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Shut Down Creech

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Remembering Billie Jean James


We met Billie Jean James during the weekly Peace Vigil in front of the Las Vegas Federal Courthouse, where she used to come to nearly every week. She also went with us to the Good Friday Vigil at Creech Airforce Base during the Sacred Peace Walk.

See here the photos of her in bright white. We have gotten to know her as a warm-hearted person who was dedicated to people and nature, to life. We heard about her going missing while we were still in the Nevada Desert Experience Office. All of the people there were shocked about what could have happened to her.

We learned today by chance that she was found. We remember her as a beautiful person. We wish her family and friends strength in these sad times.

André and Annabelle
NDE/Sacred Peace Walk/Dronewatch Blog

Please also read what the Friends of Nevada Wilderness wrote about her, and the letter in the Las Vegas Sun.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bomb

Howard Zinn's last testament to the immorality of war
The Guardian
Ben Dandelion
Thursday 23 September 2010 11.00 BST

Howard Zinn's book, The Bomb, recounts how the bombings of Hiroshima and the French city of Royan changed his view of war. Photograph: Dima Gavrysh/AP

Howard Zinn died this year. He is perhaps best known for his People's History of the United States, a book that has featured in The Simpsons and was recommended by Matt Damon's character in the film Good Will Hunting. This book, which offered a view of US history in terms of 500 years of imperialism, colonisation and racism, was less well received academically, with critics calling it polemical and revisionist. Zinn ultimately was an activist and it shone through his academic work as well as his more political essays.

Delivered to the publisher one month before his death, The Bomb falls into the latter category. In it, Zinn puts two essays side by side, one entitled "Hiroshima, breaking the silence", the other "The bombing of Royan". As a young man eager to be demobbed, Zinn recalls celebrating the dropping of the atomic bomb; it meant the end of a war he did not wish to return to. He had taken part in the bombing of the French town of Royan just three months earlier. The essays revisit that unthinking celebration and desire to follow orders of those months in 1945. Using historical evidence, it also argues that neither mission was necessary and asks what prompted military action that would transcended military logic and moral sensibilities.

Like Zinn, I have changed my mind over the need and glory of war. Leaving Quaker school at 17, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. But travelling the world on my bicycle, I came to the same realisation as Zinn – that there is no "them", but only a global "us". I will gladly say that changing one's mind is not and should not be seen as a sign of weakness, as it so often is for politicians, but of creative reflection. Of course, now that I am a committed pacifist, I hope the changes people make follow the same direction as Zinn and me rather than the other way round – from pacifist to militarist.

However, Zinn is also involved in arguments more complex than a simple pacifist one. He is critical of portrayals of any portion of humanity as "lesser" and rightly points out that only by dehumanising the enemy could strategies such as blanket bombing or the dropping of atomic bombs be perceived as possible by people who also saw themselves as moral. I remember an analysis of the media by the sociologist Christie Davies which explained how humanity could at any point be counted as identified humans, nameless members of a group or statistics, and that their moral status shifted within press coverage depending on the degree of humanity ascribed to them. "Eighteen die in bus crash" constructs the dead as a statistic. So it is with war, where "the enemy" is dehumanised or even demonised to the point where killing them is not perceived as murder, and where there are no longer "innocent" victims, just "dead enemies".

This is a conscious process of state and media which can be seen in the censorship of films documenting the effects of the atomic bombs in the years following the war. Zinn implicitly argues that if we place ourselves into that "enemy" situation and cannot justify the military action proposed, then we are morally at fault. This may end up as a kind of pacifism, but it is one which takes critics on in different ways and asks more pointedly for each proposed action to be examined in a globalising moral light.

In these particular cases – especially the destruction of Royan, which was actually inhabited by allies rather than enemies, Zinn argues that motives of military pride, experimentation of new technology (napalm was used for the first time at Royan) and the desire for revenge outweighed the facts that none of it was strategically necessary – the port was a sideshow which posed no threat to the rapid advance of the allies towards Berlin in June 1945.

That said, the very "evils" that the war was meant to defeat was implicit in the actions of the allies. All of the allied powers had records of colonisation and all had previously invaded other countries for their own good, as they then complained of Germany or Japan doing. All defended their empires against independence movements in the years following 1945. All ultimately carried out military action that killed thousands and thousands of civilians. Blanket bombing in Dresden was described by Churchill as a "heavy raid". At the time, racism in the US underpinned the social system as much as it fuelled the rhetoric to go to war against Japan and Germany. In this sense too, less happily, "they" were actually just like "us". Yet, the rhetoric of war relies on "them" being seen as lesser.

The Bomb is not an easy book to read in places, given the accounts of the suffering inflicted by the bombings. It is one that will infuriate many. Some will resist its historical analysis, some its collage of arguments in its favour, and some will say Zinn just didn't understand the true nature of the decisions that had to be (and still are) made. What he shows however, is the divide between those in the corridors of power, and those of us who do not really know what is going on and only have their polemic of the necessity of war to go on.

Unfortunately, Zinn's book remains timely and crucial. As a last testimony to a life of scholarship and activism, it serves us well to take his writing seriously.

Go for the links in the article to: The Guardian

Drone strikes will not win "the war'

In early 2009, counterinsurgency gurus David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum aired their concern that American drone strikes in Pakistan might not be all that productive — a tactic for knocking off individual terrorists, maybe, not a strategy for wiping out Al Qaeda’s haven. The pair caught all kinds of flak from military and intelligence officials for the suggestion. But months earlier, we now learn, the director of the CIA was expressing similar reservations to the White House.

Overlooked in the hoopla over naming calling and secret memos, there are vignettes in Bob Woodward’s new book of officials at the highest levels discussing the drone campaign’s severe limitations. Most startlingly, the person with the deepest concerns about the CIA’s signature effort of the terror war appears to be Gen. Michael Hayden, the Agency’s one-time director.

“As an Air Force officer,” Woodward writes, “Hayden knew that to get a strategic victory — to defeat al Qaeda — America had to change the facts of the ground. Otherwise, the U.S. would be doing piecemeal drone strikes forever. The great lesson of World War II and Vietnam was that attack from the air, even massive bombings, can’t win a war.”

It may also serve to distract attention from the US incursion into Pakistani territory over the weekend and the killing of at least 60 “suspects” with attack helicopters. The identities of those killed in the attack remain to be revealed.

On January 23rd, a pair of drone strikes took out five militants in Pakistan. “Rahm,” Hayden told the new White House Chief of Staff, “you have to understand that what we just talked about was a counterterrorism success… Unless you’re prepared to do this forever, you have to change the facts on the ground. That requires successful counterinsurgency.”

Hayden wasn’t opposed to the drones. In fact, he persuaded Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari to go along with a major escalation in the robotic campaign against Al Qaeda’s leaders. “Kill the seniors,” Zardari replied, in Woodward’s recounting. “Collateralal damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.” Drone strikes went from one or two a year to 34 attacks in the last year of the Bush administration. (That was only “80 percent” of the Agency’s worldwide unmanned strikes, Hayden told Obama.) And if a Pakistani-based terrorist ever managed to strike inside the United States, the CIA had a “retribution plan” to strike at least 150 camps in Pakistan.

Nevertheless, former CIA officer and leader of the Obama White House’s initial Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review Bruce Riedel told the President in March, 2009, the robot airplanes may be the least important component of the assaults. “Predator drone strikes only work because CIA paramilitary teams have an ultra-secret presence on the ground in Pakistan,” Woodward writes. “Without the local informants these teams develop, there would not be good signals intelligence so that the drones know where to target. This was a risky enterprise that might collapse overnight. So don’t rely on drones, Riedel said. They look like a cheap way out, but they’re not.”

How seriously Obama took the advice isn’t clear. This month, there have been 20 reported drone strikes — the highest number ever in the robotic campaign.


The US drone strike of Sept. 28th in the South Waziristan Agency, the latest in an almost daily salvo of strikes this month, killed four people including, according to Pakistani officials, the “third-in-command” of al-Qaeda Shaikh al-Fateh.

If the story sounds familiar it is because the killing of al-Qaeda’s third-in-command has been a several time a year occurrence during the global war on terror. As only the top two members of the organization are well known, the killings of the organization’s “number three” are regularly reported and spun as a major victory, though they never seem to change the situation on the ground.

Still, if it is confirmed that the person killed in the attack is an al-Qaeda leader, it couldn’t have come at a better time, as the previous 20 US attacks in the month of September had failed to kill anybody who was a confirmed militant, killing dozens of civilians and scores of “suspects.”

It may also serve to distract attention from the US incursion into Pakistani territory over the weekend and the killing of at least 60 “suspects” with attack helicopters. The identities of those killed in the attack remain to be revealed.

[Wired/Antiwar Newswire]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Escalating attacks on Pakistan

The CIA continues to escalate their policy of drone strikes against Pakistani territory to alarming levels.

In fact, a flurry of strikes over the weekend has brought the total number of strikes to at least 20 in the month of September alone. From a rarely used tactic during the waning days of the Bush Administration, hardly a day goes by when US missiles aren’t killing someone in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

President Obama has made the drone strikes the centerpiece of his foreign policy, and has killed well over a thousand people inside Pakistan since taking office. The vast majority of those killed have turned out to be innocent civilians, while large numbers of others remain unidentified but classified as “suspects.”

But despite the growing disquiet in Pakistan over the large number of civilians killed, the number of attacks is continuing to escalate beyond all reason, and the US continues to tout it as a “precise” tactic. Despite this, of the 20 attacks this month none has led to a confirmed kill of a high value target, and a number of civilians have been confirmed slain.
Antiwar newswire

Hellfire brought to you by the Nobel laureate

Mother Jones has the story.

Attack on Pakistan leaves sixty people dead

Pakistan’s government lodged an official protest on Sept. 27th 2010 over a brief US invasion of its tribal regions the day before, a raid by US attack helicopters which left at least 60 “suspects” dead and large numbers of Pakistanis outraged.

Though the Zardari government has regularly shrugged off CIA drone strikes against its territory, the invasion of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with military hardware is something else entirely, and the rare occasions in which this has happened in the past have sparked considerable anger.

Though the US at the time claimed it has an “agreement” with the Pakistani government about such incursions, the nation’s Foreign Office insists there has never been such a deal and that it considers the attack a violation of its sovereignty.

The victims of the attack were, according to NATO officials, believed to be the same people responsible for an attack earlier in the day in the Khost Province of Afghanistan. Khost borders Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency, a common target of US drone strikes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Twenty-eight people killed in drone attacks

Pakistan’s remote tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan are in a state of virtual panic tonight as US drones continue to loom in the air and three attacks against separate towns across the region killed at least 28 people and wounded an unknown number of others.

Officials have so far failed to identify any of the targets of the attacks, but reports from the ground suggest that one of the US drones attacked a funeral procession that was carried out for people killed in a previous attack.

Reports suggested that the targets hit were related to one of the militant factions which has an existing ceasefire with the Pakistani government, and it does not appear that any of the victims of the attacks were “high value” targets.

The Obama Administration has dramatically escalated the number of attacks in recent weeks, and has launched an average of about an attack every day so far this month. None of those prior attacks killed any confirmed militants, but a number of children were confirmed killed in several recent strikes.
Antiwar Newswire.

Legal Battle May Force CIA to Return Drone Code to Sender

An East Coast software development company is seeking a court order from a judge in Boston that, if granted, could require the CIA to return “hacked” software it acquired for use in the agency’s Predator Drone program.

The software firm, Intelligent Integration Systems Inc., or IISI, filed a motion recently for a preliminary injunction in Suffolk County Superior Court, where it has been engaged since last November in a heated legal battle with Marlborough, Mass.-based computer maker Netezza Corp.

Should the motion be granted, Netezza would be forced to round up all IISI software programs that it allegedly pirated, re-engineered for a new computer product, and then sold to various customers, including the CIA. That so-called “hacked” software, in the case of the CIA, is now being used to guide killer drones to their targets, according to IISI’s legal pleadings, despite the fact that the modified software doesn’t function properly.
Further reading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Judge Unexpectedly Delays Drones Trial to Consider Defense Evidence

Pace e Bene on the trial of the Creech 14:

What started out as an open-and shut case of trespass in Judge William D. Jansen's Las Vegas courtroom yesterday soon turned into a day-long reflection on the right of citizens to break the law in order to uphold a higher one.
Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM and thirteen others - including Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly and Fr. John Dear - were on trial for entering Creech Air Force Base in April 2009.
They had gone to the base to dialogue with soldiers who direct drone bombings from video monitors in the Nevada desert. Instead, they were arrested.
The judge allowed the defense to put on a series of witnesses who soon engaged both the judge and prosecutor in a powerful conversation on the appropriateness of civil disobedience.

These witnesses included Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, retired colonel and State Department Ann Wright (who established the US embassy in Kabul and who resigned from the department when the US invaded Iraq), and Bill Quigley, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The judge listened closely to the arguments and acknowledged that many important issues had been raised.
Unexpectedly, he told the packed courtroom that he would take all the testimony under advisement and would take some time to carefully consider all the questions involved in balancing the tension between law and justice.
After setting the date for January 27, 2011, Judge Jansen left the bench and, with a smile, said, "Peace to you!"
The defendants and supporters stood up and applauded. As Fr. John Dear said afterwards, "It seemed the judge began to change before our eyes."

Twenty-four people killed by drone attacks in Waziristan

A pair of US drone attacks against North Waziristan Agency yesterday have killed at least 16 people and wounded a number of others. A third strike today killed another eight, bringing the toll up to 24. The slain were termed “suspected terrorists” by Pakistani security officials, though there was no indication of any high value targets slain.

One of the strikes destroyed a home in the village of Bushnarai, while another destroyed a car in Datta Khel. The attacks mark 12 US strikes in the agency in the past 12 days.

And while Pakistani officials have conceded that a number of civilians, including children, have been killed in the strike, they have yet to identify any of them as a known militant, terming the vast majority of them suspects.

Which has been the case with most of the massive drone campaign of the Obama Administration. Though a handful of named militants have been confirmed kills, the vast majority of the “suspects” are never identified, or turn out later to be innocent civilians whose guilt was assumed because of tribal affiliations.
Antiwar newswire.

A call for prayer

John Dear SJ

Today, September 14th, fourteen of us -- including four priests -- stand trial in the state courthouse in Las Vegas, Nev. on charges of criminal trespassing. The government seeks to jail us for walking onto Creech Air Force Base on Holy Thursday last April.
We walked onto the base -- which is about an hour northwest of Las Vegas -- with nothing but a prayer and a call for an end of the U.S. drone fighter bomber program, which is headquartered there. We went to Creech in a spirit of gentleness, but also of protest. It’s time for the U.S. to end its killing of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Needless to say, our call -- and the gift we offered of a letter, roses and pizza -- were rejected. The police arrested us and put us in handcuffs. Then they hauled us to Las Vegas and booked and tossed us for the night in to the local jail. The next day -- Good Friday -- they set us free. But now the government is intent on pressing full charges, hoping to put an end to this anti-drone movement. A nation whose foundation is militarism and war cannot brook dissenters from a different moral order.
It’s an old story. Punish those who nonviolently speak out for justice and peace. Incarcerate those who stand up or sit in. Perhaps that will snuff out the fires of the peace movement.

But thank God, as Dr. King once said, truth crushed to earth always rises. Active nonviolence spreads like a contagion. Love and truth break through like blades of grass through cracked pavement. Hidden movements begin to flourish -- movements of transformation, disarmament and healing.

I do not relish getting arrested, standing trial or facing jail. But in a world of war, nuclear weapons, extreme poverty, corporate greed, executions, global warming and empire, the courtroom must be faced -- just as these drones need to be addressed. “Social change does not come about in the classroom or the pulpit,” Gandhi once said. “It comes about by standing in the courts, in jails and sometimes on the gallows.”
Our drones go on bombing and killing innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. So we went to Creech, walked on to the base and knelt down in prayer. And now we go to court in a spirit of creative nonviolence and even in court we’ll denounce these inhuman death machines and call for their abolition. We go because we have no choice.

We will begin the day today with a rally and march to the courthouse. In court, we intend to argue that, under international law, we are obliged to oppose these “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” -- the official name for the drones. We also plan to show the court that by entering the base we were enacting our first amendment right to assemble peaceably for redress of grievances.

One of the first issues before the court will be our request to include former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Center for Constitutional Rights legal director Bill Quigley, and retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright -- a former U.S. diplomat posted in Afghanistan -- as expert witnesses. Clark will demonstrate that “usage of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles based at Creech Air Force Base to kill ‘high value targets’ constitutes extrajudicial executions and fails to afford all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”
“When we read in the paper about these robotic attacks we are usually told where the drone strike took place and how many militants were killed,” co-defendant Kathy Kelly wrote the other day.
“But then it often turns out that the victims were simply local people, not militants in any sense. The blood and the smell of charred bodies are realities on the ground, but are simply small images on a screen in front of the drone operator on the air force base. I believe the American people need to know what we are doing, and understand why the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan cannot see us as part of the solution. This is why I want to focus attention on the drones, and why I am willing to appear here in the courtroom.
“Since I am aware of what really happens when a drone attacks, I want to step forward to let the facts be known. The U.S. claims to be in Pakistan and Afghanistan because we want to help the people and deliver them from extremists, but this is not what is happening. The drone attacks have killed hundreds of people during this past year, and few of them militants, most of them simple people. The horror of these attacks ensures that the U.S. appears to be a menacing country. ‘The hatred is rising,’ Safdar Dawar, a Pakistani journalist told us in May of 2010. ‘It’s a big problem,’ he continued, ‘and we can’t understand why people in your country don’t know more about the drone usage. Where is your democracy?’”

The other co-defendants for the action at Creech Air Force Base are: Dennis DuVall; Renee Espeland; Judy Homanich; Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly; Mariah Klusmire; Brad Lyttle; Libby Pappalardo; Society of the Holy Child Jesus Sr. Megan Rice; Brian Terrell; Eve Tetaz; Franciscan Fr. Louie Vitale; and Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada.
Vitale was recently released after six months in prison for protesting the “School of the Americas” in Fort Benning, Ga., now formally known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
Kelly was informed last week that the federal government has placed felony charges against him and four other activists for a plowshares disarmament action at the Trident submarine base near Seattle, Wash. last November. He and the others face ten years in prison.

Another co-defendant has an upcoming trial for protesting weapons testing at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara, Calif.
As P.W. Singer writes in Wired for War: the Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, unmanned aerial vehicles like the MQ-9 Reaper drone are used by the Pentagon not only for surveillance -- but to kill and blow up buildings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defying international law, the CIA uses the Reaper to assassinate and blow up buildings in Pakistan. The Pentagon and CIA adore these new weapons. With no pilot or crew, no U.S. military officers can be injured or killed. They can be directed by young officers thousands of miles away. Forty other nations are racing to develop similar drone programs.
Welcome to the future.

On the day of our action drones flew low in front of us for hours. It was an astonishing sight to see these black predators hovering over the beautiful Nevada desert. What terror must they invoke as they fly over the villages of the helpless poor in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq?
The drones are the sons of nuclear weapons. They offer a bleak future -- a sky full of black death, hovering over the earth. Our modest gesture -- prayer, roses, and of course, pizza -- advocated another future, a future of peace without drones or nuclear weapons.

If the judge allows our great friends to offer expert testimony we will hear in detail what these drones are doing -- and how they violate international law and the Nuremberg Principles. But I’m also concerned with what they are doing to us. Since violence is a downward spiral their unimaginable destruction will certainly come back upon us like a boomerang. One day, I fear, drones will fly over our own country.
More, they signal our spiritual death -- the loss of our humanity. The children of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq do not threaten us; it’s this self-destructive spirit of war within and among us which is killing us. We need to repent of these weapons and discover a new spirit of love and compassion within us.
Being hauled into court, Jesus taught, is our chance to give witness. If I’m able to take the stand I’ll testify that I went to Creech Air Force Base because I’m a follower of the nonviolent Jesus who went to Jerusalem and confronted his empire. My friends and I were trying to do the same.
I’ll cite the nonviolent Jesus as my expert.
“Love your enemies that you will be sons and daughters of the God who lets the sun shine on the good and the bad and allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust,” Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

If we continue to kill our enemies and rain bombs down upon them, I’ll say, we are not sons and daughters of the God of universal love. We are, rather, sons and daughters of the false gods of death. I will then urge the judge to dismiss the charges or find us not guilty and join our campaign to rid the planet of these weapons, that we might be peacemakers -- sons and daughters of the God of universal love and peace.
After that I’ll invite the judge to join us for pizza. Why not? We live eternally in hope.

Alas, such talk will probably not be allowed. In that case, our witness will be our nonviolent presence -- the love in our hearts for unseen sisters and brothers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

And the prayer that rises among us, first at Creech, and now in the Las Vegas courthouse: “God of peace, give us a world without drones, bombs, nuclear weapons, or war. Give us your spirit of nonviolent, universal love that we might relieve human suffering, welcome your reign of peace with justice, and be worthy to be called your beloved sons and daughters.”

Today, as we prepare for trial, please join us in prayer.

Documenting the first nuclear bomb tests

Two new atomic documentaries, “Countdown to Zero” and “Nuclear Tipping Point,” feature archival images of the blasts. Both argue that the threat of atomic terrorism is on the rise and call for the strengthening of nuclear safeguards and, ultimately, the elimination of global arsenals.
As for the atomic cameramen, there aren’t that many left. “Quite a few have died from cancer,” George Yoshitake, 82, one of the survivors, said of his peers in an interview. “No doubt it was related to the testing.”
Check out the NY Times.

Judge decides to devote four months to studying issues and testimony presented in "Creech 14" case

For immediate release:

Nevada Desert Experience
1420 West Bartlett Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89106

Voices for Creative Nonviolence
1249 W. Argyle St.
Chicago, IL 60640


Contact: Jim Haber 415-828-2506 (cell)
Kathy Kelly: 773-619-2418 (cell)

September 14, 2010
The “Creech 14” went to trial on September 14, 2010 in Clark County Regional Court in Las Vegas, Nevada. The case originated during a week of demonstrations and vigils in April 2009, when the activists entered Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs to highlight the serious injustice of the U.S. military’s use of drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Crews at Creech control the drones used in these expanding wars, including killing civilians in remote controlled assassination attacks. The protesters were charged with trespassing. Judge William Jansen scheduled the verdict for January 27, 2011.

Judge Jansen allowed the pro-se defendants to call three expert witnesses – former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, retired Col. and former Embassy Official Ann Wright, and Bill Quigley, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Targeted assassinations by Predator and Reaper drones,” said defendant Renee Espeland, “must be catapulted into the court of public opinion. I am bound by the law of our land that makes it my duty to stop the killing of civilians and to protect U.S. soldiers being ordered to perform illegal acts.”

The judge limited the defense to questions strictly pertaining to the charge of trespass. However, through carefully crafted questions, the defendants were able to extract several key points from their witnesses:

- Intentional killing is a war crime, as embodied in U.S. constitutional law.
- Drone strikes by U.S. and coalition forces kill a disproportionate number of civilians.
- People have the right, even the duty, to stop war crimes.
- According to the Nuremberg principles, individuals are required to disobey domestic orders that cause crimes against humanity.

Defendant Brian Terrell delivered the group's closing statement. Referring to earlier mention of a classic metaphor used in cases invoking the necessity defense, he depicted a house on fire, with a baby trapped inside. “The house is on fire; the baby is in the house,” said Terrell, “We fourteen are ones who see the smoke, and will not allow a ‘no trespass’ sign to stop us from reaching burning children.” Terrell was speaking about the civilian deaths caused by U.S. drones in Afghanistan.

The Creech 14 include Fr. John Dear, SJ; Dennis DuVall; Renee Espeland; Judy Homanich; Kathy Kelly; Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ; Mariah Klusmire; Brad Lyttle; Libby Pappalardo; Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ; Brian Terrell; Eve Tetaz; Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM; and Fr. Jerry Zawada, OFM.

See also: Las Vegas Sun

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 14: Trial of the Creech 14

MORE INFO: Nevada Desert Experience

"There is No Appeal from Drone Strikes. Our Grief is Still Not a Cry for War"

14 People were arrested in April 2009 for crossing onto Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas for attempting to stop or at least dialog with commanders of the Predator and Reaper remotely piloted "drones" that are either protecting US forces or are inciting outrage and endless war because they are killing civilians and being used questionably against people in violation of international and US law, depending on your perspective.

The DA (or someone) reversed themselves and belatedly decided to prosecute the activists, some of whom have served in the military or have seen first-hand the destruction in Pakistan and Afghanistan caused by drone and other US air strikes.

Tuesday, Sept. 14

Trial of Creech 14 defendants:
Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave.,
Las Vegas, 5th Floor (Regional Court, Department 5):
7:30 am rally in at Lewis and 3rd St.; 8:30 am trial scheduled to begin.

It is unclear how long the trial will last: the morning, all day, more
than a day?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The unseen slaughter

Kathy Kelly

In the early 1970s, I spent two summers slinging pork loins in a Chicago meat-packing factory. Rose Packing Company paid a handful of college students $2.25 an hour to process pork. Donning combat boots, yellow rubber aprons, goggles, hairnets, and floor-length white smocks that didn’t stay white very long, we’d arrive on the factory floor. Surrounded by deafening machinery, we’d step over small pools of blood and waste, adjusting ourselves to the rancid odors, as we headed to our posts. I’d step onto a milk crate in front of a huge bin full of thawing pork loins. Then, swinging a big steel T-hook, I’d stab a large pork loin, pull it out of the pile, and plop it on a conveyor belt carrying meat into the pickle juice machine. Sometimes a roar from a foreman would indicate a switch to processing Canadian pork butts, which involved swiftly shoving metal chips behind rectangular cuts of meat. On occasion, I’d be assigned to a machine that squirted waste meat into a plastic tubing, part of the process for making hot dogs. I soon became a vegetarian.

But, up until some months ago, if anyone had ever said to me, “Kathy Kelly, you slaughtered animals,” I’m sure I would have denied it, and maybe even felt a bit indignant. Recently, I realized that in fact I did participate in animal slaughter. It’s similar, isn’t it, to widely held perceptions here in the United States about our responsibility for killing people in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iraq, and other areas where the U.S. routinely kills civilians.

The actual killing seems distant, almost unnoticeable, and we grow so accustomed to our remote roles that we hardly notice the rising antagonism caused by U.S. aerial attacks using remotely piloted drones. The drones fire missiles and drop bombs that incinerate people in the targeted area, many of them civilians whose only “crime” is to be living with their family.

Villagers in Afghanistan and Pakistan have little voice in the court of U.S. public opinion and no voice whatsoever in U.S. courts of law. Aiming to raise concern over U.S. usage of drones for targeted killings, 14 of us have been preparing for a trial here in Las Vegas, where we are charged under Nevada state law with having trespassed at Creech Air Force Base, in nearby Indian Springs.

The charges stem from an April, 2009 action when several dozen people held vigils at the main gate to Creech AFB for 10 days. One of our banners said, “Ground the Drones, Lest Ye Reap the Whirlwind.” Franciscan priest Jerry Zawada’s sign said: “The drones don’t hear the groans of the people on the ground – and neither do we.” Jerry carried that sign onto the base on April 9, 2009, when 14 of us attempted to deliver several letters to the base commander, Col. Chambliss. Nevada state authorities charged us with trespassing. We believed that international law, which clearly prohibits targeted assassinations, obliged us to prevent drone strikes. “It is incumbent on pilots, whether remote or not, to ensure that a commander’s assessment of the legality of a proposed strike is borne out by visual confirmation,” writes Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, “and that the target is in fact lawful, and that the requirements of necessity, proportionality, and discrimination are met.”

The United States isn’t at war with Pakistan. U.S. leaders repeatedly stress that Pakistan is our ally. Nevertheless, U.S.-operated drones are used for targeted killing in North and South Waziristan. “Targeted killing is the most coercive tactic employed in the war on terrorism,” according to the Harvard National Security Journal. “Unlike detention or interrogation, it is not designed to capture the terrorist, monitor his or her actions, or extract information; simply put, it is designed to eliminate the terrorist.”

The Pentagon claims that the drone attacks are an ideal strategy for eliminating al-Qaeda members. Yet in the name of bolstering security for the American people, the U.S. is institutionalizing assassination as a valid policy. Does this make us safer?

Gen. Petraeus may perceive short-term gains, but in the long run it’s likely that the drone attacks, as well as the night raids and death-squad tactics, will cause blowback. What’s more, drone proliferation among many countries will lessen security for people in the U.S. and throughout the world.

With the use of drones, the U.S. populace can experience even greater distance and less accountability because U.S. armed forces and CIA agents, invisible to the U.S. populace, can assassinate targets without ever leaving a U.S. base. Corporations that manufacture the drones and technicians who design them celebrate cutting-edge technology and rising profits.

In a Las Vegas courtroom, on Sept. 14, 2010, the judge who hears our case has an unusual opportunity to help accelerate that process by allowing expert witnesses to speak about citizen obligations under international law and our protected rights under the constitution of the U.S., all in relation to our duty to abolish drone warfare.

Recalling my own involvement in slaughter, I’m ashamed that I took the job for no other reason than to earn a few dimes more, per hour, than I might have gotten at a job which didn’t involve killing. It took me four decades to realistically assess what I’d done. Will it take 40 years for us humans to acknowledge our role in slaughtering other human beings who have meant us no harm?


Jacobabad, US drone base in Pakistan

Apparently drones bombing in Pakistan are parked on Shamsi base, near Jacobabad, Baluchistan, Pakistan. More on this here.

Of course it will not be confirmed whether Indus flood water was redirected to save this base that officially does not exist, and specifically (to be verified easily) that it was not used for relief and rescue work. More on that here.

Kathy Kelly speaks about the Creech 14 and Creech AFB on DemocracyNow

In today's Democracy Now! Kathy Kelly speaks about the Creech Airforce Base in Nevada, and the trial of the "Creech 14" which will start tomorrow.
On the photo: a screen shot of the internet-cast.
Link to the internet-cast.

Also a guest is Feryal Ali Gauhar, a Pakistani actress, filmer, author, who speaks about the connection between the US military base in Pakistan and the Creech AFB. See also this weblink with photos of the drone base in Pakistan, which is being denied by the Pakistan government.

This secret base was not used to help with the recent and ongoing floods in Pakistan.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Drones yeah - but not above US ground

The U.S. military is revealing it was close to launching fighter jets - and briefly discussed a possible shoot-down - after an errant Navy drone wandered into restricted air space near the nation's capital last month.

The incident underscores safety concerns with unmanned aircraft as defense officials campaign to use them more during natural disasters and other security-related events.

Navy Adm. James Winnefeld Jr. said Thursday that the August mishap does not help the Pentagon's push to have the Federal Aviation Administration ease procedures for drone use by the military in the skies over the United States.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guns pointed at Creech "trespassers"

An upcoming trial for activists who illegally entered Creech Air Force Base to protest the government's use of unmanned aerial vehicles has caught the attention of United Nations officials and could have serious implications for the future of remote-controlled warfare.

In April 2009, 14 activists who had gathered here from across the country illegally entered the base's gates and refused to leave in protest of Creech's role as the little-known headquarters for U.S. military operations involving unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, over Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Held at gunpoint by Air Force security police until officers from Metro and the Nevada Highway Patrol handcuffed them and took them to the Clark County Detention Center, the activists now face a September trial on misdemeanor trespassing charges.
Further reading.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kathy Kelly on Antiwar Radio

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare), discusses the “Creech 14” activists awaiting trial for protesting U.S. military drone strikes in AfPak, the obligation of citizens to speak out against government breeches of international law and why targeted assassinations create more security problems than they solve.
Listen here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bangor Five and "a time of war"

A federal grand jury in Tacoma has indicted five anti-war protesters, including prominent members of the anti-nuclear-weapons movement, on charges of conspiracy, trespass and destruction of government property for entering a secure area at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor complex last November.

The charges carry penalties of up to 10 years in federal prison.

The indictment names two well-known Jesuit priests — 81-year-old William Bichsel, of Tacoma; and 60-year-old Stephen Kelly, of Oakland, Calif. — and two nuns belonging to the Society of the Sacred Heart, 83-year-old Anne Montgomery, of New York; and 65-year-old Susan Crane, of Baltimore. The fifth defendant is Bremerton social worker Lynne T. Greenwald, 60.

The five are accused of using bolt cutters Nov. 2 to breach three chain-link fences surrounding the so-called Main Limited Area of the base, which is home to part of the Pacific nuclear submarine fleet. That area is patrolled by armed guards, who confronted the invaders at gunpoint, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"All citizens are free to disagree with their government," said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. "But they are not free to destroy property or risk the safety of others."

Durkan said the group — dubbed the "Bangor 5" in the news release — entered the naval base "during a time of war" and went into an area clearly marked as off-limits.

"They endangered themselves and prompted military personnel, who are duty-bound to guard the area, to quickly make a decision over the use of force," Durkan said. "These defendants quite literally cross the line and must be held accountable."

According to news accounts, several of the defendants have been arrested for, or charged with, similar actions over the years.

Montgomery spent time in jail in the 1980s after she and other protesters breached security at Martin-Marietta Aerospace Corp.'s defense plant in Orlando, Fla. Court documents indicate they entered a building where they "hammered and poured blood onto both nuclear and conventional missile launchers and components belonging to the United States Army."

She recently accepted the 40th annual Peace Award of the War Resisters League — an honor she now shares with Father Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit war protester who was jailed in the 1960s and co-founded the anti-war and anti-nuclear Plowshares Movement.

Kelly and another Jesuit were arrested for a Nov. 19, 2006, demonstration at Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista, Ariz., where they claimed military-intelligence officials taught the torture techniques seen at Abu Ghraib.


From the Disarm Plowshares Weblog:


September 5, 2010

Contact: Leonard Eiger (Disarm Now Plowshares, Media & Outreach), 425-445-2190, subversivepeacemaking at comcast.net

Disarm Now Plowshares indicted for November 2009 witness

A federal grand jury finally handed down a litany of indictments against five nuclear resisters who entered the U.S. Navy’s West Coast nuclear weapons storage depot in a plowshares action on November 2, 2009.
On September 3, 2010 the United States Attorney announced the indictments handed down by a grand jury in Tacoma, Washington, against members of Disarm Now Plowshares came ten months after their plowshares action in which they entered Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in the early morning hours of November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, with the intention of calling attention to the illegality and immorality of the existence of the Trident weapons system.

During the action they held a banner saying…“Disarm Now Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral”, left a trail of blood, hammered on the roadway and fences around Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC) and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. They gained entry to the secure nuclear weapons storage facility known as Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific (SWFPAC) where they were detained, and after extensive questioning by base security, FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), cited for trespass and destruction of government property, given ban and bar letters and released.

Sr. Anne Montgomery, 83, of Redwood City, California, Fr. Bill “Bix” Bichsel, 82, of Tacoma, Washington, Susan Crane, 65, of Baltimore, Maryland, Lynne M. Greenwald, 61, of Bremerton, Washington, and Fr. Steve Kelly, 61, of Oakland, California, each face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the government’s charges of "conspiracy, trespass, destruction of property on a naval installation, and depredation of government property."

Following a 10-month wait, the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants are ready to face trial in the Western District of Washington stemming from their Nov. 2, 2009 disarmament action.

In the months since her action, Greenwald, a retired community health nurse and social worker, and mother of three grown children, has welcomed her first grandchild into the world. Knowing that Jack has been born into a nuclear-armed world has given her more of a sense of urgency "to wake people up" to the imperative of nuclear disarmament, and "to expose what we choose to avoid," Greenwald said.
Moving to Kitsap County in 1983 to join the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action Greenwald participated in several nonviolent actions at the Trident Base and is currently on probation for "crossing the blue line" August 2009. She currently lives in Tacoma and works with the Tacoma Catholic Worker.

Bichsel said he feels compelled by his faith to continue risking his freedom for peace, despite two open-heart surgeries that require him to take frequent rests during even light exertion. "The power of the resurrection is much stronger than our destructive ways," he said. "I believe the presence of God made manifest through the witness of nonviolent action will break the bonds of fear, hopelessness, and death in which nuclear weapons imprison us."

The fact that five unarmed, nonviolent, peace activists could enter a deadly-force, high-security installation without being detected exposes the lie that nuclear weapons make us secure, Bichsel said. "We hope to expose the fact that these weapons create absolutely no security. They bring nothing but fear and further proliferation of weapons and war."

Thirty years ago this month, Montgomery was involved in what was the first of more than 100 Plowshare disarmament actions when she was among a group of eight people who hammered on components of a Mark 12A nuclear missile at General Electric's King of Prussia, PA weapons plant.

"It is distressing that 30 years later the nuclear weapons are still here," Montgomery said. "And the reason that I'm acting is that they're still here. As citizens of a nation 'of the people, by the people, and for the people' we must take our responsibility to use every nonviolent means necessary to eliminate these illegal weapons of mass destruction."

Kelly, who has spent more than six years in prison for anti-war actions, said the abolition of slavery, an institution many people thought would never end, gives him hope that humans will turn away from nuclear weapons. The abolition of slavery required leadership, Kelly said. The same kind of leadership from the Unites States will be required to abolish nuclear weapons. "We're not asking for unilateral disarmament," Kelly said. "Somebody has got to lead, and the most reluctant party in all of this is the United States. We've got to get rid of these things. Everybody's got to get rid of them, period."

Funding for war and the nuclear arms race is coming at the expense of programs for the poor, Kelly said. "We're going to crumble from within." As he faces trial once again, and the prospect of another long federal prison sentence, Kelly said he remains hopeful that humans will turn away from war and nuclear weapons. "It gives me tremendous hope to live for what I may not be able to see achieved in my lifetime," he said.

Kelly said he expects the Disarm Now Plowshares trial to be "another act of resistance" because the government will try to limit what the defendants have to say about nuclear weapons and war. The judicial body functions as a legitimizer of nuclear weapons, Kelly said. "Our actions, which could be part of the solutions, are deemed illegal, because nuclear weapons are legal," so that courtroom becomes a place of further resistance."

Crane, a mother of two grown children, and who is expecting her first grandchild, said one of her goals at the trial will be to show the jury that the five had no intent to break any laws, but rather they came to the Navy base to uphold international laws. The Trident D-5 warheads at the base, highly accurate first-strike weapons "are against international law by their very existence,"
Crane said. "The nuclear warheads, if used, indiscriminately kill civilians, cause radiation burns, poison the environment and create sickness and genetic damage for generations to come. "Additionally, these weapons are our responsibility. They were made with our tax dollars, and will be used in our name. We are the ones who have the duty and responsibility to disarm them."

The Disarm Now Plowshares defendants will appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for arraignment on September 24, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.

There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in Old Testament (Hebrew) scripture of the Christian Bible, “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb) and costs approximately $60 million. The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead. The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.

Visit http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com for complete information, including biographical statements and links to the work of the Disarm Now Plowshares.

See attached group photo of the Disarm Now Plowshares members. From left to right, they are Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Anne Montgomery, Steve Kelly and Bill “Bix” Bichsel.

Gonna take Us All, Jon Fromer (RIP

To keep the spirit!


We are all Bradley Manning!