“The pilots sit in dimly lit, air-conditioned trailers, each staring at glowing video and data screens while holding a joystick that controls an armed drone flying somewhere in the world. The 500 or so pilots here help launch missiles at Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, provide over watch of U.S. Special Forces raids in Afghanistan. ‘Every single day this base is at war.’ ”
W. J. Hennigan – Los Angeles Times
Conducting “war exercises” has become more sophisticated since I traveled to the Nevada Test Site near Las Vegas in 1986. I joined hundreds of activists opposed to underground nuclear tests in the Nevada desert. Native Americans, whose land was desecrated by tests that harmed the health of people in Nevada and Utah with escalating rates of cancer, Veterans for Peace, representatives of many faith traditions and concerned citizens came for one purpose – to stop the war games. We prayed, listened to moving stories, while some chose to do civil disobedience.
Eruptions of war machinery began in this “forlorn expanse of desert” in 1951 with the explosion of an atomic bomb. A total of 928 underground nuclear tests took place until tests discontinued in 1992. The financial costs of years of nuclear testing run in the trillions of dollars. These explosions rob the country of money needed for affordable housing programs, programs addressing hunger, education, and many other programs helping low income families.
Now activists travel to Las Vegas to shut down the Creech Air Force drone program. During the last two years activists have blocked multiple gates that ordinarily allow employees to come and go during the day. The focus of “Camp Justice,” the training site for activists, is the complete stoppage of killer drones for as long as activists can sustain the effort.
Although the news media does not deem drone activity worthy of attention, civilians in Iraq, Syria and surrounding countries live in fear of another drone attack, killing children, hospital patients, mothers and those simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sanitizing the language, calling civilian deaths “Collateral Damage” does not change the reality.
Interested in joining this effort? Mark your calendar for April 22-27, 2017 for the next, “Shut Down Creech” demonstration.