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Troop Flights Through Shannon Down in 2012 but on the Increase Again

The number of US troop carriers using Shannon Airport was down in 2012 compared to previous years. In 2011 there was an average of over 80 troop flights a month but in 2012 the numbers recorded by Shannonwatch ranged from a low of 13 in July to a high of 72 in April.

But while all the summer months saw relatively low numbers of troop carriers at Shannon, their frequency began to increase again towards the end of the year.

Even though the number of civilian aircraft carrying US troop was down, the number of US military aircraft landing at Shannon did not change in 2012. On average 24 of these used Shannon every month, including Hercules c-130's and mid-air refueling tankers.

Shannon Involvement in Khaled El-Masri Rendition - Time for Full Investigation

Photo from Guardian (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In 2003, Khaled El-Masri was abducted by the CIA, flown to Afghanistan and tortured as part of the US renditions program. On Dec 13th last the European Court of Human Rights finally awarded him compensation for his suffering. It also held that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was responsible for the unlawful detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment of Mr. El-Masri.

The plane used by the CIA to transfer Khaled El-Masri, registration N313P, landed at Shannon Airport on 17 January 2004, on its way to pick him up in the Macedonian capital, Skopje. This is one of the clearest documented cases to date of Shannon’s involvement in torture.

Drone Warfare and the Indiscriminate Killing of Pakistani Children

Drone operators at Holloman Air Force Base in the southwestern state of New...Drone operators at Holloman Air Force Base in the southwestern US state of New Mexico. Link to Source

The north-western region of Pakistan, along the Afghanistan border, is one of the most difficult places on earth in which to feel safe. It's a remote part of the world, populated with poor people living in tribal communities. Most are guilty of nothing at all. A minority are militants. Even among them, almost none pose any imminent threat to the US. Yet more than 350 US drone strikes have hit the region since 2004, most of these since Obama took over as president.

Veterans for Peace Formed in Ireland

Edward Horgan flies the Veterans for Peace at Shannon Airport.

Following a meeting between Edward Horgan, who is a founding member of Shannonwatch, and Ben Griffin of Veterans for Peace in the UK, a Veterans for Peace has been formed in Ireland. Edward Horgan is a former member of the Irish Defence Forces and UN peacekeeper. He is also international secretary of the Peace and Neutreality Alliance (PANA), and is now the main contact person for Veterans for Peace in Ireland.

Arrests and Detention without Trial?

The Gardai at Shannon have apparently adopted a new tactic to deal with peace activists. Instead of charging peace activists with various offences as they have done frequently in the past, they now appear to have adopted a policy of arresting peace activists at their homes, bringing them to a Garda station, and interrogating them for periods of about 6 hours, during which time they are held incommunicado, and confined to a Garda cell or interview room. It could be argued that this practice amounts to punishment without trial, and this may be the intention. A Jury in Dublin acquitted the five Catholic Workers on a charge of Criminal Damage to a US military plane at Shannon in 2003, and the Appeal Court belatedly overturned the conviction of Mary Kelly for damage to the same aircraft. All six of these peace activists had admitted damaging this warplane and the estimated cost of repairs was in the region of two millions dollars.

Words about Peace and Security are Becoming Meaningless

Glenn Greenwald, writing in yesterday’s Guardian, said “A central premise of US media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza - beyond the claim that Israel is justifiably "defending itself" - is that this is some endless conflict between two foreign entitles, and Americans can simply sit by helplessly and lament the tragedy of it all.” He is right of course, and he could have added other governments - including Ireland's - to the list for which the statement is true.

Greenwald went on to point out that Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does. That support has caused over 50 Palestinian deaths (at the time of writing) in Israel’s latest unjustified attack on Gaza. A lot of the weapons it uses are supplied or financed by America. And if the UN were ever to try censuring Israel for its repeated violations of law and morality, then its good friend the U.S. would certainly veto that into oblivion.