Last April 30, a few days before the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, John Brennan, President Obama’s chief advisor on counterterrorism and his nominee to be the new head of the CIA, spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. on “The Ethics and Efficacy of the President’s Counterterrorism Strategy.”
As Brennan spoke about al Qaeda’s killing of innocent people, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the national peace group Code Pink, rose to her feet and called on Brennan to address “the killing of innocents by the United States,” including through drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Security people rushed to remove her, but Benjamin spoke on, asking Brennan to apologize to victims of those strikes. As a police officer dragged her from the room, she said, “I love the rule of law and I love my country. You are making us less safe by killing so many innocent people. Shame on you, John Brennan.” It was all over in about 90 seconds.
In her new book, Drone Warfare: Killing By Remote Control, Benjamin traces the development of these unmanned weapons and warns of the dangers posed as their use expands —from threats to our national security to threats to personal liberties, as drones are used increasingly for surveillance purposes.
This week, Benjamin will talk about drone warfare at several events. On Friday, Feb. 1, she’ll speak at noon at Mount Holyoke College’s Mary Woolley Hall; at 7 p.m., she’ll speak at the Friends Meetinghouse at 43 Center St., Northampton. On Feb. 2, she will speak at Grace Church, 14 Boltwood Ave., Amherst, at 12:30 p.m., then sign books at South Hadley’s Odyssey Bookshop at 4 p.m.•