Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Highlighting US government Drone Murder means trial for seven.

Update from Bob Graff (Nov 18, 2020)

Today Phi Runkel, Catholic Worker Archivist and I were convicted of trespassing on the Volk field military base in Juneau County, Wisconsin on November 12, 2019.  The court procedure reminded me of the military training of soldiers, to kill reflexively without the use of conscience.

Volk Field is a training base for the RQ-7 shadow drones base.  These are small drones that set up the operation of Killer Drones and the killing by Apache Helicopters in the eight wars that the US is engaged in presently.    A statement we gave at the time when we entered the base is attached.

Five of the seven of us who entered the base, due to serious Covid 19 concerns were not present for the trial at Juneau County Courthouse.   Those not present had sent the judge statements of why they were not there and why they entered the base that day.  The Judge quickly dismissed their concerns and order them convicted of trespassing and they were fined.

The district attorney then presented the case against Phil and me.  He had two defense witnesses, a security chief for the base and a Sheriff’s deputy who had issued the trespassing citations.  He also showed on a large screen a body cam the deputy had taken of our arrest.

When it came to our testimony we were warned by the Judge that he would show some leeway but that he should stick to the issue of trespass as he narrowly defined it.  Both our testimonies were based on religious convictions of conscience.  Phil tried to bring in international law and testimony of others, including Ramsey Clark, the former attorney general of the USA.  Our testimonies were constantly interrupted by the Judge and considered not relevant.  We both got about ½ to ¾ of our testimony (attached below)

During our testimonies and after the Judge kept saying how he agreed with some of our values and convictions but they were not relevant to the trial.  This reminded me of my research on “reflexive killing” the practice of training a soldier to kill on instinct or, command orders without consideration for conscience.  Now I know why a panel of military command officers refused to consider a Catholic West Point’s ethic teacher’s plea to have them state that “reflexive killing was justified.  Despite the terrible toll this type of killing played on the minds of returning veterans they could not admit of the harm this practice played.  They just ignored it as we largely ignore the killing by drones in the eight US wars of today.  When Phil tried to state that the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State” he was cut off.  The Judge said over and over again that he understood and sympathized with our views but that they had nothing to do, like reflexive killing with our trial.  Society, politicians and media ask us, like the Judge to separate our conscience from our action of killing on reflex or by drone.  We had just witnessed the court version of reflexive killing, Justice without conscience.  I pray for all drone operators, their victims and all of us who are silent to drone killing.

originally posted at WI Network for Peace and Justice

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Donate if you can to the “Support Food not Killer Drones” campaign – in care of the Juneau County Peace Committee.   

Support Food not Killer Drones – Juneau County

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 WISCONSIN JUDGE REFUSES TO DELAY NOVEMBER 16 TRIAL DUE TO COVID-19

November 10, 2020

In a letter dated November 2, 2020, Judge Stacey Smith of the Juneau County District Court in Mauston, Wisconsin, denied the motions made by seven antiwar activists to adjourn their trial scheduled for November 16.

The seven, Bonnie Block, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Bob Graf, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, all of Wisconsin and Brian Terrell, of Iowa, had been arrested for trespass on November 12, 2019, in a protest at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base that trains personnel to operate the RQ-7 Shadow Drone. 

Brian Terrell Interviewed by Rodger Routh – Nov 13, 2020

Bonnie Block Interviewed by Jonathan Zarov

Footage of the incident.

Since, the opposition to the atrocities of the Vietnam war crimes, the US government does its best to stop Americans from seeing the bodies of our dead victims.

Representing themselves in separate motions, the activists called Judge Smith’s attention to the recommendation of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services that “COVID-19 is still spreading across our Wisconsin communities. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. We recommend Wisconsinites cancel or postpone all travel, including travel within the state,” and asked that the trial be postponed “until such a time as travel is considered safe.”

Denying the motions, Judge Smith dismissed the COVID -19 concerns of the defendants, all of whom are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, assuring them that the court’s response is “proactive,” and encourages washing of hands, mask wearing and social distancing.

Judge Smith took special exception to Brian Terrell’s request that he consider the fact that for him to come to court from his home in Iowa “would require two days of interstate travel” and so his “presence in the court on November 16 would put court personnel and my co-defendants, several of whom are at high risk on multiple factors, at increased danger of exposure to COVID-19.” “I don’t understand how it is relevant that Mr. Terrell lives in Iowa or any other state in the union,” wrote Judge Smith, “I treat everyone in a reasonable and fair manner, no matter where they live.” In a letter to Judge Smith, Terrell clarified that his concern is not about being treated unfairly. “For me to travel to Mauston, Wisconsin, from my home in Maloy, Iowa, I would be on trains and busses for over ten hours in close proximity to other passengers, strangers traveling from all points. I would be waiting in stations from up to a few hours to overnight, depending on unreliable connections before getting a bus to Madison,” he wrote.

A further request to have the trial via Zoom was also denied, and the different circumstances of each defendant has made their original intention of a unified trial impossible.

Defendant Bonnie Block, a retired attorney of Madison filed a motion on November 9 to dismiss her case, citing that on that day the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced over 7,000 new COVID-19 cases, the most of any day. “It appears clear the current methods of dealing with the virus in the Juneau County Courts (and elsewhere) are not sufficient. Rather appearing in person on 11/16 carries a great deal of risk for everyone.  And since I’m 79 years old, I am at even greater risk both of contracting COVID-19 and of it being fatal. Thus the refusal to postpone the trial until this pandemic is over, gives me an untenable and unconscionable choice to appear at the risk of possible death or to give up my constitutional right to a day in court… Because I have a responsibility to my husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as extended family, friends, and fellow citizens to do my bit to prevent further spread of this deadly virus; I cannot appear in Court on November 16, 2020.  And since the Court denied a postponement, I believe the only just solution is for the Court dismiss this matter.”

Joyce Ellwanger, of Milwaukee, does not intend to appear in court but is concerned that she would be barred from volunteering in Wisconsin prisons if she has outstanding court fees or a warrant. She is asking the judge to accept a written statement in hopes that it will be accepted in lieu of appearing and will pay a fine if found guilty. Brian Terrell has informed the judge “as a courtesy,” that he will not appear (“for me to appear in your court as ordered on November 16 would be an irresponsible act of reckless disregard for the public safety”) or make any motions. Joy First of Madison, Jim Murphy of Highland along with Bob Graf and Phil Runkel of Milwaukee intend to go to trial on November 16, as scheduled.

Citing the crowded court calendar and the fact that the case had already been postponed once, Judge Smith’s letter said, “I understand the times in which we live and you might be thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’” He justified his refusal to delay the case any longer because “Justice that is untimely is no justice at all.” The defendants do not disagree that untimely justice is no justice at all, but they wonder when there will be justice for the many victims of drone wars, and that question draws them back to Volk Field.

Far from thinking “what’s the big deal?” the seven take their actions and the consequences with deadly seriousness. Catholic pastor Jim Murphy recognizes protests at other drone sites, “we need to carry our weight in Wisconsin and speak up-we have tried other options letters to three commanders, letters to US Senators with no response.” Bob Graf cites Martin Luther King, Jr, “Never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation…” A statement from the group delivered to Volk Field on November 12, 2019, reads “We come because we mourn the children who have died from attacks by U.S. military drones. We remember these children, whose lives have been cut short while also remembering their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents who continue to mourn the deaths of these beautiful children” and “We come because the personnel working with and training with the RQ-7 Shadow Drones at Volk Field are an integral part of and are complicit in the whole US drone warfare program.”

Judge Smith’s unreasonable dismissal of the COVID-19 health and safety concerns of the seven defendants along with the court’s blind eye to the crimes perpetrated at sites like Volk Field, are clearly occasions where acting with responsibility and with regard for the wellbeing of others comes into conflict with the law, when it is too narrowly understood.

 

The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars 

For more information contact:

Joy First  (608) 239-4327

Brian Terrell  (773) 853-1886  

 

“What difference does it make to the dead,

the orphans and the homeless,

whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism

or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

― Mahatma Gandhi 

More on Drone Warfare – National Bird

Drone documentary

Road Goes On

Trump has been hiding the numbers of drone murders. (Hold him accountable too)

President from January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017.  Barack Obama 

Over 8 years, how many bombs?
How many dead? In 2015 and 2016 alone, Obama oversaw the military and CIA as the government dropped about 50,000 bombs. 

No really, do the math.  How many do you think we have murdered?

“Tell me president, tell if you will How many people does a smart bomb kill?”
– Michael Franti

Obama forgave W. Bush and Cheney.
Clinton forgave George H.W. Bush and Reagan
Biden will forgive Trump
Democrats and Republicans will forgive Empire.  

extrajudicial

1anot forming a valid part of regular legal proceedings,  an extrajudicial investigation bdelivered without legal authority 2done in contravention of due process of law

Drone Page : Veterans for Peace National

The road goes on forever and the party never ends

http://www.dronesurvivalguide.org/

http://www.dronesurvivalguide.org/

 

The Global Hawk

“In President Obama’s last year in office, the United States dropped 26,172 bombs in seven countries. This estimate is undoubtedly low, considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and a single “strike,” according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions…”
How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2016? – CFR  

“Given there is no publicly articulated interest by Obama administration officials in revisiting this approach, let’s review U.S. counterterrorism bombing for 2015. Last year, the United States dropped an estimated total of 23,144 bombs in six countries….”
How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2015? – CFR

Drones have been shown to kill mostly people who are not the target. 

 

 

 

And there is, I am certain, among the Iraqi people a respect for the care and the precision that went into the bombing campaign.

— Donald Rumsfeld

Common Dreams: Obama Gives Bush “Absolute Immunity” For Everything

Thing is, Obama has no authority to overrule these laws.  I wonder who they are trying to fool?

 

St Pete for Peace: Obama Fact Sheet

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“President Obama claims the right to order “targeted killings” of terrorists on his own authority.  “Targeted killing” is Orwellian language.  According to the New York Times, Barack Obama defines a terrorist as any military-age male in a kill zone, unless there is intelligence demonstrating he is not.  That’s not what I would call targeting.  The President has justified the killing of unidentified people based on suspicious behavior, or based on proximity to such people, because “they are probably up to no good.”  Drone strikes have been ordered on funeral services of people who’ve been killed by previous drone strikes….”

Due process and death warrants by Phil Ebersole

Voices for Creative Nonviolence Farewell and Forward

VCNV Farewell Letter

Kathy Kelly, writing on behalf of the Committee to Oversee Closure of Voices for Creative Nonviolence: Sean Reynolds, Sarah Ball, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Kathy Kelly, and Bob Alberts 

 

VCNV is closed down but here are some important efforts that continue…


Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK 
(www.vcnv.org.uk) is not closing and will continue its work ably led by Maya Evans.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers (ourjourneytosmile.com) and the Global Days of Listening (globaldaysoflistening.org) will welcome ongoing communication and solidarity.

We at Voices U.S. will be archiving our website, and closing our bank account, in early 2021. We again thank all who have so generously supported us. We pledge to return-to-sender any checks
we receive after November 10th. All of the money in our account will be disbursed.

Any funds designated for the Afghan Peace Volunteers will be sent to them, and we hope to assist their budget requests for the Afghan calendar year which runs from March 2020 – March 2021.

We will also make, and additionally encourage, donations to:

  • Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK (www.vcnv.org.uk)
  • Jesuit Refugee Services projects in Kabul (1627 K St NW Ste 1100, Washington, DC 20006). Voices members have regularly visited JRS projects, including education efforts, within a particular refugee camp, and have known of JRS’ admirable work in Kabul since our first visit in 2010. Checks can be sent payable to Jesuit Refugee Services, with “Kabul projects” written in the memo section and/or with an accompanying note designating that the contribution is for JRS’ projects in Kabul.
  • Emergency Surgical Center for Victims of War, Afghanistan (https://en.emergency.it/projects/afghanistan-kabul-surgical-centre/). Voices members have regularly visited their hospital in Kabul since our first visit to Afghanistan in 2009. Donations can be made through Emergency’s website.
  • Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Fund (https://yemenfoundation.org/) Donations can be made through the website or checks can be made payable to: Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation (YRRF) and mailed to: 3216 74th Place SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040

Over the years, we have collaborated with several other organizations whose work we also plan to support with contributions. These include:

  • World Beyond War (worldbeyondwar.org)
  • Witness Against Torture (witnessagainsttorture.com)
  • The Nuclear Resister (nukeresister.org

    and

  • The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (kingsbayplowshares7.org)

 

War Criminals: Obama, Trump, every President (since WWII), A few reasons why…

Compiled by Brad Geyer

 

Wars of aggression are illegal under international law. Treaties ratified by the United States are no different than US law according to the Constitution. Preemptive war is illegal including Iraq, now Libya and a number of other places we are fighting around the world.

 

It is illegal to wage an aggressive war, aid rebels in a civil war, threaten another nation with aggressive war, and to use propaganda for war.

 

It is illegal to attack a hospital, destroy civilian food and drinking water supplies, destroy undefended targets, bomb neutral countries, and indiscriminately attack civilians.

 

It is illegal to use napalm, white phosphorus and depleted uranium as weapons. It is illegal to use chemical and biological weapons. It is illegal to fail to accept the surrender of combatants, it is illegal to pillage, to fail to attend to the wounded, to have extrajudicial executions. It is illegal to fail to discipline or prosecute subordinates who commit war crimes. It is illegal to fund war mercenaries.

There are more, but I think you get the idea…

There are simple truths. Some, which we are taught to ignore.  The people in power teach us to dehumanize other peoples, in order to make the killing easier or more efficient.

Simple truth: People have human rights.  Nations have sovereignty.

Aggressive warfare is a violation of law.  A nation must be under attack to use self defense, and still needs to work with the UN Security Council.

 

Why would people of other nations have any less rights and responsibilities or protections than we enjoy?  We would be better off in a world where there was liberty and justice for everyone, not just protections for those on the side of red, white and blue.

 

Charter of the United Nations, Chapter VII — Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression

 

Convention II Article 2 Geneva Conventions  

“In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance. Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof. ”

Wikipedia:  “In international law, the term convention does not have its common meaning as an assembly of people. Rather, it is used in diplomacy to mean an international agreement, or treaty.

With two Geneva Conventions revised and adopted, and the second and fourth added, in 1949 the whole set is referred to as the “Geneva Conventions of 1949” or simply the “Geneva Conventions”. Usually only the Geneva Conventions of 1949 are referred to as First, Second, Third or Fourth Geneva Convention. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservationsby 196 countries.[1]

 

Example specific to Syria that apply beyond those borders also.

“…The supply of arms to the Syrian opposition would amount to a breach of the customary principle of non-intervention and the principle of non-use of force under Art. 2 para. 4 of the UN Charter.”

The supply of arms to opposition groups in Syria and international law 

 

Is it legal to supply arms to Syrian rebels?

“International law prohibits states from intervening in the affairs of other states. Commenting upon and discussing situations in other states is not caught by this prohibition, but actions of a coercive nature are. The use of force is arguably the most obvious form of such coercion, whether manifested by direct intervention through the use of a state’s own military forces or indirectly through the provision of arms and training to opposition forces.

The only two established exceptions to the prohibition of the use of force in international law are actions taken in self-defence and those taken under the authorisation of the UN Security Council…”

 


Then there is the use of torture and assassinations. Illegal torture continues in secret and openly by our troops. The Joint Chiefs of Staff has a list compiled under the direction of now President Obama of Americans who shall be assassinated. One person they have admitted to being selected for assassination is Anwar al-Awlaki.

 

Congress has the power to declare war not the President.

 

About 90% of those killed when we wage war are now unarmed civilians regardless of the claims made by our leaders about our “precision” weaponry and great technology. They are also bringing this war mentality home, and the criminals will need to because eventually Americans will stand up to the tyrants.

 

The Posse Comitatus Act (and Title 10 of the United States Code) prohibits members of the US military from exercising law enforcement powers on non-federal property within the United States. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act allowed the use the Armed Forces in major public emergencies after hurricane Katrina, but was repealed in 2008 reverting to Posse Comitatus Act and The Insurrection Act of 1807. (The Insurrection Act of 1807, in the opinion of a number of Constitutional scholars is unconstitutional and would be found so if they ever bothered to test it in court.)

 

America’s Economic Blockades and International Law

“Military blockades are acts of war, and therefore subject to international law, including UN Security Council oversight. America’s economic blockades are similar in function and outcome to military blockades, with devastating consequences for civilian populations, and risk provoking war. It is time for the Security Council to take up the US sanctions regimes and weigh them against the requirements of international law and peacekeeping…”

 

So much for accountability.  August 2013
Obama Gives Bush “Absolute Immunity” For Everything

 

Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War

 

US Has Killed More Than 20 Million In 37 Nations Since WWII 

 

U.S. War Crimes and The Need To Recognize The Psychology Of Evil

Also Carl Herman:
“Recognized facts of US wars:
No nation’s government attacked the US on 9/11. The US acknowledges the Afghanistan government had nothing to do with 9/11. The UN Security Council issued two Resolutions after 9/11 (1368 and 1373) for international cooperation for factual discovery, arrests, and prosecutions of the 9/11 criminals.

The Afghan government said they would arrest any suspect upon presentation of evidence of criminal involvement. The US rejected these Resolutions, and violated the letter and intent of the UN Charter by armed attack and invasion of Afghanistan.

For more detail, I recommend International Law Professor Dr. Francis Boyle’s “End the crime that is the war on Afghanistan.” The US government acknowledges Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The UN Security Council issued a standing cease fire that no single nation could violate by resuming armed attacks. The UN Security Council also resolved for weapons inspections that were nearly complete when the US violated the cease fire, weapons inspections, and letter and intent of the UN Charter with armed attack.”

The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us – John Pilger