Category Archives: Afghanistan

Daniel Hale Deserves Credit for Exposing Crimes by Drone

SAM CARLINER

Original Article Link

New York Times Reporting on Airstrikes Should Give Daniel Hale More Credit – Common Dreams

“The New York Times should give Daniel Hale proper credit and call for Biden to immediately pardon him. As long as he’s in prison, there is no justice.”

The New York Times recently came through with a display of reporting that should be commended. On December 18, the paper announced its release of hundreds of the Pentagon’s confidential reports of civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes in the Middle East. This followsits high profile investigations into the U.S. drone murder of the Ahmadi family during the Afghanistan withdrawal, and an American strike cell in Syria that killed dozens of civilians with airstrikes.

Many journalists will, rightfully, praise the New York Times for its reporting on U.S. airstrikes and the civilian cost. Far fewer will point out how the inhumanity of U.S. airstrikes were first revealed in 2013 by whistleblower Daniel Hale.

Hale used his first hand experience identifying targets for the drone program to highlight how it relies on faulty criteria, and as a result, kills civilians. Later, Hale worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, where he had access to documents on how the drone program operates. Hale provided those documents to the Intercept which published them as The Drone Papers in 2015. While Hale’s documents were not as comprehensive as the trove recently published by the New York Times, they did provide much of the same core revelations, particularly the faulty nature of how intelligence is gathered and the high civilian-toll of air campaigns. Most notably, Hale’s documents revealed that 90% of the drone program’s victims were not the intended targets. Up until the recent reporting by the New York Times, Hale’s revelations were the most comprehensive proof of how U.S. air warfare functions.

To be fair, the Times’ reporting on the brutal nature and high civilian cost of U.S. airstrikes is not insignificant. Americans could have easily ignored the Pentagon’s violence now that the “boots on the ground” approach to intervention has largely ended with Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal. In fact, the use of airstrikes was championed by Obama so as to avoid anti-war sentiments from Americans. The Times actually highlights this, writing:

“The air campaign represents a fundamental transformation of warfare that took shape in the final years of the Obama administration, amid the deepening unpopularity of the forever wars that had claimed more than 6,000 American service members. The United States traded many of its boots on the ground for an arsenal of aircraft directed by controllers sitting at computers, often thousands of miles away.”

Still, as much as the Times’ reporting already seems to be provoking conversation around U.S. air warfare, it is concerning that this conversation comes with the risk of Hale’s own heroic actions being disregarded. The Times makes no mention of Hale’s actions, even as they receive accolades for supposedly breaking to the world the violence of U.S. airstrikes. More damning is how little the Times has commented on the fact that Hale was sentenced to nearly four years in prison earlier this year for exposing the drone program. Aside from a standard article about his sentencing published in July, Daniel Hale is absent from the New York Times’ pages. Azmat Khan, the reporter behind the “Civilian Casualty Files” has not mentioned Daniel Hale once on Twitter.

It’s not like there have not been updates in Hale’s story since he was sentenced. After his sentencing, Hale was kept languishing in a jail for over two months even though he was supposed to be transferred in a matter of weeks. Once finally transferred, Hale’s situation was made worse. He was supposed to be sent to a prison that would provide care for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis, but instead he is now being held in a communication management unit (CMU). CMU’s are designed for terrorists and “high-risk inmates” and detainees have highly restricted contact with the outside world. The American Civil Liberties Union has called on the U.S. government to end its use of CMUs, arguing that these “secretive housing units inside federal prisons in which prisoners are condemned to live in stark isolation from the outside world are unconstitutional, violate the religious rights of prisoners and are at odds with U.S. treaty obligations.”

Daniel Hale deserves freedom for revealing proof of the very crimes the New York Times is now being praised for exposing. His support team and anti-war activists have been working hard to grow concern and action for his cause, but that is a daunting task considering Hale is a person who the U.S. government, and U.S. military in particular, want silenced. But as the Times has shown with its own reporting of U.S. airstrikes, they have a platform that can cut through Pentagon-imposed silence. A single editorial calling for Hale’s release would do wonders for his cause.

Presumably, the Times reporters who have been investigating the violence of U.S. airstrikes are doing so because they believe the victims of U.S. air campaigns deserve justice. The Pentagon’s refusal to hold anyone accountable for their deadly Kabul airstrike in August signals that it will be an uphill battle holding anyone accountable for the newly-exposed airstrikes. Daniel Hale joined the fight to hold the Pentagon seriously accountable. He joined years before the New York Times did, and was treated like a criminal for it. The New York Times should give Daniel Hale proper credit and call for Biden to immediately pardon him. As long as he’s in prison, there is no justice.”

Sam Carliner is a journalist based in New Jersey. His writing focuses on US imperialism and the climate crisis. He is also the Weekend Social Media Manager at CodePink.

 

Daniel Hale Explains Why

Remember Afghan Drone Victims 11/29 at 3:30pm Outside Volk Field Gates

Dear Friends,

Monday November 29, marks three months since the murder of ten members of the Ahmadi family, of which seven were children, by a US government drone in Afghanistan.  Five activists in Wisconsin stood at the gates of Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base where personnel are trained to operate the Shadow drone.  We mourn all those who have been killed by US killer drones.

Today, December 1, marks 10 years since we first stood at the gates of Volk Field.  We have been there on a regular basis for ten years, several times risking arrest.  Normally, about 100 cars from the base drive past us as we stand there.
We must remember that although President Biden has told us that the war in Afghanistan is over, we continue to fly drones over Afghanistan, dropping bombs and killing innocent people, even though the military admits that 90% of those killed are not the intended target.  Children continue to die by our bloody hands in Afghanistan.
Watch for information on how you can get involved in ending these crimes by our government in January and February.  Please don’t look away.
Peace, Joy

 


Please share the information, print  and hand out or share electronically.

drone murder handout Nov 2021

Dear Friends,
We acknowledge and mourn the Ahmadi family who were brutally killed by US drones in Afghanistan on August 29, 2021.
This family lost ten of their loved ones, including seven children, in what was called a “botched” attack by the US government.  This is a tragedy that happens all too often.  Over 90% of the people killed by US drones are not the ones who were targeted.  Hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been lost in these attacks, including so many children.
The international group, Ban Killer Drones, are calling for vigils and remembrences on November 29, marking the 3-month anniversary since the attack and murder of members of the Ahmadi family with the theme “Don’t Look Away”.
In Wisconsin, we will gather at Volk Field on Monday Nov. 29 at 3:30 for an hour vigil at the gates of the military base.  We will have signs that read “Don’t Look Away”, pictures of the Ahmadi children, and flyers to distribute (See attachment at top of page).
MAP  Volk Field from Google
If you cannot make it to Volk Field, please consider doing something in your community on November 29 or the two days preceding in the weekend before.  You could print out the flyer and distribute it (Attached below)..  If you let me know I can send you files with pictures of the children that you can print out and hold.  If nothing else, talking to friends and families about US drone warfare is important.
 

If you do something in your community, please take pictures and send to me along with a short narrative about what you did at joyfirst5@gmail.com 

 
We are all so caught up in so many things, but it is so important to remember that the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and other places, where the US continues to murder innocent  people with drones, have no voice and no power.  

WE MUST SPEAK OUT FOR THEM. 

 
Peace, Joy 

 

 


 

Background

  1. NY Times: U.S. officials said a Reaper drone followed a car for hours and then fired based on evidence it was carrying explosives. But in-depth video analysis and interviews at the site cast doubt on that account.
  2. NPR: U.S. will provide condolence payments to families of Kabul drone strike victims
  3. Drones Group with Veterans for Peace
  4. Know Drones Website

WBAY Channel 2: [Afghani] Refugee speaks about conditions at Fort McCoy

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:15 PM CDT

original article…

Refugee speaks about conditions at Fort McCoy 

 

“MADISON, Wis. (WKOW/WBAY) – One of the thousands of refugees who are currently housed at Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy.

Due to continued fear of Taliban retaliation, the refugee’s identity has been concealed.

He says he’s grateful to be safe, but adds that life at Fort McCoy has been a struggle.

Some refugees say they don’t have a change of clothes, and they are dealing with food shortages that force them to ration.

“It is not like that all the time. But if you’re a little bit late, you know, go to the chow hall, you know, most of their, like, four or five times happened, you know, they’re out of food. Or either they have just one other thing, you know, maybe boiled carrots, or little bit rice,” he told our Madison ABC affiliate, WKOW.

His wife, who doesn’t live at the base, also talked about the experience.

“He is not a complainer, he’s not one of those kind of people that is ungrateful at any shape or form. If anything, you know, he’s so grateful to be here,” she said.

The refugee says he asked officials about the food shortages, and was told they didn’t expect this many people to come to the base.

He also says some people need warmer clothes, adding it gets chilly at night.

For a complete list of donation items being accepted and more information, click here. To coordinate donations big or small, or interested in being a drop-off location, email resettlementsupport@teamrubiconusa.org.

WSJ Hamer/Robinson/AP: ‘I just want to leave’: Afghan refugees speak out about conditions at Fort McCoy

15 Sep 2021  | 

original article: ‘I just want to leave’: Afghan refugees speak out about conditions at Fort McCoy 


“I have depression, stress and anxiety, insomnia and it’s getting worse.”

18-year-old Afghan refugee

 

 

“Waiting in line for hours to get food, wearing the same clothes day after day, getting harassed by some of the Afghan men, not knowing the timeline for resettlement — all are problems a pair of Afghan women say they have faced staying at Fort McCoy military base in western Wisconsin, though officials said Tuesday the issues are being addressed.

“There are many people who don’t have anything to wear, anything to eat,” an 18-year-old Afghan woman told the Wisconsin State Journal on Saturday. “They make us wait here for six hours behind the cafeteria, and when you go in there’s nothing left.

“I just want to leave this place so I can start my own life.”

The two women spoke by phone with the Wisconsin State Journal Saturday about their experience at Fort McCoy on the condition of anonymity. They said they feared a negative reaction from some Afghan men housed at the base, many of them former members of the U.S.-trained Afghan National Army who have caused problems, such as harassing women and skipping people in the food lines.

Fort McCoy officials have not granted media requests to interview refugees nor access to the base. They have shared some photos and videos from inside. They have also discouraged volunteers from speaking with the press.

Thomas Gresback, a Fort McCoy spokesperson with the Department of Homeland Security, said Fort McCoy experienced supply chain issues in being able to provide enough food to feed the 12,500 Afghans now at the base. But Fort McCoy has been working to address the issue, Gresback said, and “over the last five days we improved that significantly.” He said the refugees are offered “three hot meals per day” with a protein, a carbohydrate option, fruits, vegetables and drinks.

Gresback said he visited the base’s cafeteria line Monday and saw that Afghans were “very happy” with the changes Fort McCoy made.

“We feel we’ve come a very long way in a very short period,” Gresback told the State Journal on Tuesday.

Fort McCoy is one of eight military bases housing refugees who fled from Afghanistan after the recent collapse of the country’s government to the Taliban. Though the number of refugees in Wisconsin has grown week by week, the U.S. halted incoming flights last week after discovering cases of measles among the refugees, including one case at Fort McCoy.

Gresback acknowledged other complaints raised by Afghan evacuees such as a lack of access to clothing donated to Fort McCoy. Gresback said personnel at the base are “working absolutely as fast as we can” to distribute clothes.

He noted that Fort McCoy is still accepting donations and is especially looking for warm clothes for winter. Donations of new or gently used clothing that has been freshly laundered can be made at the Salvation Army in Madison at 3030 Darbo Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as other Salvation Army locations across Wisconsin.

The second woman who spoke with the State Journal said she desperately wants to change her clothes. On Saturday afternoon, the 40-year-old said she was still wearing the same clothing she wore while escaping from Afghanistan out of the Kabul airport as her country fell to the Taliban. She arrived at Fort McCoy on Sept. 1, 10 days before the interview.

“I couldn’t bring anything from home,” she said, adding she developed an infection after not being able to change her only pair of underwear. “I have to wash that and wait until that is dried and I can wear them again.”

The State Journal was unable to reconnect with the women Tuesday to ask whether conditions had indeed improved over the last few days.

Chris Hennemeyer, who is leading the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ volunteer efforts at Fort McCoy, said the long lines for food are “a thing of the past.”

“(Those issues), they’re all being worked out, and some of them have been sorted out really well,” Hennemeyer said when asked about the long cafeteria lines and the clothing shortage. “The lines that existed a week or so ago, you don’t see them anywhere.”

But one major thing has not been sorted out: when the Afghans get to leave.

Both women said they have Special Immigrant Visas, and are frustrated they’re not being processed through the military base more quickly. After traumatic experiences at the Kabul airport, they’re ready to start their new lives living and working in the U.S.

“I’m not saying I’m not glad I got out of there. I’m saying I’m very happy. I’m very glad I got out of there,” the 18-year-old said of fleeing Afghanistan. “It’s just that I want to be processed out fast. I’m losing lots of my time. It’s a waste of time staying here (at Fort McCoy).”