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Trump gives CIA new authority on US drone strikes

US President Donald Trump has given the CIA new authority to launch drone strikes in Washington’s so-called war on terror, US officials say. Read...

1st US drone strikes on Trump’s watch hit Al-Qaeda in Yemen & ISIS

US drones have killed five Al-Qaeda operatives in central Yemen, the first such operation after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. The US-led coalition...
video

Video: Obama admin: Up to 116 civilians ‘accidentally’ killed in US drone strikes

The US drone strikes have accidentally killed up to 116 civilians in countries that the US is not at war with, the White House...

Obama admin says up to 116 civilians 'accidentally' killed in US drone strikes

The US drone strikes have accidentally killed up to 116 civilians in countries that the US...

Clinton Discussed Top Secret CIA Drone Info, Approved Drone Strikes, Via Her Blackberry

A new report in the Wall Street Journal reveals emails in which then-Secretary of State Clinton approved CIA drone assassinations in Pakistan from her...

All Smoke, No Mirrors: Appearance vs Reality in Drone Strikes

In 2009, a reported 27,000 people were employed in the public relations wing of the Pentagon (AP). I presume that there are even more...
video

Video: Pakistani govt tolerates US drone strikes in exchange for money – opposition leader...

The US' 'inhumane' use of drone strikes to target terrorists kills prospects for peace in Afghanistan, which in turn undermines security in Pakistan, as...

‘No doubt’ US drone strikes killed civilians, Obama says

US President Barack Obama has said there is “no doubt” that innocent civilians have been killed...

US to release death toll from terror drone strikes

The White House will for the first time release the death toll from US terror drone strikes conducted since 2009, officials say. The figures will...

People Die (from Drone Strikes) While Hayden Lies

In a New York Times op-ed published on February 21, former CIA director, Air Force general, and “Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in...
video

Video: Drone Strikes: Iraqi military targets ISIS hideouts

Iraq's Ministry of Defense (MOD) released footage, which it said showed drone airstrikes carried out against Islamic State group militants and their hideouts. Via Youtube

Video: David Swanson: “EVERYONE Should Be Suing The US & British Governments For Murderous...

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video

Video: US launches first anti-ISIS drone strikes from Turkey

The US has launched its first drone strikes at northern Syria from a Turkish airbase, the Pentagon has reported. This comes as Washington struck...

US drone strikes ‘crime against humanity’: Analyst

US drone strikes carried out in Muslim countries are a “crime against humanity” and a violation of international law, a peace activist and analyst...

Yemeni Man Granted Permission to Continue Case Against German Government over Role in US...

WASHINGTON - A German court has granted ‘immediate permission to appeal’ to a Yemeni man in his case seeking to expose and put an...

New figures for British air and drone strikes in Iraq

Six months on from the UK’s first drone strike against ISIS, new figures have been released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to Drone Wars UK detailing the number of air and drone strikes that have been undertaken by UK forces... Read More ›

Finally revealed: UK drone strikes in Afghanistan by province

More than three years after first submitting a Freedom of Information request, the UK Ministry of Defence has finally told us in which Afghan...

Finally revealed: UK drone strikes in Afghanistan by province

More than three years after first submitting a Freedom of Information request, the UK Ministry of Defence has finally told us in which Afghan provinces UK drones strikes took place. Although there is no detail on the number of strikes within... Read More ›

Pakistan Army increasing cooperation with CIA on drone strikes

The Pakistan Army is once again cooperating with the US on drone strikes, a renowned expert on the country’s military tells the Bureau in...

Almost 2,500 now killed by covert US drone strikes since Obama inauguration six years...

Jack Serle At least 2,464 people have now been killed by US drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones since President Barack Obama’s inauguration...

Pentagon Continues Illegal Drone Strikes On Yemen

Andrea Germanos As thousands of Yemenis protested against Houthi rebels on Saturday, the White House and Pentagon have indicated the continuing unrest in the country...

BT accused of complicity in intelligence sharing for US drone strikes

Human rights charity Reprieve has submitted a complaint to the UK government asking that BT be investigated for violating international guidelines through its involvement...

Predator Rising: Obama To Use Drone Strikes On Americans In US





Barack Hussein Obama has given himself, and those he designates, the power to order the deaths of American citizens without ever having charged them with a crime in a court of law. Obama exercised this power when he ordered the drone strikes on Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Two weeks later al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman was also killed in a drone strike in Yemen. When the boy went out looking for his father, not knowing that he had already been killed, he and several friends were blown apart by a Hellfire missile as they sat next to a campfire eating their dinner. The Obama administration says Abdulrahman’s death was a mistake.

The title of this video is 100% accurate. Now that Obama has successfully murdered three American citizens with barely a peep from Congress - and has successfully installed the author of his legal justification for the extra-judicial killings of American citizens onto the federal appeal's bench - it is not a stretch to believe that he will eventually use this power domestically. One reason is because Attorney General Eric Holder and CIA director John Brennan have both refused to assure the American people that drones will not be used to kill American citizens without charges inside the United States.

Over the next few minutes I’m going to prove how this is the most frightening concept in modern politics, an issue that affects every American citizen equally, regardless of their political beliefs. If you don’t watch another video today you must watch this one, and share it with your friends, because this is the most important issue affecting American citizens today. This is an issue that has been brought together critically thinking individuals from both sides of the aisle, uniting Tea Party favorite Rand Paul and the ACLU among others in an effort to save the Fifth Amendment and preserve the rule of law.

Out of all of the scandals currently confronting the Obama administration one might think ordering the death of an American citizen who has not been charged or convicted in a court of law, with no congressional oversight or judicial review whatsoever, might be at the top of the list of impeachable offenses committed by Barack Obama. When the merciless savages of Ansar al-Sharia attacked the CIA outpost in Benghazi four American citizens lost their lives due to enemy action, the government’s response - or lack thereof - became a cause célèbre for congressional investigators; but when the president actually orders the extrajudicial deaths of American citizens who have never even been charged with a crime nobody cares. Why is this?

It is because the Republicans want to preserve that power for themselves. They don’t want to charge Obama with a crime for killing the al-Awlaki’s and Kahn because when he is out of office they hope to be able to do the same thing. Who needs pesky little things like the Fifth Amendment, trials, and representation by a lawyer before the government can just snuff out your life?

The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

One does not have to be a lawyer to understand the meaning of the words “No person.” That is very unambiguous language and it was written that way by the Founders because they had just fought a bloody conflict to free themselves from the yoke of a tyrant king who, just like Barack Hussein Obama, thought that it is within his purview to hold the power over life and death with nobody but himself for counsel.

Writing as "Publius" in Federalist Paper #47, James Madison observed that "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

On September 30th 2011, Barack Obama became a Tyrant when he ordered the deaths of American citizens Anwar al-Alawki, Abdulrahman al-Alawki, and Samir Kahn. On September 30, 2011 the Republic of the United States fell and was replaced with what Madison correctly defined as a tyranny – and the ACLU agrees.

After al-Awlaki was killed ACLU lawyer Nate Wessler, who at the time was working for the ACLU’s National Security Project which handles the question of targeted assassinations by the United States government, appeared on The Truth Is Viral and said that the Obama administration was lawless. He said that Obama and his minions were acting as “judge, jury, and executioner” by denying these American citizens the right to a trial - any kind of trial – and taking their lives without any apparent due process whatsoever.

Rand Paul and the ACLU don’t normally have much in common, but in this interview with CNN’s Erin Andrews the senator said that the very idea of using a drone to strike an American citizen without first going through the courts is “appalling.”

On Wednesday, May 21st, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul gave an impassioned plea decrying the use of drones to murder American citizens without any sort of due process whatsoever in advance of a Senate vote to confirm David J. Barron to a federal appeals court judgeship. Barron is the chief architect of Obama's drone policy as it applies to the extra-judicial killings of American citizens. His policy (a secret policy) was used to justify the killings of Samir Khan, and the al-Alawkis
Paul says that he is "appalled" and "horrified" that we now live in a country where a mere accusation is enough for Obama or those he designates to "legally" order the death of an American citizen - at home or abroad - without ever having charged that person with a crime in a court of law as was done in the case of Kahn and the al-Alawki's.

Last week, the United States Senate voted to confirm Barron to a lifetime appointment to the Federal court. What good is having a Constitution if it can be ripped to shreds by activist judges and Presidential Executive Orders?

The most frightening thing about this entire issue is the complete lack of transparency. Even the process for determining the “guilt” of a targeted individual is, and will continue to be, classified. The entire idea of accusing a person of a crime and trying them in a court of law before a jury of their peers has been thrown out the window by the Federal government. And in case you haven’t noticed, the Department of Homeland Security has issued guidelines that determine who they consider to be a terrorist threat that can be broadly interpreted to include just about anybody.

If you are on one of those lists – and if you aren’t on one by now you should be ashamed of yourself - the President and those he designates can declare you to be a terrorist threat and take your life without any Congressional oversight or judicial review whatsoever. Attorney General Eric Holder and CIA director John Brennan have both refused to say that drones will not be used to target Americans domestically, again without charges or a trial, and that thought is frightening - or should be - to Americans on both sides of the aisle.

In a letter from Eric Holder to the Senate,  the Attorney General said “It is possible I suppose to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. “


Today, a Democratic American President named Barack Obama has the power to kill anyone he wants using only his pen and his phone. In 2016, that power could be transferred to a Republican President named Sarah Palin, Chris Christy, or Jeb Bush. And now they have backup to take the lives of any American citizen they choose on the Federal appeals bench.

Are you concerned now? 

You can watch the entire, explosive, 30-minute interview with ACLU attorney Nate Wessler by clicking this link: http://bobpowell.blogspot.com/2013/02/aclu-lawyer-calls-obama-judge-jury.html

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

US drone strikes ‘slippery slope to wider wars’ — study

Washington’s use of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV) for carrying out targeted killings might lead to increasing instability in the world, and result in other...

Three Troubling Lessons from the Latest U.S. Drone Strikes

The 'Forever War' continues in Pakistan and Yemen even as public focus shifts to Iraq As the deteriorating security situation in Iraq once again dominates...

As Obama Considers Drone Strikes in Iraq, Could U.S. Military Action Worsen Sectarian Conflict?

Over the weekend, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized the northern town of Tal Afar after a fierce fight....

US Drone Strikes return to Pakistan — and imminently to Iraq?

US drone strikes resumed this week in Pakistan with the first strike taking place on Wednesday evening near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan. This was quickly followed by a second strike early Thursday morning, although as the Bureau... Read More ›

CIA drone strikes resume in Pakistan after five-month pause

Two drone strikes have hit North Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal northwest, reportedly killing 16 people and ending the longest pause in drone strikes of Obama’s...

Pakistani High Court Orders Police to Investigate CIA Drone Strikes

A judge at the High Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, has ordered the Pakistani police to open a criminal investigation into the CIA’s involvement in...

Most US Drone Strikes in Pakistan Attack Houses

Alice K Ross and Jack Serle Domestic buildings have been hit by drone strikes more than any other type of target in the CIA’s 10-year...

US Refuses To Talk About Illegal Drone Strikes

Sarah Lazare  RINF Alternative News The United States is refusing to participate in UN Human Rights Council talks about greater accountability for human rights violations in...

Amid White House Secrecy, Suspected US Drone Strikes Pound Yemen

Sarah Lazare  RINF Alternative News Suspected U.S. drone strikes pounded Yemen Monday, killing at least four people. Residents of the southern Shabwa province said that a U.S....

UN Special Rapporteur releases final report on drone strikes

Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and countering terrorism has issued his final report into the impact of drone strikes on civilians.  Briefly, as I have only just seen it, the report looks at recent civilian casualty rates... Read More ›

European Complicity in US Drone Strikes Must Be Stopped, MEPs to Warn

RINF Alternative News MEPs will this week vote on a resolution condemning EU Member States’ complicity in the covert US drones programme. A draft resolution sponsored...

Complaint Filed at International Criminal Court Over NATO Allies’ Complicity in US Drone Strikes

Drone victims are today lodging a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing NATO member states of war crimes over their role in facilitating the...

Why is the World Turning a Blind Eye to US Drone Strikes?

Robert Fisk RINF Alternative News Karim Khan is a lucky man. When you’re picked up by 20 armed thugs, some in police uniform — aka the...

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 ›

Manipulating the Data on CIA Drone Strikes against Civilians: Leaked Pakistani Document contradicts US...

Alice K Ross  RINF Alternative News A secret Pakistani government document contradicts several of the US’s rare public statements on the CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan. The...

US Drone Strikes Necessitate Counseling Center for ‘Traumatized’ Children

'The people's cries have been met only with more missiles raining down from the skies above.' Andrea Germanos RINF Alternative News Yemen had to set up a...

CIA to stay in charge of drone strikes

Last month, a US drone strike in Yemen killed six civilians. US lawmakers are seeking to block President Barack Obamaâ„¢s plan to shift control...

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...

Obama’s new norm: Drone strikes go on

The US media is focusing attention on the little drones that will deliver Amazon parcels in the future, but we should take a hard...

U.S. Drone Strikes Wedding Party Convoy In Yemen Killing At Least 13

Infowars.comDecember 12, 2013 Oops. Pengtagon thought it was al-Qaeda. BREAKING: Yemeni officials say U.S. drone strike hits convoy heading to wedding party, killing 13 people. — The...

US Drone Strikes: Pakistani Political Party Names and Accuses CIA Station Chief of Murder

Kevin Gosztola RINF Alternative News A political party in Pakistan has named the CIA station chief in the country and accused the chief and CIA director...

New Analysis Questions Constraint on US Drone Strikes

The Bureau analyses President Obama's drone strike guidelines six months on from his speech setting out the rules. (Photo: Pete Souza/White House)Six months after...

First CIA Drone Strikes Outside Pakistan’s Tribal Regions

A CIA drone strike hit a religious school in Hangu, Pakistan before dawn , killing at least six and injuring several more. It is...

Thousands Blockade NATO Route in Protest of US Drone Strikes

Thousands of people demonstrated against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan on Saturday, blockading a road used as a supply route for NATO trucks heading...

Obama officials told Pakistan’s Sharif that drone strikes would continue

Tom Hussainmcclatchydc.comNovember 22, 2013 Pakistani officials acknowledged this week that the Obama administration had told Pakistan's prime minister during his recent visit to Washington that...

As Yemeni Addresses Congress, Drone Strikes Near Village

As Yemeni Faisal Jabar prepared to address U.S. lawmakers Tuesday about the drone strike that killed two members of his family, media reports confirmed...

US Drone Strikes Navy Ship By Mistake

Tyler Durden Zero Hedge November 17, 2013 While hardly as dramatic as last week's revelation that Syrian Al-Qaeda cannibals apologized after chopping off the head of one...

Americans may see drone strikes in US

The US government may use drone strikes inside the United States against domestic enemies in the future, an analyst says. �œFor the cynical and sinister...

Several killed in Yemen drone strikes

Al Jazeera November 9, 2013 Five people have been killed by two drone strikes in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, the country's interior ministry says. A ministry...

Drone strikes kill 5 al Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Associated PressNovember 8, 2013 Drone strikes in southern Yemen killed five suspected al Qaeda militants, the country's interior ministry said Friday, as fighting between rebels...

US drone strikes ‘outrage to morality’

US drone attacks in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan are �œan outrage to global morality” and international law, says Rick Rozoff, manager of the organization...

US defends drone strikes as ‘necessary and just’ in face of UN criticism

Ed Pilkington and Ryan DevereauxThe GuardianOctober 25, 2013 The US government has defended its use of...

US defends drone strikes as ‘necessary and just’ in face of UN criticism

Ed Pilkington and Ryan DevereauxThe GuardianOctober 25, 2013 The US government has defended its use of...

US defends drone strikes as ‘necessary and just’ in face of UN criticism

Ed Pilkington and Ryan DevereauxThe GuardianOctober 25, 2013 The US government has defended its use of...

US defends drone strikes as ‘necessary and just’ in face of UN criticism

Ed Pilkington and Ryan DevereauxThe GuardianOctober 25, 2013 The US government has defended its use of...

US defends drone strikes as ‘necessary and just’ in face of UN criticism

Ed Pilkington and Ryan DevereauxThe GuardianOctober 25, 2013 The US government has defended its use of...

Pakistan’s Sharif Asks Obama to End Drone Strikes

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (shown, at left), meeting with President Obama at the White House at the culmination of a three-day visit to...

“How Do You Justify Killing a Grandmother?” Amnesty Says US Drone Strikes May Be...

TRANSCRIPT: Amnesty International has released a major new report on how U.S. drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan, where it says some deaths may amount...

Does Pres. Obama Commit War Crimes in Ordering Drone Strikes?

Every time President Obama orders a drone pilot to launch missiles at a “suspected terrorist,” he may be violating international law and committing actionable...

Does Pres. Obama Commit War Crimes in Ordering Drone Strikes?

Every time President Obama orders a drone pilot to launch missiles at a “suspected terrorist,” he may be violating international law and committing actionable...

CIA consulted with Pakistani government in conducting drone strikes — report

Pakistan's top officials have not only had knowledge of the US drone program that is now deeply unpopular in the country, but have quietly...

Reports document US slaughter of civilians in drone strikes

By Barry Grey23 October 2013 A series of reports released over the past several days document the killing of thousands of people, including hundreds...

US drone strikes could be classed as war crimes, says Amnesty International

Jon Boone The Guardian October 22, 2013 US officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

UN report condemns drone strikes

A new UN report warns that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. The report, which...

NSA deeply involved in US drone strikes

The US National Security Agency is collaborating closely with the CIA to assassinate people around the world using drone strikes, a new report by...

End drone strikes, Malala tells Obama

US President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their daughter Malia meet with Malala Yousafzai in the Oval Office in Washington on Oct. 11,...

In Oval Office Meeting, Malala Yousafzai Tells Obama to End Drone Strikes in Pakistan

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

Pakistan condemns US drone strikes

Pakistan has condemned the latest US assassination drone attack that killed four people in the tribal region of North Waziristan. œThe government of Pakistan strongly...

US drone strikes kill 9 in Afghanistan

Nine people have been killed in two separate US assassination drone strikes in different parts of Afghanistan, Press TV reports. One of the airstrikes took...

Pakistan urges end to US drone strikes

Pakistan has called for an immediate end to Washingtonâ„¢s deadly drone strikes on the Pakistani soil. On Friday, Sartaj Aziz, chief adviser to Pakistani Prime...

US Drone Strikes in Pakistan: “Naming the Dead”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has launched an ambitious new project aiming to identify as many as possible of those killed by CIA drones...

Yemen elites condemn US drone strikes

Yemeni political elites have condemned US assassination drone strikes in the Arab country, saying the attacks violate their countryâ„¢s sovereignty. Å“The presence of foreign aircraft...

Israeli drone strikes northern Gaza

This file photo shows Palestinians trying to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike on Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.An Israeli drone has...

Who dies in Yemen drone strikes?

A headline is sometimes worth a thousand words, and this was definitely the case after a deadly drone strike occurred in Yemen last week. "Drone...

Yemen Drone Strikes May Revive War-Powers Battle Between Administration, Congress

Judson BergerFox NewsAugust 12, 2013 The escalation of drone strikes in Yemen, presumably in response to...

US drone strikes kill 5 in south Yemen

At least five people have been killed in airstrikes carried out by a US assassination drone in southern Yemen. The attacks, which targeted a convoy...

'US drone strikes in Yemen, war crime'

An analyst says the assassination drone strikes carried out by the United States in Yemen constitute Å“a form of terrorism” and qualify as Å“war...

Covert Drone War in Pakistan: The Return of Double-Tap Drone Strikes

Between May 24 and July 23 2012, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was reported by multiple media sources to have carried out a number...

Three US drone strikes kill 12 in Yemen

Three US assassination drone strikes have killed at least 12 people in Yemen, the Arab countryâ„¢s military officials say. All the three airstrikes occurred...

US drone strikes kill nine in Yemen

At least nine people have been killed in separate airstrikes carried out by US assassination drones in Yemenâ„¢s Marib and Hadramawt Provinces. A Yemeni military...

US launches new drone strikes against Yemen

  By ...

Drone strikes kill militants in Yemen; Americans urged to leave

Elise Labott and Mohammed TawfeeqCNNAugust 6, 2013 A pair of suspected U.S. drone strikes killed four...

4 killed in US drone strikes in Yemen

At least four people have been killed in airstrikes carried out by US assassination drones in Yemenâ„¢s central province of Maâ„¢rib. The fatalities occurred on...

US will continue its drone strikes

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said US drone strikes in Pakistan could end Å“very soon.”US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen will...

America’s Undeclared War on Pakistan: Fresh Evidence of CIA Drone Strikes on Rescuers

Are double-tap strikes being sanctioned to kill high value targets such as Yahya al-Libi? Additional reporting by Mushtaq Yusufzai A field investigation by the Bureau of...

John Kerry pledges early end to Pakistan drone strikes

BBC.co.ukAugust 2, 2013 US Secretary of State John Kerry has concluded a visit to Pakistan by...

'CIA targeted rescuers of drone strikes'

The CIA unmanned aircraft deliberately targeted rescuers attempting to help victims of previous drone strikes in Pakistanâ„¢s tribal areas, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism...

'CIA targeted rescuers of drone strikes'

The CIA unmanned aircraft deliberately targeted rescuers attempting to help victims of previous drone strikes in Pakistanâ„¢s tribal areas, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism...

Bureau Investigation Finds Fresh Evidence of CIA Drone Strikes on Rescuers

The Bureau’s field researcher found five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosqueA field investigation by the Bureau...

US drone strikes exacerbate extremism

The US assassination drone strikes across the Middle East and Africa have led to a rapid growth in the number of extremist militants in...

US will continue global drone strikes

Middle East expert William Beeman says the United States will continue its drone strikes despite civilian casualties. Å“The drone strikes in the United States...

Pakistan slams US killer drone strikes

Pakistan has condemned the latest US assassination drone strike in North Waziristan, which led to the death of six people. Pakistanâ„¢s Foreign Ministry said in...

Exclusive: Leaked Pakistani Report Confirms High Civilian Death Toll in CIA Drone Strikes

A secret document obtained by the Bureau reveals for the first time the Pakistan government’s internal assessment of dozens of drone strikes, and shows...

Judge grills US Justice Department official over drone strikes

A federal judge said she was “really troubled” by the Obama administration’s "disconcerting" position that drone strike decisions are outside the court's competence. ...

PM Sharif vows to end drone strikes

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called on the United States to put an end to CIA-operated assassination drone campaign in Pakistan's troubled northwest tribal...

Pakistan warns US over drone strikes

A US Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile. (File photo)The Pakistani government has warned that Islamabad-Washington relations may be adversely affected if the US...

US drone strikes more deadly to Afghan civilians than manned aircraft — adviser

Spencer Ackerman The Guardian July 2, 2013 A study conducted by a US military adviser has found that drone strikes in Afghanistan during a year of the protracted...

Anglo-American “Intelligence Sharing”. Britain’s “Signal Intelligence” (SIGINT) supports CIA Drone Strikes

UK must come clean on whether GCHQ supports CIA drone strikes UK Government Communications Headquarters is the centre for Her Majesty’s Government’s Signal Intelligence (SIGINT)...

Blowback: Pakistan Taliban Say Killing of Foreign Hikers Retaliation for US Drone Strikes

A spokesman for the Taliban movement in Pakistan on Monday publicly claimed the group's responsibility for the killing of nine foreign hikers in the...

Blowback: Pakistan Taliban Say Killing of Foreign Hikers Retaliation for US Drone Strikes

A spokesman for the Taliban movement in Pakistan on Monday publicly claimed the group's responsibility for the killing of nine foreign hikers in the...

Pak politician blasts US drone strikes

Influential Pakistani lawmaker Imran Khan has called on the Islamabad government and military leaders to put an end to US assassination drone strikes in...

‘Pakistan seeks end to US drone strikes’

The aftermath of a US assassination drone attack in North Waziristan in June 2011The Pakistani government says it is seeking to put an end...

Pakistan’s Sharif declares end to secret approval of drone strikes

Tom Hussain West Hawaii Today June 11, 2013 In office for less than a week, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, vented his anger...

Sharif newly condemns US drone strikes

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has once again condemned the US drone strikes as violation of sovereignty of Pakistan. This article originally appeared on:...

US drone strikes kill dozens in Yemen, Pakistan

  By ...

‘UK drone strikes violate int’l law’

Britainâ„¢s operating of killer drones in Afghanistan may be violating the international law, a legal firm representing peace campaigners has argued in an opinion...

Classified documents reveal CIA drone strikes often killed unknown people

A review of classified US intelligence records has revealed that the CIA could not confirm the identity of about a quarter of the people...

'Drone strikes in Pakistan completely negate the right to life'

When President Obama tells people that drones are more humane weapons, he tries to be a good salesman for the weapon, but forgets that...

Drone strikes in Yemen leave 7 dead

Sami ZaatariDigital JournalJune 1, 2013 At least 7 suspected militants belonging to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian...

CIA Drone Strikes Continue Despite Obama’s Pledge for Transparency

Kimberly Dozierstartribune.comMay 31, 2013 The drone attack that killed a Pakistan Taliban deputy leader this week...

Guantanamo, Drone Strikes and the “Non-War Terror War”: Obama Speaks

As one of the 1,200-plus signatories to the full-page ad that appeared in The New York Times, calling for the closure of Guantanamo, I was...

Pakistan opposes US drone strikes

Islamabad has reiterated its strong opposition to the ongoing CIA-operated deadly campaign of drone strikes inside Pakistani soil. Pakistanâ„¢s Foreign Ministry said in a...

Obama to announce restrictions on drone strikes

President Barack Obama is expected to announce drastic changes to the United States’ counterterrorism operations today, reforming the rules that guide America’s drone program...

Amnesty report blasts US for Gitmo, drone strikes, ‘absence of accountability’

Amnesty International listed US indefinite detention of 166 prisoners at Guantanamo as the country’s primary human rights concern in its latest annual report,. The...

New Precedent: Armed Domestic Drone Strikes Will Soon Be Reality

Anthony GucciardiInfowars.comMay 23, 2013 A new precedent has been set. Despite extensive denial that drone strikes...

Did U.S. Pause Drone Strikes for Pakistan Election?

Paul D. ShinkmanUS News & World ReportMay 17, 2013 The skies over Pakistan have remained conspicuously...

‘US drone strikes in Pakistan must end’

Nawaz Sharif, poised to become Pakistanâ„¢s prime minister for a third time, has called on Washington to end its drone strikes inside the country. Speaking...

The Legality of War: Pakistani Court Rules CIA Drone Strikes Constitute a War Crime

In the first major Pakistani court ruling on the legality of the CIA’s drone campaign in the country, a Peshawar High Court judge said...

US drone strikes illegal, govt should stop them — Pakistani court

A high court in Pakistan has ruled that US drone strikes in the country's tribal belt should be considered war crimes and directed the...

Leak Shows US Hid The Truth About Drone Strikes

The leaked intelligence documents reveal that the US has been targeting individuals who pose no immediate threat, with half of the slaughtered people being labeled simply as 'unknown extremists'.

On April 16, Let Experts Who Did On-the-Ground Research in Pakistan Testify About the...

Predator drone transparent(Image: Predator drone via Shutterstock)On April 16, the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, is holding a hearing about US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia: about their constitutionality, about their legality, about whether they are really in the interest of the United States, and about whether they are just and moral.

This is historic. There's never been such a Congressional hearing before.

Before this year - before President Obama nominated John Brennan to head the CIA - there was virtually no public Congressional discussion of the drone strike policy at all. Then a bipartisan group of 11 senators led by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden wrote to the Obama administration, hinting that if the administration didn't hand over to the Senate Intelligence Committee the secret Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos that purport to legally justify the drone strike policy, there could be problems with the Brennan nomination. Wyden continued to insist that the memos had to be handed over prior to Brennan's confirmation, and finally, the administration complied, at least in part, turning over some drone strike memos to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

As of this writing, the administration has still not handed over any drone strike memos to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), although, 1) the Judiciary Committee is supposed to oversee the Justice Department, which produced the memos; 2) Attorney General Eric Holder stated in Senate testimony that you need the memos to understand the leaked "white paper" on the drone strike policy; and 3) Senator Leahy has threatened to issue a subpoena for the memos.

It was the Senate Intelligence Committee, not Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), which first raised, in its pre-confirmation written questioning of Brennan, the question of whether the administration was claiming that it had the legal authority to conduct drone strikes in the United States. Brennan answered: "This administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so." And that answer drove a lot of people wild - not just Senator Paul - because it was clearly a dodge of the question. The question was about what legal authority the administration was claiming, not about what it was planning to do. It was Senator Paul's unhappiness with Brennan's response to the Senate Intelligence Committee's question that led to Paul's historic talking filibuster (should there ever be any other kind?) of Brennan's nomination.

So now, as of this year, we can say that there's been "discussion of the policy in hearings," and a discussion of the policy on the Senate floor (the filibuster), but until now, there still hasn't been a prominent, media-covered Congressional hearing focused on the policy.

That's going to change on April 16.

That means that Durbin's hearing could be a historic opportunity for Americans to learn something about what is actually going on with the drone strike policy.

That could be a game-changer. The status quo is that many Americans - in particular, many Democrats and liberals - have no idea what is going on under the "secret" drone strike policy. And this is reflected in polls.

On March 14, the Huffington Post published a poll saying that the majority of Democrats thought that Senator Paul's filibuster was "an unnecessary political stunt."

To come to that conclusion, you had to be late to the movie. The movie didn't start with Paul's filibuster. Was it an unnecessary political stunt when Wyden's group of 11 wrote to the administration, threatening Brennan's nomination unless the administration handed over the drone strike memos? The letter got the attention of the administration, but it didn't get the attention of the public. The filibuster got the public's attention, because it turned the volume up to 11. It was one louder.

On February 8, the Huffington Post reported that the opinion on the drone strike program of the majority of Americans - including the majority of Democrats - depends on who is being killed. The majority support the use of drone strikes to target top terrorist leaders, not anyone suspected of being associated with a terrorist group. A plurality oppose drone strikes if there is a risk of killing innocent civilians.

Thus, the majority of the public supports the policy that the administration has announced. The majority of the public does not support the policy that the administration has actually been executing. More transparency could reveal the gap between the policy that the administration has announced and the policy that it has been executing; it could reveal to the public that it doesn't actually support the policy that has been taking place. Superficially, we have a paradox: the same people who are telling The Huffington Post that they would oppose administration policy if they knew what it was are also telling The Huffington Post that they are ambivalent about political tactics that might be necessary in order for them to find out.

To understand that there's a crucial difference between the policy that the administration has announced and the policy that it has actually been executing, you have to know something about what has actually happened in Pakistan with the drone strikes since 2004. That's what the majority of Democrats have no idea about. And that's what Durbin's hearing could change.

But in order for Durbin's hearing to change that, he has to invite witnesses who can speak to that. He has to invite witnesses who can speak with authority to what has actually been happening in Pakistan.

Now, of course, it is not true that there are only two people in the world who can do that. But it is true that there are two people who could definitely do that, who live in the United States, who are professors of law who went to Pakistan and interviewed survivors of US drone strikes and wrote a report about it. And although I haven't asked them, I feel confident that if Durbin invited them to his hearing, they would clear their calendars for April 16. Durbin should invite them, and he should say publicly that he supports issuing a subpoena for the drone strike memos if the administration won't hand them over

Drone strikes in Syria? CIA ‘boosting’ intelligence force to ‘size up’ Syrian extremists

Published time: March 16, 2013 11:47
A Syrian rebel crosses a street while trying to dodge sniper fire in the old city of Aleppo in northern Syria.(AFP Photo / Jm Lopez)

The CIA may be preparing for lethal drone strikes in Syria, as it is extending its intelligence-gathering on Islamic radicals in the country, US media has reported. At the same time, US officials are pressing for the supplying arms to rebels.

“The CIA has stepped up secret contingency planning to protect the United States and its allies as the turmoil expands in Syria, including collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists for the first time for possible lethal drone strikes,” according to current and former US officials, reported in the LA Times.

The agency’s counterterrorism center has recently transferred an unspecified number of targeting officers to the area. The center is notorious for its previous drone campaigns in Yemen and Pakistan.

Targeting officers are responsible for the compilation of large packages of information on specific zones. Those working on Syria are currently based at the organization’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as not many US operatives have been deployed to the area.

The increased focus on identifying threats in Syria carries the implication that the agency is preparing plans for counter-action – both violent and nonviolent – against potential militants, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“If we do this, why don't we start droning people in Hezbollah?” a former CIA officer with experience in Iraq told the Los Angeles Times. “It opens the door for a lot of other things.”


In a trend apparently countering the CIA’s alleged security efforts, a US lawmaker is set to propose a bill on Monday in support of providing arms and training to Syrian opposition forces, as well as economic backing. Should the arms be delivered, they could easily fall into the hands of the same militants they seek to suppress.

Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote a letter to his house colleagues seeking their support for a bill to provide arms and training to Syrian rebels, applying pressure to the Obama’s administration.

"US training and arming of carefully vetted Syrian opposition forces offer many potential benefits, but two stand out above all: Bringing the humanitarian disaster to an end as soon as possible and helping ensure that the US has a constructive relationship with a successor government in Damascus,” said the letter obtained by AP.

The idea is supported by officials from both parties – last month, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio suggested providing the Syrian opposition with ammunition, and Secretary of State John Kerry announced a package of ‘nonlethal assistance.'

European media reported that the US, UK and France are already training rebels in Jordan, while Paris and London are both attempting to bring forward an EU meeting to lift the arms embargo on Syria. Planned for May, the two countries are pressing for it to take place before the end of March.

If the union does not end the embargo, the two nations will still arm the Syrian rebels, France said.

However, this course of action could come with its own problems: “Weapons are in high demand by all rebel factions and there is little means to effectively prevent arms from gravitating toward hardcore Al-Qaeda fighters,” political analyst Nile Bowie told RT.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that any arming of the opposition in Syria would be a violation of international law.

On Friday, Syria witnessed the second anniversary of the uprising from which the conflict sprouted, with many saying they feared for the country’s future.

US Drone Strikes Putting ‘Global Order At Risk’, Warn European Politicians

The United States is putting "global stability and international order at risk" by pursuing a policy of targeted extrajudicial drone strikes against suspected terrorists, European politicians have warned.

At least to 3,000 people, including a large number of civilians, are said to have been killed by controversial CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen since 2004.

This week members of the European Parliament said they were "deeply concerned about the legal basis, as well as the moral, ethical and human rights implications" of the drone attacks and urged European Union member states to "contest the US attempt to pervert international law".

In a statement the MEPs said: "We cannot remain silent. The European Union and its Member States must speak up against a practice that will set a dangerous and unwelcome precedent for International Law."

British MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford, the Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman, said on Friday: "US drone killings operate in disregard of the long-established international legal framework about when it is lawful to kill people. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent and risks a destabilising effect on international relations. It could even furnish Al-Qaida with a licence to kill in return."

"European complicity in the ‘War on Terror’ after 9/11, in defiance of legal norms whereby terrorist criminals must be brought to justice through due process, still haunts Europe as well as the US. It is incredible that the US is making renewed and reckless attempts to rewrite the international legal code, and we could get hurt again too."
 
"Without agreed law the international community cannot hope to justify military action and prevent human rights abuses. As leaders of that community along with the US, the EU and its Member States must boldly state their opposition to this programme, which disregards our common international legal heritage. Silence will be taken as European acquiescence, with potentially disastrous results."

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The condemnation came after a briefing in Brussels from United Nations Special Rapporteur for Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson QC, who is conducting a UN investigation into the UK and US policy of targeted killings.

Senior British parliamentarians have also raised concerns in Westminster over president Obama's use of drones in Pakistan. Former British Foreign Office minister Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead has warned "action must be taken to ensure that there is accountability and reparations when a drone attack goes wrong".

And Lord West of Spithead, the former head of the Royal Navy and a security minister in the last Labour government, told the House of Lords last month: "War is horrible. Death is horrible. Being involved in the risk is horrible. When one does this remotely from a leafy suburb in your own country and killing people that does make it remote and that does have huge implications and is very worrying and needs a lot of control."

The House of Commons defence committee announced it would conduct an investigation into the British military's use of drones after the RAF decided to expand its use and number of Unmanned Ariel Vehicles.

Pressed by MPs and peers, the UK government has insisted it has only used its own drones inside Afghanistan as the British military's presence there is at the request of the Afghan government. However British intelligence agencies have been accused of passing information to the CIA to help the Americans carry out strikes in Pakistan.

And last month it was reported the UK had a policy of stripping British citizens of their passports on national security grounds - two of who were then killed by US drones.

President Obama's use of drones has recently climbed up the American news agenda following the controversial confirmation of John Brennan as head of the Central Intelligence Agency and Republican senator Rand Paul's thirteen hour senate filibuster against extrajudicial drone killings.

Brennan has previously claimed that no civilians have been killed by drones, based on the Obama administration's decision to designate every military-age male in the target area as a combatant.

On Thursday the White House tried to shut down the debate over whether, as had been initially suggested, Obama had the power to order a drone strike on US soil.

A series of HuffPost/YouGov surveys showed that while a majority of Americans support their use to kill people suspected of being "high-level members of al Qaeda", this is reversed if they are told civilians are at risk of being killed.

Related on HuffPost:

What Rightwingers Rand Paul and Ted Cruz Exposed About the Drone Strikes

If you're concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability of the policy of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, you have to concede that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have done us a great service: Cruz with his questioning of Attorney General Holder in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Paul with his widely-reported filibuster on the Senate floor.

Unfortunately, some Democrats don't want to acknowledge this contribution. That's a shame.

It's a fact of life in Washington that people who are good on some issues that you care about are bad on other ones. You can see this all the time without leaving your own party. Just this past week, Ron Wyden, key champion on transparency and accountability of the drone strike policy, badly hurt opponents of war with Iran by becoming an original co-sponsor of the AIPAC/Lindsey Graham "backdoor to war" resolution that tries to "pre-approve" participation in an Israeli attack on Iran, saying that if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. should support Israel militarily and diplomatically.

When a political figure is in the opposing party, that almost certainly means that they're bad on a lot of issues that you care about. But if you dismiss them when they're good on something else, then you're dismissing all the people who care about that issue, including the people in your own party who care about that issue.

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz showed how challenging the Administration's lack of transparency on targeting Americans with drone strikes inexorably leads to challenging the Administration's lack of transparency on targeting non-Americans with drone strikes.

In the Judiciary Committee's hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Cruz pressed Holder on the question of whether the Administration would consider it Constitutional to target Americans with drone strikes on U.S. soil. Holder responded by saying, yes, it would be Constitutional, in an extreme circumstance like Pearl Harbor or the September 11 attack.

Cruz pressed: nobody disputes that we would respond to a military attack on U.S. soil, or any physical attack, regardless of whether Americans were involved. The question is: suppose someone you consider to be a terrorist were sitting in a café in the U.S., not an imminent threat. Could you drop a bomb on them, like you do in other countries? And that was the question to which Holder finally gave a clear no.

In other words, Holder said: if you are a citizen of the United States, so long as you keep your feet planted on U.S. soil, even if the U.S. government suspects that you are part of Al Qaeda or an "associated force," the U.S. government cannot drop a bomb on you so long as you are not currently engaged in combat, or are not on your way to combat. So long as you are in the United States, the word "imminent" in the phrase "imminent threat" means what everyone thinks it means, what law enforcement thinks it means, what international law thinks it means: right now, or in the immediate future, you are threatening violence, so we can take you out.

But, according to the Administration, the moment you step outside the United States, then if the U.S. government thinks that you are part of Al Qaeda or an "associated force," the U.S. government can drop a bomb on you, even if you're sitting in a coffee shop, reading a book, with no apparent plans to do anything else. And the reason for that is that the moment you step outside of the United States, the Administration's definition of "imminent" changes from the normal definition: now you are an "imminent" threat because, as a suspected member of Al Qaeda or an "associated force," it's presumed that you will try to do something to the U.S. at some point in the future, not necessarily the immediate future.

And this is a pretty striking revelation, because ordinarily, as Americans, we think that our rights relative to the U.S. government are attached to us, not forfeit when we travel.

During Paul's filibuster, Paul and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin had an exchange that exposed the same point:

As the filibuster crept toward its 13th hour, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joined to ask Paul whether the U.S. government had the authority to take out the fourth plane on 9/11 before it crashed into the Capitol. "I don't think this is such a clear and easy situation," Durbin said.

Paul called it a "red herring." "We all agree that you can repel an imminent attack," Paul said. "None of us disagree with that. We are talking about a targeted drone program" against citizens who are "not actively engaged in combat. ... I don't think that standard can be used in the United States." [my emphasis]

Durbin said he respected Paul's response. "I stand with the senator," Durbin said. "I think it is a legitimate question." [my emphasis]

You can see why the Administration might have been reluctant to state this clearly: critics who say the drone strike policy violates international law also read American newspapers. When the UN report comes out, it will likely make note of the fact that the Administration has acknowledged that its re-definition of the word "imminent" to claim that the drone strike policy doesn't violate international law - that is, isn't a policy of extrajudicial killing - not only differs from the customary international law definition, but from the Administration's own definition of "imminent" that it applies in the United States.

During the hearing, Holder effectively conceded the point that the Judiciary Committee needs the Justice Department's memos justifying the drone strikes to do oversight. Holder was asked about the recently released "white paper" justifying the policy. Holder said: you have to read the white paper in conjunction with the underlying Justice Department memos. Thus, Holder himself is saying that the committee needs to have access to the memos to understand the policy.

Sen. LEE: In fact, on page seven of the white paper -- the white paper goes so far as to suggest that imminence doesn't really need to involve anything imminent. Specifically, it says that this condition, that of imminence that -- that an operational leader present an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future. So I -- I have to ask, Mr. Attorney General, sir, what -- what does imminence mean if -- if it doesn't have to involve something immediate?

HOLDER: Yeah, I mean I --I think part of the problem is what we talked about in the previous question, but I think that white paper becomes more clear if it can be read in conjunction with the underlying OLC advice.

The events of the last few days proved again what should have been obvious: Congressional pressure works to force the Administration to disclose information that it should disclose, and absence of Congressional pressure doesn't work. The Senate Intelligence Committee, after waiting more than a year, is finally getting the memos because it threatened to hold up the confirmation of John Brennan to head the CIA unless it got the memos and then showed that it was willing to carry out the threat. The Senate Judiciary Committee doesn't have the memos because it has not yet exerted enough pressure. Senator Leahy, chair of the committee, has threatened to issue a subpoena. But Leahy hasn't shown yet that he is prepared to carry out the threat.

Robert Naiman

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East. You can contact him here.

US Attorney General Gives the Go-Ahead on Domestic Drone Strikes: May Be Necessary Under...

drone-strikes-authorized

When Congress authorized the deployment of some 30,000 drones over U.S. skies with the passage of the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act in 2012 many civil liberties groups, privacy advocates and Americans expressed their concerns about the possibility that these surveillance tools could be used within the borders of the United States much like they are on the battlefields of the middle east where scores of innocent civilians are killed almost every day as collateral damage in direct strikes against alleged terrorists.

Those fears are very quickly being realized not as possibilities, but actualities.

In response to questions recently voiced by Senator Rand Paul about drone strikes being used against American citizens on American soil without charge or trial, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a public statement indicating that the government has the right to use armed unmanned aerial vehicles should “extraordinary circumstances” arise.

Holder writes:

On February 20, 2013, you wrote to John Brennan requesting additional information concerning the Administration’s views about whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, without a trial.”

As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts. 

The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront.

It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.

For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances like a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.

Full Text (PDF)

The official position of the United States government is that a drone, or any military asset for that matter, can be deployed by the President of the United States or his surrogates without regard to the sixth amendment of the US Constitution, which requires that citizens be afforded the right of facing their accusers, to call witnesses and to be tried by a jury of their peers.

Senator Paul responded to the Attorney General’s comments and warned of the dangers of the new policy:

“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

Last month President Obama responded to questions about domestic drone strikes:

First of all… there’s never been a drone used on an American citizen, on American soil.

We respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counter-terrorism operations outside of the United States. The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside of the United States.

I am not somebody who believes that the President has the authority to do whatever he wants or whatever she wants, whenever they want,  just under the guise of  counter-terrorism.

There have to be checks and balances on it.

Based on Eric Holder’s memo, the President, and therefore agencies under his control, do believe that they have the authority to use lethal force against those identified as “terrorists.”

As the Attorney General noted in his letter to Senator Paul, there are hundreds of Americans that have been tried and convicted as terrorists, and thousands more that have been identified as terrorists by government officials.

U.S. attorney Anne Tompkins recently prosecuted Bernard Von Nothaus for minting silver coins he branded as “liberty dollars.” After Vot Nothaus was convicted, Tompkins referred to his actions as a unique form of domestic terrorism.

Local law enforcement officials attending DHS sponsored training events have widely reported that the definitions for “terrorist” activity are becoming very broad, as outlined by one police officer at James Rawles’ Survival Blog:

During the past several years, I have witnessed a dramatic shift in the focus of law enforcement training.  Law enforcement courses have moved away from a local community focus to a federally dominated model of complete social control. Most training I have attended over the past two years have been sponsored by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), namely the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

No matter what topic the training session concerns, every DHS sponsored course I have attended over the past few years never fails to branch off into warnings about potential domestic terrorists in the community.

So how does a person qualify as a potential domestic terrorist?  Based on the training I have attended, here are characteristics that qualify:

  • Expressions of libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers)
  • Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership, holding a CCW permit)
  • Survivalist literature (fictional books such as “Patriots” and “One Second After” are mentioned by name)
  • Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)
  • Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)
  • Religious views concerning the book of Revelation (apocalypse, anti-Christ)
  • Expressed fears of Big Brother or big government
  • Homeschooling
  • Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties
  • Belief in a New World Order conspiracy

Earlier this year a kindergarten student was suspended from school after officials reported that she made a terrorist threat utilizing a Hello Kitty bubble gun.

The Attorney General of the United States of America just gave the President the go-ahead on domestic drone strikes.

Under the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, no Constitutional protections need be afforded to American citizens, thus, anyone can be classified as a domestic terrorist at the President’s discretion.

If you mint a silver coin, stockpile food, refuse to turn in your high capacity magazine, voice beliefs that may be considered subversive to the government, or have a toy resembling a gun, you maybe labeled a terrorist.

As such, you can also be targeted for extermination.

‘Obama drone strikes need oversight’

Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. (File photo)

Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has joined a list of lawmakers calling for the formation of a third group to check on the president’s ability to conduct drone strikes.

"I think this idea of being able to execute, in effect, an American citizen, no matter how awful, having some third party -- informing the Congress or the intelligence committees or something like that...some check on the ability of the president to do this has merit, as we look to the longer term future," Gates said on Sunday.

The comment follows lawmakers' recent proposal that a special court should evaluate US President Barack Obama's deadly drone strikes against Americans who are allied with al-Qaeda.

"It just makes me uncomfortable that the president - whoever it is - is the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner, all rolled into one," said Senator Angus King.

Gates added that "whether it's a panel of three judges or one judge -- something that would give the American people confidence that there was, in fact, a compelling case -- to launch an attack against an American citizen, I think just as an independent confirmation or affirmation, if you will, is something worth giving serious consideration to."

The ex-spymaster also alluded to inadequacies found in the current laws regarding drone strikes, those that would particularly empower the “future president” to disregard the rules.

This comes as the Department of Justice released last week documents explaining the circumstances when Washington can use drone strikes on an American citizen abroad.


A recent report revealed that the Pentagon’s overall spending on drones has surged from USD284 million in 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.”

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

GMA/PKH

Guest Post: America Loves Drone Strikes

Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics blog,

This graph shows everything we need to know about the geopolitical reality of Predator Drones (coming soon to the skies of America to hunt down fugitives?).

The American public loves drone strikes:

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The American public does not approve of the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. But for everyone else, it’s open season.

But everyone else — most particularly and significantly, the countries in the Muslim world — largely hates and resents drone strikes.

And it is the Muslim world that produces the radicalised extremists who commit acts like 9/11, 7/7, the Madrid bombings, and the Bali bombings.  With this outpouring of contempt for America’s drone strikes, many analysts are coming to believe that Obama’s drone policy is now effectively a recruitment tool for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and similar groups:

2_Hands

Indeed, evidence is beginning to coalesce to suggest exactly this. PressTV recently noted:

The expanding drone war in Yemen, which often kills civilians, does in fact cause blowback and help al-Qaeda recruitment – as attested to by numerous Yemen experts, investigative reporting on the ground, polling, testimony from Yemen activists, and the actual fact that recent bungled terrorist attacks aimed at the U.S. have cited such drone attacks as motivating factors.

After another September drone strike that killed 13 civilians, a local Yemeni activist told CNN, “I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al-Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake. This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously.”

“Our entire village is angry at the government and the Americans,” a Yemeni villager named Mohammed told the Post. “If the Americans are responsible, I would have no choice but to sympathize with al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda is fighting America.”

Many in the U.S. intelligence community also believe the drone war is contributing to the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen. Robert Grenier, who headed the CIA’s counter-terrorism center and was previously a CIA station chief in Pakistan, told The Guardian in June that he is “very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield,” he said regarding drones in Yemen.

Iona Craig reports that civilian casualties from drone strikes “have emboldened al-Qaeda” and cites the reaction to the 2009 U.S. cruise missile attack on the village of al-Majala in Yemen that killed more than 40 civilians (including 21 children):

That one bombing radicalized the entire area,” Abdul Gh ani al-Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst, said. “All the men and boys from those families and tribes will have joined [al-Qaeda] to fight.

And al-Qaeda’s presence and support in Yemen has grown, not shrunk since the start of the targeted killing program:

Meanwhile Yemen Central Security Force commander Brig. Gen. Yahya Saleh, nephew of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, told Abdul-Ahad that al-Qaeda has more followers, money, guns and territory then they did a year and a half ago.

All at a time when Yemen is facing a “catastrophic” food crisis, with at least 267,000 children facing life-threatening levels of malnutrition. Hunger has doubled since 2009, and the number of displaced civilians is about 500,000 and rising.

As U.S. drones drop bombs on south Yemen villages and AQAP provides displaced civilians with “free electricity, food and water,” tribes in the area are becoming increasingly sympathetic to AQAP.

Let’s be intellectually honest. If a country engages in a military program that carries out strikes that kill hundreds of civilians - many of whom having no connection whatever with terrorism or radicalism - that country is going to become increasingly hated. People in the countries targeted - those who may have lost friends, or family members - are going to plot revenge, and take revenge. That’s just how war works. It infuriates. It radicalises. It instils hatred.

The reality of Obama’s drone program is to create new generations of America-hating radicalised individuals, who may well go on to be the next Osama bin Laden, the next Ayman al-Zawahiri, the next Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The reality for Obama’s drone program is that it is sowing the seeds for the next 9/11 - just as American intervention in the middle east sowed the seeds for the last, as Osama bin Laden readily admitted.

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Debating a Court to Vet Drone Strikes

Predator drone encircled(Photo: drsmith7383; Edited: JR / TO)Washington - Since 1978, a secret court in Washington has approved national security eavesdropping on American soil — operations that for decades had been conducted based on presidential authority alone.

Now, in response to broad dissatisfaction with the hidden bureaucracy directing lethal drone strikes, there is an interest in applying the model of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court — created by Congress so that surveillance had to be justified to a federal judge — to the targeted killing of suspected terrorists, or at least of American suspects.

“We’ve gone from people scoffing at this to it becoming a fit subject for polite conversation,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas. He said court approval for adding names to a counterterrorism kill list — at least for American citizens abroad — “is no longer beyond the realm of political possibility.”

A drone court would face constitutional, political and practical obstacles, and might well prove unworkable, according to several legal scholars and terrorism experts. But with the war in Afghanistan winding down, Al Qaeda fragmenting into hard-to-read offshoots and the 2001 terrorist attacks receding into the past, they said, it is time to consider how to forge a new, trustworthy and transparent system to govern lethal counterterrorism operations.

“People in Washington need to wake up and realize the legal foundations are crumbling by the day,” Mr. Chesney said. That realization seemed evident at Thursday’s confirmation hearing for John O. Brennan as C.I.A. director, which became a raucous forum for complaints about the expansion of counterterrorist strikes and the procedures for deciding who should die.

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, was one of those who complained that he could not get the administration to even list the countries where lethal strikes had been carried out. Among Republicans, Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said he thought that killing had become a dubious substitute for capture. A program that began in the shadows was dragged for the first time into the spotlight of Congressional debate.

Today, with Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan hugely diminished and Osama bin Laden dead, the terrorist threat is far more diffuse than it was a decade ago. Most drone-fired missiles now kill not high-level terrorists plotting to attack the United States, but a mixed bag of midlevel militants and foot soldiers whose focus is often more on the Pakistani or Yemeni authorities than on the United States. And since a September 2011 drone strike deliberately killed an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had joined Al Qaeda in Yemen, the legal and moral rationale for such strikes has been hotly debated.

Even if they are glad Mr. Awlaki is dead, many Americans are uneasy that a president can use secret evidence to label a citizen a terrorist and order his execution without a trial or judge’s ruling. Hence the idea of court oversight for targeted killing, which on Thursday, unexpectedly, got serious discussion from senators and Mr. Brennan.

First, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she would review proposals for establishing such a court. Her remark got a strong second from Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent.

“Having the executive being the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner all in one is very contrary to the traditions and the laws of this country,” he said.

Mr. Brennan then made a striking disclosure: The Obama administration had held internal talks on the feasibility of such a court. “I think it’s certainly worthy of discussion,” Mr. Brennan said. “What’s that appropriate balance between the executive, legislative and judicial branch responsibilities in this area?”

An administration official who spoke of the White House deliberations on the condition of anonymity said President Obama had asked his security and legal advisers a year ago “to see how you could have an independent review” of planned strikes. “That includes possible judicial review.”

“People on the national security staff and the legal side took a hard look at it, and the discussions are still going on,” the official said. “There are a lot of complexities. You’d need legislation and probably a new judicial body.”

The FISA court was created by Congress in 1978 after revelations of widespread eavesdropping on Americans by the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation convinced Congress that the executive branch had proved incapable of properly policing itself.

Eleven judges from around the country sit on the court, but one is on duty at a time, hearing cases in a special high-security courtroom added to Washington’s federal courthouse in 2009. In 2011, according to the most recent statistics, the court approved 1,745 orders for electronic surveillance or physical searches, rejecting none outright but altering 30.

A drone court would have the same appeal, bringing in an independent arbiter. But it is likely there would be serious limitations to its jurisdiction. Most experts say judges do not have the alacrity or expertise to rule on a frantic call from the C.I.A. every time a terrorism suspect is in its sights. A better approach would be to have the court rule on whether the government had enough evidence against a suspect to place him on the kill list.

But if the court’s jurisdiction extended to every foreign terrorism suspect, even some proponents believe, it might infringe on the president’s constitutional role as commander in chief. Senator King, for instance, said he thought the court would pass constitutional muster only if it were limited to cases involving American citizens.

With such limits, however, a drone court would not address many of the most pressing concerns, including decisions on which foreign militants should be targeted; how to avoid civilian deaths; and how to provide more public information about strike rules and procedures.

“In terms of the politics and the optics, aren’t you in the same position that you are now?” said William C. Banks, a national security law expert at Syracuse University. “It’s still secret. The target wouldn’t be represented. It’s a mechanism that wouldn’t satisfy critics or advance the due process cause much.”

Indeed, Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security project, said that a drone court would be a step backward, and that extradition and criminal prosecution of suspected terrorists was a better answer. “I strongly agree that judicial review is crucial,” she said. “But judicial review in a new secret court is both unnecessary and un-American.”

Nor are judges clamoring to take up the challenge. At an American Bar Association meeting in November, a retired FISA judge, James Robertson, rejected the idea that judges should approve “death warrants.”

“My answer is, that’s not the business of judges,” Mr. Robertson said, “to decide without an adversary party to sign a death warrant for somebody.”

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting.

Naming the Dead: New Investigation into Victims of US Drone Strikes

dronefiring

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is launching an ambitious new investigation, which will seek to identify as many as possible of those killed in US covert drone strikes in Pakistan, whether civilian or militant.

The Bureau is raising some of the money for this project through a crowd-funding appeal.

As part of our ongoing monitoring and reporting of CIA and Pentagon drone strikes, the Bureau has already recorded the names of hundreds of people killed in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

At the end of January 2013, the Bureau was able to identify by name 213 people killed by drones in Pakistan who were reported to be middle- or senior-ranking militants.

A further 331 civilians have also now been named, 87 of them children.

But this is a small proportion of the minimum 2,629 people who appear to have so far died in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. The Bureau’s work suggests 475 of them were likely to have been civilians.

‘At the momNaming the Dead new version4ent we know the names of fewer than 20% of those killed in Pakistan’s tribal areas. At least 2,000 deaths still remain publicly anonymous,’ said Chris Woods, who leads the Bureau’s covert drone war team.

‘Our aim will be to identify by name many hundreds more of those killed. A significant number of those identities will be known by local communities, by US and Pakistani officials, and by militant groups. We hope to convince them to share that information.’

Related story – Analysis: Why we must name all drone attack victims

Pakistani tribesmen offer funeral prayer -GettyImages

A February 15 2009 drone strike killed at least 26. Few have so far been named. (Getty Images)

The project has already secured substantial funding from a UK foundation – but it still needs more funds.

Today the US-based Freedom of the Press Foundation, a crowd-funding organisation aimed at raising money for public interest journalism, announced it is backing the Bureau’s Naming the Dead project. The Bureau’s new investigation will be one of four recipients of Freedom of the Press Foundation’s latest campaign.

Crowd-funding is an established way of supporting journalism in the US and it is increasingly being used in the UK as a way of funding projects, which established organisations ignore or will not fund.

Using the reach of the web, many people (the crowd) are able to give small amounts of money to back a cause or project in which they believe.

‘In the face of official secrecy, having the full facts about who is killed is essential  for an informed debate about  the effectiveness and ethics of the drone campaign,’  said Christopher Hird, managing editor of the Bureau. ‘And it is exciting to be able to give all of our supporters worldwide the chance to be part of  our first venture in this democratic form of funding.’

A challenging task

Government officials, media organisations and even militant groups are often quick to identify senior militants such as Yahya al-Libi and Ilyas Kashmiri when they are killed.

Yet little is said of the hundreds more alleged militants and civilians among at least 2,629 deaths in Pakistan drone strikes.

Sth Wana letter Jan 2009Both the US and Pakistani governments are likely to keep detailed records. A recent case at the Peshawar High Court heard that officials in the tribal agencies had prepared a confidential report which ‘included details of each and every drone attack and the number, names and ages of the people killed’.

Anonymous US intelligence officials have also revealed details of CIA video surveillance on particular strikes. And the ‘Terror Tuesday’ process – in which hundreds of named alleged militants have been selected by US agencies for targeted killing – has been widely reported.

Photographs and other documents also occasionally surface. When a civilian family was killed in the first drone strike of Barack Obama’s presidency, local officials issued formal paperwork (see right) that was later obtained by the campaign group Center for Civilians in Conflict.

ID cards, family photographs and eyewitness testimony of attacks can all provide useful corroborating evidence. The graves of militants killed in drone strikes can also name them as ‘martyrs’ and give details of the strikes in which they died.

Drawing on information from a wide array of sources, the Bureau’s team will seek to build a detailed understanding of those killed.

Focus on Pakistan

While the Bureau will seek to extend the project to Yemen and Somalia in the near future, the initial focus will be on the nation where most US covert drone strikes have taken place.

Researchers based in Pakistan and the UK will seek to build up biographical information for all of those killed, whether civilian or militant – their name, age, gender, tribe, and village, for example. Where possible, photographs, witness statements and official documentation will also be published.

The team will seek assistance from the Pakistan and US governments in identifying those killed. And researchers will also call on Taliban factions and other militant groups to release information on the many hundreds of fighters killed in more than 360 US drone strikes since 2004.

Drone Strikes’ Dangers to Get Rare Moment in Public Eye

Sana, Yemen - Late last August, a 40-year-old cleric named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber stood up to deliver a speech denouncing Al Qaeda in a village mosque in far eastern Yemen.

It was a brave gesture by a father of seven who commanded great respect in the community, and it did not go unnoticed. Two days later, three members of Al Qaeda came to the mosque in the tiny village of Khashamir after 9 p.m., saying they merely wanted to talk. Mr. Jaber agreed to meet them, bringing his cousin Waleed Abdullah, a police officer, for protection.

As the five men stood arguing by a cluster of palm trees, a volley of remotely operated American missiles shot down from the night sky and incinerated them all, along with a camel that was tied up nearby.

The killing of Mr. Jaber, just the kind of leader most crucial to American efforts to eradicate Al Qaeda, was a reminder of the inherent hazards of the quasi-secret campaign of targeted killings that the United States is waging against suspected militants not just in Yemen but also in Pakistan and Somalia. Individual strikes by the Predator and Reaper drones are almost never discussed publicly by Obama administration officials. But the clandestine war will receive a rare moment of public scrutiny on Thursday, when its chief architect, John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, faces a Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama’s nominee for C.I.A. director.

From his basement office in the White House, Mr. Brennan has served as the principal coordinator of a “kill list” of Qaeda operatives marked for death, overseeing drone strikes by the military and the C.I.A., and advising Mr. Obama on which strikes he should approve.

“He’s probably had more power and influence than anyone in a comparable position in the last 20 years,” said Daniel Benjamin, who recently stepped down as the State Department’s top counterterrorism official and now teaches at Dartmouth. “He’s had enormous sway over the intelligence community. He’s had a profound impact on how the military does counterterrorism.”

Mr. Brennan, a former C.I.A. station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has taken a particular interest in Yemen, sounding early alarms within the administration about the threat developing there, working closely with neighboring Saudi Arabia to gain approval for a secret C.I.A. drone base there that is used for American strikes, and making the impoverished desert nation a test case for American counterterrorism strategy.

In recent years, both C.I.A. and Pentagon counterterrorism officials have pressed for greater freedom to attack suspected militants, and colleagues say Mr. Brennan has often been a restraining voice. The strikes have killed a number of operatives of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s affiliate in Yemen, including Said Ali al-Shihri, a deputy leader of the group, and the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

But they have also claimed civilians like Mr. Jaber and have raised troubling questions that apply to Pakistan and Somalia as well: Could the targeted killing campaign be creating more militants in Yemen than it is killing? And is it in America’s long-term interest to be waging war against a self-renewing insurgency inside a country about which Washington has at best a hazy understanding?

Several former top military and intelligence officials — including Stanley A. McChrystal, the retired general who led the Joint Special Operations Command, which has responsibility for the military’s drone strikes, and Michael V. Hayden, the former C.I.A. director — have raised concerns that the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen are increasingly targeting low-level militants who do not pose a direct threat to the United States.

In an interview with Reuters, General McChrystal said that drones could be a useful tool but were “hated on a visceral level” in some of the places where they were used and contributed to a “perception of American arrogance.”

Mr. Brennan has aggressively defended the accuracy of the drone strikes, and the rate of civilian casualties has gone down considerably since the attacks began in Yemen in 2009. He has also largely dismissed criticism that the drone campaign has tarnished America’s image in Yemen and has been an effective recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

“In fact, we see the opposite,” Mr. Brennan said during a speech last year. “Our Yemeni partners are more eager to work with us. Yemeni citizens who have been freed from the hellish grip of A.Q.A.P. are more eager, not less, to work with the Yemeni government.”

Christopher Swift, a researcher at Georgetown University who spent last summer in Yemen studying the reaction to the strikes, said he thought Mr. Brennan’s comments missed the broader impact.

“What Brennan said accurately reflected people in the security apparatus who he speaks to when he goes to Yemen,” Mr. Swift said. “It doesn’t reflect the views of the man in the street, of young human rights activists, of the political opposition.”

Though Mr. Swift said he thought that critics had exaggerated the role of the strikes in generating recruits for Al Qaeda, “in the political sphere, the perception is that the U.S. is colluding with the Yemeni government in a covert war against the Yemeni people.”

“Even if we’re winning in the military domain,” Mr. Swift said, “drones may be undermining our long-term interest in the goal of a stable Yemen with a functional political system and economy.”

A Parallel Campaign

American officials have never explained in public why the C.I.A. and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command are carrying out parallel drone campaigns in Yemen. Privately, however, they describe an arrangement that has evolved since the frantic, ad hoc early days of America’s war there.

The first strike in Yemen ordered by the Obama administration, in December 2009, was by all accounts a disaster. American cruise missiles carrying cluster munitions killed dozens of civilians, including many women and children. Another strike, six months later, killed a popular deputy governor, inciting angry demonstrations and an attack that shut down a critical oil pipeline.

Not long afterward, the C.I.A. began quietly building a drone base in Saudi Arabia to carry out strikes in Yemen. American officials said that the first time the C.I.A. used the Saudi base was to kill Mr. Awlaki in September 2011.

Since then, officials said, the C.I.A. has been given the mission of hunting and killing “high-value targets” in Yemen — the leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who Obama administration lawyers have determined pose a direct threat to the United States. When the C.I.A. obtains specific intelligence on the whereabouts of someone on its kill list, an American drone can carry out a strike without the permission of Yemen’s government.

There is, however, a tighter leash on the Pentagon’s drones. According to American officials, the Joint Special Operations Command must get the Yemeni government’s approval before launching a drone strike. This restriction is in place, officials said, because the military’s drone campaign is closely tied to counterterrorism operations conducted by Yemeni special operations troops.

Yemen’s military is fighting its own counterinsurgency battle against Islamic militants, who gained and then lost control over large swaths of the country last year. Often, American military strikes in Yemen are masked as Yemeni government operations.

Moreover, Mr. Obama demanded early on that each American military strike in Yemen be approved by a committee in Washington representing the national security agencies. The C.I.A. strikes, by contrast, resulted from a far more closed process inside the agency. Mr. Brennan plays a role in overseeing all the strikes.

There have been at least five drone strikes in Yemen since the start of the year, killing at least 24 people. That continues a remarkable acceleration over the past two years in a program that has carried out at least 63 airstrikes since 2009, according to The Long War Journal, a Web site that collects public data on the strikes, with an estimated death toll in the hundreds. Many of the militants reported killed recently were very young and do not appear to have had any important role with Al Qaeda.

“Even with Al Qaeda, there are degrees — some of these young guys getting killed have just been recruited and barely known what terrorism means,” said Naji al Zaydi, a former governor of Marib Province, who has been a vocal opponent of Al Qaeda and a supporter of Yemen’s president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Mr. Zaydi, a prominent tribal figure from an area that has long been associated with members of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, pointed out that the identity and background of these men were no mystery in Yemen’s interlinked tribal culture.

A Deadly Ride

In one recent case, on Jan. 23, a drone strike in a village east of Sana killed a 21-year-old university student named Saleem Hussein Jamal and his cousin, a 33-year-old teacher named Ali Ali Nasser Jamal, who happened to have been traveling with him. According to relatives and neighbors of the two men, they were driving home from a nearby town called Jahana when five strangers offered to pay them for a ride. The drone-fired missile hit the vehicle, a twin-cab Toyota Hilux, just outside the village of Masnaa at about 9 p.m. The strangers were later identified in Yemeni news reports as members of Al Qaeda, though apparently not high-ranking ones.

After the strike, villagers were left to identify their two dead relatives from identity cards, scraps of clothing and the license plate of Mr. Jamal’s Toyota; the seven bodies were shredded beyond recognition, as cellphone photos taken at the scene attest. “We found eyes, but there were no faces left,” said Abdullah Faqih, a student who knew both of the dead cousins.

Although most Yemenis are reluctant to admit it publicly, there does appear to be widespread support for the American drone strikes that hit substantial Qaeda figures like Mr. Shihri, a Saudi and the affiliate’s deputy leader, who died in January of wounds received in a drone strike late last year.

Al Qaeda has done far more damage in Yemen than it has in the United States, and one episode reinforced public disgust last May, when a suicide bomber struck a military parade rehearsal in the Yemeni capital, killing more than 100 people.

Moreover, many Yemenis reluctantly admit that there is a need for foreign help: Yemen’s own efforts to strike at the terrorist group have often been compromised by weak, divided military forces; widespread corruption; and even support for Al Qaeda within pockets of the intelligence and security agencies.

Yet even as both Mr. Brennan and Mr. Hadi, the Yemeni president, praise the drone technology for its accuracy, other Yemenis often point out that it can be very difficult to isolate members of Al Qaeda, thanks to the group’s complex ties and long history in Yemen.

This may account for a pattern in many of the drone strikes: a drone hovers over an area for weeks on end before a strike takes place, presumably waiting until identities are confirmed and the targets can be struck without anyone else present.

In the strike that killed Mr. Jaber, the cleric, that was not enough. At least one drone had been overhead every day for about a month, provoking high anxiety among local people, said Aref bin Ali Jaber, a tradesman who is related to the cleric. “After the drone hit, everyone was so frightened it would come back,” Mr. Jaber said. “Children especially were affected; my 15-year-old daughter refuses to be alone and has had to sleep with me and my wife after that.”  

Anger at America

In the days afterward, the people of the village vented their fury at the Americans with protests and briefly blocked a road. It is difficult to know what the long-term effects of the deaths will be, though some in the town — as in other areas where drones have killed civilians — say there was an upwelling of support for Al Qaeda, because such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.

Innocents aside, even members of Al Qaeda invariably belong to a tribe, and when they are killed in drone strikes, their relatives — whatever their feelings about Al Qaeda — often swear to exact revenge on America.

“Al Qaeda always gives money to the family,” said Hussein Ahmed Othman al Arwali, a tribal sheik from an area south of the capital called Mudhia, where Qaeda militants fought pitched battles with Yemeni soldiers last year. “Al Qaeda’s leaders may be killed by drones, but the group still has its money, and people are still joining. For young men who are poor, the incentives are very strong: they offer you marriage, or money, and the ideological part works for some people.”

In some cases, drones have killed members of Al Qaeda when it seemed that they might easily have been arrested or captured, according to a number of Yemeni officials and tribal figures. One figure in particular has stood out: Adnan al Qadhi, who was killed, apparently in a drone strike, in early November in a town near the capital.

Mr. Qadhi was an avowed supporter of Al Qaeda, but he also had recently served as a mediator for the Yemeni government with other jihadists, and was drawing a government salary at the time of his death. He was not in hiding, and his house is within sight of large houses owned by a former president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and other leading figures.  

Whatever the success of the drone strikes, some Yemenis wonder why there is not more reliance on their country’s elite counterterrorism unit, which was trained in the United States as part of the close cooperation between the two countries that Mr. Brennan has engineered. One member of the unit, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed great frustration that his unit had not been deployed on such missions, and had in fact been posted to traffic duty in the capital in recent weeks, even as the drone strikes intensified.

“For sure, we could be going after some of these guys,” the officer said. “That’s what we’re trained to do, and the Americans trained us. It doesn’t make sense.”

Robert F. Worth reported from Sana, and Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane from Washington.

Pakistan Ambassador: US Drone Strikes Are A ‘Red Line’

Shehrbano "Sherry" Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, said Tuesday that the continuing use of covert and illegal drone strikes in her country is a "red line," adding that Pakistan is threatening to withhold further cooperation with the Unite...

Finally: The UN Will Investigate Drone Strikes

A mock drone set up to protest government surveillance at a protest representing a variety of causes near the site of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 2, 2012. (Photo: Max Whittaker / The New York Times) A mock drone set up to protest government surveillance at a protest representing a variety of causes near the site of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 2, 2012. (Photo: Max Whittaker / The New York Times) Don’t let the forces of regression dominate the media in 2013 - click here to support brave, independent reporting today by making a contribution to Truthout.

It’s about time: the United Nations is set to investigate drone strikes, reports the New York Times. The technologically advanced killing machines have become a staple for developed nations, particularly the United States. However, the lack of oversight and accountability with drone usage has critics wondering whether the robots are successfully combatting the war on terror or merely spreading terror further.

Ben Emmerson, a British lawyer who works for the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, will head a panel for a nine-month investigation. While Emmerson said the findings will pertain to all nations utilizing drone technology, any proclamations the United Nations makes will be most relevant to the United States, the leader in that field by far.

The United Nations’s goal is not to eliminate drones altogether, but find acceptable regulations for drone usage. “This form of warfare is here to stay,” said Emmerson. “It is completely unacceptable to allow the world to drift blindly toward the precipice without any agreement between states as to the circumstances in which drone strike targeted killings are lawful, and on the safeguards necessary to protect civilians.”

The fact that most American citizens know nothing about drone attacks is no accident. Although the White House says that President Barack Obama authorizes many of the drone strikes himself, it does not acknowledge or comment on specific attacks. Names of the targets are not provided – and sometimes not even known by the CIA itself – and the U.S. does not need to provide evidence to anyone to show that the killings are warranted.

Despite the mystery surrounding this emerging technology, ProPublica has a great primer explaining the information that is known about the drone warfare. Around 3,000 individuals that the United States suspects of having ties with terrorism have been killed abroad, which includes a few American citizens. The U.S. gives itself the discretion to kill potential terrorists when capture of these individuals appears too difficult, although it now seems to be the primary mode of handling suspects.

Then there’s the matter of civilian casualties: though the White House’s estimates of bystander fatalities is significantly lower than that of independent journalists, the number of bystander fatalities seems to be at least a few hundred. That’s a lot of human lives with no terrorist connections to be chalked up to collateral damage.

Two Americans will serve on the ten-person United Nations panel: Captain Jason Wright, a lawyer for the U.S. Army, and Sarah Knuckey, a human rights lawyer and professor at NYU. They will be joined by a few British professionals as well as a judge from Pakistan and an activist from Yemen, two countries that have been the target of many drone strikes.

Although Emmerson acknowledges that the White House has been extremely secretive about its drone program thus far, he is “strongly optimistic” that the U.S. will adhere to any recommendations developed by the U.N.

UN to probe UK and US drone strikes

The United Nations (UN) is to examine Britain and the US drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan based on requests by several nations, including Pakistan and two permanent members of the UN Security Council.

‘US drone strikes amounts to war crime’

Financial editor for Veterans Today, Mike Harris.

US assassination drone attacks amount to “war crime” against innocent civilians by a government that claims moral leadership of the world, a political analyst tells Press TV.

In an interview with Press TV, Mike Harris, financial editor of Veterans Today, said that the US drone attacks, which have killed thousands of innocent people in various countries should be considered a war crime.

“These drone attacks are a war crime. It is murder. There is no other word for it. It is plain and simple murder. And it should not be allowed,” said Harris.

While Washington claims the drone attacks target al-Qaeda militants, witnesses and local officials maintain that civilians are the main victims of the assaults.

“This is murder. It is plain and simple murder of innocent civilians. And even if they are military adversaries, it is indiscriminate, it is not the way you fight a war. There is too much collateral damage on this. It is not worth it. I mean it is heartbreaking,” said Harris.


Targets are chosen from Obama’s so called “kill list”, a list of individuals who the US suspects are terrorists, named to be assassinated after final approval by the president.

“This is [an] extremely dangerous situation. The NDAA (The National Defense Authorization Act) needs to be repealed. The Patriot Act needs to be repealed. This ‘kill list’ needs to be stopped. Anyone who puts together a kill list to assassinate, and this includes American citizens who are being deprived of due process, this is absolutely illegal against the US Constitution,” said Harris.

He concluded by saying, “We need to bring these people to justice. They need to be tried and if convicted, they need to be punished accordingly but this needs to stop. This is absolutely illegal.”

CAH/SZH

Pakistanis protest illegal US drone strikes

Pakistanis protest US drone strikes in their country's tribal region, in Multan on December 6, 2012.

Pakistanis have taken to the streets to protest at US-led assassination drone attacks in their country, Press TV reports.

The protesters in the central city of Multan condemned Washington’s unsanctioned drone strikes that claim the lives of hundreds of Pakistanis every year.

The protest on Tuesday follows US drone attacks in North Waziristan's tribal areas which left eight people dead and four injured.


On Sunday, at least 16 people were killed in a US drone strike on the tribal area of South Waziristan.

Washington claims that its airstrikes target militants crossing the border with Afghanistan, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.

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

Last month, 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.

Over the past months, massive demonstrations have been held across Pakistan to condemn the United States for violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.

SZH/PKH/SS

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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...

Media Disinformation: Washington Post Drone Story Ignores Pakistani Military Opposition to Strikes

The Washington Post on Thursday reported what it presented as new evidence of a secret agreement under which Pakistani officials have long been privately...

Pakistan Drone Story Ignored Military Opposition to Strikes

Members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party burn replica of Drone aircraft near Peshawar Press Club on May 14, 2011. (Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS) WASHINGTON - The Washington...

UK military shows off footage of drone strike on ISIS that caused ‘civilian injuries’...

Footage has emerged showing a controversial British drone strike on a sniper in Syria last...

Former soldier-turned-Corbynite MP to head Parliament’s drones committee

Published time: 13 Jul, 2017 15:06 Afghanistan veteran and pro-Corbyn Labour MP Clive Lewis has...

Trump escalates US drone war in Somalia

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"I Saw Pieces of Bodies": Afghan Civilians Describe Terrorization by US Drones

Predator drone with Hellfire missiles on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Edney-Browne) The Trump administration's "drone policy,"...

US court dismisses Yemen drone strike wrongful death suit

A US appeals court has upheld a decision dismissing a lawsuit brought by a Yemeni man...

American Judge Says "Democracy Is Broken” as Court Declines to Oversee Drone Killing

A senior judge has today described American democracy as "broken" and Congressional oversight a "joke" in failing to check the US drone killing program. In...
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Video: US strikes pro-government forces in Syria for 2nd time in week

The US-led coalition has struck Syrian pro-government forces near its training base of At Tanf, and shot down an armed drone outside its deconfliction...

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...

Peter Van Buren Reviews National Bird: Looking Deeply into the Drone War’s Abyss

National Bird, a documentary film about America’s drone wars by filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck, airs May 1 at 10 pm on most local PBS stations...

Evidence withheld from inquiry into RAF drone strike that killed British jihadist – MPs

Published time: 26 Apr, 2017 14:57 Evidence of ministerial decision-making that led to a Royal Air...

Corbyn makes election pledge to end Syria airstrikes and push for peace process

Airstrikes should be suspended and all parties should get back to the negotiating table in a bid to end the Syrian war, Labour leader...

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...

U.S. Strikes in Syria Are an Illegal Response to Atrocity

No one disputes that Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians is illegal, immoral, and unacceptable. But Assad’s illegality does not excuse...
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Video: Amid Spike in Civilian Deaths from U.S. Strikes, Trump Requests Lifting Policy Limiting...

http://democracynow.org - On Thursday, a U.S. Reaper drone struck a gathering in a rebel-held village in Aleppo province, killing as many as 49 people. Via...

‘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...

RAF drone pilots working through ‘kill list’ of British citizens fighting for ISIS

Published time: 23 Feb, 2017 11:52Edited time: 26 Feb, 2017 09:06 British drone pilots are steadily...

Border-shooting case could have implications for drone victims, Supreme Court says

Supreme Court justices are likely split over a case in which a US border agent killed...

Thousands of US airstrikes unaccounted for in Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan – report

US Central Command has been misleading the public in its assessment of the overall progress in the war on terror by failing to account...

Ron Paul on Trump’s 31 Airstrikes – A Taste of Things To Come?

Over the weekend, President Trump indicated that he would continue in his predecessor’s foreign policy. The US conducted some 31...

UK adoption of US drone assassination model ‘shocking’ – campaigners

Britain will look to the US drone assassination model as it seeks to update its own rules of war, a move campaigners say is...

Drone warfare’s spread to smaller powers has ‘implications for global peace’ – think tank

Smaller military powers like Iran, Nigeria, and Turkey are following in the footsteps of the...

DARPA funds second prototype of new sea drone (VIDEO)

US weapons researchers are building a second test model of the sea-launched drone they call Tern,...

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...

Air Force investigates outage of secret computer network at its major drone base –...

The US Air Force is reportedly looking into a computer system outage at a base it uses to operate armed drones over Afghanistan, Pakistan...

British air force admits involvement in airstrikes which hit Syrian govt troops

Britain’s military has admitted involvement in an airstrike in eastern Syria which reportedly killed over...

‘Enemy kills’: 3 former US Air force drone operators back Yemeni victims' lawsuit

Three former military veterans who were once involved in the US drone program are supporting a...

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...

US warplanes conduct airstrikes as Turkey races against Kurds to take Jarablus

The US has agreed to help Turkey capture the border city of Jarablus in Syria to...

What the Drone ‘Playbook’ Really Says About US Counter-Terrorism Policy

Finally. After three years of delays and a lawsuit from the ACLU, President Obama has disclosed his administration’s rules and procedures for...

US drone warfare relies on ‘near certainty’ of target IDs & collateral damage

The White House has released a redacted copy of the so-called drone strike “handbook”, which outlines...

After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that...

Orlok | Shutterstock.com Once again our hearts are breaking – this time, with the tragic news of the deaths of at least 73 civilians, including 35 children,...

The Trojan Drone: An Illegal Military Strategy Disguised as Technological Advance

The drones will continue to fly, but the "Trojan Drone's" work is complete. (Photo: Pixabay; Edited: JR / TO) Think of it as...

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...

Obama Drone Casualty Numbers a Fraction of Those Recorded by the Bureau of Investigative...

The US government Friday claimed it has killed between 64 and 116 "non-combatants" in 473 counter-terrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and...

Murder by drone: Obama to announce civilian death toll numbers, but there’s a catch

President Barack Obama is expected to announce the number of civilians killed by "illegal" US drone strikes Friday, but only in countries where the...

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...

Calling Out Drone War as a War Crime

Night and day, U.S. “pilots” sit in cushioned chairs near Las Vegas, commanding drones on the other side of the...

The Disturbing Truth Behind U.S. Drone Assassinations That the Government Tried to Keep Secret

From his first days as commander in chief, the drone has been President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice, used by the military and the...

"I Refuse to Serve as an Empire Chaplain": US Army Minister Resigns Over Drone...

An unlikely voice has emerged challenging the drone warfare program: former US Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal, who spent time based...

Drone hunt: Pakistani man on secretive US ‘kill list’ sidestepped by UK govt

Downing Street has refused to respond to a Pakistani peace worker who’s demanding to know...

The Coming Drone Blowback

The targeted assassination of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour last weekend wasn’t just another drone strike. First of all, it was conducted...

The Coming Drone Blowback

(Photo: Debra Sweet / Flickr) The targeted assassination of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour last weekend wasn’t just another drone strike. First of all, it...

Drone ‘kill list’ could leave MPs, military & spies ‘facing murder charges’

Britain’s drone ‘kill list’ could leave politicians, pilots and intelligence personnel facing murder charges unless...
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Video: “The Assassination Complex”: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars...

http://democracynow.org - As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone...

Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars in New Book

As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone...

CIA doesn’t have to disclose info on drone killings, appeals court rules

A federal appeals court has rejected a freedom of information lawsuit brought about by the American Civil Liberties Union, ruling that the government doesn’t...

Mind-controlled drone race: U. of Florida holds unique UAV competition

Sixteen competitors had one goal in mind: Move their drones as fast as possible across a...

‘Only a matter of time’: First-ever drone collision with passenger plane reported in UK

A British Airways aircraft carrying 132 passengers on board was just about to land at Heathrow airport when, according to the pilot, it collided...

Drone War

What’s another 200 dead? That appears to be the logic behind the Obama administration’s recent drone strike in Yemen from March 22. The attack came...

The Drone Program Ponzi Scheme: Systematic Mass-Murder

I was disturbed to learn of the recent mass killing by the US government of yet another group of brown-skinned persons of unknown identity,...

If a US Drone Strike Kills 150 People, Does Anyone Care?

Americans can sleep easier now that the US military has wiped out 150 more “terrorists.” US airstrikes over Somalia targeted al-Shabab militants, who were, according to...

EPIC FAIL: The Stimson Center Report Card on US Lethal Drone Policy

Laurie Calhoun It has been two years since the US government-commissioned Stimson Task Force on US Drone Policy issued its first report in 2014. I...

Britain & France strike £1.5bn drone deal

British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande have announced a £1.5 billion ($2.11 billion) deal to develop a next-generation drone prototype...

NYT Contributor Has Multiple Motives for Denying Drone Crimes

New York Times illustration (by Mike McQuade) depicts drone strikes literally as pinpoint attacks. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the...

Jailing an Anti-Drone Protester

As the U.S. government fights its endless wars around the globe, some Americans are moving beyond despair and confusion to challenge the military machine,...

Inside the U.S. Drone War on the Islamic State

(Photo of the Boeing X-48B unmanned – despite apparent windows in front – aerial vehicle: NASA / Wikimedia Commons) On October 7th, at an “undisclosed...

Learning to Love the ‘Drone War’

The mainstream U.S. news media is so in the tank on the “war on terror” that it ignores critical information that the American people...

Killer Drone News Blackout Continues as Mainstream Media Ignore Four Whistleblowers

The polls show it and commentators of all political stripes often cite the figures: Killer drone attacks by the U.S. military and the CIA...

Five Signs the Drone War Is Undermining the ‘War on Terror’

“Not a Bug Splat,” a giant art installation intended to show the faces of drone war victims to drone operators. (NotABugSplat.com) The Intercept – a...

A ‘See-No-Evil’ Drone War

The mainstream U.S. news media has failed miserably in holding the U.S. government to account for the killing of civilians in its drone strikes...

NY Times Buries Intercept Whistleblower’s Shocking Drone War Disclosures

For that slice of the American public that still depends heavily on major daily newspapers as their main source of news, they might not even...

Why NYT Dissed the ‘Drone Papers’

When the “Downing Street Memo” surfaced in the UK in 2006 revealing that the intelligence to justify the Iraq War had been “fixed” around...

US Congress Must Launch Urgent Inquiry Into Obama’s Drone Use

The U.S. Congress must launch an immediate independent inquiry into the Obama administration’s drone strikes overseas, Amnesty International said following today’s publication of a...

Leaked: ‘New Snowden’ releases Obama’s drone program papers

A cache of classified documents has revealed the inner workings of US drone operations in Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, including the mechanism of targeting...

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...

British PM faces legal challenge over Syria drone attack

A legal proceeding has been initiated against British Prime Minister, David Cameron, over his decision to target Daesh or ISIL terrorists in Syria. Green party lawmakers,...

Ahmed Could Have Been Obama’s Drone Victim

Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim boy who brought a homemade clock to school and was subsequently arrested because the clock looked similar to a bomb...

More UK MPs question Syria drone strike

More UK politicians are now questioning legal justification of the country’s drone strikes in Syria. Senior lawmaker, Lord Macdonald from Liberal Democrats cast doubt about...

USA killer drone rampage to increase by 50%

The US military will increase the number of drone flights from the current 61 a day to as many as 90 by 2019 while...

‘Gambling with lives’: Private contractors pick US drone targets, says report

An “insatiable” demand for analysts of drone intelligence is driving the US military to hire private contractors, with 1 in 10 analysts now a...

North Africa about to be hit by USA drone programme

By Thomas Gaist The US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) is preparing to develop at least one new US drone and Special Forces base in North Africa,...

No Lone Rangers in Drone Warfare

  Since November 2002, when a CIA drone strike destroyed the SUV of “al-Qaeda’s chief operative in Yemen,” Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi (“U.S. kills al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen”),...

Somalia is home to two secret US drone bases — report

Up to 120 US military personnel are operating out of two secret drone bases in Somalia, carrying out attacks on Al-Shabab militants and working...

New ‘Kill List’ Documents Point Finger at UK and Australia in US Drone War

(Common Dreams) - The UK and Australian governments may be complicit in the U.S.'s covert drone campaign in countries outside of recognized war zones, a...

US Drone Program to Remain in Shadows as Obama Abandons Key Reform Promise

Blueprint for a new transition plan involves a dual command structure–giving the Defense Department and the CIA joint control of drone strikes (Common Dreams) - U.S....

ACLU in Appeals Court Challenging Drone Program Secrecy

WHAT: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan will hear oral arguments in lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New...
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Video: As Yemenis Suffer from Strikes, Conflict and Siege, Will Geneva Peace Talks Offer...

http://democracynow.org - Al-Qaeda in Yemen has announced its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a U.S. bombing, likely a CIA drone strike. Via Youtube

Family of Yemeni Drone Victims Seeks Nothing More than Official Apology

'If the U.S. was willing to pay off my family in secret cash, why can’t they simply make a public acknowledgement that my relatives...

Increase in disapproval of U.S. drone assassination program

A new survey just released by the Pew Research Center found that respondents have become much more likely to voice their disapproval over the...

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’....

Four killed in US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan

At least four people have been killed in a fresh US drone attack on Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar, police officials say.

Colonel Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, a spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial police department, said the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fired a missile at a car in Goshta district, located 35 kilometers (20 miles) east of the provincial capital of Jalalabad, late on Thursday.

He further noted that the assault targeted a group of Taliban militants and those killed in the airstrike were members of the terrorist group.

Taliban militants, however, have not yet made any comments on the incident.

A similar attack in the Khas Kunar district of Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar killed at least seven people earlier in the day.

On May 4, a drone strike in the Momand Dara district of Nangarhar Province left at least seventeen people dead. A local Taliban militant commander was reportedly among the dead.

A drone raid in the Chapa Dara of Kunar Province killed least three people on April 28.

The United States carries out targeted killings through drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

While Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are al-Qaeda militants, local officials and witnesses maintain that, in most cases, civilians have been the victims of the attacks over the past few years.

Afghanistan faces a security challenge years after the United States and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still witnessing violence, which threatens stability.

At least 13,500 foreign forces remain in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission, which came on December 31, 2014. The forces, mainly from the US, are there for what Washington calls a support mission. US-led NATO says the forces will focus mainly on counterterrorism operations and training Afghan soldiers and policemen.

MP/MKA/SS

Drone Deaths v. Broken Windows

Nat Parry Recent public opinion surveys reveal somewhat disjointed attitudes toward the legitimacy of violence, with Americans on one hand embracing violent policies as they pertain...

AP claims that majority support killer drone program

by Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams) - Despite President Barack Obama's recent admission that drones had inadvertently killed two innocent hostages during strikes on suspected militants...

Book Review: ‘Drone Theory’ by Grégoire Chamayou (Trans: Janet Lloyd)

READING WEEK:  The second in our short series of book reviews related to the use of armed drones. Henrietta Cullinan reviews  Drone Theory by Grégoire Chamayou ‘One side loses people, the other side loses toys. All that is left is the shooting... Read More ›
The brother of a drone strike victim told researchers,

Impunity, Death, and Blowback: Report Exposes Illegal US Drone War in Yemen

A new investigation into the United States' killer drone campaign in Yemen, published Tuesday, finds that not only does that program fail to conform...

Think drone technology is not really the problem? Think again

In response to my recent Guardian opinion piece on the waning coverage of the military use of drones, a number of below the line commentators made the oft-levelled aside that ‘drones don’t kill people, people kill people.’  Tech writer Kelsey Atherton... Read More ›

34 Arrested while Protesting Drone Killing at Creech AFB

Organizers pledge to return twice yearly until Drone Killing Operations are Shut Down. A 5 day anti-drone protest at Creech Air Force Base near Las...

From Torture to Drone Assassination: How Washington Gave Itself a Global Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

"The sovereign is he who decides on the exception," said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation's leader can defy the...

Does latest drone strike on al Shabaab signal change in US tactics in Somalia?

Jack Serle A US drone strike which killed a senior al Shabaab leader in Somalia last Saturday appears to have been part of a change of...

The Senate Drone Report of 2019: Looking Back on Washington’s War on Terror

It was December 6, 2019, three years into a sagging Clinton presidency and a bitterly divided Congress. That day, the 500-page executive summary of...

UK drone net got torture-grade CIA comms

A computer network that the US Central Intelligence Agency began using a decade ago to conduct the kidnap and torture of terrorist suspects has...

Evidence that US secretly pays off civilian Yemeni drone strike victims revealed

The US government has apparently made secret payments of $100,000 to the families of two Yemeni men who were mistakenly killed in a covert...

I Worked on the U.S. Drone Program – Here’s What Really Happens

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program — aka drones — I wish I could ask them a...

UK must “do more” to distance itself from US drone programme, says ex-GCHQ chief’s...

A report from a commission chaired by the former Director of GCHQ has called on the British Government to implement “safeguards” to ensure that...

US Air Strikes in Syria Proceeding as Expected: Civilian Deaths Documented, ISIS Recruitment Up

Last week, besides pointing out the obscene fact that the US Senate approved $500 million for the US to get more involved in the...

The US’ Unauthorised Air Strikes in Syria: Against or Favouring Wahhabism and the Islamic...

Peter Custers Since the night of September 22/23, US fighter planes have been carrying out strikes with missiles and drones against targets in and around...

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...

Obama’s Perpetual Drone War

President Barack Obama escalated the drone war he has conducted for the past five and a half years by declaring his intention to "degrade...

Drone firms bought influence at NATO summit

Arms companies which provide key components for the drones used by the US to carry out secret strikes in violation of international law bought...

Somalia Attacked In US Drone Strike

Pentagon admits US airstrikes took place, but says details on operations will only be released to public "as and when appropriate" Jon Queally  RINF Alternative News The...

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...

The Whole World Opposes Drone Warfare … Except for the U.S. and Israel

… And One Poor African Country A new poll from Pew shows that majorities in every country polled oppose drones … except for Israel, the U.S. and...

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.

Drone memo should reverse Gitmo convictions, attorneys claim

Attorneys for a Canadian man who spent a decade detained by the United States military at Guantanamo Bay say details in the Obama administration’s...

UK doubles armed drone fleet in Afghanistan

The MoD have announced today (3 July 2014) that the additional five armed Reaper drones purchased as an urgent operational requirement (UOR) in December 2010) have begun operations in Afghanistan.  Questions have been asked about why equipment bought urgently has... Read More ›

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...

UK Drone FoI appeal set to reach Upper Tribunal

Later this month Drone Wars appeal against the MoD’s refusal to answer two FoI requests about the use of UK drones in Afghanistan reaches the Upper Tribunal, the highest level of the FoI process in the UK. The first hearing,... Read More ›

Drone Assassinations Not Limited to U.S. Citizens “Living Abroad”

Reprinted with permission  U.S. Relies On Law of Non-Constitutional Countries The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says: No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty,...

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...

US Forced to Release Memo on Extrajudicial Drone Killing

Court-ordered release of DOJ 'drone memo' reveals legal arguments for targeting of US citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen The U.S. government on Monday partially released...

Pakistan military air strikes kill hundreds, including civilians, over past six months

Charlie Mole A wave of air strikes by the Pakistani military in the country’s tribal northwest has killed at least 291 people, including a minimum 16 civilians, over the...

New British drone FoI releases and news round-up

The MoD and Department for Transport have responded to recent FoI requests helping us to shine some light on use of drones in Afghanistan and plans for drone use in the UK. Reaper drones The UK MoD released figures for UK Reaper... Read More ›

The Obama Administration Views Iraq and Syria as a “Single Challenge”, Reconsidering “Air Strikes”...

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The Obama administration is considering treating the crisis in Iraq and Syria in regards to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a “single challenge.” The Obama administration sees an opportunity by exploiting the crisis in Iraq since it failed to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. First, Washington’s plan to remove Assad by supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda failed when the Syrian forces defeated the rebels forcing them to withdraw. Then with Assad’s recent election victory, the international community (Except the US and its allies of course) has welcomed the results paralyzing Washington’s push to oust the Syrian government from power. The Washington Post published an article titled “White House beginning to consider conflicts in Syria and Iraq as single challenge” states that the situation overlaps between both Iraq and Syria, therefore, the US can possibly approach the situation with one strategy:

The Obama administration has begun to consider the conflicts in Syria and Iraq as a single challenge, with an al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency threatening both countries’ governments and the region’s broader stability, according to senior administration officials. At a National Security Council meeting this week, President Obama and his senior advisers reviewed the consequences of possible airstrikes in Iraq, a bolder push to train Syria’s moderate rebel factions, and various political initiatives to break down the sectarian divisions that have stirred Iraq’s Sunni Muslims against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The Obama administration is contemplating whether to use “air strikes” against Syria and arm “moderate” rebels. “Although spreading faster in Iraq, the advance of ISIS could also force the administration to reconsider its calculations in Syria, where Obama has taken a cautious approach, declining to arm moderate rebel factions or conduct airstrikes on government airstrips, as some advisers have recommended” according to the Washington Post report.

Washington says that the threat imposed by ISIS erases the borders between Iraq and Syria so any military or political action taken for both countries would have a separate strategy. The report stated how Iraq and Syria would be treated differently according to the Obama administration:

Administration officials are also weighing a set of strategic and legal complications that in key ways will force U.S. policymakers to plan as if the border between the countries still exists, even though for the insurgency’s purposes it does not.

“Everybody here recognizes that you can’t silo what is happening in Iraq from what is happening in Syria,” said one administration official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal thinking. “There’s no doubt the border is melting away. But while we look at the two in tandem, our responses in each place will be very different”

If the border between Iraq and Syria does not exist, then “airstrikes” in either country would be justified since ISIS does not recognize any border that currently does exist.

Is the Obama Administration Following the Council of Foreign Relation’s Advice on Syria?

Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) member Eliot Abrams, a neoconservative and war criminal is calling for action against Syria with a ‘New Policy’ guideline recommending air strikes and rearming and training rebels. Abrams served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and one of the officials involved in the Iran-Contra Affair and El Salvador’s El Mozote Massacre that resulted in the deaths of more than 500 civilians wrote an article for the CFR titled ‘Syria: Humanitarian Disaster—and Security Threat’ Abrams proposes that the United States should reconsider training and arming rebels who are “anti-Assad” and “anti-jihadi” who are “composed of nationalist Syrian Rebels “since diplomacy has failed. Abrams even suggests training those who come from other forces. Abrams says that “The balance of forces will change when anti-jihadi groups can arm and train all the men they can attract, including attracting them from other forces to which they have gone because those forces were able to feed and clothe them and supply modern weapons”. Abrams also suggests that the United States should use air strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons depots. He states his case for military action on Syria:

Second, the United States should punish Assad for the continuing use of chemical warfare. This means an air strike robust enough to damage CW targets, including units that have used CW and any air assets ever used to deliver them. Any strike should at this point be broad enough to greatly restrict Assad’s ability to use air power as an instrument of terror. More broadly, punitive air operations should be considered to force the regime to allow humanitarian aid to quickly reach those who need it. And even more broadly, air strikes can both change the military balance on the ground and affect the political and psychological dimensions of the conflict by demonstrating a new American policy and new determination

It is no surprise that Eliot Abrams solution to the Syrian crisis (instigated by the West) is for Washington to continue to arm the rebels even those from other forces (perhaps ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra) and for the US military to conduct air strikes. First, let’s be clear, Abrams “new policy” is not new. They have been arming and funding the rebels since Syria’s civil war began. Abrams was a State Department official for human rights and Humanitarian Affairs then as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs under the Reagan administration. Abrams’s was behind a US organized a counterrevolutionary army to carry out terrorist attacks against Nicaragua and supported right-wing dictatorships in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. He was a propagandist for US interests in Central America where he excused Nicaragua of human rights violations against the Miskito Indians. It was a campaign to portray the Sandinista government as Human rights violators in order to justify support for the contra army, which killed more than 10,000 Nicaraguans. US actions have devastated Central America. Today, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala suffer from extreme poverty and crime with the highest murder rates in the world. Elliot Abrams is now advising what Washington should do in the case of Syria. The Council on Foreign Relations is a think tank for the Western establishment or what US Vice-President Joe Biden would call the “New World Order.”

Elliot Abrams is working for a well funded organization that advises powerful members of Washington and its allies on foreign and domestic issues. In a speech at the CFR, Hillary Clinton acknowledged the CFR and its acting President Richard Haass has contributed to Washington’s policy makers over the years. She said “We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.” Well, Elliot Abrams is trying to ensure Washington follows a path to war against Syria which would destabilize the region even further. It is insanity. Abrams says that Syria is a threat to the US as “The refugee flows and the jihadi presence, which are both growing, constitute a threat to Syria, its neighbors, and the interests of the United States.” The Washington Post says that Iraqi President Maliki has asked for the United States to intervene in Iraq making it legal under international law:

Maliki has asked the administration to carry out airstrikes against Islamist insurgents in Iraq, an invitation that administration officials say would make intervention legal under international law. Obama has yet to decide if such strikes would be effective inside Iraq and what the consequences would be in Syria. The report also said that “No such invitation exists in Syria, even though moderate rebel groups fighting Assad would welcome U.S. military support”

Of course they would welcome US military support, after all, the US has been funding them from the beginning. The report clearly defines that there are no differences between the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan where President Obama has authorized numerous drone strikes on both sides resulting in mass civilian casualties:

The U.S. training program for Syria’s moderate rebel forces, also at odds with ISIS, is taking place in Jordan under CIA supervision. That could expand under legislation pending before Congress, which would authorize the administration to allow the military to take over training, greatly expanding its scope, and potentially locating some of it inside Syria.

Officials have concluded that, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where a porous border provided Islamist fighters with a refuge from U.S. military pursuit for years, the boundary between Iraq and Syria presents a similar challenge

For the Obama administration, they see it as a new opportunity to intervene in Syria. It is a perfect excuse for Washington’s “humanitarian intervention.” ISIS provides a cover for Washington’s long awaited objective to remove Assad and his government and regain a foothold into Syrian territory. The crisis will result in a US/NATO style intervention as they did in Libya. Obama recently sent in military advisors to Iraq escalating the crisis. The next step would be to set up drone strikes across Iraq, then eventually finding their way into Syrian territory. ISIS is a crisis for Iraq’s oil exports effecting world markets, but it is also an opportunity for Washington’s Middle East Agenda. Fox News reported that “Syrian and Iraqi terrorist forces obtained significant numbers of tanks, trucks, and U.S.-origin Humvees in recent military operations in Iraq and those arms are being shipped to al Qaeda rebels in Syria, according to U.S. officials.” ISIS is moving towards Syria’s border with newly acquired weapons they seized from Iraqi forces as Fox news stated what Pentagon Spokesman Commander Bill Speaks had said:

We’re aware of reports of some equipment—namely Humvees—and the pictures that have been posted online,” Speaks said in an email. “We are certainly concerned about these reports and are consulting with the Iraqi government to obtain solid confirmation on what assets may have fallen into ISIL’s hands

This is an opportunity for the US to launch drone strikes in Iraq and Syria. The Obama administration is currently weighing military options in the region. Will there be a war against Syria? Will Washington seize the opportunity because ISIS is now moving towards the Syrian border? It is a likely scenario, since Washington was running out of options concerning Syria. With ISIS in the picture, Washington’s hopes of removing Assad is back in full circle.

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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 central government in Sana’a is desperately weak and commands little authority outside the capital. Militant groups, rebels, and tribes seized the opportunity to embolden themselves, following the drawn-out resignation of strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2011. The ancient capital, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, is rife with bullet holes, damaged infrastructure, and rubble from past explosions and fires. As the poorest country in the Arab world, some 54.5 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and economic stagnation is worsening. The severe instability of the state today is a consequence of three decades of rampant mismanagement under Saleh’s rule, as he consolidated his power through a system of patronage that wildly enriched members of the country's tribal, economic, and military elite at the expense of the wider public. Following an assassination attempt that significantly injured him, Saleh handed over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who became president in February 2012, after he stood unopposed in elections.

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Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He can be reached at [email protected].

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by Stephen Lendman

Two UN reports highlight the problem. More on them below.

Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai is an activist for women's education, a blogger, and Sakharov Prize winner. She's a Pakistan National Youth Peace Prize recipient.

She was a 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Desmond Tutu nominated her for the International Children's Peace Prize. On October 16, Canada said it plans to grant her honorary citizenship.

Obama invited her to the White House. Perhaps he wishes he hadn't. She took full advantage. She didn't hold back. "(D)rone attacks are fueling terrorism" she said.

"Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people."

Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap. Remote warrior teams operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors.

They murder by remote control. They target faceless victims. They kill indiscriminately. They do so unaccountably.

Drones are instruments of state terror. Studies show mostly innocent civilians are killed. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

A previous article discussed a joint Stanford University International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (SU)/New York University School of Law Global Justice Clinic (NYU) report.

It's titled "Living Under Drones." The dominant Washington narrative claims drone strikes are precise and effective. Targeted killings "minimi(ze) downsides or collateral impacts," it says. Doing so makes America safer, it alleges.

False! Drone attacks kill indiscriminately. Mostly noncombatant civilians are affected. "Living Under Drones" exposes what Washington won't say.

Obama's a serial liar. He falsely claims drones haven't "caused a huge number of civilian casualties. They're targeted, focused at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans."

Hard evidence proves otherwise. On site investigations and eyewitness testimonies are damning.

According to SU/NYU:

"US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury." 

"Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning." 

"Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities." 

Official statements about drone killings keeping America safe are false. SU/NYU evidence shows at most only 2% of victims are high-value combatants. 

Others are mostly innocent civilians. Drone killings fuel resentment. They facilitate anti-American recruitment. Most Pakistanis call America the enemy. So do people in other affected countries.

Professor Christof Heyns co-directs the University of Pretoria's Institute for International and Comparative Law. He serves as UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

His September 13-dated UN report is titled "Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions." It omits offender country names. He clearly holds Washington responsible.

"The expansive use of armed drones by the first states to acquire them, if not challenged, can do structural damage to the cornerstones of international security and set precedents that undermine the protection of life across the globe in the longer term," he said.

"The use of drones by states to exercise essentially a global policing function to counter potential threats presents a danger to the protection of life, because the tools of domestic policing (such as capture) are not available, and the more permissive targeting framework of the laws of war is often used instead."

On October 25, General Assembly member states will discuss Heyns' report. It calls for obeying international law. According to Heyns:

"Drones come from the sky but leave the heavy footprint of war on the communities they target."

"The claims that drones are more precise in targeting cannot be accepted uncritically, not least because terms such as 'terrorist' or 'militant' are sometimes used to describe people who are in truth protected civilians."

"Armed drones may fall into the hands of non-state actors and may also be hacked by enemies or other entities." 

"In sum, the number of states with the capacity to use drones is likely to increase significantly in the near future, underscoring the need for greater consensus on the terms of their use."

Protecting against clear imminent threats to life alone are permissible. 

"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."

Countries may not consent "to the violation of their obligations under international humanitarian law or international human rights law."

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights group. It's legal director Kat Craig said:

"This report rightly states that (America's) secretive drone war is a danger not only to innocent civilians on the ground but also to international security as a whole."

"The CIA's campaign must be brought out of the shadows: we need to see real accountability for the hundreds of civilians who have been killed - and justice for their relatives." 

"Among Reprieve's clients are young Pakistani children who saw their grandmother killed in front of them. The CIA must not be allowed to continue to smear these people as 'terrorists.' "

Ben Emmerson is UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism. His September 18-dated UN report is titled "Promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism."

UN investigations identified dozens of US drone strikes causing civilian deaths and injuries. Doing so clearly violates international law.

Emmerson wants Washington to declassify relevant informati