Naiman tells Iowans that public pressure can stop drones
Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy, speaks at an anti-drone rally outside the Iowa Air National Guard base in Des Moines, May 1, 2013. For more photos from the rally, click here.Photo: AFSC / Jon Krieg
(Robert Naiman's talk at the American Institute of Business in Des Moines on May 1, 2013 is available here (39 min) thanks to Des Moines videographer Rodger Routh. For photos of the rally outside the Iowa Air National Guard Base, click here. AFSC Iowa was one of several groups that sponsored Naiman's visit.)
DES MOINES - (CPM News Services) Robert Naiman, founder of 'Just Foreign Policy' and frequent contributor at Huffington Post, spent time with Iowans on May 1, 2013 in two events to draw attention to the possibility that drone command bases may be placed at Iowa's 132nd Fighter Wing near the airport.
The morning event drew media as 40 people protested in front of the facility where drones bases may be placed. Several signs opposed drones in Iowa, raising legal and moral questions and saying this could make us vulnerable.
DM Regster article, May 1, 2013 http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130501/NEWS/130501015/military-drone-use-in-U-S-
DM Register video: "Drone protest at Iowa Air National Guard Base"
In the evening Naiman spoke at the American Institute of Business.
Naiman said Iowans have an opportunity to demand that Senator Charles Grassley press the Obama Administration to make public its drone policy.
"You can't have an imperialpPresidency without a sleeping Congress," Naiman said.
Senator Patrick Leahy has said he may subpoena the Administration to ask for remaining Office of Legal Counsel Memos. He says we should ask the same of Sen. Grassley.
Naiman, who visited Pakistan last October, said the number of civilian casualties from drone strikes in that country are classified.
"Why is the U.S. Government count of civilian casualties in Pakistan classified? Why aren't we asking our people in Congress this question? Can the government just classify information because it's embarrassing, to keep it from the public?"
Naiman said Pakistanis claim that Americans are cowards fighting with robots and killing "without any skin in the game." He said several high-level military officials have testified recently that drones are counter-productive and put the U.S. in greater danger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGDO2EwnhOc
In the U.S., polls show when citizens are asked about using drones if it risks killing civilians the public is as opposed to that, as putting their own military at risk.
"And the fact is drones are three times more likely in Pakistan to kill children than they are high-level targets...,But people can't act on what they don't know," Naiman said. "The Administration must show the information, they have to be more transparent. Citizens should know about drone policy, how the Administration is lying about killing only high-level targets and avoiding civilian casualties."
Naiman encouraged groups to show the following film in public, a seven-minute video from Robert Greenwald at http://www.livingunderdrones.org/.
He also asked people to watch the Senate hearing where testimony was given by Yemini Farea al-Muslimi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIb0wMfOFhw.
Finally, according to Naiman, the UN investigation into U.S. war crimes in its drone policy is already showing evidence of 'secondary strikes' in which the CIA kills first-responders to drone attacks, a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Naiman predicted the report will be released soon and will be damning and may force a change of policy on this front.
For more information about Naiman's work, please visit http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/.