One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

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One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:04 pm


U.N. investigator calls for halt to CIA drone killings
By Stephanie Nebehay Stephanie Nebehay – Wed Jun 2, 9:34 am ET

GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations investigator called Wednesday for a halt to CIA-directed drone strikes on suspected Islamic militants, warning that killings ordered far from the battlefield could lead to a "Playstation" mentality.

Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said missile strikes could be justified only when it was impossible to capture insurgents alive instead and only if they were carried out by regular U.S. armed forces operating with proper oversight and respect for the rules of war.

The Central Intelligence Agency's use of unmanned Predator or Reaper drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan against al Qaeda and Taliban suspects had led to the death of "many hundreds," including innocent civilians, he said in a 29-page report.

"Intelligence agencies, which by definition are determined to remain unaccountable except to their own paymasters, have no place in running programs that kill people in other countries," Alston said.

The world does not know when and where the CIA is authorized to kill, its criteria for choosing targets, whether they are lawful killings, and how it follows up when civilians are illegally killed, said Alston, an independent expert who will present his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council Thursday.

The United States is among the Geneva forum's 47 members.

Under President Barack Obama, the CIA has stepped up its drone strikes in the tribal zone of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, targeting not only high-level al Qaeda and Taliban targets but largely unknown foot soldiers as well.

Following a directive first issued by former President George W. Bush and continued by Obama, the CIA has widened the "target set" for drone strikes in Pakistan, Reuters reported last month.

Al Qaeda's third-in-command, Sheikh Sa'id al-Masri, is believed to have been killed in May in a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan, U.S. officials said earlier this week.

The United States is believed to control the fleet of drones from CIA headquarters in Virginia, coordinating with civilian pilots near hidden airfields in Afghanistan and Pakistan who fly the drones remotely, according to Alston, an Australian who teaches at New York University School of Law.


"Because operators are based thousands of miles away from the battlefield, and undertake operations entirely through computer screens and remote audio-feed, there is a risk of developing a 'Playstation' mentality to killing," he said, referring to the popular Sony video game console.

Under international law, targeted killings are permitted in armed conflicts when used against fighters or civilians who engage directly in combat-like activities, Alston said. "But they are increasingly being used far from any battle zone."

Israel stands accused of ordering the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas military commander, in a Dubai hotel room in January. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied a role in the murder.

Alston said Russia was also suspected of conducting targeted killings in Chechnya and beyond the breakaway region as part of its counter-terrorism operations.

The United States is among 40 countries with drone technology, according to Alston. Britain, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Russia and Turkey are named as having or seeking the capacity to fire missiles from their drones.

But countries should use graduated force and where possible capture suspects rather than kill them, he said.

"Thus, rather than using drone strikes, U.S. forces should, wherever and whenever possible, conduct arrests or use less-than-lethal force to restrain," he said.

(Editing by Noah Barkin) ... ngs_drones

And these related GREAT bits from Gouda...

RE: US thinks No. 3 al-Qaida official dead

Gouda wrote:Great letter, Stefano.

And do recall that a few days before this 'announcement', on Friday to be precise, UN HRs chief Philip Alston once again raised the issue of the legality of drone murders:

UN Expert Urges US To Rethink Use Of Lethal Drones
Fri May 28 - The use of drones by U.S. intelligence agencies to target suspected militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere lacks the accountability required under international law, a U.N. human rights expert said Friday.

Philip Alston, a New York University law professor, will call next week for new international rules to govern the use of drones to ensure they are deployed in line with the laws of war.

And according to the NYT, was expected to call for a cessation of drone use (at least by intelligence agencies):

U.N. Official to Ask U.S. to End C.I.A. Drone Strikes
A senior United Nations official is expected to call on the United States next week to stop Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes against people suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda, complicating the Obama administration’s growing reliance on that tactic in Pakistan.

(...) he would deliver a report on June 3 to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva declaring that the “life and death power” of drones should be entrusted to regular armed forces, not intelligence agencies.

Then, poof, #3 gone. June 3rd UN human rights thingy pre-empted.

GWOT Media steps in to help:
...a Nightline poll asks, "Is this further evidence [Gouda's emphasis added] that we should increase the use of drones in the war on al Qaeda's leadership? Even at the cost of significant collateral damage?"

Washington Post:
Although many of the network's members have been incorrectly reported dead in the past by U.S. and Pakistani officials, al-Qaeda's official announcements regarding the "martyrdom" of its senior leaders have been highly reliable.
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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:18 pm

Drone search within RI forums...

Spy Planes to Cover Western US 24-7 [circa 2005]

One step closer to SkyNet [circa 2005]

Iranian drone claimed to have flown undetected over US fleet [circa 2006]

One saucer to rule them all, one saucer to bind them [circa 2006]
(Not really a drone thread but...)

UAV's: The new Black Helicopters [circa 2006]

Drone aircraft may prowl U.S. skies [circa 2006]

Fox News Trumpets Pentagon Spy Drones Flying Over US [circa 2006]

U.S. readying drones to monitor Canadian border [circa 2007]

The Dragonfly Drones [circa 2007]

Plans for unmanned Taser 'flying saucer' [circa 2007]

Drone watch(Miami) [circa 2008]

Aerial drones will hunt California pot growers [circa 2008]

US Gov't Continues Murder Spree In Afghanistan [circa 2008]

Chupas – Mysterious Flying Menace [circa 2008]

Woodward claims new Manhattan Project won Iraq war [circa 2008]

CIA using missile strikes to `tickle' terrorists [circa 2008]

Pakistan, United States: Brink of War? [circa 2008]

US air raid kills Afghan soldiers [circa 2008]

Packs of robots to hunt down uncooperative humans [circa 2008]

Afghanistan: 'We're not going to win this war' by China Hand [circa 2008]

Robert Parry on New Manhattan Project on AntiWar Radio [circa 2008]

More Atrocity as Afghanistan Braces for Obama Surge [circa 2008]

US SpecOps get silent drone copters [circa 2008]

Moral Battle Robots for War [circa 2008]

Leaked video of carnage in Gaza [circa 2009]

Obama's first evil act as president [circa 2009]

Bush's 'War' On Terror Comes to a Sudden End (Dana Priest) [circa 2009]

Obama's Envoy to Afghanistan/Pakistan- Richard Holbrooke [circa 2009]

Surging Towards Disaster in the "Afpak Theatre" [circa 2009]

Bombs kill 15 in Pakistan amid increasing turmoil [circa 2009]

Why is the U.S. still in Afghanistan? [circa 2009]

Darkness Renewed: Terror as a Tool of Empire [circa 2009]

Filling the Skies with Robot Assassins: The Drone Wars [circa 2009]

The Dawn of Robot Wars [circa 2009]

Naked Wizard Tased By Reality [circa 2009]

US drone kills 80 in Pakistan; Obama not outraged [circa 2009]

assassination ring was conducted out of Joint Special Op [circa 2009]

Military Researchers Develop Corpse-Eating Robots [circa 2009]

the robot uprising has begun [circa 2009]

CIA Sought Blackwater Help in Plan to Kill Jihadists [circa 2009]

US drone crashes into Iraq political party office [circa 2009]

We've Seen the Future, and It's Unmanned [circa 2009]

Bush/Obama Predator Strikes Killed Over 1000 in Pakistan [circa 2009]

CENTCOM Master Plan future access in Central Asia [circa 2009]


McCoy: Creating "Domestic Surveillance State" [circa 2009]

Sleep Dealer. You need to see this movie. [circa 2009]

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan Revealed (Scahill) [circa 2009]

The Beast of Kandahar [circa 2009]

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A. [circa 2009]

30 suspected militants were killed in a NATO airstrike [circa 2009]

Predator drones hacked in Iraq operations [circa 2009]

CIA, ISI intensify joint operations in Pakistan [circa 2009]

RE: Fuck Obama - Obama's Undeclared War Against Pakistan Continues, Despite His Attempt to Downplay It [circa 2009]

What’s Next in National Security Robo-Snipers, AutoKillZones [circa 2010]

Drone Surveillance in Houston [circa 2010]

Blackwater & Khost Bombing Is CIA Deceiving Congress [circa 2010]

Police Drones to Spy on Americans Inside the "Homeland" [circa 2010]

Afghan 'Dirty War' Escalates (Valentine) [circa 2010]

The Age of the Killer Robot is No Longer a Sci-Fi Fantasy [circa 2010]

Obama continues Pres. assassinations of US citizens [circa 2010]

RE: Gates to Obama? - Gates Sees Fallout From Troubled Ties With Pakistan [circa 2010]

Britain: Police UAVs Might be Armed with Non Lethal Weapons [circa 2010]

hacked US drones - a first hand account [circa 2010]

Air Force to launch Boeing-built 'mystery' spacecraft [circa 2010]

Army Tests Flying Robo-Sniper [circa 2010]

Re: Fuck Obama - Obama drone joke: Was it offensive?

Is Gaza a testing ground for experimental weapons? [circa 2010]

Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants [circa 2010]














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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:36 pm

That was a lot of work, creating an index of every related thread. I know from experience. Commendations!
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I am by virtue of its might divine,
The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:42 pm

JackRiddler wrote:That was a lot of work, creating an index of every related thread. I know from experience. Commendations!

Thanks Jack. I try.

I didn't include every thread but I tried to grab those relevant to drone use overseas (and its creation of more angry enemies) especially as related to assassinations and killing of innocent civilians but also the growing use of drones domestically.
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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby norton ash » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:29 pm

Thanks, Elfismiles.
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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby smiths » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:57 pm

turn the tables, build your own surveillance drone, stick a petrol bomb underneath it and ...

a more advanced, presumably military funded university one
the question is why, who, why, what, why, when, why and why again?
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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:26 pm

smiths wrote:turn the tables, build your own surveillance drone, stick a petrol bomb underneath it and ...

a more advanced, presumably military funded university one

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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:28 pm

U.N. Official Wants U.S. To Reevaluate Drone Use
by Michele Kelemen
May 28, 2010

Listen to the Story
All Things Considered
[3 min 13 sec]
Download ... atc_12.mp3

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is expected to call on the U.S. to end the use of CIA drones to attack al-Qaida. The strikes have been blamed for civilian deaths. Alston argues the U.S. military is much more accountable than the CIA for the deaths it causes.


A United Nations official wants the Obama administration to reconsider the way it uses drones. At issue is who should be in charge of the unmanned aircraft now targeting al-Qaida suspects in Pakistan. Should it be the CIA, as is now the case, or the U.S. military?

NPR's Michele Kelemen has the story.

MICHELE KELEMEN: The Obama administration has stepped up drone attacks in Pakistan, and that has Philip Alston worried. He's a New York University law professor and the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

He's planning to deliver a report to the United Nations' Human Rights Council in Geneva next week that says regular Armed Forces should be in charge of drones, not intelligence agencies like the CIA. He explained why in a recent interview with Australia's ABC radio.

Professor PHILIP ALSTON (Special Rapporteur, United Nations): The CIA, by definition, is not accountable. There is minimal accountability, obviously, to the president, but that doesn't help us at all in terms of international law standards. And so you've got an agency which has no particular training in these areas, no obvious commitment to respecting the laws of war, which is entrusted with the responsibility for deciding who to kill and when.

KELEMEN: The military, he argues, faces more restrictions. When U.S. air raids kill civilians in Afghanistan, for instance, the military investigates. But in Pakistan, the U.S. government rarely even talks about the drone attacks. Alston wants to see the U.S. at least fill out how it decides on targets. And he says the U.S. should be interested in a clear set of rules because this is technology likely to be used by more and more countries.

Prof. ALSTON: The rules that the United States, for example, is now claiming should apply would not look very attractive to the U.S. if invoked by China, for example, and China announced that it was going to go into Cambodia or some other neighboring country in order to take out people that it considered to be terrorists. That would be highly problematic. So we've got to look at rules for the future which will govern all countries.

KELEMEN: The State Department's legal adviser, Harold Koh, told the American Society of International Law in March that the U.S. believes the drone attacks are legal because this is an armed conflict with al-Qaida and the Taliban. Another official said privately that the U.S. cooperates with Pakistani partners to quote, take dangerous figures off the battlefield. The official also pointed out that Pakistanis don't want the U.S. military conducting operations on their soil.

But Notre Dame professor Mary Ellen O'Connell, who's been critical of the use of drones, says administration lawyers may have a tough time explaining this policy once the Alston report is formally released in Geneva.

Prof. MARY ELLEN O'CONNELL (Law, Notre Dame Law School): The Obama administration is going to have a very difficult time both saying, we're the good guys, we're the ones who are supporting the rule of law; and continuing to carry out killings, large numbers of killings by the CIA in Pakistan and other countries.

KELEMEN: A CIA spokesman told NPR that the agency's operations are conducted within a framework of law and with close U.S. government oversight. The accountability, he said, is real, and it would be wrong for anyone to suggest otherwise.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. ... =127244633

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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:36 pm

US Dept of Defense wants autonomous robot army by 2034
Posted in analysis, robots, technocracy on May 28th, 2010 by Tony
by Tony Rodriguez ... -1675.html

UN wants Army to run drones rather than CIA
4:00 AM Friday Jun 4, 2010

CIA personnel are operating drones, like this Predator over southern Afghanistan, from Virginia. Photo / AP

A United Nations report calls for the United States military to take over from the CIA in running unmanned drone aircraft that are used to kill insurgents.

Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, says the transfer is necessary to obtain greater accountability over the attacks, which have at times led to deaths of innocent civilians.

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, one of Osama bin Laden's most senior lieutenants, in charge of al Qaeda's Afghan war, was last month assassinated by missiles fired from a drone in Pakistan.

It was the latest in an increasing number of cases when an unmanned aircraft was used in the Afghan conflict under the Obama Administration. Washington recently changed domestic laws to permit the assassination abroad of terrorist suspects of US nationality in preparation, it is believed, for a possible drone strike on Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamist preacher in Yemen.

As he prepared to hand over his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Alston said that if a bombing went wrong in Afghanistan there was "abundant accountability" if the US Defence Department was responsible.

"The whole process that follows is very open. Whereas if the CIA is doing it, by definition, they are not going to answer questions ... there is no willingness to comply with any of the requirements as to transparency and accountability."

Alston's report has no legal standing but will embarrass the American Government, which faces repeated protests from Pakistan over the violation of its airspace and concern from the Afghan leadership over civilian casualties.

The issue will also raise questions about American plans to prosecute Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of killing US forces in combat. Government lawyers claim that the suspects do not enjoy legal protection given to soldiers under the Geneva Convention because they are not members of national or conventional forces.

However CIA personnel operating the unmanned aircraft from their headquarters in Langley, Virginia, are also not, say critics, members of the US armed forces and are not taking part in conventional warfare.

- Independent ... d=10649572

U.S. Drone Strategy In Pakistan Under Scrutiny
by Dina Temple-Raston
June 3, 2010

Listen to the Story
Morning Edition
[4 min 39 sec]
Download ... _me_18.mp3

Pakistani protesters burn an image of President Obama on May 15 during an anti-U.S. demonstration over drone attacks. More than 900 people have been killed in nearly 100 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, fueling anti-U.S. sentiment in the country.

Two events this week framed the argument over the use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al-Qaida confirmed that one of its founding members — a man named Mustafa Abu al-Yazid — was killed by a drone attack inside Pakistan. U.S. officials called his death a major setback for al-Qaida. The second event was the U.S. military's investigation into the deaths of 23 Afghan civilians in February. It concluded that a team operating a surveillance drone made a mistake and identified a convoy of vehicles full of women and children as an insurgent target.

The two episodes bring into stark relief the most basic question for U.S. policymakers: Do drone attacks work?

No one will argue that the technology is seductive. Drones circle silently overhead and can watch a target for hours at a time without being detected. Then, they can strike without warning. The CIA and the U.S. military both have drone programs.

"On the one hand, they are powerfully effective at eradicating our enemies," said Samuel J. Rascoff, a law professor at New York University and former intelligence chief at the New York Police Department.

The problem, he notes, is that the killings can alienate the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"On the other hand, they might simultaneously be powerful tools at motivating our enemies," Rascoff said. "So from a counterterrorism standpoint, they are very effective; from a counterinsurgency standpoint, they raise lots of questions."

Concerns Over Ethics

The U.S. is trying to do both. Rascoff says the drone sharply contrasts the conflict and tension between those two strategic objectives. That's the argument counterinsurgency experts have been making for months. They say the drone attacks increase the number of Pakistanis who support extremism, and that for every enemy killed, more are created.

"We hear reports ... including from homegrown terrorists, that drone attacks against villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of what is motivating them to engage in violence," Rascoff said.

So, that's the practical question.

There's another debate over whether the drone attacks are legal and moral. These attacks are often called "targeted killings" — of suspected terrorists, for example. The official U.S. position is that the strikes are permitted: The U.S. is at war with al-Qaida and has the right to defend itself.

A new U.N. report questioned that legal logic. Others have raised questions, too.

"The next step in that argument — and where it becomes more controversial — is not only are we in a war with al-Qaida, but this is a war that extends geographically across territorial bounds," said Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School and former Pentagon official.

In other words, if drone strikes are permitted in Pakistan, why not elsewhere? The U.S. drones have already struck in Yemen. Where are the boundaries?

The U.N. report also said that drones fired by the CIA are less acceptable than drones fired by the military. Its reasoning: The CIA is less accountable. Consider the latest CIA drone attack that killed al-Qaida's No. 3 man, Abu Yazid, thought to have been the mastermind of an attack that killed CIA agents in Khost, Afghanistan, last year. The concern is that the CIA drone attack was motivated by revenge, rather than the legitimate right to self-defense.

Holding To A Standard

In addition to the legal concerns, there's one more worry: What to expect of the person who pulls the trigger? Clearly it makes a difference whether you're a drone operator thousands of miles away, or a Marine on the ground.

"The Marine who is on the ground in Afghanistan does not have time," said John Radson, a professor of law at William Mitchell College and former CIA assistant general counsel. "As one Marine said in an e-mail message to one of my research assistants: 'When in doubt, empty the magazine.' "

He says that unlike the Marine, a drone pilot's life isn't in danger. He can have a drone follow a target for hours — gathering intelligence, making sure the right person is in the cross hairs.

"Based on the different facts, there is going to be a different application of the laws of war," Radson says. "We hold the drone operator to a higher standard."

Critics want the U.S. drone program held to a higher standard, too. ... =127377657

CIA Drone Operators Oppose Strikes as Helping al Qaeda
By Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Jun 3, 2010 (IPS) - Some CIA officers involved in the agency's drone strikes programme in Pakistan and elsewhere are privately expressing their opposition to the programme within the agency, because it is helping al Qaeda and its allies recruit, according to a retired military officer in contact with them.

"Some of the CIA operators are concerned that, because of its blowback effect, it is doing more harm than good," said Jeffrey Addicott, former legal adviser to U.S. Special Forces and director of the Centre for Terrorism Law at St Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, in an interview with IPS.

Addicott said the CIA operatives he knows have told him the drone strikes are being used effectively by al Qaeda and Taliban leaders to recruit more militants.

CIA officers "are very upset" with the drone strike policy, Addicott said. "They'll do what the boss says, but they view it as a harmful exercise."

"They say we're largely killing rank and file Pakistani Taliban, and they are the ones who are agitated by the campaign," he added.

Because the drone strikes kill innocent civilians and bystanders along with leaders from far away, they "infuriate the Muslim male", said Addicott, thus making them more willing to join the movement. The men in Pakistan's tribal region "view Americans as cowards and weasels", he added.

Addicott retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2000 after serving for six years as senior legal adviser to the Special Operations Forces but is still a consultant for the U.S. military on issues of terrorism and law.

Addicot said the CIA officers expressing concern about the blowback effects of the drone policy are "mid-grade and below".

They learned about the impact of drone strikes on recruiting by extremist leaders in Pakistan from intelligence gathered by CIA and the National Security Agency, which intercepts electronic communications, according to Addicott.

They have informed high-level CIA officials about their concerns that the programme is backfiring, Addicott told IPS.

"The people at the top are not believers," said Addicott, referring to the CIA. "They know that the objective is not going to be achieved."

The complaints by CIA operatives about the drone strikes' blowback effect reported by Addicott are identical to warnings by military and intelligence officials reported in April 2009 by Jonathan Landay of McClatchy newspapers. Landay quoted an intelligence official with deep involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan as saying al Qaeda and the Taliban had used the strikes in propaganda to "portray Americans as cowards who are afraid to face their enemies and risk death".

The official called the operations "a major catalyst" for the jihadi movement in Pakistan.

A military official involved in counterterrorism operations told Landay the drone strikes were a "recruiting windfall for the Pakistani Taliban".

The CIA operatives' opposition to the drone strikes programme extends to Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, all of which now have confirmed deaths from drone strikes, according to Addicott.

The official goal of the geographical expansion of drone strikes is to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda. But al Qaeda is less a major organisation than "a mentality" in most Middle Eastern countries, Addicott said, and the CIA officers fear that the strikes will only reinforce that way of thinking.

Addicott said the drone programme has been driven by President Barack Obama, rather than by the CIA. "Obama's trying to show people that we're winning," he added.

The programme was originally authorised by President George W. Bush against a relatively short list of high-level al Qaeda officials, and with highly restrictive conditions on approval of each strike. The strike could not be approved unless the target was identified with high confidence, and a complete assessment of "collateral damage" had to ensure against significant civilian casualties.

In early 2008, however, Bush approved the removal of previous restraints. As recounted by David Sanger in his 2009 book, "The Inheritance", Bush authorised strikes against targets merely based on visual evidence of a "typical" al Qaeda motorcade or a group entering a house that had been linked to al Qaeda or its Pakistani Taliban allies.

As a top national security aide to Bush acknowledged to Sanger, the shift was "risky" because, "you can hit the wrong house or mistakenly misidentify the motorcade".

It also meant that anyone who could be linked in some way to al Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces" could now be targeted for drone attacks.

The Obama administration has continued to justify the programme as aimed at high-value targets, suggesting that it can degrade al Qaeda as an organisation by a "decapitation" strategy, according to Addicott. However administration officials now privately admit that the objective of the programme is to "demoralise the rank and file", he said.

That won't work, according to Addicott, because, "These are tribal people. They don't view life and death the way we expect them to."

In effect, the drone strikes programme has become an "attrition" strategy for Pakistan, Addicott said.

Such a strategy in Pakistan's tribal region appears to be futile. Madrassas in the region have churned out tens of thousands of young men with militant views, and their activities are spread across hundreds of sites in the region. A U.S. military intelligence official told Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal in 2009 that there were 157 training camps and "more than 400 support locations" in the tribal northwest.

Within the administration, it appears that the logic behind the programme is that it has to be seen to be doing something about al Qaeda. "The argument I get from people associated with the programme," said Micah Zenko, a fellow in Conflict Prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, "is the same as the one [CIA Director Leon] Panetta gave last year."

"Very frankly," Panetta declared May 18, 2009, "it's the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership."

Zenko, who has studied the bureaucratic in-fighting surrounding such limited uses of military force, told IPS drone strikes have appealed to the Obama administration because they offer "clear results that are obtained quickly and are easily measured".

All the other tools that might be used to try to reduce al Qaeda influence in Pakistan and elsewhere take a long time, require cooperation among multiple actors and have no powerful political constituency behind them, Zenko observed.

Dissent from those who are involved in the programme itself has little effect when it is up against what is perceived as political pressure to show progress against al Qaeda - no matter how illusory.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.


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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby chump » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:01 pm

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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:38 pm

nathan28 wrote:... Predator drones used to enforce utility shut-offs (yes I'm serious) ...


Actually, the article does NOT mention "drones" ... however, I am sure "spy planes" will eventually (if it doesn't already) mean specifically RPV / UAV drones.

Report: DTE used spy planes to spot unauthorized hookups
June 7, 2010

Reporters for the World Socialist Web Site recently came across a report revealing that Michigan utility conglomerate DTE Energy has spent large sums on high-tech initiatives to spot so-called illegal utility hookups from the air.

According to a blog post on, in early 2009 DTE contracted with Stockton Infrared Technology Services, (now a partner with RecoverIR) to do an aerial infrared survey of 84,000 acres of populated land in the Detroit area, about one sixth of DTE’s total customer base. Infrared aerial surveys use the technology developed by the US military for night vision. It involves flying planes at low altitudes over residential neighborhoods to obtain a black-and-white thermal photograph. The maps of urban neighborhoods are then color enhanced to identify buildings showing energy usage.

The results painted a devastating picture of pervasive social deprivation in Detroit. While DTE expected to find 5 percent of residents in the surveyed area with unauthorized hookups, the survey results indicated that almost 20 percent of the households had unauthorized hookups to natural gas. Up to 80 percent of those households had simultaneously tapped into the electrical grid.

The aerial survey took place as depression conditions were spreading economic misery throughout the city of Detroit and southeastern Michigan following the economic collapse in late 2008. Bankruptcies in auto, auto parts, and other industries devastated the already economically distressed city, where it is estimated one in two workers lacks a full-time job.

DTE commissioned the project shortly after Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm signed legislation in late 2008 to lower electric and natural gas rates rate for businesses. DTE subsidiary Detroit Edison said at the time that it would transfer a staggering $253 million in electric costs covered by businesses under the previous rate structure to residential customers over the following five years. The governor-appointed regulatory agency, the Michigan Public Service Commission, has already approved several devastating residential rate hikes.

In a humane and rational social order, the revelation that masses of people were resorting to desperate measures to obtain services elementary for survival should have spurred calls for emergency measures to secure heat and lights for every resident. However, there is no indication that DTE executives considered for even a moment the impact of their policies.

On the contrary, their only concern was the impact of unauthorized hookups on the company’s profit. Based on the aerial infrared scan, DTE calculated that it was losing $60 million in potential revenue from households in the survey area. In the aftermath of the survey, DTE stepped up its search for unauthorized hookups, matching billing records with the infrared data. It targeted businesses and residences where service had been shut off but where the aerial survey indicated usage, or where there appeared to be greater usage than indicated by billing records.

According to a report in the Detroit News, cited in a previous article posted on the WSWS (“Detroit News runs to the aid of DTE Energy,” April 22, 2010), DTE operates a 61-man “revenue protection unit” targeting homes and businesses with unauthorized hookups. The company’s special unit dismantles up to 500 such connections every day.

In 2009, utility shutoffs in the Detroit metro area soared, affecting 221,000 households, a more than 50 percent increase over the 142,000 families disconnected in 2008. In spite of the economic devastation of Detroit and southeast Michigan, in December 2009, DTE won approval from the Michigan Public Services Commission (MPSC) for a $217 million rate increase. Most of the rate increases were implemented unilaterally by DTE in July 2009, months ahead of the winter heating season.

DTE’s policies had deadly consequences. Currently, the southeast Michigan Red Cross responds to as many as six fires a night—making it the busiest chapter in the nation; at least one fire per day is linked to utility shutoffs or unauthorized connections.

In early 2010, DTE Energy cut off gas and electricity to the home of one mother, Sylvia Young, in a house where she and her seven children lived on Detroit’s west side. Though children were present when the DTE employee came to disconnect an unauthorized utility hookup at the home, service to the home was still cut while temperature outside dipped well below freezing.

In the hours before the fire, Young had pleaded with a DTE representative not to shut off her service, explaining that her utilities were included as part of her rental agreement with her landlord. The representative said he had no time to wait for the landlord to arrive and proceeded to padlock the gas and electrical meters, cutting off heat to the young mother and her seven children. Later that evening, three of Young’s children were killed in the March 2 house fire, which erupted while the single mother was at a discount store buying space heaters for her family.

Earlier in 2010, two disabled brothers and their friend who lived in a house on Dexter Avenue in Detroit died in a house fire where utilities had been shut off. Efforts by the residents, the day before the fire, to work with DTE to pay the bill had all been unsuccessful. In all, at least 11 people died in house fires last winter in homes where utilities had been cut off.

None of this has had the slightest impact on DTE Energy or the Democratic and Republican politicians who supposedly regulate it. Indeed, DTE is now supporting legislative efforts to make Michigan the first state to make illegal hookups a felony.

The claim by DTE that there exist resources to assist those in danger of losing electric and gas service is a transparent lie. In a May 6 press release, Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy president and chief operating officer, boasted of the paltry $119 million raised from the government’s Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program and the THAW program, which depends on customer charity. These resources have proven inadequate to meet the burgeoning need, a fact even conceded by Anderson.

As for DTE’s contribution, while the utility was able to find the money for massive surveillance of Detroit area customers, it provided a derisory $9 million dollars for heating assistance last year. This figure is less than the 2009 compensation for the company’s CEO, Anthony Earley Jr., of $9.2 million. It is dwarfed by the company’s profits of $546 million in 2009 and $229 million the first quarter of 2010.

At the same time, DTE is demanding huge concessions from its workforce, claiming that the “too rich” and “out-of-market” health care benefits of 3,900 utility workers are the cause for high rates.

Under conditions of widening social devastation, companies like RecoverIR that target the poor are aggressively marketing their services to other utilities. RecoverIR says it is setting its sights on surveillance of “62 million residences in the top 20 energy consuming states with high unemployment, poverty and unemployment.” These areas include large parts of Michigan and other northern industrial states.

No doubt, the imaging project helped spur the proposal of DTE Board member and now mayor of Detroit Dave Bing to shut down large areas of the city, move out the remaining residents, and thus save the city and utility companies from the cost of servicing areas where few could afford to pay for utilities.

The problem is not “energy theft,” as confirmed in the Findings of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire. “Unauthorized hookups exist because utilities are unaffordable and because DTE terminates service. The fire danger starts not when an unauthorized hookup is installed at a home, but when heat or electricity is cut to the home. Furthermore, these fires did not occur because people failed to seek help with their utility bills, as the state government claims. They happened because the government allows DTE to charge exorbitant rates and shut off people’s utilities.”

This only underscores the urgency of the call by the Committee Against Utility Shutoffs that electricity and heat be made basic rights and for the expropriation and the conversion into public utilities under the democratic control of the working class of DTE and the gas and electric monopolies.

The author also recommends:

Detroit News runs to the aid of DTE Energy[22 April 2010] ... ed-hookups

Posted: June 6, 2010 / R4 ROBOTICS
Drone aircraft could be eye in the sky to help utilities monitor lines

R4 Robotics co-founders John Wentzel of Hartland and Karl Sachs of Birmingham near a video image of the firm's R4 aerial inspection drone. The R4 is shown during a test demonstration on a farm in Lapeer. The company is pitching the device for power line inspection as well as police use. (PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press)

A version of this story appears on page 3B of the Sunday, June 6, 2010, print edition of the Detroit Free Press.

Most Americans may only know about drone aircraft from stories about Afghanistan and Iraq, but a small Michigan start-up wants to make them an everyday tool.

R4 Robotics of Birmingham is developing a small flying craft that would scan power lines to monitor for hot spots, leaks and other problems that can trigger outages if not caught. Such work has to be done today by workers on the ground or in helicopters, which can be expensive and dangerous in rough terrain.

The R4 gets its name from the four hubcap-sized rotors it uses to fly, arranged like a four-leaf clover with an electric motor and sensors in the center. The batteries in the R4 allow it to fly for about 20 minutes on a charge -- enough for a 5-mile round-trip -- and it can automatically adjust its flight for any wind currents.

John Wentzel, business development director for R4, said the drone can be programmed to remember specific flight paths.

"You can fly it to GPS locations, and then once you have flown it there, you can do it repeatedly," he said.

The craft was developed by researchers in Germany for military use, but R4 has an exclusive license to build it in the U.S. Wentzel said the focus had been on utility companies because they're required to perform regular inspections of their lines following the huge 2003 blackout.

The R4's center hub typically carries cameras and other sensors that could allow electricity utilities to spot problems not visible to the naked eye. Wentzel said the R4 could easily tackle other dangerous inspection work, such as bridges, pipelines and wind turbines.

The company has been working on the aircraft for more than two years, with five employees in the U.S. and four in Germany, and Wentzel said the company has been pitching potential customers ranging from state utilities to the Michigan State Police.

A possible pilot program would require up to 10 new employees quickly, and Wentzel said if there's demand, the company plans to manufacture the R4 in Michigan.

"We're choosing Michigan because of the number of educated engineers in the population," he said. "In aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering, software technologies, you name it -- Michigan is the best."

Contact JUSTIN HYDE: 202-906-8204 or ... itor-lines

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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby 8bitagent » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:07 pm

Obama murdered over 700 + civilians in Pakistan in 2009; Tea Party ignores this reason to dislike the White House: ... s-in-2009/
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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:44 pm

Long time no see 8bit. :wave:
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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby elfismiles » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:42 pm

Israeli Girls in First-Person Shooters, Killing Real People
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Re: One Drone Thread to Rule them ALL

Postby tazmic » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:10 pm

"Named Taranis, after the Celtic god of thunder, the £142.5 million prototype has been dubbed the ''pinnacle''[sic] of British engineering and aeronautical design." ... eiled.html


"Sporting a gaping air intake in place of a cockpit, the UK's first uncrewed fighter aircraft was unveiled at an airfield in Warton, Lancashire, today.

Called Taranis, the wedge-shaped, 8-tonne stealth jet will be able to fly regular drone missions in regions of conflict – but it will also be able to seek and destroy enemy aircraft in dogfights. However, the high degree of autonomy promised by the makers has some observers concerned that the aircraft may decide on its own what constitutes a target." ... drone.html
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