Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
We would like to submit the following open letter as an op/ed column.  We sent it to state policymakers today.  For the full list of 37 organizational signatories from around the state, please see wnpj.org/droneletter
Diane Farsetta, WNPJ
(608) 250-9240

An Open Letter to the Governor, President of the State Senate, Speaker of the State Assembly, Members of the State Legislature, Chair of the State Building Commission, the Adjutant General of the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and the Wisconsin Air National Guard at Volk Field:

We the Undersigned strongly object to the proposed $8 million, 10,298-square-foot building at Volk Field to provide training, maintenance, operations and storage space for the RQ-7 Shadow 200 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). While the Shadow 200's payload is a camera, it is used to put innocent people under surveillance and to identify targets for the armed Predator drones being used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Yemen and Gaza.

We object to the targeted killing by the CIA of those who are suspected of being militants or insurgents. Under the Law of Armed Conflict there has to be a way of distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants and the destruction of civilian property must be proportional to the military advantage gained. Furthermore, the use of targeted killing is legally justified only if there is an imminent threat. We believe the continuing and indiscriminate use of drone attacks is not justified under international law.

We object to the killing of innocent victims by these drones. In the six years that drone strikes have been used, researchers at the New America Foundation estimate that between 1,283 and 1,971 people have been killed. Many more are wounded including children. In July 2009, the Brookings Institution released a report stating that in the United States-led drone attacks in Pakistan, ten civilians died for every militant killed. Thus the use of drones is not only ineffective but it results in the creation of more militants. And it may destabilize the government of our current ally, Pakistan.

We also object to the waste of our state and federal tax dollars on weapons that are illegal, immoral and ineffective. We need that money here at home to feed the one in five Wisconsin children who are hungry; to house the homeless -- one-quarter of whom are veterans; and to create jobs with living wages for the almost eight percent of our citizens who are unemployed and the many more who are underemployed or have stopped even looking for work.

Therefore we ask that you not allow construction of this 8 million dollar military boondoggle here in Wisconsin. The state’s share of the cost is $415,000 at a time when we have a budget shortfall. This is a weapons system that we can’t afford and that undermines U.S. diplomatic and security goals around the world.
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