Washington – Officials closed the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum Saturday when sign-wielding protesters stormed an exhibit featuring Predator drone aircraft.
The unmanned airplanes are used for surveillance by the Defense Department and the CIA in war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and to carry out attacks in neutral areas such as the mountains of Pakistan.
The CIA recently used one of the UAV's to kill Anwar Awlaki, a Muslim Imam placed on a list of persons to be sanctioned by executive order of President Barack Obama. Mr. Awlaki consulted with members of the squad of terrorists who carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and other targets on 9/11. He also counseled Maj. Hasan Nidal, the Army psychiatrist who opened fire on unarmed soldiers at a Ft. Hood clinic and Soldier Readiness Center in November, 2009, as well as the so-called “underwear bomber.”
Joined by elements of Stop the Machine, #Occupy Wall St. activists pinned a museum guard to a wall in a melee that led to dozens being treated and released for exposure to pepper spray.
A 19-year-old woman from Madison, Wis., paid a fine and was released after police arrested her.
The museum was back in operation on Sunday.