“President Barack Obama’s administration on Wednesday refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for basic information on its drone programs,” remarked President of Veterans For Peace Leah Bolger. “While programs of assassination ought not to exist at all, this week’s response provides further evidence of the extreme secrecy now surrounding so much of what our government does.
“The White House has refused to disclose to the ACLU or the New York Times basic information on drone programs that amount to war-making, claiming that Congress has insisted on such secrecy, even while rejecting inquiries into the drone programs from Congress as well. Veterans For Peace supports efforts by the United Nations and the international human rights community to bring U.S. drone programs out into the open.
“It’s hard to know which is more absurd,” said Bolger, “the White House’s refusal to discuss the existence of drone programs (except to trumpet their ‘successes,’) or its failure to explain the legality of such programs.
“Of course the refusal to talk about such matters at all conveniently eliminates the difficult task of constructing an argument for how murder can be legal, as well as conveniently denying justice to the families of victims.
“War, while itself illegal and immoral, is commonly imagined as permitting acts that would be condemned as murder outside of war. In large part this is because we retain vestigial fantasies about fair fights between pairs of armies. In drone wars, one army is in an air-conditioned office on another continent, and the other army is absolutely helpless to fight back, trapped at home with children and grandparents, all of them subject to one-sided slaughter. Drone strikes may kill fewer people than a massive army would, but we never had a massive army in Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia. The drone strikes are an escalation of violence that may lead to major ground wars.
“Law enforcement cannot be the paradigm through which to view drone strikes. President Obama is policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. There is no right to appeal a ruling. One boy of 16 who might easily have been arrested in Islamabad was instead killed by drone a few days later. Like other victims, he was never charged with a crime. Still other victims are never identified by name, but only by suspicious behavior. And, again, others are accidents known in war as ‘collateral damage,’ a concept not yet imported into law enforcement.
“The solution here is not to finesse legalistic language to allow whatever it is we are doing. The solution must be to expose what is being done in our name and put an end to it. We applaud the ACLU for attempting to force some information into the light. We encourage others to join those members of Congress who are demanding an explanation for the nameless “signature” strikes. And we have joined with a large coalition of groups to promote the building of a new international movement to ban the manufacture, sale, possession, or use of weaponized drones.”
Ban Weaponized Drones from the World
Meticulous researchers have documented that U.S. drones are killing many innocent civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Drones are making the world less stable and creating new enemies. Their remoteness provides those responsible with a sense of immunity.
Weaponized drones are no more acceptable than land mines, cluster bombs, or chemical weapons. The world must renounce and forbid their manufacture, possession, or use. Violators must be held accountable.
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, urge
the United Nations Secretary General to investigate the concerns of Navi Pillay, the U.N.’s top human rights official, that drone attacks violate international law — and to ultimately pursue sanctions against nations using, possessing, or manufacturing weaponized drones;
the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate grounds for the criminal prosecution of those responsible for drone attacks;
the U.S. Secretary of State, and the ambassadors to the United States from the nations of the world, to ratify a treaty forbidding the possession or use of weaponized drones.
President Barack Obama, to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his “kill list” program regardless of the technology employed;
the Majority and Minority Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, to ban the use or sale of weaponized drones.Antiwar.com
- Arlington Green Party
- Code Pink
- Fellowship on Reconciliation
- Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
- Jeannette Rankin Peace Center
- LA Laborfest
- The Northampton Committee to Stop War
- Sitkans for Peace and Justice
- Veterans For Peace
- Veterans For Peace Chapter 27
- Women Standing
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans’ organization calling for the abolishment of war.
Swanson holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
Read his full and complete biography on his blog at DavidSwanson.org and also visit book site at War Is Crime.
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