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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Kevin Gosztola | FireDogLake

Activists, lawyers, human rights advocates, civil liberties defenders and others came together for a major international summit on drone warfare and the issues created by drone use yesterday. The summit was co-organized by CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve. An exceptional lineup of speakers addressed participants detailing salient and significant aspects around the Obama administration’s expansion of the covert drone wars in countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Part 1 of 4 videos (see below for others):

The day wrapped up with a speech from Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, who has been one of the few journalists to actually travel to these countries where the covert drone war is playing out. Scahill has produced reports on Yemen and Somalia that show how the US is carrying out its “war on terrorism” and using drones to target and kill people.

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David Swanson | The Real News Network

This article first appeared in War Is A Crime.

War is legal, but pointing out its illegality is not mistaken; it’s irrelevant and un-strategic. That’s the argument I’m hearing from a number of quarters.

Chase Madar has a terrific new book on Bradley Manning in which he argues that many of the offenses Bradley Manning allegedly revealed through Wikileaks (the murder in the collateral murder video, the turning over of prisoners to be tortured by Iraq, etc.) are immoral but legal. When I pointed out to Madar that the Kellogg Briand Pact banned all war, that the U.N. Charter legalized only two narrow categories of war that our government does not meet (defensive wars and wars authorized by the U.N.), and that the Constitution of the United States bans wars not declared by Congress, Madar did not try to argue that I was mistaken. Instead he said it wasn’t important to point out war’s illegality, because Americans don’t care; instead we have to point out its immorality. But if war’s illegality is unimportant, why was its supposed legality important enough to develop as a significant part of a book? Why couldn’t war’s illegality be of help in the movement to oppose it on primarily moral grounds?

I attended a wonderful event on Saturday in Washington, D.C., a “Drone Summit” organized by Code Pink, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Reprieve — terrific organizations all, some of the best. Included in the summit were speakers from organizations that have concerns about drones but do not oppose war. It’s important to work with organizations and individuals who agree on the matter at hand, even if broad differences in world view divide you. I give great credit to every ban-the-drones or reform-the-drones organization that supports war or avoids the topic of war, yet works in coalition with antiwar groups. More credit and gratitude to them.

But many more people than attend one event in one city have these questions running through their minds, and the differences in viewpoint within the anti-drone movement may be helpful in forming one’s own view.

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Kevin Gosztola | FireDogLake

UPDATE – 3:35 PM Now have video interviews with Shahzad Akbar and Pakistan parliamentary member Amina Buttar that will go up some time over next day or two.

UPDATE – 12:23 PM Hina Shamsi of ACLU mentions how drone us is now part of bipartisan consensus. The US, she said, is destabilizing the international legal framework and creating a “new normal.” She outlined Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed to pry information on the covert drone program from the hands of the US government.

Maria LaHood of the CCR talked about bringing a case on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, to have Anwar removed from a JSOC kill list and a terrorist list. Some oddities: lawyers must get permission from the US government to legally challenge the inclusion of a person on a terror list. And, as she outlined what happened to three US citizens – Anwar, his son and Samir Khan – she closed by noting the judge’s decision on Anwar’s case because he said a judicial review would be needed to authorize spying on US citizens abroad but not for an executive order to kill a US citizen.

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(Credit: romakoma via Shutterstock/Aurora Flight Sciences/Benjamin Wheelock)

Jefferson Morley | Salon

In November 2010, a police lieutenant from Parma, Ohio, asked Vanguard Defense Industries if the Texas-based drone manufacturer could mount a “grenade launcher and/or 12-gauge shotgun” on its ShadowHawk drone for U.S. law enforcement agencies. The answer was yes.

Last month, police officers from 10 public safety departments around the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area gathered at an airfield in southern Maryland to view a demonstration of a camera-equipped aerial drone — first developed for military use — that flies at speeds up to 20 knots or hovers for as long as an hour.

And in late March, South Korean police and military flew a Canadian-designed drone as part of “advance security preparations” for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul whereprotesters clashed with police.

In short, the business of marketing drones to law enforcement is booming. Now that Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles, the aerial surveillance technology first developed in the battle space of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is fueling a burgeoning market in North America. And even though they’re moving from war zones to American markets, the language of combat and conflict remains an important part of their sales pitch — a fact that ought to concern citizens worried about the privacy implications of domestic drones.

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Pakistani lawyers rally to condemn NATO strikes on Pakistani troops, in Karachi, Pakistan, on Monday, Nov 28, 2011. The NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers went on for almost two hours and continued even after Pakistani commanders had pleaded with coalition forces to stop, the army claimed Monday in charges that could further inflame anger in Pakistan. Placard on right reads " Go ahead Pakistan army we are with you."

Jason Koebler | U.S. News

A Pakistani lawyer who has presided over lawsuits against the United States government for its drone attacks in his country blasted the CIA for expanding its strategy in Yemen to include drone strikes on suspected terrorists.

According to the Associated Press, the authorization will allow the CIA to kill suspected terrorists, even if they aren’t able to identify who the suspect is, but only with Yemeni permission. If a suspect is determined to be of low importance, permission to kill will be denied. But Shahzad Akbar, an attorney with the Pakistani Foundation for Fundamental Rights said in Washington, D.C. Thursday that the move only gives the CIA less incentive to discover suspects’ identities.

“They can’t kill them if they know someone is a low value target, however they can kill if they don’t know that person,” he said. “We were confused reading about it this morning.”

[FAA Releases List of Registered Domestic Drone Operators]

Pardiss Kebriaei, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights who filed charges (and lost in court) against the Obama administration for overstepping his bounds in ordering the killing of suspected terrorist and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, says that the “level of authority [granted in Yemen] is new.”

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