background preloader

US Drones Onward

Facebook Twitter

Hidden History: America's Secret Drone War in Africa. An MQ-9 Reaper in Iraq in 2008.

Hidden History: America's Secret Drone War in Africa

Photo: Air Force More secret bases. More and better unmanned warplanes. More frequent and deadly robotic attacks. Some five years after a U.S. Thanks to media accounts, indirect official statements, fragmentary crash reports and one complaint by a U.N. monitoring group, we can finally begin to define — however vaguely — the scope and scale of the secret African drone war. The details that follow are in part conjecture, albeit informed conjecture. Since 2007, Predator drones and the larger, more powerful Reapers — reinforced by Ravens and Scan Eagle UAVs and Fire Scout robot helicopters plus a small number of huge, high-flying Global Hawks — have hunted Somali jihadists on scores of occasions. In all, air raids by manned and unmanned U.S. aircraft have killed at least 112 Somali militants, according to a count by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The Bomb and the Drone. The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki belong always before us.

The Bomb and the Drone

The agony of those two cities must remain our dark beacon. Hiroshima/Nagasaki wasn’t so much about targets as about audiences. We – or rather, the very highest reaches of the US government – annihilated a couple hundred thousand nameless, unarmed, undefended human beings to warn the world: “Don’t mess with us; we run things now.” Drone Pilots, Waiting for a Kill Shot 7,000 Miles Away. Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times A drone pilot at the base at Hancock Field, near Syracuse, working the controls during a training operation.

Drone Pilots, Waiting for a Kill Shot 7,000 Miles Away

“I see mothers with children, I see fathers with children, I see fathers with mothers, I see kids playing soccer,” Colonel Brenton said. When the call comes for him to fire a missile and kill a militant — and only, Colonel Brenton said, when the women and children are not around — the hair on the back of his neck stands up, just as it did when he used to line up targets in his F-16 fighter jet. Afterward, just like the old days, he compartmentalizes. “I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,” he said. The Moral Hazard of Drones. The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. As the debate on the morality of the United States’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles (“U.A.V.’s,” also known as drones) has intensified in recent weeks, several news and opinion articles have appeared in the media.

Soulless Killing Machines. “…it may be a surprise to find some moral philosophers, political scientists, and weapons specialists believe unmanned aircraft offer marked moral advantages over almost any other tool of warfare.” —Scott Shane, national security reporter for the New York Times, “The Moral Defense For Drones,” 7/15/12 First, one should never be surprised to find that the NY Times can ferret out experts to say virtually anything. Didn’t they dig up those who told us all that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons? Stalker UAS flight time improved by 2,400 percent using laser beams.

The flight time of the Stalker UAS has been improved by 2,400 percent using a wireless laser beam power system (Photo: Lockheed Martin) Image Gallery (2 images) Late last year, DARPA researchers upped the standard two-hour endurance of Lockheed Martin’s Stalker small unmanned aerial system (UAS) by a factor of four using a propane-fueled compact solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC).

Stalker UAS flight time improved by 2,400 percent using laser beams

Now the flight time of the aircraft has been improved by a whopping 2,400 percent, with a test flight lasting more than 48 hours using a laser power system to wirelessly transfer power to the UAS from the ground. The indoor flight test saw the Stalker UAS modified to incorporate a Power Link system developed by Kent, Washington, based company LaserMotive. UN expert labels CIA tactic exposed by Bureau ‘a war crime’ The United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva (UNHRC/ Flickr) The UN’s expert on extrajudicial killings has described a tactic used by the CIA and first exposed by a Bureau investigation as ‘a war crime’.

UN expert labels CIA tactic exposed by Bureau ‘a war crime’

Earlier this year the Bureau and the Sunday Times revealed the CIA was deliberately targeting rescuers and funeral-goers in its Pakistan drone strikes. Those controversial tactics have reportedly been revived. Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur, told a meeting in Geneva on June 21: ’Reference should be made to a study earlier this year by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism… If civilian ‘rescuers’ are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.’ Related article: Obama terror drones – CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals. ACLU: The Government’s Pseudo-Secrecy Snow Job on Targeted Killing. Just before a midnight deadline on Wednesday, the government filed its legal brief responding to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information about the legal and factual basis for the deaths of three U.S. citizens in targeted killing drone strikes last fall.

ACLU: The Government’s Pseudo-Secrecy Snow Job on Targeted Killing

(File Photo) Our initial reaction to the brief is here, but the government’s position is so remarkable that it warrants further comment. We filed this lawsuit on February 1, 2012, after the government responded to our Freedom of Information Act request by refusing to confirm or deny whether it had records about the legal authority or factual basis for the targeted killing of U.S. citizens. Drone Documents: Why The Government Won’t Release Them. The government has rebuffed attempts by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times to obtain documents related to drone strikes and targeted killing.

Drone Documents: Why The Government Won’t Release Them

We lay out their argument. A crew chief with the 432d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron performs a pre-flight inspection on an MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base in June 2008. (Steve Huckvale/U.S. Air Force) Our Robot Future: New York’s Drone Population Could Boom With New Technology & Laws. Many protestors resisted and nearly 200 were arrested.

Our Robot Future: New York’s Drone Population Could Boom With New Technology & Laws

Journalists hurrying towards the park reported being illegally barred by police. The crews of two news-choppers--one each from CBS and NBC--claimed they were ordered out of the airspace over Zuccotti Park by the NYPD. Later, NBC claimed its crew misunderstood directions from the control tower. “NYPD cannot, and did not, close air space. Switchblades in the Sky. The US military has issued soldiers in Afghanistan with a new class of lightweight unmanned drone known as the Switchblade, which can be carried in a backpack and used on the battlefield in place of an air strike.

Switchblades in the Sky

The Switchblade, manufactured by the AeroVironment Corporation in Monrovia, California, weighs just under six pounds (2.7kg) and can be rapidly launched and sent over the nearest ridge to circle above the battlefield before being sent to zero in on the enemy – usually the chest or head of an enemy combatant. The weapon, which commanders have dubbed the “Flying Shotgun”, has been widely tested by the US Army, US Marines and US Air Force. It has proved so effective that AeroVironment has announced more than US$14m (£9m) worth of Switchblade systems and related engineering contracts in the past 10 months. U.N. rights chief calls for drone probe. The U.N.’s human rights commissioner called for an investigation of civilian casualties in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan yesterday, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the aerial attacks would continue.

U.N. rights chief calls for drone probe

“Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law,” the U.N.’s Navi Pillay told a news conference in Islamabad, according to AFP. It was the U.N.’s strongest condemnation yet of President Obama’s remote control war that has killed four top al-Qaida commanders in recents months and scores of bystanders. The Myth of the Drone War “Successes” Assassination Campaigns Do Not Win Wars, and They Create as Many Enemies as They Destroy. Peter King: Drones 'Carry Out the Policies of Righteousness and Goodness' Drones: A Photo History. 1917: Sperry Aerial Torpedo Toward the end of World War I, powered flight was in its infancy, the Wright brothers having flown their primitive biplane across the dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a little over a decade earlier. But it was a time of stunning innovation. In 1917, Peter Cooper and Elmer A. Sperry invented the first automatic gyroscopic stabilizer, which straightens and levels out aircraft during flight, and unmanned flight was born.

Daniel Klaidman on the Mind of a Drone Strike Operator. On Wednesday, wire services reported that 18 civilians were killed in a pre-dawn airstrike in eastern Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai blasted the NATO strike, pointing out that the U.S. government would have a hard time explaining the vans filled with the dead bodies of women and children that local villagers displayed for reporters.

This latest example of civilians caught in the crossfire of America's Long War got a few mentions in the papers and on TV, but it didn't inspire much outrage. And yet it occurred in the middle of a heated debate in Washington and around the country about drone strikes and President Obama's personal involvement in the military's so-called “kill lists.” Why do conventional airstrikes seem to draw so little attention. while drone attacks arouse paroxysms of anger among war critics and many progressives?

Secrecy News. The Director of National Intelligence has forbidden most intelligence community employees from discussing “intelligence-related information” with a reporter unless they have specific authorization to do so, according to an Intelligence Community Directive that was issued last month. US Navy's 'UFO-Like' Stealth Drone Takes Flight. Killing It - By Michael A. Cohen. Last week, two blockbuster New York Times stories cast perhaps the most unfavorable light on President Barack Obama's foreign-policy performance since he took office.

Dissecting Obama’s Standard on Drone Strike Deaths. What do we know about how the administration counts killings by drones? A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile sets off from its hangar at Bagram air base in 2009. (Bonny Schoonakker/AFP/Getty Images) U.S. again bombs mourners. Another right-wing drone skeptic - drones. Ari Melber: Obama Won't Tell us If he Can Kill American Citizens on American Soil. Barack Obama's Righteous Drone Strikes - The Colbert Report - 2012-31-05. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drones. Tase of our lives. As a Texas sheriff prepares to use an unmanned drone as his force’s eye in the sky, and perhaps even arm it with nonlethal weapons like Tasers and rubber bullets, civil liberties groups are crying foul.

Why The U.S. Is Aggressively Targeting Yemen. Copyright © 2012 NPR. Who will drones target? Who in the US will decide? WASHINGTON (AP) — White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in choosing which terrorists will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure for both military and CIA targets. Hoax: CBS Reports Predator Drone Spotted Near Chicago Days Before NATO Summit. Five Reasons Drone Assassinations are Illegal.

US civilian and military employees regularly target and fire lethal unmanned drone guided missiles at people across the world. Thousands of people have been assassinated. Hundreds of those killed were civilians. Some of those killed were rescuers and mourners. In Afghanistan, Spy Balloons Now Part of Landscape. Kucinich/Conyers: Ensure Transparency and Accountability In The U.S. Combat Drone Program. US attack kills 5 Afghan kids. USAF Drones May Conduct “Incidental” Domestic Surveillance. Militant Tied to Bombing of U.S.S. Cole Said to Be Killed. Jeremy Scahill: US Has Become 'Nation of Assassins' Drones and the Dream of Remote Control in the Borderlands. Obama escalates in Yemen – again. Govt Wants More Time to Respond to CIA Drone FOIA Case. First Man Arrested With Drone Evidence Vows to Fight Case. US draws up plans for nuclear drones. Our immoral drone war - Pakistan. In defense of Obama's drones - Terrorism.

Obama’s Delusions of Sanctity. The Drone Boom. Boredom, terror, deadly mistakes: Secrets of the new drone war.