Apr 162013

dronevictimsAt last weekend’s convention, the California Democratic Party issued a resolution calling for an end to extrajudicial executions and the unlawful use of drones.  I wholeheartedly hope that Democratic politicians, both in California and other states, will put it into effect.

I thank resolution co-author California Democratic Party Chair John Burton as well as Resolutions Committee co-Chair and former California Senator Martha Escutia for their commitment to have this resolution reach the floor of the Convention, where it unanimously passed.  I also thank the other co-authors of the resolution, in particular Karen Bernal and Peter Leinau, for all the work they put into drafting it.  It was one of the most efficient and pleasurable drafting collaborations I’ve experienced.

You can see this and the other resolutions passed by the Party here.

Resolution to End Unlawful Drone Strikes, Extrajudicial Executions, and Restrict Domestic Drone Surveillance

WHEREAS, the U.S. government sets a dangerous precedent as it continues drone strikes and extrajudicial killings on people in countries with whom America is not at war, the majority being “signature drone strikes,” where operators fire upon groups of men whose identities are unknown, but who are deemed “targets” based on vaguely defined “suspicious behavior” or “signatures,” including being a male of “military age,” while also utilizing the unlawful and inhumane practice of “double taps,” where rescuers of victims of initial strikes are killed by a second strike; and

WHEREAS, our drone attacks result in the disproportionate killing of 36 to 50 civilians for every one alleged combatant and, given that the Geneva Conventions prohibit attacks that “may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life… excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated” during armed conflicts, and that the extrajudicial execution of any person, whether in peace or war time, is prohibited by International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,  and knowing that the constant overhead presence of U.S. drones engenders hatred and desire for revenge among the communities under attack by terrorizing the daily lives of ordinary civilians beyond actual death and physical injury- destroying the culturally binding fabric of weddings, funerals, everyday community activities and the lives of children, many who are so traumatized they cannot go to school, and are unable to eat, sleep, play, socialize or function normally, which is a form of physiological torture and collective punishment prohibited by international law, all the while making the world and our nation less safe; and

WHEREAS, the current administration is directing the use of drones on American citizens by

1) authorizing the use of military drones to target and kill alleged  terrorists, including U.S. citizens who may not even be involved in operational plots to harm our nation, without recognizing the United States Constitutional guarantee of due process for all people, including those  accused of treason;  and

2) directing the FAA to create regulations enabling drones to fly throughout U.S. airspace including California by September 2015  for surveillance of individuals or groups in public spaces and in their homes, in direct violation of our Constitutional guarantee to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party stands in opposition to the extrajudicial killings and use of drones as described herein, both foreign and domestic, and urges that our policies be structured within the framework of international law, Constitutional checks and balances, due process, judicial review, and transparency; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon the Congressional delegation and the White House to:

1) Make public all claimed legal justifications of present policies and practices;

2) Conduct a fundamental re-evaluation and overhaul of current practices by reforming the policies authorizing the use of American military force, both foreign and domestic; and

3) Re-institute Congressional authority and oversight with regard to war making powers and federal law enforcement.


Authors: Karen Bernal, Margarita Lacabe, John Burton, Peter Leinau, Rick Tuttle

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