Media Advisory: MEDEA IN TENNESSEE 9/7-9/9 on Drone Warfare
For Immediate Release: August 31, 2012
Contact: Elizabeth Barger, CodePinkTN Coordinator, email@example.com 931 964-2119
or Jane Hussain, firstname.lastname@example.org 615 650-8868
MEDEA BENJAMIN, DRONE EXPERT, IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE
Medea Benjamin, author of the authoritative book DRONE WARFARE, and co-founder of the national peace group, CodePink, will be in Middle Tennessee from September 7 to September 10. Newsday once described her as "one of America's most committed — and most effective — fighters for human rights."
On Friday, September 7, Tennesseans will have the opportunity to meet her at two universities in the area. At 10:30am she will speak about and sign her book at Lipscomb University in Nashville at the Ezell Center, Room 301. At 3:00pm she will be speaking at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro in the Business/Aerospace Building 7.
Benjamin will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, 9/8 at 4:00pm at the Nashville Peace & Justice Center's annual event at Fannie Mae Dees Park in Nashville. On Sunday, September 9, she will facilitate the Regional Annual Planning Meeting of CodePink and PeaceRoots Alliance in Summertown, and afterwards return to Nashville for a fundraising birthday party at 5:00pm.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, have primarily been used for surveillance and targeted killings in wars in faraway lands. Now, with apparently minimal debate, local police departments have begun using them for surveillance directed at American citizens. Several cities in Tennessee, including Nashville, already have drones. Last year Middle Tennessee State University, (MTSU), agreed to a partnership with the Army’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems to do research and training in the use of drones.
Drones can serve valid purposes, like monitoring forest fires, surveying land and search-and-rescue missions. But human rights activists believe that they can also pose a threat to our freedoms, that their domestic use must be strictly controlled, and that current legal standards should be updated to reflect this powerful new technology. Instead, they claim, drone use inside the United States has been authorized largely outside the public eye.
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution Bill of Rights says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. “
The FAA Reauthorization Act will allow around 30,000 spy drones into U.S. airspace in the next eight years so that local and federal law enforcement can keep track of ‘suspects”, even if they have no warrant. An example of power of the military industrial complex has been shown by a drone trade group, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), that pushed for the formation of the bi-partisan Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus. This lobbying group bragged that the House took many of its suggestions word for word in the creation of the FAA bill. They are sure the domestic unmanned drone market will be bigger that the huge military sector, but note that the main barrier to great profits will be “civil liberties.”
Now, with the use of drones escalating at a meteoric pace, Benjamin has written her book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, as a call to action. “It is meant to wake a sleeping public,” she writes, “lulled into thinking that drones are good, that targeted killings are making us safer.” Drone Warfare is a comprehensive look at the growing menace of robotic warfare, with an extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who “pilots” these unmanned planes, who are the victims and what are the legal and moral implications. The book also looks at what activists, lawyers and scientists are doing to end drone warfare abroad and to regulate the use of drones domestically. Medea Benjamin then suggests ways to move forward.