I had a great Sex And Politics interview last night with Marc Saviano, a peace activist and organizer out of Kansas City, Missouri. The groups he is working with are doing important work. Trifecta Resista has made a lie out of the right-wing bromide that anti-war activists are giving President Obama a free pass. I wish we had tens of thousands in the streets, but there are people of conscience holding this administration to account, and I applaud that. It’s a model we all should emulate. And Peaceworks Kansas City is working on campaigns against nuclear weapons–an April Ballot initiative to keep Kansas City tax money from going to help subsidize a nuclear weapons plant will let people vote on keeping the city from giving a new plant any more financial incentives.
We also had a bit of controversy. So I thought I would flesh it out here.
There’s a jaw-dropping stat on the Trifecta Resista anti-drone website–that with each drone strike, the US kills about 50 civilians for each terrorist we take out. It’s a figure that leaves one gobsmacked. And it’s not a figure we get to hear in the US. But that number is corroborated by the British organization Bureau for Investigative Journalism and has been reported widely in much of the rest of the world. It has to do with a particularly evil tactic the US employs called the ‘double tap’; the drone (technically, the drone’s operator) fires one Hellfire missile at a target, then waits around until help arrives (5-30 minutes) and fires a second missile at the same spot. That kills anyone who’s arrived to assist the victims of the first strike—medical professionals, police, paramilitary, family. It is also alleged that the CIA is making drone strikes at funerals of the terrorists. Such attacks are almost certainly violations of International law and the UN Charter. Heck, our own FBI considers such actions Terrorism. The tactic is making us a large number of future enemies in the places where we’re doing it.
So, yes. As few as 2% of the people killed by the drone strikes are the people we targeted. Marc also brought up an activist who’s been on the ground in places where we’re using drone strikes. Kathy Kelly is a longtime peace activist who earned herself some jail time in the 1990’s by helping to get medicine to Iraq’s children during the US sanctions. She has also gone to jail for protesting at the School of the Americas (sometimes called the School for Torturers). Kathy Kelly has lived among the villagers in places that make President Obama’s Kill List, and has written about the impact the drone strikes have on the villagers of the region.
If you don’t live in Kansas City, Missouri, you could always donate some money for these people to help them continue their work. You might even write a check. Or you might also, you know, try to organize your friends to try and stop the drone program.