Happy 96th Armistice Day!
At the United Nations this month, Brazil, China, Venezuela and other nations denounced U.S. drone wars as illegal.
Click here to add your voice in support of the rule of law. Or -- if you've already signed -- please forward this to friends.
In the countries where the drones strike, popular and elite opinion condemns the entire program as criminal. This is the view of Pakistan's courts, Yemen's National Dialogue, Yemen's Human Rights Ministry and large numbers of well-known figures in Yemen. Popular movements in both Pakistan and Yemen continue to protest against the killing.
Wouldn't we see it the same if the constant buzzing and threat of death were over our heads? Click here to help ban weaponized drones everywhere.
The Geneva-based human rights group Alkarama agrees: "Whether they hit civilians and/or alleged al-Qaeda combatants and associates, the U.S. targeted killings policy in Yemen constitutes a blatant violation of international human rights law."
Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights agrees: "Any of these attacks are completely illegal. It's not about who they're targeting, or whether it's a civilian or whether it's a so-called combatant. ... These drone attacks are absolutely 100% illegal."
Sarah Ludford, Member of the European Parliament, agrees: "U.S. drone killings operate in disregard of the long-established international legal framework about when it is lawful to kill people."
If you agree too, please click here. And forward this far and wide.
Joy First of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, recently told the judge who was trying her for the crime of protesting drone kills at CIA headquarters: "According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values. It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters to speak out."
Joy quoted Robert Jackson, the U.S. chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who said: "The very essence of the Nuremberg Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state." And she added: "Your honor, the bottom line is that thousands of innocent people are dying and it is up to all of us to do everything we can to stop the pain and suffering and death being inflicted on these people by our government."
The least we can do is add our voices.
Please forward this widely to like-minded friends.
1. Guardian: Brazil, China and Venezuela Sharply Critical of 'Illegal' Program
2. Alkarama: Why the American Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law
3. TheRealNews.com: Michael Ratner on Illegality of Drones
4. Truthout: How Europeans Are Opposing Drone and Robot Warfare
5. Joy First: Who Is the Real Threat to Communities?
Organizations Supporting This Petition:
To sign on as an organization, contact us.
Alaskans For Peace and Justice
Arlington Green Party
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Brave New Foundation
Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases
Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
Drone Free Zone
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Granny Peace Brigade-NY
Hoosiers for Peace and Justice
Indiana Anti-Drone Project
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
Jeannette Rankin Peace Center
Montrose Peace Vigil
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Nevada Desert Experience
The Northampton Committee to Stop War
On Earth Peace
Peace of Mind Project
People United for Peace of Santa Cruz County (PUP)
Santa Cruz Against Drones (SCAD)
Simple Gifts Inc.
Sitkans for Peace and Justice
United for Peace and Justice
Veterans For Peace
Veterans For Peace Chapter 10
Veterans For Peace Chapter 27
Veterans For Peace Chapter 91
Veterans For Peace Chapter 154
Veterans For Peace, Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter, Baltimore, MD
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
War Resisters League
Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice
West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section
World Can't Wait
Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
To sign on as an organization, contact us.
Ann Jones discusses her new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- The Untold Story. Jones is an independent journalist and photographer and the author of 8 books, contributor to 15 others, and author of countless articles. Her work has been translated into 10 languages. She now lives in Norway.
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Imagine you awake to the sound of a machine noisily buzzing over your house, and another machine nearby in the sky, and another. These machines and others like them have been around for months. They never leave. While you live in the United States, the machines belong to the government of Pakistan. The machines are unmanned drones armed with missiles. Every once in a while they blow up a house or a car or a couple of kids playing soccer or a grandmother walking to the store, sometimes a McDonald's or a shopping center.
Imagine that you've learned to live with this. The popularity of homeschooling has skyrocketed, as nobody wants to send their kids outside. Telecommuting is now the norm for those able to maintain employment. But there's no getting used to the change. Your kids wake up screaming and refuse to sleep. Your rage makes you physically ill. Antidepressants are on everybody's shopping lists, but shopping is a life-and-death proposition. Canada is facing an immigration crisis. So is Mexico.
Now, Pakistan claims to be targeting evil criminals with surgical precision. And some in the U.S. government go along with this. But others object. The U.S. Supreme Court declares the drone deaths to be murder or war -- murder being illegal under U.S. law, and war being illegal under the U.N. Charter via Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Congress insists that criminals must be indicted and prosecuted, that negotiations with hostile groups cannot succeed while drones tear the negotiators limb from limb, and that Pakistan has no right to put its robots in our skies no matter what its good intentions. Statements agreeing with this opposition to the drones are signed by everybody who's anybody. Popular demonstrations against the drones, and -- bravely -- in the face of the drones, dwarf anything seen before. In fact, the world joins in, and people protest Pakistan's murder spree all over the globe. Human rights groups in various countries denounce it as criminal. The Pakistani prime minister reportedly checks off men, women, and children to kill on a list at regular Tuesday meetings. He's burned in effigy across the United States.
But Pakistani human rights groups take a different tack. In their view, some of the drone murders in the United States are illegal and some are not. It depends on the knowledge and intentions of the Pakistani officials -- did they know those kids were just playing soccer or did they believe their soccer ball was an imminent threat to the nation of Pakistan? Was blowing up those kids necessary, discrete, and proportionate? Were they militants or civilians? Was blowing them up part of an armed conflict or an act of law enforcement, and what type of armed conflict or what law was being enforced? Pakistan, these groups argue, must not blow people up without identifying them, without verifying that they cannot be captured, and without taking care not to kill too many civilians in the process. Further, Pakistan must reveal the details of its legal reasoning and decision making, so that the process has transparency. Indeed, Pakistan must begin running its proposed drone killings by a judge who must sign off on them -- a Pakistani judge, but a judge nonetheless.
The Pakistani human rights groups are not made up of evil people. They very much mean well. They want to reduce the number of Americans killed by drones. And they are not permitted to declare all drone killing illegal, because these killings might be part of a war, and these groups have adopted as a matter of strict principle the position that wars must never be opposed, only tactics within wars. They believe this makes them "objective" and "credible," and it certainly does do that with certain people. These Pakistani human rights groups are not pulling the trigger, they're trying to stop it being pulled as often. Lumping them together with the Pakistani military would be Bushian (with us or against us) thinking. But it's harder to see that from under the drones here in the United States with the kids wailing and Uncle Joe's brains still staining the side of the Pizza Hut, than it would be perhaps in Pakistan or at the United Nations Headquarters in Islamabad.
From here in the United States, the cries are for justice. Many want the prime minister of Pakistan prosecuted for murder. Many are beginning to view the absence of such legal justice as grounds for violence. I'm growing worried over what my neighbors and even myself might unleash on the rest of the world. I'm beginning to fall in love with the feeling of hatred.
Watch the Wounds of Waziristan video.
Do a die-in like this one.
Watch this video of an event on drones and militarization at NYU.
Watch this video of drone survivors visiting Congress.
Sign the petition at BanWeaponizedDrones.org
Ask your Congress member and senators to introduce legislation banning weaponized drones. Ask state legislators to do same.
Ask the ICC to prosecute drone murders.
Join in anti-drone actions everywhere.
November 9 at CIA Headquarters, join in the First Anniversary of Monthly Protests of Drone Murders at the CIA.
Come to the Drone Summit in Washington DC, November 16-17
The day before the Summit, November 15th, join us for a march from the White House to the headquarters of drone maker General Atomics. After the Summit, on November 18th, we will lobby members of Congress to push for legislation regulating the use of killer drones and domestic spy drones.
Every Tuesday: Stop the Killing
March 14-16, 2014, Santa Barbara, Global Network's 22nd Annual Conference
June 6-9, 2014, Sarajevo Peace Event
July 26-27, 2014, Third National UNAC Conference, Purchase, NY
July 28, 2014, 100 Years Since Launch of War to End All Wars That Created More Wars
August 27, 2014, 86 Years Since Signing of the Kellogg Briand Pact
Small Actions, Big Movements: the Continuum of Nonviolence - International Conference of WRI co-hosted by Ceasefire Campaign 4 Jul 2014 - 8 Jul 2014, Cape Town, South Africa
I was on Margaret Flowers' and Kevin Zeese's Clearing the Fog Radio today ( http://clearingthefogradio.org ) together with Naureen Shah of Amnesty International. The show ought to appear soon on iTunes here, and mixcloud here, and is already on UStream here although it seems to be missing the audio. I had earlier published a critique of AI's report on drones.
On this show, Shah explained that Amnesty International cannot oppose all drone strikes in an illegal war, because Amnesty International has never opposed a war, because doing so would make it look biased, and A.I. wants to appear to be an unbiased enforcer of the law. But, of course, an illegal war is a violation of the law -- usually of the U.N. Charter which most lawyers whom A.I. hangs out with recognize, never mind the Kellogg-Briand Pact which they don't.
Refusing to recognize the UN Charter, in order to appear unbiased, is a twisted notion to begin with, but perhaps it had good intentions at one time. However, now the U.N. special rapporteur finds that drones are making war the norm rather than the exception. That's a serious shifting of the ground, and might be good reason to reconsider the ongoing feasibility of a human rights group avoiding the existence of laws against war.
Shah also argued against banning weaponized drones on the grounds that they could be used legally. That is, there could be a legal war (ignoring Kellogg-Briand) and during that legal war a drone could legally kill people in accordance with someone's interpretation of necessity, discrimination, proportionality, intention, and so forth. Shah contrasts this with chemical weapons, even though I could imagine a theoretical scenario in which a targeted murder in a closed space could use chemical weapons in plausible accord with all of the lawyerly notions of "legal war" other than the ban on chemical weapons.
Of course, practically speaking, weaponized drones are slaughtering and traumatizing innocent people and will do so as long as they're used. The notion of civilizing and legalizing atrocity-free war was ludicrous enough before the age of drone murder. It's beyond outrageous now.
& The Reader
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HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS: Our cover story is a whimsical photo essay of barber shops in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Alon Skuy. We’ve also got two long book excerpts: the first – from James A. Mitchell’s The Walrus and the Elephants – offers a glimpse of John Lennon’s life as Hippy Messiah after his arrival in New York City in 1970; the second comes from David Swanson’s finely-reasoned War No More. We’ve also got conflicting opinions on whether Israel is or is not an Apartheid State from Uri Avneri and Jonathan Cook; while Chris Hedges wants to get the real class war started, David Edwards looks at the treatment of Glenn Greenwald by the British media, John Pilger writes about the new ‘Great Game’, and David Cromwell is intrigued by reaction to British comedian Russell Brand’s call for revolution. Plus much more.
BEING THERE: Our second offering, BEING THERE – 40-pages of street photography by ColdType editor Tony Sutton - shows that, despite what you may think, not all Canadians are boring.
NEW: Also available in on-screen version here
NEW: Also available in on-screen version here
President Dwight Eisenhower is often admired for having avoided huge wars, having declared that every dollar wasted on militarism was food taken out of the mouths of children, and having warned -- albeit on his way out the door -- of the toxic influence of the military industrial complex (albeit in a speech of much more mixed messages than we tend to recall).
But when you oppose war, not because it murders, and not because it assaults the rights of the foreign places attacked, but because it costs too much in U.S. lives and dollars, then your steps tend in the direction of quick and easy warfare -- usually deceptively cheap and easy warfare.
President Obama and his subordinates are well aware that much of the world is outraged by the use of drones to kill. The warnings of likely blowback and long-term damage to U.S. interests and human interests and the rule of law are not hard to find. But our current warriors don't see a choice between murdering people with drones and using negotiations and courts of law to settle differences. They see a choice between murdering people with drones and murdering people with ground troops on a massive scale. The preference between these two options is so obvious to them as to require little thought.
President Eisenhower had his own cheap and easy tool for better warfare. It was called the Delightfully Deluded Dulles Brothers, and -- in terms of how much thought this pair of brothers gave to the possible outcomes of their reckless assault on the world -- it's fair to call them a couple of drones in a literal as well as an analogous sense.
John Foster Dulles at the State Department and Allen Dulles at the CIA are the subject of a new book by Stephen Kinzer called The Brothers, which ought to replace whatever history book the Texas School Board has most recently imposed on our children. This is a story of two vicious, racist, fanatical jerks, but it's also the story of the central thrust of U.S. public policy for the past 75 years.
The NSA didn't invent sliminess in the 21st century. The Dulles' grandfather and uncle did. Cameras weren't first put on airplanes over the earth when drones were invented. Allen Dulles started that with piloted planes -- the main result being scandal, outrage, and international antagonism -- a tradition we seem intent on keeping up. Oh, and the cameras also revealed that the CIA had been wildly exaggerating the strength of the Soviet Union's military -- but who needed to know that?
The Obama White House didn't invent aggression toward journalism. Allen and Foster Dulles make the current crop of propagandists, censors, intimidators, and human rights abusers look like amateurs singing from an old hymnal they can't properly read.
Black sites weren't created by George W. Bush. Allen Dulles set up secret prisons in Germany, Japan, and the Panama Canal Zone, the MKULTRA program, and the Gladio and other networks of forces staying behind in Europe after World War II (never really) ended.
The Dynamic Dulles Duo racked up quite a resume. They overthrew a democratic government in Iran, installing a fierce dictatorship, and never imagining that the eventual backlash might be unpleasant. Delighted by this -- and intimately in on it, as Kinzer documents -- Eisenhower backed the overthrow of Guatemala's democracy as well -- both of these operations being driven primarily by the interests of Foster Dulles' clients on Wall Street (where his firm had been rather embarrassingly late in halting its support for the Nazis). Never mind the hostility generated throughout Latin America, United Fruit claimed its rights to run Guatemala, and who were the Guatemalans to say otherwise?
Unsatisfied with this everlasting damage, the Dulles Brothers dragged the United States into a war of their own making on Vietnam, sought to overthrow Sukarno in Indonesia, teamed up with the Belgians to murder Lumumba in the Congo, and tried desperately to murder Fidel Castro or start an all-out war on Cuba. The Bay of Pigs fiasco was essentially the result of Allen Dulles' confidence that he could trap a new president (John Kennedy) into expanding a war.
If that weren't enough damage for two careers, the Disastrous Dulles Dimwits created the Council on Foreign Relations, shaped the creation of the United Nations to preserve U.S. imperialism, manufactured intense irrational fear of the Soviet Union and its mostly mythical plots for global domination, convinced Truman that intelligence and operations should be combined in the single agency of the CIA, sent countless secret agents to their deaths for no earthly reason, unwittingly allowed double agents to reveal much of their activities to their enemies, subverted democracy in the Philippines and Lebanon and Laos and numerous other nations, made hysteria a matter of national pride, ended serious Congressional oversight of foreign policy, pointlessly antagonized China and the USSR, boosted radically evil regimes likely to produce future blowback around the world and notably in Saudi Arabia but also in Pakistan -- with predictable damage to relations with India, failed miserably at overthrowing Nasser in Egypt but succeeded in turning the Arab world against the United States, in fact antagonized much of the world as it attempted an unacceptable neutrality in the Cold War, rejected Soviet peace overtures, aligned the U.S. government with Israel, built the CIA headquarters at Langley and training grounds at Camp Peary, and -- ironically enough -- radically expanded and entrenched the military industrial complex to which "covert actions" were supposed to be the easy new alternative (rather as the drone industry is doing today).
The Dulles Dolts were a lot like King Midas if the king's love had been for dogshit rather than gold. As icing on the cake of their careers, Allen Dulles -- dismissed in disgrace by Kennedy who regretted ever having kept him on -- manipulated the Warren Commission's investigation of Kennedy's death in a highly suspicious manner. Kinzer says no more than that, but James Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable points to other grounds for concern, including Dulles's apparent coverup of Oswald's being an employee of the CIA.
Lessons learned? One would hope so. I would recommend these steps:
Abolish the CIA, and make the State Department a civilian operation.
Ban weaponized drones, and avoid a legacy as bad as the covert operations of the 1950s and 1960s.
Stop the disgustingly royalish habit of supporting political family dynasties.
And rename Washington's international, as well as its national, airport.
The U.N. and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International recently released a flurry of deeply flawed reports on drone murders. According to the U.N.'s special rapporteur, whose day job is as law partner of Tony Blair's wife, and according to two major human rights groups deeply embedded in U.S. exceptionalism, murdering people with drones is sometimes legal and sometimes not legal, but almost always it's too hard to tell which is which, unless the White House rewrites the law in enough detail and makes its new legal regime public.
When I read these reports I was ignorant of the existence of a human rights organization called Alkarama, and of the fact that it had just released a report titled License to Kill: Why the American Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law. While Human Rights Watch looked at six drone murders in Yemen and found two of them illegal and four of them indeterminate, Alkarama looked in more detail and with better context at the whole campaign of drone war on Yemen, detailing 10 cases. As you may have guessed from the report's title, this group finds the entire practice of murdering people with flying robots to be illegal.
Alkarama makes this finding, not out of ignorance of the endless intricacies deployed by the likes of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Rather, Alkarama adopts the same dialect and considers the same scenarios: Is it legal if it's a war, if it's not a war? Is it discriminate, necessary, proportionate? Et cetera. But the conclusion is that the practice is illegal no matter which way you slice it.
This agrees with Pakistan's courts, Yemen's National Dialogue, Yemen's Human Rights Ministry, statements by large numbers of well-known figures in Yemen, and the popular movement in Yemen protesting the slaughter. While the other "human rights" groups ask President Obama to please lay out what the law is, whether his killing spree is part of a war or not, who counts as a civilian and who doesn't, etc., Alkarama actually compares U.S. actions with existing law and points out that the United States is violating the law and trying to radically alter the law. This conclusion results in a clear and useful set of recommendations at the end of the report, beginning with this recommendation to the U.S. government:
"End extrajudicial executions and the practice of targeted killings by drones and other military means."
This recommendation is strengthened by a better informed and more honest report that much more usefully conveys the recent history of Yemen (including by noting honestly the destructive impact of the IMF and the USA), describes the indiscriminate terror inflicted by the buzzing drones, and contrasts drone murders to alternatives -- such as negotiations. This analysis enriches our understanding of why drone wars are counterproductive even from the point of view of a heartless sociopath rooting for Team USA, much less someone concerned about human rights.
It is, then, possible to write a human rights report from a perspective concerned with the rights of humans, and not some combination of concern with human rights and devotion to U.S. imperialism. This is good news for anyone interested in giving it a try. The field is fairly wide open.
Some nations' statements at the U.N. debate on drones this month, including Brazil's, also challenged the legalization of a new form of war. And all of these groups and individuals have something to say about it as well.
Free Screening of Brand-New Film: Unmanned: America's Drone Wars