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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Killer Drones In The Empire State

For the first time, the federal government has allowed military drones to utilize a commercial airport.

By Norman Solomon  05/03/2017  Updated May 04, 2017 from Huffington Post
 
At dusk I stood on a residential street with trim lawns and watched planes approach a runway along the other side of a chain-link fence. Just a few dozen yards away, a JetBlue airliner landed. Then a United plane followed. But the next aircraft looked different. It was a bit smaller and had no markings or taillights. A propeller whirled at the back. And instead of the high-pitched screech of a jet, the sound was more like... a drone.
Patrick Fallon / Reuters
During the next half-hour I saw three touch-and-go swoops by drones, their wheels scarcely reaching the runaway before climbing back above Syracuse’s commercial airport. Nearby, pilots were at the controls in front of Air Force computers, learning how to operate the MQ-9 Reaper drone that is now a key weapon of U.S. warfare from Afghanistan to the Middle East to Africa.
Since last summer the Defense Department has been using the runway and airspace at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport to train drone operators, who work at the adjoining Air National Guard base. Officials say it’s the first time that the federal government has allowed military drones to utilize a commercial airport. It won’t be the last time.
No longer will the pilots who steer drones and fire missiles while staring at computer screens be confined to remote areas like the Nevada desert. With scant public information or debate, sizable American communities are becoming enmeshed in drone warfare on other continents. Along the way, how deeply will we understand — in human terms — what the drone war is doing to people far away? And to us?
***     ***     ***

The takeoffs and landings of military drones at the Syracuse airport get little attention in New York’s fifth-largest city. Already routine, the maneuvers are hardly noticed. In an elevator at a hotel near the airport, I mentioned the Reaper drone exercises to an American Airlines flight attendant who had just landed on the same runway as the drones. “I had no idea,” she said.
The Reaper drones using the Syracuse runway are unarmed, the Air Force says. But when trainees go operational, their computer work includes aiming and launching Hellfire missiles at targets many thousands of miles away.
Despite the official claims that drone strikes rarely hit civilians, some evidence says otherwise. For example, leaked classified documents (obtained by The Intercept) shed light on a series of U.S. airstrikes codenamed Operation Haymaker. From January 2012 to February 2013, those drone attacks in northeast Afghanistan killed more than 200 people, but only about one-sixth of them were the intended targets.
Even without a missile strike, there are traumatic effects of drones hovering overhead. The former New York Times reporter David Rohde has described what he experienced during captivity by the Taliban in tribal areas of Pakistan: “The drones were terrifying. From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death.”
As civic leaders in Syracuse and elsewhere embrace the expanding domestic involvement in day-to-day drone warfare, clear mention of the human toll far away is almost taboo. Elected officials join with business groups and public-relations officers from the military in extolling the benefits and virtues. Rarely does anyone acknowledge that civilians are maimed and killed as a result of the extolled activities, or that — in the name of a war on terror — people in foreign lands are subjected to the airborne presence of drones that is (to use Rohde’s word) “terrifying.”
Such matters are a far cry from Syracuse, where the local airport’s role in drone warfare is visible yet virtually unseen. My random conversations with dozens of Syracuse residents in many walks of life turned up scant knowledge or concern about the nearby drone operations. What’s front and center is the metropolitan area’s economic distress.
Unlike the well-financed Air National Guard base, the city’s crumbling infrastructure and budgets for relieving urban blight are on short rations. When I talked with people in low-income neighborhoods of Syracuse — one of the poorest cities in the United States — despair was often unmistakable. A major study by the Century Foundation identified Syracuse as the city with the highest concentrations of poverty among African Americans and Hispanics in the United States. Locally, the latest influx of federal largesse is for the drone war, not for them.
***     ***     ***

A group called Upstate Drone Action has been protesting at the Air National Guard base on the outskirts of Syracuse with frequent vigils and persistent civil disobedience. A recent demonstration, on Good Friday, included nine arrests. The participants said in a joint statement: “What if our country were constantly being spied upon by drones, with some of us killed by drones? What if many bystanders, including children, were killed in the process? If that were happening, we would hope that some people in that attacking country would speak up and try to stop the killing. We’re speaking up to try and stop the illegal and immoral drone attacks on countries against which Congress has not declared war.”
The last couple of months have not gone well for authorities trying to discourage civil disobedience — what organizers call “civil resistance” — at the base. In early March, a jury in the Dewitt Town Court took just half an hour to acquit four defendants on all charges from an action two years ago that could have resulted in a year behind bars for disorderly conduct, trespassing and obstruction of government administration.
Later in March, citing a lack of jurisdiction, a local judge dismissed charges against four people who set up a “nativity tableau” in front of the main gate at the Hancock Air Force Base two days before Christmas last year. In a press release, Upstate Drone Action said that the activists had been “protesting the hunter/killer MQ-9 Reaper drones piloted over Afghanistan by the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard” at the base.
***     ***     ***

The U.S. drone war is escalating in numerous countries. A year ago the head of the Air Combat Command, Gen. Herbert Carlisle, told a Senate subcommittee that “an insatiable demand” was causing U.S. drone operations to grow at a “furious pace.” That pace has become even more furious since President Trump took office. In early April a researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko, calculated that President Trump had approved an average of one drone attack per day — a fivefold increase from the rate under the Obama administration.
Upstate New York is leading the way for the Pentagon’s plan to expand its drone program from isolated areas into populous communities, which offer ready access to workers. One hundred and sixty miles to the west of Syracuse, just outside the city of Niagara Falls, an Air National Guard base — the largest employer in the county — is in the final stages of building a cutting-edge digital tech center with huge bandwidth. There, pilots and sensor operators will do shifts at computer consoles, guiding MQ-9 drones and firing missiles on kill missions. The center is on track to become fully operational in a matter of months.
At the main gate of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, a sergeant from the public-affairs office was upbeat about the base “operating the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft.” At city hall the mayor of Niagara Falls, a liberal Democrat, sounded no less pleased, while carefully sidestepping my questions about whether he could see any downsides to the upcoming drone role. A local businessman who chairs the Niagara Military Affairs Council — a private organization that has long spearheaded efforts to prevent closure of the base — told me that getting the drone mission was crucial for keeping the base open.
In such ways, functioning locally while enabling globally, the political economy and mass psychology of militarism do the work of the warfare state.
[This article was released by ExposeFacts, a program of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where Norman Solomon is executive director.]
 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

U.S. Drone Strikes Have Gone Up


U.S. Drone Strikes Have Gone Up 432% Since Trump Took Office

from Ron Paul Liberty Report. March 9, 2017  By Carey Wedler


When he was in office, former President Barack Obama earned the ire of anti-war activists for his expansion of Bush’s drone wars. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning head of state ordered ten times more drone strikes than the previous president, and estimates late in Obama’s presidency showed 49 out of 50 victims were civilians. In 2015, it was reported that up to 90% of drone casualties 
were not the intended targets.

Current President Donald Trump campaigned on a less interventionist foreign policy, claiming to be opposed to nation-building and misguided invasions. But less than two months into his presidency, Trump has expanded the drone strikes that plagued Obama’s “peaceful” presidency.​

According to an analysis from Micah Zenko, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, Trump has markedly increased U.S. drone strikes since taking office. Zenko, who reported earlier this year on the over 26,000 bombs Obama dropped in 2016, summarized the increase:

During President Obama’s two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days—one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 36 drone strikes or raids in 45 days—one every 1.25 days.

That’s an increase of 432 percent.

He highlights some of the attacks:

These include three drone strikes in Yemen on January 20, 21, and 22; the January 28 Navy SEAL raid in Yemenone reported strike in Pakistan on March 1more than thirty strikes in Yemen on March 2 and 3; and at least one more on March 6.

The Trump administration has provided little acknowledgment of the human toll these strikes are taking. As journalist Glenn Greenwald noted in the Intercept, the Trump administration hastily brushed off recent civilian casualties in favor of honoring the life of a single U.S. soldier who died during one of the Yemen raids just days after Trump took office:

The raid in Yemen that cost Owens his life also killed 30 other people, including ‘many civilians,’ at least nine of whom were children. None of them were mentioned by Trump in last night’s speech, let alone honored with applause and the presence of grieving relatives. That’s because they were Yemenis, not Americans; therefore, their deaths, and lives, must be ignored (the only exception was some fleeting media mention of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, but only because she was a U.S. citizen and because of the irony that Obama killed her 16-year-old American brother with a drone strike).

Greenwald notes this is typical of not just Trump, but the American war machine in general:

We fixate on the Americans killed, learning their names and life stories and the plight of their spouses and parents, but steadfastly ignore the innocent people the U.S. government kills, whose numbers are always far greater.”

Though some Trump supporters sang his praises as a peace candidate before he took office, the president’s militarism was apparent on many occasions. He openly advocated increasing the size and scope of the military, a promise he is now moving to keep. And as Zenko highlights, Trump was disingenuous with his rhetoric against interventionism:

He claimed to have opposed the 2003 Iraq War when he actually backed it, and to have opposed the 2011 Libya intervention when he actually strongly endorsed it, including with U.S. ground troops. Yet, Trump and his loyalists consistently implied that he would be less supportive of costly and bloody foreign wars, especially when compared to President Obama, and by extension, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

As Trump continues to dig his heels into decades-old policies he has criticized himself — reportedly mulling over sending ground troops into Syria [Editors note: he already done it] — he is increasingly proving to be yet another establishment warmonger implementing policies that spawn the creation of more terrorists. As Zenko concludes:

We are now on our third post-9/11 administration pursuing many of the same policies that have failed to meaningfully reduce the number of jihadist extremist fighters, or their attractiveness among potential recruits or self-directed terrorists. The Global War on Terrorism remains broadly unquestioned within Washington, no matter who is in the White House.”

This article was originally published at The AntiMedia.

 
 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Watch the video of Ann Wright's Keynote

If you missed the WAMM Annual Meeting address by Ann Wright you can catch it here. Thanks to Bill Sorem for taping it.

See below for a description of Ann and the event on March 4, 2017. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WAMM Annual Meeting with Ann Wright "Standing Rock to Palestine; Eyewitness Report on U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad"







Join WAMM for their spectacular WAMM Annual Meeting! Put on by the WAMM Board every year.

Saturday, March 4th
from 10am - 1pm
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
519 Oak Grove Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Keynote speaker: U.S. Army Colonel (Ret.) and Former State Department Officer and Peace Activist Ann Wright!



Wright is a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves who rose to the rank of Colonel.
During that time, she earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas and a master's degree in National Security Affairs from the U.S. Naval War College. In 1987, Wright became a U.S. diplomat and in the course of her State Department career, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan (which she helped open following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan), Sierra Leone (an embassy which she helped close and then reopen again due to a civil war), Micronesia and Mongolia.  She also served at U.S. embassies in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada, and Nicaragua. She received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions in evacuating Americans and members of the international community during the civil war in Sierra Leone in 1997.

She resigned from the Department of State on March 19, 2003, in opposition to the Iraq war. Since then, Wright has worked to end US wars, lecturing and traveling all over the world. She is the co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.

Wright’s post retirement career as a peace activist has greatly benefited from her prior Foreign Service experience, her diplomatic skills and international expertise. In recent years she has traveled throughout the world, including to a number of conflict-burdened areas of the world in peace missions: Gaza, West Bank and Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Cuba, North and South Korea with Women Cross the DMZ, and visits to Okinawa and Japan as well as participating in Gaza Freedom Flotillas, including the 2016 Women’s Boat to Gaza.


We therefore expect she will be able to update us on these situations, her first-hand experiences as well as her opinions as to potential solutions more fully and accurately than our domestic news services and most other foreign policy commentators.

PLUS
WAMM Annual Report written and performed by Phyllis Goldin and Wanda Brown
Raffle Prizes!
Light Tasty Brunch!
Spoken Word!
Membership Renewal!
ACTION Cards!
Meet New Board Members!

FFI: contact the WAMM office.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reports from Yemen - 8 year old granddaughter killed



From The Intercept January 30, 2017 by

In 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike. While that assassination created widespread debate — the once-again-beloved ACLU sued Obama to restrain him from the assassination on the ground of due process and then, when that suit was dismissed, sued Obama again after the killing was carried out — another drone killing carried out shortly thereafter was perhaps even more significant yet generated relatively little attention.

Two weeks after the killing of Awlaki, a separate CIA drone strike in Yemen killed his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman, along with the boy’s 17-year-old cousin and several other innocent Yemenis. The U.S. eventually claimed that the boy was not their target but merely “collateral damage.” Abdulrahman’s grief-stricken grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, urged the Washington Post “to visit a Facebook memorial page for Abdulrahman,” which explained: “Look at his pictures, his friends, and his hobbies. His Facebook page shows a typical kid.”

Few events pulled the mask off Obama officials like this one. It highlighted how the Obama administration was ravaging Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries: just weeks after he won the Nobel Prize, Obama used cluster bombs that killed 35 Yemeni women and children. Even Obama-supporting liberal comedians mocked the arguments of the Obama DOJ for why it had the right to execute Americans with no charges: “Due Process Just Means There’s A Process That You Do,” snarked Stephen Colbert. And a firestorm erupted when former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs offered a sociopathic justification for killing the Colorado-born teenager, apparently blaming him for his own killing by saying he should have “had a more responsible father.”

The U.S. assault on Yemeni civilians not only continued but radically escalated over the next five years through the end of the Obama presidency, as the U.S. and the U.K. armed, supported, and provide crucial assistance to their close ally Saudi Arabia as it devastated Yemen through a criminally reckless bombing campaign. Yemen now faces mass starvationseemingly exacerbated, deliberately, by the U.S.-U.K.-supported air attacks. Because of the West’s direct responsibility for these atrocities, they have received vanishingly little attention in the responsible countries.

In a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism, Nasser al-Awlaki just lost another one of his young grandchildren to U.S. violence. On Sunday, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, using armed Reaper drones for cover, carried out a commando raid on what it said was a compound harboring officials of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A statement issued by President Trump lamented the death of an American service member and several others who were wounded, but made no mention of any civilian deaths. U.S. military officials initially denied any civilian deaths, and (therefore) the CNN report on the raid said nothing about any civilians being killed.

But reports from Yemen quickly surfaced that 30 people were killed, including 10 women and children. Among the dead: the 8-year-old granddaughter of Nasser al-Awlaki, Nawar, who was also the daughter of Anwar Awlaki.

As noted by my colleague Jeremy Scahill — who extensively interviewed the grandparents in Yemen for his book and film on Obama’s “Dirty Wars” —  the girl “was shot in the neck and killed,” bleeding to death over the course of two hours. “Why kill children?” the grandfather asked. “This is the new (U.S.) administration — it’s very sad, a big crime.”

The New York Times yesterday reported that military officials had been planning and debating the raid for months under the Obama administration, but Obama officials decided to leave the choice to Trump. The new president personally authorized the attack last week. They claim that the “main target” of the raid “was computer materials inside the house that could contain clues about future terrorist plots.” The paper cited a Yemeni official saying that “at least eight women and seven children, ages 3 to 13, had been killed in the raid,” and that the attack also “severely damaged a school, a health facility and a mosque.”

As my colleague Matthew Cole reported in great detail just weeks ago, Navy SEAL Team 6, for all its public glory, has a long history of “‘revenge ops,’ unjustified killings, mutilations, and other atrocities.” And Trump notoriously vowed during the campaign to target not only terrorists but also their families. All of that demands aggressive, independent inquiries into this operation.

Perhaps most tragic of all is that — just as was true in Iraq — al Qaeda had very little presence in Yemen before the Obama administration began bombing and droning it and killing civilians, thus driving people into the arms of the militant group. As the late, young Yemeni writer Ibrahim Mothana told Congress in 2013:
Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants. … Unfortunately, liberal voices in the United States are largely ignoring, if not condoning, civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings in Yemen.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, the rage would have been tremendous. But today there is little outcry, even though what is happening is in many ways an escalation of Mr. Bush’s policies. …
Defenders of human rights must speak out. America’s counterterrorism policy here is not only making Yemen less safe by strengthening support for AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] but it could also ultimately endanger the United States and the entire world.
This is why it is crucial that — as urgent and valid protests erupt against Trump’s abuses — we not permit recent history to be whitewashed, or long-standing U.S. savagery to be deceitfully depicted as new Trumpian aberrations, or the war on terror framework engendering these new assaults to be forgotten. Some current abuses are unique to Trump, but — as I detailed on Saturday — some are the decades-old byproduct of a mindset and system of war and executive powers that all need uprooting. Obscuring these facts, or allowing those responsible to posture as opponents of all this, is not just misleading but counterproductive: Much of this resides on an odious continuum and did not just appear out of nowhere.

It’s genuinely inspiring to see pervasive rage over the banning of visa holders and refugees from countries like Yemen. But it’s also infuriating that the U.S. continues to massacre Yemeni civilians, both directly and through its tyrannical Saudi partners. That does not become less infuriating — Yemeni civilians are not less dead — because these policies and the war theories in which they are rooted began before the inauguration of Donald Trump. It’s not just Trump but this mentality and framework that need vehement opposition.

Read it on  The Intercept January 30, 2017

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Drone Warfare and the Cyborg Soldier: Margins of Masculinities"


      presented by Suzanne Al-Kayali

Saturday, January 7th 

9:30am Coffee

10:00am Program 

Washburn Library

5244 Lyndale Avenue South

Minneapolis

Modern military power has ignited real and virtual changes as nations make war and soldiers perceive themselves as warriors. The role of the soldier has changed with the evolution of technologies, such as drones. Is the hyper- masculine "be-all-you-can-be" soldier being replaced? Suzanne will discuss the role of "masculinity" in contemporary warfare and the development of the new "cyborg" soldier.

Suzanne is WAMM's current director, she earned her Master's degree at Roosevelt University at Chicago in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies.

Sponsored by the Ground All Drone Committee of WAMM 

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."