I Confronted a Drone Pilot
WATCH : HERE
Who flies the drones America uses to take out military targets in foreign locales all over the globe? I had the chance to talk to an Air Force drone pilot operating out of Whiteman Air Force Base, and astonishingly, he admitted to me that he took part in strikes on wedding parties in Middle East & Asian countries said to harbor terrorists.I confronted him with some of the troubling news that has emerged about the secret White House kill list and the apparent readiness to destroy the lives of innocent bystanders in pursuit of a target -- women, children and elderly villagers who are all considered nothing more than "collateral damage."Did he, too, find these people dispensable? Did he share the cold rationale of our leaders that it is "worth it" to kill these civilians to target an enemy? I tried to find out when I saw him during a wedding I attended, all while I was deeply aware of the unsettling irony that the celebration we were attending was seen differently than the weddings, funerals and other gatherings that U.S. airstrikes have unofficially declared to be venues of war.
(Truthstream Media.com)Who flies the drones America uses to take out military targets in foreign locales all over the globe? I had the chance to talk to an Air Force drone pilot operating out of Whiteman Air Force Base, and astonishingly, he admitted to me that he took part in strikes on wedding parties in Middle East & Asian countries said to harbor terrorists.I confronted him with some of the troubling news that has emerged about the secret White House kill list and the apparent readiness to destroy the lives of innocent bystanders in pursuit of a target – women, children and elderly villagers who are all considered nothing more than “collateral damage.” Clearly, he didn’t want to hear it.Did he, too, find these people dispensable? Did he share the cold rationale of our leaders that it is “worth it” to kill these civilians to target an enemy? I tried to find out when I saw him during a wedding I attended, all while I was deeply aware of the unsettling irony that the celebration we were attending was seen differently than theweddings, funerals and other gatherings that U.S. airstrikes have unofficially declared to be venues of war.Horrifyingly, the use of airstrikes to kill rescue workers in a “double tap” when they come for the bodies of drone victims has been repeatedly documented, as well.Perpetual wars spilling across many borders is now a foregone conclusion. The public pays it little mind. Drones take this even further, targeting individuals determined to be combatants – without a declaration of war against their country and without formal charges, allegations or complaints against those individuals.Due process is effectively dead. The White House, the Pentagon, and the pilots who operate their predator drones have become judge, jury and executioner while the public isn’t even told who is on their kill list, or why.Drones are coming home to roost, too. Estimates are that U.S. skies will see some 30,000 drones within the coming decade, and surveillance is not their only purpose. While they may not be equipped with missiles to target suspects, the use of tasers and other less-lethal weaponry for law enforcement and border security functions has already been proposed.How far will things go? And how far removed will their operators be from the situation? Will they retain the judgement to know when things have gone too far? Or will the lives they hover over become mere blips on a screen? | HERE
May 08, 2013, at 10:27 a.m
Bill to allow police to use drones without search warrant heads to Maine Senate
Examples of some of the aerial surveillance are displayed on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta. A bill being debated in Legislature aims to ban such drones.
AUGUSTA, Maine — In a narrow decision, lawmakers accepted an amendment to a bill offered by Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, that could allow police to use a drone without a search warrant.
In a 7-6 vote on May 1, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee sided with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on the issue of how police can employ unmanned aerial vehicles in criminal investigations.
The bill, as approved by the committee, sets a one-year moratorium on the use of drones by law enforcement in Maine, except in emergencies, while the state’s Criminal Justice Academy studies drone use and issues a report to the Legislature in 2014, including suggested protocols for police use.
Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, the committee’s Senate chairwoman, said no law enforcement agencies in Maine are using drones, so the moratorium wouldn’t affect current activity.
“What we felt was the moratorium safeguards the public now,” Valentino said. “The moratorium does have exceptions in it for emergency situations.”
Those situations would include search-and-rescue operations or other situations in which an individual or the public’s safety was in imminent danger, she said.
Valentino said the legislation allows those developing unmanned aerial vehicles in Maine, either for the military, law enforcement or the private sector, to continue research-and-developmentefforts.
The committee had to consider the economic interests of companies that were working in that sector and also what the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle industry could mean for the state in the future, Valentino said.
Mills said the effort to sort out how Maine should regulate drones is an important one. It points out that the kinds of drone surveillance people find the most offensive and intrusive are already constrained by existing law, she said.
Mills delivered a copy of a 30-page search warrant to help drive home the point that domestic law enforcement couldn’t currently use a drone to trail a person.
Most search warrants are specific to place and do not necessarily allow potential suspects to be tracked, she said. Another issue that could be covered in existing law is whether incidental footage could be collected and later used against a person other than a suspect as detailed in a warrant.
All of those issues would be addressed by the academy’s board, which includes civilians not in law enforcement, Mills said.
Those opposed to leaving police free to use drones without warrants, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, said the measure doesn’t go far enough to protect citizens’ constitutional rights. It also doesn’t protect against an unwarranted invasion of a person’s privacy, said Patrick, the original bill’s author.
Patrick said Tuesday he would have preferred the bill to have come out of committee requiring a search warrant whenever police wanted to use drones in any criminal investigation. “I would have wanted it just the opposite,” he said.
He credited the committee with spending plenty of time with the bill and working hard to reach a compromise on an issue that was emotional for many involved.
Patrick said he believed laws would be passed in the next few years to limit the use of drones, based on what kind of usage of the aircraft Maine sees on the private and public side of things.
He said he favors police getting a warrant to use drones when they are “looking for something” in a criminal investigation, “just like they do now [for other searches].”
Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, said the warrant requirement was important to her organization.
“The big question is whether or not there should be a warrant requirement for domestic drone surveillance,” Bellows said. “The ACLU thinks that law enforcement should have a warrant before spying on Mainers with a drone and the [attorney general] does not. That’s the one issue where we cannot compromise.”
Bellows said letting the Criminal Justice Academy set the rules on drone use in Maine was “letting the police police themselves and is not sufficient to protect the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution — protection against unwarranted search and seizure and that includes surveillance by drones.”
The bill will come to the Senate floor within the next few weeks.
March 12, 2013
Paul Joseph Watson , Infowars.com
Since the Obama administration seems so keen to entrench its authority to kill Americans deemed “terrorists” on foreign soil, why has it failed to drone strike former US Army soldier Eric Harroun, who is now fighting with the Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria?
The question is rhetorical because the answer is already known. Harroun will not be targeted because he is fighting on the same side as the terrorist-led FSA insurgents which the Obama administration has backed to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
“He’s a U.S.-trained soldier turned Muslim warrior who moves between America and countries where the winds of the Arab spring blow, fighting alongside jihadists and America-hating terrorists while celebrating his bloody exploits on YouTube videos,” Reports Fox News.
When questioned as to how he feels about fighting alongside Al-Qaeda terrorists, Harroun responded, “the U.S. plays both sides, too.”
30-year-old Phoenix-born Harroun aided in the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before traveling to Syria to join an organization – Jabhat al-Nusra – that has been listed by the State Department as a terrorist group as a result of its involvement in numerous bloody attacks that have killed civilians.
Back in December, 29 different US-backed Syrian opposition groups pledged their allegiance to Al Nusra, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group which, as the NewYork Times reported, “killed numerous American troops in Iraq.”
If the Obama administration really believes in the necessity of killing Americans who are working alongside America’s enemies abroad, then why has there been no discussion whatsoever of targeting Harroun with a drone strike?
Why is the US Army still providing a known terrorist with disability payments?
Another American who fought alongside Al-Qaeda terrorists in both Libya and Syria, Matthew Van Dyke, recently returned to the United States and is set to give lectures in Washington DC this weekend. Van Dyke admitted that he originally wanted to join the CIA but later became a self-described “freedom fighter”.
Van Dyke fought with Libyan militants under the banner of the LIFG,a terrorist group which killed US troops in Iraq, yet he will not even be questioned by authorities when he visits the nation’s capital. On the other hand, the federal government is on the lookout for potential American terrorists who buy food in bulk or pay for a cup of coffee with cash.
American citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike simply for producing propaganda videos and communicating with accused terrorists. His 16-year-old son was similarly slaughtered for merely sharing his father’s surname. Other American citizens like John Walker Lindh were imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo Bay for fighting with the Taliban. Meanwhile, Harroun and VanDyke are free to fly around the world and re-enter the United States as and when they please despite committing the exact same crimes as the likes of fellow US citizens Lindh and Al-Awlaki.
Eric Harroun’s presence in Syria serves as yet another reminder that US taxpayer dollars are being used to fund an insurrection led by Al-Qaeda terrorists who openly espouse their hatred for America as they ransack Christian churches, burn US flags, chant anti-American slogans and sing the praises of Osama Bin Laden while glorifying the 9/11 attacks.
While Obama’s drone strikes will continue to kill 98% innocent people not even suspected of being “terrorists,” including hundreds of children, real terrorists like Harroun and his ilk will continue to be given free reign because their motive is directly in line with the west’s ongoing neo-colonial campaign to replace non-cooperative Middle Eastern leaders like Bashar Al-Assad with easy to manipulate extremist sock puppets.
This article was posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm Why Doesn’t Obama Drone Strike This Terrorist?
While interviewing actor Daniel Sunjata, Infowars spotted a drone hovering over Austin’s famous Sixth Street during the SXSW festival.
Could this be an ominous indicator of what’s to come? As reporter Darrin McBreen notes, Congress has already signed a bill allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to permit the use of drones – which they have said could number as many as 30,000 by the year 2020.
Related: Bill Clears Path For 30,000 Surveillance Drones Over US In Next Ten Years –Bill clears path for 30000 surveillance drones over us in next ten years
UN says US drone war in Pakistan violates international law
By Alex Lantier
UN officials admitted on Thursday that strikes launched by unmanned US drone aircraft in Pakistan over the objections of the country’s government violate international law. This was announced in a statement by UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
Citing investigations and discussions with Pakistani officials, Emmerson wrote: “As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”Washington has launched hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan, claiming they were precision strikes on leaders of the resistance to NATO’s occupation of neighboring Afghanistan. In fact, what has unfolded is an illegal campaign of mass killings waged against defenseless civilians.Based on discussions with tribal leaders, Emmerson concluded, “Drone strikes routinely inflicted civilian casualties … groups of adult males carrying out ordinary daily tasks were frequently the victims of such strikes.”
Emmerson found that at least 330 drone strikes took place in Pakistan, killing at least 2,200. Many of these victims have little or nothing to do with Washington’s stated rationale for drone killings. According to US government figures, only two percent of those killed by drone strikes in Pakistan are “high-value” targets. According to data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, at least 474 of the victims were confirmed as civilians.
Such figures doubtless vastly underestimate the remote-controlled carnage Washington is unleashing along Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan, one of the poorest and most remote parts of the world. As Emmerson acknowledged, “Efforts to identify the exact number of the deceased (and therefore to establish the exact number of civilian deaths) were hampered by security concerns and by topographical and institutional obstacles … as well as by the cultural tradition of Pashtun tribes to bury their dead as soon as possible.”
US officials dismissed the UN statement, with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland flatly refusing to comment: “We’ve seen his press release. I’m obviously not going to speak about classified information here.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to comment on the UN statement, but noted Washington’s “cooperative security relationship” with the Pakistani army.
The UN statement confirms that the global US network of drone bases and flights—in which Washington orders strikes at will in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and perhaps soon in other parts of Africa as NATO intervenes in Mali and Niger—rests on no legal foundation. A giant apparatus of state murder, criminal in both legal and political terms, is metastasizing throughout the world.
The US government currently operates 8,000 drones worldwide, including some used inside the United States for immigration and other law enforcement purposes. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the drone industry trade group, reportedly aims to turn drone construction into an $82 billion business by 2025.
The dire implications of the spread of armed drones were further underscored by statements of US Attorney General Eric Holder. On March 4, Holder wrote a letter in response to a question as to whether the US president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without trial.” He concluded that there were circumstances in which this would indeed be “necessary and appropriate.”
Such moves aim to abrogate basic constitutional rights and establish a pseudo-legal framework for military rule in the United States itself, amid deep popular opposition to the ruling elite’s agenda of war and social cuts. In this framework, the techniques of drone killing developed to terrorize ex-colonial countries occupied by US imperialism would be available to be turned against American working people.
In the course of more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, Washington and its NATO allies have descended to forms of barbarism that would have been recognizable to the region’s 19th century British colonial overlords, who ruled it through periodic punitive expeditions and exemplary killings. Today such repression is carried out around the clock, taking full advantage of 21st century technology.
Pakistanis are terrorized by the constant sound of drones flying overhead. With US drones firing freely on civilian targets—including medical personnel coming to treat drone strike victims, funerals, schools, and any large gathering of people—social life is shattered by the ever-present fear of death from the sky.
Unsurprisingly, a recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, 74 percent, consider the United States as an “enemy.”
Last year, international law specialists at Stanford and New York University published a report, “Living Under Drones,” examining US drone strikes in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region on the Afghan border.
According to the report’s executive summary, “Fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals.”
The study cited numerous civilians speaking on drone terror. One father of three said, “Drones are always on my mind. It makes it difficult to sleep. They are like a mosquito. Even when you don’t see them, you can hear them, you know they are there.”
Teenager Faheem Qureshi was the sole survivor of a drone strike on his school early in President Obama’s tenure, which fractured his skull and nearly blinded him. He said, “We cannot learn things because we are always in fear of the drones hovering over us, and it really scares the small kids who go to school. At the time the drone struck, I had to take exams, but I couldn’t take exams after that because it weakened my brain. I couldn’t learn things and it affected me emotionally.”
A 45-year-old Pakistani farmer explained that a drone destroyed his house, which was empty as his family worked in the field. He said, “I was extremely sad, because normally a house costs around 10 lakh or 1 million rupees [US$10,593], and I don’t even have 5,000 rupees [US$53] now. I spent my whole life in that house; my father had lived here as well. There is a big difference between having your own home and living on rent or mortgage … I belong to a poor family and my home has been destroyed.”
3/21/2013A Waziri journalist said, “If I’m shopping, I’m really careful and scared. If I’m standing on the road and there is a car parked next to me, I never know if that is going to be the target. Maybe they will target the car in front of me or behind me. Even in mosques, if we’re praying, we’re worried that maybe one person who is standing with us praying is wanted. So wherever we are, we have this fear of drones.”
(Natural News) In physics, there is an axiom that goes something like this: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same principle can be applied to virtually every other aspect of life, including issues dealing with freedom and liberty.
As more and more Americans become concerned about the potential constitutional abuse that could be heaped on society by thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles the Federal Aviation Administration appears set on approving for use over American skies by police, federal agencies and even some universities, one company in Oregon is not waiting around for Congress to rediscover the Constitution's Fourth Amendment privacy protections.
Rather, this firm is going to be proactive, and give Americans a chance to curb the potential for abuse before it even begins.
The company, Domestic Drone Countermeasures, says it has developed, and will soon begin selling, technology that disables drones, U.S. News & World Report said.
The tech firm was founded in February because some of its engineers view UAVs - which are already in use by police may soon be in wider use if the FAA approves commercial uses for drones by 2015, when the agency is set to unveil new rules governing drones - as little more than privacy violation devices.
'They will be unable to complete their mission'"I was personally concerned and I think there's a lot of other people worried about this," Timothy Faucett, a lead engineer on the project, told the magazine. "We've already had many inquiries, a lot of people saying, 'Hey, I don't want these drones looking at me.'"
The company was formed as a spin-off from Aplus Mobile, which markets and sells tough computer processors to defense contractors; the company would not discuss its specific technology because it is currently applying for a number of patents. Faucett goes on to say that work has helped the company develop its anti-drone technology.
According to the report, Domestic Drone Countermeasures plans to sell land-based boxes that are "non-offensive, non-combative and not destructive." The company further states that "drones will not fall from the sky, but they will be unable to complete their missions."
Without discussing specifics, Faucett said the boxes will not interfere with a drone's nav system, and that the technology doesn't involve "jamming of any kind." Rather, he says the company's technology is "an adaptation of something that could be used for military application" with the "combat element replaced with a nondestructive element."
"We understand the nature of the equipment drone manufacturers are using and understand how to counter their sensors," he told the magazine. "We're not going to be countering Predator drones that are shooting cruise missiles, but we're talking about local law enforcement drones and commercial ones that people might be using for spying."
Hat tip to Rand PaulAt present, Faucett admits that the technology will be "expensive," but his company is ready to design custom anti-drone boxes for clients."We envision it could be cheap enough for residential use very soon," he said. "It's quite possible to deploy it if you were shooting a movie and wanted to protect your set, or if you had a house in Malibu and wanted to protect that, we could deploy it there. If a huge company like Google wanted to protect its server farms, it can be scaled up for a larger, fixed installation."Drones are going to become more commonplace, as Natural News has reported. Faucett says as they do, Americans will want to find ways to maintain their privacy."The thing that brought it home for me was Senator [Rand] Paul doing the filibuster, there's a lot of unanswered questions," he said. "We think there might be as much business for this counter drone stuff as there is for the drones themselves."
(Natural News) If you're a business owner, hobbyist or just a drone enthusiast, you need not apply for a permit with the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a drone. You won't get it, you see, because drone permits are being limited to the police and the military. Welcome to America, 2013, home of the Statist.
According to CBS Minnesota, Brooklyn Park, Minn., residents Charles Eide and Mike Danielson said they've been flying radio-controlled aircraft since they were small children and growing up in the same neighborhood.
When they became adults, they formed a business, sharing a mutual love for video production and photography. Soon, station WCCO reported, both realized they could combine their childhood and adult passions; their business really took off when they began doing aerial photography work.
Great business and safety first - but the FAA says no dice
By putting stabilized cameras onto the underbellies of small drone aircraft, both men were able to offer aerial views of a number of properties - construction sites, real estate listings and city attractions, just to name a few.
"It helps sell houses, which is really in my opinion a huge economic impact in the Twin Cities - helps houses move faster," Eide said.
Their business was really booming, until one day when the huge hand of bureaucracy slapped them down. They were contacted by the Minneapolis office of the FAA, and told simply to ground their commercial use of the aircraft. It turns out, they were informed, that current regulations don't permit the use of unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes.
The FAA says commercial use of a UAV is strictly prohibited from operating in what the agency calls "Class B" airspace, which is airspace located in densely populated areas around key airport traffic routes - most often that which is surrounding the busiest airports with higher volumes of commercial air traffic.
Eide says he gets that and understands the need for some regulations of the industry. But he argued that his company already has its own set of safety protocols and that their UAVs rarely fly higher than 200 feet off the ground. What's more, they will never operate them near an airport.
"What we're doing is low-range stuff to show off the real estate market and features in a house or property," Danielson added.
That doesn't matter, according to the FAA. The agency says urban airspace demands one-size-fits-all draconian regulations and restrictions. Eide says he understands, but that his company has invested tens of thousands of dollars in radio-controlled aircraft, so flying safely is not an option but a strict requirement.
Meanwhile, drone approval for law enforcement and the military is soaring
"I agree that there should be regulation on this stuff because there are more and more hands touching this stuff," Eide said. "However, we need to work together here."
The two business owners are hoping the FAA works with them on the issue and the agency says it will examine its rules again, but if history is any indicator, Eide and Donaldson might start looking for another line of work, at least in the short term.
The FAA, meanwhile, is moving full steam ahead in allowing more federal agencies, the military and local police use of drones. According to CBS News, the FAA has given out more than 1,400 licenses to law enforcement agencies, universities and federal agencies to operate drones, despite very vocal concerns being raised by privacy advocates.
And while commercial use for drones may eventually be approved - the FAA is supposed to have crafted new rules governing their use by 2015, though the agency is dragging its feet - the military and federal agencies are expected to dominate the drone manufacturing market.
3/23/2013"[E]ven as the commercial market develops, the military market will be dominant. The drones are bigger, more complex. The military wants the maximum performance and price is no problem. In the commercial sphere, price is paramount," said Phil Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at the Teal Group, which monitors the aerospace industry.Sources:HERE, HERE , HERE , Learn more: HERE FAA says entrepreneurs can't operate drones, only police and military can - 3/22/2013
An orange, 20-foot military drone that was found in Florida’s Upper Keys over the weekend had been shot down during a training mission in January, the U.S. Air Force said Wednesday. 20′ Military Drone Found Floating In Florida Keys - 3/23/2013
26 March 2013
German military deploys lethal drones in Afghanistan
The Bundeswehr (German armed forces) have killed several “insurgents” in Afghanistan with the use of a US drone. The drone was deployed on November 11, 2010 in the Chahar Dara district. At that time, “four suspected anti-government troops were killed” as part of air support for ground troops, the news weekly Der Spiegel has reported in its latest edition.
The case has been kept secret by the German defence ministry for almost two and a half years. The ministry only felt compelled to admit the incident because of a parliamentary question asked by Social Democratic Party (SPD) deputy Hans-Peter Bartels, and then only in a confidential statement.
For the first time, it has been acknowledged by the government that drones have been deployed to kill Afghans at Germany’s behest. Until now, the public has only been aware that the Bundeswehr procured an armed drone for the first time in 2009, used at the time to destroy a weapons cache, but not deployed against people.
The report regarding the drone killings casts a harsh light on the increasingly aggressive character of German militarism. It comes only weeks after an editorial in the finance daily Handelsblatt indicated that Germany was intensively preparing for “resource wars”.
Given the explosion of imperialism after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the growing competition between the imperialist powers for spheres of influence and resources, the German ruling elite is increasingly losing all its inhibitions. After Berlin kept out of the NATO war in Libya in 2011, an action that was sharply criticised by wide sections of the German bourgeoisie, the government has used every opportunity to go on the military offensive.
The Merkel government is participating in the warmongering against Syria and Iran, and has stationed Patriot rockets and some 300 soldiers on the Syria-Turkey border. In Mali, the German authorities are supporting French imperialism’s aggression, with the transportation of troops, weapons and ammunition, as well as a training mission. Last year, military operations were extended in Kosovo and Afghanistan, where thousands of German soldiers have been stationed for more than a decade to secure the interests of German imperialism.
Nevertheless, in comparison to the US armed forces, the German military is capable of mounting only relatively small-scale operations. According to the Bundeswehr, there are about 6,800 of its soldiers deployed around the world at present. By contrast, in December last year the US military had nearly 173,000 soldiers stationed abroad.
The American military budget is also incomparably greater. In 2011, $739.3 billion flowed into the biggest military machine in the world. The total German federal budget that year was €305.8 billion euros, only about half as much; of which, only €31.5 billion went directly into defence.
The German bourgeoisie now sees a chance to gradually catch up with the US in drone technology and associated modern warfare, and enforce its interests more effectively.
Drones are suitable for a particular type of warfare. Political opponents can be neutralised over long distances and without the mobilization of thousands of soldiers or the invasion of an entire country. Drones play an increasingly important role for the great powers in their efforts to topple governments considered to be obstacles or keep allied puppet regimes a float.
For years, the US Army has been conducting a semi-shadow war in many countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. Drones are openly used to seek out alleged terror suspects and conduct targeted killings. President Barack Obama personally selects some of the victims. Without any legal charges being laid, without a trial or conviction, opponents and civilians are killed on mere suspicion. In Pakistan alone, more than 2,200 people have been killed by drones, at least 474 of whom were civilians.
The German ruling class now also wants to tread this path. For years, at least officially, Berlin has only deployed drones for reconnaissance. To conduct kill missions, as the drone murders of Chahar Dara show, requires the procurement of US combat drones. Now Germany wants its own drone programme, like the one already created by the US. In recent weeks, the German media and political establishment have conducted a propaganda campaign in favour of armed drones.
At the beginning of the year, several German newspapers reported government plans to acquire attack drones. In January, Bild.de quoted from a confidential document of the European aerospace and defence company EADS, which was addressed to Germany’s defence ministry. According to this, “substantial research funding has been expended by the defence ministry for unmanned aerial vehicle systems”. The company itself has “already spent more than €200 million” on this development.
According to Bild.de, the document states that the drone model described, “Talarion”, is armed with rockets. As well as being equipped with up to four rockets, the drone also has radar and high-resolution cameras “which can follow and film a target from a great height, transmitting the high-resolution images to a control centre”. The model should be ready by 2016; test flights over Canada have already been completed.
In parliament on January 31, Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière defended the plans of the German government to procure armed drones. The Bundeswehr needed armed drones to protect German soldiers in combat and because Germany cannot close itself off from this technological progress, he said. “We cannot say that we will stay with the stagecoach while everyone else is developing the railway”, he said.
A few days later, Lieutenant Colonel Detlef Buch (General Staff), a military sociologist for the pro-government think tank, the Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), preached the advantages of drones in a broadcast on Deutschland radio Kultur : “They can provide intelligence and engage a previously defined target from the air. And they can fire more accurately than manned war planes today with their precision weapons. The main advantages of drones are less collateral damage, a lower risk for one’s own soldiers and lower costs than for manned aircraft”.
Buch added: “They are the logical consequence of the many conceptual guidelines and documents that have been written in and around the Bundeswehr over the last 20 years. The Bundeswehr should be a modern army of intervention that can fight in the Hindu Kush and around the world. That is the reality in 2013!”
De Maizière cynically described drones as “ethically neutral”. The use of lethal drones by the Bundeswehr underscores the fact that the German elite now matches its ally in the US in criminality and violence. This must serve as a serious warning. For Washington, even American citizens are now legitimate targets in the drone war. In the course of his recent nomination process, prospective CIA director John Brennan did not exclude drone killings taking place in the US. German military deploys lethal drones in Afghanistan
An email circulating the Washington State Legislature revealed that a drone demonstration held at the State Capitol building Wednesday was purposely kept private from the public.
Sen. Jim Honeyford (R), the author of the email, explained that he was sponsoring four informational drone briefings for legislators, staff and select media, but was barring the public from attendance due to his concern over “demonstrations and security” issues.
Multiple drone lobbyists, engineers and operators including Dr. Tad McGeer, founder of the Aerovel Corporation, gave hands-on demonstrations to lawmakers and displayed onboard video from day and night drone operations in three private conference rooms.
The demonstration’s secrecy is due to Washington residents’ clear stance on government
drones within the state. The Seattle Police Department’s drone program was shut-down last February after concerned citizens protested a public hearing that had one of the department’s new drones displayed, forcing the department to return both its drones back to their vendor.
Soon after, legislation introduced that aimed to tightly regulate government drone use in the state received massive bi-partisan support. Controversy and an increased push-back from the public was caused after a drone lobbyist, speaking against the legislation during the bill’s House Committee hearing, made comments about the “indiscriminate killing” drone policy being switched to oneof “discriminate killing.”
The legislation which seemed almost guaranteed to pass, was derailed last minute allegedly by Boeing lobbyists working with Democratic leadership who made sure the bill did not receive a final vote. Boeing claimed the legislation would hurt Washington financially and make the state appear unfriendly to new technology.
The national opinion on drone use within the country has fallen further in light of Sen.Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) near thirteen hour filibuster this month in protest to the Obama Administration’s position on using lethal force against American citizens with drones domestically.
28 March 2013Although the email claims that media was invited to attend, news regarding the meeting has yet to be seen. It is still unknown what exactly the Washington Legislature is planning in regards to drone use, but given Washington’s position as a likely candidate for being one of the nation’s six FAA approved drone testing sites, it will likely cause a backlash from residents.Mikael Thalen’s article first appeared at Examiner.com.This article was posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 9:20 am
Plans to vastly expand drones in US
The enormous expansion of the use of drones—Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)—over US territory has received increasing bipartisan support within the political establishment, and has provoked growing popular opposition.
Attention was called to the subject of official use of drones for surveillance purposes by a recent comment from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In a radio interview, the billionaire mayor offhandedly dismissed the growing concern over drone use by critics who raised issues of privacy and civil liberties. Bloomberg compared drones to surveillance cameras already in use around Manhattan.
“What’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building?” Bloomberg said on a WOR-AM program. “We’re going into a different world, uncharted…you can’t keep the tide from coming in.”
The mayor’s remarks were significant not because they announced a brand new policy, but because he was signaling the growing approval in ruling class circles for measures that amount to the scaffolding of a police state. Bloomberg does not worry that his own privacy will be infringed – he regularly uses his private jet for weekend trips to his luxury beach house in Bermuda with barely a mention in the media. For the lower orders, however, Bloomberg’s advice can be summed up in four words: “Get used to it.”
The US use of drones for purposes of overseas assassination has become notorious over the past decade. In the past four years, the Obama administration has escalated its predecessor’s ruthless program of mass killing and assassination in its “global war on terror,” with Obama boasting of his role in approving “kill lists” in secret White House meetings. Less than a month ago, John Brennan, the architect of the Obama administration’s drone assassination program, was confirmed by the Senate as the new director of the CIA.
The WSWS reported a year ago that the US military has a fleet of about 7,500 of these unmanned vehicles, used for surveillance but also for killing, as in the case of US citizen and Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son who were targeted in Yemen. The use of these drones in Pakistani tribal areas in the past 8 years has cost the lives of at least 2,700 men, women and children, the vast majority innocent bystanders in Washington’s brutal aggression (See, “Drones come to the US”).
Now, however, attention has also been turned to the domestic use of drones. Department of Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano recently testified before Congress that the DHS was planning to increase its use of drones in order to ensure “public safety.” The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects up to 30,000 drones in US airspace by 2020. Drones have already been used in the name of border security, including on the border between the US and Canada in the Pacific Northwest as well as in the southwest along the border with Mexico.The Los Angeles Times has reported in the past on the use of drones by local law enforcement, beyond their use by Homeland Security to search for smugglers and immigrants. The Times gave an example of sparsely populated North Dakota, where a drone was used for surveillance purposes that led to arrests.
A recent report in the Huffington Post revealed the sinister implications of the supposed moves toward a bipartisan and “progressive” framework for immigration reform. The outline of possible bipartisan immigration legislation in the Senate, while holding out the hope of easing the threat of imminent deportation for some of the approximately 11 million undocumented workers in the country, would also include the stepped up use of drones in the name of securing the border against “illegal” immigrants.
According to this report, the Department of Homeland Security has already spent about $200 million for a “small fleet” of 10 Predator drones that are mostly deployed along the US-Mexican border, and this number can be expected to increase greatly.
Immigrant rights advocates have denounced the use of drones to patrol the border, with one advocate warning specifically about “the notion that legalization for undocumented immigrants should have to wait for additional border security measures that would further militarize the southwest with aerial drones.”
Nor is the use of drones confined to the massive Homeland Security Department. Customs and Border Protection (CBT), the largest component of Homeland Security, has loaned drones to both federal and local agencies for purposes such as the interdiction of illegal drugs. According to the Huffington Post report, however, a drone crashed in Nogales, Arizona and narrowly averted disaster in a populated area. The Homeland Security Department has itself criticized CBP’s purchase of drones without plans to use them, but all signs continue to point to a vast expansion in the number of drones.
A representative of the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society warned, according to an account in the LA Times, that “Any time you have a tool like that in the hands of law enforcement that makes it easier to do surveillance, they will do more of it.”
Another concern, raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, is the development of the “DIY armed drone.” Commercially available equipment could be used to build private, do-it-yourself armed drones. Jay Stanley of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project has discussed the example of a radio talk-show caller who demonstrated his own experiment in a possible effort to call attention to the dangerous potential of drone technology.
Until the recent filibuster by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul that briefly blocked the confirmation of new CIA director Brennan, there had been almost no discussion in Congress on the increased use of drones domestically. Former California Congresswoman Jane Harman, a leading Democrat and senior member of the House intelligence subcommittee, was one of the few who had raised concerns several years ago. Harman, who had been one of the most enthusiastic backers of the invasion of Iraq and had no problem with US aggression in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, complained that use of drones domestically would violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the military from exercising police powers inside the US. Harman retired from Congress two years ago.
March 28, 2013The extension of drone surveillance for domestic purposes lays the basis for the use of armed drones as well. Privacy concerns, though important, are only the beginning of what is raised by the relentless militarization of daily life in America. The talk of using drones for purposes of “public safety” reflects the preparation of the ruling class to meet an upsurge in the class struggle with repression and the methods of a military-police dictatorship.Plans to vastly expand drones in US - 3/28/2013
Paul Joseph Watson
Professor Raffaello D’Andrea demonstrates the amazing capability of drones that can communicate with each other, technology he admits could be open to “abuse” and is “incredibly dangerous.” Aviation expert David Cenciotti expects the drones to be used for “hunting terrorists” and other “homeland security purposes.This article was posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm
20 March 2010
By CHRISTY HOPPE / The Dallas Morning News firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSTIN - The federal government may soon send unmanned aircraft to scour West Texas and the state's coastal waters in an effort to boost border security, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a letter to the governor sent Friday.Perry had formally requested the assistance a week ago. The need also was underscored in a phone call that Democratic nominee Bill White had with Napolitano on Thursday.Homeland Security has six drones and is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to get the necessary clearance to begin flying over Texas, Napolitano wrote.Before operations start, ground control stations, pilots, sensor operators and maintenance support have to be allocated. She said that the governor would be kept apprised of the progress.
"This is encouraging news, and we are hopeful that this technology and additional federal resources will be deployed to Texas as soon as possible," said Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger.
Perry has complained that the federal government has not done enough to secure the border, especially in light of escalating drug violence in Mexico border towns.
Homeland Security Wants Clearance to Fly Drones Over Texas
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Thousands of tiny unmanned aircraft or drones flying into civilian airspace over the United States can pose a security threat as they may be difficult to monitor in the long run and some craft may fall into enemy hands, security analysts say.
Although debate over the use of surveillance drones, approved by Congress this week, centers on civil liberties and individuals' rights, a much greater risk of hostile drones entering U.S. airspace undetected isn't being considered, analysts said.
The Federation Aviation Administration said up to 30,000 drones could be in airspace shared with airliners carrying passengers.
Current lobbying for the drones insists there will be enough qualified experts to operate the drones safely and not endanger airborne human traffic but there are many questions unanswered about how the drone operators would be regulated.
More important, at a time when government defense cutbacks are the norm, little consideration is being given to potentially unfathomable costs of maintaining a vast fleet of drones, their monitors and operators and the whole regulatory framework required to run the system efficiently and safely.
There is risk, too, that terrorists will attempt to penetrate the drone network with unpredictable consequences for the safety of the set-up as well as citizens, analysts said.
Once the bill has been signed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the FAA Reauthorization Act will allow the FAA to give drone traffic the go-ahead and develop regulations for testing and licensing by 2015.
The expectations are that the law eventually will streamline processes for multilevel licensing of drone flights by federal, state and local police and other government agencies.
The legislation follows vigorous campaigning by defense and security industries that see drones as a multibillion-dollar growth area.
The defense and security industries have already made up for declining revenues in direct defense acquisitions by developing new business to counter cyberthreats, border body scanners and giant merchandise scanners and a range of software to counter Internet fraud, identity fraud called phishing and hacking of sensitive corporate and government data.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the legislation could severely undermine Americans' privacy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation echoed those privacy concerns.
U.S. defense and security forces deployed drones of varying sizes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The CIA's armed Predator drone program targeted al-Qaida leaders but officials said smaller drones were deployed outside U.S. diplomatic areas in Iraq to monitor the safety of U.S. officials during their movements within the country.
In addition to the drones, the race is on to develop unmanned aircraft that can safely share airspace reserved for civilian aviation.
There's both military and commercial interest in having unmanned aircraft that can fly unaided by human pilots, most of the time.
Initially, unmanned aircraft likely to be released for sharing airspace with civilian airliners will have the option to require a pilot. Eventually, however, they could go unmanned and fly into airspace used by manned airliners using devices on board and control centers on the ground, industry data indicated.
The idea of civilian aircraft flying virtually at the mercy of unmanned craft cruising in their midst has delayed commissioning of such craft, both for practical and psychological reasons. But support for unmanned craft joining civil aviation is catching on, reports indicated.
Several companies are deep into research and development of optionally piloted aircraft. Among these, Aurora Flight Sciences of Manassas, Va., is experimenting general aviation Diamond DA42 planes to be able to market it as intelligence, search and reconnaissance planes.
Mav6 Blue Devil 2 airship has been designed to run pilotless or to have a pilot on board when required. The aerospace company, which has headquarters in Vicksburg, Miss., has designed the Blue Devil 2 airship to accommodate a pilot when necessary.
The 370-foot airship can hover at 20,000 feet for five days and function as a network hub for drones and ground sensors and as a surveillance craft.
Northrop Grumman used a pilot to show off its Firebird last year but the company says the plane can fly just as well without a pilot.
Industry analysts said the research and development drive toward pilotless planes was rooted both in defense priorities to deploy an optionally piloted aircraft in difficult conditions and in defense needs to find new uses for unmanned aircraft that are likely to be made idle with the pullout from Afghanistan.
Hundreds of Predator class unmanned aircraft and some high-flying Global Hawks planes are likely to become available with the drawdown in Afghanistan.
1 August 2011
By DAILYMAIL REPORTER
UPDATED: 07:39 GMT, 1 August 2011
UPDATED: 07:39 GMT, 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.
Backon duty: The plucky bomb-hunting dog of war the Taliban couldn't kill
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.'
Published: November 29, 2011
By W.J. HENNIGAN — Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Drone aircraft, best known for their role in hunting and destroying terrorist hide-outs in Afghanistan, may soon be coming to the skies near you.
Police agencies want drones for air support to spot runaway criminals. Utility companies believe they can help monitor oil, gas and water pipelines. Farmers think drones could aid in spraying their crops with pesticides.
"It's going to happen," said Dan Elwell, vice president of civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association. "Now it's about figuring out how to safely assimilate the technology into national airspace."
That's the job of the Federal Aviation Administration, which plans to propose new rules for the use of small drones in January, a first step toward integrating robotic aircraft into the nation's skyways.
The agency issued 266 active testing permits for civilian drone applications but hasn't permitted drones in national airspace on a wide scale out of concern that the pilotless crafts don't have adequate "detect, sense and avoid" technology to prevent collisions.
Other concerns include privacy and the creative ways in which criminals and terrorists might use the machines.
"By definition, small drones are easy to conceal and fly without getting a lot of attention," said John Villasenor, a UCLA professor and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation. "Bad guys know this."
Police departments in Texas, Florida and Minnesota have expressed interest in the technology's potential to spot runaway criminals on rooftops or to track them at night by using the robotic aircraft's heat-seeking cameras.
"Most Americans still see drone aircraft in the realm of science fiction," said Peter W. Singer, author of "Wired for War," a book about robotic warfare. "But the technology is here. And it isn't going away. It will increasingly play a role in our lives. The real question is: How do we deal with it?"
Drone maker AeroVironment Inc. has developed its first small helicopter drone that's designed specifically for law enforcement. If FAA restrictions are eased, the company plans to shop it among the estimated 18,000 state and local police departments across the United States.
AeroVironment engineers have been secretly testing a miniature remote-controlled helicopter named Qube. Buzzing like an angry hornet, the tiny drone with four whirling rotors swoops back and forth about 200 feet above the ground, capturing crystal-clear video of what lies below.
The new drone weighs 5 1/2 pounds, fits in the trunk of a car and is controlled remotely by a tablet computer. AeroVironment unveiled Qube last month at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago.
"This is a tool that many law enforcement agencies never imagined they could have," said Steven Gitlin, a company executive.
July 4, 2010
Kurt Nimmo / Infowars.com
The father of fascism, Benito Mussolini, defined fascism as corporatism. “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power,” said Mussolini.
ProPublica and PBS learned this lesson recently in Texas City. “A photographer taking pictures for ProPublica was detained Friday while shooting pictures in Texas City, Texas,” reports Raw Story. “The photographer, Lance Rosenfield, said that shortly after arriving in town, he was confronted by a BP security officer, local police and a man who identified himself as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security. He was released after the police reviewed the pictures he had taken on Friday and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.”
Rosenfield’s information was also turned over to BP. It was described as standard procedure.
Michael Marr, a BP spokesman, released a statement explaining the company’s actions. “BP Security followed the industry practice that is required by federal law. The photographer was released with his photographs after those photos were viewed by a representative of the Joint Terrorism Task Force who determined that the photographer’s actions did not pose a threat to public safety.”
BP, Homeland Security, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and local cops will now decide if it is acceptable for journalists to take photographs.
“We certainly appreciate the need to secure the nation’s refineries,” said ProPublica after the incident. “But we’re deeply troubled by BP’s conduct here, especially when they knew we were working on deadline on critical stories about this very facility. And we see no reason why, if law enforcement needed to review the unpublished photographs, that should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company.”
It looks like BP and its goon force (including federal agencies) knew ProPublica and PBS were working on a story. The incident had nothing to do with the security of refineries or public safety. It was about blocking a story a transnational corporation did not want published. This sort of thing happens in a corporatist-fascist state. It is not supposed to happen in a constitutional republic where the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights are respected.
First it was bloggers and citizen journalists who were harassed by the state and denied their First Amendment right. Now the foundation and non-profit media are falling victim to the heavy hand of the corporate-fascist state.
Late last week “National Incident” commander Thad Allen announced all media — print, television, radio and internet bloggers — will be subject to arrest and federal class D felony charges if they cover operation and clean up sites. In short, the government and BP have effectively shut down the First Amendment.
DHS claims technology will not be used for “nefarious” purposes
Paul Joseph Watson
The Department of Homeland Security is testing a number of different drones at a scientific research facility in Oklahoma that have sensors capable of detecting whether a person is armed, stoking concerns that the federal agency is planning on using UAVs to harass gun owners.
Researchers with Oklahoma State University are masterminding the drones for the DHS at a nondescript building that houses the Oklahoma Training Center for Unmanned Systems.
Field testing of the drones is being carried out at Ft. Sill Army Post near Lawton, Oklahoma, allowing the UAVs to avoid prying eyes due to the camp’s 200 square miles of restricted airspace.
Toney Stricklin, a member of the Governor’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Council, said the primary purpose of the drones was “to catch the bad guys.”
Attorney David Slane told KWTV-9 that the drones represented a threat to “privacy rights.”
A HSToday.us report details how, “SUAS sensor platforms are being tested for use by “first responder and homeland security operational communities” that “can distinguish between unarmed and armed (exposed) personnel,” as well as conducting detection, surveillance, tracking and laser designation of targets of interest at stand-off ranges, according to the RAPS (Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety) Test Plan obtained by Homeland Security Today.”
The drones are also fitted with cameras that can record “scene data” in high definition (HD) quality and consist of “fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft having gross takeoff weights of 25 lbs. or less.” A “Privacy Impact Assessment” conducted by a DHS official concluded that the drones posed no privacy issues – which is kind of like a fox concluding that a henhouse poses no safety issues.
A RAPS program official who declined to provide his identity assured critics that the sensor capabilities on the drones would not be used for “nefarious” purposes.
However, given that the DHS has purchased in excess of 1.6 billion bullets, which many see as an attempt to put a stranglehold on the ammunition market as an end run around the Second Amendment, such statements ring hollow.
The RAPS plan also notes how the cost of the drones being tested is continually plummeting, opening the door for some “50,000 police and fire departments” in the country to set up their own “aviation departments.”
Testing of the drones is also set to expand to two further locations, the Oklahoma National Guard’s Camp Gruber and the University Multispectral Laboratory’s test site at Chilocco, Okla.
“Public and congressional concerns over the expanding use of UAVs of all kinds by federal, state and local law enforcement were exacerbated recently following a report by CNET.com that DHS has “customized its Predator drones” to be able to “identify civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones,” writes Anthony Kimery.
“CNET.com reported that DHS’s “specifications for its drones … ‘shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,’” and that “They also specify ‘signals interception’ technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones and ‘direction finding’ technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.”
The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Ginger McCall said the testing was, “clearly evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is developing drones with signals interception technology and the capability to identify people on the ground.”
After initially covering the DHS’ plan for “public safety drones” in October 2012, we first reported on DHS-funded drones being used in the context of the federal government’s gun control agenda in February of this year. A promotional video for the Shadowhawk drone, a 50lb mini helicopter that can be fitted with an XREP taser with the ability to fire four barbed electrodes that can be shot to a distance of 100 feet, depicted the UAV being used to spy on a private gun sale.
The fictional scenario falsely characterized the private sale of firearms as an illegal activity, with the drone being used to gather information on the individuals involved in the transaction.
After being used against Somali pirates and insurgents in Afghanistan, the Department of Homeland Security approved the Shadowhawk drone for use on domestic soil in 2011, prompting the Sheriff’s Office of Montgomery County, Texas to purchase one for a cool $500,000 dollars, aided by a $250,000 DHS grant.
View a video of the Shadowhawk drone being tested in a scenario which depicts the UAV being used to keep tabs on a gun sale in the video below.25 Feb 2013
8 Apr 2013DHS-Funded Drone Spies On Private Gun Sale
The promotional video for a surveillance drone now being purchased by law enforcement bodies across the country with the aid of DHS funding shows a UAV spying on a private gun sale. | Watch : HERE
April 11, 2013 00:43
Leaked report: Nearly half of US drone strikes in Pakistan not against al-Qaeda
A trove of leaked classified reports has confirmed what many had suspected – US drone kills in Pakistan are not the precision strikes against top-level al-Qaeda terrorists they are portrayed as by the Obama administration.
Instead, many of the attacks are aimed at suspected low-level tribal militants, who may pose no direct danger to the United States – and for many there appears to be little evidence to justify the assassinations.
Top secret documents obtained by McClatchy newspapers in the US show the locations, identities and numbers of those attacked and killed in Pakistan in 2006-8 and 2010-11, as well as explanations for why the targets were picked.
The statistics illustrate the breadth of the US ‘drone doctrine’ – which has never been defined by consecutive US administrations. Between 1,990 and 3,308 people are reported to have been killed in the drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, the vast majority of them during the Obama terms.
In the 12-month period up to 2011, 43 out of 95 drone strikes in the reports (which give an account of the vast majority of US operations in the country) were not aimed at al-Qaeda at all. And 265 out of 482 people killed in those assassinations, were defined internally as “extremists”.
Indeed, only six of the men killed – less than two percent – were senior al-Qaeda leaders.
Some of the groups include the Haqqani network and the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, both militant organizations, but ones the US did not designate as terrorists until 2012 and 2010 respectively. Neither one has ever conducted an attack on US soil.
It also confirms that attacks during the George W. Bush era, were conducted on targets picked by ISI, Pakistan’s security agency, which has no obligations to comply with US legal criteria.Furthermore, in some cases it is difficult to confirm that the targets were militants at all.
In the strikes above, the internal reports showed that only one civilian had been killed. But the modus operandi revealed behind the strikes, shows that some of the attacks seem to have been based on the certain people or visitors being present as certain locations, or merely associating with those the US believes were terrorists. This chimes with the accusation that the US is carrying out a policy of“signature strikes” – attacks based on behavior, or “signature” that would be expected of a terrorist, rather than any specific illegal activity.
These “signatures” apparently include such suspicious behavior as taking part in a funeral procession or first responding to an initial drone strike. Last year, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said it’s believed that,
“since President Obama took office, at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”
The US has previously refused to admit that it operates such a policy.
Some of the assassinations, such as that of, Mohammad, the younger brother of the leader of the Haqqani network, Badruddin, appear to have been simply errors, with the victims branded as terrorists only after the fact.
All this seems to go against the assurance of John Brennan, the former White House counterterrorism chief, and new CIA head, who is the mastermind behind the drone policy “We only authorize a particular operation against a specific individual if we have a high degree of confidence that the individual being targeted is indeed the terrorist we are pursuing,” Brennan explained a year ago.
Obama’s administration has also said all targets are on a “list of active terrorists,” compiled with “extraordinary care and thoughtfulness”. Obama has also explicitly stated that drones should not carry out “speculative” killings.
But other than when ordering assassinations of US citizens, the President does not have to give full information to the Senate about the basis for any drone attack, much less give it a legal justification.
The latest revelations have unleashed a torrent of protest from experts who believe that the program is extra-judicial, violates Pakistan’s sovereignty, and is counter-productive in the long term.
“I have never seen nor am I aware of any rules of engagement that have been made public that govern the conduct of drone operations in Pakistan, or the identification of individuals and groups other than al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban,” Christopher Swift, a national security law expert from Georgetown University told McClatchy.
“We are doing this on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis, rather than a systematic or strategic basis.”
Micah Zenko, from the Council on Foreign Relations, a foreign policy think tank, went further, and accused the government of“misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”
He added: “When there is such a disconnect between who the administration says it kills and who it actually kills, that hypocrisy itself is a very dangerous precedent that other countries will emulate.”
Last month Ben Emmerson, after a secret research trip to the country announced that drone strikes violate Pakistan's sovereignty.
Emmerson added that the Pakistani government conveyed to him that it does not consent to the attacks, something that is often challenged in Washington and fuels mass protests in Pakistan.
Drone strikes were first used after the 9/11 attacks from bases in Pakistan and Uzbekistan, in combat missions inside Afghanistan. More than a decade later, Washington has expanded the use of the remotely controlled aircraft into Yemen, Somalia and most of all Pakistan.
The US has carried out countless attacks on targets in northwest Pakistan since 2004 through the CIA’s Special Activities Division. Begun by President George W. Bush, the intensity of the missions has increased under the presidency of Barack Obama.
Islamabad publicly condemns these attacks but is known to have shared intelligence with the US and allowed drones to operate from its territory until April 2011, when NATO forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in the Salala incident. WikiLeaks cables also revealed that Pakistan's Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani sanctioned the flights and in 2008 even asked the CIA for more “Predator coverage.”
Ordinary Pakistanis have also repeatedly protested against these attacks as a violation of its sovereignty and because of immense civilian collateral damage, including the death dozens of women and children.