Asia, Middle East, USGovt
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USGovt Drone Strikes and a Pakistani family

 “Brave New Films” is one of the newer activist, independent media organizations, focusing on Inequality, Security and Justice. I have attached the founder, Robert Greenwald’s, bio below. The video is from Brave New Films latest post. The art work above is a drawing of a U.S. drone by 9-year-old Nabeela ur Rehman from Rolling Stone

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Below is extract from an article by Alan Grayson and Robert Greenwald on a particular drone strike. The Pakistani family affected was brought to the US in October 2013 and spoke to Congress. Rep Alan Grayson organized the presentation.

Why Are We Still Waiting for Answers on Drones?

“Mamana Bibi was a 67-year-old Pakistani grandmother and midwife, killed by a U.S. drone strike on October 24, 2012. One year ago, the family of Mamana Bibi came to Washington,, D.C., to share their sad story with Members of Congress.

Mamana’s son, Rafiq ur Rehman, is a 39-year-old primary-school teacher. He and his two children, Zubair, 13, and Nabila, 9, were the first family members of a U.S. drone strike victim ever to speak to Members of Congress. Rafiq explained that he and his family were educators, not terrorists. He wanted to know why his family was targeted by the U.S. military. Zubair, a teenager, recalled how he “watched a U.S. drone kill my grandmother.” He described why he now fears blue skies: “Because drones do not fly when the skies are gray.” Nabila was picking okra with her grandmother for a religious holiday meal, when day became night. “I saw from the sky a drone and I hear a dum-dum noise. Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream.”

Only five Members of Congress came to hear this family’s testimony. Only five listened to the real impact of one of America’s most ruthless, extrajudicial, error-laden and enemy-producing war policies. The briefing was organized by both of us, Rep. Alan Grayson, and Director Robert Greenwald. It was part of our effort to change discourse about drone warfare. It also led the release of a new drone documentary, Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars. The film told these and other drone victims’ stories, focused on the government’s shadowy “signature strike” policy allowed spy agencies to target and kill hundreds based on suspicion alone, and posed difficult questions that far too many lawmakers and national security officials still want to duck.

Those questions include: Should America be killing people in other countries with which we are not at war? What constitutional framework allows the President and spy agencies to be judge, jury and executioner? Where only four percent of victims are even “linked” to Al Qaeda, what role are the killings , playing in inciting warfare and making anti-American enemies? Why do national leaders–in the White House, the Pentagon and Congress–believe that so-called military “solutions” are the only way to address global hot spots? And why is it that every time they see something they don’t like, they feel the urge to bomb it?

For a brief period, it appeared that some progress was being made on drone policy. …

But a recent event–the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq–has resuscitated America’s dependence on drones. … No substantive change has been made to this secretive foreign assassination program. … The Administration has cloaked its addiction to drone warfare with the label “national security,” seeking to end any possibility of rational public discourse on the matter.

That’s a problem for many reasons, but especially because drone strikes cause considerable “collateral damage” (an Orwellian phrase created by the military-industrial complex to sanitize the slaughter of the innocents).

…..

… We should start by acknowledging a simple truth: Many drone strike victims are not terrorists. These are real people – mothers, children, parents, cousins, human beings – not some nameless, faceless enemy. And any reform efforts should bring the drone program under the rule of law, with checks and balances on the actions of the Executive Branch, subjecting drone strikes to Congressional oversight, and compensation for the families of innocent victims.

…. The United Nations and international human rights groups have issued multiple reports detailing the deaths of innocent civilians resulting from these strikes. The documentary Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars, has been seen by millions of people abroad, including in Pakistan; it was featured at a UN Human Rights Council meeting; and it is being screened on college campuses and universities across the globe. And last October, Congressional testimony by the Rehman family finally put a face to “collateral damage.”

Not one of us would stand by idly while a foreign government killed American grandmothers, children, and other innocent civilians via remote-controlled weapons that rain down death from the skies. Yet that’s precisely what the U.S. military-industrial complex has done for years, and we American citizens have let this happen in our good name. It’s time we all paid attention. It’s time we all acknowledged the immorality, the illegality, and the repercussions of U.S. drone strikes abroad.

Robert Greenwald (born August 28, 1943) is an American television, feature film and documentary filmmaker, and political activitst. Greenwald is founder and president of Brave New Films (BNF)[1] He has produced and/or directed more than 65 TV movies, miniseries and films as well as major theatrical releases.[2] His early body of work includes Steal This Movie (2000),[3] starring Vincent D’Onofrio as 60s radical Abbie Hoffman; Breaking Up (1997), starring Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek;A Woman of Independent Means (1995) with Sally Field; The Burning Bed (1984)[3] with Farah Fawcett; and Xanadu (1980).

With BNF, he has made investigative documentaries such as Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2004), Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism (2004), Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006), Rethink Afghanistan (2009), Koch Brothers Exposed (2012), and War on Whistleblowers (2013), as well as many short investigative films and internet campaigns. His eighth feature-length documentary, Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars, was released in October 2013.[4]

His work has earned him 25 Emmy Award nominations,[5] two Golden Globe nominations,[5] the Peabody Award[5] and the Robert Wood Johnson Award.[5] He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute.[3] He has been honored for his investigative film work by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California;[6] the Liberty Hill Foundation;[7] the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild;[8] Physicians for Social Responsibility;[8] Consumer Attorney’s Association of Los Angeles;[5] Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy [8] and the Office of the Americas.[1]

 

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