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Britains protest: Remote-controlled mass murder begins at Britain’s first drones base -Time to call Barack Obama’s drone wars for what they are: mass murder of innocents – Protesters march on RAF base calling for UK’s killer drones to be banned – Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

April 28, 2013

Time to call Barack Obama’s drone wars for what they are: mass murder of innocents

A single individual, President Barack Obama, is choosing to send missiles into particular houses and buildings, and most of the people being killed are innocent.


By David Swanson
warisacrime.org
24 April 2013


The US Senate hearing on drones on 23 April 2013was not your usual droning and yammering.  Well, mostly it was, but not entirely.

Of course, the White House refused to send any witnesses.  Of course, most of the witnesses were your usual professorial fare.

But there was also a witness with something to say.  Farea Al-Muslimi came from Yemen.  His village had just been hit by a drone strike last week.

He described the effects — all bad for the people of the village, for the people of Yemen, and for the United States and its mission to eliminate all the bad people in the world without turning any of the good people against it.

The usual droning and yammering that preceded and followed this testimony seemed more offensive than usual.

One witness summarized the general position of pointless witnesses who accept all common wisdom and have no information or insights to contribute:

If the drone strikes are part of war, that’s fine, she said.  But if they’re not part of war, then they’re murder.  But since the memos that “legalize” the drone strikes are secret, we don’t know whether they’re perfectly fine or murder.

That’s the common view of things.  But to say it in front of someone who knows something about the killing from the perspective of the victims seems particularly tasteless.

The basic facts are barely in dispute.  A single individual, President Barack Obama, is choosing to send missiles from drones into particular houses and buildings.  Most of the people being killed are innocent and not targeted.  Some of those targeted are not even identified.  Most of the others are identified as run-of-the-mill resisters to hostile foreign occupations of their or neighboring countries.  A handful are alleged to be imminent (meaning eventual theoretical) threats to the United States.  Many could easily have been arrested and put on trial, but were instead killed along with whoever was too close to them.

If this is not part of a war, apparently, then it’s murder.

But if it’s part of a war, supposedly, it’s fine.

It’s funny that murder is the only crime war erases.  Believers in civilized warfare maintain that, even in war, you cannot kidnap or rape or torture or steal or lie under oath or cheat on your taxes.  But if you want to murder, that’ll be just fine.

Believers in uncivilized war find this hard to grasp.  If you can murder, which is the worst thing possible, then why in the world — they ask — can you not torture a little bit too?

What is the substantive difference between being at war and not being at war, such that in one case an action is honorable and in the other it’s murder?  By definition, there is nothing substantive about it.  If a secret memo can legalize drone kills by explaining that they are part of a war, then the difference is not substantive or observable.  We cannot see it here in the heart of the empire, and Al-Muslimi cannot see it in his drone-struck village in Yemen.  The difference is something that can be contained in a secret memo.

This is apparently the case no matter whom a drone strike kills and no matter where it kills them.  The world is the battlefield, and the enemies are Muslims.  Young men in predominantly Muslim countries are posthumously declared enemies once a drone has killed them.  They must be enemies.  After all, they’re dead.

I wonder how this sounds to a young Muslim man who’s taken to heart the lesson that violence is righteous and that war is everywhere at all times.

Do people who blow up bombs at public sporting events think all together differently from people who blow up peaceful villages in Yemen?

Don’t tell me we can’t know because their memos are secret too.  Those who engage in murder believe that murder is justified.  The reasons they have (secret or known) are unacceptable.  Murder is not made into something else by declaring it to be part of a war.

War is, rather, made criminal by our recognition of it as mass murder.

Protesters march on RAF base calling for UK’s killer drones to be banned: 27 April 2013

Protesters march to call for ban on drones that make it easier for politicians to launch military interventions, which result in greater civilian casualties.


By Press Association
guardian.co.uk
27 April 2013


BBC/Sky report on the Ground the Drones protest (3 mins).

Stop the War’s Chris Nineham interviewed on BBC News: why the drones should be banned.

Hundreds of peace campaigners gathered outside an RAF base today to protest against armed drones being operated from Britain to conduct missions in Afghanistan.

Around 400 demonstrators took part in a march from Lincoln to a rally at nearby RAF Waddington, which assumed control of British drone missions in Afghanistan earlier this week.

The Guardian revealed on Thursday that the RAF had begun remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles from the Lincolnshire airbase.

The drones were previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada.

Chris Cole, a coordinator of the Drone Campaign Network, said the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to wage war raised numerous legal, ethical and moral issues. Speaking near RAF Waddington’s perimeter fence, Mr Cole said: “This is the new home of drone warfare in the UK and there are questions about the growing use of these armed, unmanned systems.

“Because of their remote nature, there is no risk to any of our forces and that makes it easier to launch weapons and makes it much easier for politicians to get involved in warfare.”

In a statement issued on Thursday, the RAF said it had commenced supporting the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan ground troops with “armed intelligence and surveillance missions” piloted remotely from RAF Waddington.

The organisers of the protest march and rally are calling on the government to abandon the use of drones, claiming they make it easier for politicians to launch military interventions, which result in greater civilian casualties.

Commenting ahead of the protest, War on Want senior campaigns officer for militarism and security, Rafeef Ziadah said: “Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians’ decisions to launch military strikes and order extrajudicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public. Now is the time to ban killer drones – before it is too late.”

Chris Nineham, vice-chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, claimed drones were being used to continue the “deeply unpopular ‘war on terror'” with no public scrutiny.

Calling for armed drones to be banned, Mr Nineham said: “They’re using them to fight wars behind our backs.”

The Ministry of Defence has defended its use of drones in Afghanistan, stating that they have saved the lives of countless military personnel and civilians.

An MoD spokesman said: “UK Reaper aircraft are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft.”

http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/drones/2419-protesters-march-on-raf-base-calling-for-uks-killer-drones-to-be-banned

Remote-controlled mass murder begins at Britain’s first drones base

Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians’ decisions to launch military strikes and order extra-judicial assassinations, without democratic oversight.


By Nick Hopkins
The Guardian
26 April 2013


Game of Drones: Barack Obama and David Cameron

Remotely controlled armed drones used to target insurgents in Afghanistan have been operated from the UK for the first time, the Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.

Missions of the missile-carrying Reaper aircraft began from a newly built headquarters at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire earlier this week – five years after the MoD bought the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to monitor and attack the Taliban.

Since then the UK has been controlling the RAF’s five Reaper aircraft from Creech airforce base in Nevada because the British military did not have the capability to fly them from here.

However, the MoD made building a new UAV hub at Waddington a priority following the 2010 strategic defence and security review, and the centre “stood up” at the end of last year.

Waddington has become the home of XIII squadron, and defence officials said pilots from the unit have now started to take command of Reapers, working in tandem with the team in America.

There are three operating terminals at the base in Lincolnshire, and they had to go through extensive technical trials before they were deemed ready for use.

“We aren’t flying any more operations than we were before, but with the time differences between the US, Afghanistan and the UK, it is now possible for pilots at Waddington to work in relay with the those in the US,” said a source.

There are no current plans to disband the squadron in the US, which is expected to continue operating until the end of next year, when all Nato combat operations in Afghanistan will finally come to an end.

The RAF has bought five more Reaper aircraft, which are expected to be deployed in Afghanistan over the summer, bringing the total to 10. British UAVs have flown 45,000 hours in Afghanistan, and fired 350 weapons, including Hellfire missiles.

Though the MoD insists it operates with aircraft only in support of British troops, and only in Helmand province, the use of UAVs has been dominated by the CIA’s controversial programme to target insurgent leaders in Pakistan.

These strikes have sometimes caused civilian casualties, and have raised questions over the legality and morality of using remotely piloted systems in areas that are not conflict zones.

The disclosure comes at a sensitive time for the MoD – just two days before a protest outside RAF Waddington organised by CND, the Drone Campaign Network, Stop the War and War on Want.

The coalition has warned that switching control of drones to Waddington from US bases marks an unwelcome expansion in the UK’s UAV programme.

“Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians’ decisions to launch military strikes and order extra-judicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public,” said Rafeef Ziadah, from War on Want.

Chris Nineham, vice-chair of the Stop the War Coalition, added: “Drones are being used to continue the deeply unpopular War on Terror, with no public scrutiny. They’re using them to fight wars behind our backs. These remote-controlled killing machines should be banned.”

Letter 27 April 2013

Today sees Britain’s first national demonstration against unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, as they are commonly known. In the past RAF pilots have operated armed drones over Afghanistan from a US base just outside Las Vegas, but now the UK has started controlling its armed Reaper drones from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

The protest at RAF Waddington comes amid British plans to double the number of remote-operated Reaper aircraft from five to 10, with the number of British drones strikes continuing to rise. The UK has launched at least 365 drone strikes in Afghanistan since 2008, but due to the secrecy surrounding Britain’s drone wars, we have no idea of the impact of these strikes on the ground.

The government is also funding the development of new drones at BAE Systems and leasing Israeli drones for use in Afghanistan, while awaiting the completion of a new British surveillance drone called Watchkeeper. The Watchkeeper contract was awarded to Israeli company Elbit and its partner company, Thales UK.

Drones make it easier for politicians to launch military strikes and order extra-judicial assassinations without democratic oversight or accountability, and already thousands of people, including many innocent civilians, have been killed. Now is the time to ground the drones before the UK ratchets up even further remote-controlled slaughter.
Kate Hudson
CND
Chris Cole
Drone Campaign Network
Chris Nineham
Stop the War Coalition
Rafeef Ziadah

http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/drones/2415-illegal-immoral-and-unaccountable-remote-controlled-killing-at-britains-first-drones-base

Time to call Barack Obama’s drone wars for what they are: mass murder of innocents

A single individual, President Barack Obama, is choosing to send missiles into particular houses and buildings, and most of the people being killed are innocent.


By David Swanson
warisacrime.org
24 April 2013


The US Senate hearing on drones on 23 April 2013was not your usual droning and yammering.  Well, mostly it was, but not entirely.

Of course, the White House refused to send any witnesses.  Of course, most of the witnesses were your usual professorial fare.

But there was also a witness with something to say.  Farea Al-Muslimi came from Yemen.  His village had just been hit by a drone strike last week.

He described the effects — all bad for the people of the village, for the people of Yemen, and for the United States and its mission to eliminate all the bad people in the world without turning any of the good people against it.

The usual droning and yammering that preceded and followed this testimony seemed more offensive than usual.

One witness summarized the general position of pointless witnesses who accept all common wisdom and have no information or insights to contribute:

If the drone strikes are part of war, that’s fine, she said.  But if they’re not part of war, then they’re murder.  But since the memos that “legalize” the drone strikes are secret, we don’t know whether they’re perfectly fine or murder.

That’s the common view of things.  But to say it in front of someone who knows something about the killing from the perspective of the victims seems particularly tasteless.

The basic facts are barely in dispute.  A single individual, President Barack Obama, is choosing to send missiles from drones into particular houses and buildings.  Most of the people being killed are innocent and not targeted.  Some of those targeted are not even identified.  Most of the others are identified as run-of-the-mill resisters to hostile foreign occupations of their or neighboring countries.  A handful are alleged to be imminent (meaning eventual theoretical) threats to the United States.  Many could easily have been arrested and put on trial, but were instead killed along with whoever was too close to them.

If this is not part of a war, apparently, then it’s murder.

But if it’s part of a war, supposedly, it’s fine.

It’s funny that murder is the only crime war erases.  Believers in civilized warfare maintain that, even in war, you cannot kidnap or rape or torture or steal or lie under oath or cheat on your taxes.  But if you want to murder, that’ll be just fine.

Believers in uncivilized war find this hard to grasp.  If you can murder, which is the worst thing possible, then why in the world — they ask — can you not torture a little bit too?

What is the substantive difference between being at war and not being at war, such that in one case an action is honorable and in the other it’s murder?  By definition, there is nothing substantive about it.  If a secret memo can legalize drone kills by explaining that they are part of a war, then the difference is not substantive or observable.  We cannot see it here in the heart of the empire, and Al-Muslimi cannot see it in his drone-struck village in Yemen.  The difference is something that can be contained in a secret memo.

This is apparently the case no matter whom a drone strike kills and no matter where it kills them.  The world is the battlefield, and the enemies are Muslims.  Young men in predominantly Muslim countries are posthumously declared enemies once a drone has killed them.  They must be enemies.  After all, they’re dead.

I wonder how this sounds to a young Muslim man who’s taken to heart the lesson that violence is righteous and that war is everywhere at all times.

Do people who blow up bombs at public sporting events think all together differently from people who blow up peaceful villages in Yemen?

Don’t tell me we can’t know because their memos are secret too.  Those who engage in murder believe that murder is justified.  The reasons they have (secret or known) are unacceptable.  Murder is not made into something else by declaring it to be part of a war.

War is, rather, made criminal by our recognition of it as mass murder.

http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/drones/2409-time-to-call-barack-obamas-drone-strikes-for-what-they-are-mass-murder-of-innocents

 

Article 10.

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

  • (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

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