Outside C.I.A Headquarters, Protesting U.S. Drone Attacks

While driving to protest at C.I.A. headquarters Saturday, a spokesperson for the Pakistan USA Freedom Forum called me to say that Pakistanis agree with our opposition to the U.S. use of un-manned drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and perhaps on other countries.  He said these drone attacks only make people oppose the US occupations more, and will drive people into the arms of the religious fundamentalists, and not keep the U.S. safer.

Cindy Sheehan

Activist Cindy Sheehan walks with participants in an anti-war protest that she organized outside of CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. on Saturday Jan. 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Cindy Sheehan organized the protest through Peace of the Action, a sustained anti-war protest which begins in 8 weeks in Washington.  This is the first protest at CIA headquarters in many years, and the first time the anti-war movement united specifically to protest the drones. Joshua Smith gives some of the history and planes U.S. use of drones, explaining that the military is increasingly going to drones instead of manned bombers.

Hearing how the Obama administration is vastly increasing the use of drones; and knowing this is virtually a secret program brought the importance of this first protest to all of us.  See Jane Mayer’s piece The Predator War: What are the risks of the C.I.A.’s covert drone program? (The huge show of police forces, with officers in the woods and cameras trained from every direction on us showed that the government was impressed by our message.)

Since one of the protesters carried a sign saying “Victory to the Taliban” I thought it necessary to make clear that the protest supported neither the illegitimate U.S. “war of terror” on the people, nor the religious fundamentalists of the Taliban, neither of who represent the interests of the people. Debra Sweet speech Audio.

To take that further, if in fact you support either, you end up strengthening both.  I learned much from the way Bob Avakian argues the need to oppose both the “historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system” in his talk Unresolved Contractions: Driving Forces for Revolution.  Sunsara Taylor brought this to bear on arguments within the US antiwar movement in U.S. Imperialism, Islamic Fundamentalism…and the Need for Another Way.

Obomba: The Audacity of War Crimes

Looking at the crimes of our government as Americans, but as people who care about humanity, we should not be afraid to look squarely at what contradictions present themselves to this movement.

Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Non Violence, told of speaking with a man who survived a drone attack:

In late May and early June of 2009, while visiting in Pakistan, a man from the village of Khaisor, also in North Waziristan, told us about his experience as a survivor of a drone attack.  Jane Mayer, writing in The New Yorker, mentioned that the people operating the drones and analyzing the surveillance intelligence have a word for people like him who managed to survive a blast and run away.  They are called “squirters.”  So, I suppose he would have been considered a squirter.

This man, at some risk to himself, walked a long distance and took two buses to meet with us.  Because of travel restrictions, we would not have been allowed to visit him in North Waziristan. His village is so remote that there are no roads leading up to it.  Five hundred people live there.  One day, three strangers entered Khaisor and went to the home of vigil elders. For centuries, villagers have followed a code of hospitality which demands that when strangers come to your door, you feed them and give them drink. It’s not as though you can point them toward a Motel 6 or a 7-11.  The strangers were welcomed into the home they approached and they left after having been served a meal.  They were long gone when, at 4:30 a.m. a U.S. drone, operated by the C.I.A. fired 2 Hellfire missiles into the home they had visited, killing 12 people, two of whom were village elders.  Children were dismembered and maimed.

“What do people do?” I asked, “if you’ve no Emergency Medical Teams, if you’ve no roads?”  I was wearing a “tbutta” the long scarf that Pakistani women traditionally wear.  “You see your scarf,” my friend said.  “We wrap it around the wounded person, as tightly as we can, to stop the bleeding.” I could imagine the white scarf I wore becoming blood-soaked, in seconds.

Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and Jack Ryan, a faster with Witness Against Torture this week, also spoke.  Some media was present:

Russia Today video report

The Associated Press published a short, distorted account by a reporter who was present and interviewed us.  Cindy is pressing for a retraction:

Ms. Gresko, from the AP was at the protest for the entire time. She interviewed myself, all of the other speakers, and some of those in attendance.

We feel that all of the speakers at the event and the stated reason for the protest were very clear—we were there protesting the loss of innocent life due to the cowardly and immoral use of drones by the CIA that actually kill about one-hundred times more civilians than “suspected terrorists.”

Since Ms. Gresko’s story came out falsely declaring that we were there to protest the use of drones on “al Qaeda and Taliban,” I have received dozens of hate mails, one of which even called my dead son Casey a “queer” and a “faggot.”

See photos on Bill Perry’s Facebook, Eric Anderson’s White House Protest Corps.

P.S.  On January 17, Cindy Sheehan wrote

This afternoon a group of us from Peace of the Action went to the Smithsonian to hang a banner which read
“Drones Kill Kids” in front of the killer drone exhibit sponsored by General Atomics (manufacturers of the killer drones)

Protest at Smithsonian Drone Exhibit

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