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Ann Wright | OpEd News

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As President Barack Obama spent his last day, January 5, in Hawaii, representatives from Hawaii Peace and Justice and World Can’t Wait protested his assassin drone program and lack of effort on Palestinian issues in front of his Hawaii vacation home.

Drone protests in the United States over the past three years have had an effect on reducing the number of drone strikes and the deaths of civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) reported on January 4, that probably due to public criticism, “civilian deaths fell sharply in Pakistan in 2012, with Bureau data suggesting that a minimum of 2.5% of those reported killed were civilians — compared with more than 14% in 2011. This suggests the CIA is seeking to limit non-militant casualties, perhaps as a result of sustained criticism.”

BIJ states that another reason for a decline in Pakistani strikes and civilian casualties may have been growing hostility. Some 74% of polled citizens said they view the US as an enemy, and that Pakistan was the only nation favoring Mitt Romney for US President. Read More

Reports from the 2012 Pakistan Delegation

The Pakistan National Defense University (NDU) was the site for a presentation by retired U.S. Army colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright, a lead member of the Code Pink delegation against drones. The delegation was invited to appear by the Dean of the Faculty of Contemporary Studies) and was attended by an enthusiastic audience of NDU students as well as several high ranking officers.

Wright emphasized the illegality of the U.S. drone program which violates the sovereignty of other nations, and also allows President Obama to be the ‘judge, jury and executioner’ when he gives the go-ahead for extrajudicial signature drone attacks.

Wright’s anti-drone message resonated with the audience, who were also critical of U.S. policies. One questioner said that though drones may be an effective tactical weapon, but they were a failure strategically; i.e. the anti-American sentiment created by the deaths and the damage of the drones far outweighs the “benefit” of killing selected targets, even if they are considered “high value,” and that the policy of drone warfare would turn out to be counterproductive.

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Common Dreams

Former US ambassador and peace activist Ann Wright – who has arrived in Islamabad to participate in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s peace march to South Waziristan. Wright and Imran Khan spoke to the media in Islamabad on Sunday, September 30, 2012.

Anti-drone protesters from across Pakistan and around the world are gathering in Islamabad this week in preparation for a weekend march into the tribal areas of South Waziristan.

Ignoring a travel warning issued by the U.S. State Department for Pakistan, a delegation of 30 US activists and parents of U.S. Army soldiers has arrived in Islamabad, where they plan to join the October 6 and 7th march and rally.

The march is being organized and led by Imran Khan, the former Pakistani national cricket captain and now head of the polical party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Khan and his party have emerged as the leading critics of America’s covert program of lethal drone strikes.

Khan has said that he expects up to 100,000 to join this weekend’s march.

When Khan announced plans for the march this summer the Pakistani Taliban said they would stop the march by killing Khan, the former cricket star turned politician Imran.

“If he comes, our suicide bombers will target him,” the Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told the Associated Press during an interview in a remote compound in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a mountainous and lawless region on the Afghan border.

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Ann Wright, reports from the 2012 Pakistan delegation

Our first meeting was with Samar Minallah Khan, an anthropologist and filmmaker who has gained the confidence of affected women to made documentaries on the impact of the US war in Afghanistan on women who have had to flee Afghanistan, including two short excellent documentaries that we saw: “Voices Behind the Burkas” and “Where the Heart Lies.” She also is documenting the custom of using girls as compensation for debts and is advocating in the tribal areas for the end of the custom.

Our second meeting was with Sameena Nizar, head of the newly formed Pakistan chapter of Women’s International of Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and director of Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy which works with women in rural areas. 5 members of the WILPF chapter joined us, including one woman who is on the Pakistan Human Rights Council. Mrs. Nizar is setting up a meeting for us on October 3 with other women’s peace groups in Islamabad.

Our third meeting was with the first with the political parties of Pakistan. Tarik Azim is a Senator in the Parliament of Pakistan from the Pakistan Muslin League-N (PLMN) party. We are meeting with all political parties to discuss their prospective on the impact of US drones. Mr. Azim was the Minister of Information in the Musharraf Government and provided insights on the Musharraf government’s acquiesce to the early US drone program.

We ended the evening with an informal dinner at a local restaurant.

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Col. Ann Wright | Truth Dig

The ShadowHawk drone is made by Vanguard Defense Industries.

Americans have been protesting and getting arrested at U.S. drone bases and research institutions for years, and some members of Congress are starting to respond to the pressure.

But it’s not that drones are being used to extrajudicially execute people, including Americans, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia that has U.S. lawmakers concerned. Rather it’s the possible and probable violation of Americans’ privacy in the United States by unlawful drone surveillance that has caught the attention of legislators.

Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., says “there is distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government. It’s raising alarm with the American public.” Based on those discussions, Landry has placed a provision in a defense spending bill that would prohibit information gathered by drones without a warrant from being used as evidence in court.

Two other legislators, Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced identical bills to bar any government agency from using a drone without a warrant to “gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a regulation.”

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