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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fly Kites, Not Drones

In Minneapolis, MN, USA, the WAMM-Ground All Drones Committee closed the week of counter-drone activities around the world with our "Fly Kites, Not Drones" event near the shores of Lake Harriet, one of the urban Chain of Lakes. WAMM-GAD provided small light-weight kites that children and their adults could decorate with symbols, words, "No Killer Drone" stickers, and colorful drawings. Our accessible activity drew some passersby, though it was a chilly autumn day. An unusual and, I think, important connection was made with three young adults (two women and one man) who are mechanical engineers from Iran, apparently attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota. They told us they were unaware of any opposition among Americans to drone warfare, and they were overjoyed to join our playful protest. We gave them copies of WAMM's current newsletter featuring a cover article written by a WAMM member who recently returned from a visit with her husband's family in Iran. In addition to signing postcards -- denouncing the US drone program -- to be sent to President Obama, the Iranian grad students flew kites and took many photos, which I'm hoping will be seen within Iran and around the world.

Lucia Smith
for WAMM-Ground All Drones

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What is it like to be a drone operator?

“It’s very odd” – a former UK drone operator speaks. 

An article from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
See sidebar for a theater performance about a pilot.

“You’re absolutely there, you’re in the fight,” recalls former UK drone operator Paul Rolfe in this week’s Drone News podcast. “You’re hearing the guys on the ground and you’re hearing their stress, so when you finish your shift it’s very odd to then step outside… it’s the middle of the day and you’re in Las Vegas.”

For several years Rolfe helped fly Reaper and Predator drones over Afghanistan from both a launch and recovery base in Kandahar and the mission control complex in Creech, Nevada, where RAF Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) operators are embedded.

In an exclusive interview with Bureau journalists, the former sensor operator gives a rare detailed account of how drones operate in combat.

His account highlights the amount of intelligence, analysis, and support needed for remotely piloted aircraft to be effective.

The drones’ sensors allow image analysts to assess an individual’s age, gender and whether or not they are carrying a weapon, according to Rolfe. But he said he had never been able to make out anyone’s face.

Not all aspects of the drones’ sorties can be operated from as far away as Nevada. There is a two second delay in the satellite links through which drones are remotely operated, Rolfe said, which means that a team is needed closer to the ground to manage the take off and landing of the aircraft. He has served in both environments, and found them very different experiences.
“When you come out of the ground control station you’re there in your body armour, you’re on a base which is full of people who are there at war and doing a job, and you have the mortar alarm going off every now and again, so you’re very clearly somewhere which isn’t nice, but you’re able to decompress with all the other guys that are there at the time.”

When operating drones out of Nevada however, the stress of the job caught Rolfe unaware.

I didn’t even realise I was stressed… I had my last sortie, I stepped away and the following day I came out in hives
- Paul Rolfe, former drone operator

He has operated drones that have fired at targets, but never on a pre-planned mission. Rolfe said that in his experience the authorisation process for striking was no less rigorous for a remotely piloted aircraft than for a manned one.

If they saw a situation on the ground in which they might be required to strike, they would have to request an authorisation from the Combined Air Operations Center in Qatar, he said.

The doctrine of so-called courageous restraint under which they were operating meant that civilian casualties were unacceptable, Rolfe said, and they had to make sure they could divert a weapon somewhere safe if a mythical “busful of nuns” came in to the picture.

Rolfe now works for a private firm called Unmanned Experts which offers consultancy services to people interested in using or understanding UAVs. While his clients used to be mainly military, demand from the civilian sector has soared in recent months, he said.

Listen to the full interview here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

See this you tube - John Oliver on Drones

The topic isn't at all funny but John gets a lot of points across.

Why Do Americans Hate Beheadings But Love Drone Killings?

   Former FBI Special Agent. WAMM Board member 
Blogger on Huff Post Politics  Posted:

The answer lies in human psychology. And probably like the old observation about history, people who refuse to understand human psychology are doomed to be victims of psychological manipulation. How is it that even members of peace groups have now come to support US bombing? One lady framed the issue like this: "I request that we discuss and examine why the videotaped beheading of a human being is understood to be more egregious than the explosion (almost totally invisible to the public) of a human being by a missile or bomb fired from a drone."

There are at least four main reasons that explain why Americans care far more about the beheadings (thus far) of two Americans and one U.K citizen, than they care -- here's the polling -- about the thousands of foreign victims of US drone bombing. Here's how people are likely being manipulated into believing that more US bombing is the answer to such terroristic killings even when almost all military experts have admitted that it won't work and "there's no military solution":
1) "Us versus them" mentality, the group bonding also known as tribalism, nationalism, group elitism, etc. seems partially learned behavior but also hard-wired into humans (like other animals) to enable group survival. The worst, most excessive forms of group bonding are also known as racism. Yet it's an innate part of human psychological makeup to identify most closely with those whom we are close to and with whom we share group affinity, so Americans are always going to care more about Americans/Westerners as opposed to more distant foreigners;

2) The gruesome beheadings were deliberately and dramatically videotaped to ensure that US media brought the scenes into all US living rooms whereas the drone bombings of citizens of foreign countries are almost never filmed nor covered at all by US media. Thus to the majority of Americans, drone killings seem sterile, sanitized and surgical even though drone pilots who see the results up close know differently and some are even committing suicide.

3) It's apparent that even a large segment of the "peace" community does not understand that US wars and US-orchestrated regime changes indirectly created Islamic State (and other Al Qaeda type terrorist groups) and that US drone (and other aerial) bombing is giving rise to MORE terrorism, rather than working to reduce it. These two articles "How the West Created the Islamic State" and "How ISIS Is Using Us to Get What It Wants" describe the dynamic. As in all wars, the leaders of both sides are opportunistically using each other to empower each other. Robert Greenwald's video (below) puts it most succinctly: "How Perpetual War Fuels Terrorism." (But the opposite is also true: terrorism fuels war). This is well-known by Western intelligence analysts and foreign policy experts, and it's garden variety war manipulation for everyone except the duped US public. (Borowitz isn't really joking when he reports: "Americans Who Have Not Read a Single Article About Syria Strongly Support Bombing It.") It's depressing otherwise to learn how many uninformed people there are that still think "bombing the village to save it" somehow can work. Such "war on terror" propaganda is actually effective on the liberal-minded who are more vulnerable to having their emotional buttons -- fear, hate, greed, false pride and blind loyalty -- pressed than it is on more pragmatic, cool-headed realists. It's being reported that a number of US journalists who should know better have even fallen for hyped terror threats used to justify the launching of bombing upon Syria.

4) A fourth reason why most Americans now go happily along with perpetual war in a kind of blissful stupor, cheering on their favorite war hawk politician comes from the lessons learned so well from the Vietnam War. Getting rid of the military draft and putting the trillions of dollars of mounting war costs on the ever-expanding and perfectly elastic national debt card was a stroke of genius on the part of the military industrial complex to wipe away any remaining "Vietnam Syndrome." The new "poverty draft" that we're left with constitutes another layer of "us versus them" type manipulation geared to getting the liberal, intellectual middle class on board as they perceive little or no costs and only benefits to perpetual war. Even when not directly profiting by working for military or national security contractors, many Americans have come to believe war creates jobs and ensures they are supplied with cheap gas and other resources.

Anyway, I may be flat wrong but there has to be some explanation and I would welcome others' opinions. Without the witty humor of a Borowitz or Jon Stewart, people may also resent being told how they are constantly duped into this perpetual war that makes them less and less safe. But hopefully, more people will wise up to this psychological manipulation.

Read the article and comments on Huff Post Here

Thursday, September 25, 2014

US drone strike kills as many as 10 in Pakistan

On September 24, 2014
Posted by
A suspected US drone strike has killed as many as ten Uzbek and local alleged militants near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan, according to reports citing unnamed intelligence officials.
Four missiles were fired on a vehicle carrying the group of targeted suspects a mere 500 meters from the Afghan border in the town of Datta Khel in North Waziristan, two Pakistani intelligence officials told AP. The tribal region in northwestern Pakistan is said to be a haven for Taliban and allied fighters.
While AP’s source claimed ten were killed in the strike, Reuters cited “intelligence officials” who said five to eight militants perished in the blast.According to AFP, eight suspected fighters died.
“There are two Uzbeks among the dead militants identified so far,” AFP reported, quoting a senior security official, who added that the vehicle was near a compound when missiles rained down around 3:30 a.m. local time. Reuters sources also reported two foreigners were killed in the attack.
On June 15, the Pakistani Army launched an offensive, known as Zarb-i-Azb, against insurgents in the tribal area. Since then, the military claims to have killed more than 1,000 militants, including a senior commander. Yet the Pakistani government has not offered any proof; no photographs or names have been provided to the media. The area is largely off limits to journalists, and was so even before the Army’s offensive.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office condemned the latest strike, according to a statement. A spokesperson said “with the decisive action being taken against terrorist elements in North Waziristan, there is no need for such strikes.” “We, therefore, urge US for a cessation of such strikes,” the spokesperson added.
In the past decade, the United States has conducted 391 unmanned-drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which estimates that 2,352 to 3,802 people - both alleged militants and civilians - have been killed in those attacks.
The US curbed the strikes for the first six months of the year as Pakistan tried to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents. Yet the deal failed to materialize, and drone strikes resumed a few days before the Pakistani Army’s offensive began. The Bureau for Investigative Journalism reported that since then, there have been at least seven US drone strikes in the region, not counting Wednesday’s attack. The latest strike is the first on Pakistani territory in more than a month.
The US does not officially acknowledge covert drone operations in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen, arousing contempt from those nations and others for alleged violations of national sovereignty and for dangerous legal and ethical precedents being made amid the dawn of robotic warfare.
On Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Council criticized targeted killings via unmanned drone strikes. It marked the first time the panel has formally discussed the issue of armed drones in violation of international human rights law and of the UN Charter. Representatives from 21 countries joined to voice opposition to US drone strikes around the world. The US, UK, and France were the only countries to withhold condemnation.
Unmanned drones have also been deployed in the US-led offensive against militant jihadist group Islamic State (known as ISIS or ISIL). Drones are accompanying more traditional fighter jets like the F-22 Raptor, F-15 Strike Eagles, and F-16s.  Syria has now become the seventh country US President Barack Obama has targeted with airstrikes.

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.