INDIAN SPRINGS — Metro police arrested Father Louis Vitale and 33 others for trespassing and blocking a road at Creech Air Force Base, where nearly 150 peace activists had gathered early Friday to protest U.S. drone operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Overseas operations involving unmanned Predator and Reaper aircraft are controlled remotely via satellite links at the base, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas, by pilots and sensor operators who sit at computer consoles.
The protesters, who had camped out this week across from the base to prepare for civil disobedience actions, blame U.S. drones for killing innocent civilians in attempts by the Air Force and CIA to curb overseas terrorist attacks with laser-guided Hellfire missiles and bombs, in the case of Reapers, fired from drones.
“Shut down Creech!” the throng chanted after Las Vegas police gave a five-minute warning for the crowd to disperse at 7:20 a.m.
“This is an outrage to God and the universe,” Vitale, a Franciscan priest from Oakland, Calif., said as he knelt on a white line on an entrance road.
“Here we are reaching out thousands of miles away and killing people. It’s a horrible thing,” he said as police approached to apprehend him. “I have talked to people here that work on the drones … scared to death and say, ‘I love the Air Force but can’t stand what I do.’ ”
The protest was nonviolent, and no one was injured.
Creech officials provided a reaction to a Review-Journal query early in the week that quotes the 432nd Wing commander, Col. Jim Cluff.
“We respect the members’ rights to protest peacefully, and as we’ve done in the past,” he said. “We are working closely with civilian law enforcement to ensure safety of those entering and exiting the base, as well as the safety of those protesting off base.”
In all, 34 men, women and two juveniles were arrested in four waves of civil disobedience actions near base entrances. They were cited and released on state misdemeanor charges of trespassing or pedestrian in the roadway. One person was arrested on an outstanding warrant, according to Las Vegas police.
The protest was organized by contingents of peace and faith-based activists, including those from the Nevada Desert Experience, Veterans for Peace and Code Pink: Women for Peace.
A Vietnam War Navy veteran, Phil Frank, of Indian Springs, protested the protesters.
“I consider myself an American patriot,” he said, standing by a sign that reads “RPA’s (remotely piloted aircraft) Protect Freedom. God Bless Our Troops.”
“I believe our military has our country’s best interest at mind, and this program is helping to keep our families safe, our country safe. That’s what it amounts to,” Frank said as protesters walked from their makeshift Camp Justice across U.S. Highway 95 to a Creech base access road.
Nick Mottern, who produced and funded a 15-second TV spot that urges drone operators to refuse to fly them on military missions, responded to an email asking what is the solution to stopping terrorist acts that kill innocent people.
“Americans have been led to believe in the fantasy that drones are special weapons that can stop “terrorism,” he wrote. “But the solution to ‘terrorism’ is obviously not for the United States to do more killing. The answer must begin with the United States stopping its part in the cycle of killing in the Middle East and Afghanistan, ending its occupation there, and allowing people to resolve their own issues.”
Cluff reacted to the TV spot and a statement by Jackie Barshak, of Women for Peace, who urged him to stop deadly drone violence. In an email, he said his wing’s primary mission “is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) first. Precision strike, or kinetic engagement, only occurs when needed and when the appropriate approval clearances and rules of engagement have been met.
“That being said, our combatant commanders expect and demand unique ISR capabilities that only the Air Force can provide, and we will continue to strive to meet those demands 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days year,” Cluff said.
Original article on Las Vegas Review Journal
Agency shut down email surveillance in 2011, only to relaunch it under different intelligence laws.
The National Security Agency (NSA) secretly replaced its program monitoring Americans' emails and moved it overseas before the operation was exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013, according to new reporting.
Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly recused themselves en masse from a Wednesday evening vote on a contentious GOP proposal to reshape the state's campaign finance laws. The bill passed shortly before 8 p.m. with the unanimous support of the chamber's Republican members, with no Democrats casting votes. The minority party has…
WASHINGTON - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgrades global growth forecasts and warns of rising debt levels in "emerging" economies in its newly released World Economic Outlook report. The report lowers growth forecasts in low-income and developing countries from 6% in 2014 to 4.8% in 2015. The IMF releases the report…
Civil society organizations, Indigenous communities, and social movements come together to challenge the World Bank’s neoliberal agenda, which has caused massive environmental destruction and social distress on the Latin American continent. Lima, Peru — The International Monetary Fund–World Bank Annual Meetings will take place in Lima, Peru this year from October…
New study highlights the repeated failure by U.S. lawmakers to crack down on tax avoidance schemes. America's Fortune 500 companies are "playing by different rules" when it comes to the federal tax system and, according to a new report out Tuesday, are stashing $2.1 trillion in offshore tax havens—with as…
The strategy by one of the nation's largest growers to shed its obligation to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers was dealt a key setback last week. An administrative law judge not only threw out what union organizers say was one of the dirtiest decertification elections in recent…
On a shelf of the Phoenix Bookstore, located in the heart of the ecovillage of Findhorn in the north of Scotland, the title Going Local (Free Press, 2000) caught my eye. The book was written by the American economist Michael H. Shuman. It was June 2002, and I had come to Findhorn to…
'This deal will not deter future corporate wrongdoers, it will not hold GM accountable, and it sets back the demand for justice by the family members of victims of GM’s horrible actions.'—Robert Weissman, Public Citizen
Howard Zinn's work is an instruction manual for challenging injustice - which is why it terrifies corporate elites. Michigan State Senator Patrick Colbeck is at it again. Back in 2013, Colbeck sponsored a bill calling for schools to institute a Patriot Week that would indoctrinate students with nationalist and militarist “history” lessons. Now,…
Wisconsin follows its lead but Nevada's sweeping law sends shock waves.
On the heels of a newly passed state budget that again leaves our K-12 public schools behind without ample and consistent funding, I recently headed back to where the school privatization push all began—the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.