Annual Fundraising Appeal

Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from
BARBARA EHRENREICH…

BarbaraE

Here at CounterPunch we love Barbara Ehrenreich for many reasons: her courage, her intelligence and her untarnished optimism. Ehrenreich knows what’s important in life; she knows how hard most Americans have to work just to get by, and she knows what it’s going to take to forge radical change in this country. We’re proud to fight along side her in this long struggle.  We hope you agree with Barbara that CounterPunch plays a unique role on the Left. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.

Day8

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
button-store2_19

or use
pp1

 To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Snatching Kareem Khan

Father of Drone Victim Kidnapped by Pakistani Police

by MEDEA BENJAMIN

In October 2012, I was with a CODEPINK delegation in Pakistan meeting families impacted by US drone strikes. Kareem Khan, a journalist from the tribal area of Waziristan, told us the heartbreaking story of a drone strike that killed his son and brother. Since then, Khan has been seeking justice through the Pakistani courts and organizing other drone strike victims. On February 10, he planned to fly to Europe for meetings with German, Dutch and British parliamentarians to discuss the negative impact drones are having on Pakistan. But days before his trip, in the early hours of the morning on February 5, he was kidnapped from his home in Rawalpindi by 15-20 men in police uniform and plain clothes. He has not been seen since.

Terrified, Khan’s wife said the men did not disclose their identities and refused to say why her husband was being taken away.

Khan’s tragic story began on December 31, 2009. He had been working as a journalist in the capital, Islamabad, leaving his family back home in Waziristan. On New Year’s Eve, he got an urgent call from his family: their home had just been struck by a US drone, and three people were dead; Kahn’s 18 year-old son Zahinullah,  his brother Asif Iqbal and a visiting stonemason who was working on the village mosque.

The news reports alleged that the target of the strike had been a Taliban commander, Haji Omar, but Khan insisted that Haji Omar was nowhere near the village that night. Khan also told us that the same Taliban commander had been reported dead several times by the media. “How many times could the same man be killed?,” Khan asked.

Khan’s son had just graduated from high school, and his brother was a teacher at the local school. Khan’s brother taught his students that education was far more powerful than weapons. The drone strike that killed their teacher taught the students a very different lesson.

Khan was the first family member of a drone victim to take the issue into the Pakistani courts. With the help of human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar, he sent a legal notice to the American Embassy in Islamabad, detailing the wrongful deaths and accusing the CIA of grossly violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Speaking outside a police station after he had lodged a legal complaint, Khan asked that Jonathan Banks, the CIA station chief in Islamabad, be forbidden from leaving Pakistan until he answered to the charges against him. (While CIA agents’ identities are secret, Banks’ name had been revealed in the local press.) While the accusation against Banks made headlines in Pakistan, the CIA chief was allowed to flee the country. But in the ensuing months, Khan organized other families of victims and jointly, they have been pressing their cases in several lawsuits now pending in Pakistani courts.

Khan has obviously been an embarrassment to the US government, which is responsible for the drone strikes. And it has put the Pakistani government in an uncomfortable position. On the one hand the Pakistani government—from Prime Minister Zardari to the legislature—has come out publicly against the US use of drones. But Pakistan is heavily dependent on US aid and the government has been unwilling to bring charges against the US in international bodies or send an irrefutable rebuke by shooting down a US drone.

Given the political backroom deals that have obviously been going on between the US and Pakistan, Khan took great risks by speaking out.  “Kareem Khan is not only a victim, but an important voice for all other civilians killed and injured by US drone strikes,” said Khan’s lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who is also Director of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. “Why are Pakistani officials so scared of Kareem and his work that they felt the need to abduct him in an effort to silence his efforts?”

How tragically ironic that someone whose loved ones have been killed by a CIA drone program condemned by the Pakistani government has now been abducted by that very government. Pakistanis we have talked to say this could only happen on orders from the United States, which did not want Khan speaking out in Europe against US policy.

“We are extremely worried about Kareem Khan, a gentle, warm man who opened up his heart to us when we were in Pakistan,” said Alli McCracken, who was on the CODEPINK delegation. “We have launched a campaign to free him, flooding the Pakistani Embassy and State Department with calls.” You can add your voice to the call to free Kareem Kahn by signing this petition, which will be hand-delivered to Pakistani and US government officials.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of www.codepink.org and author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.