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Leah Bolger, reports from the 2012 Pakistan delegation

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)…increased use of anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant drugs…suicide. These are all issues that are plaguing American combat soldiers, and which the American media has reported on widely.

Yesterday the CODEPINK delegation to Pakistan heard directly from the victims of U.S. combat drones. We listened intently to the stories of these men who describe their lives in terms of “Before Drones” and “After Drones,” in much the same way that Americans refer to their lives “since 9/11.”

Imagine having up to 6 drones circling overhead 24 hours a day, making an incessant, constant buzzing sound that never ceases. The sound the drones make creates a deep-seated psychological fear—a sort of emotional torture. The lives of these people have changed completely, their culture and way of life destroyed.

This is a communal society, whose families of 60 to 70 people live in the same compound. The women cook together, the families eat and sleep together. Weddings and funerals are huge gatherings of friends and family—or at least they used to be. Now, “After Drones (AD)” everything has changed. Children aged 5 to 10 no longer go to school. Men are afraid to gather in groups of more than 2 or 3. Weddings, which used to be joyous affairs with music, dancing, and drumming, are now subdued events with only close family members present. And most sadly, since funerals have been the target of drone attacks, they are now small gatherings as well.

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Veterans for Peace

For Immediate Release: October 5, 2012

Thirty-two U.S. peace activists, including 6 members of Veterans For Peace are taking part in a peace delegation to Pakistan organized by the anti-war group Code Pink.

See video: http://vimeo.com/50666774

Wednesday the delegation met with U.S. Charge d’Affaires Richard Hoagland.  U.S. peace activist Robert Naiman asked about reports of secondary attacks on rescuers of drone victims.  Ambassador Hoagland denied that rescuers are targeted, but not that strikes are launched on the same location just struck minutes before.

Hoagland also said that he agreed with President Obama that the number of civilian deaths was near zero, but later seemed to contradict himself when he said that number he believed was accurate was in “two digits.”  When asked to be more specific as to whether that number was closer to 10 or 99, he declined.

VFP President Leah Bolger asked:  “Since you know exactly where we intend to go, presumably the CIA and the DoD know as well, so can you guarantee us that there will be no drone strikes in the area while we are there?”  He then gave a 100% guarantee that there would be no strikes on the group.  Bolger followed up with: “So if we just position Americans throughout the region, can we guarantee the safety of the Pakistanis as well?”  He replied that most of the “militants” in the area are foreigners — not Pakistanis — and that they come in and take over.  He said that the local people would be very pleased to have them go.

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