Tag Archives: drones
Chile introduced regulations Friday making it the first country in Latin America to officially allow drone flights.
“Drones are aircraft that were operating outside the law. With these rules, unique in Latin America, their use will be regulated,” said Maximiliano Larraechea, the head of Chile’s civil aviation authority.
Drones for public use, such as in the realm of businesses and the media, are required to weigh less than six kilograms (13 pounds) and have parachutes, according to the regulations.
Larraechea said that a seven-kilogram drone falling 10 meters (33 feet) could be lethal, “so we’re calling for the parachute and weight limit.”
Under the regulations, drone operators are required to obtain a license and register their drone with the civil aviation authority.
A drone will not be allowed to fly higher than 130 meters or travel more than 500 meters from its operator, and night use is prohibited. They are also forbidden over large events and within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of an airport.
Wildly popular for personal use, drones will be allowed at residences as well as outside urban areas, but will not be allowed in urban public spaces.
Those violating the rules could face fines of up to $36,000.
Unlike in the United States, where drones have been tested for delivering online purchases, Larraechea said that the aircraft would be prohibited for commercial purposes in Chile.
Op Ed Commentary –
Investigative reporter Chris Woods wrote that since August of last year there have been over 2900 missile strikes by manned and unmanned aircraft… mostly perpetrated by our country. To those out there who do not do the research, the Hellfire missile systems bought by you and me cost us over $4 billion for the Predator MQ-1C Gray Eagle and $ 11.79 billion for the MQ9 Reaper. Countless unarmed children, women and the elderly have been blown away through the infamous ‘Collateral Damage’ of these attacks. Who cares? Can that be what helped the crazies running ISIL to recruit more and more fighters? Or can it also be that the fact that one of the world’s most terrorist states (besides us of course) Israel, got around $ 100 billion in military aid from Uncle Sam last year?
Each Hellfire missile that our drones and those of our allies, the Brits, fire down into the Middle East cost you and me $ 60-70K. Multiply that by a few thousand and see the price then. That seems like peanuts when we spend over 50 million for one Boeing Apache helicopter. And the vehicle of choice for our soldiers on the ground occupying Iraq and Afghanistan is the up-armored Humvee. Now, here is the fact on that one: regular Humvees cost we taxpayers $ 65,000 each. However, to protect the personnel better (like maybe they shouldn’t be in those places in the first place, duh?) they up-armor the vehicle at a cost of $ 140,000 each. The conundrum is that the up-armored Humvees only last half as long as the regular ones… that is if they are not destroyed by IEDs or rolled over. Each year over 50 of our soldiers are killed and 100 wounded by these too heavy up-armored Humvees rolling over. Do the math and see how much is spent of our tax dollars for this mess… and tell the families of those dead kids that explanation.
This writer has focused for years on the waste of our needed tax dollars for military spending… regardless of who occupies the White House or controls the Congress. Imagine if we did not spend over 50% of federal taxes collected on our Military Industrial Empire? Imagine if even we cut that figure to 25%… translated into $160+ billion per year for repairing our nation’s infrastructure, health care mess, transportation systems, school and library budgets, first provider budgets etc? How about this: what if we used some of that money to buy up most of the bad mortgage paper and help the homeowners under water to stay in those homes with restructured mortgages? Or, how about if Uncle Sam used a couple of tens of billions of dollars to help local communities own and operate their own mortgage banks, charging only a half a point above the overhead costs? We’d have many more owners and fewer renters to those predator rental housing megaliths. If only…
This writer loves that opening to that stupid commercial ‘Listen up America!’. You think many out there would finally ‘wake up’ and see the light and demand the needed cuts in our empire’s obscene military spending and foreign policies?
Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on Nation of Change Blog, Truthout.org, TheSleuthJournal.com, Worldnewstrust.com, The Intrepid Report , The Peoples Voice, Information Clearing house, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide). Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at [email protected].
By: TomDispach –
An internal Air Force memo reveals that the US military’s drone wars are in major trouble.
The US drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis, and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.
There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the US Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same twelve months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known US Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)
On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress—significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.
In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to worklike any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.
They typically “fly” missions over Afghanistan and Iraq where they are tasked with collecting photos and video feeds, as well as watching over US soldiers on the ground. A select few are deputized to fly CIA assassination missions over Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen where they are ordered to kill “high value targets” from the sky. In recent months, some of these pilots have also taken part in the new war in the Syrian and Iraqi borderlands, conductingdeadly strikes on militants of ISIL.
Each of these combat air patrols involves three to four drones, usually Hellfire-missile-armed Predators and Reapers built by southern California’s General Atomics, and each takes as many as 180 staff members to fly them. In addition to pilots, there are camera operators, intelligence and communications experts and maintenance workers. (The newer Global Hawk surveillance patrols need as many as 400 support staff.)
The Air Force is currently under orders to staff 65 of these regular “combat air patrols” around the clock as well as to support a Global Response Force on call for emergency military and humanitarian missions. For all of this, there should ideally be 1,700 trained pilots. Instead, facing an accelerating dropout rate that recently drove this figure below 1,000, the Air Force has had to press regular cargo and jet pilots as well as reservists into becoming instant drone pilots in order to keep up with the Pentagon’s enormous appetite for real-time video feeds from around the world.
The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it’s humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
But is it possible that a brand-new form of war—by remote control—is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a “coward’s war” (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm’s way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?
Killing Up Close and Personal From Afar
There can be no question that drone pilots resent the way other Air Force pilots see them as second-class citizens. “It’s tough working night shifts watching your buddies do great things in the field while you’re turning circles in the sky,” a drone instructor named Ryan told Mother Jones magazine. His colleagues, he says, call themselves the “lost generation.”
“Everyone else thinks that the whole program or the people behind it are a joke, that we are video-game warriors, that we’re Nintendo warriors,” Brandon Bryant, a former drone camera operator who worked at Nellis Air Force Base, told Democracy Now.
Certainly, there is nothing second-class about the work tempo of drone life. Pilots log 900-1,800 hours a year compared to a maximum of 300 hours annually for regular Air Force pilots. And the pace is unrelenting. “A typical person doing this mission over the last seven or eight years has worked either six or seven days a week, twelve hours a day,” General Welsh told NPR recently. “And that one- or two-day break at the end of it is really not enough time to take care of that family and the rest of your life.”
The pilots wholeheartedly agree. “It’s like when your engine temperature gauge is running just below the red area on your car’s dashboard, but instead of slowing down and relieving the stress on the engine, you put the pedal to the floor,” one drone pilot told Air Force Times. “You are sacrificing the engine to get a short burst of speed with no real consideration to the damage being caused.”
The Air Force has come up with a pallid interim “solution.” It is planning to offer experienced drone pilots a daily raise of about $50. There’s one problem, though: since so many pilots leave the service early, only a handful have enough years of experience to qualify for this bonus. Indeed, the Air Force concedes that just 10 of them will be able to claim the extra bounty this year, striking testimony to the startling levels of job turnover among such pilots.
Most 18Xs say that their jobs are tougher and significantly more upfront and personal than those of the far more glamorous jet pilots. “[A] Predator operator is so much more involved in what is going on than your average fast-moving jetfighter pilot, or your B-52, B-1, B-2 pilots, who will never even see their target,” Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Black, a former Air Force drone pilot says. “A Predator pilot has been watching his target[s], knows them intimately, knows where they are, and knows what’s around them.”
Some say that the drone war has driven them over the edge. “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile? How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, wrote in the Guardian. “When you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience.”
“It was horrifying to know how easy it was. I felt like a coward because I was halfway across the world and the guy never even knew I was there,” Bryanttold KNPR Radio in Nevada. “I felt like I was haunted by a legion of the dead. My physical health was gone, my mental health was crumbled. I was in so much pain I was ready to eat a bullet myself.”
Many drone pilots, however, defend their role in targeted killings. “We’re not killing people for the fun of it. It would be the same if we were the guys on the ground,” mission controller Janet Atkins told Chris Woods of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. “You have to get to [the enemy] somehow or all of you will die.”
Others like Bruce Black are proud of their work. “I was shooting two weeks after I got there and saved hundreds of people, including Iraqis and Afghanis,” he told his hometown newspaper in New Mexico. “We’d go down to Buffalo Wild Wings, drink beer and debrief. It was surreal. It didn’t take long for you to realize how important the work is. The value that the weapon system brings to the fight is not apparent till you’re there. People have a hard time sometimes seeing that.”
Measuring Pilot Stress
So whom does one believe? Janet Atkins and Bruce Black, who claim that drone pilots are overworked heroes? Or Brandon Bryant and Heather Linebaugh, who claim that remotely directed targeted killings caused them mental health crises?
Military psychologists have been asked to investigate the phenomenon. A team of psychologists at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio has published a series of studies on drone pilot stress. One 2011 study concluded that nearly half of them had “high operational stress.” A number also exhibited “clinical distress”—that is, anxiety, depression, or stress severe enough to affect them in their personal lives.
Wayne Chappelle, a lead author in a number of these studies, nonetheless concludes that the problem is mostly a matter of overwork caused by the chronic shortage of pilots. His studies appear to show that post-traumatic stress levels are actually lower among drone pilots than in the general population. Others, however, question these numbers. Jean Otto and Bryant Webber of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, caution that the lack of stress reports may only “reflect artificial underreporting of the concerns of pilots due to the career-threatening effects of [mental health] diagnoses, [which] include removal from flying status, loss of flight pay and diminished competitiveness for promotion.”
Seeing Everything, Missing the Obvious
One thing is clear: the pilots are not just killing “bad guys” and they know it because, as Black points out, they see everything that happens before, during and after a drone strike.
Indeed, the only detailed transcript of an actual Air Force drone surveillance mission and targeted killing to be publicly released illustrates this all too well. The logs recorded idle chatter on February 21, 2010, between drone operators at Creech Air Force base in Nevada coordinating with video analysts at Air Force special operations headquarters in Okaloosa, Florida, and with Air Force pilots in a rural part of Daikondi province in central Afghanistan. On that day, three vehicles were seen traveling in a pre-dawn convoy carrying about a dozen people each. Laboring under the mistaken belief that the group were “insurgents” out to kill some nearby US soldiers on a mission, the drone team decided to attack.
Controller: “We believe we may have a high-level Taliban commander.”
Camera operator: “Yeah, they called a possible weapon on the military-age male mounted in the back of the truck.”
Intelligence coordinator: “Screener said at least one child near SUV.”
Controller: “Bullshit! Where? I don’t think they have kids out this hour. I know they’re shady, but come on!”
Camera operator “A sweet [expletive]! Geez! Lead vehicle on the run and bring the helos in!”
Moments later, Kiowa helicopter pilots descended and fired Hellfire missiles at the vehicle.
Controller: “Take a look at this one. It was hit pretty good. It’s a little toasty! That truck is so dead!”
Within 20 minutes, after the survivors of the attack had surrendered, the transcript recorded the sinking feelings of the drone pilots as they spotted women and children in the convoy and could not find any visual evidence of weapons.
A subsequent on-the-ground investigation established that not one of the people killed was anything other than an ordinary villager. “Technology can occasionally give you a false sense of security that you can see everything, that you can hear everything, that you know everything,” Air Force Major General James Poss, who oversaw an investigation into the incident, later told the Los Angeles Times.
By: Mikael Thalen | Infowars –
“Rebels” who pledged allegiance to ISIS to control American bombers in Syria.
The Obama administration is preparing to equip the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels with the ability to order U.S. air strikes despite the group’s admitted allegiance to the Islamic State.
Members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) will be provided with radios to call in strikes from American B-1B bombers as well as pickup trucks with mounted machine guns as the president puts the final touches on plans to train as many as 3,000 rebels in Jordan and Turkey by the end of 2015.
“Negotiations have been concluded and an agreement text will be signed with the US regarding the training of the Free Syrian Army in the coming period,” said Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgic.
The planes will reportedly use similar munitions to those seen in Afghanistan, targeting anything from small vehicles to tanks with 500 and 2,000-pound guided bombs.
Aside from the Toyota Hi-Lux trucks, multiple groups of rebels will also be given mortars and possibly antitank weapons as well.
A senior military official speaking with the Wall Street Journal stated that the decision would likely emulate recent bombing campaigns against the Islamic State in Iraq.
“The way we envision it, it would be very similar to Kobani,” the source said.
Ludicrously refuting previous statements by claiming not to be at war with the Syrian government, U.S. officials alleged that air strikes would likely not be ordered against the Syrian army.
Despite the Obama administration’s claims, countless intelligence and military officials have stated that the “moderate” rebels are essentially non-existent, with well over 90 percent being with terrorist groups or aligned in ideology.
Just last September, a commander with the FSA admitted to fighting alongside several terrorist organizations in the region including the Islamic State.
“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in… Qalamoun,” Bassel Idriss, commander of an FSA-run rebel brigade, said. “Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values.”
Jamal Maarouf, the leader of the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF), also told reporters last April that his fighters regularly worked with Al Qaeda and Al-Nusra as well.
During the same time period it was reported that “several factions within the FSA, including Ahl Al Athar, Ibin al-Qa’im,” decided to hand their weapons over to the Islamic State before pledging their allegiance to the group.
An Islamic State fighter speaking with Al-Jazeera in 2013 revealed that the FSA regularly sold its weapons to them shortly after they would receive shipments from the U.S.
“We are buying weapons from the FSA,” Abu Atheer said. “We bought 200 anti-aircraft missiles and Koncourse anti tank weapons. We have good relations with our brothers in the FSA.”
Obama’s rebels and the Islamic State even went as far as to sign a non-aggression pact with one another in order to rally against the Assad government in late 2014.
In fact, with thousands of rebels openly defecting and joining ranks with the Islamic State, President Obama was forced to brazenly repeal sections of U.S. law that banned the arming of known terrorist groups in order to keep weapons flowing.
Obama’s actions spurred a major backlash within the military at the end of 2013, resulting in numerous U.S. troops taking to social media to post photos of themselves holding up signs stating that they would not fight on the same side as terrorists in Syria.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz presciently warned in 2013 that President Obama was quickly turning the United States into Al Qaeda’s air force as the situation in Syria continued to intensify.
“We should be focused on defending the United States of America,” Cruz said. “That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.”
Watch: Obama is Arming ISIS to Fight ISIS
The Telegraph – Moderate Syrian rebels ‘to be given power to call in US airstrikes’
Wall Street Journal – U.S. to Give Some Syrian Rebels Ability to Call Airstrikes
Infowars – Obama admits ISIS Strategy about Deposing Assad
Infowars – Syrian Rebel Commander – Yes, we’re still Collaborating with ISIS
The Independent – ‘I am not fighting against al-Qa’ida… it’s not our problem,’ says West’s last hope in Syria
Breitbart – US Backed ‘Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Factions Join ISIS Terror Group
Al Jazeera – Meeting al-Qaeda in Syria
IJ Review – The ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Obama Wants to Arm to Fight ISIS Signs Non-Aggression Pact with ISIS
Infowars – 3,000 “Moderate Rebels” Defect to ISIS – US Preparing 5,000 more
Washington Examiner – UPDATED: Obama Waives Ban on Arming Terrorists to Allow Aid to Syrian Opposition
Infowars – Military Revolt Against Obama’s Attack on Syria
Politico – Ted Cruz: U.S. not ‘Al Qaeda’s Air Force’
By: SM Gibson | The Anti Media –
Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s covert drone war has done something in 6 years that it took the Spanish Inquisition 350 years to accomplish. It has killed more than 2,400 people. In fact, the president’s death count by drone has reached a staggering 2,464. The kicker is that these deaths have all occurred outside of U.S. declared war zones.
The man whom many consider the leader of the free world ironically stated last month,
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place. Remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
The statement was said in response to the Jordanian pilot who was recently allegedly burned alive by ISIS and was intended to reference the hyperbolic western media that stirs unwarranted and reckless fears against Muslims worldwide.
While the President may have been correct in stating that all religions have blood on their hands, it must have slipped his mind to glance down at his own hands before making such a bold statement.
In 2004, the Vatican published their findings after a six year long study into the notorious Inquisition. The research concluded – in an 800 page report – that only 1.8% of those investigated by the Spanish Inquisition were actually killed. Given that 125,000 trials took place over the course of the historically ill-famed inquiries, that would account for an estimated 2,250 killed over the 350 year Inquisition. That is approximately 200 fewer deaths than have been carried out under the orders of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Speaking of high horses, Mr. President, I can only hope you aren’t afraid of heights.
By: Kevin Gosztola | The Dissenter –
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has been pursuing a lawsuit against the FBI for records on the agency’s drone program. A recent filing in the case suggests the FBI has either lied to the public about the scope of its drone program or it has inaccurately defended the need to keep documents secret.
CREW, an organization that describes itself as being committed to “high-impact legal actions to target government officials who sacrifice common good to special interests,” filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records after then-FBI Director Robert Mueller revealed the FBI was operating a secret drone program in June 2013.
The request asked for records that would show: “the source or sources of all drones used by the FBI from January 1, 2009, to the present”; the “funding source for all drones used by the FBI from January 1, 2009, to the present”; “who provided the FBI with any training to enable the FBI to use drones”; “policy concerning the FBI’s use of drones for any purpose, including but not limited to the legal justification for such use and any memoranda of understanding between the FBI or [Justice Department] and any other government agency.”
According to CREW [PDF], the FBI responded to court orders and processed “6,720 non-duplicative pages of documents, releasing only 1,970—most of which contained extensive redactions—and withholding the rest.” The FBI cited four exemptions to justify keeping most of the records secret.
When Mueller spoke about the FBI’s drone program, he said it was used “in a very, very minimal way and very seldom.” The FBI, he claimed, had “very few” drones. They were apparently used sparingly for missions involving drugs, kidnappings, search and rescue operations and hunts for fugitives. However, the government now asserts that disclosing records on a domestic drone program will “enable hostile entities to assess United States intelligence gathering activities in or about a foreign country.”
The government and CREW are now seeking a decision from the judge on whether the records have been appropriately withheld under FOIA or not.
CREW argues in response to the government, “It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand how the FBI’s domestic drone program even intersects with foreign intelligence activities, sources, or methods of the United States, much less how information from the program about the source and funding of the drones, training for drone use, and drone policies could cause actual harm to those interests if disclosed.”
The Justice Department maintains [PDF] the FBI must keep the identity of the vendor, which has provided the FBI with drone technology, secret because “simply identifying the FBI’s equipment source or UAV items intended to be procured (or actually purchased) would reveal information regarding the FBI’s surveillance techniques and capabilities.”
Though the FBI argues that the disclosure of certain documents “would provide criminals and terrorists with a virtual ‘playbook’ on how to evade the FBI’s use” of drones, CREW contends that the FBI has not demonstrated that “operational capabilities and equipment specifications” are not already “generally known to the public.” Much information is already in the public domain. In fact, “manufacturers of drones,” such as General Atomics, “provide a large amount of information on their products’ capabilities.” And even the US Air Force has posted to its website details on the “operational capabilities of its drones.”
It is improper for the FBI to suggest that identities of vendors or drone suppliers are at all covered by the FOIA exemption protecting “law enforcement techniques.” Such a suggestion twists the exemption to make it possible for the FBI to keep all its dealing with corporations supplying drone technology secret so as not to face any public scrutiny at all.
Multiple times the FBI makes claims about foreign entities or foreign intelligence agents posing a threat if they obtain any of these records:
…Permitting specific details to be released on the [drone] program’s equipment, operational capabilities, limitations, training, and funding would enable criminals outside the controlled, classified environment to provide foreign entities and operatives with key information that could be used in countermeasure efforts…
… The withheld information is under control of the United States Government, and contains information regarding intelligence activities, sources or methods and/or foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, all of which are authorized bases for classification [under Executive Order 13526]…
…Due to the delicate nature of international diplomacy, disclosure of this sensitive information could jeopardize the fragile relationships that exist between the United States and certain foreign governments. Moreover, the unauthorized disclosure of information concerning foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States can reasonably be expected to lead to curtailment in the diplomatic or law enforcement sharing of intelligence and/or new investigative equipment advancements…
All of which is intended to amplify fear in the mind of the judge hearing this case.
These statements also raise key questions about the FBI’s drone program and how confined it really is to the domestic United States. For example, how could records on policies or certain technology used to rescue kidnapped Americans in the US impact relationships with foreign countries? Or, how could a program used sparingly be so threatening to US diplomacy if basic details were shared with the public?
What the government refuses to accept is that CREW is only demanding the release of general information. It does not want specific records on specific technical operations. But the Justice Department seems to deliberately misconstrue the nature of CREW’s request for records in order to make the organization seem unreasonable.
CREW states, “The FBI has thrown a blanket of secrecy over a program that is of critical public importance and that raises fundamental questions about whether the government is abiding by the constitutional rights of its citizens. Yet despite these concerns, drone use domestically has increased exponentially, even though we do not yet have the appropriate controls and safeguards in place.”
The FBI is not the sole agency responsible for allowing this proliferation without regard for civil liberties. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a flourishing drone program, which the Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently found [PDF] has achieved none of its “intended results” and has not properly accounted for all the costs of operations. CBP cannot account for whether it is protecting privacy (and the OIG did not bother to scrutinize this aspect of the agency’s program). And that is what makes lawsuits like CREW’s critical.
As CREW concludes, “The FBI’s response of withholding the vast majority of documents is not only unjustified legally and factually but is ‘anathema’ to the FOIA’s fundamental purpose of providing a vehicle for the public to know what its government is up to.”
A judge ruling in favor of the FBI would be a win for excessive secrecy and mean the government could operate a vast domestic drone program without telling citizens what drones are doing in the sky each and every day.
Research links posted below:
Air Force Completes Killer Micro-Drone Project
The Human Avatar Programs by NASA & DARPA
RQ-12A Aqua Wasp UAV Marine Corps
Secret Genetic Experiments Human-Animal Hybrids
Black Hornet pocket UAV helicopter for foot soldiers
Is your smartphone watching you?
PD-100 BLACK HORNET PRS Helicopter Drone
The Mosquito War’s: West Nile Virus Nano Vaccine Patch
Invasion of the Micro-Drones!
Experimental Vaccines Robots and Drones Videos
By: Nicholas West | Techswarm –
As drone expert, P.W. Singer said, “At this point, it doesn’t really matter if you are against the technology, because it’s coming.” According to Singer, “The miniaturization of drones is where it really gets interesting. You can use these things anywhere, put them anyplace, and the target will never even know they’re being watched.”
This has been the promise that the Air Force made quite clear in their video early last year about nanodrone tech that you can see below. According to the USAF, Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs), combined with the ability to harvest energy, will enable insect-sized drone swarms to be dropped from military aircraft to stay aloft for a prolonged amount of time, offering a host of functions, including assassination.
DARPA is now announcing a new wave of these microdrones under the Fast Lightweight Autonomy program. As the name indicates, they ideally would like humans to be completely removed from the control process.
For now, they clearly state “overseas” as the theater of operation, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how these microdrones could be applied in the U.S., especially amid an increasingly tense urban environment in the wake of confrontations with domestic police. And, as always, the tantalizing application in disaster relief paves the way for easy introduction.
(My emphasis added in press release)
DARPA aims to give small unmanned aerial vehicles advanced perception and autonomy to rapidly search buildings or other cluttered environments without teleoperation.
Military teams patrolling dangerous urban environments overseas and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes or floods currently rely on remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles to provide a bird’s-eye view of the situation and spot threats that can’t be seen from the ground. But to know what’s going on inside an unstable building or a threatening indoor space often requires physical entry, which can put troops or civilian response teams in danger.
To address these challenges, DARPA issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation today for the Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program. FLA focuses on creating a new class of algorithms to enable small, unmanned aerial vehicles to quickly navigate a labyrinth of rooms, stairways and corridors or other obstacle-filled environments without a remote pilot. The solicitation is available here: http://go.usa.gov/MGWx
The program aims to develop and demonstrate autonomous UAVs small enough to fit through an open window and able to fly at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour)—while navigating within complex indoor spaces independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS waypoints.
“Birds of prey and flying insects exhibit the kinds of capabilities we want for small UAVs,” said Mark Micire, DARPA program manager. “Goshawks, for example, can fly very fast through a dense forest without smacking into a tree. Many insects, too, can dart and hover with incredible speed and precision. The goal of the FLA program is to explore non-traditional perception and autonomy methods that would give small UAVs the capacity to perform in a similar way, including an ability to easily navigate tight spaces at high speed and quickly recognize if it had already been in a room before.
“Urban and disaster relief operations would be obvious key beneficiaries, but applications for this technology could extend to a wide variety of missions using small and large unmanned systems linked together with manned platforms as a system of systems,” said Stefanie Tompkins, director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “By enabling unmanned systems to learn ‘muscle memory’ and perception for basic tasks like avoiding obstacles, it would relieve overload and stress on human operators so they can focus on supervising the systems and executing the larger mission.”
Since the focus of the program is improving perception and reducing dependence on external sources—as opposed to designing new small UAVs—DARPA will provide performers selected for the program with the same small UAV testbed as government-furnished equipment.
By: Washington’s Blog –
Obama Knew Drone Strikes Were Counter-Productive, But Did It Anyway
Previously-leaked documents showed that the CIA warned Obama that funding rebels doesn’t work … but Obama decided to fund the Syrian rebels anyway for cynical political gain.
Top CIA officers say that drone strikes increase terrorism (and see this). Indeed, virtually all aspects of the American “war on terror” strategy creates more terrorists and weakens our national security. And see this.
Now, a leaked internal CIA memo shows that the Agency told Obama that drone strikes might be counter-productive. The Sydney Morning Herald reports today:
According to a leaked document by the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, “high value targeting” (HVT) involving air strikes and special forces operations against insurgent leaders can be effective, but can also have negative effects including increasing violence and greater popular support for extremist groups.
The leaked document is classified secret and “NoForn” (meaning not to be distributed to non-US nationals) and reviews attacks by the United States and other countries engaged in counter-insurgency operations over the past 50 years.
The 2009 CIA study lends support to critics of US drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen by warning that such operations “may increase support for the insurgents, particularly if these strikes enhance insurgent leaders’ lore, if non-combatants are killed in the attacks, if legitimate or semi-legitimate politicians aligned with the insurgents are targeted, or if the government is already seen as overly repressive or violent”.
The CIA also warns that targeting insurgent leaders “may, by eroding the rules of the game between the government and insurgents, escalate the level of violence in a conflict, which may or may not be in a government’s interest.”
“Israeli HVT efforts from 2000 to 2002 strengthened solidarity between terrorist groups and bolstered popular support for hard-line militant leaders, according to US Embassy officials in Jerusalem and clandestine reporting,” the study says.
Common Dreams notes:
Here’s a link to the document, titled Best Practices in Counterinsurgency: Making High-Value Targeting Operations an Effective Counterinsurgency Toolocument (pdf).
Wikileaks points out that this internal prediction “has been proven right” in the years since the internal review was conducted near the outset of President Obama’s first term. And despite those internal warnings—which have been loudly shared by human rights and foreign policy experts critical of the CIA’s drone and assassination programs—Wikileaks also notes that after the internal review was prepared, “US drone strike killings rose to an all-time high.”
According to a statement released by Wikileaks:
The report discusses assassination operations (by various states) against the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, the FARC, Hizbullah, the PLO, HAMAS, Peru’s Shining Path, the Tamil’s LTTE, the IRA and Algeria’s FLN. Case studies are drawn from Chechnya, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand.
The assessment was prepared by the CIA’s Office of Transnational Issues (OTI). Its role is to provide “the most senior US policymakers, military planners, and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support”. The report is dated 7 July 2009, six months into Leon Panetta’s term as CIA chief ….
Airport costs $33 million …
An airport designed for only two kinds of drones is set to be built in the US State of Texas.
At $33 million cost, the project demonstrates America’s unprecedented drive toward the use of unmanned aerial systems.
A 150-acre drone launch and recovery complex, which will be “fenced and secured,” is to be built only for two drones – ‘Gray Eagle’ and ‘Shadow’ – at Fort Bliss, the Defense Systems website reported on Wednesday.
The contract was awarded by the Fort Worth Corps of Engineers to Oklahoma company SGS LLC.
The airport will include a 50,000-square-foot hangar with maintenance shops, administrative and storage spaces, as well as over a mile of runways, aprons and taxiways, according to the company’s announcement.
The US giant drone, the Gray Eagle, will be provided with a 5,000-foot runway, while the smaller Shadow will have a 1,000-foot takeoff strip. The facilities will also include a 5-ton bridge crane, oil and hazardous waste storage buildings, organizational vehicle parking and overhead protection.
According to the Army, all operations will take place in restricted airspace.
The Pentagon released the 25-year Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap in December 2013.
“Overall funding demonstrates a continued commitment to invest in UAS, performing predominately ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) missions,” the roadmap stated.
“Thus, while one industry analysis and forecasting group estimates worldwide UAS spending will almost double over the next 10 years to a total of $89 billion, a comparison of DOD funding plans versus industry predictions indicates DOD will not be the bulk user within that market,” the US Department of Defense said. “However, DOD does intend to be the most innovative use.”
The Gray Eagle, the Army’s largest combat drone, is 8 meters long and has a wingspan of 17 meters. Its maximum speed is 280kph with an endurance of 30 hours. That medium altitude system can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, attack, air support, detection and destruction of improvised explosive device (IED), and as a communications hub.
The characteristics of the Shadow drone are the following: length – 3.4 m, wingspan – 4.3 m, maximum speed – 204kph, and endurance ranging from six to nine hours. The catapult-launched drone is used for reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and battle damage assessment.
Fort Bliss, the US Army’s second-largest installation with an area of 4,400km2, is home to the 1st Armored Division. Located in Texas and New Mexico, it accommodates thousands of military vehicles, alongside with Apache and Black Hawk helicopters.
Aiming For Two Militant Leaders In Pakistan, U.S. Drone Pilots Killed 233 People, Including 89 Children
The U.S. drone program in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen is referred to as “targeted killing” of those deemed to be a danger to American interests. President Barack Obama even said in a speech on May 23, 2013, “[B]y narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us, and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life.” Instead, the Central Intelligence Agency attacks are anything but targeted; hundreds often die in the multiple attempts to kill each individual.
A study (pdf) by Reprieve, a group that works against the death penalty and other government killing, showed that not only are many innocent lives lost in the attacks, but the actual targets are often missed. That can result in some being “killed” multiple times. Reprieve found 41 men whose deaths had been reported multiple times but remained alive while as many as 1,147 civilians in the kill zone died.
Ayman al Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda, has been the target of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan at least twice. A total of 76 children and 29 adults have died for the sake of getting al Zawahiri, but he’s still alive. Still, the body count there is less than in the six attempts to kill Qari Hussain, a deputy commander of the Tehrike-Taliban Pakistan. One hundred twenty eight people, including 13 children, died before the CIA was able to kill Hussain.
Another target, Fahd al Quso, got around so much that he was reported killed in both Yemen and Pakistan. In four attempts to kill him, 48 people died before al Quso finally did.
“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise.’ But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the U.S. goes after,” Jennifer Gibson, who led Reprieve’s study, told The Guardian.
By: TechSwarm –
If there is any doubt that our reality is quickly becoming stranger than fiction, the latest announcement from researchers at Stanford should lay it to rest.
Working in collaboration with green tech company, Ecovative Design, scientists have produced a biodegradable drone that they say will virtually disappear without a trace.
The biomaterial that constitutes the body of the drone is made from the fungal material, mycelium, while the core circuitry employs nanoparticle ink.
The fungal body has a protective covering of sticky cellulose “leather” sheets grown by bacteria in the lab. Coating the sheets are proteins cloned from the saliva of paper wasps – usually used to waterproof their nests. Circuits were printed in silver nanoparticle ink, in an effort to make the device as biodegradable as possible.
Perhaps even more wild than flying fungus is the mention of using bacteria to create biodegradable censors – one of the components that currently is not able to be broken down:
The next part the team hope to make safe to degrade are the drone’s sensors, and they have already started studying how to build them using E. coli bacteria.
Naturally, the idea of a drone that can vanish into the earth without a trace would have myriad military and surveillance applications. While not mentioned in the New Scientist coverage of this drone, the use of biomaterial such as bacteria (or viruses?) might introduce a new Pandora’s Box to an already controversial technology.
The US Department of Homeland Security already has an arsenal of drones to be deployed for whatever the agency deems fit, but the actual capabilities of those vehicles exceed what many Americans may expect.
The unmanned drones being used inside of the United States right now can’t shoot Hellfire missiles like their overseas counterparts. They can, however, conduct surveillance, intercept communications and even determine whether or not a person thousands of feet below the aircraft is armed.
The latest revelation comes courtesy of a DHS document that was recently obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, through a Freedom of Information Act request. After analyzing a partially-redacted drone “performance specification” file received through their FOIA plea, EPIC said that records indicate “the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is operating drones in the United States capable of intercepting electronic communications.”
Of the ten Predator B drones currently maintained by the agency, EPIC adds that the document confirms that those aircraft “have the capacity to recognize and identify a person on the ground.”
“The records obtained by EPIC raise questions about the agency’s compliance with federal privacy laws and the scope of domestic surveillance,” the center writes on their website this week.
Speaking to CNet, EPIC’s Open Government Project director, Ginger McCall, says the discovery shows just how dangerous drones could be to the privacy of the millions of Americans who could have drones overhead right this moment.
“The documents clearly evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is developing drones with signals interception technology and the capability to identify people on the ground,” McCall says. “This allows for invasive surveillance, including potential communications surveillance, that could run afoul of federal privacy laws.”
Since EPIC published their FOID’d documents last week, Cnet has managed to scrounge up an unredacted copy that outlines what the DHS was looking for in drones when the report was written in 2010. Specifically, the performance specifications note that while the DHS is not implementing drones for eavesdropping on America right now, “Further tasks, such as communication relay and interception, although not yet evaluated in the field, are assessed to also be best performed” by the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Additionally, DHS drones must “be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not” and “be capable of marking a target into a retrievable database.” No information is given as to what database that refers to, but a Homeland Security official speaking on condition of anonymity tells DHS that the drones lack — for now, at least — the ability to read a subject’s face to find out who they are.
“The drones are able to identify whether movement on the ground comes from a human or an animal, but that they do not perform facial recognition,” Cnet reporter Declan McCullagh says the DHS source’s claims.
“Any potential deployment of such technology in the future would be implemented in full consideration of civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy interests and in a manner consistent with the law and long standing law enforcement practices,” the source adds.
The Homeland Security department’s drones are currently used to allow federal officials to monitor any criminal activity on America’s borders to the north and south. As RT reported recently, however, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling determined that the government can conduct border patrol operations within 100 miles of an international crossing. By that logic, the approximately 200 million Americans residing within that parameter are subject to Border Patrol searches and, perhaps soon enough, surveillance drones.
As if the use of drones and A.I. autonomous systems aren’t controversial enough, now researchers in South Korea claim to have developed a humanoid robot called Pibot that can fly any type of aircraft. As you’ll see in the video below, one beneficial real-world example for the use of robot pilots would be in dangerous areas like Fukushima where radiation would threaten human health.
This is a familiar sales pitch for all types of robotics, but the mission tends to quickly creep into other areas that aren’t so noble. For instance, it has been shown that drone pilots can experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder even though they are technically far removed from the actual battlefield. It’s not much of a stretch to see these fragile humans who are prone to compassion get replaced by Pibot … you know, for their health.
Transcript from Reuters here
Is there any doubt that America’s foreign policy, based upon maintaining a global empire, actually makes us less safe? The misgiving is that such intercession has any actual benefits to the citizens of the country. What once was a respected leadership role of non-interventionism in international affairs, has become a dominating imperium for worldwide control and subjugation. Exporting the “land of the free” is a myth, especially when domestic freedom is a dying memory. Internationalists tell us that military and surveillance drone technology promises enhanced security, with little concern for collateral damage or loss of innocent life. However, the facts do not bear out such claims.
Factor in the expansion of robot deployment and replacement of human assets, produces the net effort of an even more depersonalize and dehumanizing use of coercive force. Nonetheless, such a trend gets little public concern and even less outrage. Military branches, filled with voluntary recruits, are losing faith in the spin. CIA and unnamed black bag missions rely upon eager operatives that believes in the importance of the assignment or demented mercenaries that enjoy their macabre trade.
The practice of desensitizing defense forces is an essential component of basic training. With robot brigades, moral considerations need not interfere with killing tasks. The essay, Kant’s moral philosophy and the question of pre-emptive war illustrates the quid essential example of an amoral tech that avoids the very nature of profound ethical issues. The stick question of morality is foremost in areas of human endeavors, but total absent in the wiring of tech carnage machines.
“That the international arena is indeed a state of nature in something approaching Hobbes’s sense of the term is a theme upon which Kant insists in both Perpetual Peace and the Metaphysics of Morals; it becomes a much more insistent theme in the latter. Such a conceptualization does not, however, diminish Kant’s commitment to upholding and, if possible, promoting fundamental principles of right within this arena, nor his condemnation of those individuals and governments, however numerous, which violate them. It is in this context that his pronouncements concerning the justifiability of war, and whether a pre-emptive war is ever acceptable, must be understood. In Perpetual Peace, these pronouncements are unequivocal. Famously, Article 5 of the preliminary principles conducive to perpetual peace is “No state shall interfere by force in the constitution and government of another state.” In the long Appendix to this essay Kant warns against demanding that another state divest itself of a despotic constitution – at least as long as this state is in danger of being swallowed up by other states – even while expressing the hope that despotic constitutions will gradually give way throughout the world to republican forms of government. (Republican and despotic are the only two types of Regierung, as distinguished from forms of authority, or Beherrschung – that is, whether the ruling power consists of one person, several, or all of civil society taken together – that Kant recognizes; he is far removed from the distasteful combination of frivolity with brutality that has led to the identification of certain regimes as “rogue states,” hence undeserving of any respect, by apologists for the great powers of our day.) Further on in the same Appendix, in the context of considering possible antinomies between morality and politics, Kant asks whether, if a neighboring power has grown to such size as to warrant apprehension that it might attack, it would be permissible for an allied coalition of weaker states to stage a pre-emptive attack on that state, “even without preceding insult,” and answers in the negative.”
Surely, the memory chips in drones and robots are not programmed to reflect a Kantian standard for the use of deadly force and destructive weaponry. It is exactly because of this lack of understanding between right and wrong that drones and robots are so attractive to the enforcers of the imperial empire.
Even an establishment mouthpiece like CBS must acknowledge the risks and non-decisive functions of this technology. Drone wars: Pentagon’s future with robots, troops, clearly raises the dangers of android warfare.
“Washington’s post-9/11 military interventions have been a boon for drones. The numbers tell the story. At the turn of this century, the Department of Defense had 90 drones with plans to increase the inventory by 200 over the next decade, according to Dyke Weatherington, a Defense Department deputy director overseeing acquisitions of hardware for unmanned warfare. As 2012 began, there were more than 9,500 remotely piloted aircraft in the U.S. arsenal.
Air Force contracting documents suggest that the estimated five Reaper sorties flown each day in 2012 will jump to 66 per day by 2016. What that undoubtedly means is more countries with drones flying over them, more drone bases, more crashes, more mistakes. What we’re unlikely to see is armed drones scoring decisive military victories, offering solutions to complex foreign-policy problems, or even providing an answer to the issue of terrorism, despite the hopes of policymakers and the military brass.”
Yet, the military is rapidly expanding the footprint and capacities for their drone force. Obama’s Two Words for Us: ‘Predator Drones’, is not only a sick joke, but more importantly a very obscene policy. America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases, documents that this immoral combatant system is spreading indiscriminate causalities from “The Agency” who has a long record of war crimes.
“Over the last decade, the American use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has expanded exponentially, as has media coverage of their use. On September 21st, the Wall Street Journal reported that the military has deployed missile-armed MQ-9 Reaper drones on the “island nation of Seychelles to intensify attacks on al Qaeda affiliates, particularly in Somalia.” A day earlier, a Washington Post piece also mentioned the same base on the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, as well as one in the African nation of Djibouti, another under construction in Ethiopia, and a secret CIA airstrip being built for drones in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. (Some suspect it’s Saudi Arabia.)
Post journalists Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock reported that the “Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen.” Within days, the Post also reported that a drone from the new CIA base in that unidentified Middle Eastern country had carried out the assassination of radical al-Qaeda preacher and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.”
Is this the kind of stealth death that shares the adage “if you build it they will die” or can the capabilities of these systems be limited strictly to reconnaissance intelligence? Now such a goal is not covered by international law, because the AMERIKA super power does not recognize any legal or moral restrains on their use of armed elimination of anyone designated as an enemy of the state.
Reigning terror from the skies is rationalized because suspected terrorists are such existential threats that allow for the use of any means necessary. The NDAA mentality covers the entire globe using the standard that removing anyone without due process is warranted. The Drone Wrath for a Compliant Society essay, implores that active resistance is long overdue.
“The National Defense Authorization Act is the latest unconstitutional measure that targets domestic citizens for punitive punishment. Due process, now reduced to “Due or Die” is the harbinger of the use of domestic drone capitulation. What will it take to awaken submissive citizens that the capability of foreign deployed drones easily can be weaponized for local operations?”
The NSA calls for the elimination of Edward Snowden, who just happens to be the most current and celebrated target. Nevertheless, with the readying of robot assassin squads, anyone could be the next victim. As long as the internationalists are in control of our government and the globalists are the masters of the world economy, the focus and missions of the U.S. military will be uses to further the interests of these treacherous elites.
The technocratic authoritarians diminish the sacred nature of life with each new death system. Absent from their design specifications is the moral imperative. For these deranged enablers of a global gulag, humans are expendable and unnecessary. The concept of Kantian duty is never a factor in their robotic monsters.
When empires are in the last thralls of decay, they go to war. The failures of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions have exposed the futility and betrayal of globalist government service. Defense of country has never been the mission for these expeditions.
Future operations will use drone and robotic weapons whenever possible, since human doubt in a rightful purpose in the mission is rapidly diminishing. Troop reduction and replacement with machines is the technology solution, when moral authority is absent.
Perpetual war will seek full spectrum dominance, which is now dependent upon unman aircraft and land based devices. The next false flag excuse will claim a fictitious necessity to unleash the bombing drones. GPS coordinates; unencumbered by moral doubt, guide Hellfire missiles.
SARTRE is the pen name of James Hall, a reformed, former political operative. This pundit’s formal instruction in History, Philosophy and Political Science served as training for activism, on the staff of several politicians and in many campaigns. A believer in authentic Public Service, independent business interests were pursued in the private sector. As a small business owner and entrepreneur, several successful ventures expanded opportunities for customers and employees. Speculation in markets, and international business investments, allowed for extensive travel and a world view for commerce. He is retired and lives with his wife in a rural community. “Populism” best describes the approach to SARTRE’s perspective on Politics. Realities, suggest that American Values can be restored with an appreciation of “Pragmatic Anarchism.” Reforms will require an Existential approach. “Ideas Move the World,” and SARTRE’S intent is to stir the conscience of those who desire to bring back a common sense, moral and traditional value culture for America. Not seeking fame nor fortune, SARTRE’s only goal is to ask the questions that few will dare … Having refused the invites of an academic career because of the hypocrisy of elite’s, the search for TRUTH is the challenge that is made to all readers. It starts within yourself and is achieved only with your sincere desire to face Reality. So who is SARTRE? He is really an ordinary man just like you, who invites you to join in on this journey. Visit his website at http://batr.org.