Albany Student Press Reports on Marjorie Cohn’s Visit

WAW In the News: Drones and Targeted Killing Lecture by Marjorie Cohn
Albany Student Press reports on Marjorie Cohn’s most recent publication, “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues,” an interdisciplinary examination of the United States’ policy on targeted killings and the use of drones. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Albany’s United University Professions chapter (Peace and Justice Committee) and Women Against War.August 26th

Women Against War and other Capital District Peace Groups join the Upstate Drone Coalition Lobbying Initiative during the week of February 2, 2015

drones-kill-civilains-banner-and-model-drone-and-signs-photos-mabelThe Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars organized a New York Statewide and Washington, DC lobbying initiative to the offices of our Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.  We were originally going to visit both Senators offices on Monday, February 2, 2015, but the large snowstorm caused us to change our plans and to send two lobbyists, Hazel Landa and Joe Lombardo, to meet with Senator Schumer’s regional director,  Steve Mann on Tuesday, February 3rd.

While they were meeting with Steve Mann they also delivered two information packets with requests and educational materials complete with talking points and references in several media forms. There was one from the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project which you can read here:

New York Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars Lobbying Initiative

Since we had lobbied Senator Gillibrand about the issue of weaponized drones and presented an earlier version of the packet created by the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project we decided to just  deliver the Upstate Coalition packet to her regional director, David Connors with a request that he pass it on to legislative representative, Moran Banai  That delivery is to take place on Friday afternoon, February 6th.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer

There are digital links to all of the excellent articles, talking points and requests from the Upstate Drone Coalition, and especially the Reprieve report titled ““You Never Die Twice MULTIPLE KILLS IN THE US DRONE PROGRAM”  and the very moving letter from Afghan, Raz Mohammed requesting that the U.S. courts protect his family and village from drone attacks. His brother-in-law and four of his friends were  killed in a drone attack in 2013.

Raz speaks out on Drones

Raz speaks out on Drones

To see and read the entire Upstate Coalition Drone packet  you can find links on their website You can follow each link individually to read an article or talking points as you wish.You Never Die Twice, report by human rights charity Reprieve

Thanks to all of the Capital District peace and justice activists who prepared, planned and delivered our contribution to the Upstate Drone Coalition’s creative and organized lobbying initiative.  And to their resilience in the face of a foot plus snowstorm from Sunday through all of Monday!

Joan, Mari and Trudy with Kim's beautiful yin - yang drone- dove poster

Joan, Mari and Trudy with Kim’s beautiful yin – yang drone- dove poster




Meeting with David Connors, Regional Director for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about US weaponized drone killings, October 6, 2014

IMG_9475 Kim, Joan and Mickie, before the official vigil.

This article was delayed by preparations and implementation of our drone quilts exhibit that took place from October 20 through November 19, 2014 but here’s a brief summary of our meeting with David Connors who is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s regional director in the Capital Region.

We originally attempted to meet with Senator Gillibrand herself during the summer recess and early fall break but were unable to do so.  Instead we were able to meet with her regional director, a member of the millennial generation, a husband and father and a long term staff member of hers.  We ended up having a bit more than an hour long meeting with him on Monday, October 6, 2014.

There were six of us doing the presentations about the effects of our weaponized drone policies on civilians and about the need to repeal the AUMF which makes war and drone attacks possible without the advice and consent of Congress.  We also called for a moratorium on military intervention ins Syria and Iraq and the use of drones, bombs, missiles and arming some factions of the current wars.

Here’s a summary of our presentations:

Connie Houde: Why drones do not work;  they are not efficient and they create more violence and anti-USA sentiment. Using Pakistan as an example: the drastic increase in US drone attacks in Pakistan did not decrease the number of “terrorist attacks” in the region. The killings of Taliban Commanders only increased violent attacks and spread such attacks from the Northern tribal area to engulf all of Pakistan with a focus on the country’s economic and political center, Karachi. (Related topic: Why we need to leave Afghanistan to decrease the suffering of women and children).

Mabel Leon:  Drones Kill Civilians; While the US government seldom acknowledges civilian deaths referred to as collateral damage, civilian deaths are real and have been documented. The numbers are hard to comprehend as real people and a sense of numbness takes over. The numbers of civilian deaths clearly dispel the myth that drone strikes are precise or accurate.  (Related topic about domestic policy: Appreciation for Senator Gillibrand’s support of measures against sexual assault in the military)

Hazel Landa: Covert drone attacks are a violation of US and international law; They violate our constitution and democratic principles.  At the moment they are secret with no transparency or accountability and no process for judicial review.

Maureen Aumand: The military Industrial Complex drives drone warfare;  Profit motives and lobbying by defense contractors help drive the drone program and the expansion of drone development.

Mickie Lynn:  Congress needs to pause and debate the bombing of Syria and Iraq; Call for a ceasefire, open debate, a Senate bill requiring authorization and a definite time period. We need to pursue other options that don’t lead to the killing and displacement of Syrian and Iraqi civilians, and that don’t create environmental devastation.

Maud Easter: What Congress can do. What we want Senator Gillibrand to do; Focusing on sunsetting the AUMF and shifting drones out of CIA control. And including requirements for transparency and regular, accurate reporting on civilian deaths.

Here’s a link to our complete set of requests and informational resources sent to Senator Gillibrand’s office and handed in during the meeting.Drone meeting with David Connors in Gillibrand office Oct 6 2014 talking points (2)

Here is a followup email to Senator Gillibrand’s legislative aide about policy towards Iraq and Syria with a few more references:

When David met with the six delegates from the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project of Women Against War on Monday, October 6th he was a very attentive listener and promised to forward our written materials to you in Senator Gillibrand’s Washington, D.C. office.

We also engaged in spirited dialogue during the hour long meeting. Now I hope that I can send materials directly to you and receive a response.

At that time  in early October, Congress was about to recess until the mid-term elections were over.  No debate or discussion had taken place about the bombings of Iraq and Syria by US forces that had already been going on for several weeks. At a daily cost of $7.5 million per day for Iraq and $16 million dollars per day for Syria.  I don’t know what the current figures are but they are probably even higher.

Now Congress is about to reconvene on Monday, November 17th.   While we applauded Senator Gillibrand’s refusal to vote for funds to arm Syrian rebels we find Congress facing another decision point.  Earlier this week President Obama said that he was going to ask for authorization to continue the bombing over Syria and Iran and to arm and train what he described as moderate forces, as well as the Iraqi army.  He was also planning to double the number of US advisory and training forces in Iraq.

It seems as if we need to oppose what very much looks like an escalation that is creating more human suffering (especially in Syria) and blocking resources and efforts for humanitarian aid and a negotiated de-escalation of the carnage and new refugee crisis that is currently occurring.

Here are some of the ideas for alternatives and strict limits to new authorizations and continued bombings:

These came from Just Foreign Policy:

I urge you to support the principles of H. Con. Res 114, which calls for Congress to oppose the use of ground troops and says any AUMF on Iraq and Syria should be narrow and limited.

In particular, any AUMF should:

  • prohibit ground troops, as the President has said;
  • be narrowly focused on ISIS and Al Qaeda, as the President has said;
  • have a time limit or sunset provision so that it has to be renewed in the future for war to continue rather than lasting indefinitely by default; and
  • include a provision for regular public reporting on civilian deaths and injuries from U.S. airstrikes, so that the public, Members of Congress, and journalists can better understand reports in the media about civilian casualties.


1. H.Con.Res.114 – Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria,

There are many other requests for alternatives to continued bombing; including the UN Peace Envoy to Syria’s idea of freeze zones where humanitarian aid could actually be delivered and distributed while neither side takes advantage of the pause in fighting and bombing.

This a very important pivotal point where we might possibly avoid the human and financial costs of a three year military war in favor of negotiated settlements and humanitarian aid that could win friends instead of creating more enemies in the Middle East.

I spent several hours summarizing some of the things that we requested during our meeting with David in October. Yesterday I published them in a blog article in our local paper, the Times Union.  Here is the link to that article:

What we asked Senator Gillibrand to do about ISIS in early October.

Women Against War hopes that you will read the article, and share the ideas with Senator Gillibrand when she is considering actions concerning a new AUMF.

Many things have changed since our October meeting.  I’ll be following up with a second article early next week and will send you the link to that one as well.

In the meanwhile I hope that you will both read and comment on our blog article and the requests that we are making and share your thoughts with Senator Gillibrand.

With appreciation for your interest and help with these communications,


Sign by Syrian men in 2011, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote even more true today

Sign by Syrian men in 2011, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote even more true today




Photo essay of Media Conference tableau and the exhibit at the Concourse Monday 10/20 through Friday, 10/24

Publishing this article was a bit delayed, because of the work involved in taking down the quilt exhibit on the Concourse (and the drone replica exhibit inside the Legislative office building on the concourse level), on Friday October 24th.

Thanks to Ed Harris of the Office of Special Events for all of his help and logistical support, and to many helpful and flexible security personnel, and the woman, security guard at the loading dock when we brought the exhibit into the LOB.

Yesterday Connie Houde, Maureen Aumand, Hazel Landa and Mickie Lynn worked on setting up the quilt exhibit at the Chapel +Cultural Center at RPI on Saturday morning, October 25th with the wonderful help and kindness of C+CC director Tom Mattern. It really looks beautiful and is very informative at the same time.

Three  of the photos taken by photojournalist and Women Against War Woman of Peace, Connie Frisbee Houde already appear with the website articles about the opening and closing speeches of the October 20, 2014 Media Conference. A fourth, of the drone replica begins this photo essay.

We want to share some of the  photos taken by Grannie for Peace and Woman Against War, Mabel Leon.

Photos of the tableau arranged on the stairs of the Legislative Office Building,  before the Media Conference began.

Nick Mottern's drone replica 1/5 scale of actual Reaper MQ-9, photo by Connie Houde

Nick Mottern’s drone replica 1/5 scale of actualReaper MQ-9, photo by Connie Houde

IMG_0954 (2) Second Tableau in LOB

Tableau from the right side of the stairs, photo by Mabel Leon

Tableau from the right side of the stairs, photo by Mabel Leon

Focus on the steps of the LOB well before the Media Conference begins, photo by Mabel Leon

Pat Beetle with photo of Mamana Bibi 68 year old grandmother and  drone victim

Pat Beetle with photo of Mamana Bibi 68 year old grandmother and drone victim

Elders Reszin Adams and Cynthia Pooler, photo by Mabel Leon

Elders Reszin Adams and Cynthia Pooler, photo by Mabel Leon

Photos of the first afternoon with all materials set up at the concourse level of the LOB:

Joan, Mari and Trudy with Kim's beautiful yin - yang drone- dove poster

Joan, Mari and Trudy with Kim’s beautiful yin – yang drone- dove poster

Replica next to Mabel's poster featuring the painting "Foreshadowing"

Replica next to Mabel’s poster featuring the painting “Foreshadowing”

Quilt with visitor in LOB concourse

Quilt with visitor in LOB concourse

Exhibit set up in LOB concourse on Monday afternoon, 10/20

Exhibit of quilts on the Empire State Plaza Concourse Tuesday, 10/21 through Friday, 10/24.

We learned that getting the attention of passersby, quickly walking to their destinations on the concourse was not the ideal place to have an informational exhibit. But in spite of that 16 new quilt squares were made that day with a few more still in progress. 

The drone replica that stayed in the LOB with the banner saying that Drones Kill Civilians and several posters and photos and informational placards got more thorough attention and was much talked about at the LOB and the State Capitol. 


Thanks to the three shifts of volunteers who staffed the tables each day.  The photos are only of Thursday afternoon when Mabel happened to be there with her trusty camera.  Each group has their own story to tell and many of the quilt squares were made by the volunteers.  As Mabel and Mickie were packing up the drone replica, on Friday afternoon, a LOB staff member came by to thank us for mounting the exhibit, to ask about Women Against War and to note our website address.

Signing the petition against weaponized drones.

Signing the petition against weaponized drones.





Signing petition against weaponized drones.

Quilt display on the concourse of the Plaza


Quilts on frames at Empire State Plaza exhibit.

Quilts on frames at Empire State Plaza exhibit.

Portrait of a youthful spectator after a long conversation with Mabel.

Portrait of a youthful spectator after a long conversation with Mabel.

Information table at the concourse with quilt table behind it.

Information table at the concourse with quilt table behind it.

Bertha handing out literature at the  the concourse exhibit

Bertha handing out literature at the the concourse exhibit

Father and son at the concourse exhibit on Thursday, 10/24/14

Father and son at the concourse exhibit on Thursday, 10/24/14 This particular father and son happen to be Maureen Aumand’s son and grandson.







Grannies for Peace Anti Weaponized Drone vigil held at West Capitol Park, from Noon to 1 PM, Wednesday, September 17, 2014.


IMG_9456 large tableau of vigil at West Capitol Park, September 17, 2014

The early part of our vigil with the Alfred E. Smith building in the background

This was the Grannies major anti-drone vigil of the fall season.  It was fairly elaborate because we had a large variety of props and banners.  Outstanding among these were Mabel’s enlarged photos of drone victims, Kim’s beautiful yin/yang, dove/drone poster, origami drone mobiles put together by Kim and Joan, and a variety of banners and other signs.IMG_9469 Hazel with Drones Kill Civilians signOne of the most striking props was the 1/5 scale MQ-9 Reaper drone replica designed by Nick Mottern.  His replicas are slowly increasing in numbers, as he receives funds and takes time to build them, and are traveling to protests all across the US where they capture the attention of passersby and help educate them to the physical effects of having such weaponized drones flying overhead.IMG_9475 Kim, Joan and Mickie, before the official vigil. To be able to include the replica in our vigil, Mabel and Mickie needed to meet Nick halfway in Newburgh the day before the vigil to get the parts, and receive instructions on assembly.  Then we needed an assembly team with patience and Phillips screwdrivers.  We met early to put the parts together. Our intrepid team consisted of Kim Kennedy, Pete Looker, Joan and Harry Thornhill, Bertha Kriegler and Mabel and Mickie. IMG_9428 Our assembly committee of Kim, Harry, Joan, Peter, Bertha, Mickie and MabelIMG_9482Kim and drone replica, Sept 17, 2014

As soon as we were done assembling the replica we began our vigil about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. At the Noon hour we had about a dozen vigilers. Many of our signs were still propped up against steps and monuments in the park.IMG_9441 (2) pre noon gathering with photos and posters on stepsBy the halfway point of the vigil we had grown to 21 vigilers and were able to face both the park where the State workers were eating lunch, and the traffic and passersby on Swan Street.IMG_9460 (2) Later vigil with Sue Clark, Elaine, her daughter and others

As soon as Doreen arrived with our leaflets we began leafleting, This resulted in our holding some interesting conversations with passersby, and with people eating lunch in the park where we also leafleted.   IMG_9486 (2) Dot leafleting and in conversation

We were able to document much of the vigil with Mabel’s photos.  We also added one photo of Mari and Mabel, representing three generations of activism.  It’s becoming an annual ritual to have them take photos together.This one photo was the exception to Mabel’s photos.  Being taken by another vigiler and posted on Mari’s Facebook page.10710648_10101361949464312_4533719309039207946_n Mari Matsuo with anti drone signOne disappointing, but not unexpected aspect of the vigil was the lack of media coverage, in spite of careful press releases and phone calls to the TV stations on the morning of the vigil.  We did have a photographer from the Times Union who took several photos, and one of our leaflets, but no photos appeared in the newspaper.IMG_9474 (2) Leafleting while vigiling

In spite of the lack of media to amplify the message, the person to person communication was excellent.  We were able to give out more than 150 leaflets about how weaponized drones kill people.

Dot described one of her conversations with a passerby this way:

“The gentleman I was speaking with said that bombing and killing as a way of solving the Middle Eastern dilemma is futile and counterproductive.”IMG_9461 (2) Grannies for Peace banner Sept. 17, 2014

Those of us leafleting and holding banners had a wide range of responses from supportive, to curious, to unconvinced, but everyone thought about the issue of killing innocent people with drones.IMG_9464Sue Clark, leafletingWe hope that these photos communicate the spirit of the event, which we all enjoyed on a beautiful, sunny day.  Thanks to everyone who took part and to those who helped to prepare for the vigil and were there in spirit.

Lobbying visit to Representative Paul Tonko on March 7, 2014.

On Friday, March 7, 2014 a delegation of four members of the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project met with Representative Paul Tonko [NY district 20] for an hour long session dealing with drone policies. Some of the things that we discussed included civilian deaths, the need for increased transparency and accountability,  ongoing  violations of human rights and International and Constitutional law in the current deployment of weaponized and surveillance drones and drone assassinations and the role that the military, industrial, Congressional complex plays in drone acquisition, procurement and use.

We were joined by Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence who provided first hand,  passionate witness from her many extended visits to Afghanistan.

In addition to Representative Tonko himself we were joined in Albany by Sean Shortell, District Director for Congressman Tonko. Brendan Larkin, Paul Tonko’s legislative aide for foreign and military policy issues participated from Washington, DC via Skype.

For the use of others who might want to lobby, write Op-eds, letters to the editor or blogs we wanted to share our Talking Points and links to background information for each point.  Feel free to use these in your own work.