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Shut Down Creech

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lawsuit Over Flawed CIA Drone Code Is Deep Sixed by Settlement

An explosive lawsuit alleging that Boston-area tech company Netezza Corp. sold computer hardware loaded with “hacked,” faulty software to the CIA for use in the agency’s Predator Drone program has now disappeared from public view.
The parties to the lawsuit, which include Netezza and software developer Intelligent Integration Systems Inc. (IISI), announced two weeks ago that they had reached a settlement in the case. A day after that announcement, corporate giant IBM closed on a $1.7 billion deal to purchase Netezza.

Further reading.

Friday, November 26, 2010

They’re in there for us; we’re out here for them!

The Nuclear Resister marks 30 years of supporting imprisoned activists and reporting on anti-nuclear and anti-war resistance

in: Peacenews nr 2526

They’re in there for us; we’re out here for them!

Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa

Thirty years ago this October, the first issue of the Newsletter of the National No-Nukes Prison Support Collective (later renamed the Nuclear Resister) reported on just one anti-nuclear civil disobedience action – that of the Plowshares Eight.

On 9 September 1980, eight US activists made their way into a General Electric factory in Pennsylvania, where they hammered and poured blood on nuclear missile nose-cones. This action inspired a global movement, and scores of similar acts of direct disarmament have been reported in the 157 issues of the Nuclear Resister published since then.

Dubbed by an early reader a “chronicle of hope”, the newsletter began with the aim of providing comprehensive reporting on arrests for anti-nuclear civil resistance in the United States, and encouraging the essential support for the activists jailed for these actions.

In 1990, coverage expanded to include reporting on anti-war arrests in North America, plus overseas anti-nuclear and anti-war resistance.

Each issue lists the names of activists behind bars and their prison addresses. It is a testimony to the persistence and commitment of these movements that there have always been resisters in jail, every day, through the last 30 years. Building on this reporting, the Nuclear Resister helps network the anti-nuclear and anti-war resistance movements. Contact information for action groups and a list of upcoming actions are regular features of the newsletter.

Online, the new Nuclear Resister blog at nukeresister.org provides more information to a growing number of people, including up-to-date prisoner addresses, breaking news, links to action groups, and a sign-up for the free monthly e-bulletin supplements to the print edition.

Over the past three decades, the Nuclear Resister has reported on more than 100,000 anti-nuclear and anti-war arrests during thousands of actions in the US and around the world, and encouraged support for at least 1,000 men and women imprisoned for these acts of conscience – people who have received sentences ranging from two weeks to 22 years.

Writings from many of these prisoners have been included in almost every issue, along with stories of direct actions against nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear testing, uranium mining, war, military recruiting and torture.

The powerful history of a significant movement for social change emerges from the stories of war tax resisters, military refusers and conscientious objectors; bomb plant blockaders and nuclear reactor site occupiers; citizen weapon inspectors at military bases and backcountry activists disrupting a missile launch or nuclear test; people sitting-in at legislative offices and military recruiting centres; and plowshares/ploughshares activists who have dismantled weapons of mass destruction with household hammers.

It’s unlikely that you’ll read much about these actions, or about the people behind bars, in the mainstream press, and certainly not portraying these actions in their context as part of a wider movement.

Soon after the 1991 attack on Iraq, George HW Bush smugly remarked that he couldn’t hear any anti-war voices in the US, and the media didn’t do much to dispel that notion. But the Nuclear Resister proved he simply wasn’t listening, and reported over 6,000 arrests during more than 225 actions in at least 27 states in the months leading up to and through the course of the bombardment.

Similarly, by mid-April 2003, the Nuclear Resister had chronicled over 300 actions in 115 cities in 35 states, resulting in 7,500 arrests in opposition to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. The hard work and dedication of many people have kept the Nuclear Resister going all these years. Since 1980, Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa have co-ordinated the work and edited the newsletter, along the way travelling to countless demonstrations, actions, conferences, courthouses and prison visiting rooms.

Hundreds of others have helped by distributing newsletters, staffing Nuclear Resister tables [stalls] at various events, creating artwork and writing articles, helping at mailing parties, providing information about actions and legal updates, sending photos, helping with the website and blog, and writing letters of support to imprisoned activists. The work has squeaked by on a shoestring budget thanks to the generous support of activists and subscribers around the world.

This past July, the Nuclear Resister, sister organization Nukewatch, and the Plowshares Eight celebrated their 30th anniversaries together at the Resistance for a Nuclear Free Future gathering in Tennessee [see PN 2525].

The gathering aimed to advance the impact of civil resistance at a critical time in the movement for a nuclear-free future. More than 200 people attended the gathering. 37 were arrested on 5 July at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex, the largest number in 20 years of civil resistance at Y-12. There are wars continuing in our name – and with our tax dollars – that need to be stopped; nuclear weapons that need to be disarmed; and an aggressive drive for more nuclear power that needs to be turned back.

This is no time to put nonviolent direct action on hold!

These acts of conscience must continue – they are continuing – and it’s important for activists engaged in resistance to keep connected and support each other as they risk arrest, go on trial and possibly to jail.

The Nuclear Resister will continue to help that happen.

For an updated list of imprisoned activists and future actions, for subscription and donation information, to sign up for the monthly e-bulletin or to receive a free sample of the more comprehensive print newsletter, please visit www.nukeresister.org - nukeresister@igc.org

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Undercover police among arrested at SOA vigil

From: National Catholic Reporter
Nov. 23, 2010

At least one of the 29 persons taken into custody outside Fort Benning during a rally at the annual School of Americas Watch vigil Nov. 20 in Columbus, Ga. was an undercover police officer.

The revelation came as Lauren Stinson, an undercover narcotics agent with the Muscogee, Ga., county sheriff’s office, testified in court Nov. 21 that she participated in two meetings with SOA Watch protesters and allowed herself to be rounded up with activists during the rally.
SOA Watch organizers, meanwhile, said Nov. 22 they believed that at least four more of those arrested near the alley leading to the gates of the military institution were also undercover agents.

Backing their allegation, they said, is video taken at the scene of the arrests. SOA Watch organizers said that from the video they can see that five of those taken into custody at the rally were never put in jail and never ended up in court.

Several of those tried for Saturday’s action also said they could recognize the missing arrestees on the video as people who attended discussions with organizers before the arrests.
SOA Watch founder Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois expressed anger and frustration at the new revelations.

Said Bourgeois: “They should be ashamed of themselves. They’re seeing us … as the enemy, when just down the street is this military base that has contributed to a lot of violence.”
Center for Constitutional Rights legal director and SOA Watch legal volunteer Bill Quigley said the use of undercover officers seemed like “overkill” and a “waste of taxpayer resources.”
“It was probably a great weekend in Georgia to be a drug dealer,” said Quigley. “A number of the people in Columbus who would normally be enforcing drug laws were instead talking to priests and nuns and college students about sitting down in a street for 10 minutes.”Police confront people near the alley leading to the gates of the Fort Benning military complex Nov. 20.Saturday’s arrests came as activists were concluding a rally at the gates of Fort Benning for the afternoon. Hundreds had gathered at the edge of the alley leading to the military base, facing towards a nearby shopping center while chanting slogans and carrying large puppets made of cardboard.

Police stood directly opposite the activists. As the activity continued, police warned activists that they would be arrested for unlawful gathering if they stepped into the street and out of the designated protest area as a group.

As activists began to leave the rally, SOA Watch organizers say police arrested 29 people in two separate groups.

One group of 17 people were arrested as they attempted to leave the rally in twos and threes. They were charged with blocking the road and failure to disperse. SOA Watch said no one in this group intended to be arrested.A woman is taken into custody by police officers Nov. 20.Included in this group were three journalists with the television network Russia Today: Kaelyn Eckenrade, Jihan Abdel-Hafiz, and Khadja Abdel-Hafiz. The three were taking photos and video of the arrests.

Also included in this group was Curtis Thornton, a resident of Columbus who testified in court Nov. 21 that he worked at a nearby barber shop and had stepped out of his building to take photos of the action when he was arrested.

Another group of 12 people were arrested as they were purposefully blocking the street in an act of civil disobedience. SOA Watch organizers say five people in that group were not put in jail with the other seven and were not charged with any crimes. The remaining seven were charged with blocking the road and failure to disperse.

Twenty-two of the 24 people who were charged with crimes Nov. 20 went before Columbus Recorder’s Court Judge Michael Cielinski Nov. 21. Cielinski found 21 of those in that group guilty and ordered them to pay fines between $1,300 and $5,500.

The other two people who were charged Nov. 20 -- Jesuit Fr. Bill Brennan and Janice Sevre-Duszynska -- faced trial separately. They went before Georgia State Judge Stephen Smith Nov. 22 and were also found guilty.

Brennan was ordered to pay $50 in fines; Sevre-Duszynska $500. Both also received six months probation.

The two faced trial separately because Brennan uses a wheelchair and could not be arrested by police officers at the scene. Sevre-Duszynska, an ordained member of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, was accompanying Brennan at the scene.

Over the weekend four other people were arrested by federal authorities for trespassing onto the Fort Benning military complex in an act of civil disobedience.

Franciscan Fr. Louis Vitale and Nancy Smith walked onto the base Nov. 20. David Omandi, a member of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker community, and Christopher Spicer, a member of the White Rose Catholic Worker community in Chicago, climbed over the barbed wire fence located at the main entrance of Fort Benning Nov. 21.

Vitale and Omandi pleaded no contest to charges of trespass in federal court this morning (Nov. 23). U.S. magistrate judge Stephen Hyles sentenced them both to six months in jail. They are currently being held in Muscogee county jail pending transfer.

Spicer and Smith pleaded not guilty. They were both released on bond with a trial set for Jan. 5.
The arrests came during the annual School of Americas Watch vigil. In its twentieth year, the vigil commemorates the deaths of the Salvadoran Jesuit martyrs and thousands of other Latin Americans with a weekend gathering.

Put together by SOA Watch, an organization which was founded in 1990 by Bourgeois, the annual vigil calls attention to the training of soldiers from Latin America at what used to be called the School of the Americas and is now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, located at Fort Benning.

See also: SOAWatch.


From: Los Angeles Catholic Worker:

David Omondi In Jail!

LA Catholic Worker David Omondi was arrested for scaling the fence at the School of the Americas Protest and sentenced to six months in jail. David was determined to stand in solidarity with the victims of SOA graduates and with oppressed people everywhere. When his attorney tried to get him a lighter sentence by claiming that he decided to climb the fence at the last minute, he countered with the statement “With all due respect to my attorney, I came from Los Angeles with the specific intention of climbing that fence.”

Also arrested were Fr. Louie Vitale, activist, co-founder of the Nevada Desert Experience and long time friend of the LACW, Nancy Smith of New York and Chris Spicer of the White Rose Catholic Worker in Chicago and former LACW volunteer.

Fr. Louie, like David plead no contest and was sentenced to six months. This is his fourth SOA arrest. Chris and Nancy both plead not guilty and will return for trial in January. We ask for all to join our prayers for the well being of the resisters and for the end of injustice everywhere

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New factsheet on drone warfare

Code Pink has a petition running against drone warfare.
Their new factsheet. [pdf!]


On Thursday, November 18, Fr. Louie Vitale and Sr. Megan Rice were convicted of “trespass” in Santa Barbara Federal Court for their August 23 witness against the Minuteman III launch. Fr. Louie received a $1,000 fine and Sr. Megan received a $500 fine. Neither received jail time or probation from U.S. Magistrate Rita Coyne-Federman.
(Thanks to Vandenberg Witness)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

CIA wants drone war expanded

US officials have been pressuring Pakistan to allow the expansion of CIA drone strikes beyond the nation’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and into Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan.

Pakistani intelligence officials reportedly rejected the US demand for access to Balochistan, but did agree to a compromise allowing a larger number of CIA agents to operate on the ground in the Baloch capital city of Quetta.

The US has been launching drone strikes against FATA for years, but has dramatically increased the numbers since President Obama took office. The vast majority of those killed in the strikes appear to have been innocent civilians, and only a handful of militant leaders were ever killed.

The prospect of escalating those strikes into Balochistan would also be hugely unpopular, as Pakistanis have complained about the attacks in FATA, only nominally Pakistani territory to begin with, and would undoubtedly object much more loudly to attacks in an actual Pakistani province.

(Antiwar Newswire)

Twenty people dead in drone attack in Waziristan

Bombed to death anyone targeted by US drones turns out to have been a terrorist.
Further reading.

Predator drones in Yemen

The U.S. is intensifying the drone war over Yemen; yesterday the Yemeni foreign minister admitted for the first time that the U.S. was helping out in the Yemeni fight with unmanned drones; the foreign minister said that while the U.S. was providing intelligence, "The (drone) attacks are undertaken by the Yemeni air force" (officials in Yemen have habitually claimed those sorties were the work of the Yemeni air force, although Yemen has neither the aircraft nor the air crews able to conduct these precision attacks); a tug-of-war is going on in Washington on whether the drone war should be conducted by the U.S. military or the CIA; unconfirmed news reports claim that in early November the U.S. moved a squadron of Predator drones to a secret base at the Yemeni Red Sea port of Al Hodaydah.
Further reading.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fr Louie Vitale and Sr Megan Rice interviewed on KPFK World Focus

Fr Louie Vitale and Sr Megan Rice of the Nevada Desert Experience were interviewed on Sunday 7th November 2010 on KPFK´s World Focus, by Blase Bonpane.

They speak about the hearing at the court date of 18th of November in the federal court in Santa Barbara, where they will have to appear to defend themselves for their stand for peace, and their protest at Vandenberg AFB. They also speak about Drone warfare at Creech AFB near Las Vegas, Guam, and the Marshall Islands where US missiles are being sent to for testing.

Listen to the interview here:

See here a slideshow about Sr Megan and Fr Louie from MacGregor Eddy:

Trial is at 1:30 PM Santa Barbara, CA, November 18th!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When drones come home to roost

Michael Schwalbe

The age when war was limited to a clearly defined battlefield is long past. In modern wars, civilian populations are bombed, targeted for genocide +and terrorism, and made to suffer by wreckage of infrastructure. The dogs of war, once loosed, respect no fences.

We can expect things to get worse. New remote combat technologies -- drones and robots controlled by operators far from any delimited battlefield -- will bring violence home in ways that will destroy the feelings of safety and security Americans once took for granted.

Militarists who tout these technologies claim that they will mean fewer dead soldiers. This is likely to be true, at least for the side that holds a technological edge. When neither side has better killing tools, the death toll will even out and resume ratcheting upward.

Militarists see other advantages to remote combat: less popular opposition to war if there are fewer body bags coming home; an easier job of teaching recruits to kill if “combat” is as familiar and bloodless as a video game; and more discord among the ranks of enemy leaders because drone strikes often rely on tips from insiders who are trying to eliminate rivals.

The forces driving the development and use of remote combat technologies are partly military and mainly economic. These are enormously profitable technologies for which there will be unlimited demand as nations strive to keep up with each other in a new high-tech arms race. This will be an arms maker’s fantasy come true.

As always, ordinary citizens will pay the bill, and not only with tax dollars. We will pay with more fear, fatalism, and isolation. The feel of daily life will change.

The eventual equalization of technological capability will mean the use of drones and robots to strike at targets in the United States. There will be no need to hijack planes or plant car bombs. Drones, some as small as a suitcase, will be launchable from offshore or just outside U.S. borders. These killing machines will be nearly impossible to stop, as is the case with the drones the U.S. now uses in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

But the problem is not just technological equalization and blowback. The problem is that remote combat technologies have changed the rules of engagement. Stealth assassination anywhere at any time, collateral deaths, and explicit targeting of militarily-employed civilians are the new norms.

When U.S. military and political leaders tell us that a Taliban or al Qaeda leader has been taken out by a drone attack, they would have us believe this will seriously weaken the opposing force -- so much so that the deaths of nearby friends and family members are an acceptable, if officially regrettable, cost.

Whether this kind of remote killing truly weakens an opposing force is a matter of dispute. What seems clear, however, is that such attacks strengthen the resolve to pay us back in kind. It’s not hard to understand why.

Drone attacks often strike people in their homes, away from active battle zones. Which is why these attacks have killed thousands of innocent bystanders, mainly women and children. What better fuel for revenge? As others have noted, for every alleged Taliban or al Qaeda leader killed by a drone attack, ten recruits are created. Americans too, we can imagine survivors thinking, must learn what it feels like to see their loved ones killed by assassination machines. They must experience this in times and places where they thought they were safe.

This retaliation, when it comes, will be justified as necessary, given that Americans have chosen to wage war with killing machines operated from their homeland. The person who flies a drone from a base in the U.S. will be seen as a combatant, hence a legitimate target -- and not only while at work but at any time, preferably when most vulnerable. Perhaps while standing next to you at your daughter’s soccer game.

University-based researchers who devote their talents to inventing new remote combat technologies -- like the shapeshifting ChemBot developed at the University of Chicago -- will also become targets. Technicians in a laboratory, students in a classroom, and anyone else nearby will become collateral damage. War will come to campus in a way it never has.

“Ironic” is too weak a word to describe the situation toward which the inventors and deployers of remote combat technologies are taking us. We will be told that we must use sophisticated machines to kill at a distance to keep violence at bay, even as the inevitable diffusion of this technology brings violence closer to home.

We will be told that we are fighting to preserve the rule of law against the forces of lawless terrorism, even as presidents and their minions assume the prerogative to carry out remote assassinations as they deem fit, with no judicial oversight or public accountability.

We will be told to be grateful that remote combat technologies make it possible to limit war, even as we exhaust our treasury to pay for it, even as our society becomes more militarized, and even as we experience more fear of dying in conflicts that seem to have no end.

Most Americans have not yet learned a lesson well known to partisans of anti-imperialist struggles: from the standpoint of political and economic elites striving for global dominance, no one who might someday oppose them is innocent, and the deaths of the innocent are not important, except when such deaths become ideological liabilities.

The inevitable use of drones and robots against us will perhaps force Americans to learn this lesson. When violence arrives at our door, we should ask, Who invited it? The answer is not simplemindedly “us.” The answer is, Those who have purported to lead and protect us, while profiting from the invention and use of ever more powerful killing technologies.

When that day of awakening comes, Americans might begin to see that what we needed is not just a new set of leaders but a new society, a society that is radically democratic and in which human monsters cannot create mechanical ones to keep the rest of us under control.

Gonna take Us All, Jon Fromer (RIP

To keep the spirit!


We are all Bradley Manning!