Docstoc

Secret bases_ hi-tech spy planes as US drone warfare expands

Document Sample
Secret bases_ hi-tech spy planes as US drone warfare expands Powered By Docstoc
					Secret bases, hi-tech spy planes as US
expands Africa intel
rt.com
June 14, 2012

The US is planning to expand secret intelligence bases throughout Africa with a view to
combating terrorism in the region, says a new report by the Washington Post. It is the latest in a
US push to militarize its presence on the continent.

The plans include the deployment of spy planes equipped with high-tech surveillance
technology.

The US is set to extend its influence, opening a number of intelligence air bases “from the
fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator,” said the Washington Post.

The initiative dates back to 2007 and is indicative of the rapid expansion of US Special Forces
operations in the region as part of the decade-long war against Al-Qaeda.

The US will use the strategically-placed bases to launch spy planes disguised as private aircraft
kitted-out with a range of sensors able to record video, track infrared heat trails and tap into radio
and mobile phone signals.

The reasoning behind the ratcheting-up of surveillance on the African continent by the US is the
increasing presence of terrorist cells that could potentially destabilize the region.

The Washington Post said that the US government currently has a number of intelligence
facilities across Africa, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Seychelles, Burkina Faso and
Mauritania.

The bases in Burkina Faso and Mauritania are used to spy on Al-Qaeda.

The US military has expressed concerns over the growing influence of the Nigerian terrorist sect
Boko Haram, blamed for a wave of bombings in the country in December and Al-Qaeda affiliate
Al-Shabab in Somalia.

In addition, 100 special troops are currently in action in Uganda to hunt for Joseph Kony, the
leader of a brutal guerrilla group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Some state department officials have questioned the necessity to step-up a US presence in Africa
given that many of the terrorist groups active on the continent represent no direct threat to the
US.
In spite of doubts the US continues to rack up its presence in Africa. Last month the Army Times
confirmed US military plans to deploy over 3,000 troops across the continent as part of a
“regionally aligned force concept.”

US to maintain ‘Light Footprint’ in Africa?

Officially the US is painting an altogether different picture of its operations in Africa. Army
General Carter F. Ham top US Africa command officer said that the US is not seeking permanent
military bases in the region.

“In Africa, I would say a light footprint is consistent with what we need and consistent with the
defense guidance,” said General Carter.

The general said he recognized that some African nations were concerned over increased US
military presence across Africa, but stressed that this did not necessarily mean the US would be
establishing more bases there.

However, in a testimony to US Congress in March he said that he wanted to increase US
surveillance and reconnaissance in Africa.

“Without operating locations on the continent, ISR [intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance] capabilities would be curtailed, potentially endangering US security,” he said.



ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Secret bases, hi-tech spy planes as US
expands Africa intel
rt.com
June 14, 2012

The US is planning to expand secret intelligence bases throughout Africa with a view to
combating terrorism in the region, says a new report by the Washington Post. It is the latest in a
US push to militarize its presence on the continent.

The plans include the deployment of spy planes equipped with high-tech surveillance
technology.

The US is set to extend its influence, opening a number of intelligence air bases “from the
fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator,” said the Washington Post.

The initiative dates back to 2007 and is indicative of the rapid expansion of US Special Forces
operations in the region as part of the decade-long war against Al-Qaeda.
The US will use the strategically-placed bases to launch spy planes disguised as private aircraft
kitted-out with a range of sensors able to record video, track infrared heat trails and tap into radio
and mobile phone signals.

The reasoning behind the ratcheting-up of surveillance on the African continent by the US is the
increasing presence of terrorist cells that could potentially destabilize the region.

The Washington Post said that the US government currently has a number of intelligence
facilities across Africa, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Seychelles, Burkina Faso and
Mauritania.

The bases in Burkina Faso and Mauritania are used to spy on Al-Qaeda.

The US military has expressed concerns over the growing influence of the Nigerian terrorist sect
Boko Haram, blamed for a wave of bombings in the country in December and Al-Qaeda affiliate
Al-Shabab in Somalia.

In addition, 100 special troops are currently in action in Uganda to hunt for Joseph Kony, the
leader of a brutal guerrilla group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Some state department officials have questioned the necessity to step-up a US presence in Africa
given that many of the terrorist groups active on the continent represent no direct threat to the
US.

In spite of doubts the US continues to rack up its presence in Africa. Last month the Army Times
confirmed US military plans to deploy over 3,000 troops across the continent as part of a
“regionally aligned force concept.”

US to maintain ‘Light Footprint’ in Africa?

Officially the US is painting an altogether different picture of its operations in Africa. Army
General Carter F. Ham top US Africa command officer said that the US is not seeking permanent
military bases in the region.

“In Africa, I would say a light footprint is consistent with what we need and consistent with the
defense guidance,” said General Carter.

The general said he recognized that some African nations were concerned over increased US
military presence across Africa, but stressed that this did not necessarily mean the US would be
establishing more bases there.

However, in a testimony to US Congress in March he said that he wanted to increase US
surveillance and reconnaissance in Africa.

“Without operating locations on the continent, ISR [intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance] capabilities would be curtailed, potentially endangering US security,” he said.
U.S. Military Wants More Drones In Latin
America
Posted: 06/13/2012 3:04 pm Updated: 06/13/2012 3:09 pm




The U.S. Military is looking to relocate some of their predator drones, sending some to South
and Central America, according to a new article in Wired Magazine.

As US forces come home from Afghanistan, the US military seems to have a surplus of predator
drones -- remotely operated unmanned aircraft vehicles often used to carry out attacks and
intelligence gathering missions. Drones previously used in Afghanistan will be given to
"operational missions by previously undeserved" commands, including those in the Pacific and
in Southern America, according to Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz.
While the exact number of drones, which will be sent to Latin America remains unknown, the
implications of their presence remain hotly contested.

Some question whether their presence in the region is even necessary or whether they will be
effective in thwarting drug traffickers. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations told
Wired Magazine that while the drones could help with spy missions in South America, there is
no good reason to use their attack capabilities.

“There is no strategic rationale for the United States to be responding to the flow of drugs from
Latin America with the tactical use of kinetic force against drug planes or boats you happen to be
able to find, ” he said. Furthermore, Zenko noted that the drones might be better used for United
Nations peacekeeping operations in regions like Southern Sudan. “3,800 troops deployed right
now for an [area] of 2,100 kilometers, with poor roads that wash out in the rainy season,” Zenko
told Wired Magazine. “The deployment of these [spy] capabilities, and associated logistics and
training infrastructure, would make a huge difference.”

Just days after the announcement that drone presence will be increased in Latin America, the
Pew Research Center released a study suggesting that the Obama administration’s use of
unmanned drone strikes to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world. On
Wednesday, Pew reported that in 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, "more than half of the people
disapproved of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as
Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia," according to The Associated Press. But a majority of Americans,
62 percent, approve the increased drone strikes.

Despite international disapproval of the tactic, the Obama administration insists that the drone
campaigns have been effective and have saved American lives. Drone strikes have killed
numerous "high-value leaders", "arguably more than any other method including more than a
decade of special operations raids inside Afghanistan," according to The Associated Press.
Earlier this month, a drone strike killed al-Qaeda's second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi.

"In order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives, the United
States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qaida terrorists, sometimes using
remotely piloted aircrafts, often referred to publicly as drones,” White House counterterrorism
chief John Brennan said earlier this year, according to The Associated Press.

Predator drones are not just being used abroad, however. The U.S. Customs and Border
Protection agency have increased the use of the aircraft to patrol the Southern borderlands and
interior for drug raids. Last month, the agency announced that two new unmanned drones would
fly in Washington states' airspace. The drones deployed in Washington will be 10,000-pound
Predator-B unmanned aircraft with 950-mile coverage ranges that can stay in the air for up to 20
hours at a time, border patrol spokesperson Gina Gray told The Associated Press. The
announcement came as part of the Department of Homeland Security's six year effort to build the
nation's "largest fleet of domestic surveillance drones."

Critics of the use of unmanned aircraft on U.S. soil (and airspace) say Predator drones are not as
effective as less pricey aircraft in drug-smuggling cases, and could be an invasion of privacy for
American citizens. "The border drones require an hour of maintenance for every hour they fly,"
they cost about $3,000 an hour to operate, and the amount of drugs seized in raids initiated by
drone-supplied information was described as "not impressive" by the man who supervises the
initiative, according the LA Times. The ACLU called drones "a large step closer to a
surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by
the authorities.”

Some believe the use of predator drones in Latin America is not really about making narcotic
raids more successful, but more about opening this region of the world to the use of the new
technology. Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution told Wired Magazine that he suspects the
U.S. military wants to use the technology in Latin America to "make sure the system doesn’t get
pigeonholed as being just for Afghanistan or Iraq.”

“You want to build up familiarity with the systems and its uses, and even foibles, in other
commands, so that when you use it more operationally in the future you have a base to build on.”
Singer added, “And finally, as you introduce a system into a new area and to new people, they
will innovate and find new uses for it.”
U.S. Military Wants More Drones In Latin
America
Huffington Post
June 14, 2012

The U.S. Military is looking to relocate some of their predator drones, sending some to South
and Central America, according to a new article in Wired Magazine.

As US forces come home from Afghanistan, the US military seems to have a surplus of predator
drones — remotely operated unmanned aircraft vehicles often used to carry out attacks and
intelligence gathering missions. Drones previously used in Afghanistan will be given to
“operational missions by previously undeserved” commands, including those in the Pacific and
in Southern America, according to Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz.
While the exact number of drones, which will be sent to Latin America remains unknown, the
implications of their presence remain hotly contested.

Some question whether their presence in the region is even necessary or whether they will be
effective in thwarting drug traffickers. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations told
Wired Magazine that while the drones could help with spy missions in South America, there is
no good reason to use their attack capabilities.

Read full article




US Civilians Are Now Helping Decide Who To Kill With
Military Drones
Robert Johnson | Dec. 30, 2011, 8:02 PM
                           Lockheed Martin



President Obama's enormous expansion of the U.S. drone program may be pushing too fast for military
staffing to keep up.

David S. Cloud of The Los Angeles Times reports the military is now forced to rely on a string of civilian
contractors placed at all levels along the "kill chain." These are the people who analyze incoming drone
video and decide when to fire Hellfire missiles.

The practice is not new.

According to Cloud, an American civilian played a "central" role in the Predator attack that accidentally
killed 15 Afghans in 2010, information that "surprised" the investigating Army officer.

Manning the drone fleet is a mounting issue in the Air Force.

It takes more staff to fly a drone than an F-15, and with more drones than ever in the air, non-government
employees are increasingly employed to analyze video, and keep the UAVs in the air.

The Air Force says it takes 168 people to fly a Predator for 24 hours, and 300 people to keep a Global
Hawk aloft for the same time.

The Air Force owns 230 Reapers, Predators, and Global Hawks — flying 50 of them at any given time.

But it's the 730 more drones being added to the fleet over the next 10 years that may explain why military
personnel are now being asked to fly four drones at once.

Announced last week and received with a wealth of concerns, the four drone per pilot program raises
further concerns about an already legally muddled program.
Despite public resistance, legal questions, and additional pilot stress, military officials in the U.S. and
Britain are already claiming to see "great promise" with the four drone program.

Unless the military drastically increases its recruiting efforts, with the defense cuts a huge improbability,
there is likely to be an increasing number of civilians, working for profitable corporations, helping make
decisions on when to fire U.S. weapons.

While the Air Force tries to maintain certain standards within its ranks, attempting to root out those with
questionable legal backgrounds, and poor "moral standing," every corporation within the kill chain is
guided by its own hiring practices.




Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-civilians-are-now-helping-decide-who-to-kill-with-military-
drones-2011-12#ixzz1xnBuMbx0




US Civilians Are Now Helping Decide Who
To Kill With Military Drones
Robert Johnson
Business Insider
January 1, 2012

President Obama’s enormous expansion of the U.S. drone program may be pushing too fast for
military staffing to keep up.

David S. Cloud of The Los Angeles Times reports the military is now forced to rely on a string
of civilian contractors placed at all levels along the “kill chain.” These are the people who
analyze incoming drone video and decide when to fire Hellfire missiles.

The practice is not new.

According to Cloud, an American civilian played a “central” role in the Predator attack that
accidentally killed 15 Afghans in 2010, information that “surprised” the investigating Army
officer.

Read full article




Military drones found on NC beaches
WNCT.com
Sepgtember 23, 2011

Editor’s note: The military is telling residents to keep them… another fine example of how the
military squanders our tax dollars.

If you’ve ever wanted a military drone, you may want to visit Oak Island or Carolina Beach.

Folks at those beaches say they found the plane-like structures with an orange-and-white design
Thursday. Officials at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point say the drones were used Sept. 17
during a live fire exercise at Onslow Beach.

Forty drones were used during the exercise.

A Marine spokesman says people can keep the drones or call the Marines to pick them up.




Drones Becoming Pervasive INSIDE America
   




Washington’s Blog
May 18, 2011

AP noted last year:

Unmanned aircraft have proved their usefulness and reliability in the war zones of Afghanistan
and Iraq. Now the pressure’s on to allow them in the skies over the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked to issue flying rights for a range of pilotless
planes to carry out civilian and law-enforcement functions but has been hesitant to act.

The Washington Post reported in January:

The operation outside Austin presaged what could prove to be one of the most far-reaching and
potentially controversial uses of drones: as a new and relatively cheap surveillance tool in
domestic law enforcement.

For now, the use of drones for high-risk operations is exceedingly rare. The Federal Aviation
Administration – which controls the national airspace – requires the few police departments with
drones to seek emergency authorization if they want to deploy one in an actual operation.
Because of concerns about safety, it only occasionally grants permission.
But by 2013, the FAA expects to have formulated new rules that would allow police across the
country to routinely fly lightweight, unarmed drones up to 400 feet above the ground – high
enough for them to be largely invisible eyes in the sky.

***

But when drones come to perch in numbers over American communities, they will drive fresh
debates about the boundaries of privacy. The sheer power of some of the cameras that can be
mounted on them is likely to bring fresh search-and-seizure cases before the courts, and concern
about the technology’s potential misuse could unsettle the public.

***

When KPRC-TV in Houston, which is owned by The Washington Post Co., discovered a secret
drone air show for dozens of officers at a remote location 70 miles from Houston, police officials
were forced to call a hasty news conference to explain their interest in the technology.

A senior officer in Houston then mentioned to reporters that drones might ultimately be used for
recording traffic violations.

Wired pointed out in February:

Campers may soon be able to regularly see something bigger and badder when climbing the
High Peaks: Reaper drones flown by the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing
based in Syracuse, New York.

And drones aren’t just buzzing over the Adirondacks. The proposal to begin training missions
there is part of a bigger push to build a drone infrastructure for flying missions throughout the
United States. So new drone bases are being built. The FAA is setting aside airspace for drone
flights.

***

The latest example is the amendment proposed by Senators Charles Schumer (D-New York) and
Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to the “FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Act” (S.223)
that would increase the number of “National Airspace System” test sites from four to ten. At
least one of these sites would have to include a “significant portion” of public land.

***

Although it is hard to predict where the drone infrastructure will grow, if other defense
contracting projects are a reliable guide, the drone-ification of America will probably continue
until there is a drone aerodrome in every state …
Given that the national security apparatus has been hijacked to serve the needs of big business
and to crush dissent, it’s not far-fetched to think that information gained from drones will be
used for purposes that are not necessarily in the best interests of the American people.

And as I noted earlier today, the U.S. is allowing military operations within the United States.

Remember also that Obama has authorized “targeted assassinations” against U.S. citizens.

And when John Yoo was asked last year whether drones could kill people within the United
States, he replied yes – if we were in a time of war:

Of course, since the U.S. has declared a perpetual war (and see this), drones will always be in
fashion.

And remember that Department of Defense training manuals consider protest to be “low-level
terrorism”. And see this, this and this. And an FBI memo also labels peace protesters as
“terrorists”.




DoD Training Manual: Protests are "Low-Level
Terrorism"
Update 2: See my follow-up article "DoD Deletes 'Protest = Terrorism,' Problems
Remain."

Update appended at the end:

The Department of Defense is training all of its personnel in its current Antiterrorism and Force
Protection Annual Refresher Training Course that political protest is "low-level terrorism."

The Training introduction reads as follows:

"Anti-terrorism (AT) and Force Protection (FP) are two facets of the Department of Defense (DoD)
Mission Assurance Program. It is DoD policy, as found in DoDI 2000.16, that the DoD Components
and the DoD elements and personnel shall be protected from terrorist acts through a high pirority,
comprehensive, AT program. The DoD's AT program shall be all encompassing using an integrated
systems approach."

The first question of the Terrorism Threat Factors, "Knowledge Check 1" section reads as follows:

Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorism activity?

Select the correct answer and then click Check Your Answer.

O Attacking the Pentagon
O IEDs

O Hate crimes against racial groups

O Protests

***

The "correct" answer is Protests.

A copy of this can be found on the last two pages of this pdf.

The ACLU learned of this training and on June 10, 2009 sent a letter to Gail McGinn, Acting Under-
Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, objecting to their training all DoD personnel that
the exercise of First Amendment rights constitutes "low-level terrorism."

For those who have worried about a trend - evident, for example, in the USA PATRIOT Act, the
universal and ongoing government surveillance of all of Americans' electronic communications that
began in February of 2001 (seven months before 9/11), the global war on a tactic (terrorism),
therefore making this war unending, the unprecedented pre-emptive arrests of protestors at
the 2008 Republican National Convention with those protesters being charged as "domestic
terrorists," the justifications for torture, pre-emptive wars of aggression, ongoing occupations,
American gulags such as Bagram, suspension of habeas corpus, and "prolonged detention" for acts
someone might commit, not what they have done, FBI et al infiltration of protest groups and the
government's acknowledged use of undercover agents (agents provocateurs) in said infiltration, thus
giving the government under the rubric of fighting domestic terrorism unrestrained and
unsupervisable power to suppress legitimate political activities, the unleashing and justifications for
Christian fascists to murder those they do not like (such as the assassination of Dr. George Tiller and
the killing at the Holocaust Museum a few days ago) - this news adds further fuel to the fire.

These are not items from some famously vilified, non-US dictatorial regime. These are items from
the good ole USA, land of the free and home of the brave.

Just how brave are we now? How free are we still? Are we brave enough to be "winter soldiers" and
stand up against these fascist moves? Or will we go down in history in infamy, the way the "Good
Germans" of the 1930s and 1940s did?

***

Update: A couple of the comments on this article at Reddit raise the question of whether this
particular DoD test is merely an anomaly.

I have just learned of a scholarly conference paper presented earlier this year that underscores the
fact that the DoD training's use of "low-level terrorism" is hardly an anomaly. "Low level terrorism"
is a term being used by state security agencies:

Vinthagen, Stellan. "Labeling "Low Level Terrorism": The Out-Definition of Social
Movements" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 50th ANNUAL CONVENTION
"EXPLORING THE PAST, ANTICIPATING THE FUTURE", New York Marriott Marquis, NEW
YORK CITY, NY, USA, Feb 15, 2009 . 2009-06-17
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript

Abstract: This paper explores current state security tendency to label ordinary protests and opposition as
"low level terrorism" or social movements as "terrorist environments" and the political and democratic
consequences of such a politics of fear. The judic [the abstract cuts off here.]

(Follow-up article is here.)




DoD Deletes "Protest =Terrorism." Problems
Remain
RATE: 7 Flag


       Email
    
    
    
    
    

In response to the ACLU’s June 10, 2009 letter demanding that the DoD pull a question from its DoD
training exam that equated protest with “low-level terrorism,” which I wrote about at Open Salon on
June 14 (“DoD Training Manual: Protests are ‘Low-Level Terrorism’”) – and which was reposted and
written about on scores of websites and blogs, both left and right - the DoD has removed the
question from the exam.

This is good news. The problem, however, goes deeper than this one question. Before going into
that, let’s look at the DoD’s latest actions and its explanation:

As reported by Fox News:

“The Pentagon has removed a controversial question from its anti-terrorism training exam that
labeled ‘protests’ a form of ‘low-level terrorism,’ calling the question ‘poorly worded.’

“A Pentagon spokesman said the question failed to make clear the difference between illegal violent
demonstrations and constitutionally protected peaceful protests.

“Civil libertarians and activist groups, interviewed by FOXNews.com for a story that appeared on
Wednesday [June 17], had objected strongly to the exam question, which a Department of Defense
employee had printed and given to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The question asked:

“’Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorism?’

“— Attacking the Pentagon
“— IEDs

“— Hate crimes against racial groups

“— Protests

“The correct answer, according to the exam, was ‘Protests.’

“’They should have made it clearer there’s a clear difference between illegal violent demonstrations
and peaceful, constitutionally protected protests,’ Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk said on
Thursday.

“Asked when a protest becomes an ‘illegal, violent demonstration,’ Melnyk said, ‘I’m not a lawyer. I
couldn’t get into the specifics of when you cross the line.’

“’If you’re doing physical damage to people or property, that could fall into that,’ he said.”

There remain a number of troubling issues here.

First, how do even violent demonstrations constitute “terrorism?" Conflating the two gives license to
authorities to claim with impunity that they had to act with suppressive or even pre-emptive arrests
and perhaps much more violent and repressive action, including shooting demonstrators, because
they feared that the demonstrations might or were showing some signs of becoming violent and
therefore “terrorist.” A society in which protest of any kind is officially linked to terrorism can only be
described as a tyranny.

This is what in fact was done to the RNC Welcoming Committee at the 2008 RNC convention in
Minneapolis-St. Paul. Authorities carried out pre-emptive raids upon peaceful protesters prior to their
even peacefully demonstrating and charged them with “domestic terrorism.” In the course of this, at
least one of the arrested US citizen activists was brutalized in a fashion that comes very close to
torture.

Second, the DoD exam question sought to define “low-level terrorism.”

It was not intended to distinguish peaceful and legal protest from “illegal, violent demonstration.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk’s account for what was wrong with the question/answer
choices – that the problem was that the question/answer did not distinguish between legal protest
and illegal protest – is, therefore, not entirely convincing or truthful.

The Fox story goes on to say that Melnyk “added that many Defense employees work in countries
where violent demonstrations are regular occurrences.

“’In those situations, that anti-Americanism might be taken out on an American in the crowd,’ Melnyk
said.”

This is also not entirely convincing or truthful.

The original question includes as answer choices actions that occur in both foreign locales and/or
within the US, so it can’t accurately been said that the DoD had in mind only foreign locations.
Obviously an attack on the Pentagon has to happen within the US.

I.E.D.’s are used outside of the U.S.

Hate crimes against racial groups can and do occur both within the US and outside of the US.

Protests occur within and outside of the US.

Since the “correct” answer according to the DoD was “protests” = “low-level terrorism,” they cannot
accurately say that they had in mind only violent protests in foreign lands because their answer
choices included activities that occur within the US.

The correct answer should have been “none of the above.”

Third, the question and answer choices were obviously deliberately designed to lead the exam
taker/DoD employee to choose “Protests” as an example of “low-level terrorism” inasmuch as the
other answer choices are all obviously not low-level acts. All of the others are very violent attacks.

Finally, as I pointed out in my article, the term “low-level terrorism” appears to be a “term of art”
within security agency circles given that a scholarly paper delivered in February of 2009 at an
international conference incorporated it into its title as such:

“Vinthagen, Stellan. ‘Labeling “Low Level Terrorism:” The Out-Definition of Social Movements’ Paper
presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 50th ANNUAL CONVENTION ‘EXPLORING THE
PAST, ANTICIPATING THE FUTURE’ New York Marriott Marquis, NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA, Feb
15, 2009.

“Abstract: This paper explores current state security tendency to label ordinary protests and
opposition as "low level terrorism" or social movements as "terrorist environments" and the political
and democratic consequences of such a politics of fear. The judic [the abstract cuts off here.]”

The problem at its heart, in other words, is that this particular question in the DoD training exam is
merely a glaring individual example of a larger trend and mentality – the criminalization of protest
and dissent and its relegation to a category of “terrorism,” legitimating the repression of dissent and
free speech and assembly, ranging from declarations by public officials that dissenting ideas are
“unpatriotic” and “traitorous” to training DoD employees that protest is terrorism-lite. The prospects
revealed here are alarming.




Saturday, September 13, 2008

Shock and Awe Comes Home to Roost
Published 9/13/08 at Counterpunch.


"Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he’s worried that
someone won’t read them their rights.” – Sarah Palin at the RNC
“[T]he looser ‘preemptive strike’ rationale being applied to situations abroad could migrate
back home, fostering a more permissive attitude on the part of law enforcement officers in this
country.” – FBI Special Agent Colleen Rowley


“We followed our [RNC] Welcoming Committee members to many cities around the country.
We consulted with the terrorism task force in those cities. We received information, etc. [Did
you have infiltrators?] Yes, we did. [Were they paid?] Yes.” - Ramsey County Sheriff Bob
Fletcher


“[S]ix or seven officers came into my cell… one officer punched me in the face…And then they
slammed—and I fell to the ground, unconscious. And the officer grabbed me by the head,
slammed my head on the ground and re-awoke me …to consciousness. I was bleeding
everywhere. … They put a bag over my head that had a gag on it. And they used pain
compliance tactics on me for about an hour and a half. They pressed—they separated my jaw
as hard as they could with their fingers…. They …bent my foot backwards. I was screaming for
God and like screaming for mercy, crying, asking them why they were doing this.” - Elliot
Hughes, member of the RNC Welcoming Committee, arrested at gunpoint days before the
RNC, charged along with the other RNC8 Defendants with “conspiring to riot in furtherance of
terrorism.”


The police state actions before and during the RNC are not a dystopic America but the real
America of 2008 and a harbinger of even worse to come. Beneath the carefully staged and
tightly cordoned off circus of “democracy” at the convention rots the corpse of the Bill of Rights:


Of what significance can a person’s right to see the charges leveled against them be when
there’s a war on terrorists to be waged? What need do people accused of crimes have to see
who has accused them – are they not guilty by virtue of being accused? What end is fulfilled to
allow the accused to cross-examine their accusers? Why waste the court’s time with such
absurdities? What purpose does it serve to have perfectly good evidence ruled inadmissible, so
what if it was extracted employing electric shock and waterboarding? These people are guilty,
guilty, guilty! Why just look at them: do they not look guilty? What more evidence do we need?
9/11! 9/11! 9/11! We must wring the truth out of them, whatever it takes, the preservation of
freedom demands it! Planting police undercover officers in the ranks of these protestors and
provoking them into doing illegal or violent acts, even if those undercover officers have to do it
all themselves, is necessary to protect the precious rights we enjoy as Americans. Country
First! Anyone who dares tell us that we must not violate Constitutional rights in order to
protect Constitutional rights deserves waterboarding! Strap him down! Give me that bucket of
water! I’ll show him who’s free!


***


It was only a matter of time before the obscenity of war crimes and torture being carried out on
other countries and peoples would return home to be inflicted directly upon Americans who
dare to speak out against these atrocities.


It isn’t only Arabs and Muslims anymore. It isn’t only American citizens who’ve converted to
Islam. It’s now American citizens – whatever their religious views - who can be summarily
rounded up in pre-emptive actions, charged with terrorism, and tortured - on the grounds that
they might do something.


Bush declared “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Except our malapropist
president has uttered a tautology once again: being part of “us” means being one of the
terrorists. It means defending the use of monstrous measures in the name of fighting monsters.
As Pogo put it: “We have met the enemy and he is US.”


Unhinged from the Law and from Facts


Accusing someone of being a terrorist, like the magical incantation of witches and warlocks,
turns any feeble twig into an invincible sword. Invoking “national security” allows the White
House and its representatives to do and say anything at all.


You can almost hear Bush saying this under his breath: “It’s good to be king.” Only, come to
think of it, he’s said out loud a number of times: “If this were a dictatorship things would be a
heck of a lot easier – just as long as I’m the dictator.”
It’s good to listen in on anybody’s conversations, peer over their shoulders at their email, track
their financial transactions and inspect their associates.


What has Congress – the People’s Representatives - done to monitor the country against the
predations of dictators and the whims of police agents?


Congress has peered down the precipice of an unchecked executive branch and they have
jumped in feet first, but not without – God be Praised! - waving their American flag pins and
bibles as they descend down the bottomless pit, into the infamy reserved for those who looked
tyrants in the face and cringed like cowards.


But there’s a new president coming! Surely he will save the Republic!


“Change” “change” “change” they cry.


In the face of an openly lawless, felonious, war crimes, spying and lying White House they will
rescue us, no doubt!


“[Y]ou reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the
President’s authority.” -- Barack Obama


Whaa..at?! Are you saying that Bush and Cheney have not intentionally breached their
authority? What country have you been living in? Are these not grave, grave breaches – even if
the standard for impeachment was as high as you say it is, which it isn’t? What could be graver
than this? Perhaps arresting your political rivals in the Democratic Party and torturing them –
would that rise to the standard? How long before something like that happens?


“Change” “change” “change” they cry.


Are not their change invocations so appealing to so many because of the failure of Obama,
McCain, Biden and others to stop the White House and the government from doing the things
that need to be changed?
When those who are the guardians of the ship of state fail to do their duties, what happens to the
ship? Who will police the police?


The police will police the police. Surely you trust the police? You’re not one of those commie-
pinko-terrorists, are you? Hold still while I turn you in to Homeland Security.


The Unbearable Darkness of Duplicity


If agents provocateurs are infiltrating protesters’ ranks and engaging in violent and provocative
acts to justify police crackdowns, then what’s to become of civil liberties, freedom of speech and
assembly, the right to dissent and the health of civil society? Are the police and the government
not now in possession of “Get Out of Jail Free” cards with which they can do absolutely
everything and get away with it? Is this not recognizable as the tried and true plaints of
scoundrels, authoritarians, fascists and tyrants?


When you give unlimited powers to the government with the only restraint the equivalent of the
foxes guarding the hen house what do you expect to get? Do you think that you will be safe?
Because if you do, you’re the world’s biggest fool and you deserve the fate you get.


If you’re not one of these then it’s time to show it and stand up. If you’re against this but don’t
show it then it doesn’t count. If you act but act too late then it doesn’t matter.


There are no “maybe it will get better” rationales left if you’re paying any attention.


Speak out against the railroading of the RNC 8 because they stand in the breach against the
flood that is coming that will drown us all.


The shooting of wolves from helicopters is not a metaphor here for the people, is it?

POSTED BY DENNIS LOO AT 10:00 AM
DHS To Launch Insurgent-Tracking Drones
Inside America
Technology used to hunt enemy combatants in Afghanistan will be used for “non-emergency
incidents” within the U.S.

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security plans to spend up to $50 million dollars on a spy system
that has been used to hunt insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan for the purposes of “emergency and
non-emergency incidents” within the United States.




The DHS is seeking four contractors to provide “aerial remote sensing” services, using LIDAR
(Light Detection And Ranging) technology fitted to drones or manned aircraft that will provide
surveillance capability for “homeland security missions,” as well as “management of emergency
incidents by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional offices, joint field
offices and by state and local government.”

“DHS believes these airborne images are essential for homeland defense missions, such as
planning for National Special Security Events (Super Bowls or a national political conventions
come to mind); enhancing border, port and airport security; as well as performing critical
infrastructure inventories and assessments,” reports Government Security News, adding that the
technology will be used for “emergency and non-emergency incidents nationwide.”
The DHS expects successful contractors to “ensure imagery can be acquired, processed and
delivered in 48 hours or less and the ability to support simultaneous missions in multiple
geographic locations.”

LIDAR spy technology, which uses ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared light to track objects or
people from the sky, has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to track insurgents. The US military
has praised the technology for its proficiency in providing “battlefield surveillance” and being
able to easily locate enemy combatants due to it being “especially useful at seeing through
foliage.” LIDAR can be deployed using both manned and unmanned aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force “has already deployed an unknown number of LIDAR aircraft to map all of
Afghanistan,” reports MSNBC, with the 3-D laser mapping technology also being adapted to
work aboard U.S. Special Forces helicopters such as the Blackhawk or Chinook to help hunt
insurgents.

According to Raytheon, one of the companies that develops LIDAR, the technology is adept at
tracking “people in crowded environments for safety and security,” because unlike traditional
surveillance methods, LIDAR is honed to measure characteristics of individuals and keep them
tracked within a “grid cell” so they cannot evade detection.

Under the terms of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, the whole of
America has been defined as a battlefield, with the government reserving the power to have
“belligerents,” including American citizens, arrested and detained indefinitely without trial.

US law enforcement bodies are already using drone technology to spy on Americans. In
December, a Predator B drone was called in to conduct surveillance over a family farm in North
Dakota as part of a SWAT raid on the Brossart family, who were suspects in the egregious crime
of stealing six missing cows. Local police in this one area have already used the drone on two
dozen occasions since June last year.

Last summer, the Department of Homeland Security gave the green light for police departments
in the United States to deploy the ShadowHawk mini drone drone helicopter that has the ability
to taze suspects from above as well as carrying 12-gauge shotguns and grenade launchers. The
drone, also used against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, is already being used by the
Montgomery County Sheriff’s office in Texas.

The DHS has also provided drone surveillance for foreign countries, aiding Jamaican authorities
in a botched drug raid that led to the massacre of 73 civilians last year.

A bill passed in by Congress this week paves the way for the use of surveillance drones in US
skies on a widespread basis. The FAA predicts that by 2020 there could be up to 30,000 drones
in operation nationwide.

*********************
    Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order
    Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show and Infowars
    Nightly News.




    Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
    $26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in
    Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected
    By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE


    WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video
    feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade
    or monitor U.S. military operations.

    Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video
    feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown
    planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available
    for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a
    person familiar with reports on the matter.

     The State of U.S. Intelligence

    Drone Kills a Leader of Al Qaeda,
     Dec. 12, 2009
    Terrorists Are Likely Testing Cyber Attacks,
     Nov. 19, 2009
    U.S. Spy Efforts Have Improved,
     Sept. 17, 2009
    White House Cybersecurity Czar Steps Down,
     Aug. 4, 2009
    Cyber Blitz Hits U.S., Korea,
     July 9, 2009
    Troubles Plague Cyberspy Defense,
     July 3, 2009
    U.S. Cyber Infrastructure Vulnerable to Attacks,
     May 6, 2009
    U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or
    otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield
    advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for
    insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

    The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts
    overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network
    of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan
    and Pakistan.

    The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they
    allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American
    troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.

    The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of
    counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.

    U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a
    Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S.
    military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to
    conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

     Related Intelligence Videos

    U.S. Intelligence Detects Cyber Spies
    Obama's Cyber Czar Resigns
    New Military Command to Combat Cyber Spies
     Journal Community

    Vote: How will the discovery that Iraqi militants
     intercepted U.S. Predator drone transmissions affect U.S.
     strategy and security?
    In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof"
    that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person
    said. "It is part of their kit now."
A senior defense official said that James Clapper, the Pentagon's intelligence chief, assessed
the Iraq intercepts at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and concluded they
represented a shortcoming to the security of the drone network.

"There did appear to be a vulnerability," the defense official said. "There's been no harm done to
troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there's an issue that we can take care of
and we're doing so."

Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone
video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn't yet clear if the problem had
been completely resolved.

Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but
adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed
on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S.
is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.

The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama
administration's troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force's
unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new
camera system called "Gorgon Stare," which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at
least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.

Enlarge Image




Close
U.S. Air Force

U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds
from Predator unmanned aircraft.

Gen. Deptula, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said there were inherent risks to using drones
since they are remotely controlled and need to send and receive video and other data over
great distances. "Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," he said, adding
the military was trying to solve the problems by better encrypting the drones' feeds.

The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft
and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in
Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local
adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said.

Last December, U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a
laptop belonging to a Shiite militant, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.
"There was evidence this was not a one-time deal," this person said. The U.S. accuses Iran of
providing weapons, money and training to Shiite fighters in Iraq, a charge that Tehran has long
denied.

The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew
Solonikov, one of the software's developers, said he was unaware that his software could be
used to intercept drone feeds. "It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs
and other content that other users download from the Internet -- no military data or other
commercial data, only free legal content," he said by email from Russia.

Journal Community
   discuss
    “ Who were the lame engineers who came up with a system that runs without encryption? Even
    the graduates of the local high school programming courses know better than to leave to
    chance an important security hole. ”

    — John Cierra

    Officials stepped up efforts to prevent insurgents from intercepting video feeds after the July
    incident. The difficulty, officials said, is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a
    decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones. Instead,
    many components of the network linking the drones to their operators in the U.S., Afghanistan
    or Pakistan have to be upgraded to handle the changes. Additional concerns remain about the
    vulnerability of the communications signals to electronic jamming, though there's no evidence
    that has occurred, said people familiar with reports on the matter.

    Predator drones are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego. Some of
    its communications technology is proprietary, so widely used encryption systems aren't readily
    compatible, said people familiar with the matter.

    In an email, a spokeswoman said that for security reasons, the company couldn't comment on
    "specific data link capabilities and limitations."

    Fixing the security gap would have caused delays, according to current and former military
    officials. It would have added to the Predator's price. Some officials worried that adding
    encryption would make it harder to quickly share time-sensitive data within the U.S. military, and
    with allies.

    "There's a balance between pragmatics and sophistication," said Mike Wynne, Air Force
    Secretary from 2005 to 2008.

    The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones account for 36% of the
    planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.

    Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds
    could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar
    with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and
    better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375
    Reapers.

    Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com, Yochi J. Dreazen at
    yochi.dreazen@wsj.com and August Cole at august.cole@dowjones.com
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones with $26
Software
SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE
The Wall Street Journal
December 17, 2009

[efoods]Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from
U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor
U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video
feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown
planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available
for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a
person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or
otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America’s enemies
battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it
easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

Read entire article




Alex Jones: Military Industrial Complex has
declared war on the US
RT
January 19, 2012

Next month the Federal Aviation Administration will be proposing new rules to make it easier
for law enforcement agencies to have permission to use predator drones on American citizens.

In the past decade the Pentagon’s unmanned predator drones went from 50 to 7,000. Many fear
the use of these drones on Americans are infringing on their civil liberties. Alex Jones, radio
show host, joins us to look deeper into why predator drones are flying domestically.
Drone Disasters
Posted by Nick Turse at 9:00pm, January 15, 2012.

After almost two months in abeyance and the (possibly temporary) loss of Shamsi Air Base for its air
war, the CIA is again cranking up its drone operations in the Pakistani tribal borderlands. The first two
attacks of 2012 were launched within 48 hours of each other, reportedly killing 10 ___s, and wounding
at least four ___s. Yes, that’s right, the U.S. is killing ___s in Pakistan. These days, the dead there are
regularly identified in press accounts as “militants” or “suspected militants” and often, quoting never-
named Pakistani or other “intelligence sources,” as “foreigners” or "non-Pakistanis." They just about
never have names, and the CIA’s robots never get close enough to their charred bodies to do whatever
would be the dehumanizing techno-equivalent of urinating on them.

It all sounds so relatively clean. Last year, there were 75 such clean attacks, 303 since 2004, killing
possibly thousands of ___s in those borderlands. In fact, the world of death and destruction always
tends to look clean and “precise” -- if you keep your distance, if you remain in the heavens like the
implacable gods of yore or thousands of miles from your targets like the “pilots” of these robotic planes
and the policymakers who dispatch them.

On the ground, things are of course far messier, nastier, more disturbingly human. The London-based
Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have, over the years,
killed at least 168 children. In a roiled and roiling situation in that country, with the military and the
civilian government at odds, with coup rumors in the air and borders still closed to U.S. Afghan War
supplies (since an “incident” in which American air strikes killed up to 26 Pakistani troops), the deeply
unpopular drone attacks only heighten tensions. Whomever they may kill -- including al-Qaeda figures --
they also intensify anger and make the situation worse in the name of making it better. They are, by
their nature, blowback weapons and their image of high-tech, war-winning precision here in the U.S.
undoubtedly has an instant blowback effect on those who loose them. The drones can’t help but offer
them a dangerous and deceptive feeling of omnipotence, a feeling that -- legality be damned -- anything
is possible.

If, as Nick Turse has long been arguing in his reportage on our latest wonder weapons, drones are, in the
end, counterproductive tools of war, this has yet to sink in here. After all, our military planners are now
projecting an investment of at least $40 billion in the burgeoning drone industry over the next decade
for more than 700 medium- and large-size drones (and who knows how much is to go into smaller
versions of the same).
Turse's work on drones in his TomDispatch series on the changing face of empire relies on seldom noted
realities hidden away in U.S. Air Force documents. He has a way of bringing the robotic planes down to
earth. They are, as he has written, wonder weapons with wings of clay. (To catch Timothy MacBain’s
latest Tomcast audio interview in which Turse discusses why drone warfare is anything but failure-proof,
click here, or download it to your iPod here.) Tom


The Crash and Burn Future of Robot Warfare
What 70 Downed Drones Tell Us About the New American Way of War
By Nick Turse

American fighter jets screamed over the Iraqi countryside heading for the MQ-1 Predator drone, while
its crew in California stood by helplessly. What had begun as an ordinary reconnaissance mission was
now taking a ruinous turn. In an instant, the jets attacked and then it was all over. The Predator, one of
the Air Force’s workhorse hunter/killer robots, had been obliterated.

An account of the spectacular end of that nearly $4 million drone in November 2007 is contained in a
collection of Air Force accident investigation documents recently examined by TomDispatch. They
catalog more than 70 catastrophic Air Force drone mishaps since 2000, each resulting in the loss of an
aircraft or property damage of $2 million or more.

These official reports, some obtained by TomDispatch through the Freedom of Information Act, offer
new insights into a largely covert, yet highly touted war-fighting, assassination, and spy program
involving armed robots that are significantly less reliable than previously acknowledged. These planes,
the latest wonder weapons in the U.S. military arsenal, are tested, launched, and piloted from a
shadowy network of more than 60 bases spread around the globe, often in support of elite teams of
special operations forces. Collectively, the Air Force documents offer a remarkable portrait of modern
drone warfare, one rarely found in a decade of generally triumphalist or awestruck press accounts that
seldom mention the limitations of drones, much less their mission failures.

The aerial disasters described draw attention not only to the technical limitations of drone warfare, but
to larger conceptual flaws inherent in such operations. Launched and landed by aircrews close to
battlefields in places like Afghanistan, the drones are controlled during missions by pilots and sensor
operators -- often multiple teams over many hours -- from bases in places like Nevada and North
Dakota. They are sometimes also monitored by “screeners” from private security contractors at
stateside bases like Hurlburt Field in Florida. (A recent McClatchy report revealed that it takes nearly
170 people to keep a single Predator in the air for 24 hours.)
In other words, drone missions, like the robots themselves, have many moving parts and much, it turns
out, can and does go wrong. In that November 2007 Predator incident in Iraq, for instance, an
electronic failure caused the robotic aircraft to engage its self-destruct mechanism and crash, after
which U.S. jets destroyed the wreckage to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. In other cases,
drones -- officially known as remotely piloted aircraft, or RPAs -- broke down, escaped human control
and oversight, or self-destructed for reasons ranging from pilot error and bad weather to mechanical
failure in Afghanistan, Djibouti, the Gulf of Aden, Iraq, Kuwait, and various other unspecified or classified
foreign locations, as well as in the United States.

In 2001, Air Force Predator drones flew 7,500 hours. By the close of last year, that number topped
70,000. As the tempo of robotic air operations has steadily increased, crashes have, not surprisingly,
become more frequent. In 2001, just two Air Force drones were destroyed in accidents. In 2008, eight
drones fell from the sky. Last year, the number reached 13. (Accident rates are, however, dropping
according to an Air Force report relying on figures from 2009.)

Keep in mind that the 70-plus accidents recorded in those Air Force documents represent only drone
crashes investigated by the Air Force under a rigid set of rules. Many other drone mishaps have not been
included in the Air Force statistics. Examples include a haywire MQ-9 Reaper drone that had to be shot
out of the Afghan skies by a fighter jet in 2009, a remotely-operated Navy helicopter that went down in
Libya last June, an unmanned aerial vehicle whose camera was reportedly taken by Afghan insurgents
after a crash in August 2011, an advanced RQ-170 Sentinel lost during a spy mission in Iran last
December, and the recent crash of an MQ-9 Reaper in the Seychelles Islands.

You Don’t Need a Weatherman... Or Do You?

How missions are carried out -- and sometimes fail -- is apparent from the declassified reports, including
one provided to TomDispatch by the Air Force detailing a June 2011 crash. Late that month, a Predator
drone took off from Jalalabad Air Base in Afghanistan to carry out a surveillance mission in support of
ground forces. Piloted by a member of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing out of Whiteman Air Force
Base in Missouri, the robotic craft ran into rough weather, causing the pilot to ask for permission to
abandon the troops below.

His commander never had a chance to respond. Lacking weather avoidance equipment found on more
sophisticated aircraft or on-board sensors to clue the pilot in to rapidly deteriorating weather
conditions, and with a sandstorm interfering with ground radar, “severe weather effects” overtook the
Predator. In an instant, the satellite link between pilot and plane was severed. When it momentarily
flickered back to life, the crew could see that the drone was in an extreme nosedive. They then lost the
datalink for a second and final time. A few minutes later, troops on the ground radioed in to say that
the $4 million drone had crashed near them.
A month earlier, a Predator drone took off from the tiny African nation of Djibouti in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes operations in Afghanistan as well as Yemen, Djibouti, and
Somalia, among other nations. According to documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act,
about eight hours into the flight, the mission crew noticed a slow oil leak. Ten hours later, they handed
the drone off to a local aircrew whose assignment was to land it at Djibouti’s Ambouli Airport, a joint
civilian/military facility adjacent to Camp Lemonier, a U.S. base in the country.

That mission crew -- both the pilot and sensor operator -- had been deployed from Creech Air Force
Base in Nevada and had logged a combined 1,700 hours flying Predators. They were considered
“experienced” by the Air Force. On this day, however, the electronic sensors that measure their drone’s
altitude were inaccurate, while low clouds and high humidity affected its infrared sensors and set the
                        stage for disaster.

                        An investigation eventually found that, had the crew performed proper
                        instrument cross-checks, they would have noticed a 300-400 foot discrepancy in
                        their altitude. Instead, only when the RPA broke through the clouds did the
                        sensor operator realize just how close to the ground it was. Six seconds later, the
                        drone crashed to earth, destroying itself and one of its Hellfire missiles.

                        Storms, clouds, humidity, and human error aren’t the only natural dangers for
                        drones. In a November 2008 incident, a mission crew at Kandahar Air Field
                        launched a Predator on a windy day. Just five minutes into the flight, with the
                        aircraft still above the sprawling American mega-base, the pilot realized that the
plane had already deviated from its intended course. To get it back on track, he initiated a turn that --
due to the aggressive nature of the maneuver, wind conditions, drone design, and the unbalanced
weight of a missile on just one wing -- sent the plane into a roll. Despite the pilot's best efforts, the craft
entered a tailspin, crashed on the base, and burst into flames.

Going Rogue

On occasion, RPAs have simply escaped from human control. Over the course of eight hours on a late
February day in 2009, for example, five different crews passed off the controls of a Predator drone, one
to the next, as it flew over Iraq. Suddenly, without warning, the last of them, members of the North
Dakota Air National Guard at Hector International Airport in Fargo, lost communication with the plane.
At that point no one -- not the pilot, nor the sensor operator, nor a local mission crew -- knew where the
drone was or what it was doing. Neither transmitting nor receiving data or commands, it had, in effect,
gone rogue. Only later was it determined that a datalink failure had triggered the drone’s self-destruct
mechanism, sending it into an unrecoverable tailspin and crash within 10 minutes of escaping human
control.
In November 2009, a Predator launched from Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan lost touch with its
human handlers 20 minutes after takeoff and simply disappeared. When the mission crew was unable
to raise the drone, datalink specialists were brought in but failed to find the errant plane. Meanwhile,
air traffic controllers, who had lost the plane on radar, could not even locate its transponder signal.
Numerous efforts to make contact failed. Two days later, at the moment the drone would have run out
of fuel, the Air Force declared the Predator “lost.” It took eight days for its wreckage to be located.

Crash Course

In mid-August 2004, while drone operations in the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility
were running at high tempo, a Predator mission crew began hearing a cascade of warning alarms
indicating engine and alternator failure, as well as a possible engine fire. When the sensor operator
used his camera to scan the aircraft, it didn’t take long to spot the problem. Its tail had burst into
flames. Shortly afterward, it became uncontrollable and crashed.

In January 2007, a Predator drone was flying somewhere in the CENTCOM region (above one of 20
countries in the Greater Middle East). About 14 hours into a 20-hour mission, the aircraft began to
falter. For 15 minutes its engine was failing, but the information it was sending back remained within
normal parameters, so the mission crew failed to notice. Only at the last minute did they become aware
that their drone was dying. As an investigation later determined, an expanding crack in the drone’s
crankshaft caused the engine to seize up. The pilot put the aircraft into a glide toward an unpopulated
area. Higher headquarters then directed that he should intentionally crash it, since a rapid reaction
force would not be able to reach it quickly and it was carrying two Hellfire missiles as well as unspecified
“classified equipment.” Days later, its remains were recovered.

The Crash and Burn Future of Robot Warfare

In spite of all the technical limitations of remote-controlled war spelled out in the Air Force investigation
files, the U.S. is doubling down on drones. Under the president’s new military strategy, the Air Force is
projected to see its share of the budgetary pie rise and flying robots are expected to be a major part of
that expansion.

Already, counting the Army’s thousands of tiny drones, one in three military aircraft -- close to 7,500
machines -- are robots. According to official figures provided to TomDispatch, roughly 285 of them are
Air Force Predator, Reaper, or Global Hawk drones. The Air Force's arsenal also includes more advanced
Sentinels, Avengers, and other classified unmanned aircraft. A report published by the Congressional
Budget Office last year, revealed that “the Department of Defense plans to purchase about 730 new
medium-sized and large unmanned aircraft systems” during the next 10 years.
Over the last decade, the United States has increasingly turned to drones in an effort to win its wars.
The Air Force investigation files examined by TomDispatch suggest a more extensive use of drones in
Iraq than has previously been reported. But in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, America’s preeminent wonder
weapon failed to bring the U.S. mission anywhere close to victory. Effective as the spearhead of a
program to cripple al-Qaeda in Pakistan, drone warfare in that country’s tribal borderlands has also
alienated almost the entire population of 190 million. In other words, an estimated 2,000 suspected or
identified guerrillas (as well as untold numbers of civilians) died. The populace of a key American ally
grew ever more hostile and no one knows how many new militants in search of revenge the drone
strikes may have created, though the numbers are believed to be significant.

Despite a decade of technological, tactical, and strategic refinements and improvements, Air Force and
allied CIA personnel watching computer monitors in distant locations have continually failed to
discriminate between armed combatants and innocent civilians and, as a result, the judge-jury-
executioner drone assassination program is widely considered to have run afoul of international law.

In addition, drone warfare seems to be creating a sinister system of embedded economic incentives that
may lead to increasing casualty figures on the ground. “In some targeting programs, staffers have
review quotas -- that is, they must review a certain number of possible targets per given length of time,”
The Atlantic’s Joshua Foust recently wrote of the private contractors involved in the process. “Because
they are contractors,” he explains, “their continued employment depends on their ability to satisfy the
stated performance metrics. So they have a financial incentive to make life-or-death decisions about
possible kill targets just to stay employed. This should be an intolerable situation, but because the
system lacks transparency or outside review it is almost impossible to monitor or alter.”

As flight hours rise year by year, these stark drawbacks are compounded by a series of technical glitches
and vulnerabilities that are ever more regularly coming to light. These include: Iraqi insurgents hacking
drone video feeds, a virulent computer virus infecting the Air Force’s unmanned fleet, large percentages
of drone pilots suffering from "high operational stress," a friendly fire incident in which drone operators
killed two U.S. military personnel, increasing numbers of crashes, and the possibility of an Iranian drone-
hijacking, as well as those more than 70 catastrophic mishaps detailed in Air Force accident investigation
documents.

Over the last decade, a more-is-better mentality has led to increased numbers of drones, drone bases,
drone pilots, and drone victims, but not much else. Drones may be effective in terms of generating body
counts, but they appear to be even more successful in generating animosity and creating enemies.

The Air Force’s accident reports are replete with evidence of the flaws inherent in drone technology,
and there can be little doubt that, in the future, ever more will come to light. A decade’s worth of
futility suggests that drone warfare itself may already be crashing and burning, yet it seems destined
that the skies will fill with drones and that the future will bring more of the same.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com. An award-winning journalist, his work has
appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. This article is the fifth in
his new series on the changing face of American empire, which is being underwritten by Lannan
Foundation. You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on Tumblr, and on Facebook. (To listen to
Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Turse discusses why drone warfare is
anything but failure-proof, click here, or download it to your iPod here.)

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Nick Turse




What 70 Downed Drones Tell Us About the
New American Way of War
    




Nick Turse
Tom Dispatch
Janaury 17, 2012

American fighter jets screamed over the Iraqi countryside heading for the MQ-1 Predator drone,
while its crew in California stood by helplessly. What had begun as an ordinary reconnaissance
mission was now taking a ruinous turn. In an instant, the jets attacked and then it was all over.

The Predator, one of the Air Force’s workhorse hunter/killer robots, had been obliterated.

An account of the spectacular end of that nearly $4 million drone in November 2007 is contained
in a collection of Air Force accident investigation documents recently examined by
TomDispatch. They catalog more than 70 catastrophic Air Force drone mishaps since 2000,
each resulting in the loss of an aircraft or property damage of $2 million or more.

These official reports, some obtained by TomDispatch through the Freedom of Information Act,
offer new insights into a largely covert, yet highly touted war-fighting, assassination, and spy
program involving armed robots that are significantly less reliable than previously
acknowledged. These planes, the latest wonder weapons in the U.S. military arsenal, are tested,
launched, and piloted from a shadowy network of more than 60 bases spread around the globe,
often in support of elite teams of special operations forces. Collectively, the Air Force
documents offer a remarkable portrait of modern drone warfare, one rarely found in a decade of
generally triumphalist or awestruck press accounts that seldom mention the limitations of drones,
much less their mission failures.

The aerial disasters described draw attention not only to the technical limitations of drone
warfare, but to larger conceptual flaws inherent in such operations. Launched and landed by
aircrews close to battlefields in places like Afghanistan, the drones are controlled during
missions by pilots and sensor operators — often multiple teams over many hours — from bases
in places like Nevada and North Dakota. They are sometimes also monitored by “screeners”
from private security contractors at stateside bases like Hurlburt Field in Florida. (A recent
McClatchy report revealed that it takes nearly 170 people to keep a single Predator in the air for
24 hours.)

In other words, drone missions, like the robots themselves, have many moving parts and much, it
turns out, can and does go wrong. In that November 2007 Predator incident in Iraq, for instance,
an electronic failure caused the robotic aircraft to engage its self-destruct mechanism and crash,
after which U.S. jets destroyed the wreckage to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. In
other cases, drones — officially known as remotely piloted aircraft, or RPAs — broke down,
escaped human control and oversight, or self-destructed for reasons ranging from pilot error and
bad weather to mechanical failure in Afghanistan, Djibouti, the Gulf of Aden, Iraq, Kuwait, and
various other unspecified or classified foreign locations, as well as in the United States.

By Rosa Golijan

Sep 14, 2009 10:20 PM 58,075 137



Runaway Drone Shot Out of Sky




                                                   An MQ-9 Reaper drone's fail-safe programming failed
and it rushed through Afghanistan's airspace on Sunday. The US Air Force simply responded by sending a
manned plane to shoot it down. Turns out this isn't all that uncommon.
Apparently the pilots of an unmanned, but armed, MQ-9 Reaper drone lost control of the UAV a few days
ago. The resulting manned mission to take it down was mounted almost immediately and ended
successfully before the drone reached the edges of Afghanistan's airspace.

I wonder what would've happened if the Reaper hadn't been shot down. It is typically used for "hunter-
killer" missions and targets enemies on the ground. Would it continue a mission like that without
operator input?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like the Reaper are supposed to be programmed to return to their home bases
in case they lose contact with their pilots. There's no explanation as to why the fail-safe didn't kick in for
this particular Reaper. Nor is this incident the first time that a UAV has been shot down by intentional
friendly fire. What's going on and when can I start to panic? [Aviation Weekly via Popular Science]




Our Own Military Is Using Drones to
Collect Info on Us Without a Warrant
                                                    The government is in the process of rewriting
regulations so that private citizens and law enforcement agencies can fly drones willy-nilly through the
skies. The proposition has a lot of people very nervous that the government will be increasingly
monitoring us from above. Turns out they've probably been doing it already.

New documents obtained by CBS Los Angeles reveal that under current regulations, it is possible for Air
Force drones to gather information on American soil without a warrant. Technically, Air Force drones
aren't allowed to perform surveillance in US airspace under most circumstances. (They can only be used
to fight back against foreign intelligence operations, the war on drugs, and for counter-terrorism.)
However, if in the process of conducting other missions an Air Force drone happens to capture
information, it's not immediately tossed out.

What has critics alarmed is that data collected by drones accidentally, under the guidelines, can be kept
by the military up to three months before being purged and can also be turned over to "another
Department of Defense or government agency to whose function it pertains."

In other words, what the Air Force accidentally captures might just end up in the hands of local law
enforcement or anyone else that might find what you're up to interesting. But what exactly constitutes
accidentally? Drones could be misused under the guise of a mishap and there's very little we could do
about it. Yikes. [CBS Los Angeles]

Image credit: Gwoeii/Shutterstock
By Leslie Horn

May 1, 2012 12:00 PM 48,873 136



An Alabama Police Department Has
No Idea Why It Owns Two Drones




                                                    Surprise! The Gadsden, Ala. Police Department
recently discovered that it has two drones, and no one, including Chief John Crane, knows why.

Looks like a case for... well, probably not this department, where everyone seems to be scratching their
heads. Crane, who was named chief in February, didn't stumble on the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
until about two weeks ago. He doesn't know where they came from, but they've had them since 2010. The
duo of UAV Wasps cost $150,000, and they were covered by a federal grant.
Seriously, how do you just have a pair of drones and not know it? And Gadsden even has the official go-
ahead to fly them. It was included on a list of organizations with FAA authorization released last week.

Gadsden hasn't used the drones-which can fly at a maximum altitude of 500 feet-yet, which is probably
fine. A town of 37,000 people probably doesn't have much need for aerial surveillance. [Gadsden Times
via AP]

Image credit: Gwoeii/Shutterstock




By Sam Biddle
Jun 12, 2012 7:00 PM 25,100 33




This Is What It Looks Like When a
Giant Drone Crashes on US Soil




We often think of drones as distant hovering sparrows in the sky, buzzing and cooing, firing off the
occasional Hellfire missile. But they're enormous flying machines with massive wingspans. And when they
crash, they sure leave a giant flaming mark.

The AP footage above was captured in the aftermath of yesterday's crash of an RQ-4 Global Hawk
operated by the Navy. It was on a routine flight above Maryland's idyllic (and thankfully, sparsely
populated) Eastern Shore, testing its massive surveillance abilities. Then it crashed, leaving a giant ring of
flaming debris and destruction in a spot where no people, buildings, or anything of worth happened to
stand.




                                                     But you can imagine what it would've been like! People
killed and things aflame. The Global Hawk is a big ol' bird, 44 feet long, 15 high, and a wingspan of over
115 feet, weighing in at almost 27,000 pounds—that's about two elephants. And it's filled with fuel, of
course, until DARPA can fix up a way for it to fly on Congressional hot air.

They'd be lucky, as there's plenty of that to go around these days: the Federation of American Scientists
reports a new Senatorial call for drones to fly freely across the US:

The integration of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS)
needs to be expedited, the Senate Armed Services Committee said in its report on the FY2013 defense
authorization bill last week.

"While progress has been made in the last 5 years, the pace of development must be accelerated; greater
cross-agency collaboration and resource sharing will contribute to that objective," the Committee said.

A provision of the bill would encourage greater collaboration on drone integration among the
Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA.

...

"Without the ability to operate freely and routinely in the NAS, UAS development and training– and
ultimately operational capabilities– will be severely impacted," the Committee report said.

There's very little talk of safety alongside the hurrahs for drone flocks. And looking above, you have to
wonder why—it could've just as easily been someone's apartment building. Not that the Navy ever does
that.
By Annalee Newitz

May 25, 2012 8:02 AM 12,384 148



Will armed drones be policing
American cities?




                                                      Could the next wave of Occupy protests be ripped
apart by rubber bullets and tear gas launched by remote-controlled robots hovering overhead, steered by
police officers miles away? It's not a futurist scenario anymore. According to CBSDC:

The Federal Aviation Administration has allowed several police departments to use drones across the
U.S. They are controlled from a remote location and use infrared sensors and high-resolution cameras.
Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Texas told The Daily that
his department is considering using rubber bullets and tear gas on its drone.
"Those are things that law enforcement utilizes day in and day out and in certain situations it might be
advantageous to have this type of system on the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)," McDaniel told The
Daily . . .

Civil liberties group ACLU is actively trying to stop the adoption of armed UAVs. Catherine Crump, an
ACLU attorney, says there are several problems with the idea, but the main one is that police operating
drones from a remote location may be shooting without access to all the information they need to make
the right decision. Police on the scene can gain a lot more context than ones looking down from a UAV
surveillance camera.

Another big issue is computer malfunction. If an armed drone is hacked, or has a bug, it could conceivably
start randomly targeting innocents. With police operators miles away, a lot of damage could be done
before the drone was stopped.

Crump added that the use of armed drones could actually be interpreted as an unconstitutional use of
force.

If this legal battle heats up, we may be about to witness the first constitutional interpretations of the
status of robots.

via CBSDC




By Spencer Ackerman - W… Jun 11, 2012 5:40 PM 18,540 26
Navy Loses Global Hawk Drone in
Maryland Crash




                                                       The Navy was all set to roll out its upgraded spy drone,
a 44-foot behemoth. Then one of its Global Hawks crashed into an eastern Maryland marsh on Monday.
It's the latest setback for the Navy's robotic aircraft.

An unarmed RQ-4A Global Hawk went down during a training exercise near the Naval aviation base at
Patuxent River, Md. on Monday, CNN reports. Local news has footage of the wreckage. No one was hurt
except the Navy's pride.

But ouch, that pride. As AOL Defense reports, Thursday marks the debut of a new pimped-out Global
Hawk at Pax River, as part of the Navy's newest iteration of its Broad Area Maritime Surveillance
Program. BAMS, as it's known, uses a Global Hawk outfitted with Navy-specific sensors to spy on a whole
lot of ocean and beach. In this case, the Navy was set to debut two new, powerful 360-degree radars
aboard its Global Hawks, with range in the hundreds of miles, as part of a $1.16 billion contract signed in
2008.

It's unclear if the Global Hawk that crashed was actually carrying the new radars. Even if it wasn't, the
drone programs run by Naval aviation look increasingly star-crossed. In April, technical glitches forced
the Navy to ground its robotic Fire Scout helicopters despite praising their performance in
counternarcotics operations to the high heavens. Then the Navy decided to spend another quarter billion
dollars on an upgrade.

A more ambitious Navy drone program would, for the first time, allow an armed drone to take off and
land from the deck of an aircraft carrier. But the so-called X-47B won't be ready until 2018 at the earliest.
For now, the stealthy, batwing-shaped robot makes people who see it fear an alien invasion. Don't ask
about drone submarines, since they're an immature technology.

Drones crash, and however embarrassing this current crash is, the Global Hawk is a robotic workhorse.
But it didn't take long for the Twitter-borne drone watcher @drunkenpredator to rechristen BAMS "Bits
of Aircraft in Maryland Soil."
FAA To Ease Rules For Police Agencies To Fly
Unmanned Drones
May 15, 2012 8:16 AM




Reporting Charles Feldman


LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Surveillance aircraft used by the U.S. military overseas could soon be coming to the skies
above Los Angeles County.


KNX 1070′s Charles Feldman reports the Federal Aviation Administration is making it easier for local law
enforcement agencies to fly unmanned drones.


The FAA has streamlined the process that would allow agencies to fly smaller, unarmed versions of the drones that
hunt down terrorists in places such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.


While the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not yet applied for an application to fly drones over our skies,
its Homeland Security chief Bob Osborne said drones could be in the department’s future — with some caveats.


“We have so much congestion in the skies that I would anticipate that there would be some pretty rigid safety
standards,” said Osborne.


Drones are typically used over locations where helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are unable to fly, which Osborne
said could have a myriad of applications here in the Southland.


“Mountain rescue, where you have a car over the side that’s a thousand feet down the cliff, oftentimes our aircraft
can’t fly that low,” he said. “It would be wonderful to know what’s down there before we send a rescue crew.”


Federal officials already utilize drones to patrol a 1,200-mile wide swath of land east of San Diego near the southeast
California border.


But the recent expansion of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) above American cities has raised
privacy concerns among some who believe the technology could be used for surveillance on U.S. citizens without their
knowledge.


President Obama set a deadline in February for the FAA to draft legislation by May 14 that would determine how it
will regulate the use of lightweight drones by police and other public safety agencies.
The Age Of Drones: Military May Be Using Drones
In US To Help Police
Critics fear invasion of privacy

June 4, 2012 7:43 AM




Reporting Charles Feldman


LOS ANGELES (KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO) — As the Federal Aviation Administration helps usher in an age of
drones for U.S. law enforcement agencies, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) domestically by the U.S.
military — and the sharing of collected data with police agencies — is raising its own concerns about possible
violations of privacy and Constitutional law, according to drone critics.


A non-classified U.S. Air Force intelligence report obtained by KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO dated April 23, 2012, is
helping fuel concern that video and other data inadvertently captured by Air Force drones already flying through
some U.S. airspace, might end up in the hands of federal or local law enforcement, doing an end-run around normal
procedures requiring police to obtain court issued warrants.




Charles Feldman flies a drone in Simi Valley


LISTEN: PART ONE OF KNX 1070′S CHARLES FELDMAN’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
US Congressmen demand justification for
drone strikes
Send letter to President Obama as latest drone strike in North Waziristan kills five.

By Huma Imtiaz

Published: June 14, 2012




Send letter to President Obama as latest drone strike in North Waziristan kills five.

WASHINGTON:

Twenty-six US Congressmen have sent a letter to President Barack Obama “demanding a
legal justification from the White House for signature drone strikes.”

According to a press release, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and 25 other members of the
Congress said that drone strikes “could significantly increase risks of killing innocent civilians or
those with no relationship to a potential attack on the US and further inflame anti-American
sentiment abroad”.

The letter, signed by 24 Democrat and 2 Republican members of the US House, demands
information regarding the authorisation and execution of signature drone strikes along with the
mechanisms used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Joint Special Operations
Command (JSOC) to ensure the legality of such killings.
It also questions “the nature of the follow-up that is conducted when civilians are killed or
injured… and the mechanisms that ensure civilian casualty numbers are collected, tracked and
analysed.”

Congressman Kucinich said, “The implications of the use of drones for our national security are
profound. They are faceless ambassadors that cause civilian deaths, and are frequently the only
direct contact with Americans that the targeted communities have. They can generate powerful
and enduring anti-American sentiment.”

Drone attack in North Waziristan

Meanwhile, a fresh drone strike killed at least five foreign militants in the North Waziristan tribal
region on Wednesday.

A US pilot-less aircraft fired two missiles at a vehicle on Esha-Razmak Road in Miramshah, a
security official said.

Another official, however, put the number of missiles fired at four – only two of them hitting
their target. He added that five Uzbek militants on board the vehicle were killed on the spot.

The vehicle was hit while it was passing through Malik Azdar village, about 15 kilometres east
of Miramshah Bazaar.

Malik Azdar village is inhabited by the Borakhel, a sub-tribe of the Waziris. “Residents rushed
to the scene and started extinguishing the fire on the vehicle,” he added. Witnesses claimed that
five charred bodies were retrieved from the vehicle.

Earlier, 15 militants were killed on June 4 when a US drone fired four missiles on a militant
compound in the Mir Ali sub-division of North Waziristan.

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT IN MIRAMSHAH)

Published In The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.




US Congressmen demand justification for
drone strikes

Huma Imtiaz
Express Tribune News
June 14, 2012
WASHINGTON: Twenty-six US Congressmen have sent a letter to President Barack Obama
“demanding a legal justification from the White House for signature drone strikes.”




According to a press release, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and 25 other members of the
Congress said that drone strikes “could significantly increase risks of killing innocent civilians or
those with no relationship to a potential attack on the US and further inflame anti-American
sentiment abroad”.

The letter, signed by 24 Democrat and 2 Republican members of the US House, demands
information regarding the authorisation and execution of signature drone strikes along with the
mechanisms used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Joint Special Operations
Command (JSOC) to ensure the legality of such killings.

It also questions “the nature of the follow-up that is conducted when civilians are killed or
injured… and the mechanisms that ensure civilian casualty numbers are collected, tracked and
analysed.”

Full article here




Drones: as military use expands, civil use
being developed
Drone Wars UK
May 17, 2012

Just a few days after a senior US counter-terrorism expert warned that US drone strikes were
turning Yemen into the “Arabian equivalent of Waziristan”, US drone strikes yesterday aped the
tactic of ‘follow up’ strikes used by the US in Pakistan.

According to CNN, a strike in which seven suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed was
followed by a strike on local residents rushing to the scene to help the injured. Local sources
said that between eight and twelve civilians were killed in the second, follow-up strike. A
Yemeni security officials expressed regret for the civilian casualties and injuries. “The targets of
the raids were not the civilians, and we give our condolences to the families of those who lost a
loved one.”

Over the past few weeks US drone strikes and other military activity has been ratcheted up in
Yemen as the White House has given ‘greater leeway’ to the CIA and JSOC to launch attacks.
Micah Zenko at the US Council on Foreign Relations estimates there will be more US strikes this
month in Yemen than there has ever been in a single month in Pakistan. For details see the
Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s excellent database of US covert activity in Yemen.

Drone strikes continue in Pakistan of course and no doubt in Afghanistan although almost no
details of these are released. Last week the US apologised after a strike killed a mother and her
five children in Afghanistan but it was not revealed if the strikes was from a drone or a manned
aircraft.

Drone fatalities continue to spread around the globe. As we reported last year, US drones from
Iraq were moved to Turkey to help the Turkish military “monitor” Kurdish separatists. Today
(16 May) it was revealed by the Wall Street Journal that information from one of these drones
led directly to a Turkish military attack in which 38 civilians were killed last December. Last
week an engineer working for an Austrian company was killed and two others injured when a
drone they were demonstrating to the South Korean military crashed.

Meanwhile preparations aimed at enabling the use of unmanned drones to fly in civil airspace
continues at a brisk pace both in the US and the UK.

Yesterday the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it had met the deadline
for the first changes demanded by the new FAA Act aimed at allowing drones to fly in US civil
airspace by September 2015. The Act mandated that the FAA must streamline the process for
government agencies to gain Certificates of Authorization (COA) to fly drones within US civil
airspace within 90 days.

Meanwhile in the UK BAE Systems has begun a series of flight tests over the Irish Sea as part of
a programme aimed at allowing unmanned drones to fly within UK civil airspace. BAE Systems
is one of a number of military aerospace companies funding the ASTRAEA (Autonomous
Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) programme. According to
the ASTRAEA website it is “a UK industry-led consortium focusing on the technologies,
systems, facilities, procedures and regulations that will allow autonomous vehicles to operate
safely and routinely in civil airspace over the United Kingdom.”

According to The Engineer, BAE has fitted an “autonomous navigation system” on a Jetstream
31 passenger aircraft to enable it to fly without a pilot – although a pilot was on board in case of
problems.

A BAE spokesperson told the Guardian that the tests “will demonstrate to regulators such as the
Civil Aviation Authority and air traffic control service providers the progress made towards
achieving safe routine use of UAVs [unmanned air vehicle] in UK airspace.” Further flights
 will take place over the next three months testing infra-red systems as well as ‘sense-and-avoid’
systems.




Dragonfly drones and cyborg moths: The
future of spying and rescue missions
UK Daily Mail
Aug 1, 2011

The next generation of military robots is set to be based on designs inspired by the insect world.

The dragonfly drones and cyborg moths, with in-built micro-cameras, could revolutionise spying
missions and rescue operations.

The advantage of using drones is that they can be used in emergency situations too dangerous for
people and in secret military surveillance raids.

And new research suggests that the mechanics of insects can be reverse-engineered to design
midget machines to scout battlefields and search for victims trapped in rubble.

Fresh food that lasts from eFoodsDirect (AD)

Scientists have taken their inspiration from animals which have evolved over millennia to the
perfect conditions for flight.

Full article here




Dragonfly drones and cyborg moths: Tiny
flying robots set to be the future of spying
and rescue missions
By Daily Mail Reporter
UPDATED: 02:39 EST, 1 August 2011

The next generation of military robots is set to be based on designs inspired by
the insect world.
The dragonfly drones and cyborg moths, with in-built micro-cameras, could
revolutionise spying missions and rescue operations.

The advantage of using drones is that they can be used in emergency situations
too dangerous for people and in secret military surveillance raids.




Housefly: Scientists hope to harness insects' extraordinary flying ability to cut down the size of
military drones

And new research suggests that the mechanics of insects can be reverse-
engineered to design midget machines to scout battlefields and search for
victims trapped in rubble.

Scientists have taken their inspiration from animals which have evolved over
millennia to the perfect conditions for flight.



Zoologist Richard Bomphrey, of Oxford University, is leading a study to
generate new insight into how insect wings have evolved over the last 350
million years.

He said: 'Nature has solved the problem of how to design miniature flying
machines.
'By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically
engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they are as small as
insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings.'




Drone: Unmanned aircraft are currently used for surveillance and bombing missions, but their
large size makes them unwieldy

The insect manoeuvrability which allows flies the ability to land precisely and
fly off again at speed may one day save lives in wars and disasters.

The military would like to develop tiny robots that can fly inside caves and
barricaded rooms to send back real-time intelligence about the people and
weapons inside.

Dr Bomphrey said: 'Scary spider robots were featured in Michael Crichton's
1980s film Runaway - but our robots will be much more scaled down and look
more like the quidditch ball in the Harry Potter films, because of its ability to
hover and flutter.

'The problem for scientists at the moment is that aircrafts can't hover and
helicopters can't go fast. And it is impossible to make them very small.

'With insects you get a combination of both these assets in miniature. And when
you consider we have been flying for just over a hundred years as opposed to
350 million years, I would say it is they who have got it right, and not us!'

Currently, the smallest of state-of-the-art fixed-wing unmanned surveillance
vehicles are around a foot wide. The incorporation of flapping wings is the
secret to making the new designs so small.
To achieve flight, any object requires a combination of thrust and lift. In
manmade aircraft, two separate devices - engines and wings - are needed to
generate these, but this limits the scope for miniaturising flying machines.

An insect's flapping wings combine both thrust and lift. If manmade vehicles
could emulate this more efficient approach, it would be possible to scale down
flying machines to much smaller dimensions than is currently possible.

Dr Bomphrey said: 'This will require a much more detailed understanding than
we currently have of how insect wings have evolved, and specifically of how
different types of insect wing have evolved for different purposes.'

The team's groundbreaking work has attracted the attention of NATO, the US
Air Force and the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development.

The research is expected to produce findings that can be used by the defence
industry within three to five years, leading to the development and widespread
deployment of insect-sized flying machines in the next two decades.

Dr Bomphrey said: 'This is just one more example of how we can learn
important lessons from nature. Tiny flying machines could provide the perfect
way of exploring all kinds of dark, dangerous and dirty places.'



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2020750/Dragonfly-drones-cyborg-moths-
Tiny-flying-robots-set-future-spying-rescue-missions.html#ixzz1xnLlT01H

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:9
posted:9/21/2012
language:English
pages:54