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Personal drones no longer need to be registered with FAA, US federal court rules

A federal appeals court has shot down a rule that would require non-commercial drones be registered,...

Drones, lasers & more ships: Top US admiral dreams of bigger, better navy

To adequately perform its mission in face of global challenges, the US Navy needs to expand...

Killer Drones in the Empire State

At dusk I stood on a residential street with trim lawns and watched planes approach a runaway along the other side of a chain-link...

Finding New Homes for Lethal Drones

America’s expanded use of drone warfare to kill targets half a world away is spreading from a base outside Las...

Killer Drones in the Empire State: Norman Solomon

At dusk I stood on a residential street with trim lawns and watched planes approach a runaway along the other side of a chain-link...

Drones used in major Grand Canyon search and rescue operation for first time

Published time: 22 Apr, 2017 20:51 The search for two hikers who went missing last weekend while...

Handing Killer Drones to Donald Trump

When President Obama expanded use of lethal drones, many Americans trusted him to act judiciously, but now those exceptional powers...

What Have We Done: Executive Power, Drones, and Trump

The news is rife with President Trump’s threatened and actual military misadventures: in Syria, Yemen, and North Korea. But these military actions take on...

Ground Killer Drones: Shut Down Creech!

CODEPINK invites all who love peace to join its Campaign of Non-violent Actions to Ground Killer Drones. The drone era of endless war began in...

Weaponized civilian drones a ‘tangible reality’ – US officials

US officials and security teams are staying awake at night worried that potential terrorists might be weaponizing civilian drones with explosives, the way Islamic...

Connecticut bill calls for weaponized police drones

Connecticut is taking steps to become the first state to allow law enforcement to use drones...

‘Bomb the Sh*t Out of Them!’ – Trump Drones Yemen More in One Week...

Undeterred by the disastrous commando raid on Yemen in the first days of his Administration, where plenty of civilians were killed but the target...
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Video: Future of garbage disposal: China tests flame-throwing drones

It may be some time yet before we see such drones cleaning streets around the world. Workers no longer need to climb a high...

Grenade-dropping jihadist death drones are ‘insidious’ threat in Iraq – general

Britain’s top general in Iraq says grenade-dropping drones used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)...
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Video: 1,000 drones glittering in sky for Chinese lantern festival set Guinness record

1000 drones took off to light up the night sky of the traditional Lantern Festival in Guangzhou, China. The drones flew in various formations...

Failing ship engines & glitching drones: ‘Gaping holes’ in UK defense revealed in report

Ships so loud they can be heard 100 miles away, malfunctioning drones, and armored vehicles...

The Year in Drones: 2016

Photo by Iwan Gabovitch | CC BY 2.0   Barack Obama’s final year in office began with the incarceration of a 59-year old grandmother.  In what...

Drones over La La Land for bomb & hostage situations

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will employ a $10,000 drone to help deputies during search...

Monitoring the Miners: Rio Tinto, Drones and Surveillance

In of itself, technological development is benign.  But behind every use is a human agent, and behind that agent is a motive, an inspiration,...

Drones to be equipped with Britain’s much-vaunted, barely used, Brimstone missiles

UK drones are to be equipped with the much-vaunted Brimstone missiles which were used to justify involvement in Syria but then barely used, the...

DARPA aims for simple way to control swarm of attack drones

The US military’s research agency has announced a program to devise elaborate technology which could allow easy control over a swarm of attack drones,...
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Video: Drones better option than airstrikes & invasions in terms of casualties –...

In his final national security speech, outgoing US President Barack Obama addressed drone warfare, the rise of the Islamic State under his watch, as...

Royal Navy flagship threatened by ISIS drones, explosive speedboats – head of fleet

Britain’s Royal Navy fears its flagship, HMS Ocean, currently deployed in the Gulf, could face...

State Dept approves possible $1bn sale of Reaper drones to UK

The US State Department has approved a possible $1 billion sale of Predator B ('Reaper') drones, as well as equipment, training, and support to...

Robot tractors & sheep-herding drones: Britain’s futuristic new farm workers

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems known as ‘robo farmers’ could soon grow crops and tend livestock around Britain while their human controllers need never set...

‘This is our continent’: Britain to deploy drones & tanks to Estonia

Britain’s defense chief is mulling a deployment of Challenger 2 tanks and Royal Air Force (RAF) drones to Estonia amid heightened tensions. Michael Fallon, the...

Killer drones policy defended by British govt after human rights committee probe

Accusations of question-dodging from Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights have forced the government to...

British arms firm to crash drones into military planes… just to see what happens

UK arms firm QinetiQ has been contracted to crash civilian drones into things so that...

Uber’s Ad-Toting Drones Are Heckling Drivers Stuck in Traffic

Drivers stuck in traffic in Mexico City lately have found themselves being buzzed by a fleet of sign-toting drones. “Driving by yourself?” some scolded...

How Soon Before Armed Drones Are Overhead in America? Time Now.

Protocols exist allowing the president to select American citizens, without a whit of due process, for drone killing. Only overseas, he says, but you can...

DARPA's 'Aerial Dragnet' to monitor low-flying drones in urban areas

Amid the rise of drones, or small unmanned aerial systems, DARPA, the Pentagon's research arm, is...

Micro-recon: US developing autonomous drones to sweep urban war zones (VIDEO)

A San Diego tech firm specializing in mini-reconnaissance quadcopters has been awarded a million dollar contract...

Drones attempting to drop drugs into London prison seized by cops

Two drones carrying drugs and mobile phones have been seized by police as they were...

Insect-sized ‘dragonfly drones’ for urban warfare among new £800mn UK tech projects

Tiny drones for urban warfare are among the projects that could soon be funded under...
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Video: Game of Drones: New type of war crime that’s going unpunished (RT Documentary)

Unmanned drones are the modern weapons of choice in the fight against terrorism. The tribal areas of Pakistan where various militant groups seek a...

Terrorists could use drones to drop explosives on UK targets, warns ex-navy chief

Terrorists could use drones loaded with explosives to carry out attacks, a former Royal Navy...
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Video: Game of Drones: CIA license to kill? (RT Documentary Promo)

Premieres July 25 on RT and RT Doc. Watch more documentaries here: https://rtd.rt.com/ Unmanned drones are the modern weapons of choice in the fight...
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Video: Bennis: U.S. Bombs and Drones Have Led to an Expansion of Terrorism

Phyllis Bennis and Paul Jay discuss recent terrorist attacks and that both likely presidential candidates propose more of the same failed U.S. policy. Via Youtube

Pentagon wants injection of $20mn to fight ISIS drones

An additional $20 million are needed to deal with Islamic State’s reconnaissance and bomber drones, the...

Of Lethal Drones and Police Shootings

Demonstrators record a crowd of police officers on hand in New York's Times Square, where a large crowd protested after fatal police...

Gaza: Living and Dying with Drones

While U.S. political leaders claim to uphold universal human rights, nearly all are selective in sympathizing with Israel in its...

FBI investigating unidentified drones over S. Carolina nuclear site

Federal law enforcement has begun a probe into reports of drones flying over the US Department...

Small, commercial drones allowed to fly under new FAA guidelines

Commercial drones under 55lb (25kg) have been cleared to fly in the US during daylight hours...

Germany: Thousands Surround US Air Base to Protest the Use of Drones

Demonstrators have formed a human chain near a US air base in western Germany to protest against lethal drone strikes. The demonstration was organized by...
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Video: Total War: Medieval reenactors take down drones with spears in Russia

A group of medieval reenactors armed with spears challenged the superiority of modern technology in a 'drone hunting' competition at the Siberian Fire festival...
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Video: ‘Suicide bombs & chem weapons drones’ Euro 2016 could be key target for...

An Islamic State sleeper cell reportedly has plans to carry out attacks targeting English and Russian football fans at Euro 2016 during a match...

Drones will render the oceans ‘transparent’ & Trident nuclear submarines useless – expert

Technological advances in maritime drones will make the ocean ‘transparent,’ meaning weapons such as Britain’s...

Armageddon drones: Radiation-detecting UAVs to trial at notorious Nevada nuke desert

The scorched moonscape of Nevada’s former nuclear test site will be used for drone radiation detection...

Pentagon bought drones that failed their tests for commandos – report

The popular small reconnaissance drone RQ-20A Puma failed Special Operations Command tests, but the Pentagon still bought 41 of them for SOCOM nevertheless, an...

Drop blood not bombs: Drones to deliver emergency medicine to Rwanda

Drones are frequently associated with less than altruistic causes – such as remote attacks. However, UPS...

Scientists study ‘magic of bird flight’ for future windproof drones (VIDEO)

Drone technology never stays still for long, and scientists at Stanford University are taking tips from...

Irony in the sky: Drones banned in London airspace during Obama visit

US President Barack Obama is renowned for his extensive use of military drones in Iraq,...
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Video: Part 2: Ted Cruz Taps Anti-Muslim Neocon Adviser; Scahill on US Drones &...

http://democracynow.org - We continue our conversation with The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill and national security reporter Matthew Cole, who examines ... Via Youtube

7 million drones by 2020? US projects explosive UAV growth

The number of drones in the US is expected to triple by 2020. According to the...

Microdrones and What to Expect Next From the ‘Smart Warriors’

The US Army recently announced that they are accepting contract bids for the production of microdrones to be carried along by deployed soldiers in...

Oregon occupiers talked about using explosives and drones – testimony

An Oregon federal judge ordered the pretrial release of one of the 26 protesters indicted for...

Pentagon admits using drones to spy on Americans

(RT) - The Department of Defense has admitted to using Predator and Reaper military drones in...

The Islamic State’s Obvious Next Step: Arming Its Drones

The Islamic State could surpass Al Qaeda and 9/11 by mounting a mass drone attack in the United States. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) We recently posted...
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Video: Russian troops in hell-of-a combat drill action: Go-Pro, drones, snipers & more

Up to 8500 personnel, some 900 units of military equipment, about 50 combat ships, as well as up to 200 aircraft and helicopters, taking...
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Video: Falcon SpaceX rocket lands on droneship but falls & explodes

SpaceX failed to land the Falcon 9 rocket on the platform, despite the first stages of the launch being successful, the company officials said....
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Video: A New Snowden? Whistleblower Leaks Trove of Documents on Drones & Obama’s Assassination...

Newly leaked government documents have provided an unprecedented window into the secret U.S. drone assassination program across the globe. Via Youtube

Whether Drones ‘Work,’ US Policy Is Still Rotten

The question of the legitimacy of drone strikes has occasionally bubbled up in media over the years. As with most international news, the media and...
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Video: Flying architects: Drones build bridge all by themselves

Courtesy: Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control and Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, 2015 Swiss engineers are exploring ways to use ... Via Youtube

North Dakota authorizes police to use weaponized drones

By John Andrews North Dakota has become the first state to explicitly authorize local police departments to mount weapons, including tasers, sound cannons, teargas and non-penetrating...
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Video: Greece Buying Israeli Drones Tested on Palestinians

Shir Hever says they will be used against refugees, asylum seekers approaching the Greek border, and on Greek citizens who are protesting government policy. Via...

Google using NASA partnership to test drones inside the US – report

A partnership with NASA has enabled Google to test-fly its drones in US airspace, dodging federal aviation regulations. Citing current rules as too restrictive,...

UK PM wants more killer drones, forces against ISIL

British Prime Minister David Cameron has told defense chiefs that the country should be spending more money on the Special Air Services (SAS) and...

Protest near Birmingham ‘closes factory for Israel drones’

A pro-Palestinian demonstration in the UK has shut down a factory near Birmingham, which makes drones for Israel, reports say. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists along...
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Video: RAW: Impressive WWII battle reconstruction shot with drones & GoPros

WWII battle was reconstructed during Russian Army-2015 expo, drones and GoPro cameras were used as the event was filmed. RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air ... Via Youtube

Why Elites Love Drones

I sometimes read that drone strikes are counterproductive to western security interests because each person killed by a drone results in more new ‘terrorists’....

UK drones may combat Mediterranean migrant trade

The British government is expected to provide drones and surveillance equipment to combat human trafficking in the Mediterranean, reports say. The British foreign secretary, Philip...

Domestic Drones Cometh: Report Exposes Rapid Expansion of Surveillance Flights

More than 10,000 flights have quietly taken place along the US/Mexico border since last year, according to the AP Jon Queally The U.S. government has quietly...

Illegal Drones Spotted Over French Nuclear Plants

Authorities in France on Thursday announced the launch of an investigation into a series of mysterious drones that have been sighted flying over a...

High-Flying Drones and Basement Wages

Their employer is the US Postal Service, but a few unlucky Bay Area letter carriers were hired only to find out their job is...

‘Another Scotland is Possible!’ Activists Shut Down Factory Behind Israeli Drones

After halting the work day of weapons manufacturer Thales UK, ten activists arrested Sarah Lazare Activists in Scotland were arrested Tuesday for blockading and shutting down...

Death, drones and driverless cars: how Google wants to control our lives

If you want to understand the future of humanity — where we’re headed, who’ll be in charge, and exactly how worried you should be...

Game of drones: UK govt faces legal threat to reveal drones usage

The UK government is facing a legal challenge over the deployment of its armed drones amid claims that its Afghanistan fleet could be moved...

Supreme Court Justice Warns Drones Will Usher In Orwellian World

RINF EDITOR'S NOTE:  Usher in? It's not the plot of some near-future science-fiction movie, it's already here love, the Orwellian nightmare is happening right now. These...

CIA drones kill at least 13 in Pakistan: the bloodiest strike for more than...

Jack Serle US drones have killed at least 13 people in the bloodiest strike in Pakistan for over a year. The attack reportedly destroyed a house...

Obama plans deployment of troops, drones along US-Mexico border

Patrick Martin In the course of an overnight visit to Texas, US President Barack Obama declared that he would be “happy” to entertain the prospect...

Drones Banned from All US National Parks

Denise Chow Drones have been banned from all national parks in the United States, according to new regulations established by U.S. government officials. The National Park...

Wayward Drones and Other Tales

Christopher Brauchli It had been an exciting spring for the drones. Notwithstanding ongoing reports of civilians in Pakistan and other countries being accidentally killed by...

Greek Government in Talks with Israel to Purchase Surveillance Drones

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – With growing anger in Greece due to austerity measures, the government under President Karolos Papoulias of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) is in talks with several Israeli firms to purchase surveillance drones to monitor the country’s borders due to an influx of illegal immigration, spy on organized crime syndicates and to prevent terrorist attacks. According to the online news source of www.ekathimerini.com who published a report titled ‘Drones to boost police security effort’ states:

The Public Order Ministry is in talks with Israeli firms regarding the acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, to bolster the efforts of the Greek Police (ELAS) to monitor the country’s borders and curb illegal immigration as well as cracking down on organized crime and domestic terrorism, Kathimerini has learned. It remains unclear how many drones the ministry is seeking to acquire and what type. In any case the aircraft, once acquired, will be able to provide Greek security services with useful data including cell phone signals that could help avert crimes and terrorist attacks

Between 2010 and 2012, protests across Greece including general strikes by unions against the government’s plans to cut public spending and raise taxes across the board through austerity measures. The Greek government agreed with the European Union’s €110 billion bailout plan to solve the 2010-2011 Greek Debt Crises. In May 2011, anti-austerity protests were organized by the ‘Direct Democracy Now movement known as the Indignant Citizens Movement. Major protests began all across Greece, some turned violent. Violence between riot police and protesters erupted when the Greek parliament accepted the EU’s austerity requirements. It was reported that the police used excessive force and used tear gas against protesters. Now, the Greek government wants unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones to monitor an increasing dire situation within Greece. According to the report:

According to an extremely well-informed source, Greek authorities first considered the acquisition of such aircraft during the summer of 2011 when the “Indignants” movement of citizens opposed to austerity was growing rapidly with thousands gathering in Syntagma Square day and night. A drone was used to trace several Albanian convicts who escaped from Trikala Prison in central Greece in March last year. It is likely that European Union subsidies will be used for the purchase of the UAVs though it remains unclear what sum has been earmarked for the investment

Greece unemployment is close to 30%, with more than 50% affecting those under 25 years old. The European Union is a colossal failure as Portugal, Italy and Spain continue to suffer from high-unemployment and a mass exodus of its citizens to other countries that might offer economic opportunities. Governments within the EU are concerned that more protests across the region will increase and in many circumstances can turn violent. The rise of extreme right-wing groups is on the increase. According to a the Guardian earlier this year, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party Nigel Farage spoke out in the European Parliament when he criticized Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for allowing the EU and IMF to control the Greek economy. The Article titled ‘Nigel Farage becomes popular in Greece after outburst against the PM’ Farage was quoted as saying:

You come here, Mr Samaras, and tell us that you represent the ‘sovereign will of the Greek people’. Well, I am sorry but you are not in charge of Greece, and I suggest you rename and rebrand your party,” railed Farage last week as Samaras, slumped in his seat, looked on haplessly. “It is called New Democracy; I suggest you call it No Democracy because Greece is now under foreign control. You can’t make any decisions, you have been bailed out and you have surrendered democracy, the thing your country invented in the first place

The article also stated:

Reminding Samaras of the heavy price Greece had paid to be rescued from insolvency by creditors at the EU and IMF, he said: “I must congratulate you for getting the Greek presidency off to such a cracking start. Your overnight successful negotiation … will have them dancing in the streets of Athens. “No matter that your country, very poorly advised by Goldman Sachs, joined a currency that it was never suited to. No matter that 30% of its people are unemployed, that 60% of youth are unemployed, that a neo-Nazi party is on the march, that there was a terrorist attack on the German embassy.”

The Greek government’s decision to accept the EU’s recommendations on the economy will increase anger and resentment among the Greek people as the economy continues to worsen.  They are concerned that a civil war can possibly take place.  With the possibility of the Greek government purchasing Israeli made drones, I assume that is what they are expecting.

Germany considers weapons-capable drones

RINF Alternative News Following an apparently "successful" run with leased surveillance drones in Afghanistan, Germany's Defence Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has now expressed interest in buying weapons-capable...

Armed US Drones Flying Over Iraq

Pentagon announced Thursday drones equipped with Hellfire missiles will accompany another troop deployment U.S. armed drones are now flying over Iraq, a Pentagon official announced...

Drones coverage — 10 years of US strikes in Pakistan

Emmanuelle Smith This week marks 10 years since the first US drone strike in Pakistan. Bureau coverage of this anniversary includes an eyewitness account of the aftermath of...

Human Rights Watch’s Weak Position on Obama’s Drones

Jeff Bachman In an effort to defend Human Rights Watch against recent criticism that its cozy relationship with the U.S. government threatens its objectivity, Executive...

LAPD considers deploying unmanned drones for ‘tactical events’

Defending the decision to pursue unmanned drones to assist in police work, the LAPD - who say they will cooperate with privacy groups on...

Surveillance drones coming to Los Angeles

For a city infamous for circling police helicopters, Los Angeles Police were surprisingly late to the drone game. All that has changed, however, as...

UK Government Faces Legal Action Over Failure to Investigate BT Drones Link

Legal charity Reprieve has threatened legal action against the British government over its failure to investigate the role of UK telecoms giant BT in...

‘My husband kills kids with drones’: Michelle Obama’s viral pic bombed with anti-drone campaign

When US First Lady Michelle Obama appeared in a picture supporting the 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria, she was praised for taking a stand...

Analysis: Where are British Reaper drones heading after Afghanistan?

As the December 2014 Afghan drawdown deadline approaches the UK government has accepted that it can’t bring its fleet of ten armed Reapers back to the UK except packed up in boxes. Due to safely concerns Reaper drones will not... Read More ›

Every Country Will Have Armed Drones Within Ten Years

Patrick Tucker Virtually every country on Earth will be able to build or acquire drones capable of firing missiles within the next ten years. Armed aerial...

Drones: Obama’s Invisible War

Dr. Ismail Salami  RINF Alternative News  In the midst of a crisis which has in recent weeks created a political chasm between Russia and the United...

Pressure Builds Over Germany’s Drones Role As Merkel Visits Obama

Recent revelations over German complicity in US drone strikes will tomorrow cast a shadow over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s talks with President Barack Obama in...

US Drones Continue ‘Massive’ Operations in Third Day of Attacks

Andrea Germanos RINF Alternative News A suspected U.S. drone strike hit Yemen on Monday morning, the third such attack in as many days, killing people described...

The ‘Proprietary’ Internet? Google Buys Drones of Its Own

Search giant purchases Titan Aerospace in move that confirms tech world's vision of internet's future Jon Queally RINF Alternative News Are deep-pocketed web companies laying the groundwork...

Eric Holder: ATF Planning To Use Drones

Attorney General Eric Holder admitted Tuesday that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was in the process of looking at the use...

The Drones of Facebook

Alfredo Lopez "Connectivity," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a CNN interview last year, "is a human right." If it surprises you that one of the kings...

UK Votes Against Greater Transparency Around Drones at UN

The UK today voted against a UN resolution seeking to “ensure transparency” around drone strikes, just days after an influential Parliamentary committee called for...

Camus in the Time of Drones

by Jeffrey St. Clair.  Reproduced by kind permission of Counterpunch. Lucien rises from bed in the early morning. He dresses quietly, careful not to awaken his wife and infant son. He walks briskly across the city of Algiers in the... Read More ›

MoD ‘Too Secretive’ On Murder Drones

The Ministry of Defence needs to be more open about its use of unmanned aerial drones, MPs said yesterday. But the Commons defence committee also...

Defence Select Committee issues report on drones: PR trumps transparency

Three years ago today (25 March) four Afghan civilians were killed and two seriously injured in a British drone strike in the Now Zad district of Helmand province. According to the MoD the strike, which also killed two men believed to be... Read More ›

What’s wrong with drones?

On Tuesday 25 March the Defence Select Committee will publish the results of their inquiry ‘Remote Control: Remotely Piloted Air Systems – current and future UK use’.  Ahead of publication we outline the problems with the growing use of armed... Read More ›

UN Demands Answers Over Civilian Drones Casualties

RINF Alternative News The UN expert overseeing the use of armed drones has demanded greater accountability and transparency by those states using them — including...

Pausing at the crossroads — drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa

Over the past decade the use of armed drones has dramatically increased and spread with drone strikes reported to have taken place in up to ten countries. Although the US use of drones in Pakistan and  Yemen has been most controversial and... Read More ›

Videos: David Swanson and Atiaf Alwazir on Drones at VCU Arab Student Association

More videos likely to be posted here. read more

Obama Drones On: The Slaughter of Pakistani Civilians

William Boardman  RINF Alternative News In 2009, my home was attacked by a drone. My brother and son were martyred. My son’s name was Hafiz Zahinullah. My...

Putting Big Brother in the Driver’s Seat: V2V Transmitters, Black Boxes & Drones

“It’s a future where you don’t forget anything…In this new future you’re never lost…We will know your position down to the foot and down to the inch over time…Your car will drive itself, it’s a bug that cars were invented before computers…you’re never lonely…you’re never bored…you’re never out of ideas… We can suggest where you […]

The Dangerous Seduction of Drones

After 10 years of this remote-control killing, the Obama administration should seek effective solutions that adhere to international law.  Medea Benjamin  RINF Alternative News Senior Obama administration...

Putting Big Brother in the Driver’s Seat: V2V Transmitters, Black Boxes & Drones

John W. Whitehead RINF Alternative News Time to buckle up your seatbelts, folks. You’re in for a bumpy ride. We’re hurtling down a one-way road toward...

“Sky Raper”: US Drones as Tools of the Patriarchy

Allison Kilkenny  RINF Alternative News Journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald posted a disturbing report at their new site The Intercept on Monday about the NSA’s secret role...

Drones and the EU: a ‘solution’ looking for a problem

Guest post by Ben Hayes and Chris Jones. Today the Transnational Institute and Statewatch are jointly publishing a new report on the European Union and drones, entitled Eurodrones Inc.  Our report examines the considerable economic and political support given to the... Read More ›

British drone strikes in Afghanistan using borrowed US drones revealed — strikes not reported...

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that British RAF pilots have borrowed USAF Reaper drones more than 250 times in Afghanistan, launching weapons on at least 39 occasions. However the numbers of strikes by RAF pilots using US Reapers drones is likely to be... Read More ›

BAE Systems joins the drones PR push with media briefing on Taranis

After the MoD’s PR push on the use of Reaper drones last month and David Cameron’s announcement last week of further funding for UK-France work on a future combat drone, this week its BAE Systems turn to push drones with... Read More ›

UK-France declaration reveals new Reaper users club to rival European drones club

The final text of the Declaration on Security and Defence signed at the UK-France Summit last week has now been released and it reveals some details about future European drone projects.  The whole document is worth reading to get an... Read More ›

An Afghan War for Drones?

Paul R. Pillar  RINF Alternative News In searching and scratching for a reason for continuing the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, after 13...

Police Hunger for Drones May be Growing, but So Are Privacy Concerns

Sandra Fulton  RINF Alternative News The ACLU’s Chris Calabrese testified Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee in a hearing on the economic benefits and the safety, privacy, and...

MoD’s drones PR offensive continues as UK commits to a drone filled future

Chris Cole  RINF Alternative News As we reported, in December the MoD began a PR offensive on the UK’s use of drones by inviting selected members of...

MoD’s drones PR offensive continues as UK commits to a drone filled future

As we reported, in December the MoD began a PR offensive on the UK’s use of drones by inviting selected members of the press to RAF Waddington in order that the MoD could correct the  “wild misrepresentations” about drones put... Read More ›

We don’t fully understand where drones will lead us, FAA head tells Congress

Measured integration of unmanned drones into American airspace will happen by the Dec. 30, 2015, deadline, the FAA administrator told a Senate panel on...

Customs and Border Protection Loaning Drones to Police

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – the law-enforcement agency created as a division of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 – flew...

Customs and Border Protection Loaning Drones to Police

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – the law-enforcement agency created as a division of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 – flew...

US police employing border-patrol drones — and the videos are ‘top secret’

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a branch of Homeland Security, logged about 700 covert drone operations on behalf of federal, state and local police...

Pocket Drones Gets $50,000 In Pledges Overnight

John Biggstechcrunch.comJanuary 9, 2014 Hardware Battlefield entrant Pocket Drones blew past their initial goal of $30,000...

Pocket Drones Gets $50,000 In Pledges Overnight

John Biggstechcrunch.comJanuary 9, 2014 Hardware Battlefield entrant Pocket Drones blew past their initial goal of $30,000...

Domestic Drone Launch Date Approaches; Drones to Be Autonomous

Drones will soon be buzzing over every city in America. As reported by the New York Times on December 30: The agency picked six institutions to...

Haiti: Drones and Slavery

Peter Linebaugh RINF Alternative News DroneAdventures.org is a Swiss “non-profit” organization that in April 2013 sent two representatives to Haiti to work with a couple of...

‘Roadmap’ reveals deadlier US drones

Sailors move an X-47B demonstrator onto an aircraft elevator aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.The Pentagon has unveiled its Å“roadmap” for future...

Drones to Forcibly Vaccinate the Public?

Many were alarmed to learn online retail giant Amazon was considering using drones to deliver products, however a proposed future use...

War From Above: Domestic Drones Patrolling the Skies of America

Richard Hugus RINF Alternative News Drone aircraft, which we first heard of as weapons of war used by the United States in foreign lands, are now...

The A-Z of Drones 2013: Drone Proliferation and Protests against Drone Strikes

Chris Cole  RINF Alternative News In February Human Rights Watch released a report detailing how IDF drones violated the Laws of War during operation Pillar of...

A-Z of Drones 2013 — Part Three

QinetiQ announced this year they are  working to develop Llanbedr Airfield (near Snowden) as a new drone operating centre linked with Parc Aberporth (and it’s always important to remember QinetiQ’s shady origins).  In December the US renewed an agreement with Qatar to host the... Read More ›

Activist slams drones that kill civialans

Once again an American anti-war activist criticized the controversial US drone campaign overseas as a strategy that kill civilians and escalate anti-American sentiment in...

The A-Z of Drones 2013 — Part Two

In February Human Rights Watch released a report detailing how IDF drones violated the Laws of War during operation Pillar of Defence, while War on Want released a report on UK links with the Israeli drone industry.  Drone Wars UK will be... Read More ›

Iraq to U.S.: Send in the drones, Hellfire missiles to destroy al Qaeda

Douglas Ernstwashingtontimes.comDecember 27, 2013 The Iraqi government wants drones – American drones. Iraq has requested 10...

Navy’s ocean-powered drones to wage underwater war

While American drones patrol the skies in war-torn countries like Afghanistan, the United States is also looking to establish a similar presence in the...

Obama’s Quiet Gift to Iraq: Hellfire Missiles and Surveillance Drones

People stand among debris at the site of a bomb attack at a marketplace in Baghdad's Doura District December 25, 2013. (Photo: Reuters /...

Obama’s Quiet Gift to Iraq: Hellfire Missiles and Surveillance Drones

People stand among debris at the site of a bomb attack at a marketplace in Baghdad's Doura District December 25, 2013. (Photo: Reuters /...

US secretly sends Hellfire missiles, drones to Iraq

In an attempt to beat back gains by Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, the United States is moving “dozens” of Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones into Iraq.Read...

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Gaza: Life and death under Israel’s drones

Al-Jazeera – 28 November 2013

There are many things to fear in Gaza: Attacks from Israel’s Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, the coastal enclave’s growing isolation, the regular blackouts from power shortages, increasingly polluted drinking water and rivers of sewage flooding the streets.

Meanwhile, for most Palestinians in Gaza the anxiety-inducing soundtrack to their lives is the constant buzz of the remotely piloted aircraft – better known as “drones” – that hover in the skies above.

Drones are increasingly being used for surveillance and extra-judicial execution in parts of the Middle East, especially by the US, but in nowhere more than Gaza has the drone become a permanent fixture of life. More than 1.7 million Palestinians, confined by Israel to a small territory in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, are subject to near continual surveillance and intermittent death raining down from the sky.

There is little hope of escaping the zenana – an Arabic word referring to a wife’s relentless nagging that Gazans have adopted to describe the drone’s oppressive noise and their feelings about it. According to statistics compiled by human rights groups in Gaza, civilians are the chief casualties of what Israel refers to as “surgical” strikes from drones.

“When you hear the drones, you feel naked and vulnerable,” said Hamdi Shaqura, deputy director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza City. “The buzz is the sound of death. There is no escape, nowhere is private. It is a reminder that, whatever Israel and the international community assert, the occupation has not ended. We are still living completely under Israeli control. They control the borders and the sea and they decide our fates from their position in the sky,” said Shaqura.

The Israeli military did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

Suffer the children

The sense of permanent exposure, coupled with the fear of being mistakenly targeted, has inflicted deep psychological scars on civilians, especially children, according to experts.

“There is a great sense of insecurity. Nowhere feels safe for the children, and they feel no one can offer them protection, not even their parents,” said Ahmed Tawahina, a psychologist running clinics in Gaza as part of the Community Mental Health Programme. “That traumatises both the children and parents, who feel they are failing in their most basic responsibility.”

Shaqura observed: “From a political perspective, there is a deep paradox. Israel says it needs security, but it demands it at the cost of our constant insecurity.”

There are no statistics that detail the effect of the drones on Palestinians in Gaza. Doctors admit it is impossible to separate the psychological toll inflicted by drones from other sources of damage to mental health, such as air strikes by F-16s, severe restrictions on movement and the economic insecurity caused by Israel’s blockade.

But field researchers working for Palestinian rights groups point out that the use of drones is intimately tied to these other sources of fear and anxiety. Drones fire missiles themselves, they guide attacks by F-16s or helicopters, and they patrol and oversee the borders.

A survey in medical journal The Lancet following Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s month-long attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09, found large percentages of children suffered from symptoms of psychological trauma: Fifty-eight percent permanently feared the dark; 43 percent reported regular nightmares; 37 percent wet the bed and 42 percent had crying attacks.

Tawahina described the sense of being constantly observed as a “form of psychological torture, which exhausts people’s mental and emotional resources. Among children at school, this can be seen in poor concentration and unruly behaviour.” The trauma for children is compounded by the fact that the drones also disrupt what should be their safest activity – watching TV at home. When a drone is operating nearby, it invariably interferes with satellite reception.

“”It doesn’t make headlines, but it is another example of how there is no escape from the drones. Parents want their children indoors, where it feels safer and where they’re less likely to hear the drones, but still the drone finds a way into their home. The children cannot even switch off from the traumas around them by watching TV because of the drones.”

Israel’s ‘major advantage’

Israel developed its first drones in the early 1980s, during its long occupation of south Lebanon, to gather aerial intelligence without exposing Israeli pilots to anti-aircraft missiles. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University, said drones help in situations where good, on-the-ground intelligence is lacking. “What the UAV gives you is eyes on the other side of the hill or over the border,” he said. “That provides Israel with a major advantage over its enemies.”

Other Israeli analysts have claimed that the use of drones, with their detailed intelligence-collecting abilities, is justified because they reduce the chances of errors and the likelihood of “collateral damage” – civilian deaths – during attacks.

But, according to Inbar, the drone is no better equipped than other aircraft for gathering intelligence or carrying out an execution.

“The advantage from Israel’s point of view is that using a drone for these tasks reduces the risk of endangering a pilot’s life or losing an expensive plane. That is why we are moving towards much greater use of these kinds of robots on the battlefield,” he said.

‘Mistakes can happen’

According to Gaza human rights group al-Mezan, Israel started using drones over the territory from the start of the second intifada in 2000, but only for surveillance.

Israel’s first extra-judicial executions using drones occurred in 2004, when two Palestinians were killed. But these operations greatly expanded after 2006, in the wake of Israel’s withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from Gaza and the rise to power of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.

Drones, the front-line weapon in Israel’s surveillance operations and efforts to foil rocket attacks, killed more than 90 Palestinians in each of the years 2006 and 2007, according to al-Mezan. The figures soared during Operation Cast Lead and in its aftermath, with 461 Palestinians killed by drones in 2009. The number peaked again with 199 deaths in 2012, the year when Israel launched the eight-day Operation Pillar of Defence against Gaza.

Despite Israeli claims that the intelligence provided by drones makes it easier to target those Palestinians it has defined as “terrorists”, research shows civilians are the main victims. In the 2012 Pillar of Defence operation, 36 of the 162 Palestinians killed were a result of drone strikes, and a further 100 were injured by drones. Of those 36 killed, two-thirds were civilians.

Also revealing was a finding that, although drones were used in only five percent of air strikes, they accounted for 23 percent of the total deaths during Pillar of Defence. According to the Economist magazine, the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, which triggered that operation, was carried out using a Hermes 450 drone.

Palestinian fighters report that they have responded to the constant surveillance by living in hiding, rarely going outdoors and avoiding using phones or cars. It is a way of life not possible for most people in Gaza.

Gaza’s armed groups are reported to be trying to find a way to jam the drones’ navigation systems. In the meantime, Hamas has claimed it has shot down three drones, the latest this month, though Israel says all three crashed due to malfunctions.

Last week, on the anniversary of the launch of Pillar of Defence, an Israeli commander whose soldiers control the drones over Gaza from a base south of Tel Aviv told the Haaretz newspaper that “many” air strikes during the operation had involved drones. “Lt Col Shay” was quoted saying: “Ultimately, we are at war. As much as the IDF strives to carry out the most precise surgical strikes, mistakes can happen in the air or on the ground.”

Random death by drone

It is for this reason that drones have become increasingly associated with random death from the sky, said Samir Zaqout, a senior field researcher for Al-Mezan.

“We know from the footage taken by drones that Israel can see what is happening below in the finest detail. And yet women and children keep being killed in drone attacks. Why the continual mistakes? The answer, I think, is that these aren’t mistakes. The message Israel wants to send us is that there is no protection whether you are a civilian or fighter. They want us afraid and to make us turn on the resistance [Palestinian fighters].”

Zaqout also points to a more recent use of drones – what has come to be known as “roof-knocking”. This is when a drone fires small missiles at the roof of a building to warn the inhabitants to evacuate – a practice Israel developed during Operation Cast Lead three years earlier, to allay international concerns about its repeated levellings of buildings with civilians inside.

In Pillar of Defence in 2012, 33 buildings were targeted by roof-knocking.

Israel says it provides 10 minutes’ warning from a roof-knock to an air strike, but, in practice, families find they often have much less time. This, said Zaqout, puts large families in great danger as they usually send their members out in small groups to be sure they will not be attacked as they move onto the streets.

One notorious case occurred during Cast Lead, when six members of the Salha family, all women and children, were killed when their home was shelled moments after a roof-knocking. The father, Fayez Salha, who survived, lost a case for damages in Israel’s Supreme Court last February and was ordered to pay costs after the judges ruled that the attack was legitimate because it occurred as part of a military operation.

A US citizen who has lived long-term in Gaza, who wished not be named for fear of reprisals from Israel, said she often heard the drones at night when the street noise dies down, or as they hover above her while out walking. “The sound is like the buzz of a mosquito, although there is one type of drone that sometimes comes into view that is silent,” she said.

She added that she knew of families that, before moving into a new apartment building, checked to see whether it housed a fighter or a relative of a fighter, for fear that the building may be attacked by Israel.

Shaqura said the drones inevitably affect one’s day-to-day behaviour. He said he was jogging early one morning while a drone hovered overhead.

“I got 100 metres from my front door when I started to feel overwhelmed with fear. I realised that my tracksuit was black, the same colour as many of the fighters’ uniforms. I read in my work too many reports of civilians being killed by drones not to see the danger. So I hurried back home.”

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The comments come from Malala and the U.N. respectively.

President Obama invited Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls' education, to meet with his family. And she promptly explained that what he is doing works against her agenda and fuels terrorism.

Malala is a victim of violence in Pakistan, having been attacked by religious fanatics opposed to her work. But Obama may not have expected her to speak up against other forms of violence in her country.

Malala recounted: "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education, it will make a big impact."

President Obama may also have not expected most people to notice or care. The corporate media have virtually ignored this part of a widely-reported meeting.

It's up to us to surprise everyone with the depth of our interest and concern. Almost 100,000 have thus far signed a petition to ban weaponized drones, soon to be delivered to the U.N., the I.C.C., the State Department, the White House, Congress, and embassies.

The United Nations has released a report on "armed drones and the right to life" (PDF). The report begins by noting that, as of now, weaponized drones are legal:

"Although drones are not illegal weapons, they can make it easier for States to deploy deadly and targeted force on the territories of other States. As such, they risk undermining the protection of life in the immediate and longer terms. If the right to life is to be secured, it is imperative that the limitations posed by international law on the use of force are not weakened by broad justifications of drone strikes."

Drones, the U.N. Special Rapporteur reports, risk making war the normal state of affairs:

"Peace should be the norm, yet such scenarios risk making its derogation the rule by privileging force over long-term peaceful alternatives. . . . Given that drones greatly reduce or eliminate the number of casualties on the side using them, the domestic constraints — political and otherwise — may be less restrictive than with the deployment of other types of armed force. This effect is enhanced by the relative ease with which the details about drone targeting can be withheld from the public eye and the potentially restraining influence of public concern. Such dynamics call for a heightened level of vigilance by the international community concerning the use of drones."

The U.N. Charter and this report seek to make war an exceptional state of affairs. This is a very difficult, and a morally depraved thing to attempt with an institution that deserves total abolition.  War does not work as a tool with which to eliminate war.  But, even within that framework, the U.N. finds that drones create extra-legal war:

"An outer layer of protection for the right to life is the prohibition on the resort to force by one State against another, again subject to a narrowly construed set of exceptions. The protection of State sovereignty and of territorial integrity, which onoccasion presents a barrier to the protection of human rights, here can constitute an important component of the protection of people against deadly force, especially with the advent of armed drones."

The strongest excuse for war is the claim of defense against an actual attack.  The next best thing is to pretend an attack is imminent.  The Obama Administration has famously redefined "imminent" to mean eventual or theoretical -- that is, they've stripped the word of all meaning.  (See the "white paper" PDF.)  The U.N. doesn't buy it:

"The view that mere past involvement in planning attacks is sufficient to render an individual targetable even where there is no evidence of a specific and immediate attack distorts the requirements established in international human rights law."

U.S. lawyers at Congressional hearings have tended to maintain that drone killing is legal if and only if it's part of a war.  The U.N. report also distinguishes between two supposedly different standards of law depending on whether a drone murder is separate from or part of a war.  Disappointingly, the U.N. believes that some drone strikes can be legal and others not:

"Insofar as the term 'signature strikes' refers to targeting without sufficient information to make the necessary determination, it is clearly unlawful. . . . Where one drone attack is followed up by another in order to target those who are wounded and hors de combat or medical personnel, it constitutes a war crime in armed conflict and a violation of the right to life, whether or not in armed conflict. Strikes on others confirmed to be civilians who are directly participating in hostilities or having a continuous combat function at the time of the follow-up strike could be lawful if the other international humanitarian law rules are respected."

The complex mumbo-jumbo of multiple legal standards for multiple scenarios, complete with calculations of necessity and distinction and proportionality and collateral damage, mars this report and any attempt to create enforceable action out of it. But the report does, tentatively, find one little category of drone murders illegal that encompasses many, if not all, U.S. drone murders -- namely, those where the victim might have been captured rather than killed:

"Recent debates have asked whether international humanitarian law requires that a party to an armed conflict under certain circumstances consider the capture of an otherwise lawful target (i.e. a combatant in the traditional sense or a civilian directly participating in hostilities) rather than targeting with force. In its Interpretive Guidance, ICRC states that it would defy basic notions of humanity to kill an adversary or to refrain from giving him or her an opportunity to surrender where there manifestly is no necessity for the use of lethal force."

Pathetically, the report finds that if a government is going to pretend that murdering someone abroad is "self-defense" the action must be reported to the U.N. -- thereby making it sooooo much better.

A second UN report (PDF) goes further, citing findings that U.S. drones have killed hundreds of civilians, but failing to call for prosecutions of these crimes.  That is to say, the first report, above, which does not list specific U.S. drone murders of civilians, discusses the need for prosecutions.  But this second report just asks for "a detailed public explanation."

The fact that an insane killing spree is counter-productive, as pointed out to Obama by Malala, in case he hadn't heard all his own experts, is not enough to end the madness.  Ultimately we must recognize the illegality of all killing and all war. In the meantime, prior to the U.N.'s debate on this on the 25th, we can add our names to the growing movement to ban weaponized drones at http://BanWeaponizedDrones.org

 



read more

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More Than 2500 Killed by Drones in Pakistan, Names of Victims Now Available

Red Light Cameras, Drones and Surveillance: Fleecing the Taxpayer in the Age of Petty...

“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”—Charles de Montesquieu We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the name of the national good by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated […]

Malala Yousafzai Tells Obama Drones Are “Fueling Terrorism”

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughter Malia meet with Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the...

Civil drones join military drones falling from the skies

As regular readers will know, Drone Wars UK tracks crashes of the larger type II and III military UAVs in our Drone Crash Database (details of UAV classifications here).  We have just updated our list with a further six crashes during... Read More ›

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Commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General Amirali HajizadehA senior Iranian commander has emphasized that the nation™s indigenous...

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Artificial Intelligence and Death by Drones: the Future of Warfare will be “Decided by...

The technocratic nightmare born out of trans humanism and eugenics receives another gift from the military industrial complex at the expense of humanity. Drones will...

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US drones would soon make lethal decisions on their own.The US military is planning to give more œautonomy” to its pilotless aircraft to such...

Judge commends UK anti-drones activists

A judge who tried six protesters on charges of breaking into Britainâ„¢s first unmanned drones based, has lauded them as Ëœdutiful peopleâ„¢. Judge John Stobart...

Japan to pay $3.1bn to remove US troops from Okinawa, will host spy drones

Tokyo is to foot a $3.1 billion bill, which is part of the cost for relocating American troops from Okinawa. For the first time,...

US spy drones to fly over North Korea

An RQ-4 Global Hawk drone flies over mountains and desert.The United States military will use long-range surveillance drones to spy on North Korea next...

Life Under Drones in Pakistan

Madiha Tahir is an independent journalist who worked in Pakistan for two years covering conflict, culture, and politics. Her work has appeared in Foreign...

Likely to Foment Regional Tension, US Drones Headed to Japan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera second from right, and...

Border Patrol Loaning Predator Drones to Military, State, and Local Police

Think state and local law enforcement aren't watching you with high-tech federally-owned drones? Think again. In a new post, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports...

Stop US drones before peace talks: TTP

A US Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile. (file photo)Pakistani militants say US assassination drone strikes on the country™s tribal areas must stop before...

From NSA Spying and VIPR Sweeps to Domestic Drones: A Round-Up of the Police...

Like clockwork, we’ve ticked back to the annual government shutdown scare that invariably dominates news headlines and sends stocks seesawing for a few scant weeks until, at the very last moment, the nation is miraculously pulled from the brink of disaster. It’s always an entertaining show, with both Republicans and Democrats doing their best to […]

FBI uses drones on US soil since 2006

The FBI has been suing domestic drones since 2006.The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States has been using domestic drones since 2006...

US spent millions on domestic drones

A water collecting drone with its three containers hovers at a testing site in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.The US Department of Justice...

Drones in the Arctic: New Tools for Risky Drilling?

Scientists studying Arctic sea ice and melt ponds in the Chukchi Sea. (Photo: NASA/Kathryn Hansen)Environmentalists cheered the news in April that ConocoPhillips had halted...

Drones and Gadflies — Framing the Debate on War by Remote Control

On May 23, President Obama gave a major address from the National Defense University, ON THE FUTURE OF OUR FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM, in which...

Drones and Gadflies — Framing the Debate on War by Remote Control

On May 23, President Obama gave a major address from the National Defense University, ON THE FUTURE OF OUR FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM, in which...

Military and Police Drones Exempted From New Texas Drone Law

Earlier this month a bill limiting the use of drones in the skies over Texas went into effect. Although it would appear that this...

UK govt. deplored for developing drones

British protesters slam govt. for developing war machines A protest gathering has been held in Wales at the entrance to Parc Aberporth, where the...

FEMA Grounds Private Drones That Were Helping To Map Boulder Floods, Threatens To Arrest...

from the heckuva-job dept Mike MasnickTechDirtSept. 17, 2013 FEMA ordered the drones grounded or it would have...

‘Iran naval vessels equipped with drones’

Navy vessels equipped with drones: Iran cmdr.File photo shows Iranian indigenous drone, Karrar.Iran™s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari says all Navy vessels are...

Don’t forget kids killed by US drones

Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan have children too, and they are being killed by our dronesThe death of a child -- any child -- is...

Drones and Gadflies

On May 23, President Obama gave a major address from the National Defense University, ON THE FUTURE OF OUR FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM, in which...

US drones displaces Afghan civilians

The US terror drone campaign has displaced thousands of civilians in the troubled southern and eastern regions of war-ravaged Afghanistan, Press TV reports. Thousands...

DARPA goes deep: New Hydra project to see underwater drones deploying drones

The sky is no longer the limit for US drone warfare, with secret military research agency DARPA considering a conquest of the seven seas...

Al-Qaeda fights back against drones

Rob Crillytelegraph.co.ukSeptember 4, 2013 American drone strikes are believed to have killed at least 3000...

Secret docs: US drones can be targeted

New documents show that militants may soon be able to target the CIA drones which carry out surveillance and assassination operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan,...

Key anti-drones protest to hit London

A coalition of British anti-arms trade groups will protest at ExCel London Exhibition Center against DSEI 2013, the controversial biennial arms fair, and drone...

How Not to Think About Drones

The latest defense of remote control killing by the U.S. appears in the September issue of The Atlantic, “The Killing Machines” in which author Mark...

Drones, horns, injuries: UAV tumbles into Virginia bull run crowd

Virginia’s first “Great Bull Run” attracted thousands of spectators — but as they were watching out for horns and hooves, a strike came from...

Yemen president backs US terror drones

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has expressed support for US assassination drone attacks in the country. According to a report by The Associated Press...

Pilot Group Expresses Concern Over Sharing the Sky With Drones

Dennis M. Crowley CNS News August 23, 2013 Aviation groups are questioning whether manned aircraft and remote-controlled drones can safely share the same airspace. Last...

Yemen Asks US to Supply It With Drones

In the midst of a spate of U.S. drone attacks on Yemen which have left civilians terrorized and innocents killed, the Yemeni president has...

The CIA first tested drones in Area 51 because of course they did

Brian FungWashington PostAugust 20, 2013 Two unmanned aerial reconnaissance programs operated by the CIA during the...

The CIA first tested drones in Area 51 because of course they did

Brian FungWashington PostAugust 20, 2013 Two unmanned aerial reconnaissance programs operated by the CIA during the...

Obama Has Not Delivered on May’s Promise of Transparency on Drones

The past two weeks have seen an escalation in drone strikes more dramatic than any since 2009. The media estimate that more than 37 people have...

Americans against warrantless drones

Seventy-six percent of poll respondents felt law enforcement should obtain a judge-issued warrant before using drones.A Monmouth University poll released Thursday suggests 3 in...

Does the US Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

There have been nine drone strikes reported in Yemen in the past two weeks – an uptick apparently connected to the Al Qaeda threat that shut down U.S. embassies across the Middle East and Africa. As many as six civilian deaths have also been reported.

US urged to follow int’l law on drones

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) meets with Pakistani officials in Islamabad on August 13, 2013.United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has insisted that US drones...

US drones kill mostly civilians in Yemen

Twelve separate US drone attacks have killed at least 35 people in Yemen during the past two weeks. According to the locals, the unmanned aircraft...

US Drones on Yemen: 'al Qaeda's Public Relations Officer'

As the U.S. continues to bombard Yemen with drones this weekend, one Yemeni activist says that for ordinary people of Yemen, there is very...

US Drones on Yemen: ‘al Qaeda’s Public Relations Officer’

As the U.S. continues to bombard Yemen with drones this weekend, one Yemeni activist says that for ordinary people of Yemen, there is very little difference between what al-Qaeda and the U.S. are doing to the country.

US drones in Yemen killed 34 in 2 weeks

A US Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile. (file photo)A new report says that the United States has carried out at least 8 drone...

Yemen: 7 Saudis among militants killed by drones

Ahmed Al-Haj and Maggie MichaelAP via Fox NewsAugust 9, 2013 SANAA, Yemen (AP) — At least...

U.S. Drones Kill More Than 30 in Yemen; School Targeted in One Attack

In fewer than two weeks, Hellfire missiles launched by U.S. drones have killed at least 31 people in Yemen. At least 14 of the...

Surveillance drones and Uncle Sam: Hackers take on all at DefCon 21

Around 15,000 hackers and security experts descended on Las Vegas for the twenty-first annual DefCon last week to discuss the latest and greatest exploits...

US Spy Planes Buzzing, Drones Bombing Over Yemen

Security has been tightened across the country since the embassy threats were made public. (Photo: Reuters)A series of missiles fired from a US drone...

Top 10 Things That Don’t Make Sense About NSA Surveillance, Drones and Al-Qaida

In a Reuters Exclusive, John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke reveal that the National Security Agency shares information it gleans from warrantless surveillance of Americans with the Special Operation Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which then uses the metadata to develop cases against US citizens.

'US military, CIA addicted to drones'

The U.S. military and intelligence agencies are so used to using pilotless aircraft in their operations worldwide that it seems pretty unlikely that the...

Rand Paul Opposes New FBI Director, and FBI’s U.S. Surveillance Drones

After writing to FBI Director Robert Mueller expressing concerns about the FBI's use of surveillance drones, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) received a letter ...

Rand Paul Opposes New FBI Director, and FBI’s U.S. Surveillance Drones

After writing to FBI Director Robert Mueller expressing concerns about the FBI's use of surveillance drones, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) received a letter ...

Photographers Turned to Drones to Get Pics of Tina Turner’s Wedding

Kelly FairclothBeta BeatAugust 2, 2013 Bad news, famous people: Wedding mania shows no signs of abating,...

President Obama Sending Drones All Around the Globe

The “next phase of drone warfare” will extend “far beyond traditional, declared combat zones," the Washington Post reports. Africa, according to the report filed July...

FBI drones 'invade' citizens privacy

A former US intelligence official said Saturday there is an Å“invasion of privacy by the United States government of US citizens.” This invasion of privacy...

US approves drones for civilian use

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued certificates for two types of unmanned aircraft for civilian use. The move is expected to lead to...

Drones approved for civilian use in US

In a major step that could boost the use of drones in US skies, federal regulators said they have certified two types of unmanned...

EU planning to 'own and operate’ spy drones and an air force

The European Union is planning to “own and operate” spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft...

EU planning to ‘own and operate’ spy drones and an air force

Bruno Waterfield The Telegraph July 26, 2013 The European Union is planning to “own and operate” spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft as...

FBI admits to flying drones over US without warrants

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it has used drones at least 10 times for domestic surveillance purposes in the United States. In three...

Military Deviancy and War “Trophies”: Body Parts, Forearms and Souvenir Stars and Stripes...

 “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” (Sinclair Lewis, 1885-1951: “It Can’t Happen Here”, 1935.)  It...

FBI has flown drones ten times in US

The FBI has told Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that it has flown drones in US ten times.The FBI revealed to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)...

Drones Can Target Cell Phones Turned Off

Dana PriestThe Washington PostJuly 23, 2013 Twelve years later, the cranes and earthmovers around the National...

Town To Issue Licenses and Bounties To Shoot Down Drones: “They Fly In Town,...

(Pictured: Deer Trail Mayor Franks Fields displays proper drone-hunting technique) The President, Congress and the Department of Homeland Security may think...

Bay Area Drivers Encounter “Speed Enforced by Drones” Signs

Under “threat” of drone strike, drivers are encouraged to watch their speeds. Kit DanielsInfowars.comJuly 20, 2013

FAA: Shooting Down Drones Could Lead to Prosecution

Fox NewsJuly 20, 2013 People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public and property...

FAA Asks: Please Don’t Shoot Down the Drones

ABBY OHLHEISERAtlantic WireJuly 20, 2013 Earlier this week, one Colorado town floated the idea of letting its...

FAA warns Colorado town that shooting down drones could lead to prosecution

On the heels of a Colorado town's announcement that it was floating the idea of legalized drone hunting, the Federal Aviation Administration has warned...

FAA warns public against shooting guns at drones

Joan LowyThe Denver PostJuly 19, 2013 People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public...

Fake Signs On Bay Area Highways Say Drones Looking For Speeders

CBS San Francisco July 19, 2013 Several signs have cropped up on Bay Area highways, telling...

What the New York Times Talks About When It Talks About Drones

The New York Times, the most respected newspaper in the world, evidently remains unpersuaded of the illegality of American drone strikes, and continues to...

Colorado town considers hunting licenses, bounties for drones

A small town in the state of Colorado is currently weighing a new ordinance that would allow the issuance of hunting licenses for unmanned...

Israel’s “New Army” Will Use “Technological Advantages” Including More Drones in Future Middle East...

Recently the Jerusalem Post reported that new budget cuts for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are expected to create a “New Army” according to...

Colorado town considers licensing bounty hunters to shoot down drones

The Daily MailJuly 17, 2013 The tiny town of Deer Trail, Colo. – barely more than...

Israeli drones violate Lebanon’s airspace

Two Israeli drones have violated Lebanon's airspace and flown over the country in flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. According to a...

Drones Above California? Stop and Frisk Across the Country? What the Shake Up at...

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has announced that she's headed to California, where she'll be the president of the University of California...

Local Law Enforcement Borrowing Federal Drones for Surveillance

Daily flight logs from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveal that the federal department has been busy loaning...

‘Iran to unveil new missiles, drones’

Iran to unveil domestically manufactured missiles, drones in near future: defense ministerIranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi says the Islamic Republic will be unveiling a...

Documents Expose Predator Drones Spying Extensively in U.S.

Predator drones used by multiple agencies in domestic airspace could be armed. Kit Daniels Infowars.com July 4, 2013 U.S. Customs and Border Protection is...

Despite Obama's Claims, Drones More Deadly for Civilians: Report

(Reuters/Ramin Rahimian)Despite claims by the Obama administration that drone attacks are precise and "surgical," a new study released this week shows that drone strikes...

Drones cause 10 times more civilian deaths than manned planes

An expert on drone casualties has told reporters that the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by American forces has caused 10 times the number...

St. Louis Police Chief Wants Drones, Highlighting Drone Debate

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has called for drones to patrol within a year in an effort to better patrol the city’s highest...

St. Louis Police Chief Wants Drones, Highlighting Drone Debate

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has called for drones to patrol within a year in an effort to better patrol the city’s highest...

St. Louis police chief wants drones to monitor his city

A Missouri police chief has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for his very own surveillance drone, which he would use to conduct police chases...

St. Louis Police Chief Wants Drones to Patrol High Crime Areas

UAVs would also track suspicious vehicles Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comJune 27, 2013 St. Louis Police...

Senate Rubber Stamps Drones, Helicopters at US-Mexico Border

The Senate signaled bipartisan support for the heightened militarization of the United States-Mexico border Monday, passing an immigration overhaul bill that, if implemented, will...

Two Thirds of Americans Support Drones for ‘Homeland Security’ Missions

Government documents show drones to be used for identifying gun owners Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comJune 25, 2013...

Pakistanis call for strike on US drones

With Washington perversely continuing to violate Pakistanâ„¢s sovereignty with its assassination drones, a chorus is growing in the Asian country for military action against...

FBI's Mueller Admits Use of Drones in Domestic Surveillance

At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller (shown) testified that his agency has used drones to monitor...

FBI's Mueller Admits Use of Drones in Domestic Surveillance

At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller (shown) testified that his agency has used drones to monitor...

FBI director acknowledges use of Surveillance Drones in the US

FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged in Congressional testimony on Wednesday that his agency has used aerial drones for surveillance purposes within the United States....

FBI Director Admits Drones Being Used in Skies of US

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Washington D.C., where he said drones are...

FBI Director Admits 'Drones Are Watching You'

Suspicions confirmed. FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted Wednesday before a Senate judiciary committee hearing that the agency employs domestic drones for surveillance use over...

FBI director admits domestic use of drones

RT June 19, 2013 The FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance purposes, the head of the agency told Congress early Wednesday. Robert Mueller, the...

When Drones Guard the Pipeline: The Militarization of Our Fossil Fuels

Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist.

Drones for Jesus

Liberty University  in Lynchburg, Va., was founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell. Its publications carry the slogan “Training Champions for Christ since 1971.” Some of...

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks NSA, Syria, Iran, Drones and Terrorism

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has spoken at length with RT about the world’s burning issues, including war-torn Syria, Iran, US surveillance and terrorism. He...

Putin talks NSA, Syria, Iran, drones in RT interview (FULL VIDEO)

Code <param name="flashvars" value="skin=http://rt.com/s/swf/jwplayer/skin.zip&abouttext=RT&aboutlink=http://rt.com/about-us/corporate-profile/&stretching=uniform&controlbar.position=over&file=http://rt.com/files/news/1f/64/10/00/putin.flv&image=http://rt.com/files/news/1f/64/10/00/putin-rt-interview-full.si.jpg&prov This article originally appeared on: RT

Karzai seeks UK explanation over drones

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sought explanation from Britain about the drone strikes in the war-torn country, Press TV reports. This article originally appeared...

Rein in terror drones, Pakistan tells US

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (left) listens to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting in Islamabad on June 8, 2013.Pakistani Prime Minister...

US terror drones kill 7 in NW Pakistan

A US Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile. (file photo)An airstrike carried out by US assassination drones has killed seven people in Pakistanâ„¢s North...

Iowa City moves to ban drones, traffic cameras and license plate readers

The residents of Iowa City, Iowa have moved to ban drones, red-light cameras and license plate readers in what is likely the most thorough...

Civilian toll of US drones confirmed

A reported review of secret US intelligence records has shed more light on the wide suspicion that US assassination drones have killed few militants...

Six anti-drones protesters nabbed in UK

Six protesters have been nabbed at Britain's drones command at RAF Waddington after they entered the facility and set up anti-war banners there.

Navy considers 3D-printing future fleets of drones

Three-dimensional (3D) printers are quickly proving to be capable of creating just about anything out of little more than thin air, and that could...

Navy considers 3D-printing future fleets of drones

Three-dimensional (3D) printers are quickly proving to be capable of creating just about anything out of little more than thin air, and that could...

German national rail testing drones

File photo shows a similar model of the drone to be used in testing by Deutsche Bahn.German national rail provider is set to begin...

Obama Formally Adds Armed Drones to Counterterrorism Arsenal

JOHN T. BENNETTdefensenews.com President Barack Obama last week delivered a muscular defense of his use of...

German railways deploys surveillance drones

Jeevan VasagarThe TelegraphMay 28, 2013 A fleet of miniature helicopter drones mounted with thermal imaging cameras...

Rand Paul Demands Answers on Drones

‘I don’t want them watching us everywhere we are’ Drew ZahnWNDMay 27, 2013 Photo by...

Kerry defends US use of killer drones

US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended Washingtonâ„¢s use of assassination drones, which has already led to massive civilian casualties in different countries...

Heckler Spars With Obama Over Drones, Guantanamo

President Obama had some competition Thursday when he addressed an audience at the National Defense University in Washington on the administration's approach to fighting...

Heckler Spars With Obama Over Drones, Guantanamo

President Obama had some competition Thursday when he addressed an audience at the National Defense University in Washington on the administration's approach to fighting...

Heckler Spars With Obama Over Drones, Guantanamo

President Obama had some competition Thursday when he addressed an audience at the National Defense University in Washington on the administration's approach to fighting...

Drones = Assassinations = War Crimes

Journalist Scott Shane, with an assist from Mark Mazzetti, reports in the New York Times (May 22) on the decline in armed drone strikes....

AI slams US surging use of terror drones

Major human rights group Amnesty International (AI) has blasted the US for its growing use of assassination drones as part of the Obama administrationâ„¢s...

US government admits to killing four American citizens with drones

United States Attorney General Eric Holder has informed Congress that four American citizens have been killed in Yemen and Pakistan by US drones since...

US admits drones killed 4 Americans

The White House has for the first time admitted that four US citizens were killed in CIA assassination drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan...

The Next Gun Debate? Armed Drones Could Be Protected By the Second Amendment

Jason KoeblerUS News & World ReportMay 22, 2013 Several YouTube videos show hobbyists who have allegedly...

The Next Gun Debate? Armed Drones Could Be Protected By the Second Amendment

Jason KoeblerUS News & World ReportMay 22, 2013 Several YouTube videos show hobbyists who have allegedly...

Washington admits drones killed 4 US citizens

The US government has for the first time admitted that four US citizens have been killed in CIA assassination drone strikes in Yemen and...

‘Terror drones mostly kill civilians’

A new report shows that US assassination drones in Pakistan have killed Å“scores of innocent civilians” instead of targeting terrorists. On Tuesday, the Brussels-based International...

Police chief: Looking at helicopters and drones

csindy.comMay 21, 2013 Last week, Police Chief Pete Carey said he was looking at reactivating the...

‘France to buy drones from US, Israel’

France to buy drones from US, Israel: French defense min.French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says his country is in talks with the Unites...

‘Israel sells $400mn of drones annually’

The Israeli regime exports about $400 million worth of drones per year, an Israeli daily reports. The Ynet daily website recently reported that more than...

France to buy US drones for use in Mali

File photo shows a US-made unarmed Reaper surveillance drone.France has plans to purchase US-made unarmed Reaper surveillance drones in a bid to back up...

France to buy American drones for Mali operation

Two of America’s medium-altitude Reaper drones will be sold to France as backup for the country’s operations against Islamist rebels in Mali. ...

Weaponized Drones used for Law Enforcement across America: How Your Town Can Stop Drones

Local resolutions have helped advance many issues, including war opposition, when they’ve been passed in large numbers. When we passed a resolution in Charlottesville,...

‘Obama liable for murders via drones’

US President Barack Obama is responsible for murdering foreign nationals via the use of assassination drones, Press TV reports. Å“In the process of murdering one...

US university to use drones over campus

The surveillance aircraft the University of Alabama in Huntsville plans to use to monitor campus. (file photo)Officials at the University of Alabama in Huntsville...

Alabama police using drones to monitor college campus

Officials at an Alabama university have divulged a new plan to use unmanned aerial devices to help police monitor, and supposedly protect, students on...

U.S. Marines Train German and Moroccan Troops on How to Operate Drones in North...

Recently, U.S. Marines conducted a “small unmanned-flying vehicle familiarization course” in a military exercise that involved U.S. Moroccan and German militaries in a yearly...

President Obama: The Drones Don’t Work, They Just Make It Worse

Less than two weeks after Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster of CIA Chief John Brennan’s confirmation in the US Senate, it seems that the controversy over the legality and transparency of drone attacks has finally provoked a response from the Obama Administration. On March 19, 2013, reports published in the Daily Beast and the Wall Street Journal indicated that the controversial drone program may be shifted from the CIA to the Department of Defense."The drastic escalation in drone strikes in Pakistan during the Obama Administration has caused no decrease in the capacity of drone-targeted groups to carry out terrorist attacks in the region," writes author. (Photo: Reuters)

The reports were based on statements by US officials and a yet unreleased draft document indicating that the Obama White House would like the program to be institutionalised and reformed, moving it into the command structure of the US military instead of within its spy agency. 

It may be true that moving the drone program to the Department of Defense would address some of the critiques regarding transparency and legality. Drone strikes carried out by the military, as they have been in Afghanistan, would be subject to the rules of engagement that govern the use of military force. They would also have a clearer chain of command that would disclose, at least generally, the parameters used to select targets and order strikes, both contentious points on which the CIA-run drone program has been criticised. 

Unlike the CIA, the Department of Defense would not be able to classify all drone operations as “covert” or “clandestine” and would be subject to oversight from other branches of the United States government. Furthermore, while the President did not have to sign off on every strike conducted by the CIA, under a military run program he would have, as Commander-in-chief, clear ultimate authority over the program.  

Under the new formulation, operations would move gradually from the CIA to the Department of Defense, with a lengthy period of transition in which the two agencies would work together. The move would allow the CIA to move out of counter-terrorism and focus again on the collection of human intelligence, a facet of its operation that is said to have suffered.  On March 20,  the Washington Post reported that a panel of White House advisors had expressed grave concerns that the CIA was paying inadequate attention to collecting intelligence on China, the Middle East, and other national security flashpoints, because of its inordinate focus on military operations and drone strikes. A move away from drone strikes, then, would free up the Agency’s resources to do the sort of traditional intelligence gathering with which it is tasked. 

On their own side, White House officials are keen to change the impression that the President Obama is a champion of secret assassinations using armed drones on shaky legal grounds. A major counter terrorism speech is expected soon in which the President will define a new direction in counter-terrorism policy and deflect criticism that his Administration has been operating an illegal killing program. While details of timing are unknown, such a speech can be seen as provoked by the questions raised in Senator Paul’s filibuster regarding the possibility of the President ordering drone strikes on US citizens based on unknown determinations. Although Attorney General Eric Holder denied such a possibility in his response to Senator Paul, questions have continued as to the legal authority of CIA targets and the fact that United States citizens cannot demand any sort of accountability for them.

Not really a change

Moving the drone program from the CIA to the Department of Defense is thus being painted as a victory, even a capitulation, to those critics who have criticised the lack of transparency, accountability, and legal basis of the drone program. However, the details of the move do not suggest a reversal or even a rethinking of the strategic imperatives that the Obama Administration and the CIA have used to justify the drone program. 

First, the gradual process of the transition without any publicly disclosed details of how and when it will be completed are likely to create a situation in which, at least for a time, it would be difficult if not impossible to tell which agency, the Department of Defense or the CIA, would actually be responsible for a strike. Second, according to a government official who spoke to the Washington Post, the CIA program in Pakistan would be phased out even later “because of the complexities there” and because the program, unlike the ones in Yemen and Somalia, was actually begun by the CIA.  Finally, even if the drone program is actually moved to the Department of Defense, it will be incorporated into its most secret portion, the Joint Special Operations Command, whose top-secret operations are also covert and never released to the public.

When these factors are considered, the effort to provide more transparency and an institutional framework for the drone program seem chimerical at best and deceptive at worst. All of them point to a continuation of a national security mindset, within the Obama Administration and the State Department, both believing that drones, cheaply bought and unmanned, are a perfect way to bombard other countries with minimal cost the United States.  With the risk of dead American soldiers reduced to nothing, military officials are also gobbling up the idea of waging remote-control wars all over the world, wherever a possible or even supposed threat can be identified.  

Are Drones effective?

Starkly absent from the debate are any meaningful critiques of the actual effectiveness of drone strikes. Figures obtained from the South Asia Terrorism Portal indicate, for example, that the drastic escalation in drone strikes in Pakistan during the Obama Administration has caused no decrease in the capacity of drone-targeted groups to carry out terrorist attacks in the region. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, President Obama ordered 53 drones strikes in Pakistan in 2009. These strikes were reported to have killed, among others, Tehreek-e-Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Gul Nazeer. In turn, there were approximately 500 bomb blasts in Pakistan that year, most of which were concentrated in the northwestern tribal areas of Pakistan. 

In 2010, President Obama ordered 128 drone strikes which were again reported to have killed various prominent Taliban figures and various Al-Qaeda commanders. The number of bomb blasts carried out by terrorist groups in Pakistan that year was 473, with most of them again concentrated in the tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In 2011, President Obama ordered 75 drone strikes which killed, among others, Al-Qaeda Chief financial officer Abu Zaid Al Iraqi and Taliban spokesperson Shakirullah Shakir. However, despite this being the third year of drone strikes, terror groups within Pakistan were still able to carry out 673 bomb blasts. They also expanded the geographic area of the blast operations to include not only the remote and sparsely populated tribal areas, but also the urban centers of Karachi in the south and Quetta in the southwest of Pakistan. Finally, in 2012, President Obama ordered 48 drone strikes which were alleged to have killed between 242 and 400 people. Among the dead was Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud, whose death was said to be a big blow to the operative capacities of the organization.

However, even despite this being the fourth year of drone strikes in Pakistan, with so many Al-Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban leaders allegedly killed in strikes in past years, terrorists were nevertheless able to still carry out 652 attacks killing 1,007 people and injuring 2,687. Not only were they able to kill more, they were also able to expand their ambit of operations into other parts of Pakistan, with terrorist attacks in Karachi and Quetta now almost equivalent in damage to the ones that occurred in the northwest, where the war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban had once been isolated.  

The move of Tehreek-e-Taliban activity from the tribal areas of Pakistan, where drones operate more effectively, to urban areas like Karachi has also been documented in a recent report issued by the United States Institute for Peace, which stated that Karachi is now the “preferred hideout of the TTP, Afghan Taliban, other extremist, and sectarian outfits" and that Karachi’s urban density and sprawl offer “the best militant hideout,” since U.S drone strikes cannot be enacted in Karachi, which unlike Federally Administered Tribal Area is the country’s economic and financial capital. The report further goes on to say that militants “are relocating to Karachi and are able to plan local and international operations in the city.”  

That those allegedly being targeted by drones do not seem at all weakened by them seems largely absent from the discussion on drones and the preoccupations of whether the program will be snuck from the secret corners of one US agency to another. The problem of an increase in terrorist attacks in Pakistan, even after their leaders have been hammered for years by drones, can be ignored by American officials whose interest is ostensibly limited only to protecting Americans. However, if it is concerns of transparency and legality that are provoking the responses from the Obama Administration and the purported move to reassign the drone program to the Department of Defense, perhaps the issue of actual effectiveness can also be added to the mix.

© 2013 Al-Jazeera

Rafia Zakaria

Rafia Zakaria is on the board of directors of Amnesty International. She is a lawyer and a Political Science PhD candidate at Indiana University.

10 Ways the Public Backlash Against Killer Drones Is Taking Off

Efforts to counter drone warfare at home and abroad are growing everywhere you look, from the United Nations to the courts to places of worship.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

March 26, 2013  |  

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Rand Paul’s marathon 13-hour filibuster was not the end of the conversation on drones. Suddenly, drones are everywhere, and so is the backlash. Efforts to counter drones at home and abroad are growing in the courts, at places of worship, outside air force bases, inside the UN, at state legislatures, inside Congress--and having an effect on policy.

1. April marks the national month of uprising against drone warfare. Activists in upstate New York are converging on the Hancock Air National Guard Base where Predator drones are operated. In San Diego, they will take on Predator-maker General Atomics at both its headquarters and the home of the CEO. In D.C., a coalition of national and local organizations are coming together to say no to drones at the White House. And all across the nation—including New York City, New Paltz, Chicago, Tucson and Dayton—activists are planning picket lines, workshops and sit-ins to protest the covert wars. The word has even spread to Islamabad, Pakistan, where activists are planning a vigil to honor victims.

2. There has been an unprecedented surge of activity in cities, counties and state legislatures across the country aimed at regulating domestic surveillance drones. After a raucous city council hearing in Seattle in February, the Mayor agreed to terminate its drones program and return the city’s two drones to the manufacturer. Also in February, the city of Charlottesville, VA passed a 2-year moratorium and other restrictions on drone use, and other local bills are pending in cities from Buffalo to Ft. Wayne. Simultaneously, bills have been proliferating on the state level. In Florida, a pending bill will require the police to get a warrant to use drones in an investigation; a Virginia statewide moratorium on drones passed both houses and awaits the governor’s signature, and similar legislation in pending in at least 13 other state legislatures.

3. Responding to the international outcry against drone warfare, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, is conducting an in-depth investigation of 25 drone attacks and will release his report in the Spring. Meanwhile, on March 15, having returned from a visit to Pakistan to meet drone victims and government officials, Emmerson condemned the U.S. drone program in Pakistan, as “it involves the use of force on the territory of another State without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.”

4. Leaders in the faith-based community broke their silence and began mobilizing against the nomination of John Brennan, with over 100 leaders urging the Senate to reject Brennan. And in an astounding development, The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans, issued a scathing statement about Obama’s drone policy, calling it “evil”, “monstrous” and “immoral.” The group’s president, Rev. Anthony Evans, exhorted other black leaders to speak out, saying “If the church does not speak against this immoral policy we will lose our moral voice, our soul, and our right to represent and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

5. In the past four years the Congressional committees that are supposed to exercise oversight over the drones have been mum. Finally, in February and March, the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee held their first public hearings, and the Constitution Subcommittee will hold a hearing on April 16 on the “constitutional and statutory authority for targeted killings, the scope of the battlefield and who can be targeted as a combatant.” Too little, too late, but at least Congress is  feeling some pressure to exercise its authority.

No Turning Back From Surveillance Drones

The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has admitted that there is no turning back from the use of surveillance drones on American citizens, comparing them to CCTV cameras.

Are Attorney General Holder’s Statements on Banks and Drones Connected? How Far Will the...

State-sponsored assassination: Attorney General Eric Holder Justifies Killing Americans On Foreign Soil

The Attorney General of the United States made the following 2 statements within 48 hours:

These statements may – at first glance – seem unconnected.  And the mainstream media is treating them as separate.

True, the government is hell-bent on keeping the giant banks afloat, even though virtually all independent economists, financial experts and bankers are calling for them to be broken up, and Americans overwhelmingly want the government to get tougher on prosecuting Wall Street fraud.

But there might be more to it then than that … and Holder’s statements may be intimately connected.

For example, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and other government agencies worked hand-in-hand with the big banks to violently crack down on the Occupy protests.

And what was Occupy protesting?  One of the core complaints of the Occupy protesters was that there are two systems of justice: the little guy gets thrown in jail for the smallest infraction, while banksters escape prosecution for their criminal fraud.  (Occupy also protested the fact that that the big banks got bailed out, while the rest of us got sold out.  And see this.)

In other words, it is exactly the Department of Justice’s policy of not prosecuting big bank crimes which was one of Occupy’s core complaints … and – in response – the federal government sent in the goons to crack heads and trash the free speech rights of the protesters.

This is not an isolated incident.

The big banks literally own the politicians.

For many years, the government has used anti-terror laws mainly to crush political dissent and to help the too big to fail businesses.

Asking questions about Wall Street shenanigans, speaking out against government policies, and protesting anything are all considered grounds for being labeled a “potential terrorist” by the government.  Whistleblowers are also being treated as terrorists.

Indeed, the government agency with the power to determine who gets assassinated is the same agency that is at the center of the “ubiquitous, unaccountable surveillance state aimed at American citizens.”

If this sounds like breathless fearmongering, please remember that the U.S. military now considers the American homeland to be a “battle zone” (and see this).

And the banking system is considered “critical infrastructure” by the Department of Homeland security.

Another Connection Between Big Banks and Drones

There is another connection between big banks and drones.

The big banks have a direct role in encouraging and financing war. And see this.

And Ron Paul noted in 2007:

Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank have a cozy, unspoken arrangement that makes war easier to finance. Congress has an insatiable appetite for new spending, but raising taxes is politically unpopular. The Federal Reserve, however, is happy to accommodate deficit spending by creating new money through the Treasury Department. In exchange, Congress leaves the Fed alone to operate free of pesky oversight and free of political scrutiny.

The big banks own the Federal Reserve.

Indeed, some say that all wars are really bankster wars.

U.S. Marshals Service Used Domestic Surveillance Drones

New documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have revealed that the U.S. Marshals Service experimented with domestic surveillance drones.

Sleazy Military Contractors Are Crying Foul Over Drones — They Stand to Lose Billions

A lot of very sleazy DoD contractors and their pet congressmembers have their own reasons for being so outraged over the threat of drone warfare.

February 27, 2013  |  

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This article first appeared at Not Safe for Work Corporation.

All the talk about drones focusses on their “morality.” But there's a funny thing about morality talk: most of it seems to come down to money. This time's no different.

The worst thing about drones is that they’re cheap. That’s interfering with the vacation-home budgets of a lot of very sleazy DoD contractors and their pet Texas congressmen, and that’s why you’re hearing a consensus around how “immoral” drones are.

Remember this: Drones are a threat to the sleaziest acquisition program in the history of defense contracting: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. There have been some pretty disgusting lemons in the sorry history of the DoD — you just have to think back to SDI, also known as “Star Wars,” to find a weapons system that not only didn’t work but was never meant to work — but I’d have to say that the F-35 is an even bigger con job than Star Wars.

Don’t just take it from me — serious hawks who actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to military aviation are saying this. John McCain, who crashed a few fighter jets in his time, joined Robert Gates when he was still SecDef to go public with what every Pentagon insider already knew: The F-35 is a godawful piece of boondoggle junk, and nobody wants it.

I can’t sum up the F-35 better  than McCain did:

"It has been an incredible waste of the taxpayers' dollar and it hurts the credibility of our acquisition process, our defense industry…[and]…reinforces the view of some of us that the military-industrial- congressional complex that President Eisenhower warned us about is alive and well."

So there’s the lineup: In the blue corner, everybody with any decency or sense. In the red corner, a bunch of Texas Congressmen who own stock in the companies involved. My money’s on the Texans, I’m sorry to say, because there’s just too much money to be made on the F-35 for these pigs to pass up.

I'm talking about more money than you can possibly imagine. Guess how much each F-35 is supposed to cost. (That’s not what it’s actually going to cost, which is always way more, just what they say it’ll cost.) You may think you know that fighters are expensive toys, but let’s play The Price Is Wrong — write down your guess.

Done?

The correct answer is “$200 million for the base model.” Two. Hundred. Million. For just one billion dollars, folks, you can get five of these dogs, which will do almost as well as an F-16 that cost about 8% of what we’re gonna pay for the F-35! That, folks, is what the F-35 backers consider a deal too wasteful to resist.

Now let’s move on to advanced math, with lots of extra zeroes, to figure out how much the whole program will cost. We’ll make it a story problem: “If the American people are stupid enough to pay $200 million for each barks-like-a-dog F-35, and they go through with the planned purchase of 2,443 of these flying cash dispensers, how many billions in treasury bonds will we have to sell to the Chinese just to line the pockets of some sleazy Texas congressmen and their contractor pals?”

Let’s see, that’s $200,000,000 X 2,443 = $488600000000. Call it five hundred billion dollars, with tax and gratuity. Half a trillion. Remember that scene in Austin Powers where the UN laughs when Dr Evil demands “one…MILLION…dollars”? Well, at DoD Procurement, they’d laugh even harder if he’d said, “One…BILLION…dollars.” They don’t even get excited until you’re into the hundred-billions. Millions and billions are for little people, like taxes.

US State Mulls Ban on ‘Peeping Tom’ Drones

The register reports that anyone in Oregon owning a drone fitted with a camera could be jailed for six months, or a year if it's caught flying, if a new state law is passed. The rules were proposed to tackle, among other things, peeping toms gazing into bedroom windows.

‘Iran set to unveil new drones’

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Britain loses 450 drones in battlefield

Nearly 450 British assassination drones have crashed, broken down, or been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last five years, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has disclosed.

The figure highlights the UK military’s huge reliance on technology, and particularly its deployment of unmanned aircrafts that on one hand minimizes risks to frontline troops and on the other, maximizes threats to civilian population of the target country.

The disclosure by the MoD raised concerns among campaigners about the reliability of using drones, as they say the smaller drones, which are more prone to crashes, are similar to those already being flown in UK airspace.

Chris Cole from watchdog website Drone Wars UK said: "The drone industry constantly talks up the supposed economic benefits of unmanned drones, but it is the civil liberties and safety implications that need real attention.”

“Without a significant improvement in reliability and safety, legislators should remain extremely skeptical about plans to open UK airspace to drones”, added Chris Cole.

Britain has spent more than £2 billion over the last five years, developing its unethical assassination drones, according to British media reports.

The deployment of such drones by the U.S. and its allies has led to killings of at least hundreds of innocent civilians, including many women and children, in the Middle East and South Asian regions.

MOS/MOL/HE

The Hubris of the Drones

Protesters march against drone warfare during President Obama's inauguration, January 21, 2013.Protesters march against drone warfare during President Obama's inauguration, January 21, 2013. (Photo: World Can't Wait)Last week, The New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing in war remains bad policy even today. This time, it’s done not by young GIs in the field but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones that hover and attack by remote control against targets thousands of miles away, often killing the innocent and driving their enraged and grieving families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we’re trying to eradicate.

The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do — a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet with three al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men — friend and foe — were incinerated by an American drone attack. The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors of an upwelling of support in the town for al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, “such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.”

Our blind faith in technology combined with a false sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. Reuters correspondent David Rohde recently wrote:

“The Obama administration’s covert drone program is on the wrong side of history. With each strike, Washington presents itself as an opponent of the rule of law, not a supporter. Not surprisingly, a foreign power killing people with no public discussion, or review of who died and why, promotes anger among Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others.”

Rohde has firsthand knowledge of what a drone strike can do. He was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008 and held for seven months. During his captivity, a drone struck nearby. “It was so close that shrapnel and mud showered down into the courtyard,” he told the BBC last year. “Just the force and size of the explosion amazed me. It comes with no warning and tremendous force… There’s sense that your sovereignty is being violated… It’s a serious military action. It is not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”

“It’s a serious military action… not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”

A special report from the Council on Foreign Relations last month, “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies,” quotes “a former senior military official” saying, “Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America.” The report notes that, “The current trajectory of U.S. drone strike policies is unsustainable… without any meaningful checks — imposed by domestic or international political pressure — or sustained oversight from other branches of government, U.S. drone strikes create a moral hazard because of the negligible risks from such strikes and the unprecedented disconnect between American officials and personnel and the actual effects on the ground.”

Negligible? Such hubris brought us to grief in Vietnam and Iraq and may do so again with President Obama’s cold-blooded use of drones and his indifference to so-called “collateral damage,” grossly referred to by some in the military as “bug splat,” and otherwise known as innocent bystanders.

Yet the ease with which drones are employed and the lower risk to our own forces makes the unmanned aircraft increasingly appealing to the military and the CIA. We’re using drones more and more; some 350 strikes since President Obama took office, seven times the number that were authorized by George W. Bush. And there’s a whole new generation of the weapons on the way — deadlier and with greater endurance.

According to the CFR report, “Of the estimated three thousand people killed by drones… the vast majority were neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban leaders. Instead, most were low-level, anonymous suspected militants who were predominantly engaged in insurgent or terrorist operations against their governments, rather than in active international terrorist plots.”

By the standards of slaughter in Vietnam, the deaths caused by drones are hardly a bleep on the consciousness of official Washington. But we have to wonder if each innocent killed — a young boy gathering wood at dawn, unsuspecting of his imminent annihilation; a student who picked up the wrong hitchhikers; that tribal elder arguing against fanatics — doesn’t give rise to second thoughts by those judges who prematurely handed our president the Nobel Prize for Peace. Better they had kept it on the shelf in hopeful waiting, untarnished.

The Hubris of the Drones

Last week, The New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing in war remains bad policy even today. This time, it’s done not by young GIs in the field but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones that hover and attack by remote control against targets thousands of miles away, often killing the innocent and driving their enraged and grieving families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we’re trying to eradicate.Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamat-i-Islami listen to their leaders during a rally to condemn U.S. drone attacks, April 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do — a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet with three al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men — friend and foe — were incinerated by an American drone attack. The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors of an upwelling of support in the town for al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, “such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.”

Our blind faith in technology combined with a false sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. Reuters correspondent David Rohde recently wrote:

“The Obama administration’s covert drone program is on the wrong side of history. With each strike, Washington presents itself as an opponent of the rule of law, not a supporter. Not surprisingly, a foreign power killing people with no public discussion, or review of who died and why, promotes anger among Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others.”

Rohde has firsthand knowledge of what a drone strike can do. He was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008 and held for seven months. During his captivity, a drone struck nearby. “It was so close that shrapnel and mud showered down into the courtyard,” he told the BBC last year. “Just the force and size of the explosion amazed me. It comes with no warning and tremendous force… There’s sense that your sovereignty is being violated… It’s a serious military action. It is not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”

“It’s a serious military action… not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”

A special report from the Council on Foreign Relations last month, “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies,” quotes “a former senior military official” saying, “Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America.” The report notes that, “The current trajectory of U.S. drone strike policies is unsustainable… without any meaningful checks — imposed by domestic or international political pressure — or sustained oversight from other branches of government, U.S. drone strikes create a moral hazard because of the negligible risks from such strikes and the unprecedented disconnect between American officials and personnel and the actual effects on the ground.”

Negligible? Such hubris brought us to grief in Vietnam and Iraq and may do so again with President Obama’s cold-blooded use of drones and his indifference to so-called “collateral damage,” grossly referred to by some in the military as “bug splat,” and otherwise known as innocent bystanders.

Yet the ease with which drones are employed and the lower risk to our own forces makes the unmanned aircraft increasingly appealing to the military and the CIA. We’re using drones more and more; some 350 strikes since President Obama took office, seven times the number that were authorized by George W. Bush. And there’s a whole new generation of the weapons on the way — deadlier and with greater endurance.

According to the CFR report, “Of the estimated three thousand people killed by drones… the vast majority were neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban leaders. Instead, most were low-level, anonymous suspected militants who were predominantly engaged in insurgent or terrorist operations against their governments, rather than in active international terrorist plots.”

By the standards of slaughter in Vietnam, the deaths caused by drones are hardly a bleep on the consciousness of official Washington. But we have to wonder if each innocent killed — a young boy gathering wood at dawn, unsuspecting of his imminent annihilation; a student who picked up the wrong hitchhikers; that tribal elder arguing against fanatics — doesn’t give rise to second thoughts by those judges who prematurely handed our president the Nobel Prize for Peace. Better they had kept it on the shelf in hopeful waiting, untarnished.

Bill Moyers

Journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the new show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America’s strongest thinkers.. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason. He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.

Michael Winship

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, is senior writer for Bill Moyers' new weekend show Moyers & Company.

The Hubris of the Drones

Last week, The New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing in war remains bad policy even today. This time, it’s done not by young GIs in the field but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones that hover and attack by remote control against targets thousands of miles away, often killing the innocent and driving their enraged and grieving families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we’re trying to eradicate.Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamat-i-Islami listen to their leaders during a rally to condemn U.S. drone attacks, April 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do — a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet with three al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men — friend and foe — were incinerated by an American drone attack. The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors of an upwelling of support in the town for al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, “such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.”

Our blind faith in technology combined with a false sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. Reuters correspondent David Rohde recently wrote:

“The Obama administration’s covert drone program is on the wrong side of history. With each strike, Washington presents itself as an opponent of the rule of law, not a supporter. Not surprisingly, a foreign power killing people with no public discussion, or review of who died and why, promotes anger among Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others.”

Rohde has firsthand knowledge of what a drone strike can do. He was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008 and held for seven months. During his captivity, a drone struck nearby. “It was so close that shrapnel and mud showered down into the courtyard,” he told the BBC last year. “Just the force and size of the explosion amazed me. It comes with no warning and tremendous force… There’s sense that your sovereignty is being violated… It’s a serious military action. It is not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”

“It’s a serious military action… not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”

A special report from the Council on Foreign Relations last month, “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies,” quotes “a former senior military official” saying, “Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America.” The report notes that, “The current trajectory of U.S. drone strike policies is unsustainable… without any meaningful checks — imposed by domestic or international political pressure — or sustained oversight from other branches of government, U.S. drone strikes create a moral hazard because of the negligible risks from such strikes and the unprecedented disconnect between American officials and personnel and the actual effects on the ground.”

Negligible? Such hubris brought us to grief in Vietnam and Iraq and may do so again with President Obama’s cold-blooded use of drones and his indifference to so-called “collateral damage,” grossly referred to by some in the military as “bug splat,” and otherwise known as innocent bystanders.

Yet the ease with which drones are employed and the lower risk to our own forces makes the unmanned aircraft increasingly appealing to the military and the CIA. We’re using drones more and more; some 350 strikes since President Obama took office, seven times the number that were authorized by George W. Bush. And there’s a whole new generation of the weapons on the way — deadlier and with greater endurance.

According to the CFR report, “Of the estimated three thousand people killed by drones… the vast majority were neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban leaders. Instead, most were low-level, anonymous suspected militants who were predominantly engaged in insurgent or terrorist operations against their governments, rather than in active international terrorist plots.”

By the standards of slaughter in Vietnam, the deaths caused by drones are hardly a bleep on the consciousness of official Washington. But we have to wonder if each innocent killed — a young boy gathering wood at dawn, unsuspecting of his imminent annihilation; a student who picked up the wrong hitchhikers; that tribal elder arguing against fanatics — doesn’t give rise to second thoughts by those judges who prematurely handed our president the Nobel Prize for Peace. Better they had kept it on the shelf in hopeful waiting, untarnished.

Bill Moyers

Journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the new show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America’s strongest thinkers.. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason. He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.

Michael Winship

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, is senior writer for Bill Moyers' new weekend show Moyers & Company.

Assassination Bureau: Justification Of U.S. Drones Killing A Travesty

drone (2)

Audio

The justification of targeted killings by the United States government is “a travesty” according to U.S. law, an analyst said.

U.S. senators are reportedly considering an idea to create a secret “assassination court” that would be charged with deciding if “suspects” can be assassinated by U.S. drone strikes.

“There is no way of justifying these killings and in fact they are assassinations,” Rick Rozoff, manager of the organization Stop The NATO International, told Press TV’s U.S. Desk on Saturday.

“This is what’s called targeted killing, but it’s not targeted. It’s mass killing,” he added.

There are estimates that since 2004 when the CIA started the drone warfare, between 4,500 and 5,000 people have been assassinated in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya and Iraq, Rozoff said.

The notion of a secretive court deciding who gets killed by robots looming overhead anywhere on the planet strikes some as somewhat morbid.

Observers charge that the change would just be some “nominal court oversight” to the targeted killings, which at present is entirely in the hands of the executive branch.

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US plans drones for ‘new Asia threat’

The US military plans development of newer drones and other aircraft intended to deal with its ‘changing security threats’ and greater focus on Asia as its troop drawdown from Afghanistan gets underway.

Pentagon’s new focus on Asia would demand “a new mix of drones and other aircraft” since nations in the region are better capable of detecting and shooting down American assassination and spying drones, AP reports Tuesday citing senior US military commanders. The plan, however, will not affect CIA’s terror drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

Commander of US Air Combat Command Gen. Mike Hostage underlined in an interview that the new focus of the American military on the Asia-Pacific region will require a different mix of aircraft, raising fears that unlike Afghanistan and Pakistan, where US assassination drones operated without worry of being shot down, some nations in the pacific are well capable of challenging US war planes, whether manned or unmanned.


Although the US commander did not elaborate about any specific or potential threat, a number of America’s spy drones, including the most sophisticated RQ-170 model, have been captured by Iran in past months while violating the country’s air-space.

Gen. Hostage further expressed concerns about the US military’s ability to continue maintaining the current number of American drones conducting surveillance and terror missions overseas, saying that senior Pentagon officials are analyzing, and for the first time considering slashing, “the massive buildup of drones” over the past years in a bid to save money and adapt to changing security threats.

The report further cites US Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Lt. Gen. Larry James as saying that a key part the decision to scale back the drone production will involve reconsiderations on what types of drones and other aircraft will the Pentagon need as it switches focus on the Pacific.

According to the report, the growing US concentration on Asia-Pacific reflects an intensifying “strategic concern” over China's emergence as a major military power, amid persisting disputes over Taiwan and contested islands in the south and east China seas.

This is while Pentagon’s overall spending on drones has surged from USD284 million in the year 2000 to nearly USD4 billion in the past fiscal year, while the number of drones owned by the Pentagon has soared “from less than 200 in 2002 to at least 7,500 now,” the report adds.

The CIA, however, maintains its own fleet of assassination and spying drones, which it uses to conduct what it claims as “counterterror missions,” and any decision by the US military to halt the drone buildup would likely have no impact on the spy agency’s drone operations.


There has been a major surge in US assassination drone strikes in Muslim countries in Asia and North Africa since Barack Obama assumed US presidency in 2009. The attacks have reportedly caused thousands of civilian casualties, prompting popular outrage in targeted nations.

MFB/MFB

Drones and Dreams

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We are Americans. Not just a continent, not just a melting pot. We are an idea, a set of dreams built on an idea. Yes, we are also a nation-state with the need and instinct to protect ourselves and our wealth – especially after we have been attacked and must look over our shoulders constantly to prevent the next attack. And, make no mistake about it: it is difficult to feel sorry for someone who threatens us with words and actions. So now it’s Pow! Poof! Gone! Good!

It is also hard to feel badly when a gangster is gunned down or a gang member is stabbed. But we don’t allow our police to do these things with impunity.

Because we are supposed to be different. The use of unmanned drones to commit murder overseas just doesn’t fit into our story. This is just not us. For decades our fictional superheroes have fought crime and always brought criminals to justice. They had superpowers and superior technology at their disposal, but they withheld it. The threat of force was always enough. These supermen and wonder women are our ideals, our prototypes of what people do when they have the power.

My fear of what happens to us by using drones is not ideological. This is neither a liberal nor conservative screed on my part. It is a plea for sanity. I am old enough to remember vividly the heated debates in the summer of 1968 between Gore Vidal on the left and William F. Buckley on the right. The name calling was shameless and they came very close to a fistfight on ABC during the Democratic National Convention. But this time they would be comrades. Vidal’s essays presciently warned about the United States becoming the “national security state” – billions for defense, an impenetrable infrastructure of unsustainable military bases to prop up an economy, the suspension of civil liberties during wars of words. Buckley was a cold warrior – but, importantly, he was first and foremost a libertarian. In his later years he waged campaigns to decriminalize marijuana and to free those wrongly accused of murder.

But what they both agreed upon was that this is America. Our power comes from being an idea that everyone wants. And for those who don’t want it? Freedom as long as they don’t threaten others. And if they do pose a threat? We defeat them with our most powerful weapons: justice in the form of policing, courts, and prison. We have departments of Homeland Security, Defense, intelligence, Justice, after all. And we have the weight of our idea in the world of public opinion.

Let me anticipate some criticism. This is terribly na�ve, some will say. Why should the United States be held to a different standard than anyone else? Answer: Because we are the United States of America and WE created that standard. Sadly, this is what others see and why some (many) resent us. We can drop the higher standard and just be another nation – but then we are not who we say we are.

Then there are a few who will say that I am just a pollster and I should just stick to the numbers. Frankly, I am not entirely sure what the numbers show on the US’ use of drones to kill civilians. But I am also an American and a human being – and an observer. If the numbers disagree with me I have never been afraid to show it.

In this column just a few weeks ago I suggested that President Barack Obama will be revered in history because of the barrier he has broken. Among the worst violators of our civil liberties are men with names like Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. President Harry Truman authorized the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They are among our greatest Presidents and are honored for leadership during wars. Like them, Mr. Obama’s legacy may never be tainted at all.

We have been through this all before. Stunned by the assassination of our 35th President John F. Kennedy, the Senate Special Committee on Assassinations in the mid-70s revealed US complicity in two dozen attempts to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro and even checked out theories of differing pro-Castro and anti-Castro links to the death of JFK. And then there was US complicity in assassinations in Iran, Guatemala, and South Vietnam. These were all during the Cold War and this not a proud moment in our history. That is why the Committee recommended and a Democratic Congress voted to prohibit US involvement in political assassinations. A Republican President signed it. It is the law of the land – and it was the right thing to do.

But now our Justice Department justifies the use of impersonal unmanned drones to kill “suspected” terrorists on the streets of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. It is the wrong thing. It is the wrong message to burgeoning democracies.

It is just not who we are supposed to be.

‘Drones May Be Our Only Hope of Finding Him’

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How many laws, procedures, and civil liberties can the LAPD break in their crazed manhunt for Chris Dorner?  It seems there is no end. Their shoot first tactic that resulted in two injured parties and likely a massive lawsuit for the taxpayers is the most obvious. Then you have warrantless checkpoints and house-to-house searches which most sleeping Americans consider normal operating procedure in our rights-deficient post-9/11 world.

Police State USA. Glimmer of Hope: Citizens Force Seattle To Scrap Police Drones

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It’s one of those stories that you had to listen twice when you heard the report on the radio, and then, still in a state of suspended disbelief, I rushed to the internet to check and see if indeed it was the case. With the good news, I could just about hear a faint pulse of the American heart beating again.

It’s safe to assume that after this week’s developments, corporate lobbyists, politicians, bureaucrats at the DHS, county sheriffs, city police – and maybe The President perhaps… should at least know by now – that Americans  do not want drones flying over their cities and towns. A wave of resistance is currently building…

In Seattle, where residents laid seige to the Seattle Police Department’s plans to use surveillance drones, it appears that following Wednesday night’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee hearing  - the program has been scrapped.

Washington residents take away expensive new police toys.

This news comes on the back of a week of controversy surrounding Obama’s CIA Director nominee, John O. Brennan, seen by many as a pioneer of sorts in the field of US military secret drone assassinations. This has presented an ethical dilemma for President Obama, who ascended to power on a liberal PR wave which is fundamentally at odds with this level of anti-constitutional and illegal policy.

Obama himself signed the bill in early 2012 that enabled some 30,000 drones in the domestic US, to be operated by the Department of Homeland Security and local police departments, Seattle being one such city scheduled for adoption of a junior ‘Skynet’ beta program.

Make no mistake about it – there is an Washington DC-based agenda to roll out drones all over the country. Seattle’s Police Department had obtained these two small drones through a federal grant. 

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn explained:

Today I spoke with Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and we agreed that it was time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department’s priority. (They) will be returned to the vendor.

Public protesters gathered in for the October public meeting on the city’s new drone program, which prompted police to quickly retreat on the issue:

The testimony opposing drones has been overwhelmingly clear that the 11 people who testified this afternoon, all of whom testified against the use of drones, was symbolic of the general reaction we are getting,” said Chairman Bruce Harrell.

Compared to other direct actions, this was a relatively modest effort, which should encourage other citizen groups keeping the encroaching police state at bay – for now at least. Mia Jacobson who represents the citizen group StandUP explains, “If 11 voices can protect the people from flying government robots watching their every move – what can 20 voices do? What can your voice accomplish?”.

In addition to Seattle, the city of Charlottesville, Va., also rejected drones by ordering a two-year moratorium on their use thanks to The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group.

According to FOX news: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security drones do enter Washington State airspace occasionally, patrolling the Canadian border east of the Cascade mountains. The two 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned aircraft are based in North Dakota.

Back on Pennsylvania Ave, Sen. Diane Feinstein who was chairing Obama’s CIA directorate confirmation hearings for drone-master John Brennan, came under some similar pressure from crowds of protesters, some of whom were ‘Code Pink’ anti-war demonstrators who were able to ‘gatecrash’ the DC venue. Brennan defended US state-sponsored murders by unmanned drones abroad by claiming that drone strikes are used only against targets ‘planning to carry out attacks against the United States’, completely missing out on the extrajudicial nature of the killings (including an estimated 100 children) which is actually causing the whole controversy. Back to square one…

US To Use Drones In Chris Dorner Manhunt

Update: this just in - Authorities offer $1 million reward for information leading to arrest of ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner

We were hoping to evade coverage of the latest mass distraction du jour, that of the former LAPD officer Chris Dorner who recently went rogue following a three man murder spree and who has vowed to kill again as per his 6,000 word manifesto, but the US government had made it impossible following confirmation
that the search for Dorner is now the first official drone-hunt in US history.

The Express reports:

Yesterday, as a task force of 125 officers, some riding Snowcats in the rugged terrain, continued their search, it was revealed that Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil.

A senior police source said: “The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him. On the ground, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Asked directly if drones have already been deployed, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, who is jointly leading the task force, said: “We are using all the tools at our disposal.”

The use of drones was later confirmed by Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio, who revealed agents have been prepared for Dorner to make a dash for the Mexican border since his rampage began.

He said: “This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement. That’s all I can say at the moment.”

And once Dorner is found by remote-control, it will be again up to drones to secure his "elimination." If for no other reason than to perform a ground test of just how the recently enacted drone-facilitated extermination of US citizens sits with various instances of the US judicial system.

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Living in a Constitution-Free Zone: Drones, Surveillance Towers, and Malls of the Spy State

Before September 11, 2001, more than half the border crossings between the United States and Canada were left unguarded at night, with only rubber cones separating the two countries. Since then, that 4,000 mile “point of pride,” as Toronto’s Globe and Mail once dubbed it, has increasingly been replaced by a U.S. homeland security lockdown, although it’s possible that, like Egyptian-American Abdallah Matthews, you haven’t noticed.

The first time he experiences this newly hardened U.S.-Canada border, it takes him by surprise. It’s a freezing late December day and Matthews, a lawyer (who asked me to change his name), is on the passenger side of a car as he and three friends cross the Blue Water Bridge from Sarnia, Ontario, to the old industrial town of Port Huron, Michigan. They are returning from the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto, chatting and happy to be almost home when the car pulls up to the booth, where a blue-uniformed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent stands. The 60,000-strong CBP is the border enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security and includes both customs and U.S. Border Patrol agents. What is about to happen is the furthest thing from Matthews’s mind. He’s from Port Huron and has crossed this border “a million times before.”

After scanning their passports and looking at a computer screen in the booth, the agent says to the driver, as Matthews tells the story:

“Sir, turn off the vehicle, hand me the key, and step out of the car.”

He hears the snap of handcuffs going around his friend’s wrists. Disoriented, he turns around and sees uniformed men kneeling behind their car, firearms drawn.

“To my disbelief, situated behind us are agents, pointing their guns.”

The CBP officer asks Matthews and the remaining passengers to get out of the car and escorts them to a waiting room. Thirty minutes later, he, too, is handcuffed and in a cell. Forty-five minutes after that another homeland security agent brings him into a room with no chairs. The agent tells him that he can sit down, but all he sees is a countertop. “Can I just stand?” he asks.

And he does so for what seems like an eternity with the door wide open, attempting to smile at the agents who pass by. “I’m trying to be nice,” is how he put it.

Finally, in a third room, the interrogation begins. Although they question Matthews about his religious beliefs and various Islamic issues, the two agents are “nice.” They ask him: Where’d you go? What kind of law do you practice? He tells them that a former law professor was presenting a paper at the annual conference, whose purpose is to revive “Islamic traditions of education, tolerance, and introspection.” They ask if he’s received military training abroad. This, he tells me, “stood out as one of their more bizarre questions.” When the CBP lets him and his friends go, he still thinks it was a mistake.

However, Lena Masri of the Council of American Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI) reports that Matthews’s experience is becoming “chillingly” commonplace for Michigan’s Arab and Muslim community at border crossings. In 2012, CAIR-MI was receiving five to seven complaints about similar stops per week. The detainees are all Arab, all male, all questioned at length. They are asked about religion, if they spend time at the mosque, and who their Imam is.

According to CAIR-MI accounts, CBP agents repeatedly handcuff these border-crossers, often brandish weapons, conduct invasive, often sexually humiliating body searches, and detain people for from two to 12 hours. Because of this, some of the detainees have lost job opportunities or jobs, or given up on educational opportunities in Canada.  Many are now afraid to cross the border to see their families who live in Canada. (CAIR-MI has filed alawsuit against the CBP and other governmental agencies.)

Months later, thinking there is no way this can happen again, Matthews travels to Canada and crosses the border, this time alone, on the Blue Water Bridge to Port Huron. Matthews still hadn’t grasped the seismic changes in Washington’s attitude toward our northern border since 9/11.  Port Huron, his small hometown, where a protest group, Students for a Democratic Society, first famously declared themselves against racism and alienation in 1962, is now part of the “frontline” in defense of the “homeland.”  As a result, Matthews finds himself a casualty of a new war, one that its architects and proponents see as a permanent bulwark not only against non-citizens generally, but also people like Matthews from “undesirable” ethno-religious groups or communities in the United States.

While a militarized enforcement regime has long existed in the U.S-Mexico borderlands, its far more intense post-9/11 version is also proving geographically expansive.  Now, the entire U.S. perimeter has become part of a Fortress USA mentality and a lockdown reality. Unlike on our southern border, there is still no wall to our north on what was once dubbed the “longest undefended border in the world.”  But don’t let that fool you.  The U.S.-Canadian border is increasingly a national security hotspot watched over by drones, surveillance towers, and agents of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Canadian Threat

Bert Tussing, U.S. Army War College Homeland Defense and Security Director, realizes that when people think of border security, what immediately comes to mind is the U.S.-Mexico border. After all, he is speaking in El Paso, Texas, where in the early 1990s the massive transformation and expansion of the border enforcement apparatus was born. Operation Blockade (later renamed Operation Hold-the-Line) became the Clinton administration’s blueprint for the walls, double-fencing, cameras, sensors, stadium-lighting, and concentration of Border Patrol agents now seen in urbanized areas -- and some rural ones as well -- from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, California. Tussing believes that this sort of intense surveillance, which has literally deformed communities throughout the southwest, should be brought to the northern border as well.

A former Marine with close-cropped brown hair, Tussing has a Napoleonic stature and despises being stuck behind a podium. “I kind of like moving around,” he quips before starting “The Changing Role of the Military in Border Security Operations,” his talk at last October’s Border Management Conference and Technology Expo.

Perhaps Tussing realizes that his audience holds a new breed of border-security entrepreneur when his initial Army-Marine joke falls flat. Behind the small audience are booths from 74 companies selling their border-security wares. These nomadic malls of the surveillance state are popping up in ever more places each year.

Hanging from the high ceiling is a white surveillance aerostat made by an Israeli company. Latched onto the bottom of this billowing balloon are cameras that, even 150 feet away, can zoom in on the comments I’m scrawling in my notebook. Nearby sits a mannequin in a beige body suit, equipped with a gas mask. It’s all part of the equipment and technology that the developing industry has in mind for our southern border, and increasingly the northern one as well.

Tussing homes in on a 2010 statistic: 59,000 people (“illegals if you will”)  tried to enter the United States from countries “other than Mexico, the euphemistic OTMs.” Six hundred and sixty-three of these “OTMs” were from countries Tussing calls "special-interest nations" such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, and Somalia, and also from countries the U.S. has identified as state-sponsors of terrorism like Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

Next, he turns to the U.S-Canada divide, mentioning the 1999 case of Ahmed Ressam who would have become “the millennium bomber,” if not for an astute U.S. Customs agent in Washington state.  Here, as Tussing sees it, is the crux of the problem: “We found over time that he was able to do what he was to do because of the comparatively liberal immigration and asylum laws that exist today in Canada, which allowed him a safe haven. Which allowed him a planning area. Which allowed him an opportunity to build bombs. Which allowed him an opportunity to arrange his logistics.” He pauses. “This is not to say that Canada’s laws are wrong, but they are different from ours.”

A Government Accountablity Office report, he adds, claims that “the risk of terrorist activity is high along the northern border.” Of that 4,000-mile border between the two countries, he adds, “only 32 of those miles are categorized as what we say are acceptable levels of control.”

As what Tussing calls the "coup de grâce" to his argument for reinforcements of every sort along that border, he quotes Alan Bersin, former director of Customs and Border Protection: “In terms of the terrorist threat, it’s more commonly accepted that the most significant threat comes from the north,” not the south.

A Constitution-Free Zone

In 2012, the U.S. government spent more on the Homeland Security agencies responsible for border security than all of its other principal federal law enforcement agencies combined. The $18 billion allocated to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement significantly exceeds the $14.4 billion that makes up the combined budgets of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshal Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.  In the years since 9/11, more than $100 billion has been spent on border security.  Much of that went to the southern border, but now an ever larger chunk is heading north.

On that northern border, things have come a long way since North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan in 2001 held up an orange cone and said, “This is America’s security at our border crossing... America can’t effectively combat terrorism if it doesn’t control its borders.”

Now Predator B drones, sometimes in the air for 20 hours at a stretch, are doing surveillance work from Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Spokane, Washington. Expensive surveillance towers equipped with night-vision cameras and sophisticated radar have been erected along the St. Clair and Niagara Rivers in Michigan and western New York state. Homeland Security built a $30 million border security “war room” at Michigan’s Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which, with its “video wall,” is worthy of a Hollywood action flick. This “gold standard” for border protection, as the CBP dubs it, is now one of many places where agents continuously observe those rivers of the north. As at Selfridge, so many resources and so much money has been poured into the frontlines of “homeland security,” and just upstream from cash-starved, post-industrial Detroit, the poorest city of its size in the United States.

In addition, the CBP’s Office of Air and Marine -- essentially Homeland Security’s air force and navy -- has established eight U.S. bases along the border from Plattsburgh, New York, to Bellingham, Washington. While such bases are commonplace on the southern border, they are new on the Canadian frontier. In addition, new state-of-the art Border Patrol stations are popping up in places like Pembina, North Dakota (at the cost of $13 million), International Falls, Minnesota ($6.8 million), and other places. This advance of the homeland security state in the north, funded and supported by Congress, seems both uncontroversial and unstoppable.

Don’t think that the eternal bolstering of “border security” is just a matter of fortifying the boundary line, either.  Last November, the CBP ordered an additional 14 unmanned aerial vehicles. (They are, however, still waiting for Congress to appropriate the funding for this five-year plan.)  With this doubling of its fleet, there will undoubtedly be more surveillance drones flying over major U.S. urban areas like Detroit, Buffalo, Syracuse, Bangor, and Seattle, places the ACLU has classified as in a “Constitution-free zone.”

That zone -- up to 100 miles from any external U.S. border -- is the area that the Supreme Court has deemed a “reasonable distance” in which to engage in border security operations, including warrantless searches. As in the Southwest, expect more interior checkpoints where federal agents will ask people about their citizenship, as they did to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy in 2008. In the zone, you have the developing blueprint for a country not only in perpetual lockdown, but also under increasing surveillance. According to the ACLU, if you were to include the southern border, the northern border, and coastal areas in this zone, it would contain 200 million people, a potential “border” jurisdiction encompassing two-thirds of the U.S. population.

It’s October 2007 when I get my first glimpse of this developing Constitution-free zone in action at a Greyhound bus station in Buffalo, New York. I’m with Miguel Angel Vasquez de la Rosa, a Mexican lawyer who is brown-skinned and speaks only Spanish. As we enter the station, we spot two beefy Border Patrol agents in their dark-green uniforms patrolling the waiting area.

I have to blink to make sure I’m not seeing things, to remember where I am. I’m originally from this area, but have lived for years along the U.S.-Mexican border where I’ve grown used to seeing the “men in green.” I can’t remember ever seeing them here.

Before 9/11, Border Patrol agents on the southern border used to joke that they went north to “go fishing.” Not anymore.  The 2001 USA Patriot Actmandated a 300% increase in Border Patrol personnel on the northern border, as well as the emplacement of more surveillance technology there. Further legislation in 2004 required that 20% of the agency’s new recruits be stationed on the Canadian divide.

The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents on the northern border went from340 in 2001 to 1,008 in 2005 to 2,263 in 2010. Now, the number is approaching 3,000. That’s still small compared to the almost 19,000 on the southern border, but significant once you add in the “force multipliers,” since Border Patrol works ever more closely with local police and other agencies. For example, according to immigration lawyer Jose Perez, New York State troopers call the Border Patrol from Interstate-90 outside of Syracuse about a suspected undocumented person about 10 times a day on average. “And we aren’t even in Arizona.”

On that day in Buffalo, the two agents made a beeline for Miguel to check his visa. A moment later, the hulking agents are standing over another brown-skinned man who is rifling through a blue duffle bag, desperately searching for his documents. Not long after, handcuffed, he is walked to the ticket counter with the agents on either side. Somehow, cuffed, the agents expect him to retrieve his ticket from the bag, now on the counter. There are so many people watching that it seems like a ritual of humiliation.

Since 2007, this sort of moment has become ever more usual across the northern border region in bus and train stations, as “homeland security” gains ever more traction and an ever wider definition. The Border Patrol are, for instance, staking out Latino community centers in Detroit, and working closelywith the police on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state, leading to a much wider enforcement dragnet, which looks an awful lot like round-ups of the usual suspects.

After 9/11, the Border Patrol’s number one mission became stopping terrorists and weapons of mass destruction from coming into the country between the ports of entry. The Border Patrol, however, is “an agency that doesn’t have limitations,” says Joanne Macri, director of the Criminal Defense Immigration Project of the New York State Defender Association. “With police officers, people have more due process protection.” Since 9/11, she adds, they have become “the national security police.”

And from what we know of their arrest records, it’s possible to grasp their definition of national security.  Just in Rochester, New York, between 2005 and 2009, the CBP classified 2,776 arrests during what it terms “transportation raids” by skin complexion. The results: 71.2% of medium complexion and 12.9% black. Only 0.9% of their arrests were of “fair” complexion. And agents have had incentives to increase the numbers of people they sweep up, including Home Depot gift certificates, cash bonuses, and vacation time.

Macri tells me that it is now ever more common for armed national security police to pull people “who don’t belong” off buses and trains in the name of national security.  In 2011, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton, there were more than 47,000 deportationsof undocumented people along the northern border.

Too Close to Home

The next time Abdallah Matthews crosses the international border, a familiar face asks him the normal questions: Where did you go in Canada? What was the purpose of your trip? Matthews is already in the same CBP waiting area, has already been handcuffed, and can’t believe it’s happening again.

The CBP agent suddenly stops. “Do you remember me?”

Matthews peers at him, and finally says, “Yes, I played soccer with you.” They haven’t seen each other since high school.  They briefly reminisce, two men who grew up together along the St. Clair River before all those expensive surveillance towers with infrared cameras and radar went up. Although Matthews and the CBP agent were once friendly, although they lived in the same small town, there is now a boundary between them. Matthews struggles against this divide. He pleads: “You know who I am. I grew up here. I’ve been over this border a million times.”

This is, of course, only one of thousands of related stories happening along U.S. borders, north and south, in a universe in which, as anthropologist Josiah Heyman puts it, there are increasingly only two kinds of people: “the watchers and the watched.”  And keep in mind that, with only "32 miles" under operational control, this is just the beginning. The U.S. border enforcement apparatus is only starting its migration north.

Matthews’s former high-school acquaintance guides him to the now-familiar room with the counter where three interrogators are waiting for him. They tell him to spread his legs. Then they order him to take off his shoes. It’s hard to take them off, however, when your hands are cuffed behind your back. The two interrogators in front are already shouting questions at him.  (“What were you doing in Canada?”) The one behind him kicks his shoes. Hard. Then, after Matthews finally manages to get them off, the agent searches under his waistband.

When they are done, Matthews asks the agents what they would do if he were to circle around, reenter Canada, and cross the border again. The agents assure him that they would have to do the same exact thing -- handcuff, detain, and interrogate him as if his previous times had never happened.

No Evidence Needed For Drones To Kill U.S. Citizens

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An newly surfaced Justice Department white paper reveals that the Obama administration has more power to use killer drones  on American citizens than previously thought. Shockingly, the the newly disclosed memo states  that the U.S. government do not require any evidence that a terrorist attack is about to take place in order to use drone attacks.

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

John Brennan and John Kiriakou worked together years ago, but their careers have dramatically diverged. Brennan is now on track to head the CIA, while Kiriakou is headed off to prison. Each of their fates is tied to the so-called war on terror, which under President George W. Bush provoked worldwide condemnation. President Barack Obama rebranded the war on terror innocuously as “overseas contingency operations,” but, rather than retrench from the odious practices of his predecessor, Obama instead escalated. His promotion of Brennan, and his prosecution of Kiriakou, demonstrate how the recent excesses of U.S. presidential power are not transient aberrations, but the creation of a frightening new normal, where drone strikes, warrantless surveillance, assassination and indefinite detention are conducted with arrogance and impunity, shielded by secrecy and beyond the reach of law.AP/Jacquelyn Martin

John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and a case officer. In 2002, he led the team that found Abu Zubaydah, alleged to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaida. Kiriakou was the first to publicly confirm the use of waterboarding by the CIA, in a 2007 interview with ABC’s Brian Ross. He told Ross: “At the time, I felt that waterboarding was something that we needed to do. ... I think I’ve changed my mind, and I think that waterboarding is probably something that we shouldn’t be in the business of doing.” Kiriakou says he found the “enhanced interrogation techniques” immoral, and declined to be trained to use them.

Since the interview, it has become known that Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times, and that he provided no useful information as a result. He remains imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, without charge. Kiriakou will soon start serving his 30-month prison sentence, but not for disclosing anything about waterboarding. He pled guilty to disclosing the name of a former CIA interrogator to a journalist, with information that the interrogator himself had posted to a publicly available website.

Meanwhile, John Brennan, longtime counterterrorism advisor to Obama, is expected to receive Senate confirmation as the new director of central intelligence. I recently asked Kiriakou what he thought of Brennan:

“I’ve known John Brennan since 1990. I worked directly for John Brennan twice. I think that he is a terrible choice to lead the CIA. I think that it’s time for the CIA to move beyond the ugliness of the post-September 11th regime, and we need someone who is going to respect the Constitution and to not be bogged down by a legacy of torture. I think that President Obama’s appointment of John Brennan sends the wrong message to all Americans.”

Obama has once already considered Brennan for the top CIA job, back in 2008. Brennan withdrew his nomination then under a hail of criticism for supporting the Bush-era torture policies in his various top-level intelligence positions, including head of the National Counterterrorism Center.

What a difference four years makes. With the killing of Osama bin Laden notched in his belt, Obama seems immune from counterterror criticism. John Brennan is said to manage the notorious “kill list” of people that Obama believes he has the right to kill anytime, anywhere on the planet, as part of his “overseas contingency operations.” This includes the killing of U.S. citizens, without any charge, trial or due process whatsoever. Drone strikes are one way these assassinations are carried out. U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen by a drone strike, then, two weeks later, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed the same way.

I asked Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, what he thought of Brennan. He told me: “What’s happening with drone strikes around the world right now is, in my opinion, as bad a development as many of the things we now condemn so readily, with 20/20 hindsight, in the George W. Bush administration. We are creating more enemies than we’re killing. We are doing things that violate international law. We are even killing American citizens without due process and have an attorney general who has said that due process does not necessarily include the legal process. Those are really scary words.”

While Kiriakou goes to prison for revealing a name, the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism is launching a project called “Naming the Dead,” hoping “to identify as many as possible of those killed in U.S. covert drone strikes in Pakistan, whether civilian or militant.” The BIJ reports a “minimum 2,629 people who appear to have so far died in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.” John Brennan should be asked about each of them.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2012 TruthDig

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

Brennan denies civilian toll by drones

White House 'Counterterrorism' Advisor John Brennan, nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the CIA spy agency

US president’s counterterrorism advisor and nominee to lead the CIA spy agency John Brennan tells a Senate panel that the civilian casualties inflicted by American assassination drone strikes have been “exceedingly rare,” despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

In written responses to 40 pre-hearing questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Brennan will face on Thursday for his confirmation hearing to become the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), he has described the civilian toll left behind by the terror drone operations, which he reportedly directs, as “exceedingly rare,” reiterating his denial of widely reported high human losses caused by the US bid, The Los Angeles Times reports Thursday.

The report further cites former US officials as saying that “for a time,” the nation’s intelligence community “considered every military-age male killed in a CIA (assassination) drone strike to have been a militant.”


Brennan, according to the report, refused to elaborate on how American authorities figured out that a militant is “associated” with the shadowy al-Qaeda terrorist group and whether the threat he posses is so “imminent” to warrant his assassination by a drone strike.

The widely regarded “architect” of the Obama administration’s targeted-killing policy further claimed, without elaboration, that designating a person as a “militant” was determined by “intelligence professionals” on a “case-by-case basis.”

Meanwhile, US lawmakers are expected to press for more detailed responses from Brennan during his confirmation hearing, though they might be hindered by the fact that the CIA use of assassination drones for its targeted killing operations is considered “top secret,” even though it is widely discussed and debated.

As keeper of the so-called kill list of targets, the daily adds, “Brennan has coordinated both the Pentagon and CIA efforts from the White House, running high-level meetings about potential lethal strikes.”

In his written answers to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan has explained that he had been interviewed “in connection with an investigation by the US attorney's office in Maryland of possible unauthorized disclosures of information to reporters about cyber attacks against Iran, an apparent reference to stories that described US cyber espionage against Iran's nuclear enrichment program,” the daily further reports.


The report also adds that Obama has bowed to Congressional pressure on Wednesday and agreed to allow the Senate and the House intelligence committees to review classified legal memos, justifying an assassination drone strike against an American citizen in Yemen in 2011.

MFB/MFB

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

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Posted on Feb 6, 2013

By Amy Goodman

John Brennan and John Kiriakou worked together years ago, but their careers have dramatically diverged. Brennan is now on track to head the CIA, while Kiriakou is headed off to prison. Each of their fates is tied to the so-called war on terror, which under President George W. Bush provoked worldwide condemnation. President Barack Obama rebranded the war on terror innocuously as “overseas contingency operations,” but, rather than retrench from the odious practices of his predecessor, Obama instead escalated. His promotion of Brennan, and his prosecution of Kiriakou, demonstrate how the recent excesses of U.S. presidential power are not transient aberrations, but the creation of a frightening new normal, where drone strikes, warrantless surveillance, assassination and indefinite detention are conducted with arrogance and impunity, shielded by secrecy and beyond the reach of law.
 
John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and a case officer. In 2002, he led the team that found Abu Zubaydah, alleged to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaida. Kiriakou was the first to publicly confirm the use of waterboarding by the CIA, in a 2007 interview with ABC’s Brian Ross. He told Ross: “At the time, I felt that waterboarding was something that we needed to do. ... I think I’ve changed my mind, and I think that waterboarding is probably something that we shouldn’t be in the business of doing.” Kiriakou says he found the “enhanced interrogation techniques” immoral, and declined to be trained to use them.
 
Since the interview, it has become known that Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times, and that he provided no useful information as a result. He remains imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, without charge. Kiriakou will soon start serving his 30-month prison sentence, but not for disclosing anything about waterboarding. He pled guilty to disclosing the name of a former CIA interrogator to a journalist, with information that the interrogator himself had posted to a publicly available website.
 
Meanwhile, John Brennan, longtime counterterrorism advisor to Obama, is expected to receive Senate confirmation as the new director of central intelligence. I recently asked Kiriakou what he thought of Brennan:
 
“I’ve known John Brennan since 1990. I worked directly for John Brennan twice. I think that he is a terrible choice to lead the CIA. I think that it’s time for the CIA to move beyond the ugliness of the post-September 11th regime, and we need someone who is going to respect the Constitution and to not be bogged down by a legacy of torture. I think that President Obama’s appointment of John Brennan sends the wrong message to all Americans.”
 
Obama has once already considered Brennan for the top CIA job, back in 2008. Brennan withdrew his nomination then under a hail of criticism for supporting the Bush-era torture policies in his various top-level intelligence positions, including head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
 
What a difference four years makes. With the killing of Osama bin Laden notched in his belt, Obama seems immune from counterterror criticism. John Brennan is said to manage the notorious “kill list” of people that Obama believes he has the right to kill anytime, anywhere on the planet, as part of his “overseas contingency operations.” This includes the killing of U.S. citizens, without any charge, trial or due process whatsoever. Drone strikes are one way these assassinations are carried out. U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen by a drone strike, then, two weeks later, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed the same way.
 
I asked Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, what he thought of Brennan. He told me: “What’s happening with drone strikes around the world right now is, in my opinion, as bad a development as many of the things we now condemn so readily, with 20/20 hindsight, in the George W. Bush administration. We are creating more enemies than we’re killing. We are doing things that violate international law. We are even killing American citizens without due process and have an attorney general who has said that due process does not necessarily include the legal process. Those are really scary words.”
 
While Kiriakou goes to prison for revealing a name, the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism is launching a project called “Naming the Dead,” hoping “to identify as many as possible of those killed in U.S. covert drone strikes in Pakistan, whether civilian or militant.” The BIJ reports a “minimum 2,629 people who appear to have so far died in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.” John Brennan should be asked about each of them.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.


© 2013 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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Lawmakers Ramp Up Pressure on Obama, Brennan to Come Clean Over Drones

A growing number of U.S. Congress members are now promising to ramp up pressure on the Obama Administration to reassess its lethal, and many say unconstitutional, use of drone strikes following this week's "white paper" leak, which exposed the Department of Justice's "profoundly disturbing" justification of drone executions of U.S. citizens.

John Brennan, nominee for CIA director, arrives at a meeting with Senate intelligence committee chairman Dianne Feinstein. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters) "It has to be in the agenda of this Congress to reconsider the scope of action of drones and use of deadly force by the United States around the world because the original authorization of use of force, I think, is being strained to its limits," Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in a recent interview.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland stated Tuesday that "it deserves a serious look at how we make the decisions in government to take out, kill, eliminate, whatever word you want to use, not just American citizens but other citizens as well."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee may soon hold hearings on U.S. drone policy, an aide told news agencies Tuesday.

Following Monday's white paper leak, a bipartisan group of 11 senators wrote a letter urging President Barack Obama to release the Justice Department's still unreleased full legal opinion on drone strikes. The white paper, which had already been shown to senators several weeks ago, contains a memo which outlines the administrations rationale for such attacks; however, as Marcy Wheeler points out today, "it [is] not the actual legal memos used to authorize the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and who knows who else..."

Wheeler continues, "The release of this white paper must not serve to take pressure off of the White House to release the actual memos," which contain a more detailed 50-page memorandum from the office of legal counsel, of which the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have demanded "at least" 12 times.

In their letter to Obama, the 11 senators wrote, "We ask that you direct the Justice Department to provide Congress, specifically the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, with any and all legal opinions that lay out the executive branch's official understanding of the President's authority to deliberately kill American citizens."

"The executive branch's cooperation on this matter will help avoid an unnecessary confrontation that could affect the Senate's consideration of nominees for national security positions," the Senators added, suggesting that Thursday's scheduled nomination of CIA director, and drone program architect, John Brennan could be held up if the administration doesn't release the full extent of legal memos.

The Senate Intelligence Committee members have promised to grill Brennan at the confirmation hearing, demanding more details—or else.

On Wednesday committee member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., threatened to “pull out all the stops” at the hearing, suggesting the potential for a filibuster of Brennan's confirmation should Obama's team continue to hide the full extent of legal papers.

“I want it understood that because this is such a central [issue], you have an individual with enormous influence who is really the architect of the counterterror policy in the Obama administration that I am going to pull out all the stops to get the actual legal analysis because with out it, in effect, the administration is practicing secret law,” said Wyden.

In addition to the planned grilling of Brennan at the hearing, activist group CODEPINK is promising to make their distaste for the administration's drone policies known:

Stay tuned to www.c-span.org at 2:30pm on Thursday to hear the Senators’ questions, Brennan’s answers and the response from those of us in the audience who don’t have many such occasions to express outrage at our government’s policy of remote-controlled killing.

Drones: The Ultimate Stalkers

A hexacopter flown by Daniel Garate, an aerial photographer, during his demonstration at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., Feb. 3, 2012. (Photo: J. Emilio Flores / The New York Times)A hexacopter flown by Daniel Garate, an aerial photographer, during his demonstration at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., Feb. 3, 2012. (Photo: J. Emilio Flores / The New York Times)Imagine you’re being stalked from the sky. Every time you go in or out of any building, it’s recorded. Everybody you talk with. Everyplace you drive or take public transportation. Your sky-stalker can see through your windows, read your lips, and, using infrared cameras, can even see if you’ve lit a cigarette – of any type.

Shouldn’t this be illegal?

When Larisa Oleynik, star of “The Secret World of Alex Mack,” found she had a stalker, she got a restraining order. But if her stalker had been the police, and they were doing it with a drone, right now there are virtually no laws or regulations that would protect her. Or you.

Being concerned about such things is genuinely all-American.

You could say that our privacy concerns started with George Orwell (who, ironically, was British) and the publication of his book “1984,” but in reality the modern-day American concern about government snooping into our lives goes back before the American Revolution.

Thomas Jefferson, back before George Washington was president but after the Revolutionary War, was living in Paris and communicated in code with his protégé, James Madison, about their Federalist political enemies.

Jefferson did it again when he became President in 1801, developing an even more elaborate code to communicate with his most trusted aide, Meriwether Lewis. Their concern was which military officers, mostly leftovers from the John Adams administration, might be reading their mail or interrogating White House servants because those officers were thinking of pulling a military coup to overthrow the Jefferson administration.

The result was that Jefferson, on Lewis’s suggestion, fired two-thirds of all the commissioned officers and cut the size of the Army by over 80 percent.

Fast forward to today. Police helicopters, police trucks that can use infrared to see inside your house, and GPS units cops can attach to you car. In every case there’s a legitimate police use for these technologies, as well as an incredible potential for abuse.

The Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights that Jefferson demanded Madison put into the Constitution as the price of getting Virginia’s ratification, is one sentence long. It says:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In other words, they can’t spy on you – on you, personally – unless they have enough proof to bring before a judge that you’re up to something that’s probably illegal.

In the case of the police helicopters, trucks, GPS units, and phone taps, to some extent both state governments, Congress, and the Supreme Court have brought their use into at least a marginal compliance with the Fourth Amendment.

Not so with drones. At least yet.

And that’s why the City of Charlottesville, Virginia – a stone’s throw from Thomas Jefferson’s home – did a beautiful thing this week in passing a resolution calling for a ban, for the moment, on drones in their skies.

The Rutherford Institute proposed the first draft of what ultimately became the resolution that was promoted by the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice. It included language that said:

WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

“WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers…” there should be at two-year moratorium on using information obtained from them, or on weaponizing them.

As David Swanson notes in his blog on the CCPJ site, “without proper safeguards, these drones, some of which are deceptively small and capable of videotaping the facial expressions of people on the ground from hundreds of feet in the air, will usher in a new age of surveillance in American society. Not even those indoors, in the privacy of their homes, will be safe from these aerial spies, which can be equipped with technology capable of peering through walls.”

And that doesn’t even include the capability of these police drones to be weapon-equipped, from bullets to nerve gas. Or their ability to be hacked, or their data streams to be hijacked by malicious corporations, weird stalkers, or foreign governments.

Nobody is saying there’s no legitimate place for drones in police work in America. They’re a heck of a lot cheaper than the helicopter that famously followed OJ Simpson’s car, for example. At the most basic level, they’re just an extension of already-existing and already-used technology.

And yet, as with any new technology – think email, for example, or text-messages – we need to make sure it’s used in a way that complies with the Fourth Amendment and respects our individual rights to privacy.

And that’s why it’s way beyond time to have a national conversation about drones over US skies. With the help of the CCPJ, Charlottesville has taken a great first step in starting that national dialog. Oregon, for example, has started a similar debate, with legislation introduced by both Democrats and Republicans concerned about individual privacy rights.

Let’s all work for solid legislative restrictions on police use of these drones so that they help legitimate police work while respecting the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of us all.

Here Come The Drones, Or The True Reason For The Mali Incursion

Given our recent discussion (here and here) of the rising importance of Africa in the world's power and money echelons, it is not entirely surprising that the NY Times reports that US military command in Africa is actively preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase "unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups" that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region. It would appear Niger will be the most likely place for the base - from which officials envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones though, of course, they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens. “This is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom a more enduring presence for I.S.R.,” one American military official said Sunday, referring to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Perhaps, actually scratch the "perhaps", what is really happening is the US now has a drone base with which to supervise Chinese expansion in Northweast Africa, anda drone fleet to use defensively and offensively as it sees fit.

From -

And so it would appear we can draw a big red circle over northwest Africa in the map above which is where the US will literally have a bird's eye view of all the resources that China is sequestering, and all the infrastructure that the world's most populous nation is setting up.

Next we need a little dose of the perpetual "Al-Qaeda" bogeyman in Central, Eastern, and finally South Africa and the US will have military control over a continent that China is rapidly doing all it cen to colonize from the ground up.

Via NY Times,

The United States military command in Africa is preparing plans to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.

For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.

If the base is approved, the most likely location for it would be in Niger, a largely desert nation on the eastern border of Mali, where French and Malian troops are now battling Qaeda-backed fighters who control the northern part of that country...

The immediate impetus for a drone base in the region is to provide surveillance assistance to the French-led operation in Mali. “This is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom a more enduring presence for I.S.R.,” one American military official said Sunday, referring to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

A handful of unarmed Predator drones would carry out surveillance missions in the region and fill a desperate need for more detailed information on a range of regional threats, including militants in Mali and the unabated flow of fighters and weapons from Libya. American military commanders and intelligence analysts complain that such information has been sorely lacking.

The United States military has a very limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali. ...

If approved, the base could ultimately have as many as 300 United States military and contractor personnel, but it would probably begin with far fewer people than that, military officials said.

Some Africa specialists expressed concern that setting up a drone base in Niger or in a neighboring country, even if only to fly surveillance missions, could alienate local people who may associate the distinctive aircraft with deadly attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Officials from Niger did not respond to e-mails over the weekend about the plan, but its president, Mahamadou Issoufou, has expressed a willingness to establish what he called in a recent interview “a long-term strategic relationship with the U.S.”

...

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who heads the Intelligence Committee, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday that in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, there was “an effort to establish a beachhead for terrorism, a joining together of terrorist organizations.”

...

General Ham said during an interview on his visit to Niger that it had been very difficult for American intelligence agencies to collect consistent, reliable intelligence about what was going on in northern Mali, as well as in other largely ungoverned parts of the sub-Saharan region.

“It’s tough to penetrate,” he said. “It’s tough to get access for platforms that can collect. It’s an extraordinarily tough environment for human intelligence, not just ours but the neighboring countries as well.”

The State Department has been extraordinarily wary of allowing drones to operate in the region, fearful of criticism that the United States is trying to militarize parts of Africa...

American drones regularly conduct surveillance flights over Somalia and occasionally launch airstrikes against people suspected of being members of the Shabab, a militant group linked to Al Qaeda.

...

“Without operating locations on the continent, I.S.R. capabilities would be curtailed, potentially endangering U.S. security,” General Ham said in a statement submitted to the House Armed Services Committee last March. “Given the vast geographic space and diversity in threats, the command requires increased ISR assets to adequately address the security challenges on the continent.”

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The Children Killed by America’s Drones. “Crimes Against Humanity” committed by Barack H. Obama.

DRONERQ-170_Sentinel_impression_3-view

This is a list of names of children killed by America’s drones.

But behind each name there is the face of child with a family history in a village in a far away country, with a mom and a dad, with brothers and sisters and friends.

Among the list, are infants of 1, 2, 3 and 4 years old.

In some cases brothers and sisters of an entire family are killed.

Four sisters of the Ali Mohammed Nasser family in Yemen were killed. Afrah was 9 years old when she and her three younger sisters Zayda (7 years old) , Hoda (5 years old) and Sheika (4 years old) were struck by an American drone.

Ibrahim, a 13 year old boy of the Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye family in Yemen was  struck by a US drone, together with his younger brother Asmaa (9 years old) and two younger sisters, Salma (4 years old) and Fatima (3 years old) 

These children are innocent.  They are not different from our own children.

Their lives were taken away at a very young age as part of a military agenda, which claims to be combating  “international terrorism”

 These drone attacks are extremely precise.  We are not dealing with “collateral damage”.

Drone operators have the ability of viewing from a computer screen their targets well in advance of a strike.

A family home is referred to as a “structure” or a “building” rather than a house. When they target a home with family members, they kill children. And they know that in advance of the drone strike.

These children were killed on the orders of the US President and Commander in Chief  Barack H. Obama.

The commander in chief sets the military agenda and authorizes these killings to proceed.

The killings were quite deliberate. They are categorized as “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Those who ordered these drone killings, including  the president of the United States, are war criminals under international law and must be indicted and prosecute.

It should be noted that the drone attacks on civilians have increased dramatically during the Obama presidency (see below).

Michel Chossudovsky, January 26, 2012

Pakistan strikes


The List of Names was compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004–2013

Total US strikes: 362
Obama strikes: 310
Total reported killed: 2,629-3,461
Civilians reported killed: 475-891
Children reported killed: 176
Total reported injured: 1,267-1,431

US Covert Action in Yemen 2002–2013

Total confirmed US operations (all): 54-64
Total confirmed US drone strikes: 42-52
Possible extra US operations: 135-157
Possible extra US drone strikes: 77-93
Total reported killed (all): 374-1,112
Total civilians killed (all): 72-177
Children killed (all): 27-37

US Covert Action in Somalia 2007–2013

Total US strikes: 10-23
Total US drone strikes: 3-9
Total reported killed: 58-170
Civilians reported killed: 11-57
Children reported killed: 1-3

Drone Infographics

Interactive map
Globe - Flickr / joelthomas

This map details the locations of CIA drone strikes in the remote Pakistani tribal areas.

 Partial List of Children Killed

PAKISTAN

Name | Age | Gender

Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male

YEMEN

Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male
Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male
Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male
Nasser Salim | 19

US terror drones kill 9 in Yemen

At least nine people have been killed in two separate US assassination drone attacks in Yemen.

The first drone strike killed seven people travelling in a vehicle near the town of Khawlan, about 35 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of the capital Sana’a, on Wednesday.

On the same day, two other people died in another attack on a house in the town of Radda in al-Bayda province.

Three people were also reportedly injured in the second strike.

The United States has launched numerous drone attacks in Yemen that have killed many innocent civilians over the past few years.

Washington claims that its airstrikes target militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned airstrikes.


The United States has come under fire for increasing its drone attacks in the Arab country.
Yemenis have held many demonstrations to condemn the United States’ violations of their national sovereignty.

NT/MHB

Galbraith: Is This the End for the Deficit Drones?

Public opinion is turning on those who seek to cut our social safety net.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

January 23, 2013  |  

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In wars, sometimes there comes a moment when the tide turns. The collapse of Ludendorff's offensive in 1918 presaged the Armistice;  failure in the Ardennes meant the end for Germany in 1944.  

Today we have two drone wars in a similar state. One is mainly in Pakistan. Built on a gee-whiz technology that can't do what it promised, this war has claimed too many victims for too little effect. It is a diplomatic disaster and its days are numbered, almost surely, for that reason.

The other drone war is in Washington. The drones are in groups with names like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Campaign to Fix the Debt. They drone on, and on, about the calamities that await unless we cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

That the goal of the deficit drones is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has been plain for years to anyone who looks at where the money comes from. It comes largely from Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire former secretary of Commerce under Nixon, who is Captain Ahab to Social Security's Moby Dick. And when one trick, such as privatization, falls flat, his minions always have another, whether it's raising the retirement age or changing the COLA. But a cut by any other name is still, and always, just a cut.

Peterson's influence is vast; practically the entire DC mind-meld has bought his line to some degree.   

The other day I was on CNBC, supposedly to discuss the debt ceiling, but the topic was Social Security all the way. My host, Andrew Ross Sorkin, was very blunt: “If now isn't the time to cut entitlements,” he asked, “when would be?” My answer – in a word, never – is not one he seemed to have thought possible before.

Yet there is no good reason to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. These are insurance programs. They keep the elderly, their survivors and dependents, and the disabled, out of dire poverty. We can afford this. There is also no financing problem; if there were, investors would not be buying 20-year US bonds at 3 percent. These days when some economists say that cuts are needed, they say it's only for show – to establish “credibility.” Old-timers may remember, that's what DC insiders once said about the war in Vietnam.

And like Vietnam, this war is getting old. We're beginning to realize, we don't need it. If the United States really faced some sort of deficit or debt crisis, something would have happened by now. Simpson and Bowles – those brave men who were going to lead us toward budget balance – who remembers them? The super-committee? The fiscal cliff? All gone. Yet Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are still here. The economy is still stable. And interest rates are still low. The debt ceiling? On that, the president stood up and the Republicans gave way.

It's true that the sequesters and the continuing resolution lie ahead. But if you are going to refuse blackmail over the debt ceiling, why yield to it on anything else? The blackmailers must know by now which side the public will take.

And then on Monday we heard from President Obama. As part of his great speech, which settled so many questions, he gave a little economics lesson. Here's what he said:

“The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

Drones Provoke Growing Controversy in US

As Barack Obama renews his lease on the White House for another four years, his administration is debating how best to respond to a growing internal and public controversy over his first term’s non-battlefield counter-terrorist weapon of choice: armed drones.

Yemeni Official Condemns US Drones

Common Dreams Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community. Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

‘US drones in Pakistan counterproductive’

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has expressed concern over the US assassination drone strikes in her country, describing them as “counter-productive.”

“We repeatedly have raised our concerns on the US drone strikes which are proving counterproductive ...,” Pakistani Foreign Minister said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Referring to thousands of Pakistani civilians who were killed by CIA-operated drones in recent years, she went on to say that “We will take up drone attacks issue with Washington and its ambassador to Pakistan.”


Pakistan’s tribal regions are attacked by US terror drones almost regularly, with Washington claiming that militants are the targets. However, casualty figures clearly indicate that civilians are the main victims.

Despite Pakistan’s repeated calls on the US to end the drone attacks, the US government continues its deadly strikes on the country’s tribal belt.

The killing of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, has also strained relations between Islamabad and Washington.

In December, 2012 Pakistan’s Jama’at ud-Da’wah political group took legal action against the ongoing drone attacks. The group said despite a resolution passed by the Pakistani parliament in condemnation of the US attacks, the drone strikes continue to claim the lives of civilians.

Moreover, the Lahore High Court urged the Pakistani government on November 3, 2012 to immediately respond to the group’s petition.

Over the past few months, massive protests have also been staged across Pakistan to condemn the United States for violating the country’s sovereignty.

MAM/PKH

‘US assassination drones flout all laws’

An activist says the assassination drone attacks carried out by the US around the world are against all domestic and international laws and disregard the sovereignty of nations. "We want open transparency. Personally, I find the drone program complete...

US Drones, Boots Arrive In Mali

Absolutely "nobody" could have possibly anticipated that the week old French incursion into Mali could already have such disastrous consequences: a botched hostage rescue attempt by French commandos while leaving behind one of their team, a downed pil...

US gives Afghanistan fleet of drones

A US army soldier with the 101st Airborne Division Alpha Battery 1-320th tries to launch a drone outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the village of Jellawar in The Arghandab Valley (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)

A US army soldier with the 101st Airborne Division Alpha Battery 1-320th tries to launch a drone outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the village of Jellawar in The Arghandab Valley (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his recent meeting with US President Obama gave him nearly everything his country hoped for – including a fleet of aerial surveillance drones that Afghan officials have long been requesting.

Karzai held a news conference on Monday in which he proudly announced the promised fleet of drones, as well as an upgraded fleet of aircraft including 20 helicopters and at least four C-130 transport planes. The Afghan president noted that the surveillance drones would be unarmed, but will nevertheless help spy on enemy combatants and watch over coalition forces. Western forces will train Afghans to fly, use and maintain them before giving complete control to the Karzai government.

The US will also provide Afghanistan with intelligence gathering equipment “which will be used to defend and protect our air and ground sovereignty,” Karzai said. The US has also pledged to speed up the handover of detainees currently imprisoned and held by American forces. Karzai has previously called this a violation of promised Afghan sovereignty and the issue has built up tension between the two nations.

“We are happy and satisfied with the results of our meetings,” the Afghan president told journalists at the presidential palace. “We achieved what we were looking for.”

American officials refused to confirm or deny the details of the agreement made between Afghanistan and the US regarding aircraft, the New York Times reports. But since his meeting with Obama, Karzai had repeatedly expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.

The US has long demanded that Afghanistan grant immunity to any US forces staying in the country after the 2014 withdrawal. Karzai has sternly opposed this measure, but conceded after Obama granted him many of his own wishes.

“This is a decision that should be made by the Afghan people in a Loya Jirga: whether they are granting immunity to them or not; if yes, how and under what conditions” he said in an interview with CNN.

But this might not even matter if Afghans have their way when it comes to post-withdrawal troops. Top Afghan officials have expressed their desire for Special Operations forces to leave the country at the same time as US military troops. These forces currently train the Afghan local police and US officials have assumed that the withdrawal would only apply to traditional military troops, the Washington Post reports.

The Washington meetings between Karzai and Obama have resulted in numerous benefits for the Afghans and Karzai’s news conference was the first mention of American drones being handed over to the Afghan government. Negotiations between the US and Afghanistan are still ongoing, with the two countries trying to determine details regarding the US presence in Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal.

Florida sheriff wants drones to monitor civilians

Drones have already been deployed across several US states, but thousands of UAVs could soon be flying all across the country for surveillance purposes that some privacy advocates consider unconstitutional.

The Federal Aviation Administration has received at least 60 applications for drone employment in the US and this month approved 348 drones for domestic use. Most of the currently employed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used along the Mexican border to help law enforcement officers crack down on illegal immigration, but some drones will soon be used to monitor civilians.

The sheriff’s office in Orange County, Fl., has already experimented with two domestic surveillance drones that it plans to use over metro Orlando starting this summer, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The drones would not be armed, but would be used to track down criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants, as well as be used for environmental monitoring and wildfire surveillance, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The FAA predicts that 30,000 UAVs will fly over the US in less than 20 years, which has alarmed privacy advocates who claim the drones are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against ‘unreasonable searches’.

“This is unwise and unnecessary. … Sheriffs are supposed to be sheriffs, not the US Army,” said Doug Head, a Democratic activist who closely follows Orange County politics.

“It’s really easy to increase public surveillance. But when the inevitable problems arise, it’s much harder to bring them back,” said Baylor Johnson, a Miami-based spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nationwide, about a dozen law enforcement agencies have or are using a drone for surveillance purposes already. Some legislators have attempted to place restrictions on the UAVs to protect their constituents’ privacy.  Florida state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, introduced a bill to limit the use of drones and allow their employment only when the federal government predicts a terrorist attack, to collect evidence in criminal cases where a search warrant has been approved, and during hostage-taking situations.

“I don’t think [drones] should be used to spy on American citizens,” Negron told USA Today, adding that the UAVs are “fine for killing terrorists.”

Across the nation, at least nine other legislators have taken steps to restrict the use of drones on their constituents. In December, state Sen. Alex Padilla introduced a bill to try to regulate drones in California, while Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey introduced a bill to establish national privacy safeguards and limit surveillance. Missouri Rep. Casey Guernsey considers the use of surveillance drones unconstitutional and this month introduced the ‘Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act’, which would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant in order to use UAV surveillance to gather criminal activity.

As drones become less expensive, our fear is that police and other agencies could use them for fishing expeditions that infringe on individual’s right to privacy,” Gary Brunk, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, told the Kansas City Star.

Employing drones in Orange County would cost $22,000 to $25,000 per vehicle, which County Sheriff Jerry Demings believes is well worth the money “to help keep our community safe.”

But Negron calls domestic drones an “intrusion of privacy”. The FAA is currently coming up with a set of rules that would regulate how drones can be used and how they can share the airspace with other commercial and private vehicles. Once these guidelines have been established in 2015, thousands of unmanned aircrafts will be brought into the American skies to search for criminal activity and monitor US citizens every questionable move.

Drones are the “Weapon of Choice” in Obama’s Destruction of Due Process

The United States continues the constant pounding of the tribal region of North Waziristan in Pakistan.

On January 10, AFP reports that six “militants” allegedly working for al-Qaeda were killed in a drone strike.

This is the seventh drone strike this year in the area.

The latest state-sanctioned assassination was carried out when CIA-controlled drones fired four Hellfire missiles at a village and a motorcycle near the town of Mir Ali, according to AFP sources.

In what should come as no surprise to anyone following the unconscionable chronicle of the never-ending drone war, there is no word as to the identity of either the targets or the victims.

Of course, the White House insists that several “leaders” of al-Qaeda have been killed in the attacks.

As reported by Long War Journal:

Four senior and midlevel al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are reported to have been killed in the seven strikes since the beginning of the New Year. The US killed Mullah Nazir, the leader of a Taliban group in South Waziristan who was closely allied with Bahadar, al Qaeda, and the Afghan Taliban, in a strike on Jan. 3. In a second strike on Jan. 3, the US killed Faisal Khan, commander in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan commander. In one of two strikes on Jan. 6, the US killed Wali Mohammed, a Taliban commander who is said to have directed suicide operations for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. And in one of the two strikes on Jan. 8, an al Qaeda leader known as Sheikh Yasin Al Kuwaiti is reported to have been killed.

And the Obama administration is certainly proud to report (although they are notoriously tight-lipped about the death-by-drone program) that in a similar attacks in the same region carried out on January 8, eight other “militants” were assassinated. Again, from Long War Journal:

Just after midnight, the CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers first struck a compound in the village of Haider Khel near the town of Mir Ali. Eight missiles were fired at the compound, which was thought to be owned by an “important Taliban leader,” The Nation reported; however, it is unclear if he was killed in the strike. Five people are reported to have been killed.

A Pakistani security official told AFP that four “militants” were killed in the strike. Reuters reported that one of those killed was a “foreign tactical trainer” from either Somalia or the United Arab Emirates.

The US drones then fired several more missiles at a compound in the nearby village of Eissu Khel. Three people were reported killed in the strike, but it is unclear if they were militants or civilians.

Unclear, and to the president, unimportant. The president’s on-the-record statements regarding the serial drone killings reveal that he considers himself the judge, jury, and executioner — and does not believe he is obliged to provide evidence to the American people.

In fact, it would be very naïve to believe these (allegedly) targeted assassinations only kill innocents due to unfortunate miscalculations. When the judicial and executive powers of government are consolidated and restraints on the exercise of power are cast aside, it can be expected — based both on our knowledge of history and on the nature of man — that power will be abused and no one’s rights or life will be safe from elimination by despots.

In interviews with CNN and Fox, the president consistently defended the fact that he orders drone strikes to assassinate people based on nothing more than his suspicion that they threaten U.S. national security. But for all his apparent frankness, there is one aspect of his drone-based assassination program about which the president remains mum.

This silence shrouds the cold and callous manner in which civilian deaths are disregarded by the president when it comes to counting the number of fatalities resulting from his death-by-drone campaign. “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties,” the New York Times reported in an article published May 29, 2012. When read in conjunction with the headline from an Associated Press article reading “Iraq to Stop Counting Civilian Dead,” a picture of global casualness as to casualties begins to emerge.

The Times clarified: “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” (Emphasis added.)

The highly informative New York Times piece illuminates much of the macabre methodology of aggregating the names of enemies of the state to President Obama’s proscription list.

Recounting the scene at one of the regularly scheduled Tuesday intelligence briefings at the White House, Jo Becker and Scott Shane wrote, “The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.”

It cannot be too soberly restated that these seemingly cold-blooded conferences are occurring every week in the Oval Office and are presided over by the president of the United States.

That last fact is essential if one is to understand the era into which our Republic has entered. The president of the United States, in this case Barack Obama, sits in a chair in the White House rifling through dossiers of suspected terrorists. After listening to the advice of his claque of counselors, it is the president himself who designates who of the lineup is to be killed. As the New York Times explains: “Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.”

There is a salient question that the president would likely laugh at were it to be posed to him: Where is the constitutional authority for creating and issuing kill orders?

The presidential presumption of guilt by association followed by the autocratic order of a lethal drone strike rightly worries many constitutionalists and friends of liberty. In fact, many questions prompted by the president’s drone program remain unanswered. Why can’t these alleged “terrorists” be tried in our federal court system? For decades those accused of terroristic crimes have been formally charged with those crimes, had those charges heard before an impartial federal judge, and been permitted to mount a defense to those crimes.

Due process as a check on monarchical power was included in the Magna Carta of 1215. This list of grievances and demands codified the king’s obligation to obey written laws or be punished by his subjects. Article 39 of the Magna Carta says: “No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Over the years, the Magna Carta was occasionally revised and amended. In 1354, the phrase “due process of law” appeared for the first time. The Magna Carta as amended in 1354 says: “No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”

This fundamental restraint on the royal presumption of the power to lop off heads on command was incorporated by our Founders in the Bill of Rights, particularly in the Fifth Amendment that says in relevant part: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

President Obama’s nearly daily approval of drone-delivered assassinations is an effrontery to over 650 years of our Anglo-American law’s protection from autocratic decrees of death without due process of law. When any president usurps the power to place names on a kill list and then have those people summarily executed without due process, he places our Republic on a trajectory toward tyranny and government-sponsored terrorism.

Finally, one wonders where the pacifist bloc of the coalition that elected Barack Obama in 2008 has gone now that there candidate has become president and not only continued his predecessors program of drone diplomacy, but has accelerated it.

From 2004-2007, President George W. Bush authorized only 10 drone strikes. During Barack Obama’s first year in office — 2009 — that number increased by more than 500 percent.

Every time a U.S. drone fires a Hellfire missile at a “compound” and kills “militants,” every one of those uncounted, unnamed, unindicted victims — regardless of guilt or innocence — was assassinated, not executed. Execution implies justice and American justice requires due process.

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He can be reached at [email protected] This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Drones Over New York City?

In a world in which the NSA has access to everything, including - soon - one's bank accounts, because "the government is there to protect you"...

A Voice from Afghanistan: ‘US Drones Bury Beautiful Lives’

The interview that follows was conducted by Kathy Kelly and Maya Evans, members of the US- and UK-based chapters of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCVN).

Raz Mohammad, an Afghan Peace Volunteer, is a Pashtun from Maidan Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan.

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

Voices for Creative Nonviolence: Raz Mohmmad, what do you think about drones?

Raz Mohammad : I think drones are not good. I remember how, in my village, a drone attack killed my brother-in-law and four of his friends. It was truly sad. A beautiful life was buried and the sound of crying and sorrow arose from peaceful homes. I say that this is inhumane. Today, the idea of humanity has been forgotten. Why do we spend money like this? Why don’t we use an alternative way? The international community says that drones are used to kill the Taliban. This is not true. We should see the truth. Today, it’s hard to find the truth and no one listens to the people.

VCVN: How have drones impacted Wardak Afghanistan?

RM: Drones have a negative impact on the lives of the people of Wardak and other provinces in Afghanistan, because drones don’t bring peace. They kill human beings. Drones bring nothing but bombs. They burn the lives of the people. People can’t move around freely. In the nights, people are afraid. Drones don’t improve people’s lives, they limit the people’s lives. The people are not happy with drones. When they hear the sound of drones, they feel sad. Those who live in Kabul and those who live in the provinces especially in Pashtun areas feel differently about drones.  Those in Kabul don’t feel the pain of those in the provinces where there’s war and family members are being killed. It is those families of victims who should be asked and whose voices should be heard. 

VCVN: Are drones making Afghanistan safer?

RM: No. Drones don’t protect the people of Afghanistan. Instead, drones kill the people of Afghanistan. You hear in the news and reports that every day, families, children and women are killed. Do you call this safety?

VCVN: Is there a mental impact on Afghans from the presence of drones?

RM: Yes, drones have a negative impact on the mind. For me, when I go home, I recall the incident with my brother-in-law which affected me a lot and changed my life. I don’t have a peaceful mind. When I’m home and study at night, my father & mother are very worried and tell me not to stay up too late because they may make a mistake and bomb the house. When my younger brother knows of a drone incident, he says he won’t go to school or get out of bed early today because the drones may come. See, how it affects the mind of a 5 or 8 year old child.

VCVN: What do you think about the use of drones after the 2014 withdrawal?

RM: I think that the use of drones today or in 2014 is inappropriate. Why has the international community sent drones to wage war in Afghanistan? Why have we forgotten the concepts of humanity and the love of humanity? War is not a solution. We can see this from the past 30 years of war in Afghanistan. Wars bring killing and enmity. Drones after 2014 will cause enmity between Pashtuns, Tajiks and Hazaras because those in government use the people for their own benefit. For their own power and lives, they drop bombs on the people, and bring division and inhumanity. As I see it now and after 2014, innocent human beings will be killed.

VCVN: Do you have any other message to give?

RM: My message to the ordinary people of the world is to listen, and become aware of drone warfare because what international governments say about using drones to kill terrorists is not true. Friends who come here can see that innocent people and women are killed. We should listen to the voices of Afghans and promote and defend humanity and humane relations. My message to the governments of the world is : Why have you forgotten humanity and the love of humanity? You are killing human beings for your own monetary benefit. I demand that this ( drone warfare ) be stopped, especially the spending of so much money on drones in Afghanistan and the killing of so many innocent people. Isn't it appropriate for you to help the people in alternative ways? We are human beings and are always your friends, thank you.

Spy drones heading to eastern Congo

M23 rebels withdraw from the city of Goma in the eastern Congo on December 1, 2012.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have expressed support for a proposal by the United Nations to deploy surveillance drones along Congo’s eastern border.

In October 2012, UN experts issued a report, in which they said that Rwanda and Uganda continued to support the March 23 movement (M23) rebels, who had set up a parallel government in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu in eastern Congo.

On Tuesday, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said he had asked the Security Council for three aircraft-size drones to deploy along the border in Congo’s mountainous eastern region.

"The Congolese government welcomes this proposition," Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende said in Kinshasa.

"The deployment of three unarmed drones will allow international troops to refine their management of the problematic border which separates DRC and Rwanda,” he added.

Uganda, which has been selected as the mediator for the talks between the Congolese government and M23 rebels, also expressed its support for the plan on the condition the drones are not used for combat missions.

"Drones can be used for two purposes: You use them for intelligence or for fighting. If a drone is for intelligence and it respects sovereignty, it will be alright," Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga said in Kampala.

On December 31, 2012, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to impose an arms embargo on M23 and another rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

The sanctions freeze assets of certain people linked to the groups and bar two M23 leaders -- the rebel group's president, Jean-Marie Runiga, and one of its military commanders, Lt. Col. Eric Badege -- from travel.

The M23 rebels seized the eastern city of Goma on November 20 after UN peacekeepers gave up the battle for the frontier city, which is home to about one million people. The rebels withdrew from the city on December 1 under a ceasefire accord.

The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.

Since early May, over 900,000 people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. Most of them have resettled in Congo, but tens of thousands have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.


Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.

GJH/HGL

CIA drones have already killed at least 40 since the start of the year

Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans during a protest in Multan on January 8, 2013, against the drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas. (AFP Photo/S.S Mirza)

Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans during a protest in Multan on January 8, 2013, against the drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas. (AFP Photo/S.S Mirza)

The CIA has escalated its use of drones in Pakistan, launching seven deadly strikes during the first 10 days of 2013 and killing at least 40 people, 11 of which may have been civilians.

The flurry of strikes has raised speculation that the Obama administration is accelerating attacks in the wake of the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, in fear of losing the capacity to carry them out.

In 2012, the US launched 43 drone strikes in Pakistan with an average 7 to 8 days between strikes. At the current rate, the US is set to kill far more people than last year.

This year’s drone attacks have so far done little to spare civilians: the Long War Journal found that US drones have killed at least 11 civilians since Jan. 1, which exceeds the number of civilians US officials say were killed in all of 2012.

US intelligence officials claim the increase in drone strikes is an initiative to take out as many possible opponents of the Afghan government because of the looming 2014 withdrawal of 66,000 US troops.

These strikes “may be a signal to groups that include not just al-Qaeda that the US will still present a threat” after most American forces have gone, counterterrorism expert Seth Jones of Rand Corp. told the Washington Post. “With the drawdown in US forces, the drone may be, over time, the most important weapon against militant groups.”

With less than 6,000 troops remaining in Afghanistan after 2014, the CIA’s network of bases will be reduced from more than 15 to five, due in large part to a lack of security for its outposts.

“As the military pulls back, the agency has to pull back,” a former US intelligence official told the Post.

While the Pakistani government has remained mute about the increase in attacks, some claim to be baffled by the CIA’s surge in activity. In South Waziristan, thousands of Pakistani tribesmen took to the streets on Saturday to protest the killing of Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir, who had reached a truce with the Pakistani military but was killed in a US-led drone attack on Jan. 2.

“This is beyond our understanding why the drone strikes are increased,” said a tribal elder from North Waziristan.

The Pakistani government has made no mention of the strikes, but politician Imran Khan publicly condemned the strikes on Sunday, calling them a violation of Pakistani sovereignty and international law.

Drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region have significantly increased over the last few years, with US officials claiming they are an effective strategy to combat militant groups based in the tribal regions. The CIA has launched more than 340 drone strikes in Pakistan. It is unknown exactly how many civilians have been killed, but the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that from June 2004 to mid-September 2012, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 Pakistanis, many of whom were children.

“We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that,” said Pakistani ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, at an Aspen Security Forum in July.

Drones over New York? NYPD chief admits he’s interested in an UAV

The head of the New York City Police Department announced this week that the largest local law enforcement agency in the United States might soon rely on spy drones for conducting surveillance.

During an open conversation held Thursday between Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, the chief of police confirmed that New York’s boys in blue aren’t entirely opposed to acquiring an unmanned aerial vehicle for the sake of security.

“We’re looking into it," Kelly reportedly told an audience at the 92nd Street Y Thursday evening. “Anything that helps us.”

Jill Colvin, a producer for the website DNAinfo, says Kelly told his crowd that adding an UAV to their arsenal of surveillance tools could come in handy during future mass protests in the Big Apple. For starters, she reports, Kelly said cops could begin with using basic civilian models that are available for purchase online and in stores.

"You can go to Brookstone and buy a drone," Kelly told the crowd.

“The only thing we would do is maybe use the cheap $250 ones to take a look and see the size of the demonstration or something along those lines,” Colvin quotes him as saying.

The Federal Aviation Administration is still ironing out a rulebook for how UAVs will be used domestically in the years to come. Currently, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rely on the spy planes to secure the country’s borders. Dozens of smaller agencies across the country have applied to use drones too, though, a decision that has led to a large amount of concern from civil liberty advocates that say blanketing surveillance violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

"The law hasn't caught up with the technology," Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the Oakland Tribune last year. "There are no rules of the road for how they operate these things."

Months earlier, Timm and another member of the EFF led a discussion about drones at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York. There they said the surveillance drones currently being manufactured have the capability to “zoom in and read a milk carton from 60,000 feet” in the air.

Just recently, the sheriff of Alameda County, California postponed a public discussion regarding his plans to procure a surveillance drone after news of the proposal spurred a grassroots opposition campaign. Down state in San Diego, the county Sheriff’s Office has come under fire from journalists who say law enforcement is withholding information about plans for an UAV. When the website MuckRack insisted they had proof that San Diego County was issued information about obtaining a drone, officials fired back "there is very little public benefit in the release of such records.”

Should New York City secure a drone of their own, there is little one could do that isn’t already possible in NYC. As of last year, the NYPD had access to around 2,000 surveillance cameras on just the island of Manhattan.

Stealth Wear: New Counter-Surveillance Clothing Makes You Invisible to Drones

Mac Slavo
January 11th, 2013
SHTFplan.com

Read by 21,401 people

In early 2012 the U.S. Congress authorized the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. Within this bill is a provision calling for the deployment of some 30,000 robotic drones over the skies of America by 2015, arguably the boldest overt domestic surveillance initiative to have ever been introduced in the land of the free. With an average of some 600 drones allocated per state, this future network of highly advanced surveillance systems promises to give law enforcement, military and intelligence assets unprecedented video and audio access into the lives of every single American.

Privacy advocates are justifiably outraged.

But whenever government attempts to institute a ban on contraband items, or pass draconian laws, or introduce new tracking and surveillance methods, rebellious elements within the target populace rapidly develop counter-strategies and technologies to marginalize the threat.

Oftentimes, billion dollar government initiatives and development projects are rendered almost useless by low-tech strategies and designs.

Artist and fashion designer Adam Harvey, who objects to the authoritarian nature of the global surveillance state, has done just that.

In an effort to  counter the high-tech integrated drone surveillance systems soon to be fused into intelligence networks across the country, Harvey and a group of partners have developed a line of clothing dubbed Stealth Wear.

Making its debut on January 17th, the Stealth Wear line will include hoodies, scarves, hats, and t-shirts that will make the wearer invisible to thermal imaging cameras widely used throughout the unmanned aerial vehicle community.

The idea is that the material blocks heat signatures, captured using infrared sensors, which give people away to surveillance helicopters or drones from the skies above. [link]

The flagship Stealth Wear line will include:

  • The anti-drone hoodie and anti-drone scarf: Garments designed to thwart thermal imaging, a technology used widely by UAVs.
  • The XX-shirt: A x-ray shielding print in the shape of a heart, that protects your heart from x-ray radiation
  • And the Off Pocket: An anti-phone accessory that allows you to instantly zero out your phone’s signal

Via: Adam Harvey Projects

Harvey and his project team aren’t just limiting the scope of their work to anti-drone technology either.

They’ve introduced new techniques to counter computer vision (CV), also known as facial recognition.

CV Dazzle is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection.

Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook

Source: CV Dazzle

 

They’ll also be launching a product called Off the Pocket for your cell phone, a technology that is capable of zeroing out your phone’s broadcast signal, making it invisible to GPS and mobile network triangulation.

Building off previous work with CV Dazzle, camouflage from face detection, Stealth Wear continues to explore the aesthetics of privacy and the potential for fashion to challenge authoritarian surveillance. Presented by PRIMITIVE at TANK MAGAZINE HQ will be a suite of new designs, made in collaboration with NYC fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield, that tackle some of the most pressing and sophisticated forms of surveillance today.

Source: Primitive London

Accompanying each project will be videos and tests revealing the process behind each technology and counter technology.

Author: Mac Slavo
Views: Read by 21,401 people
Date: January 11th, 2013
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

Copyright Information: Copyright SHTFplan and Mac Slavo. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.shtfplan.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

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