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 6, 2016

UN Condemns US Drone Strike in Afghanistan That Killed 15 Civilians

Published on  Friday, September 30, 2016  by Common Dreams

'I saw dead and wounded bodies everywhere,' said Raghon Shinwari, one of the wounded, from hospital bed in Jalalabad city.

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer
A U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed at least 15 civilians on Wednesday, drawing United Nations condemnation and calls for an independent probe into the attack.
"Funeral of Afghanistan's latest drone strike victims in Nangarhar province," journalist Emran Feroz wrote on Twitter. "Like many others, they will remain nameless & invisible." (Photo: @Emran_Feroz/Twitter)



In a statement, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said the civilians, all men, "had gathered in a village to celebrate the return of a tribal elder from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were reportedly sleeping in a guesthouse of the elder when the airstrike occurred. Civilian victims of the strike included students and a teacher, as well as members of families considered to be pro-government." In addition to those killed, 13 people including at least one boy were injured in the strike.

"I saw dead and wounded bodies everywhere," said Raghon Shinwari, one of the wounded, from hospital bed in Jalalabad city.

U.S. military sources confirmed the airstrike in Achin, a remote area near the Pakistan border. Brigadier General Charles Cleveland said the U.S. "takes all allegations of civilian casualties very seriously" and was "currently reviewing all materials related to this strike."

In turn, UNAMA reiterated "the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law" and demanded "a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident."

As AntiWar.com noted, "This would mark the second bungled U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in a little over a week, after a previous incident in which U.S. forces tried to 'rescue' Afghan police on the ground by blowing up their checkpoint and killing eight of them."

And the Guardian pointed out that "[t]he incident happened almost a year to the day after another U.S. airstrike destroyed a Doctor Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, killing 42. After that incident, the U.S. and the Afghan government refused calls for an independent investigation."

 

Friday, September 16, 2016

DRONE  STRIKE  STATISTICS



The U.S. has carried out deadly drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria through military and CIA programs. In the latter three countries, drones are often used for surveillance or in conjunction with other aircraft, complicating the tallying of casualties. Casualty numbers are difficult to gather and vary widely depending on methodology. Estimates by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism of the total fatalities caused by drone strikes are six times higher than the number of fatalities reported by The White House. 

For further information: thebureauinvestigates.com



White House Report (issued July 2016)

    473 Strikes   

Combatants Killed  2,372-2,581   

  Civilians Killed  63-116

                 

                                             
Bureau of Investigative Journalism


PAKISTAN,  2004 onwards   
      424 Strikes 
     Total Killed  2,499-4,001
  Civilians  424-966 
  Children  172-207
YEMEN,  2002 onwards 
     129-149 Strikes 
     Total Killed  555-811
  Civilians  65-101   
  Children 8-9

PAKISTAN, 2016 only 
     3 Strikes  
     Total Killed 11-12  
  Civilians 1

AFGHANISTAN,  2015 onwards 
    401-426 Strikes
    Total Killed  1,948-2,477
  Civilians  75-121  
Children  4-18



Friday, June 24, 2016

Anti-drone rally at US air base Ramstein draws thousands

From D W Germany  © 2016 Deutsche Well

Around 5,000 peace activists protested the use of the Ramstein facility in southwestern Germany for the US-led drone war. A nine-kilometer (5.5-mile) human chain was later formed to demand limits on the use of the base. 

Among those taking part in the June 11 protest was former German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, who said the US drone program contravenes international law.

He also hit out at the German government's silence on the use of drones from Ramstein, saying it was "schizophrenic" that Berlin is generous to refugees but then gives its support to wars waged by the US.

Initially, around 1,500 people gathered outside the base in a rural part of Rhineland-Palatinate to demand that the base no longer be associated with drone operations.

Public anger growing

Later on Saturday, around 5,000 protesters created a human chain close to Ramstein, the principal US Air Force facility in Europe, close to the city of Kaiserslautern.

Organizers described their protest as the biggest ever action against the US base, insisting that public support against the drone issue was growing.

Green MP Tabea Rössner warned that US drone attacks were radicalizing people in the Middle East, while peace activist Reiner Braun said, "The chain is not complete but it is a sign! Ramstein needs to be shut down."

DW Correspondent Greta Hamann, who covered the demo, tweeted images of protesters holding placards, which read "The majority of people want to live in peace" and "He who sows war, will reap refugees."
 
Whistleblower tells all

Former US drone operator Brandon Bryant first made revelations in "Der Spiegel" magazine in 2013, claiming that Ramstein was a major hub for coordinating Washington's global drone war, which included targets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

He later told a German parliamentary committee that all data from the plane went through Ramstein. However, the drones were not directly steered from the base, he added.

But the German and US governments have repeatedly downplayed the importance of the facility and have evaded direct questions about its role in the drone program.

The rallies, which began on Friday, are due to end on Sunday June 12.

Related article:  Transatlantic relations
Berlin powerless to challenge US drone operations at Ramstein air base

Friday, June 3, 2016

Letter to President Obama

Former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal reads his resignation letter to President Obama. "I resign because I refuse to support U.S. armed drone policy," Antal wrote. "The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing."


June 3, 2016 on Democracy Now.org
TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
 
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Chris Antal, I was wondering if we could end with you reading your resignation letter to President Obama in your own words.

REV. CHRIS ANTAL: I’d be glad to do that.

“Dear Mr. President:

“I hereby resign my commission as an Officer in the United States Army.

“I resign because I refuse to support U.S. armed drone policy. The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing.

“I resign because I refuse to support U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The Executive Branch continues to invest billions of dollars into nuclear weapons, which threaten the existence of humankind and the earth. I refuse to support this policy of terror and mutually assured destruction.

“I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy and global power projection. The Executive Branch continues to claim extra-constitutional authority and impunity from international law. I refuse to support this policy of imperial overstretch.

“I resign because I refuse to serve as an empire chaplain. I cannot reconcile these policies with either my sworn duty to protect and defend America and our constitutional democracy or my covenantal commitment to the core principles of my religion faith. These principles include: justice, equity and compassion in human relations, a free and responsible search for truth, a commitment to the democratic process, and the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

“Respectfully submitted,
"Christopher John Antal"

AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Chris Antal, minister for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation now at Rock Tavern, New York, founder of the Hudson Valley, New York, chapter of Veterans for Peace. He has served as a U.S. Army chaplain in Afghanistan, before publicly resigning over the Obama administration’s drone warfare program. He wrote that letter to President Obama in April.

"I will not lend religious legitimacy to this state santioned violence"

"I Refuse to Serve as an Empire Chaplain": U.S. Army Minister Resigns over Drone Program

June 03, 2016

Interview on  Democracy Now.org


Rev. Chris Antal minister for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern, New York, and a founder of the Hudson Valley, New York, chapter of Veterans for Peace. He served as a U.S. Army chaplain in Afghanistan before publicly resigning over the Obama administration’s drone warfare program.

An unlikely voice has emerged challenging the drone warfare program: former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal, who spent time based in Afghanistan. In April, he wrote an open letter to President Obama detailing his reasons for leaving the U.S. Army Reserves, citing his opposition to the administration’s use of drone strikes, its policy on nuclear proliferation, and what he calls the executive branch’s claim of "extraconstitutional authority and impunity for international law."

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: During a commencement speech on Thursday, President Obama defended his foreign policy, including targeted assassinations and drone warfare. Obama made the remarks at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As commander-in-chief, I have not hesitated to use force unilaterally where necessary to protect the American people. Thanks to our military, intelligence and counterterrorism professionals, bin Laden is gone. Anwar Awlaki, a leader of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, is gone. Ahmed Abdi Godane, the al-Qaeda leader in Somalia, he’s gone. Ahmed Abu Khattala, accused in the attacks in Benghazi, captured. Mohammad Mansour, the leader of the Taliban, gone. Leader after leader in ISIL—Haji Mutazz, their number two; Mohammed Emwazi, who brutally murdered Americans; Abu Nabil, the ISIL leader in Libya—all gone. Abu Dawud, a leader of their chemical weapons program, captured. The list goes on, because if you target Americans, we will find you, and justice will be done, and we will defend our nation.
AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama delivering the commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on Thursday. With only a small number of U.S. Special Forces on the ground, Iraq and Syria have become new fronts in the global drone war that has launched thousands of strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. The exact number of civilians killed by drones is unknown, because the program operates in secret.
We turn now to an unlikely voice challenging the drone warfare program: former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Chris Antal, who recently resigned his post in protest. In April, Reverend Antal wrote a letter to President Obama detailing his reasons for leaving the U.S. Army Reserves, citing his opposition to the administration’s use of drone strikes, its policy on nuclear proliferation, and what he calls the executive branch’s claim of "extraconstitutional authority and impunity for international law," unquote.
This is not the first time Reverend Antal has voiced his concerns. In 2012, he delivered a sermon in Afghanistan and anonymously [sic] posted the text on a Unitarian Universalist website. At the time, he identified himself only as an Army chaplain in Afghanistan. The sermon read in part, quote, "We have sanitized killing and condoned extrajudicial assassinations: ... war made easy without due process, protecting ourselves from the human cost of war. We have deceived ourselves, ... denying the colossal misery our wars inflict on the innocent." Reverend Antal’s superiors discovered the sermon, and he was reprimanded, nearly losing his job. Then, mid-April, he decided to voluntarily resign over his continued concerns about drone warfare. In doing so, Reverend Antal forfeits benefits that otherwise would have accrued to him through his eight years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Reverend Chris Antal joins us now in our New York studio. He is a minister for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rock Tavern, New York, and a founder of the Hudson Valley, New York, chapter of Veterans for Peace.
Reverend Chris Antal, welcome to Democracy Now!
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Amy, thank you. I’m glad to be here.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re still in the Army, is that right?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: I’m on my way out, but the paperwork hasn’t been completed yet.
AMY GOODMAN: But you have resigned.
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: I’ve submitted my resignation, but the Army is a big bureaucracy, and it takes time to get all the signatures.
AMY GOODMAN: So, really, you’re still a U.S. Army chaplain.
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: I am. I can’t speak from that capacity on this program, but on paper, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about your decision. How long did you serve as an Army chaplain, and where did you serve?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Sure. I served for five years—eight years in the Reserve, five years as a chaplain, and most of that time was as a Reserve chaplain. I did spend about two years on active duty, and altogether, about six months in Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about your decision to leave.
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Sure. Well, before I can talk about my decision to leave, I need to say why I got in in the first place. As a minister, I was driven by compassion to care for the wounded; and as a citizen, driven by a sense of civic duty to carry my fair share in our nation’s wars. I think I did both of those things during my time in service, but eventually began to feel a role conflict between my role as a military officer and my role as an ordained minister. And I couldn’t reconcile that role conflict, so I decided to resign.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the speech I just quoted from. Where did you give that speech?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Sure. Well, it was a sermon. And it was never anonymous, as you said. When I posted it, I identified myself. I gave that sermon on Veterans Day, which was on a Sunday in 2012, at Kandahar Airfield to a gathered—a community gathered for worship in my tradition, a Unitarian Universalist service. And that was about six weeks into my deployment. When I had witnessed drones, I had learned about practices that violate my sense of what is right. And I decided it was my prerogative as a religious leader to address that in the context of a religious service, a form of lamentation, a confession. And that is what I did in my sermon. And because I think the issues I raise are of concern for a larger audience, for the whole nation, I made that available through a church website that is sponsored by my denomination.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what happened then. How was it discovered, and what was the response by the military?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Well, two days after it appeared online, I was contacted by an Army lawyer who had read the post. He forwarded it to my commander. I was summoned to the commander’s office. He told me that my message doesn’t support the mission. He told me that I make us look like the bad guys. He asked me to take it down, which I did, and immediately. Nevertheless, I was subjected to an investigation. It’s called an Article 15-6 investigation. I had to get a trial defense lawyer in Afghanistan, that was provided to me by the Army. And that process drew out for about two months, and it ended with what’s called a general officer memorandum of reprimand. I was handed an official reprimand that said I had made politically inflammatory statements, and I was, on that basis, released from active duty in Afghanistan, sent home with a "do not promote" evaluation, which is really a career killer in the military.
AMY GOODMAN: You quit in a very public way, with a letter to President Obama, your letter of resignation. And in it, you said, "I resign because I refuse to serve as an empire chaplain." Explain.
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Well, sure. For me, democracy is about checks and balances. Democracy is about due process. These drone wars have blown due process up in smoke. They’ve blown checks and balances up in smoke. And democracy is also about no establishment and free exercise of religion. We have in our nation an established religion. It’s not Christianity. Jeremy Gunn calls it American National Religion. It has—consists of the unholy trinity of governmental theism, military supremacy and an understanding of capitalism as freedom. And as a religious leader, I feel it’s my prerogative to differentiate myself from this state-sanctioned religion and speak from my authentic tradition in a way that resists these national policies. And that’s what I’ve done in offering my resignation and stating quite clearly that I will not serve as an empire chaplain. I will not lend religious legitimacy to this state-sanctioned violence.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you received a response from President Obama, since that’s who you wrote your resignation letter to?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: I have not.
AMY GOODMAN: You also have become a shareholder of Honeywell?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: I am a shareholder of Honeywell, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Is this how you plan to support yourself now?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Well, I’ve never been a shareholder before of anything, and I only own one share. And the reason why I became a shareholder is because I was frustrated with the lack of progress through legislative advocacy, and I believe what we are facing in our country is not just a military-industrial complex, that Eisenhower wrote about, it’s a military-industrial-congressional complex. And we cannot do legislative advocacy without doing shareholder advocacy and confronting some of the corporations that are profiting and that are lobbying our elected officials in order to influence the militarization of U.S. foreign policy.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about attending the Honeywell shareholders’ meeting and what you did?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Sure. I’ve been to two shareholder meetings now, the first one in 2015, where I addressed the CEO, David Cote, on their profiting from armed drones proliferation. This year, I went, as I did last year, with my fellow veteran, Nick Mottern, and he addressed the drone profiting, and I chose to address Honeywell’s profiting from nuclear weapons. So I asked Mr. Cote how much Honeywell is profiting from the administration’s investment of trillions of dollars in the modernization of our nuclear arsenal. I asked him how much Honeywell is profiting from the administration’s decision to launch a new airdropped nuclear cruise missile. And I asked Mr. Cote if he’d ever been to Hiroshima, because I’ve been there twice, and whether he had faced the horror that this technology produces.
AMY GOODMAN: Your wife of 18 years is Japanese?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Yes, I’ve been married 18 years, and we have five children.
AMY GOODMAN: And what was your response to President Obama just last week going to Hiroshima?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Well, I was glad and proud of our president for visiting Hiroshima; however, I am disappointed that although he talks the talk of nuclear abolition, the actions of his administration are not consistent with what he’s saying. I agree that Hiroshima calls for a moral revolution, a revolution of consciousness, and an awakening of America. And I hope, and I remain hopeful, that the administration will cancel plans for the new airdropped nuclear cruise missile and take the thousand nuclear warheads off launch-on-warning status.
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Chris Antal, can you talk about how those you’ve ministered to have responded to your resignation? Who did you serve in Afghanistan?
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Well, I served as an Army chaplain. And as an Army chaplain, I’m responsible for the soldiers in my assigned unit, but also soldiers in my area of operations, as well as contractors and servicemembers from all branches. And I served all of those people during my deployment to Afghanistan. I can say that when I preached the sermon that led to my reprimand, I had the full support of the community of faith that attended that service. When I appealed the letter of reprimand, I appealed with more than 30 letters of support from everyone in that congregation, as well as concerned clergy, chaplains and citizens across America. So I have had a lot of support.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response to this presidential election. I want to turn to Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2014, The Guardian columnist Owen Jones questioned her about the use of drone warfare.
OWEN JONES: You’re a loving parent. What would you say to the loving parents of up to 202 children who have been killed by drones in Pakistan in a program which you escalated as secretary of state?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I would argue with the premise, because, clearly, the efforts that were made by the United States, in cooperation with our allies in Afghanistan and certainly with the Afghan government, to prevent the threat that was in Pakistan from crossing the border, killing Afghans, killing Americans, Brits and others, was aimed at targets that had been identified and were considered to be threats. The numbers about potential civilian casualties, I take with a somewhat big grain of salt, because there has been other studies which have proven there not to have been the number of civilian casualties.
AMY GOODMAN: And last October on NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his position on drones.
CHUCK TODD: What does counterterrorism look like in a Sanders administration? Drones? Special Forces? Or what does it look like?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, all of that and more.
CHUCK TODD: You would—you’re OK with the drone, using drones as—
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, drone is a weapon. When it works badly, it is terrible and it is counterproductive. When you blow up a facility or a building which kills women and children—
CHUCK TODD: Sure.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: —you know what? It not only doesn’t do us—it’s terrible.
CHUCK TODD: But you’re comfortable with the idea of using drones if you think you’ve isolated an important terrorist?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, yes, yes, yes.
CHUCK TODD: So, that continues in a Sanders administration.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes. And look, look, we all know, you know, that there are people, as of this moment, plotting against the United States. We have got to be vigorous in protecting our country, no question about it.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Senator Bernie Sanders and, before that, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
REV. CHRIS ANTAL: Yeah, what they’re not saying is the numbers. And the Bureau of Investigative Journalism released just two days ago that there have been 7,142 people killed with U.S. drone strikes, most of those in Pakistan. Now, my question is: Where is the necessity? Where is the imminent threat to my family, to our families here in the United States, when we kill people halfway around the world with a drone strike?

 The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"The Assassination Complex": Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars in New Book

Talking about the global assassination program with Amy Goodman on May 3, 2016 at  Democracy Now. Org

As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional war zones, we look at a new book out today that paints a very different picture of the U.S. drone program. "The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program" is written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, and based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.

The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. We speak with Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.

Guests

Jeremy Scahillco-founder of the The Intercept. His new book is The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program. He’s also the author of the best-selling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. His film Dirty Wars was nominated for an Academy Award.
Glenn GreenwaldPulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is a contributor to Jeremy Scahill’s book, The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program.

Read Transcript below or listen at Democracy Now. Org

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re on the road in Sarasota, Florida. I’ll be speaking in Atlanta, Georgia, tonight. But here in Sarasota, we’re less than an hour from Tampa, which houses the United States Special Operations Command. It’s the epicenter of planning for the global targeted killing program and other covert military action. Well, we turn now to look at President Obama and drones. On Saturday night, Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore criticized Obama’s reliance on drone warfare during his remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. He compared Obama’s foreign policy to that of reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry.
LARRY WILMORE: It looks like you’re really enjoying your last year of the presidency. Saw you hanging out with NBA players like Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors. That was cool. That was cool, yeah. You know, it kind of makes sense, too, because both of you like raining down bombs on people from long distances, right? Yeah, sure. What? Am I wrong?
AMY GOODMAN: Larry Wilmore’s comments come as the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it’s killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional war zones. Speaking last month in Chicago, President Obama addressed the issue of civilian deaths in drone strikes.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There’s no doubt that some innocent people have been killed by drone strikes. It is not true that it has been this sort of willy-nilly, you know, "Let’s bomb a village." That is not how it’s—folks have operated. And what I can say with great certainty is that the rate of civilian casualties in any drone operation are far lower than the rate of civilian casualties that occur in conventional war.
AMY GOODMAN: A new book being published today paints a very different picture of the U.S. drone program. It’s titled The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program. It’s written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden and The Intercept's Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. Snowden's introduction to the book has just been published on The Intercept’s website.

Joining us now, still with us, Jeremy Scahill, and Glenn Greenwald is joining us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They founded The Intercept with Laura Poitras. Jeremy, let’s go back to you. Lay out the scope of The Assassination Complex, especially now as President Obama is about to reveal at least what the government is willing to admit are the number of people killed in drone strikes.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, well, Amy, you know, the covert drone program, for the majority of its lifespan, has been shrouded in secrecy, and it was sort of a kind of macabre joke in Washington, because the entire world could see that the U.S. was raining bombs down on people across the globe and in an increasing number of countries in the early stages of Obama’s presidency, and yet the United States would never officially confirm that it had conducted a drone strike. And instead, you would see President Obama making jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner about how he was going to conduct a drone strike against the Jonas Brothers if they came near his daughters, and everybody yucks it up and laughs in Washington about it. He then answered a question on a Google Plus hangout, but never gave a substantive policy speech on the use of drones, really, until 2013.

And what the Obama administration is doing right now is basically trying to rebrand and engage in historical revisionism about what is going to be one of the most deadly legacies of the Obama era, and that is that somehow they came up with a cleaner way of waging war. I would say that the most significant aspect of what President Obama has done, regarding drones and regarding the so-called targeted killing program around the world, is that Obama has codified assassination as a central official component of American foreign policy. And he has implemented policies that a Republican probably would not have been able to implement, certainly not with the support that Obama has received from so many self-identified liberals. It will be very interesting to see, if a Republican wins, how many of the MSNBC pundits and other, you know, so-called liberals—what their position will be on these very same policies.

But the fact is that the White House—we understand the White House is going to be releasing statistics, that some indicate are going to say that upwards of 60 people—six-zero people—have been killed in drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, which is a—it’s a horrifying piece of propaganda, if that is—if that’s true. The reason that the Obama administration and that the president can say to the American people, "Well, we’ve only killed a small number of civilians," is because—and our documents in the book show this—because they have embraced a system of counting the dead which almost always will result in zero civilians killed, because anyone who is killed in a drone strike, under this administration, is labeled as an enemy killed in action, an EKIA, until or unless posthumously proven to have not been a militant, a terrorist, what have you. This is a global assassination program that is authorized and run under what amounts to a parallel legal system or judicial system where the president and his advisers serve as the judge, jury and executioner of people across the globe. And so, the documents that we obtained will give lie to the proclamations that this somehow is a saner, less deadly form of warfare when it comes to impacting civilians.

And the final thing, Amy, that I would say is that I think what you really see come through in the military’s own assessments, that we’re publishing in this book, of the drone program is that the U.S. is creating self-fulfilling prophecies. Rather than stopping terrorism, the U.S., through its drone program, is encouraging terrorism and providing terrorist organization with recruitment material, just as the Guantánamo prison serves as recruitment material for the people that the Obama administration claims it’s trying stop from conducting acts of terrorism.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Jeremy Scahill. We’re also joined by Glenn Greenwald. He’s in Rio de Janeiro, and I’m in Sarasota, Florida, right near SOCOM, the Special Operations Command. In the afterword, Glenn, of The Assassination Complex, you say that most of the revelations in the book, quote, "signify one of the most enduring and consequential aspects of the Obama legacy: the continuation of endless war." Can you expand on this?

GLENN GREENWALD: It seems like a really distant memory now, but if you look back to what President Obama, then-Senator Obama, was saying in 2006, 2007, as his critique of the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism, he was essentially railing against not just the policies, but the mindset and the approach that, once he became president, he ended up not only embracing, but strengthening and increasing. He talked all the time about how terrible it was to treat somebody like a terrorist and punish them with imprisonment in Guantánamo, with indefinite detention, without so much as giving them the right to have a trial. And not only has he continued the system of indefinite detention—and he intended to continue the system of indefinite detention, even if he were able to close Guantánamo; his plan was simply to shift it to American soil—he’s done much more than that. He has institutionalized a program where now we don’t only just imprison people without any charges or due process, we don’t just eavesdrop on them, which was one of his big critiques of the Bush administration, without first giving them due process or a trial, we now just target them for execution, for death, for a death penalty.

You know, for a long time, a staple of Democratic ideology has been that the death penalty is wrong, even with a full trial and appeals and due process and lawyers and all of the constitutional rights that are afforded to criminal defendants. And yet President Obama has embraced a policy that says that he can literally go around the world, target people for death anywhere in the world that he wants, including places where we’re not at war, including even American citizens, and simply eradicate their lives based on his order—not in a war zone, people who are not engaged in combat at the time they’re killed. They’re killed in cars, in their houses, while they’re working, driving with their children, at funerals, rescuing people. Wherever it is that they might be found, they can simply be killed.
And the most extraordinary aspect about it is that Democratic partisans, who were cheering his critiques in 2006 and 2007 and pretending to oppose this approach because it was a Republican who did it, switched completely on a dime. And the minute that President Obama embraced these policies, they, as public opinion polls show, completely switched how they think about all of these policies and started supporting them. And what this has meant is that these policies have shifted from being just a right-wing, extremist, Republican framework into one that is fully bipartisan, and therefore will be institutionalized and has been strengthened for years, if not decades, to come, in a way that George Bush and Dick Cheney could only have dreamed of.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip from National Bird, a new documentary on drone warfare that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last month. This is Lisa Ling, a former drone system technical sergeant.
LISA LING: This is global. This is getting information anywhere at any time, shooting people from anywhere at any time. And it’s not just one person sitting there with a little remote control, a little joystick, moving around a plane that’s halfway across the world. That’s not all there is. It’s like borders don’t matter anymore. And there’s a huge system that spans the globe, that can just suck up endless amounts of your life, your personal data. I mean, this could grow to get so out of control. And we’re not the only ones that have this. This is going to be commonplace, if it’s not already. It’s a secret program. And what that means is that I can’t just go shouting off the hilltops telling the public what it is. What I can tell you is that, to me, one person who worked within this massive thing, it’s frightening.
AMY GOODMAN: Drone whistleblower Lisa Ling in the documentary National Bird.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How Drone Kills Happen: "Eye in The Sky" Film Dramatizes Techno-Moral Dilemma

Director Gavin Hood sat down with Reason TV's Meredith Bragg to discuss the film, Eye in the Sky.

In a world of secret kill lists and drone operators who routinely blow up terrorist targets from thousands of miles away, ordinary citizens have little understanding of how specific missions are given the green light.

Eye in the Sky, the highly praised new thriller from Oscar-winning director Gavin Hood starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, and the late Alan Rickman in his final role, takes us into the secretive world of military operations, forcing the audience to wrestle with the moral, legal, and political questions surrounding a single drone mission.

"We are only at the beginning of where this kind of warfare is going," Hood explains. "I think this is an evolving conversation and I hope that if an audience goes into this film not knowing much about drones they will come out more informed, they will come out having experienced a good movie and a good thriller but they will also be left with a lot to talk about."

Hood sat down with Reason TV's Meredith Bragg to discuss the film, which goes into wide release this weekend, and why he hopes the movie will spark a national conversation about drone warfare.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhkD--W6gB4

Approximately 11 minutes.

Produced and Edited by Meredith Bragg.
Published on Mar 17, 2016