United States woman jailed for photographing pro-peace protest


This 11 July 2014 video from the USA is called Grandmother Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison After Protest at U.S. Drone Base.

From Alternet in the USA:

By Alyssa Figueroa

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Photographing a War Protest

‘We are losing a generation because of drones’ says activist Mary Anne Grady Flores.

July 26, 2014

Warplanes have long been based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY. But in 2009, something new arrived: MQ-9 Reaper drones that were flown remotely over Afghanistan, dropping missiles and bombs and unleashing terror.

Organizers in Upstate New York started protests soon after the drones arrived and founded Upstate Drone Action in 2010. In 2011, one longtime activist and member of the Catholic Worker movement, Mary Anne Grady Flores, 57, joined the struggle. As part of the “Hancock 38” in April that year, she was arrested for protesting at the base’s main entrance by participating in a die-in to illustrate the indiscriminate killing of civilians overseas by drones.

She was arrested again in October 2012 for another act of “civil resistance,” as she puts it, not “civil disobedience,” to uphold the U.S. Constitution and international treaties the U.S. signed. That led to Grady Flores and the 16 others being placed under court orders restricting their protest rights. Frustrated by the protesters’ persistence, a base commander, Col. Earl Evans, sought and received an orders of protection — usually reserved for domestic violence victims — which was used over time to bar approximately 50 protesters from the base’s grounds.

In February 2013, Grady Flores stood in the public intersection beyond the driveway leading to the air base taking pictures of the eight protesters participating in an Ash Wednesday action. Those witnessing were asking for forgiveness for what we as American citizens are doing with killer drones. She was later arrested across the street and down the road for “violating the order of protection.” A higher court has found the use of the order invalid.

But on July 10, DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon gave Grady Flores the maximum sentence of one year in jail for a second-degree criminal contempt charge, leaving a courtroom of supporters in shock. He defended his harsh sentence by claiming that she “would simply thumb her nose at the law once again.” DeWitt Town judges are planning on holding 20 upcoming trials from August 2014 through 2015, threatening to send each activist to one year in jail.

On Wednesday, July 23, eight protesters went back to the air base to issue their own “people’s order of protection” on behalf of drone victims around the world. Seven were arrested and charged with trespass. Two of the protesters — Grady Flores’ sister Clare and Martha Hennessey, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker — were charged with violating their orders of protection and are being held on $10,000 bail. All of them refuse to post bail and remain in jail pending their Aug. 6 court dates.

“These judges are out to try to stop the protests on behalf of the base,” Grady Flores said, who is out on $5,000 bail pending her appeal.

Grady Flores spoke to AlterNet about what motivates her to protest against drones, the connections she sees between our foreign and domestic policies, and what gives her hope.

Alyssa Figueroa: You joined these anti-drone protests in 2011. What made you start?

Mary Anne Grady Flores: Drones are a critical issue for people in the countries that are under attack, and it’s important for those of us in the States to make the connections between poverty, racism and colonialism. As many black and Native feminists have pointed out, the violence that has historically and continues to be perpetrated inside the so-called borders of the United States sustains American imperialism abroad.

CIA drone strike in Pakistan criminal investigation


This video from Pakistan says about itself:

Karim Khan submits application to file FIR against Jonathan Banks

13 December 2010

Karim Khan, whose brother and son were killed in a drone strike, on Monday submitted an application for the registration of a First Investigation Report (FIR) against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Station Chief Jonathan Banks. More here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

PAKISTAN: The High Court in Islamabad ordered police today to begin criminal investigation of CIA involvement in a drone strike that killed three people on December 31 2009.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui told officers to examine whether former CIA Islamabad station chief Jonathan Banks and former CIA general counsel John Rizzo were guilty of committing murder, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the Terrorism Act 1997 for their involvement in authorising the strike.

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NSA spies on all mobile phone calls in Afghanistan


This video is called WikiLeaks reveals NSA records all cellphone calls in Afghanistan.

So, the United States NSA is not only spying on all mobile phone calls in the Bahamas

By Thomas Gaist:

US collecting all cell phone calls in Afghanistan

24 May 2014

WikiLeaks on Friday revealed that the US has been surveilling all cell phone conversations in Afghanistan as part of its SOMALGET mass data collection program. SOMALGET is one component of a broader NSA effort, including a program called MYSTIC, which collect communications data in Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, Iraq and elsewhere.

Millions of voice clips and reams of telephone metadata are collected and stored as part of the SOMALGET/MYSTIC program, which taps into entire national cellular networks. Three days ago, Glenn Greenwald‘s The Intercept revealed that SOMALGET was being used to collect phone calls made from the Bahamas and an unknown country, now revealed to be Afghanistan.

Greenwald said at the time that revealing the second country would “lead to deaths,” and complied with demands from top US security officials that he not publicize the information. The Washington Post also chose to preserve the secrecy of the surveillance against Afghanistan.

In a “statement on the mass recording of Afghan telephone calls by the NSA” published Friday, WikiLeaks rejected the “national security” rationale for concealing the country’s identity. A statement from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated, “The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a ‘rise in violence’. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq… WikiLeaks has years of experience with such false or overstated claims made by US officials in their attempts to delay or deny publication.”

“WikiLeaks has confirmed that the identity of the victim state is Afghanistan. This can also be independently verified through forensic scrutiny of imperfectly applied censorship on related documents released to date and correlations with other NSA programs,” the statement said.

The mass spying against Afghanistan underscores that a primary function of the spying apparatus is to identify and target opponents of the neocolonial agenda being pursued by the US ruling elite, while terrorizing the civilian population into submission. As noted by the WikiLeaks statement, the US government’s targeted drone program relies heavily on information gathered from NSA surveillance operations.

“We know from previous reporting that the National Security Agency’s mass interception system is a key component in the United States’ drone targeting program. The US drone targeting program has killed thousands of people and hundreds of women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in violation of international law. The censorship of a victim state’s identity directly assists the killing of innocent people,” the WikiLeaks statement said.

Previous reports have provided ample documentation that data gleaned from the surveillance programs is used for tracking individuals selected by the US command structure for death by drone. As the NSA documents published by The Intercept enthusiastically note, SOMALGET and related programs “make possible remarkable new ways of performing both target development and target discovery.”

NSA analysts work alongside CIA agents at US embassies and military bases worldwide to facilitate the targeted killings. According to a former drone operator at the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) High Value Targeting task force, who spoke to The Intercept anonymously, targets are selected using cell phone tracking and data analysis technologies.

Strikes are ordered based on the activity pattern of the target as assessed by these surveillance methods, without visual confirmation from agents in the area. Using “geolocation” technology codenamed GILGAMESH, the NSA’s “Geo Cell” section enables drones to carry out strikes against a particular SIM card believed to be held by a target. The JSOC operator acknowledged that targets sometimes lend their SIM card to a friend or relative, resulting in strikes against unintended targets.

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people. It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people—we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy,” the JSOC member said.

Within the NSA’s Geo Cell section, this practice was summarized by the motto, “We Track ’Em, You Whack ’Em.”

Once they are given the go-ahead, drones launch Hellfire missiles, originally designed for strikes against Soviet armor, as well as GBU laser-guided bombs. These devastating weapons are typically deployed against mud-brick homes in small villages and other unarmored structures.

A report published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) found that at least 555 victims of US drone strikes have been civilians. The BIJ found that at least 8 drone strikes have targeted mosques and madrasas, killing an average of 2.7 civilians per strike.

Together, the US and Britain carried out at least 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2012, according to the BIJ. A report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that drone strikes account for a third of all civilian deaths from air strikes, and that civilians deaths from drone bombings increased threefold from 2012 to 2013. NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces occupying Afghanistan killed at least 3,000 Afghan non-combatants in 2013, UNAMA found.

The US drone war against the population of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which has killed at least 3,000 people, has also been enabled by extensive NSA surveillance of northwest Pakistan. A Washington Post report last October reported that the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan,” adding that “NSA threw the kitchen sink at FATA.”

A report issued by Pakistan’s government confirmed that at least 94 children have been killed by US drone strikes in the FATA. The BIJ found that drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration have killed at least 273 civilians in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

A top-secret NSA document leaked by Snowden revealed that NSA surveillance “played a key supporting role” in the 2011 assassinations of US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan.

On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives passed the “USA Freedom Act,” a piece of legislation that has been presented as a National Security Agency (NSA) “reform” bill. In reality, the bill, which was modified after the intervention of the Obama administration, would allow for the continued bulk collection of telephone records, while doing nothing to address other illegal NSA spy programs: here.

In a New Zealand television interview last week, American investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill said in that the National Party government is “extremely aware” of US drone attacks, including one which killed NZ citizen Daryl Jones (also known as Muslim bin John) in Yemen last year. Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, who was in Auckland at a writers’ festival, also implicated the Australian government: here.

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Dutch general praises jihad in Syria, World War I


This video from Britain says about itself:

Afghanistan Drone War: protest held outside British airforce base used in Afghan drone war

29 April 2013

In scenes reminiscent of the anti-nuclear weapons marches in the UK decades ago, around 400 peace and justice campaigners descended on a Lincolnshire RAF base in east England after it was confirmed by the Ministry of Defence that the military compound is being used by the airforce as a launchpad for drone missions over Afghanistan.

General Peter van Uhm in 2008-2012 was commander-in-chief of the Dutch armed forces. Which then, as now, were involved in war in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Now, retired General Van Uhm has expressed sympathy for confused Dutch teenagers going to the bloody war in Syria. Boys who often end up there in fanatically religious sectarian paramilitary organisations, with big chances of getting disabled or killed. Or girls, who may end up as ‘religious military prostitutes‘, and have big chances of getting disabled or killed too.

Why are these Dutch teenagers (and teenagers from other countries) so confused that they end up in Syria?

In the Netherlands (and other NATO countries) mainstream media and politicians often depict the regime in the Syrian capital as the only cause of bloodshed in the country, by default depicting all armed oppositionists as freedom fighters. Last summer, Syria (like happened to Yugoslavia, Iraq, etc. before) in war propaganda became ‘the new nazi Germany'; worth of risking the start of World War III for, according to neoconservative ideologists. Fortunately, a nuclear World War III then did not start about Syria. Mass popular opposition led to unexpected defeat for David Cameron’s war-minded government in the British House of Commons. Let us hope that plans to use the crisis in Ukraine to start a nuclear world war will go the same way.

Meanwhile, the CIA and other governmental organisations in NATO countries, and in Arabian peninsula absolute monarchies allied with NATO, keep arming sectarian paramilitary groups in Syria. So, if a foreign teenage boy goes to fight in Syria, then he may claim with some justification that he does things similar to his government’s.

There is still another cause sending confused teenagers to Syria. In the Netherlands (and more or less similarly so in other western countries), most of these young people are from immigrant worker families from Islamic countries. Every now and then, xenophobic bigotry, sometimes against all immigrants, sometimes especially against Muslim immigrants, sometimes especially against Muslim immigrants from Morocco, gets rampant among Dutch media and politicians. If you are a young person in the Netherlands and you’re not white, then it’s harder to get a good job, or any job. If you would like to go to a discotheque, then a doorman may stop you because of the colour of your skin. The xenophobic Islamophobic PVV party of Geert Wilders, allies of the French neo-fascist National Front and other extreme Right parties in Europe, recently was more or less officially part of the Dutch government (they had an agreement, giving them influence on government policies, to prop up a minority right-wing coalition administration).

While, as we saw, media and politicians in the Netherlands (and in other NATO countries … and in Qatar and other Arab Peninsula dictatorial allies of the self-styled “Free World”) on the one hand often depict sectarian war against the Syrian regime as “good war”; on the other hand they often depict confused teenagers joining that “good” war as criminal dangerous terrorists. Police and secret services spy on them and arrest them. Recently, a boy from Amsterdam was jailed for “preparing” to join the war in Syria.

That is one face of the Dutch official establishment.

Now, back to another face of the Dutch establishment; General van Uhm. Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant of today:

Ex-Commander Van Uhm: respect for people going to war in Syria

By: Janny Groen – 05.05.14, 06:02

General (retired) Peter van Uhm respects Dutch people joining the war in Syria because they stand up for their ideals. According to him, these young people ‘in one way or another think that they need to make the world a better place.” He does not share their ideology.

Van Uhm said that in the radio documentary “Lost sons – a century at war”, which aired last night on Radio 1. In this program the former commander of the armed forces traveled to [World War I] military cemeteries in Flanders Fields in Belgium to find an answer to the question: should we be proud or grieve for young men who go to war?

In principle, we should be proud, Van Uhm says, at least if they are going to war because of pure idealism. In Syria, for example, against the oppressor Assad to end the suffering of women and children. …

Van Uhm’s condoning of people going to war in Syria is remarkable. His son, First Lieutenant Dennis van Uhm, in April 2008 at the age of 23 was killed in Afghanistan in an attack with an ‘Islamic’ roadside bomb. …

In the documentary, Van Uhm was confronted with the work of the German sculptress Käthe Kollwitz, whose son was killed in the First World War. Both the military father and artistic mother tried to make sense of the loss of their sons, but they drew different conclusions. Kollwitz wants ‘no more war’. Van Uhm continues to respect ‘young people who stick their necks out for a better world, while – if they are unlucky – they die.’

Kollwitz, Never Again War

If General Van Uhm disagrees with Käthe Kollwitz about World War I, then one may ask: does he think that war for German Emperor Wilhelm II, in which Ms Kollwitz’s son Peter died, was a worthy cause? Should the German empire have won World War I? On, on the contrary, were the German armed forces the bad guys, and their Allied opponents the good guys? Propagandists for present day militarism can’t have that both ways, though sometimes, they seem to try.

How many Dutch youngsters will interpret General Van Uhm’s words as an encouragement to depart to the bloody war in Syria? How many of them will die? How many will become disabled, physically, psychically, or both, for life? How many will get harsh governmental punishments for being ‘terrorists’? How many will really become terrorists after returning from hell in Syria?

LARGE numbers of people have been forced to flee the Iraqi city of Mosul after Islamist militants from the ISIS pro-Al Qaeda group effectively took control of parts of the city: here.

The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a group from which even Al Qaeda has broken because of its excessive violence and sectarian fanaticism, constitutes a searing indictment of the crimes carried out by US imperialism in Iraq and throughout the Middle East: here.