Drone Protest at Camp Ripley

Protesters stand amid a myriad of anti-drone and anti-war signs and posters Friday morning just outside the main gates of Camp Ripley.Protesters stand amid a myriad of anti-drone and anti-war signs and posters Friday morning just outside the main gates of Camp Ripley. / Kimm Anderson, kanderson@stcloudtimes.com

Drones have become a growing presence and a hefty source of concern for some at the Minnesota National Guard and civilian training facility north of Little Falls.

Click here to watch the video from sctimes.com

CAMP RIPLEY — Some weigh as little as 4 pounds, so compact they can be launched by hand.

But unmanned aerial systems, better known as drones, have become a growing presence and a hefty source of concern for some at this Minnesota National Guard and civilian training facility north of Little Falls.

Construction of a new, $3.9 million unmanned aerial systems training facility at Camp Ripley sparked protest from antiwar groups outside the camp’s front gate Friday.

Use of drones, especially armed drones, by the U.S. military and other federal agencies has been a source of controversy since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, after which they were used in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other countries.

The U.S. military says the drones perform tasks that once fell to manned aircraft, saving soldiers’ lives and significant expense in the process. But critics say drones are leading the U.S. into uncharted legal and ethical territory, especially if they’re used to kill suspected terrorists without due process.

One of the organizers of Friday’s protest, Robin Hensel of Little Falls, said drone use detaches combatants from the horror of war, and not necessarily to a positive end.

“It makes it less personal — makes it easier to kill,” Hensel said.

Coleen Rowley, a former FBI legal counsel from Apple Valley, helped organize the protest. Rowley said she fears that as more countries acquire armed drones, it could trigger an arms race similar to what occurred with nuclear weapons. Rowley drew national attention as a “whistle-blower” of the FBI’s mishandling of terrorism-related cases.

Drones have mostly been used in military applications, but that’s changing. U.S. law enforcement agencies began acquiring drone technology for surveillance, search-and-rescue operations and other activities. That includes agencies in California,Colorado and Texas, according to a Des Moines Register report.

The Camp Ripley drone facility will include landing strips and an office and hangar building to store and maintain the drones. Construction should be completed Nov. 1, according to Maj. Keith Ferdon, operations officer at Camp Ripley.

Drone training has been happening for years at Camp Ripley, according to 1st Lt. Blake St. Sauver, public affairs officer. But he said increasing use spurred the need for a new facility.

Camp Ripley officials say the types of drones that will be used at the new facility aren’t the types with weapons systems.

St. Sauver says National Guard units from Minnesota and other states are expected to use the facility to train with so-called “Raven” and “Shadow” drones, both unarmed drones used for surveillance purposes.

There are no law-enforcement agencies training with unmanned aerial systems at Camp Ripley, according to Maj. John Donovan, who directs the community relations office at Camp Ripley.

 Voice of the red, white and blue   Brainerd Daily Dispatch

Recent articles about drone bombing that are posted on WAMM Ground All Drones” FB page https://www.facebook.com/groups/wammgroundalldrones/ — that contain the facts and hard questions that are emerging about this new face of war-made-easy.  Post a comment on the online article if you have a thought to add.   Coleen R.

http://fsrn.org/audio/federal-court-aclu-seeks-info-cia-drone-attacks-citing-public-comments-program/10903

In federal court, ACLU seeks info on CIA drone attacks, citing public comments on program | Free Spe

fsrn.org

In Washington D.C., an appeals court heard arguments today in a case that pits the public’s demand to know more about the CIA’s covert targeted killing program against the government’s argument for national security. The CIA refused to confirm or deny the existence of the program. Lawyers from the A…

Drone warfare’s deadly civilian toll: a very personal view

www.guardian.co.uk

James Jeffrey: I was minutes from ordering a drone strike on a Taliban insurgent – until deciding I was watching an Afghan child playing by a road

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/07/18/washingtons-untrue-claims-no-civilian-deaths-in-pakistan-drone-strikes/

US claims of ‘no civilian deaths’ are untrue: TBIJ

www.thebureauinvestigates.com

Bureau uncovers 45 civilian deaths that challenge US assertions.

Information compiled by WAMM member Coleen Rowley.

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