Tag Archives: drones
Asymmetric tactics rely on the idea of fighting smarter, rather than fighting directly, against a larger or more technologically advanced aggressor. It means turning your opponent’s strengths into weaknesses.
For instance, if your opponent relies on the superiority of his tanks and armor, make him fight in the mountains where his armor is useless. If he relies on air superiority, make him sift through a thick canopy where his eye in the sky sees nothing, or make it dangerous for him to land and refuel such vehicles at all. If he relies on body armor for safety, make him fight uphill so that the extra weight wears him down. If his surveillance and security techniques are a little too sensitive and effective, create constant false positives, until he can no longer trust his own alert systems. And, if most of his weaponry and soldiers are heavily reliant on a particular piece of technology, make that technology useless in the field. Force your opponent to fight on fairer ground, where the man with the most skill and intelligence prevails rather than the man with the most million dollar toys.
There is no such thing as fool proof combat technology. There is a way to trick or defeat or survive ANY weapon and any enemy. Period.
Drones and thermal vision have been held up to the common citizenry for years as the end-all-be-all of combat and surveillance technology. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the claim that no one can hide from thermal imaging and that predator drones herald the end of free resistance to tyranny. I find this assertion to be rather absurd, considering militaries across the globe have already developed their own thermal evasion suits (which means it IS possible to hide from thermal vision) and drones seem to kill more innocent bystanders than actual enemy combatants. I will admit that thermal vision use is skyrocketing amongst military and police across the board, and this is because it is indeed effective to a point.
Thermal imaging and drones in the hands of a corrupt establishment make a couple of things very difficult for any resistance – First, you might be able to hide, but you won’t be able to move freely without risk, especially in groups. Second, you might be able to act defensively, but never offensively. Advancing on an objective protected by thermal surveillance would be extremely difficult. Constantly being on the defensive takes the initiative away from those who want to fight back against tyranny. Without the ability to go on the offensive, you will inevitably lose. Hiding in a hole in the mountains for the rest of your life is not an option if you want your children and their children to experience liberty.
Today’s combat reality is that of the digitized battlefield. All modern military units now rely on full spectrum surveillance, computer models, and real time data. Thermal vision is a cornerstone of this model because it is currently the best way to identify potential threats before they can act, rather than after they act. Unfortunately, there is no doubt this kind of surveillance power will be misused, and the spread of drones for domestic applications proves that the establishment’s intention is to utilize thermal against the population, rather than in defense of the population. Therefore, thermal vision must be negated if people are to remain free. We might not be able to fight against misused drones directly, but we can make their primary advantage useless. Here is how it is possible to remove thermal vision as a threat, and thus nullify the primary strength of the drones (and other weapons) in our skies:
Thermal Vision And Drone Misconceptions
Now that you know it is more than possible for civilians to obtain thermal evasion, lets go over some of the most common misconceptions about thermal imaging and drone technology.
Building a suit that hides a person from thermal imaging is impossible?
Clearly, this is false, as we have shown in the video above. Add to this the fact that military units field their own thermal evasion suits (multi-spectral camouflage) for special purposes, and I think we’ve permanently buried the ludicrous assumption that a thermal evasion suit is a fruitless endeavor. Most existing suits, including those used by governments, boast a thermal reduction rating of 60% to 80%. It is important to recognize that there is currently no organization or company offering thermal evasion suits for widespread use by civilians. We have given the public free access to information on building their own suits if they wish, and we are offering professionally made suits for sale with a thermal reduction rating of 90% or more at Snakebite Tactical.
We made no attempt to hide “heat spots” within the tests in the above video. We want to make it clear that this is a 90% effective suit, which is more than enough for almost any application. Achieving 100% reduction at distances of 10 ft to 10 yards in a wearable suit is very difficult, and a person would still need to practice proper field craft in order to remain unseen. However, we believe our suit design more than meets the standards of currently issued military grade suits; suits which are not available to the public anyway.
Thermal imaging sees through walls?
This is movie-land nonsense. A thermal imager can see the heat you emit through a very thin wall if you are leaning against it, but remove your body from contact with the surface and the heat signature will disappear. Thermal imagers have a difficult time identifying stationary people through leaves and the branches of trees, let alone walls. As long as you are not in contact with the item, your heat will not be seen through the item.
Thermal vision sees through forests?
No. Not a chance. In fact, if your only goal is to hide, then a thick forest is the absolute best place to be if thermal surveillance is in use, even without a suit. If your plan is to advance on an objective, then the situation changes, but if you are a lone individual that just doesn’t want to be found, staying in the woods and dense terrain away from people who might rat you out is your best bet. Apply a thermal suit to the scenario and now your are fully mobile without fear of detection.
You will never see a drone coming, so having a suit is meaningless anyway?
Gotta love this kind of fuzzy logic. The claim apparently assumes that drones simply fly miles above the Earth silently raining hellfire missiles down on random heat signatures on the ground without identification. This is not how drones operate.
Drones are mainly used as OVERWATCH for teams of men already on the ground. A drone might see your signature when you are not wearing a suit, but a drone pilot will not waste ordinance on you until you are identified as a viable target. Most of the successful strikes you see in the news and on YouTube are targets that were already lazed by a team on the ground (this is something the DoD rarely mentions, because they want to retain the mystic surrounding drones). The drone is then sent in to attack the target that the team identified. When a military unit comes into contact with an enemy, a drone may be sent in to observe and identify targets. This is a situation where thermal evasion is essential. If those targets throw on thermal evasion gear, the drone becomes a useless platform. If you are under threat by drones and ground opponents, you can leave the area at will without being traced, or you can advance and attack your aggressor without being betrayed by your own heat signature. Your suit does not need to be worn at all times in order to be useful.
I don’t need a thermal evasion suit, I can just buy a thermal blanket or tarp at a fraction of the cost?
The first and most obvious advantage to a thermal evasion suit is that it CAN BE WORN. There is no existing tarp or thermal blanket system that can be worn against the human body and still hide that body from thermal imaging. All of these items conduct heat which can be seen almost as soon as you touch them. If a heat reflecting tarp was a practical working solution to thermal imaging, then you would see hundreds if not thousands of videos on the web proving their effectiveness and governments would not be keeping their own suits such a secret. The reality is, these items are only useful if you plan to stretch them out above you without physical contact, and stay in one place without moving. They are highly defensive in nature and severely limited in their application.
We have developed the very first thermal evasion system available to the public that can be worn for long periods of time and that also provides effective visual camouflage. Our suit works as a ghillie as well as a thermal evasion tool, meaning, it works in thermal, and in visible light. A thermal cloak offers near total 360 degree coverage against thermal imaging devices in the air and on the ground while the person is also mobile. Meaning, instead of constantly hiding from the enemy and being on the defensive (a losing strategy), you can advance on the enemy if you wish without detection. There is no comparison whatsoever in the level of application between a thermal blanket and a thermal suit.
This does not mean a suit solves all your problems. If you walk through an open field and start break-dancing, someone will see you. A thermal suit does not necessarily hide blatant movement by the wearer. You still need to follow proper field craft methods including the use of cover and concealment. Add to this the thermal reduction properties of the suit, and you are much less likely to be detected, even under heightened scrutiny.
I don’t need a thermal suit, I can just hide in the city amongst the crowds and blend in?
I’m sure there are situations when operating in a city might be called for, but frankly, the idea is extraordinarily ill conceived when one considers the surveillance grids being put in place in most major metropolitan areas. Thermal is not your worst enemy in the city. Try CCTV networks with facial and biometric recognition. Try numerous possible collaborators and quislings in a city environment (known for more passive and subservient populations permanently attached to the establishment umbilical cord) who might point the finger at you. The city is a BAD place to be under almost any circumstance that results in crisis and lost liberty, and probably the worst place to be if you are trying to avoid observation and surveillance.
That said, watch almost any police chopper thermal footage in a city and tell me the person being chased was better off without a thermal suit. Imagine you are being chased for simply being a proponent of liberty. Imagine that one day you wake up in the middle of your home city a designated criminal. Would you rather have a thermal evasion suit, or, do you plan to outrun the chopper?
Mud will hide your heat signature?
No, it will not. At least not for more than a minute, and it better be some thick friggin’ mud. Despite what Arnold Schwarzenegger may have taught you, heat transfers through mud just as it does through most other materials.
Drones will find you with LIDAR if they can’t see you with thermal vision?
LIDAR is a form of laser based radar which is bounced off surfaces to create a 3D map of a large area. I’m not sure exactly where the idea came from that drones use LIDAR for personnel detection, but this is simply not so, at least not currently. LIDAR is being tested by the DoD and private contractors for personnel detection using GROUND based 360 degree units, and the effective range of these experimental units is rather limited. Aerial LIDAR is used for mapping of terrain. The complexity of ground based objects (think in terms of millions of objects in any given field of view) makes personnel tracking from the air all but impossible. Ground based LIDAR also requires a recognizable human shape at close range in order to “alert” on an intruder, which means the ThermTac suit (which removes normal human shape) would only HELP in preventing detection. From my research as of 2015, LIDAR for surveillance often suffers from numerous false positives, which means it is a very weak system for tracking personnel. Thermal vision is a far greater threat than LIDAR.
Even if you have a suit that blocks your body heat, you can still be tracked by your footprints?
Under perfect conditions and the use of a sensitive thermal imager on the ground, your footprints MIGHT be visible using a ground based unit right after you imprint them, but it is still unlikely you will be found. Quick thermal imprints (caused by footsteps) disappear within seconds, and are difficult if not impossible to pick out from any distance beyond a few yards. Rubber and plastic soled shoes do not in most cases transfer very much heat into the ground, and the theory that crushed grass releases more heat in thermal imaging is utter nonsense. Too many ideas about thermal imaging are drawn from television and movies, which greatly embellish the capabilities of such devices. If footprints were an effective way to track people using thermal, then Search and Rescue units (many have access to excellent thermal devices) would have numerous examples of this along with numerous success stories (these examples do not exist).
One legitimate danger involving footprints occurs when a very large number of people (small groups are not an issue) travel together in single file. This constant imprinting on the same path by multiple footfalls can indeed leave a residual trail that can be found several minutes later, enough time to be tracked by a thermal imager.
Thermal evasion suits will help terrorists?
As stated in the video, the world’s worst terrorist groups are often trained by our own governments and covert intelligence agencies. If covert agencies have access to thermal evasion techniques, then it only follows that so do the people they train. I have no doubt that we will be accused of aiding terrorists by releasing this information, because that is really the only recourse the establishment has to try to stop the use and spread of thermal cloaks (or they will claim that the suit is a scam and doesn’t actually work. Of course, people will be able to test this for themselves). They will have to try to shame people into refusing to adopt thermal evasion as a means of defense. Trust me, I’ve seen this kind of propaganda used against people merely for talking about methods that MIGHT work. Read any military forum where someone discusses thermal evasion, and invariably a dozen henpecking statists will ask them if they are “with ISIS or Al-Qaeda” to shut them up.
Self-defense is an inborn right, not a privilege granted by arbitrary authority. You do not need permission to obtain means of defense against a threat, even if that threat has thermal imaging at his disposal and a license from the state to kill you. Our thermal suit design is a culmination of three years of tireless effort. We believe the information belongs in the hands of the citizenry, not only in the hands of governments and those they train. The greater threat to the common good is a lack of knowledge that makes free people weak and vulnerable. The goal of this project is to remove a clear weakness in the American people. If you are not informed, and not prepared, then you will never be secure. Some people would have you believe that thermal imaging and drones are for your safety. We say YOU are the only person that can be trusted to provide for your own safety. If anything, thermal eyes and lurking drones present a more intense danger to you and your freedom than any terrorists they are supposedly intended to fight against.
For more information on thermal evasion, check out some of our essays at Snakebite Tactical.
If you would like to support the publishing of articles like the one you have just read, or support further projects like our ThermTac thermal suit project, visit our donations page here. We greatly appreciate your patronage.
Brandon Smith is the founder of the Alternative Market Project, an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for barter and mutual aid. Join www.Alt-Market.com today and learn what it means to step away from the unstable mainstream system and build something better. You can contact Brandon Smith at: [email protected].
By: Graham Templeton | Extreme Tech –
These days, drones are causing a lot of, if not problems, certainly headlines. They are popping up near secure areas, over flight paths, and outside the windows of pretty ladies. The obvious solution to the problem of ballooning use of drones is the same as the historical solution to the problem of ballooning use of airplanes: track and direct their movements. The problem is that drones are much smaller and quicker than planes, and fly too low and in areas that are too dense for radar. Now, NASA has recruited some of the biggest names in industry to help solve that problem with a source of data that’s already ubiquitous in large cities: cell phone coverage.
This latest report is based on documents released to The Guardian through a Freedom of Information request, and reveal deep industry ties to the project. Verizon’s near-ubiquitous cell network will be the sole host for early tests, though all carriers would be required to adopt any system the FAA did decide to endorse. Amazon and Google are also on board to help government develop their Unmanned aerial systems Traffic Management (UTM) system, which could make commercial drone services more likely while making unfettered personal use more difficult.
The system would not only track drones with cell towers, but use those towers to provide drones with data about their environment and the placement of other flyers. This would allow them to not only watch, but control the behavior of drones; NASA wants the system to be able to “geo-fence” areas like airports and political centers so drones simply cannot go there. They could decide which drones should take precedence in congested areas, or force drones to land during bad weather. Though it isn’t mentioned in the documents, this would likely also allow authorities to ground participating drones they believe to be involved in illegal activity.
That’s the pitch: Lose some freedom of action to effective regulation, and in return your drones won’t crash into buildings, people, or each other. Libertarian drone enthusiasts might not like the look of that deal, but that’s not true for companies like Google and Amazon, which have each invested heavily in Project Wing and PrimeAir, respectively. As Google has found with self-driving cars, regulatory barriers can undo the world’s best business plan. The FAA’s regulations for commercial drones are not yet finalized, but NASA does note that the UTM system will be designed specifically to allow a safe roll-out of Amazon’s service (along with that of “other operators”).
This scheme likely would not immediately stop some illegal drone uses, like flying drugs over international borders, since those drones would undoubtedly be stripped of whatever tracking hardware had come with them. This would essentially lobotomize the drone, relative to one with active tracking tech, and leave it without the awareness provided by the (inter)national cloud of drones. That might be fine if you only need to fly the drone straight across a featureless patch of desert, but less so in a city. To make sure the average user didn’t just detach the tracker whenever convenient, most drones would likely be sold with a hard dependency on a cell phone connection for navigation — but that’s just speculation at this point.
Some sort of centralized authority will be necessary to keep commercial drone services in the air, whether that centrality is facilitated by cell phone towers, WiFi routers, or anything else. Companies like Amazon aren’t helping drone control efforts out of the goodness of their heart. Once we have the ability to safely deploy large numbers of drones in dense urban areas, that’s when we’ll see the layoffs truly begin.
By: Robert J. Burrowes |
I sometimes read that drone strikes are counterproductive to western security interests because each person killed by a drone results in more new ‘terrorists’. See, for example, ‘The more civilians US drones kill in the Mideast, the more radicals they create’. http://rt.com/op-edge/252705-drone-operation-us-strategy-military/.
However, this analysis completely fails to understand what is driving elite military policy, carried out by the United States elite and key elite allies within NATO and elsewhere. In brief: drone strikes work precisely because they provoke violent responses which help elites to ‘justify’ their perpetual war to secure control of the world’s diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, water and strategic minerals while tightening control of domestic populations through expansion of the security and surveillance state.
Elites want more violence. They are unconcerned that innocent civilians are killed. In fact, they kill civilians deliberately. See, for example, ‘Israel “directly targeted” children in drone strikes on Gaza, says rights group’ http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israel-directly-targeted-children-drone-strikes-gaza-says-rights-group and ‘41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground’. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147.
Violence, particularly by demonised ‘others’ who often have to be seriously provoked into responding with violence, makes it easier to scare domestic populations into accepting restraints on their civil liberties, massive military expenditure at the cost of domestic social and environmental programs, military attacks against innocent ‘foreigners’ and massive profits for those few corporations and individuals who benefit from military spending.
Attacks by drones on innocent civilians, such as wedding parties in Afghanistan, serve the purpose of provoking retaliatory responses brilliantly. And by not mentioning the violence that provokes the retaliations while emphasising the retaliations themselves, elites and their agents are able to ‘justify’ western military policy for those not paying much attention or gullible enough to believe the warped perspective presented by compliant academics and the corporate media.
So do elites want to kill people just to make a profit? No. It’s not that simple. Elites want to kill people because they are insane. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane’.
If you think this is overstated, it is only because you have spent a lifetime unconsciously adjusting to absurd and dysfunctional behaviours that you could not explain: an outcome of suffering the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that adults inflicted on you during your childhood. See ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’. http://anitamckone.wordpress.com/articles-2/fearless-and-fearful-psychology/.
Until we participate in comprehensive strategies to resist elite (and other) violence exclusively with strategically applied nonviolence, we will continue to be their ‘complementary doubles’, and thus victims, in the use of violence. Activists, scholars and others who do not realise this are simply playing into elite hands.
Of course, having the emotional and intellectual capacity to resist violence with strategically applied nonviolence is a big ‘ask’ of anyone. But while our fear gets in the way of us learning how to intelligently analyse and strategically resist the psychology that drives violence, we condemn ourselves to perpetual victimhood and assist elite efforts to victimise us even further.
While we play the game by elite rules and rely on violence to confront them, we ensure our own defeat: the military-nuclear-industrial complex is under their control and the smaller weapons we have at our disposal are only useful as tools for them to use to scare us into fighting each other or to justify their violent attacks, including by their police, on us.
If you are interested in devoting your emotional and intellectual capacities to a strategy that makes violence irrelevant in the medium term, you might consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ http://thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com and participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. http://tinyurl.com/flametree. And if you want to develop nonviolent strategies to resist elite military violence, see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach. http://www.sunypress.edu/p-2176-the-strategy-of-nonviolent-defe.aspx.
We might fail. But I would prefer to implement a strategy that can work rather than repeat, for the umpteenth time, a strategy that history teaches us never works. And history does teach us that violence never works although elites work hard to convince us that, in this or that context, violence succeeded.
This is a delusion. Violence always sows the seeds for the next bout of violence (World War I led to World War II which led to …) and/or shifts the violence to the structural domain (where, for example, economic structures cause poverty) and/or the cultural domain (so that, for example, ‘ending’ slavery in the US gave way to institutionalised racism).
So I invite you to consider participating in a comprehensive strategy that is designed to undermine violence, in all of its manifestations, and to break the cycle that is driving us to extinction.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once said: ‘The enemy is violence.’ But I believe the true enemy is our fear: the fear of nonviolently resisting violence, in all of its manifestations. Are you afraid?
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is [email protected] and his website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com.
By: Sputnik News |
The information necessary to hack a military drone is freely available to the public, in academic publications and online documents, according to an Israeli defense manufacturer.
One such paper was published just a month before Iran claimed it downed a CIA stealth drone in 2011, Esti Peshin said Monday at the Defensive Cyberspace Operations and Intelligence conference in Washington DC. Peshin is the director of cyber programs for Israel Aerospace Industries.
A 2011 study, titled “The Requirements for Successful GPS Spoofing Attacks,” explains how to fool GPS sensors like those in drones by mimicking GPS signals.
There’s no way to know, Peshin said, if this report in fact directly informed the Iranians, but it does go to show how easily available this information is.
“It’s a PDF file… essentially, a blueprint for hackers,” Peshin said. “You can Google, just look up ‘Tippenhauer’ — it’s the first result in Google. Look up ‘UAV cyberattacks’ — it’s the third one. ‘UAV GPS spoofing attacks’ — the first one.”
The study explains how to feed the GPS system fake signals so the drone ends up “losing the ability to calculate its position.” The study then goes on to describe ways to prevent these kinds of attacks as well.
The researchers said their goal was to point out “effective receiver-based countermeasures, which are not implemented yet in current standard GPS receivers.”
In the lag time between when the study was published, and when manufacturers managed to implement fixes, however, its possible that hackers could have used the study to exploit the vulnerabilities in a drone’s systems, Peshin said.
A 2013 assessment from NATO itself detailed the risk of drones being hacked and commandeered.
“At the end of the article, as if this was not enough, they listed several UAVs and said these are riskier than others by the way,” Peshin said.
Included in that short list are the MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-170 Sentinel, the drone Iran claimed it commandeered and captured.
Iran Downs Drone, Reverse Engineers a Copy
Iran claimed that on December 4, 2011 it managed to bring down an RQ-170 Sentinel in its airspace. Though doubts circulated about Iran’s claims — most notable was the skepticism of then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta — the White House tacitly acknowledged as much when it later asked for the drone to be returned.
But Tehran said it wanted to reverse engineer the drone. In Feb. 2013, Iran released footage purportedly decoded from the drone’s systems.
“We promised that a model of RQ-170 would fly in the second half of the year, and this has happened. A film of the flight will be released soon,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told the IRNA state news agency at the time of the announcement.
Even though the details of how Iran got the drone remain “controversial” and the report goes on to outline two possible explanations emphasizing that “[b]oth theories indicate security problems.”
Obama-authorized drone killings are cold-blooded murder by any standard – mostly affecting noncombatant civilians, innocent men, women and children in harm’s way.
Former Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney lied calling drone strikes “precise, lawful and effective.”
They’re indiscriminate and lawless. They accomplish no geopolitical objectives. They arouse great public anger in targeted countries.
Days earlier, a drone strike killed a US and Italian hostage. A disingenuous White House press secretary statement said:
“It is with tremendous sorrow that we recently concluded that a US government counterterrorism operation in January killed two innocent hostages held by Al-Qaeda since 2011.”
Obama’s dishonest apology to surviving family members rang hollow. He lied saying “(b)ased on the intelligence that we had obtained at the time…we believed that this was an Al Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present…”
“Before any strike is taken, there must be near- certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.”
Truth is polar opposite. More on this below.
The White House announced an investigation into the incident. Expect whitewash to follow.
Drone killings have nothing to do with counterterrorism. America’s so-called war on terror is phony.
It’s waged to advance Washington’s imperium – through endless direct and proxy wars, including cold-blooded murder by drones.
US development expert Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto are two of thousands of US victims – murdered by American ruthlessness.
Drones are instruments of state terror. Claims about only targeting terrorists are Big Lies. So is saying using them makes America safer.
A 2012 Stanford/New York University study estimates only 2% of drone victims are so-called high-value targets. Evidence shows drone strikes facilitate anti-American recruitment.
The study said “US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.”
“Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan (and other targeted countries), striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.”
“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.”
“Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior.”
Targeted areas are struck multiple times in quick succession – a practice called “double tap.”
Family members, friends and bystanders arriving to help victims are themselves murdered or maimed by drone attacks.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates over 4,400 innocent civilians murdered by US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen alone since 2004 – besides many more in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other US war theaters.
Dozens of Western civilians have been killed, including at least 10 Americans.
Britain’s Reprieve human rights group estimates 28 noncombatants are killed to eliminate one so-called terrorist.
Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson said “(d)rone 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 (so-called real or invented) ‘bad guy’ the US goes after.”
John Kerry lied earlier claiming “(t)he only people we fire a drone at are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level, after a great deal of vetting that takes a long period of time.”
“We don’t just fire a drone at somebody and think they’re a terrorist.”
It bears repeating. Drone strikes are indiscriminate, lawless, cold-blooded murder. The overwhelming number of victims are noncombatant civilian men, women and children.
They’re not so-called terrorists by any standard. Claiming otherwise is one of many Big Lies told to justify US ruthlessness.
In Yemen alone, US drone wars raged since 2002. Hundreds of Yemeni civilians perished. Obama killed many more noncombatants by drones than George Bush – with months left in his tenure to murder many more.
Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson was blunt saying “Obama needs to be straight with the American people about the human cost of this program.”
“(H)is claims that this is a precise program look like nonsense, and the risk that it is in fact making us less safe looks all too real.”
RAND Corporation senior fellow Seth Jones says “no major terrorist organization in the world…has (ever) been defeated by drones.”
It bears repeating. They’re instruments of state terror. They’re used to commit cold-blooded murder – harming innocent civilians most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”. www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html Visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com.
By: SM Gibson | The Anti Media –
Two hostages that were being held by Al-Qaeda on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan were killed earlier this year by a US drone strike, the White House has admitted.
“It is with tremendous sorrow that we recently concluded that a US government counterterrorism operation in January killed two innocent hostages held by Al-Qaeda since 2011,” read a press release issued by the Obama administration Thursday morning.
American contractor Dr. Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker, were the innocent victims of the strike that also took the lives of one other American, Ahmed Farouq, who was said to be involved with Al-Qaida.
Adam Gadahn, another American with supposed ties to terrorism was also killed by a separate drone strike, under the same operation.
“On behalf of the US government, I offer our deepest apologies to their families,” President Barack Obama said at a press briefing on Thursday morning.
“As president and as commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility for all of our counterterrorism operations including the one that took the lives of [Weinstein and Lo Porto],” Obama said.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner then went on to say his administration was not aware that either hostage was being held at the targeted compound.
“Based on the intelligence that we had obtained at the time, including hundreds of hours of surveillance, we believed that this was an Al-Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present and that capturing these terrorists was not possible,” said the president.
An investigation has already been launched into the matter, according to the White House, who says that this incident may result in the administration retooling their drone program.
This is the first time that the US government has taken responsibility for the deaths of innocent hostages as a result of its aggressive drone warfare program.
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.