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descentintotyranny:

Amy Goodman — The Rising Resistance to Obama’s Drone Wars
Oct. 30 2013
“I wasn’t scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, ‘Will I be next?’” That is the question asked by 9-year-old Nabila Rehman, from northwest Pakistan. She was injured in a drone attack a year ago, in her small village of Ghundi Kala. She saw her grandmother, Mamana Bibi, blown to pieces in the strike. Her brother Zubair also was injured. Their case has become the latest to draw attention to the controversial targeted killing program that has become central to President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and global war-making.
“We really just have a very simple message to the U.S.: How do you justify killing a grandmother? How does that make anyone safer?” Mustafa Qadri posed the question on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. Qadri authored a new Amnesty International report titled “‘Will I Be Next?’ U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan.”
Nabila and Zubair are unique among the growing number of drone-strike victims: They were able to appear before Congress, along with their father, Rafiq ur Rehman, to testify about the strike and the devastation it brought to their family. They are featured in a new documentary being released for free on the Internet this week, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” by Brave New Films. In it, Rafiq, a primary-school teacher, describes that day:
“People enjoyed life before the attacks. It was 2:45 on October 24th of 2012. After school finished I went into town to buy school supplies.” When he returned home, they told him his mother was dead. There was a crater where her garden was. She was picking okra with the children. “That’s where my mother was killed,” Rafiq continues. “My family has been destroyed since my mother was killed.” Nine children in all were injured, as this drone strike fit a typical pattern, with one initial strike, followed closely by another to hit the rescuers.
13-year-old Zubair testified before Congress: “When the drone fired the first time, the whole ground shook and black smoke rose up. The air smelled poisonous. We ran, but several minutes later the drone fired again. People from the village came to our aid and took us to the hospital. We spent the night in great agony at the hospital, and the next morning I was operated on.”
Attacking rescuers is a war crime. Mustafa Qadri from Amnesty International explained: “For example, some laborers in a very impoverished village near the Afghanistan border, they get targeted, eight die instantly in a tent; those who come to rescue or to look for survivors are themselves targeted. In great detail, eyewitnesses, victims who survive, tell us about the terror, the panic, as drones hovered overhead. … There’s a very high threshold for proving [war crimes]. With the secrecy surrounding the program, the remoteness of this area, we can only get the truth once the U.S. comes clean and explains what is the justification for these killings.”
President Obama himself consistently defends the accuracy and legality of the targeted killing program. He was directly challenged on it recently, though, by his own 16-year-old human-rights hero, Malala Yousafzai. She is the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for her outspoken support for educating girls and women. Many thought she would win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. While the White House did not publicize her comments, Malala released a separate statement about her visit with the Obamas, saying, “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”
Resistance to Obama’s drone wars is growing. In upstate New York, in a surprise ruling, five anti-drone activists were acquitted after being tried for blocking the gate of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse. Code Pink is organizing a national conference in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 16-17, called “Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance.” And at least one drone pilot, Brandon Bryant, a former sensor operator for the U.S. Air Force Predator program, has now spoken out about the horrors of killing innocent civilians and the post-traumatic stress disorder that followed.
While only five members of Congress (all Democrats) came to hear the Rehman family testify, the words of young Zubair are now on the record, a painful testament to Obama’s policy of so-called targeted killing with drones:
“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray. And for a short period of time, the mental tension and fear eases. When the skies brighten, though, the drones return, and so, too, does the fear.”
 Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

descentintotyranny:

Amy Goodman — The Rising Resistance to Obama’s Drone Wars

Oct. 30 2013

“I wasn’t scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, ‘Will I be next?’” That is the question asked by 9-year-old Nabila Rehman, from northwest Pakistan. She was injured in a drone attack a year ago, in her small village of Ghundi Kala. She saw her grandmother, Mamana Bibi, blown to pieces in the strike. Her brother Zubair also was injured. Their case has become the latest to draw attention to the controversial targeted killing program that has become central to President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and global war-making.

“We really just have a very simple message to the U.S.: How do you justify killing a grandmother? How does that make anyone safer?” Mustafa Qadri posed the question on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. Qadri authored a new Amnesty International report titled “‘Will I Be Next?’ U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan.”

Nabila and Zubair are unique among the growing number of drone-strike victims: They were able to appear before Congress, along with their father, Rafiq ur Rehman, to testify about the strike and the devastation it brought to their family. They are featured in a new documentary being released for free on the Internet this week, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” by Brave New Films. In it, Rafiq, a primary-school teacher, describes that day:

“People enjoyed life before the attacks. It was 2:45 on October 24th of 2012. After school finished I went into town to buy school supplies.” When he returned home, they told him his mother was dead. There was a crater where her garden was. She was picking okra with the children. “That’s where my mother was killed,” Rafiq continues. “My family has been destroyed since my mother was killed.” Nine children in all were injured, as this drone strike fit a typical pattern, with one initial strike, followed closely by another to hit the rescuers.

13-year-old Zubair testified before Congress: “When the drone fired the first time, the whole ground shook and black smoke rose up. The air smelled poisonous. We ran, but several minutes later the drone fired again. People from the village came to our aid and took us to the hospital. We spent the night in great agony at the hospital, and the next morning I was operated on.”

Attacking rescuers is a war crime. Mustafa Qadri from Amnesty International explained: “For example, some laborers in a very impoverished village near the Afghanistan border, they get targeted, eight die instantly in a tent; those who come to rescue or to look for survivors are themselves targeted. In great detail, eyewitnesses, victims who survive, tell us about the terror, the panic, as drones hovered overhead. … There’s a very high threshold for proving [war crimes]. With the secrecy surrounding the program, the remoteness of this area, we can only get the truth once the U.S. comes clean and explains what is the justification for these killings.”

President Obama himself consistently defends the accuracy and legality of the targeted killing program. He was directly challenged on it recently, though, by his own 16-year-old human-rights hero, Malala Yousafzai. She is the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for her outspoken support for educating girls and women. Many thought she would win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. While the White House did not publicize her comments, Malala released a separate statement about her visit with the Obamas, saying, “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”

Resistance to Obama’s drone wars is growing. In upstate New York, in a surprise ruling, five anti-drone activists were acquitted after being tried for blocking the gate of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse. Code Pink is organizing a national conference in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 16-17, called “Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance.” And at least one drone pilot, Brandon Bryant, a former sensor operator for the U.S. Air Force Predator program, has now spoken out about the horrors of killing innocent civilians and the post-traumatic stress disorder that followed.

While only five members of Congress (all Democrats) came to hear the Rehman family testify, the words of young Zubair are now on the record, a painful testament to Obama’s policy of so-called targeted killing with drones:

“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray. And for a short period of time, the mental tension and fear eases. When the skies brighten, though, the drones return, and so, too, does the fear.”


Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

(via cultureofresistance)

Flying a drone, even just a Parrot, makes you realize what a radically new and deeply strange technology drones are. A drone isn’t just a tool; when you use it you see and act through it — you inhabit it. It expands the reach of your body and senses in much the same way that the Internet expands your mind. The Net extends our virtual presence; drones extend our physical presence. They are, along with smart phones and 3-D printing, one of a handful of genuinely transformative technologies to emerge in the past 10 years.

They’ve certainly transformed the U.S. military: of late the American government has gotten very good at extending its physical presence for the purpose of killing people. Ten years ago the Pentagon had about 50 drones in its fleet; currently it has some 7,500. More than a third of the aircraft in the Air Force’s fleet are now unmanned. The U.S. military reported carrying out 447 drone attacks in Afghanistan in the first 11 months of 2012, up from 294 in all of 2011. Since President Obama took office, the U.S. has executed more than 300 covert drone attacks in Pakistan, a country with which we’re not at war. Already this year there are credible reports of five covert attacks in Pakistan and as many as eight in Yemen, including one on Jan. 21, the day of Obama’s second Inauguration. The Pentagon is planning to establish a drone base in northwestern Africa.

The military logic couldn’t be clearer. Unlike, say, cruise missiles, which have to be laboriously targeted and prepped and launched over a period of hours, drones are a persistent presence over the battlefield, gathering their own intelligence and then providing an instantaneous response. They represent a revolution in the idea of what combat is: with drones the U.S. can exert force not only instantly but undeterred by the risk of incurring American casualties or massive logistical bills, and without the terrestrial baggage of geography; the only relevant geography is that of the global communications grid. In the words of Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, drones change “everything from tactics to doctrine to overall strategy to how leaders, the media and the public all conceptualize and decide upon this thing we call war.”

Having transformed war, drones are getting ready to transform peace. A year ago Obama ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to expedite the process of integrating “unmanned aerial vehicles,” as drones are primly referred to within the trade, into civilian airspace. Police departments will use them to study crime scenes. Farmers will use them to watch their fields. Builders will use them to survey construction sites. Hollywood will use them to make movies. Hobbyists will use them just because they feel like it. Drones are an enormously powerful, disruptive technology that rewrites rules wherever it goes. Now the drones are coming home to roost.

Drone Home | Time Magazine | Lev Grossman (via america-wakiewakie)
america-wakiewakie:

The Woes of an American Drone Operator | DER SPIEGEL
A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can’t do it anymore.
For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn’t be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.
The container is filled with the humming of computers. It’s the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren’t flying through the air. They’re just sitting at the controls.
Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.
“These moments are like in slow motion,” he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.
With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.
Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.
“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.
“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.
“Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. “No. That was a dog,” the person wrote.
They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?
Invisible Warfare
When Bryant left the container that day, he stepped directly into America: dry grasslands stretching to the horizon, fields and the smell of liquid manure. Every few seconds, a light on the radar tower at the Cannon Air Force Base flashed in the twilight. There was no war going on there.
Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it “more humane.” It’s the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promotedmore than any of his predecessors.
In a corridor at the Pentagon where the planning for this war takes place, the walls are covered with dark wood paneling. The men from the Air Force have their offices here. A painting of a Predator, a drone on canvas, hangs next to portraits of military leaders. From the military’s perspective, no other invention has been as successful in the “war on terror” in recent years as the Predator.
The US military guides its drones from seven air bases in the United States, as well as locations abroad, including one in the East African nation of Djibouti. From its headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the CIA controls operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
Read Full Text(Photo Credit: Gilles Mingasson/ DER SPIEGEL)

america-wakiewakie:

The Woes of an American Drone Operator | DER SPIEGEL

A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can’t do it anymore.

For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn’t be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.

The container is filled with the humming of computers. It’s the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren’t flying through the air. They’re just sitting at the controls.

Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.

“These moments are like in slow motion,” he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.

With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.

“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.

“Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. “No. That was a dog,” the person wrote.

They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

Invisible Warfare

When Bryant left the container that day, he stepped directly into America: dry grasslands stretching to the horizon, fields and the smell of liquid manure. Every few seconds, a light on the radar tower at the Cannon Air Force Base flashed in the twilight. There was no war going on there.

Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it “more humane.” It’s the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promotedmore than any of his predecessors.

In a corridor at the Pentagon where the planning for this war takes place, the walls are covered with dark wood paneling. The men from the Air Force have their offices here. A painting of a Predator, a drone on canvas, hangs next to portraits of military leaders. From the military’s perspective, no other invention has been as successful in the “war on terror” in recent years as the Predator.

The US military guides its drones from seven air bases in the United States, as well as locations abroad, including one in the East African nation of Djibouti. From its headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the CIA controls operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Read Full Text
(Photo Credit:
Gilles Mingasson/ DER SPIEGEL)

A local judge in upstate New York has signed an order of protection for a US Air Force colonel that could make it a crime, punishable by up to seven years in prison, for anti-drone activists to continue their weekly peace vigil outside or near the gates of the Hancock Air National Guard base there.

Anti-Drone Activists Could Get 7 Years for ‘Irritating’ US Air Force Colonel

The seventeen named in the order were all arrested in October following an attempt to block several entryways onto the base. Though this was just the latest in a series of protests directed at the US drone program which operates out of Hancock, the group interprets the order as an escalation against their efforts and a direct assault on their right to peaceably assemble and voice grievances to their government for acts they deem illegal under domestic and international law.

The seventeen activists are forbidden to do the following:

…assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim or victims of, or designated witnesses to the alleged offense and such members of the family or household of such victim(s) or witness(es) as shall be specifically named Earl A Evans.

This is completely absurd.

(via jayaprada)

(via triangleman)

Obama’s second term opens with the worst kind of display of US power – backing two clients who are hell-bent on creating mayhem against their neighbors. Coming to the defense of Israel in Bangkok, Obama made himself the laughing stock of the world. He said, “There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” forgetting, of course, that US drones rain hellfire on Droneland – from Yemen to Pakistan, in violation of the UN’s own position on such extra-judicial assassinations, and it was Israel that began this particular episode with its own extra-judicial killing of Ahmad Jabari. There is no “reset,” no new liberalism. Drone strikes and other exaggerations of US aerial power, fanatical defense of its allies, and refusal to come to terms with the emergent multipolarity – this is the Obama Doctrine, now at work in Gaza and Goma.

Vijay Prashad. (via mehreenkasana)

(via arabface)

Posted by
Lemond

anarcho-queer:

Obama Victory Infuriates Pakistani Drone Victims
The roars celebrating the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama on television give Mohammad Rehman Khan a searing headache, as years of grief and anger come rushing back.
The 28-year-old Pakistani accuses the president of robbing him of his father, three brothers and a nephew, all killed in a U.S. drone aircraft attack a month after Obama first took office.
“The same person who attacked my home has gotten re-elected,” he told Reuters in the capital, Islamabad, where he fled after the attack on his village in South Waziristan, one of several ethnic Pashtun tribal areas on the Afghan border.
“Since yesterday, the pressure on my brain has increased. I remember all of the pain again.”
In his re-election campaign, Obama gave no indication he would halt or alter the drone program, which he embraced in his first term to kill al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan without risking American lives.
Drone strikes are highly unpopular among many Pakistanis, who consider them a violation of sovereignty that cause unacceptable civilian casualties.
“Whenever he has a chance, Obama will bite Muslims like a snake. Look at how many people he has killed with drone attacks,” said Haji Abdul Jabar, whose 23-year-old son was killed in such a bombing.
Analysts say anger over the unmanned aircraft may have helped the Taliban gain recruits, complicating efforts to stabilize the unruly border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That could also hinder Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
Obama authorized nearly 300 drone strikes in Pakistan during his first four years in office, more than six times the number during the administration of George W. Bush, according to the New America Foundation policy institute.
Since 2004, a total of 337 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,908 and 3,225 people.
Related: Obama Bombs Yemen Hours After Winning Reelection

    #Pakistan #Drones #Obama #Barack Obama #Mohammad

anarcho-queer:

Obama Victory Infuriates Pakistani Drone Victims

The roars celebrating the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama on television give Mohammad Rehman Khan a searing headache, as years of grief and anger come rushing back.

The 28-year-old Pakistani accuses the president of robbing him of his father, three brothers and a nephew, all killed in a U.S. drone aircraft attack a month after Obama first took office.

The same person who attacked my home has gotten re-elected,” he told Reuters in the capital, Islamabad, where he fled after the attack on his village in South Waziristan, one of several ethnic Pashtun tribal areas on the Afghan border.

Since yesterday, the pressure on my brain has increased. I remember all of the pain again.

In his re-election campaign, Obama gave no indication he would halt or alter the drone program, which he embraced in his first term to kill al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan without risking American lives.

Drone strikes are highly unpopular among many Pakistanis, who consider them a violation of sovereignty that cause unacceptable civilian casualties.

Whenever he has a chance, Obama will bite Muslims like a snake. Look at how many people he has killed with drone attacks,” said Haji Abdul Jabar, whose 23-year-old son was killed in such a bombing.

Analysts say anger over the unmanned aircraft may have helped the Taliban gain recruits, complicating efforts to stabilize the unruly border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That could also hinder Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

Obama authorized nearly 300 drone strikes in Pakistan during his first four years in office, more than six times the number during the administration of George W. Bush, according to the New America Foundation policy institute.

Since 2004, a total of 337 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,908 and 3,225 people.

Related: Obama Bombs Yemen Hours After Winning Reelection