Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Search

surveillance drone - search results

If you're not happy with the results, please do another search
video

Video: RAW: Russia’s first 3D-printed surveillance drone on display

A 3D-printed surveillance drone, already successfully flight-tested, weighing a mere four kilograms and with a range of 50 kilometers, has been presented at the...

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.

California man uses surveillance drone to keep an eye on cops from above

The Los Angeles Police Department is waiting for approval before it begins using a pair of recently acquired unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor events...

Surveillance drones coming to Los Angeles

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

Navy tests enormous surveillance drone Triton (VIDEO)

The United States Navy is taking to the skies with a drone featuring a longer wingspan than that of a Boeing 757 airliner.Read Full...

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

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

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

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

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

The U.S. is quietly shipping hellfire missiles and surveillance drones to war-torn Iraq in an alleged bid to help the government fight the country's...

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

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

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

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

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

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

FBI director acknowledges use of Surveillance Drones in the US

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

German railways deploys surveillance drones

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

No Turning Back From Surveillance Drones

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

U.S. Marshals Service Used Domestic Surveillance Drones

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

Big Brother Britain: Surveillance drones ‘a huge potential for abuse’

Jamie Doward, The Observer | Drones will be commonplace in the skies above the UK within a decade, according to a European commission document suggesting that hundreds of firms will...

Monitoring the Miners: Rio Tinto, Drones and Surveillance

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

Drone swarms for combat & surveillance ops top Britain’s military wishlist

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched a competition to see who can come up...

Domestic Drones Cometh: Report Exposes Rapid Expansion of Surveillance Flights

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

Drone Nation: 300 companies and public bodies using arial surveillance tech

MPs are calling for a debate about privacy and safety. Jamie Merrill and Oliver Troen report The number of drones operating in British airspace has...

Spring Days of Action to End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance, Global Militarization

Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action – 2014, a coordinated campaign in April and May to:

          End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance and Global Militarization

The campaign will focus on drone bases, drone research facilities and test sites and drone manufacturers.

The campaign will provide information on:

1. The suffering of tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza who are under drone attack, documenting the killing, the wounding and the devastating impact of constant drone surveillance on community life.

2. How attack and surveillance drones have become a key element in a massive wave of surveillance, clandestine military attacks and militarization generated by the United States to protect a global system of manufacture and oil and mineral exploitation that is creating unemployment and poverty, accelerating the waste of nonrenewable resources and contributing to environmental destruction and global warming.

In addition to cases in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, we will examine President Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific, where the United States has already sold and deployed drones in the vanguard of a shift of 60% of its military forces to try to control China and to enforce the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We will show, among other things, how this surge of "pivot" forces, greatly enabled by drones, and supported by the US military-industrial complex, will hit every American community with even deeper cuts in the already fragile social programs on which people rely for survival.  In short, we will connect drones and militarization with "austerity" in America.

3. How drone attacks have effectively destroyed international and domestic legal protection of the rights to life, privacy, freedom of assembly and free speech and have opened the way for new levels of surveillance and repression around the world, and how, in the United States, increasing drone surveillance, added to surveillance by the National Security Agency and police, provides a new weapon to repress black, Hispanic, immigrant and low-income communities and to intimidate Americans who are increasingly unsettled by lack of jobs, economic inequality, corporate control of politics and the prospect of endless war.

We will discuss how the United States government and corporations conspire secretly to monitor US citizens and particularly how the Administration is accelerating drone surveillance operations and surveillance inside the United States with the same disregard for transparency and law that it applies to other countries, all with the cooperation of the Congress.

The campaign will encourage activists around the world to win passage of local laws that prohibit weaponized drones and drone surveillance from being used in their communities as well as seeking national laws to bar the use of weaponized drones and drone surveillance.

The campaign will draw attention to the call for a ban on weaponized drones by RootsAction.org that has generated a petition with over 80,000 signers

http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6180

and to efforts by the Granny Peace Brigade (New York City), KnowDrones.org and others to achieve an international ban on both weaponized drones and drone surveillance.

The campaign will also urge participation in the World Beyond War movement.

The following individuals and organizations endorse this Call:

Lyn Adamson – Co-chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Dennis Apel – Guadalupe Catholic Worker, California

Judy Bello – Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars

Medea Benjamin – Code Pink

Leah Bolger – Former National President, Veterans for Peace

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Sung-Hee Choi – Gangjeong Village International Team, Jeju, Korea

Chelsea C. Faria – Graduate student, Yale  Divinity School; Promoting Enduring Peace

Sandy Fessler – Rochester (NY) Against War

Joy First

Bruce K. Gagnon - Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Holly Gwinn Graham – Singer/songwriter, Olympia, WA.

Regina Hagen - Darmstaedter Friedensforum, Germany

Kathy Kelly – Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Malachy Kilbride

Marilyn Levin and Joe Lombardo – Co-Coordinators, United National Antiwar Coalition

Tamara Lorincz – Halifax Peace Coalition, Canada

Nick Mottern – KnowDrones.org

Agneta Norberg – Swedish Peace Council

Pepperwolf – Director, Women Against Military Madness

Lindis Percy, Coordinator, Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases  CAAB UK

Mathias Quackenbush – San Francisco, CA

Lisa Savage – Code Pink, State of Maine

Janice Sevre-Duszynska

Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck- Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen, Germany

Cindy Sheehan

Lucia Wilkes Smith – Convener, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) – Ground Military Drones Committee

David Soumis – Veterans for Peace; No Drones Wisconsin

Debra Sweet – World Can’t Wait

David Swanson - WarisACrime.org

Brian Terrell – Voices for Creative Nonviolence

United National Antiwar Coalition

Veterans for Peace 

Dave Webb – Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)

Curt Wechsler – Fire John Yoo! (a project of World Can’t Wait) – San Francisco, CA

Paki Wieland, Northampton (MA) Committee to Stop War(s)

Loring Wirbel – Citizens for Peace in Space (Colorado Springs, CO)

Women Against Military Madness

Ann Wright – Retired US Army colonel and former diplomat

Leila Zand - Fellowship of Reconciliation

 

Add your name by emailing it to email: [email protected] and watch for updates at http://KnowDrones.org

read more

Drone Surveillance of Border Far Greater Than Previously Known

Jennifer Lynch  RINF Alternative News Customs and border protection loaned predator drones to other agencies 700 times in three years according to 'newly discovered' records Customs &...

More US border drone surveillance

A Predator drone operated by the U.S. Office of Air and Marine taxis toward the tarmac for a surveillance flight near the Mexican border...

Declassified FBI docs detail warrantless drone surveillance

While previous reports have indicated that the FBI has sought to employ drone technology for years, newly unveiled documents from inside the agency show...

UN starts drone surveillance in DR Congo

The UN mission in Democratic Republic of Congo has started to deploy unarmed surveillance drones to monitor rebel activity near the forested borders with...

Amazon, Domino’s and Big Brother: Drones Flying the Not-So-Friendly Surveillance Skies

“The privacy and dignity of our citizens [are] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen–a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [person's] […]

Global Drone Warfare, Targeted Assassinations Supported by NSA Surveillance

The Post’s report, “Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program,” testifies to the integration of the surveillance apparatus exposed in recent months into US imperialism’s global military operations. Officials cited by the Post said that the NSA has deployed analysts to work along side Central Intelligence Agency personnel at the CIA Counterterrorism Center and at “every major US embassy or military base overseas.”

The report further documents the NSA’s systematic attempts to overcome encryption, including the extraction of PGP encryption keys from targets. The agency reportedly was able to capture 16 keys from a single electronic raid on a suspected Al Qaeda computer.

According to the report, the NSA’s “Tailored Access Operations,” a cyber-warfare and intelligence gathering program, conducts surveillance of targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and throughout Africa. TAO runs programs such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR, which launch cyber attacks using “software implants” to grab sensitive data such as keystroke logs and audio files.

ArsTechnica reported in August that advanced software used by TAO enables operatives to tap directly into hardware such as “routers, switches and firewalls,” and that TAO’s activities are integrated into data systems such as XKeyscore.

Information gathered by the NSA has been used in particular in the course of the CIA’s drone war in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. As summarized by the Post, the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan.” One US intelligence official told the Post, “NSA threw the kitchen sink at the FATA.” To date, at least 3,000 people have been killed as a result of US drone operations in Pakistan, including hundreds of civilians.

Both the NSA surveillance and the policy of drone war that it facilitates are criminal operations, carried out in violation of international law. The Obama administration asserts the right to kill anyone in the world without due process, including US citizens, in violation of the Bill of Rights. Among those killed have been US citizens including Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen.

A full accounting of the Pakistanis murdered by US drones may never be completed. However, a study published by Stanford University and New York University earlier this year showed that large sections of the population living in the FATA suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the buzzing of drones overhead and the never-ending barrage of ordnance raining down on the area.

UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson wrote in March of this year, “As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

The Post described the leaked NSA documents as “self-congratulatory in tone” and “drafted to tout the NSA’s counterterrorism capabilities.” According to Fox News, the Post withheld substantial information about the drone strikes “at the request of US intelligence officials.”

The Post report highlights the case of Hassan Ghul, who was killed as a direct result of intelligence acquired through electronic surveillance operations run by the NSA. After his capture in 2004, Ghul was held at a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe until 2006, where he was subject to “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture), including slapping, sleep deprivation, and stress positions.

In 2006, Ghul was transferred to Pakistan, where he was released and rejoined Al Qaeda militants in Waziristan. Ghul worked to set up logistical networks for Al Qaeda after being freed, according to a Treasury Department document from 2011. No explanation has been offered by US or Pakistani authorities for Ghul’s release.

Ghul was then killed in 2012 by a drone strike in Mir Ali, after having been monitored for a year prior to his death by a secret NSA unit called the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell (CT MAC), which specializes in finding high priority targets in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Ghul’s location was discovered through analysis of an email sent to him by his wife. His death was never officially acknowledged by the US government, despite the fact that his interrogation supposedly provided intelligence about an Al Qaeda courier named al-Kuwaiti, which supposedly led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The scope of the integration of the NSA, CIA, military and police agencies extends far beyond what is taking place in Pakistan. The entire world is the subject both of the intelligence-gathering operations of the NSA and the drone strikes of the CIA.

Under the Obama administration, the NSA’s surveillance operations gather the communications of every telephone and Internet user on the planet, US citizens and non-citizens alike. This week has already seen new evidence emerge that the NSA is stealing address books—which often contain large amounts of personal information—from various web platforms and storing them in its archives. (See “ NSA ‘harvesting’ electronic address books and contact lists”)

The possibility of strikes being launched against American targets has been raised by top officials, and drones are already deployed on non-strike missions over the US. In a letter of March 4, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that the president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without trial,” saying that in certain cases such action would be “necessary and appropriate.”

If and when such operations are initiated, the state will have no shortage of data with which to target Americans, whose communications are subject to constant scrutiny by the surveillance apparatus.

NSA surveillance programs facilitate global drone war

 

By Thomas Gaist
18 October 2013

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published in the Washington Post Wednesday show that NSA surveillance operations play a key role in the global campaign of assassinations being waged by the Obama administration.

The Post’s report, “Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program,” testifies to the integration of the surveillance apparatus exposed in recent months into US imperialism’s global military operations. Officials cited by the Post said that the NSA has deployed analysts to work along side Central Intelligence Agency personnel at the CIA Counterterrorism Center and at “every major US embassy or military base overseas.”

The report further documents the NSA’s systematic attempts to overcome encryption, including the extraction of PGP encryption keys from targets. The agency reportedly was able to capture 16 keys from a single electronic raid on a suspected Al Qaeda computer.

According to the report, the NSA’s “Tailored Access Operations,” a cyber-warfare and intelligence gathering program, conducts surveillance of targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and throughout Africa. TAO runs programs such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR, which launch cyber attacks using “software implants” to grab sensitive data such as keystroke logs and audio files.

ArsTechnica reported in August that advanced software used by TAO enables operatives to tap directly into hardware such as “routers, switches and firewalls,” and that TAO’s activities are integrated into data systems such as XKeyscore.

Information gathered by the NSA has been used in particular in the course of the CIA’s drone war in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. As summarized by the Post, the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan.” One US intelligence official told the Post, “NSA threw the kitchen sink at the FATA.” To date, at least 3,000 people have been killed as a result of US drone operations in Pakistan, including hundreds of civilians.

Both the NSA surveillance and the policy of drone war that it facilitates are criminal operations, carried out in violation of international law. The Obama administration asserts the right to kill anyone in the world without due process, including US citizens, in violation of the Bill of Rights. Among those killed have been US citizens including Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen.

A full accounting of the Pakistanis murdered by US drones may never be completed. However, a study published by Stanford University and New York University earlier this year showed that large sections of the population living in the FATA suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the buzzing of drones overhead and the never-ending barrage of ordnance raining down on the area.

UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson wrote in March of this year, “As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

The Post described the leaked NSA documents as “self-congratulatory in tone” and “drafted to tout the NSA’s counterterrorism capabilities.” According to Fox News, the Post withheld substantial information about the drone strikes “at the request of US intelligence officials.”

The Post report highlights the case of Hassan Ghul, who was killed as a direct result of intelligence acquired through electronic surveillance operations run by the NSA. After his capture in 2004, Ghul was held at a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe until 2006, where he was subject to “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture), including slapping, sleep deprivation, and stress positions.

In 2006, Ghul was transferred to Pakistan, where he was released and rejoined Al Qaeda militants in Waziristan. Ghul worked to set up logistical networks for Al Qaeda after being freed, according to a Treasury Department document from 2011. No explanation has been offered by US or Pakistani authorities for Ghul’s release.

Ghul was then killed in 2012 by a drone strike in Mir Ali, after having been monitored for a year prior to his death by a secret NSA unit called the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell (CT MAC), which specializes in finding high priority targets in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Ghul’s location was discovered through analysis of an email sent to him by his wife. His death was never officially acknowledged by the US government, despite the fact that his interrogation supposedly provided intelligence about an Al Qaeda courier named al-Kuwaiti, which supposedly led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The scope of the integration of the NSA, CIA, military and police agencies extends far beyond what is taking place in Pakistan. The entire world is the subject both of the intelligence-gathering operations of the NSA and the drone strikes of the CIA.

Under the Obama administration, the NSA’s surveillance operations gather the communications of every telephone and Internet user on the planet, US citizens and non-citizens alike. This week has already seen new evidence emerge that the NSA is stealing address books—which often contain large amounts of personal information—from various web platforms and storing them in its archives. (See “ NSA ‘harvesting’ electronic address books and contact lists”)

The possibility of strikes being launched against American targets has been raised by top officials, and drones are already deployed on non-strike missions over the US. In a letter of March 4, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that the president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without trial,” saying that in certain cases such action would be “necessary and appropriate.”

If and when such operations are initiated, the state will have no shortage of data with which to target Americans, whose communications are subject to constant scrutiny by the surveillance apparatus.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

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

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

US, Japan Drone Agreement Brings Enhanced Surveillance Amongst ‘Pacific Pivot’

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

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

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

U.S. military drone surveillance is expanding to hot spots beyond declared combat zones

Craig WhitlockWashington PostJuly 21, 2013 The steel-gray U.S. Air Force Predator drone plunged from the sky,...

Local Law Enforcement Borrowing Federal Drones for Surveillance

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

FBI's Mueller Admits Use of Drones in Domestic Surveillance

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

FBI's Mueller Admits Use of Drones in Domestic Surveillance

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

Drone Surveillance Contract Called Off by U.S. State Department

The U.S. State Department canceled its $1 billion surveillance drone competition, saying none of the...

Texas Bans Drone Surveillance

Legislation pending in 31 other statesSteve WatsonInfowars.comMay 28, 2013 The Texas legislature passed a...

Drone Proliferation in Europe: Domestic Surveillance and Unmanned Warfare

European countries are piling more pressure on the US to allow them to buy armed Predator and Reaper drones.  As we have previously reported...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Threat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Constitution-Free Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too Close to Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stealth Wear: New Counter-Surveillance Clothing Makes You Invisible to Drones

Mac Slavo
January 11th, 2013
SHTFplan.com

Read by 21,401 people

In early 2012 the U.S. Congress authorized the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. Within this bill is a provision calling for the deployment of some 30,000 robotic drones over the skies of America by 2015, arguably the boldest overt domestic surveillance initiative to have ever been introduced in the land of the free. With an average of some 600 drones allocated per state, this future network of highly advanced surveillance systems promises to give law enforcement, military and intelligence assets unprecedented video and audio access into the lives of every single American.

Privacy advocates are justifiably outraged.

But whenever government attempts to institute a ban on contraband items, or pass draconian laws, or introduce new tracking and surveillance methods, rebellious elements within the target populace rapidly develop counter-strategies and technologies to marginalize the threat.

Oftentimes, billion dollar government initiatives and development projects are rendered almost useless by low-tech strategies and designs.

Artist and fashion designer Adam Harvey, who objects to the authoritarian nature of the global surveillance state, has done just that.

In an effort to  counter the high-tech integrated drone surveillance systems soon to be fused into intelligence networks across the country, Harvey and a group of partners have developed a line of clothing dubbed Stealth Wear.

Making its debut on January 17th, the Stealth Wear line will include hoodies, scarves, hats, and t-shirts that will make the wearer invisible to thermal imaging cameras widely used throughout the unmanned aerial vehicle community.

The idea is that the material blocks heat signatures, captured using infrared sensors, which give people away to surveillance helicopters or drones from the skies above. [link]

The flagship Stealth Wear line will include:

  • The anti-drone hoodie and anti-drone scarf: Garments designed to thwart thermal imaging, a technology used widely by UAVs.
  • The XX-shirt: A x-ray shielding print in the shape of a heart, that protects your heart from x-ray radiation
  • And the Off Pocket: An anti-phone accessory that allows you to instantly zero out your phone’s signal

Via: Adam Harvey Projects

Harvey and his project team aren’t just limiting the scope of their work to anti-drone technology either.

They’ve introduced new techniques to counter computer vision (CV), also known as facial recognition.

CV Dazzle is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection.

Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook

Source: CV Dazzle

 

They’ll also be launching a product called Off the Pocket for your cell phone, a technology that is capable of zeroing out your phone’s broadcast signal, making it invisible to GPS and mobile network triangulation.

Building off previous work with CV Dazzle, camouflage from face detection, Stealth Wear continues to explore the aesthetics of privacy and the potential for fashion to challenge authoritarian surveillance. Presented by PRIMITIVE at TANK MAGAZINE HQ will be a suite of new designs, made in collaboration with NYC fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield, that tackle some of the most pressing and sophisticated forms of surveillance today.

Source: Primitive London

Accompanying each project will be videos and tests revealing the process behind each technology and counter technology.

Author: Mac Slavo
Views: Read by 21,401 people
Date: January 11th, 2013
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

Copyright Information: Copyright SHTFplan and Mac Slavo. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.shtfplan.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

California Eyeing Drone Surveillance

Plans by the first California local government to deploy a surveillance drone were postponed Tuesday amid protests by rights groups who complained that Alameda...

Illegal immigrants accidentally smuggled into high-security military drone base on a bus — RT...

Published time: 2 Nov, 2017 14:58 Three illegal immigrants ended up at a high-security Royal...

Phoenix-area police to start using drones in operations

Police in Maricopa, Arizona – a suburb of Phoenix – will start using a surveillance drone...

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...

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...

FAA bans drone flights over 133 US military bases, threatens criminal charges for violators

Published time: 11 Apr, 2017 11:31 The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an order making it...

Ground Killer Drones: Shut Down Creech!

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

Weaponized civilian drones a ‘tangible reality’ – US officials

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

Connecticut bill calls for weaponized police drones

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

Drone Wars watchdog crowdfunds legal challenge to beat British military secrecy

Published time: 10 Mar, 2017 12:29 Drone Wars UK is crowdfunding a legal attempt to force...

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

Britain’s top general in Iraq says grenade-dropping drones used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)...

Drone Proliferation Ramps Up

Photo by Iwan Gabovitch | CC BY 2.0 And thick and fast they came at last,And more and more and more— — Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus...

Drones over La La Land for bomb & hostage situations

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

China to return US drone: Pentagon

Mass surveillance exposed by Snowden is about control, not counterterrorism – Oliver Stone to...

The majority of the US public is not aware of what exactly was exposed by...

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

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

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

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

‘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...

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...

FBI releases 18 hours of surveillance footage from Freddie Gray protests

The FBI has released spy footage taken during the Baltimore 2015 protests honoring Freddie Gray, who...

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

Terrorists could use drones loaded with explosives to carry out attacks, a former Royal Navy...

Drone wars undermine 'checks and balances' – Army chaplain resigning over strikes

The Obama administration's drone strike policies around the world have "blown accountability and oversight and checks...

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

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

Video: UAV ‘Frigate’: Scale model of new multipurpose drone undergoes trials in Moscow

A scale model of Russia's prospective multipurpose tilt-rotor drone, the Frigate, is currently undergoing trials. The UAV is designed to be used for surveillance,...

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...

L.A. Activists Want to Bring Surveillance Conversation Down to Earth

Government surveillance is not an abstract thing, says Hamid Khan, coordinator for the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. For the communities Khan works with in Los Angeles...

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

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

Drone showroom: Workout for Royal Navy robot warriors as future of war goes on...

Air and sea drones will be given their first ‘realistic workout’ during NATO’s Joint Warrior...

War Zone Tactics Come Home as Pentagon Admits Domestic Spy Drone Use

'The appetite to use surveillance drones in the domestic environment to collect airborne imagery continues to grow.'  Lauren McCauley   An internal Pentagon report made public on...

Pentagon admits using drones to spy on Americans

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

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

The Islamic State could surpass Al Qaeda and 9/11 by mounting a mass drone attack in the United States. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) We recently posted...

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...

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...

North Dakota authorizes police to use weaponized drones

By John Andrews North Dakota has become the first state to explicitly authorize local police departments to mount weapons, including tasers, sound cannons, teargas and non-penetrating...

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,...

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...

Drone Pilots Are Exhausted and Suffering From PTSD

On Tuesday, The New York Times published the latest look at drone pilots. These Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operators are suffering such a high rate of...

Taking Responsibility for Drone Killings

When President Barack Obama apologized on April 23 to the families of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, an American and an Italian, both...

Taking Responsibility for Drone Killings- President Obama and the Fog of War

(Common Dreams) - When President Barack Obama apologized on April 23 to the families of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, an American and an...

Why Elites Love Drones

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

UK drones may combat Mediterranean migrant trade

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

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 ›

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...

5 Ways Mass Surveillance Is Destroying the US Economy

Via Washington's Blog with permission Prosperity Requires Privacy Privacy is a prerequisite for a prosperous economy. Even the White House admits: People must have confidence that data will travel...

The Surveillance State Is Coming to a Pub Near You

The CCTV cameras are slowly being switched off in Britain's austerity hit streets and town centres as, one by one, skint local councils and...

Government Wastes Taxpayers’ Money On Crappy “Shark-Like Spy Drone”

Here's the latest scam the government is burning your money on: a "shark-like spy drone" that looks somewhat like a shark and swims like...

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...

Challenging Drone Warfare in a US Court

Kathy Kelly On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge...

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

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

Supreme Court Justice Warns Drones Will Usher In Orwellian World

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

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...

Drone Wipes Out Ohio Family (Cautionary Tale)

Walt Gelles My family was murdered by a drone missile attack in our Ohio town. I write this from my hospital bed, my legs amputated,...

United Nations report: US, UK surveillance programs violate international law

Thomas Gaist A report released Wednesday by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Navi Pillay, entitled “The Right to Privacy in the Digital...

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...

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

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

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...

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...

5 Ways that Mass Surveillance Destroys the Economy

Reprinted with permission Privacy is a prerequisite for a prosperous economy.   Even the White House admits: People must have confidence that data will travel to its destination...

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...

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 ›

“Riot Control” Drone To Shoot Pepper Spray Bullets At Protesters

Experts slam technology: "deeply disturbing," "will maim and kill" A drone that is capable of firing 400 rounds of pepper spray and paint balls, as...

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 ›

And the First US Commercial Drone License Goes To… BP

Authorization comes as FAA moves to integrate commercial drones into American skies The Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday it has granted oil giant BP the first-ever approval...

LAPD considers deploying unmanned drones for ‘tactical events’

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

German foreign intelligence service plans real-time surveillance of social networks

Sven Heymann The German foreign intelligence service (BND) is planning the surveillance of social network sites in real-time, according to documents obtained by theSüddeutsche Zeitung....

Drone Wars: Surveying the home front

Today Statewatch and Drone Wars UK are co-publishing a new report into the use of unmanned drones in UK airspace. Back from the Battlefield: Domestic Drones in the UK written by Chris Jones of Statewatch examines the current use of... Read More ›

Study Shows US Government’s Drone Killing Strategy Is Having Zero Impact On Al-Qaeda Attack...

As everyone with an interest in a healthy surveillance state will tell you, we've never been less safe from terrorism than we are now. While a...

Surveillance, Cyberspying, and the Fig Leaf of Democracy

NSA deservedly takes its place with the CIA (like the New Deal in one respect, there are a number of agencies in the alphabet...

Why Risk Prison to Protest Drone Murders? An Activist Explains.

Judging from my email box in recent years -- which often differs on this question with such sources of knowledge as my television or the New York Times -- the conscience of our country lies somewhere near Syracuse, New York.  Here's an email from an activist named Judy Bello, for example:
"Breaking news: 
"MaryAnne Grady-Flores was convicted in DeWitt Town Court last night on 2nd Degree Contempt of an Order Of Protection.  Grady-Flores, who did not intend to violate the Order despite its immorality and invalidity, was taking pictures of others at the base - the Ash Wednesday Witnesses -  who engaged in nonviolent civil resistance blocking the front Gate to Hancock base for which they were subsequently acquitted.

"In a heinous abuse of an instrument meant to protect the innocent from violence, Orders of Protection are being used to protect violent transgressions of international and moral law from citizen oversight. While trying to publicize and support a movement to ground the drones and end the wars which take countless innocent lives, Grady-Flores was arrested for noncompliance with an order that does not specify particulars outside of how you might attack another human, something she would never do. She understood the Order to mean that she was forbidden to join the protest.

"The Guilty verdict was proffered by a jury 5 minutes after they had asked the judge for a legal definition of 'keep away', and he had replied that they 'are the sole triers of fact'.

"The two-day trial included testimony from Colonel Earl A. Evans who is the party protected by the OOP, Catholic Priests Father Bill Pickard and Tim Taugher, Catholic Workers Bill Frankel-Streit and Ellen Grady, sister. Grady-Flores also testified on her own behalf."
So, a woman dedicated to nonviolence was convicted of going near a military base, where a Colonel, not feeling safe enough with, you know, the military base, had a legal order of protection against her.  Of course this is a legalistic gimmick aimed at denying people their rights to speech and assembly, as at least one court has already ruled.  But it isn't working.  These people are continuing to speak and assemble.  And they're refusing to take plea bargains that would keep them out of prison.
 
 
I emailed another activist, Jack Gilroy, to ask what's going on. Here's what he sent back in response to my questions:
 
What is your background as an activist?
 
My activism began in 1964 with the Tonkin Bay lies. Later in that decade I took on the job as UpState NY Director of Committee of Responsibility, a group organized by Quaker MD’s who were treating Vietnamese war injured children. After Nixon blocked our confirmed hospital beds and plastic surgeons in upstate NY, my family and I emigrated to Australia. While there teaching high school I had my students help wake up Aussies to French Nuclear testing off the coast of Australia. Other groups (Greenpeace etc) were involved by the sight of fourth form (10th grade) Aussie kids on top of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting System) at the French Consulate in Sydney led to other actions around the country to press the French.

Back in the USA I had my senior high students watch as I climbed a fence into the largest store house of nuclear weapons in the USA. I was in a Santa Clause suit and a bag with candy and hand bills urging federal workers to find a real job….a life giving job.

Environment was major with my students and they commandeered the four corners of the original IBM setting in Endicott NY demanding that IBM pay per pound of hydroflorocarbons emitted each year…IBM the greatest polluter of the Ozone according to the EPA. Locals, with IBM the backbone of the job force, had no idea that their wonder company was doing wrong -- until students contacted media and the story was blasted. Kids can make a difference.  (Two years later, President Bush met with IBM officials in the Rose Garden to award them for their winning reduction of ozone pollutants. Students by then were in college or elsewhere and of course, not mentioned.)  My main claim to fame is my thousands of students who understood I didn’t buy the lies fed to them by the text books and media bullshit. I hope they are questioning and acting. But being a sheep has its advantages even for the committed.

So, my activism has been education. Our play, The Bench, a story about apartheid, made it to many schools around the Southern Tier of NY while Mandela was still incarcerated at Robins Island. Today, my play, The Predator, (you helped clean up a few items in it) has been done around the nation in small group settings such as the Pittsburgh Foreign Affairs Council etc. I believe education is the key -- slow, but it works if persistence is one’s forte.

I told you a bit about my activism to close the US Army School of the Americas and my southern jail, federal diesel therapy and various federal prisons for a six month ‘holiday’. It did close but opened up weeks later with a new name. C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.
 

Why do you believe protesting is a strategic tool?

It has worked historically. Need I repeat what most people of historical awareness know as fact….in the past 100 years….Gandhi, King, Chavez, Walesa, Mandela, Romero, Berrigans, etc.

Silence is the enemy of justice and we have great silence today. Silence is based in fear but is comfortable and safe. Sheepherders are our guides today rather than national leadership. Hiding in the middle of the flock is safe. Few speak out about our murderous ways. 

 

What has been accomplished?
 
It has been noted that drone action has been cut back in Afghanistan over the past year (as well as in Pakistan, but Hancock targets are in Afghanistan). Have we made a difference? Don’t know, but we’re trying.
 
So many eloquent statements have been made in so many trials at DeWitt, the Hancock Killer Drone court room. We hope that at least some local people and base personnel have to have had their consciences pricked. Since our actions, media has perked up info on drones --- we may be part of that nationwide drone talk, especially killer drones, not cutesy drone ideas like delivering packages to one’s door. Most people were ignorant several years ago and most people are still ignorant. But there is a swell of information and we think our actions have contributed to that.
 
My good friend, Ed Kinane, a long time justice activist from Syracuse, has much more experience in dealing with the media on the drone issue. Ed says that he takes from activist Dorothy Day who said: "Being faithful is more important than being effective." My own take is that Ed and the many that have put themselves on the line have been effective…even if only to their own conscience.
 

How have the approaches of the police and the courts changed?

Police are doing their job. I once witnessed Federal Marshalls at the Pentagon (back in pre 2001 days) hosing down old ladies who were doing a ‘die in’ to protest Pentagon support for a school of assassination at Ft Benning. Elizabeth McAllister (widow of Phil Berrigan) was standing next to me and she asked one of the Marshalls if he would do the same thing if it was gasoline. The Marshall turned to Liz and said: "I'd follow my orders, Lady".

So cops are doing what they are paid to do. They are not told to stop the killing going on inside of the base so they do what they are told and arrest those who say our government should not be breaking the law of country and God and natural law. But like the pilots who do the killing and the surrounding support people, it's the system that thrives on doing what they are told to do by the criminals at the top. We need to educate the police to have a conscience and see the real enemy . . .  the killers, not those who protest.

Courts are not much different. There is a sense of affinity between the Air Force personnel, smartly dressed, ramrod straight who stand or sit before judge and/or jury and make a fine presentation of patriotism . . . doing the job of heroes. It's a tough act to question. Judges and jurors have been taught to respect those who kill to keep us safe. The decisions made by the judges have been almost all in favor of the base and the killing Q9 drones and their crews. The one jury trial so far, just last week (May 17th.) rendered a decision in favor of the base. The case was a charge of a violation of an Order of Protection. An OPP is usually used to allow a spouse to keep away an abuser. Now, it is being creatively used at Hancock Air Base as an instrument to prevent First Amendment Rights to be practiced. Mary Anne Grady, a long time nonviolent peace activist, mother of four, every day hard working business woman was at a demo on Ash Wednesday at Hancock to do the media work of photos and video. She did not engage in the demonstration for she was ordered to not go on the base. She is shown in videos on the road in front of the base (cars and joggers going by right next to her) but Hancock Air Base now claims to have a lease on half of the public road that Mary Anne stood on and filmed. She faces a possible severe sentence on July 10th being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a Syracuse jury of six. (Mary Anne was told months ago that juries may not be any better than judges -- tens of thousands stand and cheer at Syracuse Basketball games for the military and staff of the 174th Attach Wing at Hancock.)

 

What is your current legal situation?

My legal status is a jury trial at DeWitt Court starting at 8:30 a.m. on July 14th. First day mostly picking of jurors and opening statements and second day direct and cross examination, judge advise to jury and decision of guilt or innocence. I could be sentenced to one year in the Jamesville Penitentiary for my nonviolent die to remember those we have killed in Afghanistan (and God and the NSA only know where else). I think there is a chance of winning this one. If so, it could set a precedent. There are many jury trials to follow mine. Schedules go into late 2015….all for the same action. One judge said: "This has got to stop". Former President of Veterans For Peace, Elliott Adams, agreed with the judge. Elliott said, "Yes, your honor, it has to stop, we need to stop the killing and you need to be part of that stop effort."

I’ve been to most trials and have to say that there is little concern of judges to do anything to stop the assassinations. They are doing their job and following the "law". Now, we need to prove the so called law is illegal.

 

What would you recommend that people do who share your concern?
   
Here is what Ed Kinane had to say about recommending what to do. Ed walks the walk. Ed has lived in federal confinement for his peace and justice activism. Ed says:

That depends on whether they are far or near and where they are in life (in terms of dependents and responsibilities). Our campaign has a whole range of tactics they can join in or support: educate themselves; read some of the key drone books and reports; write letters to the editor...to elected officials...to base commanders; take part in our twice-monthly demos across the road from Hancock; attend the De Witt court when we defendants appear there; take part in annual conferences (usually in April); invite us to speak to their classes, community groups or congregations; contribute $$$ to our bail fund or to such anti-drone groups as codepink; work to pass local resolutions and ordinances restricting surveillance and weaponized drones over local or regional airspace; take part in fact-finding delegations to drone-plagued areas (Pakistan); risk arrest at Hancock, at other drone bases, or other relevant venues (federal buildings, drone research or production facilities, etc.); become a federal tax resister -- i.e.stop paying federal income taxes (much of which goes to the Pentagon war machine).

 

*****

I'll add a few more:

Visit Upstate Drone Action Reports at http://upstatedroneaction.org/wordpress

Spring Days of Drone Action.

Sign the petition to ban weaponized drones.

Get your city or state to oppose drones.

Get anti-drone shirts, stickers, hats, etc.

Every Tuesday: Stop the Killing.

Read about drones.

Plan for a Global Day of Action Against Drones on October 4, 2014.

Join the movement to end all war, with all weapons, at http://WorldBeyondWar.org

read more

Deadly U.S. Drone War Creating Problems for Yemen’s President

After a brief respite, U.S. drones are buzzing above Yemen once again, reportedly killing six al-Qaeda “militants” on May 12. Hellfire missiles launched from the...

‘They’rrrre Herrrre’: Drone Lobbyists Buzzing over DC

Pushing for influence on what is now seen as the inevitable and widespread introduction to unmanned aircraft, businesses are amassing legal armies Jon Queally  RINF Alternative...

Rand Paul Will Block Barron Nomination Until Drone Memo Released

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D.  Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is ready to reject the offer by the Obama administration to give senators a peek at...

Analysis: Where are British Reaper drones heading after Afghanistan?

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

White House ‘Big Data’ Report Excludes Critical Look at Surveillance State

Internal assessment admits some privacy reforms are needed, but proposes no aggressive overhauls Sarah Lazare The White House's internal report on 'Big Data' and privacy issues, released Thursday...

They Are Watching You–How the U.S. Is Secretly Creating a Border Surveillance State

Todd Miller  With the agility of a seasoned Border Patrol veteran, the woman rushed after the students. She caught up with them just before they...

Project Crossbow: How a Norfolk RAF base plugs into the drone wars

A map in the USAF’s new ‘RPA Vector Report’ released on April 4 2014 confirms that ‘Project Crossbow’ based at RAF Marham in Norfolk is part of the intelligence backbone guiding the growing use of US and UK drones. While... Read More ›

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

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

Federal Court: Drone Killing of U.S. Citizens Is Constitutional

Joe A. Wolverton On April 4, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s killing of three American citizens in...

US conducting drone war from Germany

Elisabeth Zimmermann RINF Alternative News The American Ramstein military base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate plays a central role in Washington’s global drone war....

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging drone assassinations of US citizens

Tom Carter RINF Alternative News On Friday, federal Judge Rosemary M. Collyer entered an order dismissing a civil rights case that challenged the Obama administration’s...

Rutherford Institute Calls On Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Take the Lead in Calling for...

Pointing out that “surveillance is surveillance, whether carried out by government or the private sector,” John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, is calling on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to take the lead in ensuring that legislative safeguards are adopted to protect all Americans from threats to their privacy and civil liberties by drones, regardless of […]

Final goal of the Surveillance State

Final goal of the Surveillance State by Jon Rappoport March 11, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Surveillance is coming at us from all angles. Chips, drones, TSA checkpoints, smart meters, back-doored electronic products, video cameras, spying home appliances; our phone calls and emails and keystrokes and product purchases are recorded. The government and its allied corporations will know […]

Paranoia, Surveillance and Military Tactics: Have We Become Enemies of the Government?

John W. Whitehead RINF Alternative News Relationships are fragile things, none more so than the relationship between a citizen and his government. Unfortunately for the...

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

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

The Dangerous Seduction of Drones

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

‘Don’t Mess with My Drone Junk’: Bezos Has It All, A to Z, CIA...

Paul Haeder  RINF Alternative News It’s an old axiom — “If an extraterrestrial (we used to say ‘Martian’ but we know what is in store for...

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

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

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

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

Economic Terror And Rolling Out India’s Surveillance State

Global Research 5/2/2014, Countercurrents 6/2/2014 and Deccan Herald 6/2/2014

When two planes flew into the World Trade Organisation buildings inNew York in 2001, the impact was twofold. First, there was shock and outrage. Second, there was a collective sentiment, at least in the US, that something must be done to prevent such a thing happening again and some form of retributive justice meted out.


Governments the world over wasted no time in conveniently forcing through legislation that eroded personal and collective freedoms, under the guise of preventing terror, at a time of increasing social and economic inequalities due to a strident and exploitative economic neo-liberal agenda.


If 9/11 served at least one purpose, apart from fuelling Western military imperialism according to the tenets of the neo-con Project for a New American Century, it was to provide any or every government on the planet with a reason for clamping down on its own population, stripping away civil liberties and making people acquiesce to the needs of global capital. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US and British surveillance agencies and programmes have exposed just how far governments are prepared to go in order to snoop on virtually every activity that ordinary members of the public engage in. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic try to justify this illegal snooping on the basis of it being carried out for people's own good on the back of self-proclaimed ‘security alerts’.


But history shows that widespread surveillance by governments on their own populations has mostly been about attempting to monitor and quell dissent and genuine opposition to its policies (1). The US and British states have long been involved in illegal, duplicitous monitoring and subversion of perfectly legitimate democratic groups on their own soils. Western intelligence agencies have been used to crush democracy at home in order to serve the interests of elite state-corporate players. From Martin Luther King and the Occupy Movement to Veterans for Peace, the US state has used the full panoply of resources to infiltrate, monitor or subvert. Today, democratic movements that seek to legitimately question and challenge the influence of Wall Street, US military policy abroad and a range of other policies that have serve elite interests are spied on and ‘neutralised’. The conclusion is that mass surveillance occurs because legitimate political dissent that poses a direct challenge to the one percent will not be tolerated.


Should people in India be worried about the rolling out of the Indian’s government own plans for mass monitoring, the Centralised Monitoring System? They should, given the genuine concerns being raised about the lack of Parliamentary oversight and transparency surrounding the system, as well as the scope and depth and the violation of privacy safeguards, which could be as far reaching, secretive and unconstitutional/illegal as the West’s PRISM system (2,3,4).


And they should be concerned because the agenda is the same. Social and economic trends in India have been mirroring those in the West since neo-liberal economic policies were embraced by leading politicians here. The gap between rich and poor has widened, wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of families and billionaires, often courtesy of politicians who ‘facilitate’ the handing out of contracts and chunks of public money.  


The growing chasm in both India and the West between rich and poor has not been lost on policy makers who fear a backlash from ordinary folk. Such concerns were recently voiced at the World Economic Forum. It’s for good reason then that ‘homeland security’ has been beefed up in the US and drones are to be used to spy on its own citizens. It’s for good reason that the NSA and its British equivalent are paranoid about their populations’ political views, allegiances and activities. Mass surveillance of ordinary people is not about preventing terror; it’s about stopping ordinary folk seeking to stop a further shift in the balance of power towards elite interests.  



And it’s also for good reason that the Indian government is investing massively in military equipment and surveillance at a time when the rich are looting the economy and protests and uprisings are occurring across the nation in order to protect their lands, forests and communities from this assault.


India’s top ten billionaires account for over 12 percent of the country’s GDP, while 7,850 High Net Worth individuals account for US$935 billion, half of India’s GDP. As in the West, India’s military-corporate-state complex is working hand in glove to shove economic neo-liberalism and its impact down the throats of the people. This is the type of extremism and economic terror that is seldom discussed.     


In 2013, the Indian defence budget formed over ten percent of total government expenditure. It has been for many years the world’s largest market for imported arms. In 2000, India spent an estimated US$ 911 million on arms imports; by 2013, this had risen to US$4.6 billion. As both violent and peaceful opposition to government policies is on the rise among many of the nation's poorest people, who become conveniently tarnished by many mainstream commentators as 'the enemy within', India now has the world’s largest paramilitary force in place to 'deal' with them.(5).


Apart from ongoing violent conflicts in the ‘tribal belt’ and elsewhere, there is the continuing all pervasive structural violence of crony capitalism, corruption, ‘globalisation’ and neo-liberalism, which has, among other atrocities, resulted in up to 300,000 farmer suicides and India having over one-third of the poorest people in the world and the world’s largest number of children suffering from malnutrition (6).


There are people who want to do us harm. We need to be protected. There are extremists and wrong doers who want to bend the system for their own narrow agendas against the interests of the many. There always has been. Unfortunately, they have hijacked the machinery of state(s) and are increasingly to be found in positions of authority implementing surveillance and economic terrorism ‘for our own good’.


Notes





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

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

Surveillance Reaffirmed

Norman Pollack  RINF Alternative News The scene: January 17, Obama is speaking at the Department of Justice, a solid bank of American flags behind him. In...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowden and the final purpose of the Surveillance State

Snowden and the final purpose of the Surveillance State by Jon Rappoport January 16, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com I’ve written much about Edward Snowden, his back-story, and the questions that surround him (full archive here). But here, I want to discuss the aftermath, because no matter how you view Snowden and what he has done, he is […]

The Surveillance State. NSA Telephony Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

Marjorie Cohn  RINF Alternative News Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC),...

The Surveillance State. NSA Telephony Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that requires Verizon...

Dianne Feinstein spots drone inches from face

KATHRYN A. WOLFEpolitico.comJanuary 15, 2014 Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she once found a drone peeking into...

Customs and Border Protection Loaning Drones to Police

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

Customs and Border Protection Loaning Drones to Police

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

The Fantasy That Obama Is Currently Planning to Overhaul€™ Surveillance Programs

Kevin Gosztola RINF Alternative News The opening sentence of a report from the New York Times on reforms President Barack Obama is considering suggests that he is...

U.S. speeds up drone deliveries for the Middle East

An AGM-114 Hellfire missile mounted on a Predator drone. The United States says it will speed up its deliveries of missiles and...

Domestic Drone Launch Date Approaches; Drones to Be Autonomous

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

Haiti: Drones and Slavery

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

War From Above: Domestic Drones Patrolling the Skies of America

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

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

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

Six US states named for drone testing

The US Federal Aviation Administration has authorized six sites where unmanned aircraft can be tested for a variety of uses. The FAA does not currently...

Domestic Drone Testing Coming to a State Near You

An unmanned aerial vehicle flies at the unmanned aircraft flight station at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., on Dec. 12. (Photo: AP...

Domestic Drone Testing Sites… Coming to a State Near You

Public institutions in six states have been selected to test commercial drones as part of a Federal Aviation Administration plan to integrate thousands of...

Democrats condemn NSA surveillance

The NSA spying programs have sparked controversies across the world.Western Democrats on the ballot in 2014 are strongly condemning the National Security Agency. Montana Lt....

The A-Z of Drones 2013 — Part Two

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

US secretly sends Hellfire missiles, drones to Iraq

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

US sending missiles, drones to Iraq: Report

AFPDecember 26, 2013 U.S. sending Iraq dozens of missiles and surveillance drones to help it combat...

The A-Z of Drones 2013

It was good to see large numbers turn out at a big protest at Parc Aberporth, the drone test centre in West Wales, in...

The A-Z of Drones 2013 — Part One

It was good to see large numbers turn out at a big protest at Parc Aberporth, the drone test centre in West Wales, in September as the owners announced a big expansion. It was even better to see Yemeni journalist  Abdulelah Haider Shaye released from... Read More ›

United Nations’ drones: A sign of what’s to come?

News that the United Nations is using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to collect information in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo...

Border Patrol to Test High-Tech Surveillance Balloons Along Mexican Border

Steve Neavlingticklethewire.comDecember 22, 2013 Forget drones. The U.S. Border Patrol is testing the abilities of helium-filled balloons...

Obstructions in Halting NSA Surveillance

I Eviscerating the Privacy Right By way of introduction, Adam Liptack in the New York Times, Dec. 18, the article entitled, “After Ruling Critical...

The FBI’s drone ambitions date back to the 1990s

Jacob KastrenakesThe VergeDecember 10, 2013 The FBI began experimenting with drones in 1995, but didn't view them as a viable option for video surveillance until...

Saving the Net from the Surveillance State: Glenn Greenwald Speaks Up (Q&A)

Big Brother may be watching you. But Glenn Greenwald is watching Big Brother. Brazil-based journalist and NSA foe Glenn Greenwald testifies on US surveillance before...

US Air Force tests secret spy drone

The US Air Force has tested a classified spy drone. The US Air Force has tested a top secret spy drone which can be used...

Navy Launches First Submarine Drone

The Good FightPlanet InfowarsDecember 6, 2013 Like something out of a movie and after 6 years of planning the U.S Navy has successfully launched its...

US tests classified spy drone with ‘superior stealth, efficiency capabilities’

The US Air Force is testing a large, top secret drone at Area 51, which outdoes the currently used unmanned aircrafts in terms of...

DARPA’s mirror-killing membrane could change astronomy, allow total global surveillance

Graham TempletonExtreme TechDecember 6, 2013 When it launches in 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope will let us see deeper into the universe than ever...

Is Amazon’s Drone Announcement a Giant PR Hoax?

Alex Jones says idea is a manufactured publicity stunt designed to boost Christmas sales Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comDecember 4, 2013 A deluge of questions followed in...

A Sign of the Times? UN Launches First Drone

For the first time, peacekeepers with the United Nations launched a surveillance drone on Tuesday. The UN's UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, is being deployed...

Jeff Bezos Latest Brainwave: Amazon Drones Are the Dream of Fascist Collectivists and Technocrats

Think of the fun that local kids and gun enthusiasts will have with this latest brainwave by internet mogul and neo-nerd vanguard, Jeff Bezos… Some...

Was Paul Walker Murdered by a Drone Strike? (Debunked)

Baseless conspiracy discredits real evidence of political assassinations Paul Joseph Watson Does surveillance camera footage show a drone missile or a light pole? There's more excitement and...

Lawmaker: Amazon Drone Could Photograph Your Home

Companies could use UAVs to gather private information Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comDecember 3, 2013 Following the announcement of Amazon's plan to deliver items using drones within...

Worries over Amazon plan to use drones

US lawmakers have called for new laws and regulations as Amazon is undertaking an experimental project for delivering packages using door-to-door drones. On Monday, US...

Expert: Amazon Drones Will Crash Into People

Surveillance cameras could be attached to drones to prevent theft Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comDecember 2, 2013 A UAV expert has warned that Amazon's ambitious policy to...

Expert: Amazon Drones Will Crash Into People

Surveillance cameras could be attached to drones to prevent theft Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comDecember 2, 2013 A UAV expert has warned that Amazon's ambitious policy to...

Amazon Develops Drones For Package Drop-off

It's not just militarism--now drones can...

Military “Drone Club”: Europe to Boost its Defence Potential

Photo: dw.de On November 20 Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said that Russian government's spending for procurement of military equipment will increase by 25...

US army equipping soldiers with fleet of bird-like drones

presstv.irNovember 28, 2013 The robotics company says US Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) earlier this month awarded them $4.5 million in federal contracts to deliver...

US army orders fleet of bird-like drones

Maveric unmanned aerial vehicle is a small drone that can be launched by hand and resembles birds. The Pentagon has ordered three-dozen bird-like micro-drones in...

Gaza: Life and death under Israel’s drones

Al-Jazeera – 28 November 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suffer the children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s ‘major advantage’

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

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

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

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

‘Mistakes can happen’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random death by drone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged as: ,

Pakistani Military Unveils Its Own Drones

Following a weekend of protests in Pakistan over U.S. drone strikes, the Kabul government revealed that its military has developed new drones of its...

Drones With Face Detection Cameras Obey Visual and Vocal Commands

Researchers from British Columbia's Simon Fraser University recently unveiled a new fleet of drones capable of obeying vocal and visual commands. The project, which was...

Revealed: Northrop Grumman’s Unmarked Gray Helicopter Drone

Next generation UAV to spy on Americans? Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comNovember 25, 2013 Infowars has obtained a photograph of an unmarked gray helicopter drone manufactured by...

Voices from the drone summit in US

Medea Benjamin (L), co-founder of the anti-war group CodePink, places flowers on mock graves of drone victims in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, in front...

Drones, Tanks, and Grenade Launchers: Coming Soon to a Police Department Near You

“The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios. Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that.”—Mark Randol, former terrorism expert with the Congressional Research Service Why does a police department which hasn’t had an officer killed in the line of […]

Voices From the Drone Summit

Last weekend, I participated in a panel on the illegality of drones and targeted killing off the battlefield at the conference, “Drones Around the...

Drone victims take on Washington DC

In August 2012 Faisal bin Ali Gaber lost his nephew and brother-in-law in a drone strike in Hadhramout, Yemen. Faisal bin Ali Gaber is a...

How the CIA can send a Killer Drone after someone using their Mobile Phone

Since 2001, armed Predator drones have been used by the CIA in many foreign nations to attack individuals on the ground. There's a new...

All Drone Politics Is Local

What Localities and States Can Do About Drones Charlottesville, Va., passed a resolution that urged the state of Virginia to adopt a two-year moratorium on...

US Airspace To Crawl With 7,500 Drones In 5 Years

Zero Hedge November 10, 2013 The chief of the Federal Aviation Administration predicted Thursday that U.S. airspace could be crowded with as many as 7,500 commercial...

Latin American drone use on the rise and unregulated — report

RTNovember 6, 2013 The Brazilian air force purchased Hermes 450 drones, shown here, from Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, the company announced in January 2011....

6 Months After Obama Promised to Divulge More on Drones, Here’s What We Still...

A Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle sits on the flight deck of the USS Gunston Hall in February 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman...

New Senate bill would add privacy, transparency requirements to domestic drone use

Published time: November 05, 2013 04:18 AFP Photo / Saul Loeb Legislation introduced Monday in the US Senate aims to add privacy controls and...

Killing Children: America’s Undeclared Drone War on the People of Pakistan

This week saw the most extraordinary scene materialize in Washington DC. Nine-year-old Nabeela ur Rehman, from North Waziristan in the remote tribal region of...

US to build undersea drones for spying

The Pentagon is working on a developmental program to plant unmanned vehicles on the ocean floor ready to speed to the surface and fly...

Lockheed Martin announces plans for SR-72 hypersonic spy drone

Published time: November 02, 2013 04:19 Image by Lockheed Martin Aircraft experts and military aficionados have cause to rejoice now that Lockheed Martin has...

10 Ways You Can Join the Fight Against Drone Warfare

Everyone has a responsibility to seek...

Notorious Arizona Sheriff Sheriff Joe Arpaio To Deploy Unmanned Drones

Phoenix's ABC15 reports on the forging ahead with new forms of corrupt policing: Arpaio confirms to ABC15 he has a plan to use drones, if...

Notorious anti-immigration Arizona sheriff wants fleet of drones

Published time: October 29, 2013 16:19 Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Reuters / Laura Segall) Yet another law enforcement agency is looking to acquire...

Bank Regulation, Drone Warfare, Cracks in the Alliance

The Obama administration isn't inexperienced, it is criminal. This accounts for its failures, all glaringly visible in just the past week, which POTUS...

Drone Operators Feeling the Effects of Carrying Out Kill Orders

President Obama reportedly sits in the Oval Office on Tuesdays and adds and subtracts names from his infamous “kill list.” In consultation with his...

What States Are the Drones Watching?

State legislatures are beginning to understand their critical role in protecting citizens from exposure to the never-blinking eye of government. From coast to coast, lawmakers...

As Pakistan says ‘No More Drones,’ Leaked CIA Memos Show Cooperation

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the conclusion of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White...

As Pakistan says ‘No More Drones,’ Leaked CIA Memos Show Cooperation

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the conclusion of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White...

As Pakistan says ‘No More Drones,’ Leaked CIA Memos Show Cooperation

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the conclusion of their meeting in the Oval Office of the White...

Will Domestic Drone Privacy Bills Fall Short Because of ALEC, Defense Industry Influence?

Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: hyperion327)' width="308" height="462">(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t...

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...

Drone Island in the East River

Remarks at New York University forum with http://NYACT.net The primary problem with weaponized drones is that the weapons murder people.  And they murder people in a way that looks more like murder to a lot of observers than other forms of militar...

“NSA Surveillance Network #1492″ Appears on Wireless Networks During California Internet Outage

BetsyPlanet InfowarsOctober 22, 2013 Saturday night, around 8:30 Pacific Standard Time, Time/Warner Cable was knocked out...

U.S. surveillance leaks threaten police use of new technologies: official

Chris Francescani Reuters October 21, 2013 Public disclosures about U.S. government surveillance threaten the ability of police to use powerful new technologies such as...

Zookal will deliver textbooks using drones in Australia next year

Chris Welch The Verge October 18, 2013 Plans to make service available in U.S. / image via Zookal.com Australian textbook rental startup Zookal will begin...

Iran develops new indigenous drone

Iran unveiled a new indigenous combat drone, dubbed Yasir, on September 28, 2013.Iran has unveiled a new domestically designed and manufactured unmanned aerial vehicle...

Federal Grants Enable Increased Surveillance by Local Gov’t

Not content to let the feds have all the fun, local governments are increasing their surveillance of citizens. An article published in the Sunday New...

The Etiquette of War and Surveillance: Letters to Colonel Manners (Ret.)

In the sequester and government-shutdown era, the classic military newspaper Stars and Stripes is facing some of the problems of its civilian brethren and...

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

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

Do the Libyan and Somali Raids Signal a Drone Drawdown?

On October 5, two teams of U.S. special forces units carried out separate operations in Africa, one in Libya and the other in Somalia. In...

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

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

US spy drones to fly over North Korea

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

Life Under Drones in Pakistan

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

Likely to Foment Regional Tension, US Drones Headed to Japan

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

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

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

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

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

Worldwide Militarization and the Weapons Industry: America’s Surveillance and Targeted Assassination Machine

Perpetual mass-media deception and pervasive surveillance encompass a never ending train of abuse that won't end any time soon. As long as armaments factories...

ACLU Slams DOJ Over Unchecked Drone Program

The FBI has been using domestic drones in its investigations since 2006 with no privacy safeguards in place, a report released Friday by the...

Multi-million dollar domestic drone program lacks sufficient privacy safeguards, report finds

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other Department of Justice agencies have spent almost $5 million during the last few years on an underreported...

FBI uses drones on US soil since 2006

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

‘Japan must boost sea surveillance’

Japan™s defense minister says Tokyo should increase its surveillance activities to cover the Pacific Ocean along with the Sea of Japan and the East...

US spent millions on domestic drones

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

Drones in the Arctic: New Tools for Risky Drilling?

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

Military and Police Drones Exempted From New Texas Drone Law

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

The Thistle and the Drone: The Real Story Behind the War on Terror

In a remark to the pop group the Jonas Brothers, President Barack Obama told the young men to stay away from his daughters, lest...

UK govt. deplored for developing drones

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

Texas restricts civilian drone usage, leaves exclusive rights to authorities

Texas has recently become one of the states that has limited the use drones by citizens in civilian airspace tipping the scales in favor...

‘UN drone deployment in DRC delayed’

The United Nations says the deployment of a spy drone by UN peacekeepers in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been...

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

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

Secret docs: US drones can be targeted

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

Surveillance Spending Vastly More Than Previously Thought

Thanks to the efforts of whistleblower Edward Snowden and the reluctant cooperation of the Washington Post, American citizens are now able to see just what...

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

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

US cannot find enough drone pilots

A student pilot and sensor operator man the controls of a MQ-9 Reaper in a ground-based cockpit during a training mission flown from Hancock...

Obama Unmasked: The Total Surveillance State

The president helped end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that locked LGBT military service members in the closet. During his 2012 campaign, he...

Homeland Security to Assume Control of Surveillance Blimps

Federal agency ignores Fourth Amendment within 100 mile “constitution free zone” Paul Joseph Watson The Department of Homeland Security is to assume control of...

Homeland Security to Assume Control of Surveillance Blimps

Federal agency ignores Fourth Amendment within 100 mile “constitution free zone” Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comAugust 20, 2013...

Time Reporter Who Advocated Drone Strike on Assange Loves Big Brother

‘Big government helps protect our rights’ Paul Joseph Watson Infowars.com August 19, 2013 Michael Grunwald, the Time Magazine reporter who advocated killing Julian Assange...

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

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

President’s intel advisory board virtually empty amidst rampant surveillance

A White House panel charged with assessing U.S. intelligence operations was stripped of its members this year just before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the...

Drone industry thinks ‘drone’ is a dirty word

There’s an entire convention happening in Washington, DC this week for those in the drone business, but the unmanned aerial enthusiasts with close ties...

Florida wants to deploy drone fleet to help kill mosquitoes

The good news is that modern technology may have finally helped find a new way to eliminate mosquitoes. The bad news is that it’s...

Department of Justice to review FBI surveillance under Patriot Act

The Department of Justice Inspector General is set to conduct a new review that will dig into “any improper or illegal uses” of the...

Colorado Town Considers Drone-Hunting Ordinance

As the death toll from U.S. drone strikes overseas rises and the launch date for 30,000 domestic drones draws nearer, some citizens are deciding...

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

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

US launches new drone strikes against Yemen

  By ...

UN to fly Italian drone over Congo skies

Press TVAugust 2, 2013 The United Nations says it will deploy an Italian surveillance...

UN to fly Italian drone over Congo skies

Press TVAugust 2, 2013 The United Nations says it will deploy an Italian surveillance...

Introducing “Drone Patrol”

There’s a new trend in surveillance and that trend involves drones in our skies. Many have seen them, but most don’t report them. Why not? It’s because until recently, there has been nowhere to report these sightings. The FBI recently admitted to using drones to spy on US citizens. Are you one of them?

Italy to supply UN’s first drone for Congo

The United Nations says it will deploy an Italian surveillance drone in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the coming weeks. "Unarmed UAVs (unmanned...

President Obama Sending Drones All Around the Globe

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

US approves drones for civilian use

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

Drones approved for civilian use in US

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

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

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

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

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

US Officials Attack ‘Far From Authoritative’ Leaked Drone Report

A Pakistani soldier in FATA, where there have been 370 CIA drone strikes. (Photo: Chris Woods) US officials are claiming that an internal Pakistani assessment...

FBI admits to flying drones over US without warrants

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

US Officials Attack Leaked Report on Civilians Drone Deaths

Pakistan officially denied that 81 civilians including children died in this 2006 CIA drone strike — but a leaked document says otherwise. (Photo: Getty...

FBI has flown drones ten times in US

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

Pentagon to use blimps for surveillance

The Pentagon is to deploy huge blimps over Washington, DC, for surveillance.The Pentagon is to deploy huge blimps over Washington, DC, so that the...

Pentagon to deploy huge blimps over Washington, DC for 360-degree surveillance

A pair of high-tech Army blimps is coming to the greater Washington, DC area, and soon they will be able to provide the military...

Under America’s Surveillance Dome

The greatest threat to America’s “national security” is the American people, not an endless array of Al-Qaeda-type “terrorists” hyped by our own government. “National...

Obama’s Fanaticism Over Secrecy, Surveillance and Repression

If the US were not engaged in actions and policies that are illegal, immoral, aggressive, war-provoking, and therefore, it is fair to say, evil,...

US expands global drone warfare

  By ...

Here Come the Drone Wars in America — The Public vs. Overzealous Police

Recently, outgoing director of the FBI Robert Mueller revealed that his agency has used drones to conduct surveillance in the United States. Mueller's casual admission...

Update: FAA Responds To Drone Hunting: “Could Result in Criminal or Civil Liability”

(Pictured: Draganflyer X6 domestic surveillance drone over Mesa, CO) In response to overwhelming public support for a new ordinance in...

Judge Torn Over Lawsuit in Drone Strike that Killed Americans

(Photo: Debra Sweet / Flickr)Washington, DC – Courts cannot second-guess drone strikes that kill U.S. citizens overseas, an Obama administration lawyer argued Friday. A Republican-appointed...

FAA: Shooting Down Drones Could Lead to Prosecution

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

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

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

Drone Hunting in Colorado: $100 Reward for Shooting a Federal Government Drone?

In the battle of states rights versus federal rights, nothing is more controversial than the concept of government agencies being allowed perform surveillance over...

Colorado town considers hunting licenses, bounties for drones

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

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

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

Colorado town considers licensing bounty hunters to shoot down drones

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

Surveillance Blowback

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/surveillance_blowback_20130716/ Posted on Jul 16, 2013 By Alfred W. McCoy, TomDispatch...

Israeli drones violate Lebanon’s airspace

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

Israeli drone violate Leb. airspace

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has slammed the Israeli regime’s repeated violations of Lebanon’s airspace. In a statement released on Sunday, the Lebanese president said the...

Spying on Journalists: Department of Justice (DOJ) Sets “Guidelines” Concerning Government Surveillance of Members...

On Friday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released a memorandum setting forth new “guidelines” concerning government surveillance of members of the press. “These...

How Obama Is Expanding the Century-Long Project to Build a Total Surveillance State

The American surveillance state is now an omnipresent reality, but its deep history is little known and its future little grasped.

Denouncing NSA Surveillance Isn’t Enough — We Need the Power to Stop It

For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of...

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

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

Nominee to Head FBI Explains Case for Domestic Drone Strike

President Obama’s nominee to head the FBI told senators that he opposed the use of drones to kill Americans inside the United States unless...

Surveillance Surge on the Border: How to Turn the US-Mexican Border into a War...

Todd Miller truth-out.org July 11, 2013 The first thing I did at the Border Security Expo in Phoenix this March was climb the...

US Navy to attempt first drone landing on aircraft carrier

The US navy will attempt to land the experimental X-47B drone on an aircraft carrier for the first time since its May launch. A...

Denouncing NSA Surveillance Isn’t Enough – We Need the Power to Stop It

For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of...

Infowars.com Poll: NSA Surveillance Most Serious Obama Scandal

Kurt NimmoInfowars.comJuly 5, 2013 An informal Infowars.com poll posted earlier this week shows that...

Documents Expose Predator Drones Spying Extensively in U.S.

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

Drone Warfare: Alone with a Joystick

The EconomistJuly 4, 2013 BEHIND every aerial drone is a human operator. Thousands are civilians, working...

Surveillance and the American Illusion of Freedom

County Cork, Ireland. Dissonance defines twenty first century America. Try as it might to uphold its founding visions, societal and political structures quietly erode its...

Despite President's Pledge, 10-Year-Old Victim of Drone Strike Identified

As The New American reported on June 9, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least six people in a rural area of...

U.S. Has Nothing to Say About 10-Year-Old Killed in Drone Strike

July 1, 2013  | ...

Boy’s Death in Drone Strike Tests Obama’s Transparency Pledge

On June 9, a U.S. drone fired on a vehicle in a remote province of Yemen and killed several militants, according to media reports....

Child’s Death in Drone Strike Tests Obama’s Transparency Pledge

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/childs_death_in_drone_strike_tests_obamas_transparency_pledge_20130701/ Posted on Jul 1, 2013 ...

Circumventing Invasive Internet Surveillance with “Carrier Pigeons”

Introduction Recent disclosures have revealed the extreme level of surveillance of telephone and internet communications, as discussed separately with respect to the US National...

Infrastructure of a Police State: The NSA’s Cyber-surveillance Technology

Edward Snowden’s documentary exposure of secret NSA surveillance activities has brought to light details of the mass illegal collection of phone metadata and online...

St. Louis Police Chief Wants Drones, Highlighting Drone Debate

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

St. Louis Police Chief Wants Drones, Highlighting Drone Debate

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

St. Louis police chief wants drones to monitor his city

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

House Passes 2014 NDAA; NSA Surveillance Will Lead to Indefinite Detention

The annual renewal of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is underway on Capitol Hill. On June 14, by a vote of 315-108, the House...

Drone Spies On Sunbathing Woman, Looks Through Apartment Windows, Then Falls Out Of The...

Clear example of how dangerous and invasive UAV technology is Steve Watson Prisonplanet.com June 27, 2013 A stark example of how dangerous and...

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

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

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

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

FBI has received aviation clearance for at least four domestic drone operations

Craig WhitlockThe Washington Post June 21, 2013 The FBI has received clearance from federal aviation officials to...

Skynet rising: Google acquires 512-qubit quantum computer; NSA surveillance to be turned over to...

Mike Adams Natural News June 20, 2013 Most people don’t know about the existence of quantum computers. Almost no one understands how they...

FBI Director Admits Drones Being Used in Skies of US

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

FBI Director Admits 'Drones Are Watching You'

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

FBI director admits domestic use of drones

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

Drones for Jesus

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

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

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

Top firms call for Europe drone project

File photo shows a US-made unarmed Reaper surveillance drone.Top defense firms including France's Dassault Aviation, European aerospace giant EADS and Italy's Finmeccania have called...

Ron Paul: Snowden Might be Targeted For Drone Assassination

The Obama administration is considering charging confessed NSA-surveillance leaker Edward Snowden with illegally passing classified documents. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) called...

Former CIA Employee Snowden, Blows Whistle on NSA’s Dragnet Surveillance

 Just as Bradley Manning’s court-martial was getting underway, another brave whistleblower dropped a bombshell into the media: The Obama administration is collecting data on...

Week in Review: Bilderberg Secrecy and the Surveillance State

America’s Economic War on the People of Iran: Obama Signs Executive Order Targeting Iran’s Currency and Auto Industry Timothy Alexander Guzman, June 07, 2013 America’s “Secret...

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

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

Illinois Legislature Sends Drone-Restricting Bill to Governor

On May 31, the state Senate of Illinois approved amendments to a drone surveillance restriction bill, sending the measure to the desk of Governor...

Iowa City Moves to Ban Surveillance Technology Tools

Lawmakers in Iowa City, Iowa, unanimously passed an ordinance on Tuesday that restricts the use of traffic enforcement cameras, drones, and automatic license plate...

Iowa City Moves to Ban Surveillance Technology Tools

Lawmakers in Iowa City, Iowa, unanimously passed an ordinance on Tuesday that restricts the use of traffic enforcement cameras, drones, and automatic license plate recognitions systems.

'Germany sticks to NATO drone plan'

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere arrives at a NATO defense ministersâ„¢ meeting in Brussels on June 4, 2013.German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere...

Texas Legislature Sends Drone Regulating Bill to Gov. Perry

Late last week the Texas legislature sent a bill to Governor Rick Perry that aims to prevent the use of drones to conduct warrantless...

'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...

Spy drone crashes in north Somalia

A surveillance drone has crashed in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia, according to Puntland Ports and Anti-piracy Minister Saeed Mohamed Rage. The drone crashed...

Spy drone crashes in north Somalia

A surveillance drone has crashed in the semiautonomous Puntland region of Somalia, local security officials and witnesses say. This article originally appeared on: Press...

German national rail testing drones

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

Obama Updates Drone War Policy, Due Process Still Not Included

In a foreign policy speech at the National Defense University on May 23, President Obama set out his “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy,” including a plan...

Obama Updates Drone War Policy, Due Process Still Not Included

In a foreign policy speech at the National Defense University on May 23, President Obama set out his “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy,” including a plan...

‘US drone program violates all laws’

The US surveillance and assassination drone programs flout domestic and international laws while disregarding basic human rights, an analyst tells Press TV. Å“It is a...

‘France to buy drones from US, Israel’

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

France to buy US drones for use in Mali

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

US launches terror drone from warship

The US military has conducted a test flight of an assassination drone as large as a fighter jet off the deck of an American...

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

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

US Navy unveils long-endurance drone

The US Navy has unveiled a new fuel cell-powered unmanned aerial vehicle that has improved its own endurance record by flying in the air...

US university to use drones over campus

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

US Navy’s liquid hydrogen drone flies for record 48 hours

A drone developed by the US Navy has broken its own endurance record by staying in the air for just over 48 hours. The...

Alabama police using drones to monitor college campus

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

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

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

Surveillance Society: Met Police Spying On 57,000 People A Year

Today disturbing new figures have renewed accusations that Britain has turned into a surveillance society, raising more concerns over increasing levels of police surveillance powers.

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'.

10 Ways the Public Backlash Against Killer Drones Is Taking Off

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

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

March 26, 2013  |  

Like this article?

Join our email list:

Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drone Warfare is Neither Cheap, Nor Surgical, Nor Decisive: The Ever-Destructive Dreams of Air...

Today’s unmanned aerial vehicles, most famously Predator and Reaper drones, have been celebrated as the culmination of the longtime dreams of airpower enthusiasts, offering the possibility of victory through quick, clean, and selective destruction.  Those drones, so the (very old) story goes, assure the U.S. military of command of the high ground, and so provide the royal road to a speedy and decisive triumph over helpless enemies below.

Fantasies about the certain success of air power in transforming, even ending, war as we know it arose with the plane itself.  But when it comes to killing people from the skies, again and again air power has proven neither cheap nor surgical nor decisive nor in itself triumphant.  Seductive and tenacious as the dreams of air supremacy continue to be, much as they automatically attach themselves to the latest machine to take to the skies, air power has not fundamentally softened the brutal face of war, nor has it made war less dirty or chaotic.

Indeed, by emboldening politicians to seek seemingly low-cost, Olympian solutions to complex human problems -- like Zeus hurling thunderbolts from the sky to skewer puny mortals -- it has fostered fantasies of illimitable power emboldened by contempt for human life.  However, just like Zeus’s obdurate and rebellious subjects, the mortals on the receiving end of death from on high have shown surprising strength in frustrating the designs of the air power gods, whether past or present. Yet the Olympian fantasy persists, a fact that requires explanation.

The Rise of Air Power

It did not take long after the Wright Brothers first put a machine in the air for a few exhilarating moments above the sandy beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December of 1903, for the militaries of industrialized countries to express interest in buying and testing airplanes.  Previously balloons had been used for reconnaissance, as in the Napoleonic wars and the U.S. Civil War, and so initially fledgling air branches focused on surveillance and intelligence-gathering.  As early as 1911, however, Italian aircraft began dropping small bombs from open-air cockpits on the enemy -- we might today call them “insurgents” -- in Libya.

World War I encouraged the development of specialized aircraft, most famously the dancing bi- and tri-winged fighter planes of the dashing “knights of the air,” as well as the more ponderous, but for the future far more important, bombers.   By the close of World War I in 1918, each side had developed multi-engine bombers like the German Gotha, which superseded the more vulnerable zeppelins.  Their mission was to fly over the trenches where the opposing armies were stalemated and take the war to the enemy’s homeland, striking fear in his heart and compelling him to surrender.  Fortunately for civilians a century ago, those bombers were too few in number, and their payloads too limited, to inflict widespread destruction, although German air attacks on England in 1917 did spread confusion and, in a few cases, panic.

Pondering the hecatombs of dead from trench warfare, air power enthusiasts of the 1920s and 1930s not surprisingly argued strongly, and sometimes insubordinately, for the decisive importance of bombing campaigns launched by independent air forces.  A leading enthusiast was Italy’s Giulio Douhet.  In his 1921 work Il dominio dell’aria (Command of the Air), he argued that in future wars strategic bombing attacks by heavily armed “battle-planes” (bombers) would produce rapid and decisive victories.  Driven by a fascist-inspired logic of victory through preemptive attack, Douhet called for all-out air strikes to destroy the enemy’s air force and its bases, followed by hammer blows against industry and civilians using high-explosive, incendiary, and poison-gas bombs.  Such blows, he predicted, would produce psychological uproar and social chaos (“shock and awe,” in modern parlance), fatally weakening the enemy’s will to resist.

As treacherous and immoral as his ideas may sound, Douhet’s intent was to shorten wars and lessen casualties -- at least for his side.  Better to subdue the enemy by pressing hard on select pressure points (even if the “pressing” was via high explosives and poison gas, and the “points” included concentrations of innocent civilians), rather than forcing your own army to bog down in bloody, protracted land wars.

That air power was inherently offensive and uniquely efficacious in winning cheap victories was a conclusion that found a receptive audience in Great Britain and the United States.  In England, Hugh Trenchard, founding father of the Royal Air Force (RAF), embraced strategic bombing as the most direct way to degrade the enemy’s will; he boldly asserted that “the moral effect of bombing stands undoubtedly to the material effect in a proportion of twenty to one.”

Even bolder was his American counterpart, William “Billy” Mitchell, famously court-martialed and romanticized as a “martyr” to air power.  (In his honor, cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy still eat in Mitchell Hall.)  At the Air Corps Tactical School in the 1930s, U.S. airmen refined Mitchell’s tenets, developing a “vital centers” theory of bombing -- the idea that one could compel an enemy to surrender by identifying and destroying his vulnerable economic nodes.  It therefore came as no accident that the U.S. entered World War II with the world’s best heavy bomber, the B-17 Flying Fortress, and a fervid belief that “precision bombing” would be the most direct path to victory.

World War II and After: Dehousing, Scorching, Boiling, and Baking the Enemy

In World War II, “strategic” air forces that focused on winning the war by heavy bombing reached young adulthood, with all the swagger associated with that stage of maturity.  The moral outrage of Western democracies that accompanied the German bombing of civilian populations in Guernica, Spain, in 1937 or Rotterdam in 1940 was quickly forgotten once the Allies sought to open a “second front” against Hitler through the air.  Four-engine strategic bombers like the B-17 and the British Lancaster flew for thousands of miles carrying bomb loads measured in tons.  From 1942 to 1945 they rained two million tons of ordnance on Axis targets in Europe, but accuracy in bombing remained elusive.

While the U.S. attempted and failed at precision daylight bombing against Germany’s “vital centers,” Britain’s RAF Bomber Command began employing what was bloodlessly termed “area bombing” at night in a “dehousing” campaign led by Arthur “Bomber” Harris.  What became an American/British combined bomber offensive killed 600,000 German civilians, including 120,000 children, reducing cities like Cologne (1942), Hamburg (1943), Berlin (1944-45), and Dresden (1945) to rubble.

Yet, contrary to the dreams of air power advocates, Germany’s will to resist remained unbroken.  The vaunted second front of aerial battle became yet another bloody attritional brawl, with hundreds of thousands of civilians joining scores of thousands of aircrews in death.

Similarly mauled but unbroken by bombing was Japan, despite an air campaign of relentless intensity that killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians.  Planned and directed by Major General Curtis LeMay, new B-29 bombers loaded with incendiaries struck Tokyo, a city made largely of wood, in March 1945, creating a firestorm that in his words “scorched and boiled and baked [the Japanese] to death.”  As many as 100,000 Japanese died in this attack.

Subsequently, 60 more cities were firebombed until the apotheosis of destruction came that August as atomic bombs incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing another 200,000 people.  It quickly became an article of faith among American air power enthusiasts that these bombs had driven Japan to surrender; together with this, the “decisive” air campaign against Germany became reason enough to justify an independent U.S. Air Force, which was created by the National Security Act of 1947.

In the total war against Nazi and Japanese terror, moral concerns, when expressed, came privately.  General Ira Eaker worried that future generations might condemn the Allied bombing campaign against Germany for its targeting of “the man in the street.”  Even LeMay, not known for introspective doubts, worried in 1945 that he and his team would likely be tried as war criminals if the U.S. failed to defeat Japan.  (So Robert McNamara, then an Army Air Force officer working for LeMay, recalled in the documentary The Fog of War.)

But moral qualms were put aside in the post-war glow of victory and as the fear rose of future battles with communism.  The Korean War (1950-1953) may have ushered in the jet age, as symbolized by the dogfights of American Sabre Jets and Soviet MiGs over the Yalu River, but it also witnessed the devastation by bombing of North Korea, even as the enemy took cover underground and refused to do what air power strategists had always assumed they would: give up.

Still, for the U.S. Air Force, the real action of that era lay largely in the realm of dystopian fantasies as it created the Strategic Air Command (SAC), which coordinated two legs of the nuclear triad, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles in silos and nuclear-armed long-range bombers. (The third was nuclear-missile-armed submarines.)  SAC kept some of those bombers carrying thermonuclear weapons in the air 24/7 as a “deterrent” to a Soviet nuclear first strike (and as a constant first strike threat of our own).  “Thinking about the unthinkable” -- that is, nuclear Armageddon -- became all the rage, with “massive retaliation” serving as the byword for air power enthusiasts.  In this way, dreams of clean victories morphed into nightmares of global thermonuclear annihilation, leaving the 1930s air power ideal of “clean” and “surgical” strikes in the dust -- for the time being.

Reaping What We Sow

Despite an unimaginably powerful nuclear deterrent that essentially couldn’t be used, the U.S. Air Force had to relearn the hard way that there remained limits to the efficacy of air power, especially when applied to low-intensity, counterinsurgency wars.  As in Korea in the 1950s, air power in the 1960s and 1970s failed to provide the winning edge in the Vietnam War, even as it spread wanton destruction throughout the Vietnamese countryside.  But it was the arrival of “smart” bombs near that war’s end that marked the revival of the fantasies of air power enthusiasts about “precision bombing” as the path to future victory.

By the 1990s, laser- and GPS-guided bombs (known collectively as PGMs, forprecision guided munitions) were relegating unguided, “dumb” bombs largely to the past.  Yet like their predecessors, PGMs proved no panacea.  In the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, for example, 50 precision “decapitation strikes” targeting dictator Saddam Hussein’s top leadership failed to hit any of their intended targets, while causing “dozens” of civilian deaths.  That same year, air power’s inability to produce decisive results on the ground after Iraq’s descent into chaos, insurrection, and civil war served as a reminder that the vaunted success of the U.S. air campaign in the First Gulf War (1991) was a fluke, not a flowering of air power’s maturity.  (Saddam Hussein made his traditionally organized military, defenseless against air power, occupy static positions after his invasion of Kuwait.)

The recent marriage of PGMs to drones, hailed as the newest “perfect weapon” in the air arsenal, has once again led to the usual fantasies about the arrival -- finally, almost 100 years late -- of clean, precise, and decisive war.  Using drones, a military need not risk even a pilot’s life in its attacks.  Yet the nature of war -- its horrors, its unpredictability, its tendency to outlive its original causes -- remains fundamentally unaltered by “precision” drone strikes.  War’s inherent fog and friction persist.  In the case of drones, that fog is often generated by faulty intelligence, the friction by malfunctioning weaponry orinnocent civilians appearing just as the Hellfire missiles are unleashed.  Rather than clean wars of decision, drone strikes decide nothing.  Instead, they produce their share of “collateral damage” that only spawns new enemies seeking revenge.

The fantasy of air war as a realm of technical decision, as an exercise in decisively finding, fixing, and dispatching the enemy, appeals to a country like the United States that idolizes technology as a way to quick fixes.  As a result, it’s hardly surprising that two administrations in Washington have ever more zealously pursued drone wars and aerial global assassination campaigns, already killing 4,700 “terrorists” and bystanders. And this has been just part of our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president’s campaign of 20,000 air strikes(only 10% of which were drone strikes) in his first term of office.  Yet despite -- or perhaps because of -- these attacks, our global war against al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and other groups like the Taliban appears no closer to ending.

And that is, in part, because the dream of air power remains just that: a fantasy, a capricious and destructive will-o’-the-wisp.  It’s a fantasy because it denies agency to enemies (and others) who invariably find ways to react, adapt, and strike back.  It’s a fantasy because, however much such attacks seem both alluringly low-risk and high-reward to the U.S. military, they become a rallying cause for those on the other end of the bombs and missiles.

A much-quoted line from the movie Apocalypse Now captured the insanity of the American air war in Vietnam.  “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,”says an Air Cav commander played by Robert Duvall.  “Smelled like... victory.”  Updated for drone warfare, this line might read: “I love the sound of drones in the morning.  Sounds like... victory.”  But will we say the same when armed drones are hovering, not only above our enemies’ heads but above ours, too, in fortress America, enforcing security and conformity while smiting citizens judged to be rebellious?

Something tells me this is not the dream that airpower enthusiasts had in mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is not an isolated incident.

The big banks literally own the politicians.

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

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

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

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

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

Another Connection Between Big Banks and Drones

There is another connection between big banks and drones.

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

And Ron Paul noted in 2007:

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

The big banks own the Federal Reserve.

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

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.

FAA takes major step in expanding drone use in America

RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (Reuters)

RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (Reuters)

US President Barack Obama has approved legislation that is expected to immediately accelerate the use of domestic surveillance drones within the United States.

On Thursday, Pres. Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, a bill that the Federal Aviation Administration’s AnneMarie Ternay describes as containing requirements for integrating unmanned aircraft systems and vehicles such as drones into the national airspace starting immediately.

With the president’s approval this week, the FAA has already begun soliciting proposals from cities across the country that are interested in becoming one of six soon-to-be established test sites where drones and UAVs will be sent into the sky as America takes the next step towards accepting the latest generation of aircraft.

The FAA says that locations in over 30 states have already showed interest in the program. Soon the agency will be tasked with picking a mere half-dozen locations so that drones can formally be introduced into official US airspace and not just strips of sky above designated areas.

Should the FAA stay on schedule, drones are likely to start flying regularly in the US by late 2015, and as many as 30,000 non-military UAVs are expected to be in the sky by the end of the decade. First, however, the FAA, drone builders and pilots will have to pick test sites to work out the kinks of a controversial aircraft.

“We expect to learn how unmanned aircraft systems operate in different environments and how they will impact air traffic operations,” FAA Chief Michael Huerta says in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “The test sites will inform the agency as we develop standards for certifying unmanned aircraft and determine necessary air traffic requirements.”

"This research will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added to the AP.

Earlier in the week, the head of the FAA’s new drone department spoke at a convention outside of Washington, DC to discuss some concerns Americans have voiced en masse lately about bringing drones to inside of America’s borders. The US Department of Homeland Security already has an arsenal of the aircraft at its disposal for use in border-patrol missions, but small-time law enforcement agencies and other federal, state and educational institutions hope to have drones of their in the near future. So far, the FAA has received at least 81 applications from entities wishing to obtain drone licenses, including police departments and universities. What exactly law enforcement could do with a drone has some Americans concerns, though, an issue that was addressed at this week’s conference.

“We currently have rules in the books that deal with releasing anything from an aircraft, period. Those rules are in place and that would prohibit weapons from being installed on a civil aircraft,” Jim Williams of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office said this week.

On the same day that President Obama signed off on the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, around 150 people from Oakland, California attended an Alameda County meeting to weigh in on demands from figures there to put drones in the sky.

“We oppose the use of public resources to buy machines to surveil its citizens,” said Michael Seigel, a member of Alameda County Against Drones, according to Wired’s Danger Room.

Earlier in the week, the FAA’s Mr. Williams dismissed those concerns, saying, “The FAA has no authority to make rules or enforce any rules relative to privacy.”

“We can ask [the industry] to take into consideration the privacy issue. … There aren’t any rules to date on that.”

The Next Generation of Surveillance: “Everything That Is A Moving Object Is Being Automatically...

Mac Slavo
February 13th, 2013
SHTFplan.com

Read by 10,390 people

The following video highlights one of the scariest surveillance technologies you’ve ever seen.

With Congress having recently authorized 30,000 drones to patrol America’s skies by 2015, this technology will soon become available to law enforcement officials all over the country.

It’s creator, Yiannis Antoniades, says that it’s the next generation of surveillance and as you’ll see, it’s capabilities are so advanced that it can actively scan an area encompassing 15 square miles – about the area of a medium sized city – from an altitude of 20,000 feet.

Moreover, it tracks every single moving object in its field of view, streaming the high definition video back to monitoring stations on the ground.

With 1.8 billion pixels it is the world’s highest resolution camera. ARGUS fits inside the belly of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

Also known as Wide Area Persistent Stare, Argus is the equivalent of having up to 100 predators look at an area the size of a medium sized city at once.

Everything that is a moving object is being automatically tracked… You can see individuals crossing the street. You can see individuals walking in parking lots. There’s actually enough resolution to be able to see people waving their arms or what kind of clothes they wear.

You can pick the location of where you produce these images anywhere in the entire field of view.

Antoniades can open up to sixty five windows at once and see objects as small as six inches on the ground.

ARGUS streams live to the ground and also stores everything. One million terabytes of video per day.

ARGUS may be mounted on an armed UAV, a long range platform, or a developmental craft called the solar eagle that may some day stay aloft for years at a time.

We’re moving towards an increasingly electronic society where our movements are going to be tracked.

If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

But, with hundreds of thousands of laws on the books and definitions for terrorist activity expanding to everything from minting your own silver coin to bringing a toy bubble gun to school, just about everyone is a terrorist or criminal in America today.

Now, consider this technology in the context of extra-judicial drone strikes initiated by artificial intelligence assessment parameters that automatically determine if you are a threat or not, and you can see how dangerous drones armed with these imaging systems will become.

How long before these military grade assault weapons of mass destruction are used on American citizens right here at home?

Author: Mac Slavo
Views: Read by 10,390 people
Date: February 13th, 2013
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

Copyright Information: Copyright SHTFplan and Mac Slavo. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.shtfplan.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

Should An Armed Drone Be Dispatched to Kill Christopher Dorner?

Christopher Jordan Dorner has declared 'war' against former LAPD colleagues and their families in a manifesto posted online. (Photograph: Reuters)A major manhunt has been underway in the Los Angeles area for Chris Dorner, the former LAPD officer, Navy reservist, and trained marksman who is the prime suspect in the murder of three people, including the daughter of an LAPD captain (who previously represented him in a disciplinary proceeding) and her fiance. A lengthy Facebook message attributed to Dorner vows that he will continue to kill not only members of the LAPD but also their children and spouses until he receives a public apology for what he believes was his unfair firing:

"This will be a war of attrition . . . . I will utilize OSINT to discover your residences, spouses workplaces, and children's schools. IMINT to coordinate and plan attacks on your fixed locations. . . . HUMINT will be utilized to collect personal schedules of targets. I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I'm terminating yours. . . . I know your significant others routine, your children's best friends and recess. I know Your Sancha's gym hours and routine. I assure you that the casualty rate will be high."

Surveillance drones are now being used to try to locate him. LAPD are so apprehensive that they have already mistakenly shot at innocent people when they saw vehicles resembling the one they thought belonged to Dorner. Authorities suspect he's hiding in "the icy wilderness" of Big Bear east of Los Angeles which, reported AP, is "filled with thick forests and jagged peaks, that creates peril as much for Dorner as the officers hunting him."

Here's my question: if the surveillance drones detect his location, should the lives of law enforcement agents be risked, along with other civilians, in an attempt to apprehend this highly-trained warrior? Why shouldn't an armed drone instead be immediately dispatched once his location is ascertained and simply kill him?

For those of you who believe it's possible to know someone's guilt without a trial, there is very little doubt about his guilt. Nobody has contested the authenticity of the confession posted in his name, nor the threats of further killing. He admitted and justified the killings on his Facebook entry.

For those of you who believe there is a clear definition of "terrorism", Dorner meets it easily. LAPD chief Charlie Beck today said that Dorner was engaging in "domestic terrorism". That's because he has not only threatened to kill random LAPD officers but also their children and family members in order to terrorize the department into publicly apologizing to him. He vowed to wage what he called "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" in pursuit of his goal. As intended, the entire community is in terror. If that's not "domestic terrorism" under the conventional defintion, then nothing is.

Now obviously, if attempts are made to apprehend Dorner and he uses lethal force to resist, then shooting or killing him would be justified, uncontroversially so. The FBI just killed a kidnapper in Alabama when he began shooting at the agents who tried to arrest him, and nobody objected. Law enforcement agents always have the right to defend themselves against people they're trying to arrest if lethal force is used to resist. That's an easy case, and not what I'm asking.

Instead, suppose the LAPD locates Dorner in a cabin in a remote area of the California wilderness, just sitting alone watching television. Why should they possibly risk the lives of police officers to apprehend him? Why would anyone care if this terrorist's rights are protected? What's the argument for not simply killing him the moment he's located? Given that everyone seems certain of his guilt, that he's threatened further killings of innocents, that he declared himself at "war", and that the risk from capturing him would be high, what danger is created by simply shooting a Hellfire missile wherever he's found?

Or suppose that, as feared, he makes his way into Mexico. What's the objection to sending an armed drone to killing him there?

The impetus for my asking is obviously the widespread support for killing US citizen Anwar Awlaki without a trial or charges based on suspicions of guilt: it's far from clear that apprehending Awlaki would have been infeasible, and Dorner poses at least as much risk to Americans as Awlaki did, almost certainly more so. But leave that aside: independent of comparisons to any other case, including Awlaki, what would be wrong or dangerous, if anything, about simply droning this domestic Terrorist to death even in the absence of lethal resistance? What would be the harm from doing that? What are the reasons not to, if any?

Question posed on CNN

As Cenk Uygur notes in the video clip below, this question - why not send an armed drone to kill Dorner? - was posed with obvious sincerity by CNN's Erin Burnett late last week. Given how trained the citizenry has become to think this way, this sort of approach is inevitable and therefore deserves serious discussion:

UPDATE

This doesn't pertain to any of the substantive points raised here, but while some media reports (including the one linked above) have stated that surveillance drones are being used in the hunt for Dorner, other accounts call that claim into question.

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited

Glenn Greenwald

US plans drones for ‘new Asia threat’

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

MFB/MFB

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

drone

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

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

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

Washington residents take away expensive new police toys.

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

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

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

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn explained:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

In a Major Privacy Victory, Seattle Mayor Orders Police to Dismantle Its Drone Program...

In an amazing victory for privacy advocates and drone activists, yesterday, Seattle’s mayor ordered the city's police agency to cease trying use surveillance drones and dismantle its drone program. The police will return the two drones they previously purchased with a Department of Homeland Security grant to the manufacturer.

A victory for privacy advocates, the Mayor of Seattle has ordered police to dismantle a domestic drone program (Photo: Casey McNerthney/seattlepi.com) EFF has been warning of the privacy dangers surveillance drones pose to US citizens for more than a year now. In May of last year, we urged concerned citizens to take their complaints to their local governments, given Congress has been slow to act on any privacy legislation. The events of Seattle proves this strategy can work and should serve as a blueprint for local activism across the country.

Back in early 2012, the Seattle city council was told that the Seattle police agency had obtained an authorization to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But they did not find out from the police; they found out from a reporter who called after the council after he saw Seattle’s name on the list obtained by EFF as part of our lawsuit against the FAA.

City council was understandably not happy, and the police agency was forced to appear before the council and apologize. It then vowed to work with the ACLU of Washington and the FAA to develop guidelines to make sure drones wouldn’t violate Seattle citizens’ privacy. But as long as the guidelines weren’t passed in a binding city ordinance, there’d be no way to enforce them.

After a townhall meeting held by police, in which citizens showed up in droves and angrily denounced the city’s plans, some reporters insinuated that city counsel members’ jobs could be on the line if they did not pass strict drone legislation protecting its citizens privacy.

Documents obtained by MuckRock and EFF in October as part of our 2012 drone census showed that the Seattle police were trying to buy two more drones despite the controversy. But that ended yesterday as the Mayor put a stop to the program completely.

Critics of the privacy protests said the participants were exaggerating the capabilities of the Seattle drones, given they would only fly for less than an hour at a time and are much smaller than the Predator drones the military flies overseas and Department of Homeland Security flies at home.

But while Seattle’s potential drones may not have been able to stay in the air for long, similar drones have already been developed and advertised by drone manufacturers with the capability to stay in the air for hours or days at a time. In fact, Lockheed Martin has been bragging about a drone that weights 13.2 pounds (well within the FAA’s weight limits) that can be recharged by a laser on the ground and stay in the air indefinitely.

Since the Seattle protests have heated up, similar complaints have been heard at local city counsels and state legislatures across the country. At least thirteen states are now considering legislation to restrict drone use to protect privacy, and there are also members of Congress on both sides of the aisle pushing the same thing.

Here in the Bay Area, we’ve experienced a similar situation. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office tried to sneak through drone funding without a public hearing and told the county board of supervisors it only wanted to use the drone for emergency purposes. Yet in internal documents obtained by EFF and MuckRock as part of our 2012 drone census, the Sheriff’s Office said it wanted to use the drone for “suspicious persons” and “large crowd control disturbances.”

When EFF and ACLU held a press conference pointing out this discrepancy, the county backtracked and is now attempting to write privacy guidelines that could potentially be turned into binding law. We will keep you updated on further developments.

But regardless, it’s important that privacy advocates take the lesson from Seattle and apply it all over the country. This is an important privacy victory, and like we said back in May, local governments will listen to our concerns, so let’s make our voice heard.

Wrong on Drone Hits

Wrong on Drone Hits

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share
Posted on Feb 7, 2013
The White House/Pete Souza

By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON—If George W. Bush had told us that the “war on terror” gave him the right to execute an American citizen overseas with a missile fired from a drone aircraft, without due process or judicial review, I’d have gone ballistic. It makes no difference that the president making this chilling claim is Barack Obama. What’s wrong is wrong.

The moral and ethical questions posed by the advent of drone warfare—which amounts to assassination by remote control—are painfully complex. We had better start working out some answers because, as an administration spokesman told me recently, drone attacks are “the new normal” in the ongoing struggle against terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.

But one of the few bright lines we can and should recognize is that in the exceedingly rare instances when a U.S. citizen may be targeted, our government bears a special burden.

The Obama administration acknowledged as much in a secret Justice Department “white paper” obtained this week by NBC News. The document laid out a legal argument that the president, without oversight, may order a “lethal operation” against a citizen who is known to be a “senior operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an affiliated group.

This is not an academic question. In 2011, a CIA drone attack in Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who had become a leading figure in the terrorist franchise known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Two weeks later, another drone attack killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son.

Awlaki was believed to have been directly involved in the near-miss “Underwear Bomber” plot to down a civilian airliner on Christmas Day 2009, as well as the planting of two bombs—fortunately, discovered before they could explode—on Chicago-bound cargo planes in 2010. Perpetrators of several other attacks cited Awlaki’s fiery sermons and, in some cases, his personal messages as their inspiration.

I shed no tears for him. But as the Justice Department document admits, U.S. citizens have constitutional rights. I am deeply troubled by the notion that the president can unilaterally decide those rights no longer apply.

The white paper specifies the conditions that must be met before a citizen is targeted for obliteration. Among them is that he or she must be planning an “imminent” terrorist attack. The document then argues for a remarkably elastic definition of imminence—which, you may be surprised to learn, apparently does not mean “in the immediate future.”

That part is shaky, but I accept that Awlaki was a legitimate target. What I don’t accept is that the president or a “high-level official” gets to make the call about without judicial oversight. When the government wants to violate a citizen’s right to privacy with wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance, a judge from a special panel—the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court—has to give approval. Surely there should be at least as much judicial review when the government wants to violate a citizen’s right not to be blown to smithereens.

This oversight would occur when the decision was made to place a citizen on the “kill list” of targets—meaning there could be no “hot pursuit” scenario in which a drone had a target in its sights but the aircraft’s controllers had to get a judge’s approval before firing. Keep in mind that the question of targeting a citizen would come up only rarely. Also keep in mind that the “drone court,” like the surveillance court, would surely grant almost every government request.

The practical impact of providing for judicial review in targeting citizens would be practically nil. But doing so would help us establish a conceptual and legal framework for this new, unsettling form of warfare.

The one thing we know is this: There will be drones.

No president could become aware that specific enemies are planning attacks against the United States and not take action. This would be an unconscionable dereliction of duty. If the plot is being developed in a place like Yemen or Somalia, what are the options? Order a Special Forces commando raid, risking American lives? Mount a full-scale invasion? Or send up a flying robot, armed with a missile, and foil the plot by eliminating the plotters?

As drones become more sophisticated, the range of missions for which they are used will grow. And as the United States demonstrates the military potential of drones, other nations will build their own robot fleets. We need to realize that the future is now.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2013, Washington Post Writers Group


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2012 TruthDig

Amy Goodman

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

Iran exhibits evidence of US drone decoding

A grab taken from the Iranian state-run Press TV on December 8, 2011 shows what Iranian officials claim is the US RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran on December 4, 2011.(AFP Photo / Press TV)

A grab taken from the Iranian state-run Press TV on December 8, 2011 shows what Iranian officials claim is the US RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran on December 4, 2011.(AFP Photo / Press TV)

Iran for the first time showcased supposed evidence it has managed to access some of the data stored on a US ‘Sentinel’ drone it captured back in December 2011. The claims are based on aerial footage aired by an Iranian TV channel.

Earlier in April, the country’s military officials announced that Iranian experts have decoded the drone's intelligence gathering system and hard discs, but provided little proof of the breakthrough.

But the newly released video details the first examples of the unmanned air vehicle’s activities, including flying around the Kandahar airfield (KAF) in Afghanistan, a building under surveillance and a Reaper drone parked at the KAF.


embed video
Footage broadcast by Iranian Press TV

­Interestingly, the drone’s erase sequence never kicked in when it lost control, making data recovery possible.

But how the so-called ‘Beast of Kandahar’ ended up crash-landing in Iran is still a mystery. The US claimed it was only patrolling the Afghan-Iranian border when it lost control. But that does not explain how the drone was discovered 225 kilometers inside Iranian airspace.

On 9 December 2011, Iran filed a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council over the violation of its airspace. However, only three days later the US asked for its drone back, much to the dismay of Tehran, who replied saying "it seems he [Obama] has forgotten that Iran’s airspace was violated, spying operations were undertaken, international laws were violated and that Iran’s internal affairs were interfered with. … Instead of an official apology and admitting to this violation, they are making this request."

But this did not mark the last time a drone confrontation would take place between the two nations. Less than a year later, in November 2012, Iran for the first time took down a ‘Predator’ drone over the Persian Gulf, with the US claiming it was flying over international waters at the time.

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share
Posted on Feb 6, 2013

By Amy Goodman

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

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

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


© 2013 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every week.

Previous item: Drone Strikes Test Legal Grounds for War on Terror



New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

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.

Spy Agencies Plan ‘Black Box’ Style Web Surveillance

British intelligence services are planning to significantly increase the level of web surveillance on UK citizens. Agencies would use 'black box' style snooping devices to monitor nearly all web activity including Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

Drones: The Ultimate Stalkers

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

Shouldn’t this be illegal?

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

Being concerned about such things is genuinely all-American.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so with drones. At least yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drone Warfare

Drone Warfare

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share
Posted on Feb 3, 2013

Mike Keefe, Cagle Cartoons

Click to see more Truthdig Cartoons

Pemex Building Bombed in Mexico

Buffalo Wing Shortage

Life in the Shadows

GOP Reaches Out

More Below the Ad


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Drone Warfare

Drone Warfare

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share
Posted on Feb 3, 2013

Mike Keefe, Cagle Cartoons

Click to see more Truthdig Cartoons

Pemex Building Bombed in Mexico

Buffalo Wing Shortage

Life in the Shadows

GOP Reaches Out

More Below the Ad


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Drone Warfare

Drone Warfare

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share
Posted on Feb 3, 2013

Mike Keefe, Cagle Cartoons

Click to see more Truthdig Cartoons

Pemex Building Bombed in Mexico

Buffalo Wing Shortage

Life in the Shadows

GOP Reaches Out

More Below the Ad


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Barack Obama, Drone Ranger

If you’ve seen the movie Zero Dark Thirty, you know why it has triggered a new debate over our government’s use of torture after 9/11.

The movie’s up for an Oscar as best motion picture. We’ll know later this month if it wins. Some people leave the theater claiming the film endorses and even glorifies the use of torture to obtain information that finally led to finding and killing Osama bin Laden. Not true, say the filmmakers, but others argue the world is better off without bin Laden in it, no matter how we had to get him. What’s more, they say, there hasn’t been a major terrorist attack on American soil since 9/1 — if we have to use an otherwise immoral practice to defend ourselves against such atrocities, we’re okay with it. Or so the argument goes.

The story of bin Laden’s death is just one aspect of the international manhunt the United States has pursued, a worldwide dragnet of detention and death that has raised troubling questions and fervent debate over the fight against terrorism.  What about the undermining of civil liberties here at home? The rights of suspects? The secret surveillance of American citizens? The swollen executive powers first claimed by George W. Bush and now by Barack Obama? 

Soon after he succeeded Bush, President Obama announced he would not permit torture and would close down the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. He also said:

“The orders that I sign today should send an unmistakable signal that our actions in defense of liberty will be just as our cause. And that we the people will uphold our fundamental values as vigilantly as we protect our security. Once again, America’s moral example must be the bedrock and the beacon of our global leadership”

Four years later, Guantanamo remains open. In fact, just a few days ago, the State Department announced it was eliminating the office assigned to close the prison and move its detainees.

Because of logjams in the process of military justice, alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others have yet to come to trial. And there’s continuing controversy about the lack of oversight and transparency surrounding the detention and interrogation of suspects both here and abroad.

Meanwhile, President Obama has stepped up the use of unmanned drones against suspected terrorists abroad, not only in Afghanistan but in countries where we’re not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. As the Brookings Institution’s Peter Singer wrote in The New York Times a year ago, “… A new technology is short-circuiting the decision-making process for what used to be the most important choice a democracy could make. Something that would have previously been viewed as a war is simply not being treated like a war.”

Just last week, as reports came of more deaths by drone — including three attacks in Yemen, with 13 dead — the United Nations announced an investigation into the legality of drones and their deadly toll on the innocent. According to UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson:

“The central objective of the investigation… is to look at the evidence that drone strikes and other forms of remote targeted killing have caused disproportionate civilian casualties in some instances…  It’s both right as a matter of principle, and inevitable as a matter of political reality, that the international community should now be focusing attention on the standards applicable to this technological development.”

Since Barack Obama took office, the aerial assaults also have killed three U.S. citizens, raising additional arguments as to whether the president has the right to order the death of Americans suspected of terrorism without due process of law. One of those controversial drone attacks involved the killing of Anwar al-Awalki, an American citizen and radical Muslim cleric who had moved to Yemen with his family. He was said to be the brains behind repeated attempts to attack the U.S., including the Christmas day underwear bomber plot in 2009 that would have blown up a passenger jet over Detroit. Also dead was American citizen Samir Khan, editor of “Inspire,” al Qaeda ‘s online propaganda magazine, and two weeks later, in a separate drone attack,  al-Awalki’s 16-year-old son, born in Denver.

A key player in our government’s current drone program is John Brennan, who during the Bush presidency was a senior official at the Central Intelligence Agency and head of the National Counterterrorism Center. Reportedly, Barack Obama considered offering him the top job at the CIA in 2008, but public opposition — in reaction to the charges that the Bush White House had approved torture — caused Brennan to withdraw his name from consideration. Nonetheless, Obama kept him on as an adviser, and now, despite Brennan’s past notoriety, Obama officially has chosen him to head the CIA. This time, there’s been little criticism of the decision.

We hope Brennan’s upcoming confirmation hearings on February 7 will offer Congressional critics the chance to press him on drone attacks and whether the Obama administration in its fight against terror is functioning within the rule of law — or abusing presidential power when there has been no formal declaration of war.

US considering new drone base in Africa – report

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a small US-made drone drone that the Ugandan military uses in Somalia to fight al-Qaida linked militants (AFP Photo / Pool / Jacquelyn Martin)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a small US-made drone drone that the Ugandan military uses in Somalia to fight al-Qaida linked militants (AFP Photo / Pool / Jacquelyn Martin)

The US is planning to consolidate its position in Africa with a new drone outpost in Niger, with the stated purpose of providing unarmed surveillance support to French efforts in Mali and keeping tabs on al-Qaeda elements on the continent.

­In the future, though, the US command does not rule out using the base to conduct military strikes if the situation deteriorates or the extremist threat increases, military officials told The New York Times.

In the meantime, the US military's Africa Command is reviewing the options for the base with other countries in the region, including Burkina Faso.

The Africa Command’s scheme still needs the go-ahead from the Department of Defense, President Barack Obama and Niger. No final decision had been made, but a status-of-forces agreement has been reached between the two governments in Niger on Monday, providing legal protection to American troops in the African country.

If the drone base plan goes through, the facility could become home to as many as 300 American military and contractual personnel.

The United States so far has only one permanent base in Africa, in Djibouti. The drone base there is widely used for missions in nearby Yemen and allows access to Somalian and Sudanese airspace. A base in Niger would drastically shorten the response time to developing situations in the region.

The ongoing discussions about the installation follow the French military intervention in Mali and the Algerian hostage crisis, which left at least 37 foreigners dead and highlighted the threat from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

On Wednesday, outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised not to let northern Mali become a “safe haven” for extremists in the region as al-Qaeda-affiliated insurgents have become a “a very serious, ongoing threat.”

Last week, Washington sent approximately 100 military trainers to nations that are prepared to, or have already deployed, troops to Mali – including Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Ghana.

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

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

From -

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

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

Via NY Times,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

...

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

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

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

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

...

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

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Report: US Shops for New Drone Base in Africa

Reporting in the New York Times Monday reveals that the US government is busy in west Africa looking for a country willing to host a military base for a portion its fleet of Predator drones.

US government is looking for a new home in Africa for a base to operate a fleet of Predator drones. (Photo: Air Force) Officials who spoke to the newspaper say that only un-armed surveillance drones would be part of an original plan to establish a base, but "they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes" if they consider it necessary in the future.

According to the Times:

If the base is approved, the most likely location for it would be in Niger, a largely desert nation on the eastern border of Mali, where French and Malian troops are now battling Qaeda-backed fighters who control the northern part of that country. The American military’s Africa Command is also discussing options for the base with other countries in the region, including Burkina Faso, officials said.

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

Established critics of the US war on terror will not be surprised at the news, as the Pentagon and CIA have been fighting aspects of the so-called 'war on terror' in Africa for much of the last decade. However, establishing a US drone base inside Niger, Burkina Faso or elsewhere will be a clear escalation on the part of AFRICOM.

As Dashiell Bennett writes at The Atlantic,  a new US base "almost certainly guarantees a long-term U.S. presence in North Africa." And continues:

It would also send a clear signal that the U.S. now considers North Africa to be a theater in the never-ending, non-declared war on terror (with lowercase letters). Now that Afghanistan and Iraq are officially "over," the focus appears to be moving West, to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, to the ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria, to the scattered militias in Libya, and toward terrorist attackers like those who hit the Algeria gas facility this month. This just continues the pattern of the Sahara region drawing more and more of America's military resources and attention. And history shows that once the Pentagon establishes a presence in an foreign country, it becomes almost impossible to get them to leave.

It also proves that drones will continue to be the preferred first line of defense overseas. The Times also reports that Americans have already signed a "status of forces" agreement with Niger, the likely location of the new base. There are still several steps of approval to go through, but the wheels are in motion, and it won't be long before the drones will be in the sky.

_________________________

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.

Drone Wars: “The Ethics of Killing Civilians”

While Americans debate the ethics of killing American citizens abroad without a trial, as happened when a U.S. predator drone targeted U.S.-born Al Qaeda campaigners Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan last month, there has been little talk about the ethics of killing civilians.

In Yemen, however, the subject is on everyone’s mind.

Although drones have been flying over the country for almost a decade, the frequency of the attacks have increased significantly in recent years. Locals in southern Yemen, where the drone strikes are primary concentrated, said that these days, the U.S. drones have been bombing on a near daily basis.

Yemen drone wars 2011 10 7Yemeni boys vent their anger at a rally in Sanaa on Sept. 30, 2011. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty)

The practice of using unmanned aerial vehicles to target suspected terrorists in southern Yemen has had myriad repercussions, beyond just civilian casualties. Local government officials say outside of the psychological impact of hearing the endless buzz of drones flying overhead, they have had an economic impact on the region, as well as a political one.

Despite the claims of large numbers of civilian deaths, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a controversial U.S. ally in the war on terror, has always supported the drones. As a result — and likely the reason for his continued support, analysts say — the United States remained largely quiet during the massive protests that engulfed the country earlier this year, only backing an internationally-brokered plan for a transfer of power after his security forces opened fire on unarmed activists in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital.

Saleh’s cooperation with the United States, and his support of the air strikes, has further enraged average Yemenis and is often cited as one of the reasons why millions of people have risen up against his government over the last eight months.

“The Saleh regime allowed the U.S. to intervene and desecrate our homeland from end to end,” said a local politician in the rural village of Muajala, located in southern Abyan Province, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Yemen has been turned into Afghanistan and its people, either in mountains or valleys, were turned into [members] of Al Qaeda.”

The political repercussions don’t stop with the protests.

The Drone Wars: The humans behind the technology

In May 2010, an errant U.S drone strike killed Jabr Al-Shabwani, the popular deputy governor of Marib Province, in the country’s east. Al-Shabwani had been mediating a discussion between militants and the government when the hellfire missile struck. The death of Al Shabwani outraged Yemenis across the country. And the government approval of the drone strikes has stoked separatist sentiments in the south that have plagued the country for generations.

“Our reaction [to the presence of drones] is like any Yemeni’s. It is a violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and a crime committed against the Yemeni people,” said Ahmed Al-Shabwani, the deputy governor’s brother.

The Al-Shabwani family retaliated, carrying out a series of attacks against the country’s oil and power industry, demanding that Saleh stop cooperating with the U.S. drone program.

Yemeni Vice President Abd Rabo Mansur Hadi, in a speech in July, revealed that the United States was providing “logistical” support to the Yemeni military in their operations against militants in the country’s south. Later, after President Saleh returned from Saudi Arabia after being injured in an assassination attempt on his palace, Saleh himself thanked the United States, as well as Saudi Arabia, for their help in fighting militants in southern Yemen.

“The drones fly over Marib every 24 hours and there is not a day that passes that we don’t see them. The atmosphere has become weary because of the presence of U.S. drones and the fear that they could strike at any time. The drones themselves are getting inaccurate information … and that is what happened when they martyred Sheikh Jabr Al-Shabwani,” said Ibrahim Al-Shabwani, another one of the deputy governor’s brothers.

“Marib’s sovereignty has been breached. We demand that they [the Yemeni and American governments] give us the truth, otherwise disastrous things will happen to either Americans or Yemenis,” he added.

Although, since no one keeps track, it’s nearly impossible to tally just how many civilians have been killed in drone strikes, local reports put the number well into the hundreds or more.

Days before the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound jet liner in 2009, the Obama administration authorized a cruise missile strike on Muajala against suspected Al Qaeda militants. Fifty-two civilians were killed in that attack, many of who were women and children.

“There were elements of Al Qaeda about three kilometers away from civilians when the missiles hit,” said Yaslam Al-Anbory, a resident of Muajala, whose relative was killed in the 2009 missile strike. “But the majority of those killed were civilians.”

Locals claim that the drones have been only marginally more accurate. While the U.S. government hails the killing of Awlaki has a major success in the fight against Al Qaeda around the world, Yemenis themselves, who say they have barely heard of the man, are forlorn. They know that with every perceived success, the drone program gains legitimacy. And they are worried that more civilians will be killed.

Today, with little success, some relatives are seeking justice for the loved ones they have lost.

“We have asked for compensation from the government but have received nothing. I swear nothing was paid. We demand fair compensation from America,” Al-Anbory said.

Additionally, the link between the failing Yemeni economy and American drone and missile strikes is a strong one, according to Yemeni political analyst Abdul Ghani Al-Iryani.

For instance, as tribes continue to attack Yemen’s already meager oil infrastructure in retaliation for the death of Jabr Al Shabwani, the economic cost is felt.

“That one drone strike in May of last year has cost Yemen over $1 billion,” he said.

US gives Afghanistan fleet of drones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACLU of Florida Statement Applauding Committee Passage of Drone Regulation Bill

TALLAHASSEE - January 15 - Today, the Florida Senate Committee on Criminal Justice unanimously voted in favor of Senate Bill 92, authored by Senator Joe Negron (R – District 32). SB 92 seeks to put needed controls on law enforcement’s use of unmanned surveillance drones.

The following statement may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida:

“We applaud Senator Negron for taking leadership on this critical issue, and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee for making this bill a priority for the first days of legislative committee meetings.

“This is the first piece of legislation voted out of committee this year, and the leadership we have seen on this issue could make our state the first in the nation to regulate the use of drones by local law enforcement.

“The ACLU has serious concerns about unregulated, warrantless use of unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance technology to collect information about individuals. The pace by which surveillance technology has evolved in recent years has so far outstripped the pace at which laws have adapted to protect individuals’ privacy.

“Strict controls are needed to help guide law enforcement in using surveillance technology. Without those limits, we risk inching further into a society under constant and permanent surveillance.

ACLU of Florida Statement Applauding Committee Passage of Drone Regulation Bill

TALLAHASSEE - January 15 - Today, the Florida Senate Committee on Criminal Justice unanimously voted in favor of Senate Bill 92, authored by Senator Joe Negron (R – District 32). SB 92 seeks to put needed controls on law enforcement’s use of unmanned surveillance drones.

The following statement may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida:

“We applaud Senator Negron for taking leadership on this critical issue, and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee for making this bill a priority for the first days of legislative committee meetings.

“This is the first piece of legislation voted out of committee this year, and the leadership we have seen on this issue could make our state the first in the nation to regulate the use of drones by local law enforcement.

“The ACLU has serious concerns about unregulated, warrantless use of unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance technology to collect information about individuals. The pace by which surveillance technology has evolved in recent years has so far outstripped the pace at which laws have adapted to protect individuals’ privacy.

“Strict controls are needed to help guide law enforcement in using surveillance technology. Without those limits, we risk inching further into a society under constant and permanent surveillance.

Flying Towards War? Drone Race Signals Escalation in China-Japan Standoff

The development and acquisition of drones has become crucial to the ever-expanding arms race between China and Japan, as tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea could soon reach boiling point. Weaknesses in Japan's surveillance capability...

Florida sheriff wants drones to monitor civilians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As reported by Long War Journal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This silence shrouds the cold and callous manner in which civilian deaths are disregarded by the president when it comes to counting the number of fatalities resulting from his death-by-drone campaign. “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties,” the New York Times reported in an article published May 29, 2012. When read in conjunction with the headline from an Associated Press article reading “Iraq to Stop Counting Civilian Dead,” a picture of global casualness as to casualties begins to emerge.

The Times clarified: “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” (Emphasis added.)

The highly informative New York Times piece illuminates much of the macabre methodology of aggregating the names of enemies of the state to President Obama’s proscription list.

Recounting the scene at one of the regularly scheduled Tuesday intelligence briefings at the White House, Jo Becker and Scott Shane wrote, “The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.”

It cannot be too soberly restated that these seemingly cold-blooded conferences are occurring every week in the Oval Office and are presided over by the president of the United States.

That last fact is essential if one is to understand the era into which our Republic has entered. The president of the United States, in this case Barack Obama, sits in a chair in the White House rifling through dossiers of suspected terrorists. After listening to the advice of his claque of counselors, it is the president himself who designates who of the lineup is to be killed. As the New York Times explains: “Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.”

There is a salient question that the president would likely laugh at were it to be posed to him: Where is the constitutional authority for creating and issuing kill orders?

The presidential presumption of guilt by association followed by the autocratic order of a lethal drone strike rightly worries many constitutionalists and friends of liberty. In fact, many questions prompted by the president’s drone program remain unanswered. Why can’t these alleged “terrorists” be tried in our federal court system? For decades those accused of terroristic crimes have been formally charged with those crimes, had those charges heard before an impartial federal judge, and been permitted to mount a defense to those crimes.

Due process as a check on monarchical power was included in the Magna Carta of 1215. This list of grievances and demands codified the king’s obligation to obey written laws or be punished by his subjects. Article 39 of the Magna Carta says: “No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Over the years, the Magna Carta was occasionally revised and amended. In 1354, the phrase “due process of law” appeared for the first time. The Magna Carta as amended in 1354 says: “No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”

This fundamental restraint on the royal presumption of the power to lop off heads on command was incorporated by our Founders in the Bill of Rights, particularly in the Fifth Amendment that says in relevant part: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

President Obama’s nearly daily approval of drone-delivered assassinations is an effrontery to over 650 years of our Anglo-American law’s protection from autocratic decrees of death without due process of law. When any president usurps the power to place names on a kill list and then have those people summarily executed without due process, he places our Republic on a trajectory toward tyranny and government-sponsored terrorism.

Finally, one wonders where the pacifist bloc of the coalition that elected Barack Obama in 2008 has gone now that there candidate has become president and not only continued his predecessors program of drone diplomacy, but has accelerated it.

From 2004-2007, President George W. Bush authorized only 10 drone strikes. During Barack Obama’s first year in office — 2009 — that number increased by more than 500 percent.

Every time a U.S. drone fires a Hellfire missile at a “compound” and kills “militants,” every one of those uncounted, unnamed, unindicted victims — regardless of guilt or innocence — was assassinated, not executed. Execution implies justice and American justice requires due process.

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He can be reached at [email protected] This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Drones Over New York City?

In a world in which the NSA has access to everything, including - soon - one's bank accounts, because "the government is there to protect you"...

Spy drones heading to eastern Congo

M23 rebels withdraw from the city of Goma in the eastern Congo on December 1, 2012.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have expressed support for a proposal by the United Nations to deploy surveillance drones along Congo’s eastern border.

In October 2012, UN experts issued a report, in which they said that Rwanda and Uganda continued to support the March 23 movement (M23) rebels, who had set up a parallel government in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu in eastern Congo.

On Tuesday, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said he had asked the Security Council for three aircraft-size drones to deploy along the border in Congo’s mountainous eastern region.

"The Congolese government welcomes this proposition," Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende said in Kinshasa.

"The deployment of three unarmed drones will allow international troops to refine their management of the problematic border which separates DRC and Rwanda,” he added.

Uganda, which has been selected as the mediator for the talks between the Congolese government and M23 rebels, also expressed its support for the plan on the condition the drones are not used for combat missions.

"Drones can be used for two purposes: You use them for intelligence or for fighting. If a drone is for intelligence and it respects sovereignty, it will be alright," Ugandan Defense Minister Cris