U.S. Killer Drone Program Under Fire

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

U.S. Killer Drone Program Under Fire

WASHINGTON - Al Jazeera is reporting today: “U.S. President Barack Obama’s former top military intelligence official has launched a scathing attack on the White House’s counter-terrorism strategy, including the administration’s handling of the ISIL threat in Iraq and Syria and the U.S. military’s drone war. In a forthcoming interview with Al Jazeera English’s Head to Head, retired U.S. Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in August 2014, said ‘there should be a different approach, absolutely’ on drones.

“‘When you drop a bomb from a drone… you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good,’ Flynn said.”

PRATAP CHATTERJEE, pchatterjee at igc.org, @pchatterjee
Chatterjee is the executive director of CorpWatch, an investigative journalism group, and the co-author of the forthcoming graphic novel Verax. Chatterjee just wrote a piece in the New York Times titled “Our Drone War Burnout,” which states: “As public support for foreign wars has fallen, following years-long occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has favored this form of remote-control warfare. In the president’s first five years in office, the C.I.A. made 330 drone strikes in Pakistan alone, compared with 51 strikes in four years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

“The issue of drones’ civilian body count is well documented. The C.I.A., in classified submissions to Congress, claims civilian death rates ‘typically in the single digits’ per year, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2013, who then chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Independent sources differ sharply from the official account. In 646 probable drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen recorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as many as 1,128 civilians, including 225 children, were killed — 22 percent of deaths.”

Chatterjee continued: “The drone wars are also taking a toll at home. Air Force psychological studies have found widespread stress among pilots, analysts and operators. … Working up to 12 hours a day, sometimes six days a week, analysts watch their targets up close for months on end. They often witness their subjects’ final moments. In follow-up surveillance, they may even view their funerals.”

ELLEN BARFIELD, ellene4pj at yahoo.com
BEVERLY RICE, nycbev85 at aol.com
ELLEN GRADY, demottgrady6 at gmail.com, @DroneResister
Barfield and Rice are two of four activists who were tried last month for protests outside a drone base in New York state. They are awaiting sentencing. The protests are organized by the group Upstate Drone Action, where Grady is an organizer. The group released a statement: “Jury Finds Four Hancock Anti-Drone Activists Guilty of Trespass, but Acquits on All Other Charges,” which says: “They were among 31 arrested in the driveway to Hancock Air Base’s main gate on East Molloy Road on April 28, 2013 for ‘dieing-in’ with bloody shrouds or for attempting to read aloud to the military personnel behind Hancock’s barbed wire fence a list of children killed by U.S. drones. The activists said they sought to ‘prick the conscience’ of base personnel and the chain of command responsible for the war crime originating there.

“A lowpoint in the trial came when Judge Zavaglia did not permit Pardiss Kebraiaei, a national security and international law expert, to testify. Kebraiaei, who has testified before Congress, had come that morning from New York City where she’s an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Since 2010, Hancock has been the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard — an MQ9 Reaper drone hub piloting weaponized drones 24/7 over Afghanistan and likely elsewhere. Also since 2010, Hancock has been the scene of twice-monthly anti-drone demonstrations outside its main gate as well as occasional larger demonstrations and scrupulously nonviolent civil resistance organized by Upstate Drone Action, a grassroots coalition. These have led to over 160 arrests, and numerous trials in DeWitt as well as $375 fines, Orders of Protection, and numerous incarcerations. The Hancock witness is a part of a national and international campaign to stop U.S. drone assassinations where drones are piloted and coordinated from, such as U.S. A.F.B. Ramstein, Germany.”

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