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, 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 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Get The Data: Drone Wars

Obama 2014 Pakistan drone strikes

Students gather at the site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district
Students gather at the site of a drone strike in Hangu, November 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Syed Shah)

The events detailed here occurred in 2014. These have been reported by US or Pakistani government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources, including on occasion Bureau researchers. Below is a summary of CIA drone strikes and casualty estimates for 2014. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.
CIA strikes – Obama 2014
Total CIA drone strikes 3
Total reported killed: 15-24
Civilians reported killed: 0
Children reported killed: 0
Total reported injured: 6-8

See the databases for previous strikes under President Obama: 2013
201220112010 and 2009

See the Pakistan drone strike database for all strikes under President Bush, 2004 to January 2009

Ob333
June 11 2014

♦ 4-6 reported killed
The first drone strike in almost six months reportedly hit a house and vehicle, killing six alleged militants. Early reports put the death toll at three, although later a Pakistani intelligence source told reporters that six people had died: ‘According to intercepts of the militants, four were Uzbek militants and two members of the Punjabi Taliban,’ he said, according to NBC.

An intelligence official described to AFP how the drone targeted a pick-up truck parked against the outer wall of a housing compound, setting both on fire. But locals told NBC that the vehicle had been driving through the village when it came under attack, and the damage to buildings may have been unintended: ‘Two nearby houses were partially damaged in the missile strikes, but the target was the truck,’ resident Yar Mohammad told the news channel by telephone.

An unnamed ‘senior intelligence official’ told AFP that following the strike, intercepted communications revealed: ‘One of the militants was asking others to reach the site and search for any one injured in the strike and also to dig out the dead bodies.’

Pakistani officials told the New York Times ‘at least four’ had died and a local intelligence official said the dead were ‘three Uzbeks and two members of the Haqqani Network’.

Early reports did not identify any of the dead or indicate their seniority. The attack took place in Darga Mandi or Tabbi Tolkhel, a few miles west of Miranshah.

The attack came days after peace talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) conclusively collapsed with a bloody attack on Karachi Airport that reportedly killed at least 39 people, including 10 alleged militants. The TTP and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group with a heavy presence in North Waziristan, described the airport attack as a ‘joint operation‘ and said it was in retaliation to the November 2013 drone strike that killed TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, as well as to the multiple Pakistani military air strikes that have hit the region since the drone strikes stopped.

The lengthy pause in drone strikes was at the request of the Pakistani government, to allow peace talks with the TTP to take place, sources close to the negotiations told the Bureau. However terrorist attacks and retaliatory military air strikes on targets in the tribal belt continued throughout the hiatus in drone strikes. Following the attack on Karachi airport, the prospect of a full military operation in North Waziristan grew closer as defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told TV channel ARY (quoted in the Wall Street Journal): ‘The talks option has been pursued with sincerity by the government, but no result has come.’

Location: Tabi Tolkhel or Darga Mandi, North Waziristan
ReferencesNBC NewsAFPWall Street JournalPTICNNAssociated Press, New York Times, Dawn, Express Tribune, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Centre

Ob334
June 12 2014
♦ 6-10 reported killed
♦ 4 reported wounded

Hours after the five-month hiatus in drone strikes ended, drones fired multiple missiles at alleged militants, reportedly killing either six or 10 people. But reports disagreed on the target of the strikes, with AFP reporting that the drones targeted men who were digging out bodies at the site of the previous strike – a tactic previously exposed by the Bureau. ‘Three US drones fired six missiles on militants who had gathered to dig the debris of a compound,’ a security official told AFP. Two vehicles were also hit, he added. Islamabad-based research unit Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC) also reported the strike targeted rescuers: ‘[The] second drone strike was carried out at [the]same location after [a] few hours to target the rescue team.’ And PTI reported the strike hit the same site as the earlier attack but did not mention an attack on rescuers.

NBC News also reported that the attack took place in the same village as the previous strike, adding that it hit a house where explosives were being stored. ‘I never heard such a huge and deafening blast,’ Miranshah resident Javed Khan said. ‘It jolted the entire tribal region, and everybody thought [the] house was targeted.’

But separate reports, also by AFP and by Xinhua, presented a different account, with locals saying missiles hit four separate houses and a pick-up truck in Dande Darpakhel, killing at least 10 and wounding four. Intelligence officials and locals described seeing five to ten drones overhead. And Associated Press said three missiles hit a house and vehicle. Two unnamed officials said the attack targeted the Haqqani Network, the group that held US soldier Bowe Bergdahl captive until his release in a controversial prisoner exchange the week before the strikes resumed.

According to Pakistan local newspaper Dawn and the CMC Haji Gul, a key Haqqani network commander from Afghanistan, was allegedly killed in the Dande Darpakhel strike. The attack also reportedly killed other prominent Afghan Taliban commanders Mufti Sofian and Abu Bakar as well as destroying explosive-laden vehicles, reportedly bound for missions across the Pakistani border.

Other commanders reportedly killed in the strike and identified by Dawn and the CMC are Commander Yasin Gardezi, Abdullah Khan, Commander Jamil, Commander Asadullah and their driver Noor Khan. The CMC named six more alleged Haqqani Network members killed in the strike as: Commanders Saif el Jihad and Roohullah, both Pashtuns from Pakistan, and Hamza Gul, Hamza, Bilal and Mehmood – all reportedly of unknown origins.

Location: Darga Mandi, Dande Darpakhel or Ghulam Khan, North Waziristan
References: AFP, BBC, PTI, AFP, Associated Press, Xinhua, NBC News, Geo TV Dawn, Dawn, Express Tribune, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Centre

Ob335
June 18 2014
♦ 5-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 reported injured

The third strike of the month hit at least one house and vehicle, killing at least five alleged militants. The strike hit in the early hours – around 4-4.30am according to two reports.

The majority of sources reported as many as six missiles hit a house and a vehicle on the outskirts of Miranshah – the capital of North Waziristan – either Dargah Mandi, Danday Darpa Khel or in Miranshah itself. Some sources reported the vehicle was inside the walls of housing compound when the strike hit. Others were less specific. The reports did not identify the owner of the house or the victims of the strike, describing them simply as militants.

However the Wall Street Journal reported strike targetted a Haqqani Network compound, killing at least five, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. The attack hit at around 4am local time. The paper also reported: ‘A store and at least two vehicles were destroyed.’

And AFP reported six missiles fired by two drones hit three houses. However the agency also quoted a local security official in Miranshah as saying: ‘US drones fired six missiles which hit three separate compounds in two villages, at least five militants have been killed.’ The attacks reportedly hit minutes apart with two drones firing four missiles in the first strike and a third firing two more missiles in the second. A vehicle parked in one of the housing compounds was hit, a senior security official said.

The strike came amid Zarb e Azb – a Pakistani military offensive against terrorists in North Waziristan. Soldiers, tanks and airstrikes were reportedly being used against militant positions.
Pakistani government sources said at least 187 alleged militants had been killed by June 18, with some counts putting it over 200, as well as a handful of Pakistani soldiers. There were few reports of civilian casualties however Pakistani offensives against militants in the tribal areas in the past have caused civilian casualties. Aid agencies have estimated as many as 400,000 people may be displaced by the operation, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Location: Danday Darpa Khel, Dargah Mandi or Miranshah; Miranshah Tehsil; North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Associated Press, Voice of America, PTI, Xinhua, Wall Street Journal, The News, Khaama Press, NBC News, AFP