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  1. UN announces an investigation unit to inquire drone attacks

    Hilary Stauffer on 26 October 2012

    On 25 October 2012, Ben Emmerson QC, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, announced that a UN investigation unit would be established early next year “to inquire into individual drone attacks…and other forms of targeted killing conducted in counter-terrorism operations.” Emmerson and Christof Heynes, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, are establishing this body in order to investigate individual drone attacks that are alleged to have resulted in civilian deaths.

    Emmerson noted that since 9/11, the US and its allies have used the “global war on terror” to justify military ...

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  2. Clive Stafford Smith by I.Robins BW

    We need to know the truth about UK drones policy

    Clive Stafford Smith on 23 October 2012

    Nick Hopkins' Guardian article gives further proof of our leap into an opaque drone age. It is not that all drones are bad drones; rather, decisions are being made that will ripple through the generations. Just as the secret Manhattan Project ushered in the nuclear age, so the military and their corporate colleagues are pressing forward with policies with very little public disclosure or debate.

    Consider David Cameron's claim that British drones have killed 124 insurgents in Afghanistan; Hopkins reports that "defence officials said they had no idea where the prime minister got the figure and denied it was ...

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  3. Drone from beneath

    Following the anti-drones march on Twitter

    Clemency Wells on 11 October 2012

    Over the weekend I followed a march to Waziristan. Not in person, unfortunately. Instead I followed the historic anti-drones peace march all the way from Islamabad to Waziristan and back again...via Twitter.

    On Saturday morning Reprieve's Director Clive Stafford Smith sent me the first of 182 text messages. Bit-by-bit, over the following two days, I posted these messages on Twitter to the organisation's 9000+ 'followers'.

    After months of complicated preparation, Clive's first text was jubilant: "Massive crowds huge media discourse project already a success." Punctuation, it seemed, was a luxury to be jettisoned in favour of ...

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  4. Death row - table

    The execution of Betty Lou Beets

    Reprieve on 10 October 2012

    The Execution of Betty Lou Beets by Joe Marguiles

    We all have read accounts of executions; too many, even if we have read only one. The accounts have become routine. At some point, after the obligatory paragraph about the crime, but perhaps before the accounting—“this marks the seventh execution this month in the state of Texas," or "the forty-second in Virginia since the Supreme Court..."—the reporter will describe the last breath: "The condemned inmate coughed twice and lapsed into unconsciousness." Words like this suggest a relatively painless repose, a man clearing his throat and dying peacefully in his ...

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  5. Clive Stafford Smith by I.Robins BW

    Before we leave

    Clive Stafford Smith on 09 October 2012

    Islamabad, Friday Oct. 5. This weekend I plan to spend traveling to Waziristan, the Pakistan province on the border with Afghanistan, where the CIA is currently waging its not-so-secret and entirely undeclared drone war. On Thursday, I was at the best-attended press conference I have ever witnessed - I counted television cameras from more than forty stations, including the United States and various European countries. It was, let's face it, mainly the appeal of the star of the Waziristan march, the cricket-legend-turned-politician Imran Khan.

    Imran generously gave me credit for the idea of a march into the affected area. It ...

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  6. Clemency Wells

    Anti-drones peace march a huge success

    Clemency Wells on 08 October 2012

    Over the weekend Reprieve's Director Clive Stafford Smith along with Imran Khan, US activists, and journalists from around the world made an unprecedented journey to Waziristan to protest the use of drones in the region.

    Thousands of local people joined the convoy which ended up being around nine miles long. The project was an enormous success generating massive media coverage around the world. The whole story is available on our Twitter feed and there will be more coverage to come.

    Thousands of men, women, and children are terrorised daily by the constant presence of drones in Waziristan as part ...

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  7. Generic: Guantanamo Bay by Cortney Busch

    Possible indefinite detention of US citizens heads to Court of Appeals

    Hilary Stauffer on 05 October 2012

    Just one month before the U.S. presidential election, the Obama Administration has sought and won a court ruling to uphold some of the worst provisions in the now notorious National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2012).

    The NDAA is already infamous for its draconian effects on the fate of prisoners detained in Guantanamo Bay.  It prohibits the use of military funds for the transfer or resettlement of Guantánamo detainees[1], even those who have been cleared for release (including the 55 detainees whose names were unexpectedly made public by the U.S. Department of Justice two weeks ago). The ...

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  8. Drone from beneath

    Living with death by drone

    Jen Gibson on 05 October 2012

    Last week, Stanford University and New York University released a major study about the use of drones in the ever-evolving but never-ending war on terror. Unfortunately, many commentators missed the report's key message: Drones are terrorizing an entire civilian population.

    I was one of the researchers for the study, and spent weeks in Pakistan interviewing more than 60 people from North Waziristan. Many were survivors of strikes. Others had lost loved ones and family members. All of them live under the constant threat of annihilation.

    What my colleagues and I learned from these unnamed and unknown victims of America ...

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  9. Clive Stafford Smith by I.Robins BW

    Bin Laden's Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker

    Clive Stafford Smith on 04 October 2012

    Years ago, two men named William Jent and Earnest Miller were sentenced to death in Florida, only to be granted a new trial when evidence emerged, previously suppressed by the prosecution, pointing to their innocence. However, unwilling to admit his mistake, the District Attorney demanded that both should plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of 'time served', and their liberty. As they left the courthouse, one remarked on the irony: "When I said truthfully that I was innocent, they sentenced me to death; today, when I said I committed the crime, they set me free."

    Once I thought that ...

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  10. Clare Algar2 BW

    The Secret Justice Bill will allow governments to conceal embarrassing information

    Clare Algar on 01 October 2012

    The Government’s claim that “nothing currently heard in open court could be heard in secret” under the Justice and Security Bill can only mean one of two things: either those responsible for the Bill are seeking to mislead the public, or they have failed to understand the full implications of the legislation.

    The Bill would give ministers the power to push civil cases into secret proceedings simply by claiming ‘national security.’ Judges would be stripped of their current powers to weigh competing concerns of the need for justice and the need for security when deciding what should be secret ...

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