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US Drones Onward

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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. 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. 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. Two, in particular, both published this month, reflect the current ethical divide on the issue. 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 Heyns’ forthright comments were made at an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) event, linked to a UN debate into the US covert war on terror. 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. Our Robot Future: New York’s Drone Population Could Boom With New Technology & Laws. 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. 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. Chris Woods of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) reported this week that the CIA has resumed the practice of attacking rescuers who come to the aid of victims of the strikes as well as funeral goers who mourn them. The attacks were front-page news in Pakistan during Pillay’s four-day visit to the country. The Myth of the Drone War “Successes” Assassination Campaigns Do Not Win Wars, and They Create as Many Enemies as They Destroy As the US and its allies ponder what to do about Syria, one suggestion advanced by the protagonists of armed intervention is to use unmanned drones to attack Syrian government targets.

The Myth of the Drone War “Successes”

The proposal is a measure of the extraordinary success of the White House, CIA and Defense Department in selling the drone as a wonder weapon despite all the evidence to the contrary. Peter King: Drones 'Carry Out the Policies of Righteousness and Goodness' Drones: A Photo History. 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. 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. “IC employees… must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on intelligence-related matters, and “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” the Directive stated.

The new Directive reflects — and escalates — tensions between the government and the press over leaks of classified information. 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. First, there was the revelation that Obama maintains a "kill list" of potential al Qaeda targets and signs off personally on major drone strikes in the continuing global war on terror.

While Obama's involvement suggests a certain level of rigor in target selection, the article also highlighted the fact that the president is ordering military strikes, including against U.S. citizens, without any congressional or judicial oversight. Next came the revelation that under Obama's presidency the United States has not only continued but ramped up a de facto war with Iran, with cybertools intended to disrupt Iran's efforts to create a nuclear weapon.

The popularity of unmanned vehicles is not difficult to understand. They're cheap; they keep Americans out of harm's way; and they kill "bad guys. " Rob Jensen/USAF via Getty Images. 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.

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. The idea of unmanned flight had been around for decades, but it was in the 1990s, thanks to advances in GPS and computing, that the possibilities for drones really took off, as the New Yorker recently recounted [6]. While hobbyists and researchers looked for uses for automated, airborne cameras, the military became the driving force behind drone developments.

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. In the coming weeks, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office north of Houston says it will deploy a $300,000 ShadowHawk drone — bought with a federal homeland security grant — to spy on criminals, support SWAT operations and look for missing persons.

Why The U.S. Is Aggressively Targeting Yemen. 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. In Afghanistan, Spy Balloons Now Part of Landscape. Kucinich/Conyers: Ensure Transparency and Accountability In The U.S. Combat Drone Program. Twenty-six Members of Congress sent the following letter to President Obama asking that Congress be provided with information on the CIA and JSOCs use of "signature" drone strikes.

Signers were: Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Rush Holt, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Maurice Hinchey, Charlie Rangel, Pete Stark, Mike Honda, Raul Grijalva, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Lynn Woolsey, Hank Johnson, Luis Gutierrez, Ron Paul, John Lewis, George Miller, Jim McDermott, Yvette Clarke, Peter DeFazio, Peter Welch, Donna Edwards, Jerrold Nadler, Keith Ellison, Walter Jones. US attack kills 5 Afghan kids. USAF Drones May Conduct “Incidental” Domestic Surveillance. U.S. 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.