The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Janet Weil, Bay Area CODEPINK Women for Peace, 925-212-7477

Peace Activists to Rally Monday Outside Creech Air Force Base: Will Call For End to US Drone Attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan

WHAT: CODEPINK and others rally to "Ground the Drones!" WHEN: 6:30 to 8 a.m. Monday, July 13


At the gates of the Creech Air Force Base here,
where American soldiers inside use advanced technology to aim and fire
pilotless drones at human targets thousands of miles away in
Afghanistan or Pakistan, peace activists from several organizations
will rally to stop the use of these drones, violations of international
law and fuel for Taliban and Al Qaeda.

"These are war crimes being committed from our own backyards," said
rally participant Father Louis Vitale, a Franciscan friar for 49 years
of Oakland, CA, a well-known peace activist. "It's unbelievable that
from thousands of miles away, we're dropping bombs on people's houses."

The demonstrators, which also includes the pink-clad women of CODEPINK, the
Nevada Desert Experience and more, will also explain that drones are
largely inefficient -- the number of militants killed is unjustly
outweighed by civilians killed. David Kilcullen, a former top adviser
to U.S. Army General David Petraeus, recently testified to the House
Armed Services Committee that the rate of civilian deaths do not
justify the drones. Since 2006, drone attacks killed 14 Al-Qaeda
leaders but also killed about 700 civilians, a 50:1 ratio of innocent
victims to targeted enemies.

"Here in the beauty of the desert, it's even more painful to know that
so much death and destruction is set into motion here," said Janet Weil
of CODEPINK. "Even just in the past few days, there's reports of a
terrible loss of life. The sheer number of people who've died in
Afghanistan and Iraq is very much accelerating, largely from our

Drone attacks anger the Pakistani and Afghan populations against the
U.S. efforts, fuel Al Qaeda and the Taliban and prompt further distrust
in their own governments' actions. About 82 percent of Pakistanis
consider the U.S. drone attacks on militant camps in Pakistan as
unjustified, and 69 percent have an unfavorable view of the U.S.
government, according to a July poll by the
Meanwhile, Taliban and Al Qaeda has risen, increasing violence and
leading to a never-ending battle.

Meanwhile, the U.S. soldiers who aim and fire these drones experience
psychological damage from their work. After driving to the base from
their homes in Los Vegas, they take a 12-hour shift of aiming and
firing drones using technology much like a video game -- with a control
stick and a screen that shows the targets thousands of miles away,
before and after they are struck. Vitale, who has spoken at length with
military chaplains and other commanders, said these men are mostly 19
and have little combat experience.

"The only preparation for something like this is time in the arcade,
and the arcade is a game to see how many people you can kill," Vitale
said. "Another commander told me that he's afraid they feel it's just
another game, it's an arcade. But then they realize the real damage
they're doing."

The demonstrators will also call on Congress to stop spending American
tax dollars on drones and other military efforts in Afghanistan and
Pakistan but on humanitarian aid and diplomacy.

For more information, please call Janet Weil, Bay Area CODEPINK
coordinator, at 925-212-7477 or Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media
coordinator, at 508-769-2138.

CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

(818) 275-7232