February 11, 2013 Debra Sweet / World Can't Wait & Manuel Valdes / Associated Press & Komo News
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has ordered the police department to abandon its plan to use drones after residents and privacy advocates protested. The city will not use two small drones it obtained through a federal grant. Meanwhile, public protests against drones fired the public debate in the streets of Honolulu.
Mayor Kills Seattle Police Drone Program After Outcry From Community MOX News
SEATTLE (February 8, 2013) -- Seattle's mayor on Thursday ordered the police department to abandon its plan to use drones after residents and privacy advocates protested. Mayor Mike McGinn said the department will not use two small drones it obtained through a federal grant. The unmanned aerial vehicles will be returned to the vendor, he said.
"Today I spoke with Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, and we agreed that it was time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program, so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department's priority," the mayor said in a brief statement.
The decision comes as the debate over drones heats up across the country. Lawmakers in at least 11 states are looking at plans to restrict the use of drones over their skies amid concerns the vehicles could be exploited to spy on Americans.
The Seattle Police Department previously said it would use drones to provide an overhead view of large crime scenes, serious accidents, disasters, and search and rescue operations. It had conducted demonstrations of the drones to show the public their capabilities.
The program drew strong criticism from residents Wednesday at a meeting of the City Council, which was considering an ordinance giving police the authority to use drones.
The proposed measure would have allowed the use of drones for data collection but barred police from using them over "open-air assembly of people" or for general surveillance. The drones would have carried no weapons, but the proposal would have allowed police to use face-recognition software in them.
The police department had purchased two Draganflyer X6 vehicles, which have a width of 36 inches, length of 33.5 inches and stand just under a foot. The drones are capable of flying indoors and outdoors and carry a camera, according to the company website.
The department had not yet begun using the drones but received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
One of the program's key adversaries was the Washington chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the drones were obtained without any public input or discussion.
"We applaud the mayor's action," spokesman Doug Honig said Thursday. "Drones would have given the police unprecedented abilities to engage in surveillance and intrude on the privacy of people in Seattle ... and there was a never a strong case made that Seattle needed them for public safety."
Moving forward, the ACLU would like to see the Legislature adopt "very tight restrictions" on law-enforcement drones statewide, Honig said.
Opposition to the use of drones in the US has come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, including civil liberties advocates and those worried over government intrusion.
On Monday, the Charlottesville City Council in Virginia passed a resolution imposing a two-year moratorium on the use of drones within city limits. The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group behind the city's effort, said Charlottesville is the first city in the country to limit the use of drones by police.
US Department of Homeland Security drones do enter Washington airspace occasionally, patrolling the Canadian border east of the Cascade mountains. The two 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned aircraft are based in North Dakota.
Meanwhile, CIA Director-designate John Brennan strongly defended anti-terror attacks by unmanned drones abroad Thursday under questioning at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Brennan said drone strikes are used only against targets planning to carry out attacks against the United States, never as retribution for an earlier one.
(February 7, 2013) -- Friday night was the first night of the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Chinatown. Lions danced in the streets. Drumming bounced off the walls of surrounding buildings, and tens of thousands of firecrackers created constant noise. Thousands of residents, tourists and GI's filled the streets. Our huge grey drone replica hovered over the celebration -- a sober reminder of US warfare in 2013.
Amidst all of the noise, it was almost impossible to have a prolonged conversation, but we caught lots of comments. "What are drones?" "I thought drones were little -- like the ones at Barnes and Noble -- I didn't know they dropped bombs." "Thanks for doing this." "Better their ass than ours."
A tourist from Vancouver thanked us and said he has been protesting drones in Canada and was happy to see this happening in the US. An irate GI yelled: "Drones kill terrorists and I can't wait to kill some more of the mother-f---ers." A professor of international law commented that drones were an outrageous violation of international law and offered to speak at events.
Some were happy to see a protest against the drone; a few were outraged that we were there. A small child asked: "Daddy, why is there an airplane?" leaving his dad at a loss to explain. Several GI's knelt in front of a banner reading "Stop the Killer Drones" and flashed a peace sign for a photo, while a couple of other GI's went to the police to demand that we be kicked off the streets.
A student from Pakistan quietly thanked us and then started a conversation about drones with her friends. Several people remarked on seeing the drone at the MLK Day Parade and asked what we were going to do next.
Several hundred of our FAQ sheet on drones were distributed and hundreds took pictures of the drone and signs on their cell phones and cameras. We were a small crew, but in two hours we accomplished a lot and are looking forward to rolling the drones through the University of Hawai`i-Manoa campus in the near future.
In the meantime, we urge you to check out a new post on the World Can't Wait website entitled "Responding to Changes in How the US Wages War." Responding to Changes in How the US Wages War Debra Sweet / World Can't Wait
( January 30, 2013) -- World Can't Wait's focus on stopping the use of armed and surveillance drones by the US is principally based on our opposition to the immorality of attacking vast populations, and linked to our mission to bring people to see that US occupations are not legitimate.
Poisonous gas in the first "world war;" nukes in the second; napalm against the Vietnamese people; and white phosphorous in the Gulf War are technologies so heinous that at least millions of people recoiled, and removed their support from the imperialist belligerents.
Such is the case with the Reaper, Predator and Global Hawk drones produced by global multi-national munitions makers, and designed to terrorize whole populations. Murder by Drone is the strategy, and the debate rages.
Barack Obama is seeking "rules" for the use of drones (mainly for a Republican successor, of course), which really amounts to an agreement in the ruling circles of this country on how far permanent war on sovereign countries can go within the current global "war on terror."
U.S. commentators are fighting for pro-U.S. public opinion in Pakistan, where the drone war is correctly seen as a big power invasion in land of a sovereign country. Three U.S. professors in The Atlantic challenged whether Pakistanis are really against the drones, quoting a Pew study in the most smug, servile way.
They were answered by Murtaza Haider, a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, who shows the flaws in how people were questioned in that study, and argues that support for the drone war in Pakistan is more like 1%.
Last week, PBS, in its NOVA series, broadcast "Rise of the Drones," introducing many more people to the argument of the President and the war-makers that drones are "effective." Kevin Gostzola says the ‘Rise of the Drones’ Is Mostly a PBS Infomercial for the Military Defense Industry.
And the United Nations will investigate the "exponential rise" in U.S. drone strikes. Maybe they should start with the report Living Under Drones from NYU and Stanford University.
Our challenge is to reach the people in this country with the basic illegitimacy of this direction in war-fighting. This is a call to join in
APRIL DAYS of ACTION – A Political Uprising to Stop Drone Spying & Killing
The Network for Stopping Drone Spying and Warfare plans April Days of Action 2013 to generate a public uprising across the United States to stop drone spying and drone warfare.
We urge you to select one or more of the days in April listed below to organize actions in your community to focus on the institutions which are part of the massive army of drones in the U.S. war on the world. People around the U.S. are urged to learn more, speak out, and act in visible protest of:
April 4 – 6: Drone Manufacturers Identify and protest drone manufacturing facilities, using demonstrations, teach-ins and other actions calling for an end to drone attacks and an end to the manufacture of weaponized and surveillance drones.
San Diego – April 4 – 7: protest at the plant of General Atomics, maker of the Predator and Reaper drones, the workhorses of drone killing.
April 16 - 18: Drone Research/Training Identify colleges and universities in their regions doing drone research and/or training of drone pilots and to call for an end to research and training related to drone warfare.
April 27 – 28: Drone Bases Protest at Air Force and National Guard bases which control the U.S. military drone program in their regions.
April 26-28 protest at the Reaper drones based at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY.
URGENT: Conference calls for April organizing are now underway. Please contact Joe Scarry as soon as possible so that you can participate.
Want to be part of the drones protest action that's happening in state after state? Connect with other members of No Drones Network! People in areas across the country are making big plans for the April Days of Action to Stop the Drones!
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