Pakistan: US women internationalists join tribal protest against US drone war

US women may stage hunger strike in Pakistan in anti-drones protest

Code Pink activists gathered in Islamabad ready to join march led by Imran Khan into tribal region bordering Afghanistan

, guardian.co.uk, in Islamabad,Wednesday 3 October 2012

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink protests in August outside a building in Florida where the group says drones are built. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesNot content with a planned march into one of Pakistan‘s most dangerous regions, a group of middle-aged American women are considering mounting a hunger strike outside the US embassy in Islamabad as part a campaign against CIA drone attacks in the country.

Thirty-five activists from Code Pink, a US anti-war group, have gathered in the Pakistani capital this week as they prepare for an unprecedented march and political rally in South Waziristan, one of the semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border, which is a hotbed of Taliban militancy.

Despite intense publicity surrounding the event, doubts persist over whether it will be able to take place. Local authorities have expressed strong doubts about the safety of the march, even though the Pakistani military has long claimed its operations in the area have brought a semblance of security.

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink protests in August
outside a building in Florida where the group says
drones are built. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images Continue reading

‘Drones causing mass trauma among civilians,’ major study finds

September 25th, 2012 | by

An armed US Reaper drone over Afghanistan (U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt/ Flickr)

The near constant presence of CIA drones ‘terrorises’ much of the civilian population of Pakistan’s tribal areas according to a new report.

Men, women and children are subjected to almost constant trauma – including fear of attack, severe anxiety, powerlessness, insomnia and high levels of stress – says a nine month investigation into CIA drone strikes in Pakistan by two top US university law schools. More than 130 ‘victims, witnesses and experts’ were interviewed in Pakistan for the study.

A number of those eyewitnesses corroborated the Bureau’s own recent findings – that rescuers have been deliberately targeted by the CIA in the tribal areas.

The new study heavily challenges US government claims that few civilians have died in CIA drone strikes, saying that there is ‘significant evidence’ to the contrary.

As the report notes in its executive summary: ‘In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false.’

by bravenewfoundation, http://www.warcosts.com/
Since 2004, up to 884 innocent civilians, including at least 176 children, have died from US drone strikes in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. A new report from the Stanford and New York University law schools finds drone use has caused widespread post-tramatic stress disorder and an overall breakdown of functional society in North Waziristan. In addition, the report finds the use of a “double tap” procedure, in which a drone strikes once and strikes again not long after, has led to deaths of rescuers and medical professionals. Many interviewees told the researchers they didn’t know what America was before drones. Now what they know of America is drones, death and terror. Continue reading

US Citizens to lead anti-drone march in northern Pakistan

Medea Benjamin in Tucson: “Obama’s Tuesday kill list responsible for assassination of 16-year-old from Denver”

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 2, 2012

TUCSON — President Obama’s Tuesday kill list is responsible for the assassination of a 16-year-old boy from Denver, Medea Benjamin of CodePink said here today. Describing the US program of targeted assassinations using drones, the CIA out of control, and the US Congress refusing to act, Benjamin said it is time for US citizens to show the world they do not support US drone assassinations in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Benjamin called for citizens in Tucson to join the march with Pakistanis in northern Pakistan, during the week of September 21, and show the world that the people of the US seek global peace and understanding, and do not support US drone killings.”President Obama signs off on the kill list,” Benjamin said, speaking at a public gathering in the downtown Tucson library.

Obama meets with his advisers on Tuesday to review the list. “They decide who will live and who will die,” Benjamin said. Any male on the ground of military age is considered fair game.

She said that in a signature strike, drone operators manning the computer screens can fire at anything that looks suspicious, on the other side of the world, without the suspect being given a chance to surrender, or defend themselves against charges.

Benjamin, author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control,” described the drone warfare that has killed both the US Constitution and innocent people, including children and teens, in Pakistan and Yemen.

During the Bush administration, drone strikes were every 40 days. During the Obama administration, the drone strikes increased to 1 every 3 days. Currently, there is a drone strike every 4 days.

US drone killing in western Pakistan.

Those drone strikes have killed 175 children. Few US citizens ever see the photos of those children who are disintegrated or burned by those drones. Sometimes only pieces of their flesh can be found for burial. A drone’s victim never hears the missile that kills him or her.

Benjamin described how one teenager, Tariq Aziz, attempted to take the case of a relative killed by a US drone to court in Pakistan. After meeting with attorneys, Tariq was assassinated by a US drone.

Benjamin pointed out that this type of US killing is counter-productive and driving people in other countries toward extremists out of despair and desperation.

Anwar Al-Awlaki was a 16-year-old from Denver. He was on Facebook and his friends said he was a normal teen, not interested in politics, who enjoyed rap and hip hop. He was enjoying an evening sharing a meal with his cousin in his family’s home village in Yemen, when he and his cousin were assassinated by a US drone strike.

Obama refuses to respond to questions about the US drone killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki of Denver.

“Barack Obama is responsible for this killing,” Benjamin said.

The US drone operations have been largely kept secret until now and operated by the CIA and Joint Special Operations. Continue reading

Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals

February 4th, 2012 | by

Hellfire missiles being loaded onto a US military Reaper drone in Afghanistan

Hellfire missiles being loaded onto a US military Reaper drone in Afghanistan

The CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of  civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals, an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times has revealed.

The findings are published just days after President Obama claimed that the drone campaign in Pakistan was a ‘targeted, focused effort’ that ‘has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.’

Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, Obama claimed last week they are used strictly to target terrorists, rejecting what he called ‘this perception we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly’.

‘Drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties’, he told a questioner at an on-line forum. ‘This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans’.

But research by the Bureau has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children.  A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.

Although the drone attacks were started under the Bush administration in 2004, they have been stepped up enormously under Obama.

There have been 260 attacks by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan by Obama’s administration – averaging one every four days. Because the attacks are carried out by the CIA, no information is given on the numbers killed. Continue reading

Nepal: India (regional hegemonist) and United States (imperial hegemonist) praise peace progress

Kathmandu Post, KATHMANDU, APR 12 – India and the United States on Thursday lauded the recent developments in the peace process, expressing hope that the constitution writing process would now be taken to its logical end within the agreed time-frame.

In a statement, the Indian Embassy congratulated the Nepali leadership on the “wisdom, and the spirit of consensus” displayed in pushing the political process forward. “We welcome the agreement reached on April 10 in the Army Integration Special Committee on taking forward the process of integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants in consonance with past agreements,” read the statement.

The US Embassy in Kathmandu hailed the handover of the Maoist cantonments and weapons as “a milestone” in the peace process. “We applaud the national political leadership for their determination and statesmanship at this crucial juncture,” read a statement issued by the US Embassy. Continue reading

UK: Campaigners Seek Arrest of Former CIA Legal Chief over Pakistan Drone Attacks

Arrest of ex-CIA lawyer sought over drone use
Human rights lawyers seek warrant against John Rizzo for approving drone strikes in Pakistan that killed hundreds.
17 Jul 2011, Al Jazeera

Victim of US drone attack in Pakistan

Hundreds of drone (unmanned predator plane) attacks on Pakistan since 2004, ordered by Presidents Bush and Obama

”]Human rights lawyers in the UK and Pakistan are seeking the arrest of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) former legal director for approving drone strikes that killed hundreds of people. John Rizzo, who served as the acting general counsel for the agency, has admitted approving drone attacks inside Pakistan, beginning in 2004.In February, Rizzo, who left the CIA more than a year ago, told Newsweekmagazine he agreed to a list of people to be targeted by drone strikes, which started under the Bush administration.”It’s basically a hit list,” Rizzo said. “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.”

A study by the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said 42 drone attacks were approved in four years.

The report said that the amount of strikes has quadrupled under the administration of US President Barack Obama and estimates about 2,500 people were killed in attacks on targets in Pakistan since 2004.

Arrest warrant

“There has clearly been a crime committed here,” Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer who is leading the effort to seek a warrant for Rizzo, told Al Jazeera.

“The issue here is whether the United States is willing to flaunt international law.

“One of the purposes of doing this is because there is no sense in the United States of how catastrophic this whole process is.”

US government lawyers argue that drone strikes are conducted on a “solid legal basis”, however, Stafford Smith said there has to be a war going on in order for any of these strikes to be legal.

“Outside a combat zone the US has no possible, plausible legal basis to conduct these drone strikes. They think they can get away with it. This process is meant to make sure that they can’t,” Stafford Smith said. Continue reading

US drive-by drone attacks: Gunboats and gurkhas in the American Imperium

A complicit government in Pakistan, enabled by US interlocutors, continues to support US drone strikes.
by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, in an opinion piece in Al Jazeera
14 Jul 2011

”]Meet Resham Khan. The 52-year-old shepherd was brought on a stretcher to a psychiatric hospital in Islamabad in January, traumatized and unable to speak. The father of six witnessed 15 members of his extended family perish last June when a US drone attacked a funeral procession in his native North Waziristan. The atrocity has left him mute and emotionally paralyzed, his vacant eyes staring into the distance. He gave up on food and drink in the months following the attack; shortly afterward, the pious Muslim gave up on prayer too. His condition also prevented him from looking after his ailing mother who died soon thereafter. And his surviving children have suffered. When the Reuters journalist finally got him to talk, one of the few things he said was ‘Stop the drone attacks.’

Kareem Khan, too, has suffered. On December 31, 2009, his son Zaenullah Khan and his brother Asif Iqbal were among the three people killed in a US drone attack which destroyed their home in Mir Ali, North Waziristan. Kareem’s absence spared him the sight of his mutilated family; and unlike the helpless shepherd, he had the wherewithal to demand justice. In November 2010, his lawyer, Barrister Shahzad Akbar served legal notices to the CIA station chief Jonathan Banks, former Defence Secretary Robert Gates, and former Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta for $500 million in damages.  Banks, who was in Pakistan on a business visa, took fright and soon fled the scene, and the US government was so terrified of the legal challenge that last month it denied a visa to Barrister Akbar to travel to the US. More survivors have since come forward demanding justice.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani state hasn’t just forsaken the people of FATA, it has actively aided the slaughter and abetted the cover-up. After each drone strike, the Pakistani military rushes out an official who ‘on the condition of anonymity’ announces that all the dead were ‘militants’. The press dutifully reports the numbers without asking why the claim should be trusted when the state has made no effort to confirm the identity of the dead. The numbers are subsequently laundered by Washington-based think-tanks and recycled back to the media. The media then report the stats with attribution to a ‘foundation’ or an ‘institute’, giving them a pseudo-academic pedigree.

In addition, the human rights industry is either AWOL or has actively abetted the programme. In a recent appearance on Democracy Now!, the head of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth justified the attacks while waxing idealistic about the rule of law. Most have taken their cue from Harold Koh — Obama’s own John Yoo — who has declared the extrajudicial murder of the indigent thousands of miles from home ‘legitimate self defence’. The terrorized population now finds itself silenced, adrift between the Scylla of a mercenary state complicit in their oppression and the Charybdis of comprador hacks erasing their suffering. Continue reading