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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 lawmakers witness grieving survivors caught in callous, cowardly U.S. carnage

Americans, Pakistanis urge nonviolent foreign relations 
Editing and commentary by
Carolyn Bennett

Alan Grayson, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives

In relying on remote technology (unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, drones), the United States of America has chosen “unilaterally to kill from the skies within the borders of other states with whom we are not at war….

It is wrong. It is just too dangerous.

“The death of innocents, of an adult and a child, should never be acceptable as collateral damage.

“The unintended consequences of these strikes and the public opinion that has mobilized against us in every victim-nation demand greater [care].”

To survivors, Grayson said:

“I wish you did not have to take this trip to America due to the loss of someone you loved”

In a Congressional hearing this week affording survivors of U.S. drones on foreign lands to give evidence of their experience, Congressman Grayson introduced the issues.

“When it comes to national (U.S.) security matters like drone strikes, he said, “it is important that we hear not only from the proponents of these attacks; but also from the victims.” His job, he said, “is to make sure that [Americans] do not hear just one side of the argument. In the case of the drone attacks,” he said, “there is a side of the story ─ that never gets told.”

Grayson urged the Obama government to adopt an alternative to these “miniature acts of war.”

Of course the whole truth is that these drone attacks are full out warfare, global and endless wars undeclared by the legislative branch of U.S. government and unsupported by vast numbers of people and governments across the world including the United States of America.

he hearing was attended by only five members of the U.S. House of Representatives


Nabila Rehman 9 alongside her brother Zubair (left) and
father Rafiq (right) and
Member of the
U.S. House of Representative Alan Grayson
Representing the state of Florida and the Democratic Party, Alan Grayson has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the One Hundred Eleventh Congress (January 3, 2009-January 3, 2011) and the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress (January 3, 2013-present). Before entering the Congress Grayson was an assistant with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Washington, D.C.) and a lawyer in private practice and a businessman. A native of the Bronx, (Bronx County, New York, b. 1958), he took his academic credentials at Harvard University (A.B., 1978, Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Harvard University (M.P.P and J.D., 1983, Cambridge)


Representing the state of New Jersey and the Democratic Party, Rush Holt has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since the One Hundred Sixth Congress and seven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1999-present). Before entering the Congress, Holt was on the faculty of Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 1980-1988), acting chief of the Nuclear and Scientific Division Office of Strategic Forces, United States Department of State (1987-1989), assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (1989-1997). A native of Weston, Lewis County, West Virginia (b. October 15, 1948), Holt took his academic credentials at Carleton College (B.A., 1970, Northfield, Minnesota), New York University (M.S., 1974, New York City), New York University (Ph.D., 1981).

Representing the state of Illinois and the Democratic Party, Janice (Jan) D. Schakowsky has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since the One Hundred Sixth and to the seven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1999-present). Before entering the Congress, she was director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens (1985-1990) and member of the Illinois State House of Representatives (1990-1998). A native of Chicago (b. May 26, 1944), Schakowsky took her academic credentials at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (B.S., 1965).

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Representing the state of Minnesota and the Democratic Party, Richard Michael Nolan has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the Ninety-fourth Congress and two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1975-January 3, 1981) then in the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress (January 3, 2013-present). Before and between his years in the Congress, Nolan was a social studies teacher (Royalton, Minnesota, 1968-1972), a member of the Minnesota State House of Representatives (1969-1973), president of the U.S. Export Corporation (1981-1986), president of the Minnesota World Trade Center (St. Paul, Minnesota, 1987-1994), and business owner and executive. A native of Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota (b. December 17, 1943), Nolan took his academic credentials at St. John’s University and the University of Minnesota (B.A. 1962, 1966), University of Maryland (1966, postgraduate work in public administration and policy formation, St. Cloud State College, St. Cloud, Minnesota (postgraduate work in education).


Representing the state of Michigan and the Democratic Party, John Conyers Jr has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since the Eighty-ninth and twenty-four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1965-present). He has been involved in bringing impeachment proceedings and had chaired committees on Government Operations (One Hundred First through One Hundred Third Congresses) and the Judiciary (One Hundred Tenth and One Hundred Eleventh Congresses).

[It is way past time for Conyers to leave the Congress]

Before entering the Congress, Conyers was a lawyer in private practice, a member of the National Guard (1948-1950), the United States Army (1950-1954), the United States Army Reserves (1954-1957); general counsel for three labor locals (Detroit, 1959-1964); executive board member of the Detroit, Michigan American Civil Liberties Union (1964- present); executive board member of the Detroit NAACP (1963- present); and referee for Michigan workmen’s compensation department (1961-1963). A native of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan (b. May 16, 1929), Conyers took his academic credentials at Wayne State University (B.A., Detroit, 1957) and Wayne State Law School (LL.B., Detroit, 1958).

rayson appeals to the U.S. President to end the carnage. A survivor is quoted saying, “If I had the opportunity to meet with him, I would say to President Obama:

‘What happened to me and my family was wrong’

I would ask him to find an end ─ a peaceful end ─ to what is happening.

Clearly the Obama government’s model of foreign relations can only be described as unspeakably cruel.

In his appearance with his children, Zubair, 13, and Nabila, 9, before the five members of the U.S. Congress, the Pakistani primary school teacher, Rafiq ur Rehman, said his slain mother had been gathering okra with her grandchildren when they were attacked by a UAV. The children were injured physically ans. d psychologically in the attack. The grandmother was blown to bits in front of their eyes. Rehman described his mother, Momina Bibi, in words that you and I might have used to describe our mothers: she was the “string that held our family together.”
We are the deaths we cause, the wounded we wound. We are the people we slaughter. Why is that so hard to see, to feel; so easy to ignore?  

U.S. government officials have said repeatedly that very few civilians have been killed by U.S. drones and have argued that the U.S. campaign is conducted “consistent with all applicable domestic and international law”. Of course we know this is a flagrant lie. But unofficial reports, time and again, have said that HUNDREDS of people HAVE BEEN KILLED ─ in Pakistan alone, “with up to 200 children killed”,  slaughtered on the ground of this undeclared, illegal, callous U.S. war on the world.  

Try to swallow that one without choking. Try to sleep easy at night. I find it hard, indeed; and you should too.

Sources and notes

“Victims recount horror of drone strikes” (Anwar Iqbal), published Octoer 30, 2013, http://www.dawn.com/news/1052803/victims-recount-horror-of-drone-strikes

“Drone strikes: tears in Congress as Pakistani family tells of mother’s death: Translator brought to tears by family’s plea as Congress hears from civilian victims of alleged U.S. drone strike for the first time” by Karen McVeigh in New York, theguardian.com, Tuesday October 29, 2013 15.24 EDT, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/29/pakistan-family-drone-victim-testimony-congress

“U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson stages briefing to attack drone strikes” By Mark K. Matthews, Washington Bureau October 29, 2013, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-10-29/news/os-grayson-drones-inquiry-20131029_1_drone-attacks-u-s-rep-grayson


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