences to his family and to the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, it strongly condemns this crime which targeted unarmed civilians while carrying out their job.”

The rights group said that international silence regarding Israel’s “war crimes” encouraged Israeli forces to continue carrying out such actions.

“PCHR calls upon the international community to investigate this and other crimes committed by Israeli forces against unarmed Palestinian civilians in the context of the ongoing offensive on the Gaza Strip, and prosecute the perpetrators.”

Israeli attacks killed six Palestinians on Sunday before a 72-hour ceasefire came into effect at midnight.

The Israeli army said in a statement Sunday that it had targeted “11 terror squads across the Gaza Strip” throughout the day.

It said Gaza militants had launched 30 rockets at Israel in the same period.

According to PCHR, the Israeli offensive on Gaza has killed 2,008 Palestinians, 1,670 of whom were civilians. Some 471 of those killed were children, the organization says.
Mirrored from Maan News Agency

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Israeli Drone impact Unexamined by the Press


By Enrico Rodriguez
found on the KnowDrones Watch Blog  Blog

While mainstream media has of late been more open in reporting issues surrounding drone spying and killing, there has been very little coverage of the drone’s key role in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The story of massive civilian casualties in Gaza, rightfully, has received wide reporting, but the press hardly mentions drones in this context.

Browse through the stations and sites of the major networks for coverage of drones in Gaza and see which story surfaces most prominently in the search listing.  It’s the report that Israeli forces downed a single drone coming from Gaza.  The message: “Something destructive and lethal flew over and, thank God, they have it down!  This, indeed, is worthy of headlines.”

Briefly on July 28, CNN viewers heard drones and got a sense, possibly for the first time, of their power to generate fear and destruction. http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/07/28/erin-penhaul-gaza-explosions-gunfire.cnn.html

And yet--even as ceasefires bring brief lulls in the bombing of Gaza--women and children still spend sleepless nights cowering under the constant watch of the countless drones that fly over the Gaza sky.  Each sharp eye surveys each roof, and with each sharp gaze comes the dreaded possibility of the trigger being pulled.

Recently, the press has given some coverage of the drone story for reasons good and bad.  The prevailing notion advanced by the US government is that drones reduce civilian casualties with greater accuracy and precision in hitting enemy targets.  This 4 minute video, which predates the current conflict, seems almost like an advertisement for the rationale behind “pinpoint” and “focused” drone killings: http://live.wsj.com/video/graphic-video-drones-kill-targets-in-gaza/F524AAD1-E07F-4F8C-A970-5CBE379E99C0.html#!F524AAD1-E07F-4F8C-A970-5CBE379E99C0
“We can see the suspect, find uninvolved civilians, and find the terrorists, distinguish between them; and, we focus our attack only on the terrorist.” – Drone pilot

Never mind the sad effort at validation of drone killings.  (Note the leap from “innocent” to “terrorist” in the above quote.)  The point is that the heavily touted drone spying and killing technology should have only improved since this report.  Doesn’t that come with a higher expectation of fewer civilian deaths?

However, on the contrary, the overwhelming majority of deaths and injuries in Gaza have in fact been civilian.  And, while the rationale now being peddled behind that statistic is that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, the question that mainstream media has yet to pursue is this: Why, with such powerful drone intelligence that is supposed to be mindful of civilian lives, the trigger is still being pulled notwithstanding?

OPENING A NEW FRONT IN DRONE PROTEST

Noam Chomsky noted on Democracy Now, August 11, 2014:
“…there’s something we have to remember about the United States: It’s not a democracy; it’s a plutocracy. There’s study after study that comes out in mainstream academic political science which shows what we all know or ought to know, that political decisions are made by a very small sector of extreme privilege and wealth, concentrated capital.”
In the face of the renewed wars in Gaza and Iraq in which drones are playing central roles, this is an essential moment to open a new front in counter-drone protest that involves a organized effort to smoke out corporate drone war profiteers in America’s plutocracy who are funding the political plutocrats who obediently vote for drone killing and spying and our “dirty (imperial) wars” generally.

A first step is the Boycott and Divest Honeywell campaign that focuses on David M. Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell International.  Cote is extremely close to Barack Obama, as described on http://www.badhoneywell.org/, which also documents Honeywell’s support not only for the world’s #1 killer drone, but for the Israel Defense Forces, nuclear weapons and various other nefarious activities.

Most recently, Honeywell announced that it is producing portable refineries for war zones; for Iraq, for example.  This technology will help oil companies to reduce their risk while extracting and refining oil in the midst of slaughter. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-05/honeywell-ships-mobile-refineries-to-danger-zone-fields.html

In September and October, actions will be held to promote the BadHoneywell campaign. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July deadliest month in two years

US drone strikes in Pakistan

From TheNews
PESHAWAR: Some 32 people died in three CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, making this the bloodiest month since July 2012. This was stated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, United Kingdom, in its report on the drone strikes for July 2014. It said the strikes all reportedly occurred in and around Dattakhel in North Waziristan.

“The high death toll from just three attacks dramatically increased the casualty rate – the average number of people killed in each strike on average. This month the casualty rate was 10.7 people per strike. That is more than double the rate for June (4.6) and the highest since April 2011, when 24 people died in two attacks,” the report noted.

It added: “Just three of those killed have been named. All were members of al Qaeda according to Sanafi al Nasr, a Syrian-based al Qaeda leader, who eulogised the men. Fayez Awda al Khalidi, Taj al Makki and Abu Abdurahman al Kuwaiti died with three unnamed men in an attack on July 10 that reportedly destroyed a house and vehicle in Mada Khel village, near to Dattakhel.

“July 16 saw the largest strike in Pakistan in over a year, killing at least 15 people. The CIA were targetting an important meeting, according to an unnamed security official. However one source said two mosques were targetted, killing 12 “people” in one and eight “people” in the other, without specifying whether they were civilians or members of an armed group. The Bureau has been unable to confirm these possible civilian casualties, or the report of strikes on mosques,” the report explained.

The report said that three days later on July 19, Madakhel village was reportedly hit again. At least 11 people died when a drone reportedly fired multiple missiles at a building or group of buildings.

It said the Pakistani Army offensive against the Taliban in North Waziristan continued. The Pakistan military claimed to have killed more than 500 militants with no civilian casualties since the offensive began in June.

“On July 16 the military bombed the remote Shawal valley near the border of North and South Waziristan. The military claimed to have killed 35 militants,” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report said. It added that the AFP later reported that 37 civilians were killed, “including 20 women and 10 children”.

The report said the military offensive has cleared entire towns of people, reportedly displacing a million people. It added that over 75,000 are said to have gone to Afghanistan and more than 990,000 have been registered in Pakistani camps just outside North Waziristan.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism recalled that a total of 389 US drone strikes have been carried out in Pakistan since 2004. It noted that 338 of those strikes were authorized by President Barack Obama. It said the number of those killed in these strikes totalled 2,342 to 3,789. Its estimates from open sources showed that 416-957 civilians and 168-202 children were killed in these strikes. Besides, the report said the total number of those injured to-date in the drone strikes was 1,101,657.



This link takes you to a graph of the drone strikes in Pakistan. 
Dated July 10, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Washington Post Opinion Piece by co-chairs of Stinson Center's Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy

June 26 Washington Post
 
John P. Abizaid, a retired Army general, was head of U.S. Central Command from 2003 to 2007. Rosa Brooks was counselor to the undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009 to 2011. They are co-chairs of the Stimson Center’s Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy
 
To understand why U.S. drone strikes outside traditional battlefields make so many people so uneasy, look to the past and look to the future.

Start with the past. In 1976, exiled Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier was driving to work in Washington when a car bomb planted by Chilean agents ripped through his vehicle, killing Letelier and his young, American assistant. From the viewpoint of Chile’s ruling military junta, the killing was justifiable: Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s regime considered itself at war with leftist insurgents and viewed Letelier as a security threat.

U.S. authorities saw things differently, of course: They condemned the bombing as an assassination. The FBI opened a murder investigation, and the Senate intelligence committee launched an inquiry into illegal foreign intelligence activities on U.S. soil.

Now, imagine the future: Suppose Russian President Vladimir Putin decided that a few drone strikes in eastern Ukraine would be just the thing to eliminate some particularly irritating critic of Russian policy.

If this happened, U.S. authorities would surely denounce the strikes, just as they denounced Letelier’s killing. But Putin would surely respond by parroting the U.S. government’s justifications for drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. “First,” he might say, “I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any such Russian strikes. Second, I assure you that all Russian decisions to use lethal force comply fully with applicable law. Russia targets only terrorist combatants who pose an imminent threat to Russia, and it uses force inside other sovereign states only when those states are themselves unwilling or unable to address the threat.”

The United States would naturally demand evidence that those killed were truly dangerous terrorists, but Putin could again take a page from our book. “Unfortunately,” he’d respond, “We can’t make public such sensitive national security information.”  What could U.S. officials possibly say? They may know that they use lethal force only against those who constitute lawful targets under international law — but it’s hard to convince the rest of the world that “trust us” is a good enough basis for killing thousands of people in the territory of other sovereign states.

We both have enormous respect for the men and women charged with keeping our nation safe and believe that there are many circumstances in which drone strikes are entirely appropriate. Nonetheless, we are troubled by the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding U.S. use of targeted strikes far from traditional battlefields, as well as the lack of strategic clarity.
The United States’ drone policies damage its credibility, undermine the rule of law and create a potentially destabilizing international precedent — one that repressive regimes around the globe will undoubtedly exploit. As lethal drones proliferate, the future imagined above is becoming all too likely.

Recent events remind us that the threat posed by terrorist organizations is very real, and U.S. drone strikes have achieved significant tactical successes in certain regions, but the scope, number and lethality of terrorist attacks worldwide suggest that these successes are not producing enduring strategic gains. On the contrary: Overreliance on targeted strikes away from so-called “hot” battlefields creates a substantial risk of backlash and reinvigorated terrorist recruiting and may create a slippery slope leading to continual or wider conflict.

In his recent speech at West Point, President Obama acknowledged many of these concerns. It is time for him to take action to address them.

The court-ordered release Monday of the legal basis for the U.S.-targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, provides the public with some useful information, but much more is needed. The government should make public the approximate number and general location of U.S. drone strikes; the number of people known to have been killed and their organizational affiliations; and the number and identities of any civilians killed. In addition, Obama should create an independent, nonpartisan commission to review lethal drone strikes and should transfer responsibility for strikes from the CIA to the military. Finally, we believe the United States must take the lead in fostering the development of appropriate international norms for the use of lethal force outside traditional battlefields.

Current U.S. drone policies open the door to a dangerous and unstable future. Yes, states must be able to respond effectively to nontraditional threats from nontraditional actors, but whenever lethal force is used, it must also be consistent with the rule of law and fundamental human rights. In the end, U.S. security rests not only on a strong military but also its ability to offer credible leadership, consistent with our longstanding values.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The DRONE Memo

Here is the link to the 31 pages of the Department of Justice Drone Memo

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/2014-06-23_barron-memorandum.pdf


Mint Press News take on the memo http://www.mintpressnews.com/doj-memo-highlights-questionable-reasoning-behind-al-awlaki-drone-strike/193094/
DOJ Memo Highlights Questionable Reasoning Behind al-Awlaki Drone Strike
For the first time ever, Americans learn the United States’ criteria for killing Americans abroad.
By @FrederickReese