SF Bay Area

Air and Space Museum Protest: Stop Killer Drones!

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On October 27, CODEPINK along  with co-sponsors: World Can’t Wait, KnowDrones.com, ANSWER Coalition staged a protest outside of the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC while the museum hosted an evening event called “Predator: Transforming Modern Warfare with Drones” with speaker James G. “Snake” Clark, who personally oversaw killer drone operations. Outside Code Pink protested the talk and the drone exhibit with a banner, a mock drone, and a die-in.

CODEPINK staged this protest because killer drones have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Recently, the Drone Papers revealed by The Intercept showed that the terror (and inaccuracy) of drone strikes spreads anti-American sentiment throughout the world, and their use has created a state of perpetual war with minimal transparency and accountability. The drone papers reveal the shocking inaccuracy of the killer drones, which the US government has been touting as “surgically precise” for years. CODEPINK denounces the Obama administration for its use of killer drones and supports the whistleblower who revealed this information. CODEPINK agrees with Edward Snowden, who hailed the new whistleblower, tweeting: ““In an astonishing act of civil courage, one American just shattered an unspeakable lie.””

National museums are no place for propaganda, “It’s terrible that the Air and Space Museum glorifies this technology without informing the public about their ‘downside’: that assassinating people with drones is illegal, immoral and ineffective in combating terrorism,” said CODEPINK Cofounder Medea Benjamin and has written a book on drone warfare.

Leaked by a whistleblower and obtained by the web magazine, the Intercept, the Drone Papers are a cache of classified Pentagon documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.  According to the Intercept, the Obama administration has “portrayed drones as an effective and efficient weapon in the ongoing war with Al Qaeda and other radical conservative groups.” The Drone Papers reveal that the U.S. military has faced “critical shortfalls” in both technology and intelligence it uses to find and kill suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia. “This outrageous explosion of watch listing — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong,”” said the whistle bower.  

 ““The U.S. government makes it easy. They say whoever we killed is a militant unless proven otherwise after they are dead,”” said Benjamin. She says “that a justice system should not work like that and people should be allowed the chance to surrender, given charges and a trial. . . Drones makes it easier for the US to get involved in conflicts with countries that we are not at war with.”

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The protest included a die-in, where protesters covered in  blood stained sheets lay on the ground, simulating being dead— representing the thousands of innocents who have died from a missile falling from the sky. The protesters handed out fliers  to mothers with young children as well as men in suits who walked into  the door of the museum to attend the talk. Here are some figures from the flier Code Pink distributed: Pakistan 2004-2015 had between 423 and 965 civilians killed by US drone strikes. Between 172 and 207 of them were children. An additional 1,158 to 1,738 people were wounded by these terror bombings. Yemen 2002-2015 had between 65 and 101 civilians killed by US drone strikes. Either 8 or 9 of them were children. An additional 92 to 223 people were wounded. Afghanistan has had between 44 and 102 civilians killed by US drone strikes. Somewhere between 3 and 21 of them were children. An additional 106 to 111 people have been wounded. These figures are taken from the “drone papers” that elsewhere detail that perhaps 80% of people killed by drones were not even the intended individual targets. Attendees mostly refused Code Pink fliers detailing how many people these drones have killed. In the words of the recent anonymous Drone Whistleblower: “We are allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”  

Security guards came out of the building during the die-in, at least this time they did not open up on Code Pink with pepper spray like they did back in 2011 in that infamous attack during the early days of Occupy when “Stop the Machine” and CODEPINK protested a drone event there. “For years, we at CODEPINK have claimed that killer drones are used to murder people without even knowing who they are and now we have proof that 88 percent of those killed are not the intended targets,”” said Benjamin. 

“Activists called on the Air and Space Museum to stop glorifying these gruesome tools of war. “An educational institution [run by taxpayer money] like the Smithsonian Museum should have also given the human rights perspective, if they had invited the military perspective,”” said Benjamin. ““Drones have a 98 percent civilian kill rate. Air and Space, you ought to know— killer drones have got to go!”” chanted the protestors.

 CODEPINK will continue it’s campaign to Ground the Drone, for more information and if you’d like to book Medea Benjamin for an event or have questions about an event, please contact Alli from the DC office at Alli@codepink.org.

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CodePink is a women's grassroots-initiated, worldwide organization of women and men working for peace, social justice and a green economy. CodePink SF serves the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.


 

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The national CodePink organization organizes for justice for Iraqis and to hold war criminals accountable. CodePink actively opposes the U.S. war in Afghanistan, torture, the detention center at Guantanamo, weaponized and spy drones, the prosecution of whistleblowers, U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and repressive regimes.

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