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CODEPINK Outraged Over Brennan Confirmation, Activists Press for Public Hearings and Access to Legal Opinions

CODEPINK activists voice their concerns about John Brennan’s role in the lethal drone program at his hearing in February

The CODEPINK team expresses its deepest regrets that the Senate Intelligence Committee has proceeded to confirm John Brennan as the next director of the CIA today, given that he has been the mastermind of lethal drone warfare that has led to many civilian deaths and undermined the US reputation around the world. We applaud the successful efforts of the committee to gain access to the legal opinions regarding the targeted killing of Americans overseas for their own review, but we believe these opinions should also released to all Congressional representatives and most importantly, to the public.

CODEPINK has been vocal both on the streets and inside Senate offices, calling for public access to information regarding the CIA’s use of drone warfare. CODEPINK delivered over 5,000 signatures to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Leahy (D-VT), Attorney General Eric Holder and Chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). We believe that the public is clamoring for access to the government’s legal justifications for the targeted killing of American citizens.

CODEPINK also urges the Committee to continue to hold John Brennan, the CIA and President Obama accountable not only for the strikes targeting U.S. citizens, but also those resulting in civilian casualties globally. Brennan remarked in his confirmation hearing that “American citizens by definition are due much greater due process than anybody else by dint of their citizenship.” CODEPINK believes that the Committee must not accept this reasoning as an excuse to ignore the killing of non-American civilians by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, among other countries. While Brennan said in the hearing that the US government should publicly acknowledge when it kills civilians by mistake, he has refused to do so.

Another reason CODEPINK has opposed John Brennan’s confirmation is that he has overseen the expansion of the drone program to include drone bases throughout the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, and now Africa. Bases in countries like Saudi Arabia antagonize the Muslim community and could lead to another attack on US soil.

John Brennan’s nomination will soon go to the entire Senate for confirmation. “The confirmation of John Brennan will ensure that the US drone program—in the hands of the unaccountable CIA–will continue to wreak havoc on the lives of many innocent people overseas, recruit more extremists and foster more anti-American sentiment,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.

Watch the video of Radack speaking here

The Government Accountability Project supports human and civil rights and, as such, stands against anyone who seeks to violate those rights or suppress rights of individuals to speak out about any such abuses.

John Brennan is responsible for the biggest atrocities of two different administrations.  He was considered for the same position – CIA Director – in 2009, but eventually withdrew his name from consideration following uproar over his support of the use of torture after 9/11.  The fact that there is significantly less controversy surrounding Brennan’s nomination this time around suggests that the public – and Congress – have been quick to forget the atrocities that have occurred over the past decade.  If anything, Brennan’s record has only gotten worse over the past few years.

To begin with, the passage of four years since Brennan was first considered for the position does not change the fact that he played an extremely troubling role in the Bush administration’s torture policies.
Brennan served as the CIA’s Deputy Executive Director from 2001 until 2003.  Many of his colleagues say – and email traffic shows – he was well aware of the torture techniques used by the agency at that time.

If we have truly accounted for our past, then at the very least, an individual who either approved of the torture – or even tacitly condoned the torture – is certainly not someone that we should allow to now lead the agency.  Meanwhile, my client, John Kiriakou, is the only CIA officer to go to jail in connection with the torture program, and he blew the whistle on it.  In fact, I am convinced that if John had actually tortured someone, he would not be going to jail. Read More

10 October 2012 | CODEPINK Delegation in Pakistan Condemns Attack on 14-year-old Pakistani Girl; Offers Grant to her School,

8 October 2012 | American Delegation will Fast in Islamabad to Atone for U.S. Drone Strikes

7 October 2012 | CODEPINK Anti-Drone Delegation Brings Message of Solidarity to Tribal Areas in Pakistan Off-Limits to Foreigners for a Decade

5 October 2012 | Americans in Pakistan Meeting Families of Victims Obama Says Don’t Exist, Veterans for Peace

3 October 2012 | CODEPINK Peace Delegation now in Pakistan, Meeting with Victims of Obama’s Drone Strikes, October 3, 2012.

26 September 2012 | US Peace Delegation Travels to Pakistan to Protest Drone Strikes. Americans Say: “We want peace with the Muslim world”

For Immediate Release

The struggle of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai to ensure access to education for girls is important not just for Pakistan, but for women around the world, says the U.S.-based peace group CODEPINK and its delegation that is in Pakistan to condemn the US use of drones. A faction of the Taliban claimed credit for attacking the girl from the Swat region on October 9 in retaliation for her outspoken opposition to its attempts to keep girls home from school. The attack left the young girl in critical condition.

“We came to Pakistan to protest American drone attacks that have killed hundreds of innocent people,” said Medea Benjamin, a founder of Codepink and leader of the 31-member delegation that participated in a historic convoy to Waziristan Oct. 6 to visit with the people most affected by the drone strikes. “But we stand in solidarity with Pakistanis, especially the women, as they fight all of the forces that are working against human rights in their country. We are praying for Malala’s quick recovery and return to school.”

To show their support for Malala’s plight, Codepink is offering US$1,000 to her school. In addition, the delegation is joining other women and human rights groups in a solidarity demonstration at 5 p.m. today in front of the Islamabad Press Club.

The delegates see a connection between drone attacks and growing extremism in Pakistan. A recent report from Stanford University called drone attacks an effective “recruiting tool” for extremists. “ We oppose all forms of terrorism,” said delegate leader Tighe Barry, “and we stand with the people of Pakistan who are fighting for both national sovereignty and individual freedoms.”

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Medea Benjamin, medea@codepink.org, +923.365.978.798
Alli McCracken, alli@codepink.org, +923.419.853.545

More than a dozen American peace delegates visiting Pakistan to witness the damage wrought by U.S. drone attacks will fast from sunrise to sunset Tuesday, Oct. 9, in front of the Islamabad Press Club, Sector F-6. They will sing songs of peace, display pictures of the more than 160 Pakistani children who have been killed by American drones, and extend a message of peace and solidarity to passersby.

“We are very aware that there is a deep and justified feeling among Muslims worldwide that the Western world does not understand or respect them,” said Jody Mackey, who is active with the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Olympia, WA; before traveling to Pakistan, she was in Kabul with the Afghan Peace Volunteers. “It seems only appropriate that we express our sorrow for the horrific damage we have done to innocent Pakistani people, particularly those in Waziristan, by fasting according to the Islamic tradition followed during Ramadan.”

The Americans are among a delegation of 31 who joined political leader Imran Khan and other Pakistanis at a rally against U.S. drone strikes in Hatala, Pakistan, near the border between D.I. Khan and South Waziristan. This was the first time that the Pakistani government has admitted foreigners into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in nearly a decade.

“I have never fasted before, but I want to do this as a small, symbolic act to express my solidarity with the Pakistani people and my commitment to educate my fellow Americans upon my return home about the human impact of our foreign policy,” said Pam Bailey, a freelance journalist from Alexandria, VA. “We will do everything we can to lobby our government to stop violating Pakistani sovereignty and destroying the lives of innocents.”

Delegates are available for interviews, and updates from the trip along with multimedia content are regularly posted on http://www.droneswatch.org.

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Medea Benjamin, Codepink, medea@codepink.org, +923365978798
Alli McCracken, Codepink, alli@codepink.org, +923419853545
Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, +923419853377

Islamabad, Pakistan— Today the full CODEPINK delegation to Pakistan will arrive in Islamabad to begin a week of activities to express their opposition to US drone strikes in Pakistan. A pre-delegation group of American activists has been on the ground in Pakistan for several days meeting with think tanks, human rights organizations, and military and academic institutions.

The response from Pakistanis has been overwhelmingly positive and welcoming, and many plan to join the CODEPINK contingent as it marches to South Waziristan to protest US drone strikes on October 7th. “We are already receiving an outpouring of support from Pakistani people who are heartened to learn that there are Americans with a conscience who are willing to come all the way to Pakistan to show solidarity and apologize for the drone strikes that have brought so much death and destruction to the impoverished people of north Pakistan,” said CODEPINK cofounder and delegation leader Medea Benjamin.

On Wednesday, October 3, the delegation will meet with two victims from the first drone strike ever conducted during Obama’s presidency on January 23, 2009, which killed nine people—all civilians. One victim is Fahim Qureshi, who lost an eye, and had to have abdominal surgery because the drone missile pierced his stomach. He also lost 4 members of his family. The other victim is Mohammad Ejaz, who lost 2 family members.

Afterwards the delegation will meet with lawyers of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights who brought a lawsuit in the Peshawar High Court against the Pakistani government for its involvement in drone strikes and another case in Islamabad against CIA officials for committing murder on Pakistani soil. The delegation will then deliver petitions with tens of thousands of American signatures opposing the lethal U.S. use of drones to U.S. Embassy officials.

Delegates are available for interviews, and updates from the trip will be posted periodically on www.droneswatch.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Medea Benjamin, 415-235-6517, medea@codepink.org
Alli McCracken, 860-575-5692, alli@codepink.org

September 25, Washington DC:
Today 40 Americans announced their intention to travel to Pakistan October 3-10 on a peace delegation protesting U.S. drone strikes and calling for relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, and the broader Muslim world, to be based on peace and friendship, not drone strikes, military occupations and religious insults. Several members of the delegation from around the country will be holding a press conference in front of the White House to talk about the trip and to answer any questions.

The delegation, organized by the U.S. group CODEPINK, will meet with drone victim families, lawyers, academics, representatives of major Pakistani political parties and US officials. On October the delegates will join Imran Khan, drone victims’ families, tribal elders and thousands of Pakistanis in a march to South Waziristan protesting U.S. drone strikes that have killed between 2,500 and 3,330 people since 2004.

The American peace delegates are coming from cities across the United States. They are students, doctors, political analysts, veterans, writers, retirees and artists. All understand the risks involved in traveling to a dangerous area, but are determined to stand in solidarity with Pakistanis who suffer from a militarized U.S. foreign policy. “The recent anti-American protests throughout the Muslim world, sparked by the hateful ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film, reflects a deep-seated resentment towards U.S. policies like drone strikes,” says retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S diplomat Ann Wright, a member of the U.S. delegation. “That’s why it’s so critical for us to travel to Pakistan with a message of respect and peace.”

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