Chomsky: “The Drone Campaign Has Absolutely No Counterpart”

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Non-Violent Drone Resister Sentenced to One Year in Prison

via Popular Resistance

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On July 10, grandmother of three, Mary Anne Grady Flores was sentenced to one year in prison after being found guilty of violating an Order of Protection. A packed courtroom of over 100 supporters was stunned as she was led away, and vowed to continue the resistance.

These Orders of Protection, typically used in domestic violence situations or to protect a victim or witness to a crime, have been issued to people participating in nonviolent resistance actions at Hancock Air Base since late 2012. The base, near Syracuse NY, pilots unmanned Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and trains drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians. The orders had been issued to “protect” Colonel Earl Evans, Hancock’s mission support commander, who wanted to keep protesters “out of his driveway.”

Mary Anne began her sentencing statement with, “Your honor, a series of judicial perversions brings me here before you tonight.” She concluded that the “final perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people themselves who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of US drone attacks?”

The orders of protection are being challenged on many legal grounds.

Mary Anne had been issued a temporary order in 2012. The following year, she photographed a nonviolent witness at the base, but not participating herself because she did not want to violate the order. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted, while Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.

Even though the pre-sentencing report recommended no jail time, Judge Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to the maximum of a year in prison. As he imposed his sentence, the judge referred to his previous Hancock decision. He had stated then and insinuated now, “This has got to stop.”

In addition, Mary Anne was fined $1000 plus a $205 court surcharge and a $50 fee to have her DNA collected.

Her verdict is being appealed.

For information on how to support Mary Anne, contact Ellen Grady at demottgrady6@gmail.com.

Contacts:

Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council (Syracuse), 315.472.5478 (SPC), 315.383.5738 (cell)
Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker (Ithaca), 607.279.8303
Jim Clune, Broome County Peace Action (Binghamton), 607.773.0246
Judy Bello, Upstate Drone Action (Rochester), 585.733.4058
Vicki Ross, Western New York Peace Center (Buffalo), 716.884.0582
John Amidon, Veterans for Peace (Albany), 518.312.6442
Mark Colville, Amistad Catholic Worker (New Haven, CT), 203.415.5896

Several Killed in U.S. Drone Strike in Pakistan

via Al Jazeera English

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – At least six people have been killed in a US drone strike in the North Waziristan tribal area, where a Pakistani military operation against Taliban fighters is ongoing, intelligence sources tell Al Jazeera.

Two missiles were fired on Thursday on a compound and a vehicle in the village of Madakhel in the Dattakhel area of the province, intelligence sources said.

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants' hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. A suspected American drone fired two missiles at a home in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killing several foreign militants, two Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mansoor Abbas)

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants’ hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. A suspected American drone fired two missiles at a home in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killing several foreign militants, two Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mansoor Abbas)

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak to the media. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the identity of those killed, as access to the area is restricted.

Al Jazeera’s coverage of civilian and military drone use
Thursday’s incident is the fourth US strike in Pakistan since a Pakistani military operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies in North Waziristan began last month.

The previous three strikes included twin attacks on June 12, which killed at least 10 people in Miranshah, and another strike on Miranshah on June 18, which killed at least four people.

In a closed-door briefing on July 1, Pervez Rashid, the Pakistani information minister, said that US drone strikes during the ongoing Pakistani military operation were “counterproductive”.

Major-General Asim Bajwa, chief of the army’s PR wing, said that drones “don’t help us”.

“This is an operation which is Pakistan’s own operation,” he said. “We have conceived it. This is our own capability […] if there is any kind of support that we’ve asked for, it’s [from] Afghans across the border or ISAF.

“Drones are not at all, I repeat not at all, part of our operational plan.”

Separately, Tasneem Aslam, spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, said: “We have condemned these attacks. We have made it clear that these attacks are unacceptable, they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. … we have said that drone strikes would complicate our efforts to eliminate terrorists.”

The June 12 strikes broke a six-month hiatus in the US drone campaign in Pakistan – the longest such break since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

‘Safe haven for terrorists’

Pakistan’s military operation – dubbed Zarb-e-Azb – is ongoing in North Waziristan, with the military saying that it has killed more than 400 people in air strikes and a ground offensive.

Pakistan’s military terms all of those killed “terrorists,” but it is impossible to verify that claim, due to restrictions on reporting.

On Wednesday, Major-General Zafarullah Khan, the military’s top ranking officer in North Waziristan, said that “80 percent of Miranshah and the adjoining area” had been cleared of fighters.

“North Waziristan had transformed into a hub and safe haven for terrorists of all colours and creeds,” he said during a media trip to Miranshah.

The operation has also generated an exodus of internally displaced people from the remote, underdeveloped tribal area.

According to government figures, more than 876,000 people have been displaced by the ongoing operation, after fleeing the Pakistani military’s aerial bombing campaign and Taliban reprisal attacks.

Al Jazeera’s Hameedullah Khan contributed reporting from Islamabad.

Follow Asad Hashim on Twitter: @AsadHashim

A Reply to Senator Gillibrand

New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand sent those on her “Gillibrand for Senate” e-mail list a 4th of July message this year that assured readers, “[w]hether you celebrated the holiday barbecuing, watching fireworks, or just relaxing with people you care about, please know that you are making a real difference in changing the face of government.” The senator, who “has supported efforts to make Central and Northern New York leaders in the military’s development of the remotely-piloted drone aircraft,” was answered by Drone Alert Hudson Valley co-founder Barbara Kidney:

Actually I spent the 4th leading a rally for our unalienable rights. We recited the second & third sentences of the Declaration of Independence- you know, where Jefferson states that the purpose of government is to secure & protect the unalienable rights of the people, including their life, liberty, safety, & happiness, & that when government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.

We considered these ideas in light of our current government, hijacked by sociopathic corporations, & so which forces on us policies which destroy our rights, including health & safety- fracking, bomb trains along the Hudson, ecosystem-destroying Monsanto running the Dept of Agriculture, no taxes for astronomically wealthy & often earth-destroying corporations, constant comprehensive surveillance, prosecution of whistleblowers like Manning & Snowden who, just like Jefferson, point out high crimes & misdemeanors of corrupt officials in office- like Obama, for instance. And random murders of people by drones, & Obama’s trashing of rights that had been part of Western law tradition since the days of the Magna Carta (1215).

Then later in the weekend I participated in an action protesting & warning people abt the bomb trains that the federal government allows to run along the Hudson & through all the cities along it. We commemorated the Lac Megantic disaster of a year ago, which has permanently chemically poisoned the town. And we noted the dumping of 100 or so gallons of Bakken crude into the Port of Albany this weekend, & the earthquake this weekend so close to decrepit, expired Indian Point nuclear plant, which has nowhere to contain its radioactive-for-100,000 years spent fuel rods, but would love to have communities in upstate NY be toxic dump sites for them.

So no, I’m not feeling complacent, & I am fully aware that the Democratic party is fully part & parcel of this destructive madness.

Sincerely,
Barbara Kidney

New Paltz: Rally for a Revolutionary July 4!

Rally for Our Unalienable Rights: July 4th @12:00 PM at the Peace Park in New Paltz

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According to the Declaration of Independence, all people have unalienable rights, and the role of government is to secure these rights for the governed. Government is consensual, and when government fails to fulfill its function and obligation of securing these rights, the people can exercise their right “to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, organizing… in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

So, in light of governmental policies of water, air, earth, and food poisonings on massive scales; crushing student debt; military attacks on civilians at home and abroad; unaffordable education, healthcare, child and eldercare; concerted legalized attacks on people because of their demographics (being female, dark skinned, Muslim, etc); debtors’ prisons; comprehensive surveillance, etc—how do YOU think our government is doing?

Let’s rally for our rights and network with each other on Independence Day Friday, July 4 in New Paltz starting at noon in the Peace Park behind Village Hall. We’ll assemble, hold a sidewalk march on Main St, rally in front of Elting Library, people’s mic(rophone) part of the Declaration of Independence, sing some songs (Pete’s spirit lives!), and return to Peace Park for a General Assembly. Stay afterwards for a picnic in Peace Park if you’d like—BYO food and supplies. Bring signs—which right or cause would you like to feature? Bring pipes, drums, and other musical instruments.

Weather forecast is favorable, but rain date is Sat. July 5 starting at 4 pm (Not noon!).

Event initiated by Drone Alert Hudson Valley & co-sponsored by the Anti-Oppression Forum (leftunited@gmail.com), the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, & Hudson Valley Earth First! Other progressive, rights-affirming groups are very welcome to join in.

Contact: Call Andrew at (845) 699-3051

Please spread the word!

Suspected U.S. Drone Strikes Hit Pakistan After Hiatus

by Philip J. Victor, Al Jazeera America

Pakistani officials have publicly condemned a pair of suspected U.S. drone strikes that took place Wednesday and Thursday in the country’s north — the first such attacks in nearly six months. The latest incident left at least 10 dead.

Some reports suggest, however, that the strikes, which come less than a week after armed fighters launched a deadly attack on Pakistan’s largest international airport, may have been part of a joint operation between the two governments.

The first drone strike took place Wednesday near Miranshah, the capital of the North Warizistan tribal region where Taliban fighters are believed to be holed up, killing six militants that included four Uzbeks, Pakistan military sources told Reuters.  

The second strike occurred a few hours later in the same area, leaving at least four militants dead, those sources said. 

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council, declined to comment when contacted by Al Jazeera about the twin drone attacks.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry released a statement Thursday, condemning “the two incidents of U.S. drones strikes” that constituted a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 

Yet two unnamed Pakistani government officials told Reuters the Pakistani government and army had given the U.S. “express approval” for the strikes. 

“If the reports coming out of Pakistan are correct, this looks like some kind of coordination mechanism has been set up, which is something that was discussed over the last few years but never fully achieved,” said Shuja Nawaz, the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank.

“It could be also the U.S. way of helping the Pakistani military prepare for some kind of operation inside North Waziristan. We’ll have to wait to see if that develops.”

‘Take ownership’

The same Pakistani officials, in light of the recent attacks on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, told Reuters that a “joint Pakistan-U.S. operation” was conducted to target insurgents. 

“We understand that drones will be an important part of our fight against the Taliban now,” one of the officials said.

If true, such a position on the Pakistani government’s part would constitute “a massive change of policy,” Nawaz said. 

Nevertheless, there has been no official confirmation — nor is there likely to be — from either the U.S. or Pakistani governments that the strikes were a joint operation.

While suspected U.S. drones strikes have been publicly opposed by Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has on multiple occasions called on the U.S. to halt such actions, some have privately admitted the government supports them.

But if the U.S. and Pakistan have come to a specific agreement on using drones against insurgents, Nawaz said they should “take full ownership for it.” 

“If they have crafted a deal, I think it would make sense for them to say that it is a Pakistani strike using American assets,” he said, adding, “I don’t think it will happen.”

No ‘military solution’

The drone strikes follow the deadly hours-long siege launched by armed fighters on Jinnah airport in Karachi on Sunday, leaving 36 people dead, including the 10 suspected attackers. That attack was followed two days later by a second one launched by gunmen at a security post located outside the airport.

Talks between the Pakistani government and the Taliban — which recently saw a leading faction split from the main organization — have collapsed many times, mainly over Taliban demands that the government withdraw all troops from tribal areas and impose Sharia law.

Ultimately, Nawaz said, drones strikes, which began in 2004, have not accomplished much and are at best a short-term solution to the problem. 

“This kind of militancy and insurgency doesn’t really have a military solution per se. The solution is to remove the political and economic and ideological underpinnings of the militancy, and there does not yet seem to be within Pakistan a clearly defined goal for a countrywide operation against militancy,” he said. 

Woodstock Votes to Ban Surveillance Drones

We’re super psyched to hear that Woodstock, NY has become the first town in the Hudson Valley to ban surveillance drones! This work was done completely independent of Drone Alert and represents the growing resistance to drones both internationally and in our very communities. Below is a copy of the act passed by the Woodstock Town Board: 

Desire Town of Woodstock to be a “No Drone Zone”

Offered by Councilman Wenk, seconded by Councilman McKenna:

Whereas, the use of drones by the United States military provides a dangerous precedent for their domestic use; and

Whereas, the rapid development of drone technology throughout the United States poses a threat to the privacy and Constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Woodstock; and

Whereas, the Federal Government and the State of New York have failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

Whereas, drones can be used to film individuals or groups around the clock, in public spaces or through the windows of private homes, and to continuously monitor cell-phone and text messaging; and

Whereas, Police departments throughout the country have begun implementing Drone technology absent any guidance from law-makers; and

Whereas, Vanguard Defense Industries has confirmed that its Shadow Hawk Drone, which is already being sold to law enforcement agencies throughout the country, will be outfitted with weapons, including a Grenade launcher, or Tear gas and rubber buckshot, thus sending a clear and chilling message to those attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights by taking to the streets to protest government policies; now thereforebe it Resolved, that the Town Board of the Town of Woodstock New York,

·      Desires Woodstock to be a “No Drone Zone;”

·      Strongly warn that the unrestricted, unregulated use of drones is a serious threat to the Constitutional rights of all Americans;

·      Call upon the United States Congress and the New York State legislature to recognize the extreme danger and urgency of the issue, and to adopt legislation that would prohibit the use of drones for domestic surveillance and law enforcement purposes;

·      Call upon the United States Congress and the New York State legislature to adopt legislation that would strictly prohibit the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to intimidate, harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact human beings;

·      Call upon the United States Congress and the New York State legislature to adopt legislation to prohibit information obtained by drones to be used as evidence in Federal or State judicial proceedings; and

be it further Resolved, this resolution does not apply to hobbyists that fly remote controlled model aircraft, away from areas where they could harm people, as long as those devices are not equipped to monitor any person or residence; and

be it further Resolved, that the Town Board authorize the Town Clerk to forward a certified copy of this resolution to Ulster County Executive, State and Federal representatives, to the Governor of New York State, and to the President of the United States.

All voted 4-1-0:

Supervisor Wilber – aye
Councilwoman Magarelli – aye
Councilman Wenk – aye
Councilman McKenna – aye
Councilman Panza – abstained