Hugh Gusterson | Truthout
I kept finding myself thinking about the lunchbox.
I was at the all-day Drone Summit in Washington DC organized by Codepink, the antiwar group whose mostly female members are famous for putting on theatrical protests while wearing bold pink. I spent the day listening to human rights activists talking about civilians killed by US drone strikes, lawyers who complained that the strikes violated international law, and scientists worried that the United States is on the brink of automating the use of lethal force by drones and killer robots.
And I kept thinking about the lunchbox.
The lunchbox belonged to a schoolgirl in Hiroshima. Her body was never found, but the rice and peas in her lunchbox were carbonized by the atomic bomb. The lunchbox, turned into an exhibition piece, became, in the words of historian Peter Stearns, “an intensely human atomic bomb icon.” The Smithsonian museum’s plans to exhibit the lunchbox as part of its 1995 exhibit for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II enraged military veterans and conservative pundits, who eventually forced the exhibit’s cancellation.
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.
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.
The US has been criticised for not widely reporting casualties of CIA drone strikes abroad. Photograph: Bonny Schoonakker/AFP/Getty Images
Karen McVeigh | The Guardian
The human cost of the US government’s clandestine drone strikes strategy, including the deaths of young children in Pakistan and Yemen, will be highlighted this weekend as campaigners attempt to challenge domestic support for the Obama administration‘s controversial policy.
A conference in Washington, at which new video testimony will be shown from the relatives of victims, is the first step in a collaborative campaign to challenge Barack Obama’s claim in February that the strikes, aimed at terror suspects, were kept on a “tight leash” and had not inflicted huge civilian casualties.
The summit’s organisers – the Center for Constitutional Rights, Reprieve and the peace group Code Pink – hope it will increase awareness of how the CIA-controlled programme is operating in secret, without a clear legal framework and without any accountability to Congress.
Earlier this month, the US government announced it was expanding its controversial use of drone aircraft to kill suspected terrorists in Yemen.
Chris Woods, a journalist at the British-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, who exposed CIA drone attacks on rescuers and funeralgoers in Pakistan, described the summit as an “extraordinary heavyweight gathering”. He said: “Washington has not seen anything like this before.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ramah Kudaimi, Drone Summit Organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 24, 2012
National — After months of pressure from human rights activists, the U.S. government has granted Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar a visa to attend and speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington DC on April 28, 2012.
The Summit is organized by the peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Akbar, co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Rights, filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members of civilian victims of CIA drone strikes and has been a critical force in litigating and advocating on victims’ behalf. He had been invited to speak in the US before and first sought a visa nearly a year ago. His request had been pending since then.
“I am glad that better sense prevailed and the State Department is finally letting me into the country after 14 months of delay and tireless efforts by the Summit organizers,” Akbar said. “I will be speaking to American people about the loss of so many innocent Pakistani lives in their name. I believe the American people are good people and will want to do something to stop this unjust, counterproductive war that violates all norms of international law and human rights.”