Nations agree to work on killer robots!

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots welcomes the historic decision taken by nations today to begin international discussions on how to address the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons. The agreement marks the beginning of a process that the campaign believes should lead to an international ban on these weapons to ensure there will always be meaningful human control over targeting decisions and the use of violent force.

At 4:47pm on Friday, 15 November 2013 at the United Nations in Geneva, states parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons agreed to convene on 13-16 May 2014 for their first meeting to discuss questions related to “lethal autonomous weapons systems” also known as fully autonomous weapons or “killer robots.” These weapons have not yet been developed, but technology is moving rapidly toward increasing autonomy.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots believes that robotic weapons systems should not be making life and death decisions on the battlefield. That would be inherently wrong, morally and ethically. Fully autonomous weapons are likely to run afoul of international humanitarian law, and that there are serious technical, proliferation, societal, and other concerns that make a preemptive ban necessary.

A total of 117 states are party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, including nations known to be advanced in developing autonomous weapons systems: United States, China, Israel, Russia, South Korea, and United Kingdom. …

Read on: www.stopkillerrobots.org/2013/11/ccwmandate/

‘Wounds of Waziristan’

The Story of Drones As Told By the People Who Live Under Them

Film Trailer

See more of this film online for a limited time at VICE:


“Wounds of Waziristan,” is a documentary made by journalist Madiha Tahir. She puts an emphasis on what things look like on the ground in her native Pakistan, with the aim of making the effects of the war more visible.

CAAB strongly recommends that as many people as possible watch this important documentary. There are connections with the American base at NSA Menwith Hill – involved in intelligence-led warfare.

Read an interview with Madiha Tahir here:


Drone strikes by US may violate international law, says UN

Report says CIA attacks led to civilian deaths and casualties and says US protocols are ‘hurdle to transparency’

The Guardian – By Owen Boycott – October 18, 2013

A United Nations investigation has so far identified 33 drone strikes around the world that have resulted in civilian casualties and may have violated international humanitarian law.

The report by the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, calls on the US to declassify information about operations co-ordinated by the CIA and clarify its positon on the legality of unmanned aerial attacks.

Published ahead of a debate on the use of remotely piloted aircraft, at the UN general assembly in New York next Friday, the 22-page document examines incidents in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan and Gaza.

It has been published to coincide with a related report released earlier on Thursday by Professor Christof Heyns, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which warned that the technology was being misused as a form of “global policing”.

Emmerson, who travelled to Islamabad for his investigation, said the Pakistan ministry of foreign affairs has records of as many as 330 drone strikes in the country’s north-western tribal areas since 2004. Up to 2,200 people have been killed – of whom at least 400 were civilians – according to the Pakistan government. …

Read on: www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/18/drone-strikes-us-violate-law-un

Read the UN document mentioned above which is the Interrim report by Ben Emmerson (for the UN). The Special Rapporteur intends to submit a final report on this subject to the Human Rights Council in 2014

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. (176 kB pdf)

Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program

Washington Post – By Greg Miller, Julie Tate and Barton Gellman – October 17, 2013

In June, President Obama said the NSA’s programs “help us prevent terrorist attacks.”

It was an innocuous e-mail, one of millions sent every day by spouses with updates on the situation at home. But this one was of particular interest to the National Security Agency and contained clues that put the sender’s husband in the crosshairs of a CIA drone.

Days later, Hassan Ghul — an associate of Osama bin Laden who provided a critical piece of intelligence that helped the CIA find the al-Qaeda leader — was killed by a drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal belt.

The U.S. government has never publicly acknowledged killing Ghul. But documents provided to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden confirm his demise in October 2012 and reveal the agency’s extensive involvement in the targeted killing program that has served as a centerpiece of President Obama’s counterterrorism strategy. …

Read more: www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/documents-reveal-nsas-extensive-involvement-in-targeted-killing-program/2013/10/16/29775278-3674-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf80831fc_story.html

UN rapporteur Christof Heyns condemns use of drone strikes

The Guardian – By Owen Boycott – October 17, 2013

Law professor’s study says strikes for ‘policing’ harm global security and spur proliferation among states and terrorists

Deploying drone strikes as a form of global policing undermines international security and will encourage more states and terrorist groups to acquire unmanned weapons, a UN report has warned.

The study has been submitted to UN general assembly by Christof Heyns, a South African law professor who is the organisation’s special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Although no state is identified in the report, the comments are clearly directed at the legal problems raised by the US programme of aerial attacks against al-Qaida supporters in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

“The expansive use of armed drones by the first states to acquire them, if not challenged, can do structural damage to the cornerstones of international security and set precedents that undermine the protection of life across the globe in the longer term,” the report states.

“The use of drones by states to exercise essentially a global policing function to counter potential threats presents a danger to the protection of life, because the tools of domestic policing (such as capture) are not available, and the more permissive targeting framework of the laws of war is often used instead.” …

Read on: www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/17/un-rapporteur-heyns-drone-strikes-yemen-pakistan

NATO Drones – the ‘game-changers’

Nato Watch – By Nigel Chamberlain – September 26, 2013

Surveillance drones – for now

In a speech at the Carnegie Europe Event in Brussels on 18 September NATO Secretary General Rasmussen urged European allies to acquire more surveillance drones. This appeal supports a call in June by three aerospace companies – France’s Dassault Aviation, EADS Cassidian and Italy’s Finmeccanica Alenia Aermacchi – for Europe to launch its own independent drone programme.

International Relations and Security Network (ISN) has published a timely article by Executive Editor of Air Force Magazine, Michael C. Sirak, in which he reviews NATO ‘s plans for the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system – a fleet of five Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft which can carry a sophisticated radar capable of monitoring what is happening at ground level from high overhead. They will, according to Sirak:

Transmit synthetic aperture radar images—which look like photographs—and tracking data on the moving objects down to NATO intelligence analysts. These specially trained personnel will then create intelligence products for the Alliance’s political leadership and military commanders, down to the tactical level, quickly enough to be relevant. This information will provide insight into topics such as the position of combat forces, battle damage sustained by a target, or devastation caused by a natural disaster.

Currently, NATO relies on national assets of its members for this capability, especially the United States. A NATO official said in June: “AGS is indeed a kind of game changer. It changes the dynamic within the Alliance to have access to that kind of information.” …

Armed drones – later, perhaps

British MP Caroline Lucas recently asked the UK Secretary of State for Defence a Parliamentary Question about drone missions undertaken by British Armed Forces in Afghanistan. On 5 September, answering for the Government, Andrew Robathan MP said that:

UK forces in Afghanistan operate unmanned aircraft systems to provide Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), with Hermes 450, Desert Hawk III, T-Hawk, Black Hornet and Reaper systems. Reaper is the only armed system; the following table demonstrates that the majority of flights are also wholly in the ISTAR role, with only a small proportion resulting in one or more weapons being fired.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has highlighted the information he gave, stressing the key role played by British unmanned aircraft in the Afghan conflict. British-piloted drones carried out 22% of all drone strikes in the conflict between 2008 and 2011. In 2011, the last year for which comparison was possible, British-piloted drones launched 30% of all drone attacks in the theatre.

The Bureau added that the United Nations is said to believe that US-operated drone strikes pose a growing challenge to the international rule of law, perhaps referring to the UN Emmerson report, and last year a study conducted by the law schools of Stanford and New York University said that the US government’s drone programme ‘terrorises’ local communities and kills large numbers of civilians.

BBC Radio 4 broadcast a report called ‘Drone Wars’ by Stephen Sackur on 25 September that addresses some of these issues. He suggests that increased use of drones raises all kinds of ethical as well as military questions as pilots flying drones remotely by computer link from thousand of miles away are replacing pilots flying aircraft over combat zones.

BBC Radio 4 also broadcast a challenging play by Robert Myers on 16 September called ‘Drone Pilots’. It depicts the work of two US night shift operators who fly a drone from a trailer in the American desert. He is a decorated fighter pilot (going back to Vietnam) from rural Georgia, who has come out of retirement to make ends meet – and voices his disquiet at the extra-judicial executions he is required to perform. She is a superstar gamer from New Jersey, who has recently been recruited to the job of sensor – and expresses no such qualms. …

Read in full: www.natowatch.org/node/1204

Spending for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to double over next 10 years worldwide, says 2013 Teal Group forecast

Avionics Intelligence – By John Keller – August 18, 2013

Worldwide spending for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will double over the next decade, rising from $5.2 billion in 2014 to $11.9 billion in 2023, predict analysts at market researcher the Teal Group Corp. in Fairfax, Va.

Teal analysts released their latest worldwide UAV forecast this week at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) 2013 conference and trade show in Washington.

UAV research throughout the world will increase from $1.9 billion in 2014 to $4 billion in 2023, while procurement will increase from $5.2 million next year to $7.6 million in 2023.

The U.S. military will lead the world in UAV research and procurement spending over the next decade, accounting for 65 percent of the UAV research and 51 percent of the UAV procurement. The Asia-Pacific region will be second in UAV spending, while Europe will be third, Teal analysts say. …

Read more: www.avionics-intelligence.com/articles/2013/08/ai-teal-forecast.html

Drones Strikes Widely Unpopular

A new poll (18 July, 2013 from Pew Research Centre, link) has found that the US policy of drone strikes remains unpopular around the world, with a bigger number of countries surveyed than last year’s round of questioning:

In most of the nations polled, there continues to be extensive opposition to the American drone campaign against extremist leaders and organizations. In 31 nations, at least half disapprove of the U.S. conducting drone missile strikes targeting extremists in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. At least three-in-four hold this view in 15 countries from all corners of the world, including nations from the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

See page 14 of the report for the actual figures.

U.S. military drone surveillance is expanding to hot spots beyond declared combat zones

The Washington Post – By Craig Whitlock – July 21, 2013

The steel-gray U.S. Air Force Predator drone plunged from the sky, shattering on mountainous terrain near the Iraq-Turkey border. For Kurdish guerrillas hiding nearby, it was an unexpected gift from the propaganda gods.

Fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, filmed the charred wreckage on Sept. 18 and posted a video on YouTube. A narrator bragged unconvincingly that the group had shot down the drone. But for anyone who might doubt that the flying robot was really American, the video zoomed in on mangled parts stamped in English and bearing the label of the manufacturer, San Diego-based General Atomics.

For a brief moment, the crash drew back the curtain on Operation Nomad Shadow, a secretive U.S. military surveillance program. Since November 2011, the U.S. Air Force has been flying unarmed drones from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in an attempt to suppress a long-simmering regional conflict. The camera-equipped Predators hover above the rugged border with Iraq and beam high-resolution imagery to the Turkish armed forces, helping them pursue PKK rebels as they slip back and forth across the mountains.

As the Obama administration dials back the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. military is shifting its huge fleet of unmanned aircraft to other hot spots around the world. This next phase of drone warfare is focused more on spying than killing and will extend the Pentagon’s robust surveillance networks far beyond traditional, declared combat zones. …

Read on: www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-military-drone-surveillance-is-expanding-to-hot-spots-beyond-declared-combat-zones/2013/07/20/0a57fbda-ef1c-11e2-8163-2c7021381a75_story.html

New Report Documents the Human Cost of U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen

Human rights activists interview witnesses to the strikes’ civilian casualties

RollingStone.com – By Ryan Devereaux – July 3, 2013

There are more than 80 names at the end of a human rights report published online this week. Each one is said to belong to a civilian killed or maimed as a result of U.S. missile strikes in Yemen since 2009. They were mothers, fathers, children and grandparents – and they stand in contrast to claims that the United States does not launch missiles into Yemen unless there is a “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” as President Obama told the nation in May.

The names are preceded by 25 pages of detailed descriptions of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen and their consequences, offering a rare level of information on specific attacks and their physical, psychological and financial impacts on individual Yemeni civilians. …

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DoD Current and Future U.S. Drone Activities Map

For a map depicts the approximate locations of current and planned Department of Defense unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) activities inside the U.S. follow this link: http://publicintelligence.net/dod-us-drone-activities-map/

Ban Weaponized Drones from the World

Take action: Sign the petititon at Roots Action

Congressman Keith Ellison on US Drones in Africa and Media’s Portrayal of Muslims

Truth Out – By Jon Letman – April 25, 2013

Recently Ellison spoke to Truthout by telephone from Minneapolis about drones, the growing US military presence in Africa, immigrant civil rights and the American media’s portrayal of Muslims. …”Is having all those military bases good for the American taxpayer? Is it good for our diplomatic relations with the rest of the world? Is it fiscally sound? Does it make us safer, or not? Does it make us more of a target and more resented around the world?

…I think that all the military bases we have around the world—some of these weapons systems, particularly nuclear weapons systems—do we really need all this? Whose interests does it serve? Does it even serve the American people’s interest? I have serious doubts about that.” – MN Congressman Keith Ellison …

Read the full interview here: www.truth-out.org/news/item/15976-exclusive-congressman-keith-ellison-on-us-drones-in-africa-and-medias-portrayal-of-muslims

CIA will continue drone operations in Pakistan for now: Sources

The Express Tribune – By Reuters – May 21, 2013

US drone strikes in Pakistan would continue to be conducted by the CIA for the time-being to keep the program covert and maintain deniability for both the United States and Pakistan, several US government sources said on Monday. …See more:

Drones Over the Homeland: From Border Security to National Security

TruthOut – By Tom Barry – May 19, 2013

Public attention and Congressional review, writes Barry, should focus on the increasing militarization of border control, especially in the management of the border drone program. …See more:

American drone base in the making

Pentagon plans use of Port Blair as possible site in case of offensive against China

India Today – Gautam Datt and Rohan Venkataramakrishnan – May 28, 2013

Port Blair might not be anything more than a vacation spot for most Indians, but a new Pentagon-commissioned report seeks to turn it into something radically different: a base for American drones.

In possibly the first reference to the use of Indian territory for the US military in recent times, the paper, put together by the RAND Corporation, suggests that the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be ideally suited as a base for American drones in the event of an offensive against China.

The paper, titled ‘Overseas Basing of US Military Forces’, was commissioned by the Pentagon on the instructions of the US Congress and looks into the presence of the American military at various bases and locations across the globe.

As part of this assessment, the researchers at RAND looked into large-scale operations against potential adversaries, including Iran, North Korea and China.

Under this scenario, the paper suggests significant changes in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The Navy and the Marine Corps would also increase the number of combat forces that are stationed on US territories in the Pacific, in particular in Hawaii and Guam, while seeking to retain more marines in Okinawa than currently agreed,” the paper says.

It adds that the US should seek to increase the presence of troops at bases in Australia. It then goes on to refers to the use of Indian territory to look over the strategically important Straits of Malacca, which carries about a quarter of all oil that is transported.

“The Navy would strive to station a detachment of broad area maritime surveillance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles or drones) at Port Blair airport in the Andaman Islands, to increase surveillance over the Strait of Malacca,” the paper said. …

Read on: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pentagon-report-use-andaman-and-nicobar-islands-as-drone-base-india-today/1/273387.html

Obama to hand over some CIA drone operations to Pentagon

RT – May 21, 2013

President Barack Obama has allegedly decided to hand over part of the CIA’s drone program to the Pentagon. The administration plans to gradually shift responsibility in stages, thereby providing greater congressional oversight on the use of drones. …See more:

Why we need to stop military killer robots now

New Scientist – By Simon Makin interviewing Mark Bishop – May 21, 2013

Artificial intelligence expert Mark Bishop says a ban on weapons that can deploy and destroy without human intervention is vital

See more:

Germany cancels USD1.3 billion purchase of US-made drones

PRESS TV – May 15, 2013

Germany’s defense ministry has cancelled plans to purchase and modify US-made Global Hawk drones for 1 billion euros, making it the largest German military project to be completely abandoned.

The plan was abandoned on Tuesday after already putting out more than half a billion euros on the project.

German taxpayers stood for 250 million euros of the loss as aerospace company EADS paid the remaining amount.

A government official said the organization has decided to cancel the purchase after it was revealed that the required authorization to fly the drones over European airspace would be too expensive at a cost of over 600 million euros. …

Read on: www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/05/15/303630/germany-cancels-usd13-bn-drone-purchase/

    Visit this great Drone interactive site

DRONES: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Out of Site, Out of Mind

Click the image to visit the site

Drones – USAF Croughton/RAF Waddington link to Africa – Documents

An RAF base in Britain is being used by America in its controversial drone warfare campaign, it was claimed last night.

Documents seen by The Mail on Sunday reveal that the United States has established a drone ‘operations centre’ in the heart of the Lincolnshire countryside which could be used to co-ordinate attacks in the Middle East and Africa. …

Read more here: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2290842/US-Drones-bombing-Africa-operated-RAF-bases-heart-Lincolnshire-countryside.html

Chris Cole (Director Drone Wars UK) commented:

‘USAF Croughton is part of a network of US intelligence bases in the UK led by Menwith Hill in Yorkshire. The existence of a secure military communications link between Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti from which US drone operate over Yemen and other countries in North Africa, and the UK shows that Croughton and Menwith Hill are no doubt involved in analyzing information and video from US drone flights in that area. It is also possible that information obtained in this way and analyzed by US personnel in the UK could be used to direct further US drone strikes.

The Mail on Sunday piece also quoted several documents, one of which “requests US security-cleared staff to work at RAF Waddington on a USAF drone called the Predator” and another that “describes a role for a communications technician at the same base ‘supporting 24/7 operations of critical real-time USAF/ANG [Air National Guard] mission operations’”. RAF Waddington is being readied to operate British Reaper drones over Afghanistan from UK soil for the first time. Up until now British drones have been controlled from Creech Air Force base in Nevada, alongside US drone operators. What these documents appear to show is that the staff are being recruited to work at RAF Waddington who have US security clearance. This does not mean that the US is operating drones out of Waddington as the article implies (and the headline states). Rather these documents confirm that the USAF is sharing information with the RAF and no doubt vice versa. Hence the need for US security cleared staff at Waddington’.

Related documents:

Hancock’s Reaper drone; Remote control there and here

Syracuse.om – Ed Kinane – May 22, 2013

Ed Kinane lives in Syracuse. He has several times been jailed for opposing Hancock’s weaponized drone.

Here in upstate New York, pretty much below the radar, a tragedy unfolds. But not without resistance.

For several years the unmanned robotic Reaper drones of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard have been piloted from Hancock air base. These weaponized robots kill and maim – and terrorize – the people of Afghanistan. Many – maybe most — of these hapless Afghans are non-combatants: infants, children, mothers, elders, unarmed men; also livestock.

The Attack Wing does its killing by remote control from its safe perch at Hancock just outside Syracuse thousands of miles from where the Reaper’s Hellfire missiles and 500-pound bombs strike. Nonetheless the Attack Wing technicians and their chain of command play judge, jury and executioner. They play God with human life. Few of these players know anything about the culture, politics, or people of Afghanistan. Few, if any, know whom they slay or even why. Robotically, drone-like, they follow orders.

Hancock’s cowardly remote control tactics not only wreak havoc “over there,” they are mirrored here. By deploying their influence on – their remote control of — local law enforcement agencies and the judges of the DeWitt Town Court, Hancock tactically targets those seeking to expose its war crimes. …

Read on: http://blog.syracuse.com/opinion/2013/05/ed_kinane_hancocks_reaper_dron.html

Drones or Gitmo?

It’s a false choice.

Fort Worth Weekly – by Gwynne ter – May 8, 2013

John Bellinger is the last person you’d expect to criticize President Barack Obama for making too many drone strikes. It was he who drafted the (rather unconvincing) legal justification for targeted drone killings when he was adviser to the Secretary of State in George W. Bush’s second administration, and he still supports them.

Speaking at a conference in Washington earlier this month, Bellinger said, “This government has decided that instead of detaining members of al Qaeda [at Guantanamo], they are going to kill them.” Leaving aside the question of whether most of the people detained at Guantanamo were ever actually members of al Qaeda, the accusation is plausible.

Obama wants to close the U.S. prison camp on the Cuban coast where hundreds of suspected al Qaeda supporters have been held without charge, some for more than a decade. There are still 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, and just last week Obama, thwarted by Congress in his first-term pledge to close the place, announced his intention to try again.

The president was quite eloquent about why Guantanamo should be closed. “It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism. It is a recruitment tool for extremists.” It also flouts international law, but no president of the United States can ever concede that. …

Read on: www.fwweekly.com/2013/05/08/drones-or-gitmo/

On the Struggle to Keep Weaponized Drones Out of Europe

TruthOut – By Elsa Rassbach – May 5, 2013

Organized opposition to weaponized combat drones in Europe is rising, with an effective halt to drone proliferation perhaps more likely in Europe than in the US.

In Washington on April 30th for a meeting with his counterpart Chuck Hagel, German Defense Minister Thomas de Mazière stated confidently that the US was ready to approve an official German request for three armed MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft (formerly known as the “Predator B”) and four ground control stations. He also revealed that the US Congress had already approved export of the weaponized drones to Germany on April 10th.

But will the German Parliament (“Bundestag”) approve the purchase sought by the German Minister of Defense? While European military establishments are busily seeking to expand their arsenals with the killer drones, opposition is mounting, both in the parliaments and in the streets.

On April 27, across the Channel from Continental Europe, more than 600 activists gathered from all over the United Kingdom to march the four miles from Lincoln to the Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Waddington in the Ground the Drones – the largest anti-drone demonstration in Europe to date. A coalition of British organizations began organizing for the demonstration some months ago, after the RAF announced that it planned to increase its arsenal of hi-tech Reapers from five to ten and to begin using the Lincolnshire airbase to control surveillance and strikes of drones deployed to Afghanistan. Up until recently, British drone strikes have been controlled from Creech Air Base at Indian Springs in Nevada.

The UK, alone among European countries, has had weaponized drones for several years. …

Read on: www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/16100-on-the-struggle-to-keep-weaponized-drones-out-of-europe

Navy Unveils First Squadron Of Drones

Huffington Post – By JULIE WATSON – May 2, 2013

The Navy on Thursday inaugurated its first squadron with both manned and unmanned aircraft amid debate over the military’s burgeoning use of drones in warfare.Military officials launched the effort by reactivating the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35, known as the “Magicians,” which served for 19 years before being deactivated in 1992. … Read more:

Farea Al-muslimi testimony at Drone Wars Senate Committee Hearing

30 drone protesters arrested at Hancock air base at conclusion of weekend rally

Syracuse.com – By James T. Mulder – April 29, 2013

About 30 people were arrested outside the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base this afternoon during a protest against the use of unmanned aerial drones.

The arrests came at the end of a series of workshops and rallies held in Syracuse this weekend and organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.

Today’s rally attracted more than 250 people who gathered on the grounds of OCM BOCES on Thompson Road, then marched in a funeral like process to the gates of the base, home to the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard. The unit operates unmanned, armed drones thousands of miles away. The drones are used for intelligence gathering and bombing ground targets. …

Protesters were arrested on a variety of charges including disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and loitering. Their names were not immediately available.

DeWitt town judges granted an order of protection last fall against peace activists who were showing up unannounced at the base and blocking its gate. That order didn’t deter protestors today.

Elliott Adams of Sharon Springs, one of the rally organizers, called the order of protection “absurd.”

“It is a flagrant effort to deny us our first amendment rights,” he said. …

Read in full: www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/30_drone_protestors_arrested_a.html

Boston police chief wants drones for next year’s marathon

RT – April 26, 2013

United States Vice President Joe Biden says the 2014 Boston Marathon will be “bigger, more spectacular” than ever before, and the city’s police commissioner could see that through with some serious changes starting at next year’s race.

Notwithstanding last week’s terrorist attack that killed three and wounded hundreds, Boston, Massachusetts is expected to continue its tradition of hosting the annual 26-mile run next spring. Speaking to the city’s Herald newspaper though, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis says he’s looking to add at least one new element in 2014: unmanned aerial vehicles.

Weighing in with regards to how his city will ensure another attack won’t ruin next year’s marathon, Davis says he’s looking towards obtaining a drone aircraft to conduct surveillance from the Boston sky.

“Drones are a great idea. I don’t know that would be the first place I’d invest money, but certainly to cover an event like this, and have an eye in the sky that would be much cheaper to run than a helicopter is a really good idea,” he tells the Herald.

Elsewhere in the interview, Commissioner Davis says the city must do everything possible to prevent terrorists from attacking their city again. “We need to harden our target here,” Davis says. “We need to make sure terrorists understand that if they’re thinking about coming here, we have certain things in place that would make that not a good idea. Because they could hit any place. They’re going to go for the softest, easiest thing to hit.”

“We need to gather all the information we can as to what happened and make a determination as to the overall commitment the city of Boston has to the threat of terrorism,” he says. “That’s very, very important to me. It’s very important to the mayor. I’m sure there will be a lot of questions about that.”

Indeed questions are quickly amounting, and they’ve been asked of officials in Massachusetts and else since well before last week’s attack. The Federal Aviation Administration expects tens of thousands of drones in US airspace by the end of the decade, and already the FAA is approving Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for a number of law enforcement agencies on target to fully take America into the age of drones. …

Read on: http://rt.com/usa/boston-marathon-surveillance-drones-452/

UK MoD confirms British Reaper drones in Afghanistan being controlled from RAF Waddington

Drone Wars UK – By Chris Cole – April 25, 2013

The UK MoD has today confirmed that British drones over Afghanistan are now being controlled from the UK.

For the first time UK forces can remotely control armed drones over Afghanistan while sitting in air conditioned trailers at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. …


Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan

The Long War Journal – by Bill Roggio and Alexander Mayer


Since 2004, the US has been conducting a covert program to target and kill al Qaeda and Taliban commanders based in Pakistan’s lawless northwest. The program has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda’s external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states.

The charts on the Long War Jounral website look at the following: 1) the number of US airstrikes inside Pakistan per year; 2) civilian casualties vs. Taliban/al Qaeda casualties; 3) the distribution of strikes over time by tribal agencies; 4) the overall distribution of strikes, by tribal agencies; 5) the distribution of strikes over time by territories targeted; 6) the overall distribution of strikes, by territories targeted; and 7) the number of high value targets killed in territories managed by individual Taliban commanders.

European Parliament: Drones: Engaging in debate and accountability

European Parliament document – Author: Ulrich KAROCK – April 25, 2013

“Drones – ‘remotely piloted air systems’ (either vehicles or aircraft, called RPAS), or unmanned or uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs) – are currently the subject of a lively debate, largely focused on their use in targeted killings. Yet focusing the discussion on this use of UAVs masks the fact they serve a wide variety of purposes, ranging from creating high-resolution imagery to contributing to agricultural pest control. …

“Given the importance – both realised and potential – and the diversity of the new technology, it is essential that a wide public debate be opened on the use of UAVs and mechanisms of accountability. Recent developments in the United States illustrate how parliaments have involved in the debate. The European Parliament could take the lead in organising a wider discussion and developing a framework to regulate the use of RPAS in different contexts.” …

Read/download (70 kB pdf): www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/studiesdownload.html?languageDocument=EN&file=92636

Can a Drone Murder?

WarIsACrime.org – By David Swanson – April 23, 2013

Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee hearing on drones was not your usual droning and yammering. Well, mostly it was, but not entirely. Of course, the White House refused to send any witnesses. Of course, most of the witnesses were your usual professorial fare.

But there was also a witness with something to say. Farea Al-Muslimi came from Yemen. His village had just been hit by a drone strike last week. He described the effects — all bad for the people of the village, for the people of Yemen, and for the United States and its mission to eliminate all the bad people in the world without turning any of the good people against it.

The usual droning and yammering that preceded and followed this testimony seemed more offensive than usual. One witness summarized the general position of pointless witnesses who accept all common wisdom and have no information or insights to contribute:

If the drone strikes are part of war, that’s fine, she said. But if they’re not part of war, then they’re murder. But since the memos that “legalize” the drone strikes are secret, we don’t know whether they’re perfectly fine or murder.

That’s the common view of things. But to say it in front of someone who knows something about the killing from the perspective of the victims seems particularly tasteless.

The basic facts are barely in dispute. A single individual, President Barack Obama, is choosing to send missiles from drones into particular houses and buildings. Most of the people being killed are innocent and not targeted. Some of those targeted are not even identified. Most of the others are identified as run-of-the-mill resisters to hostile foreign occupations of their or neighboring countries. A handful are alleged to be imminent (meaning eventual theoretical) threats to the United States. Many could easily have been arrested and put on trial, but were instead killed along with whoever was too close to them.

If this is not part of a war, apparently, then it’s murder.

But if it’s part of a war, supposedly, it’s fine.

It’s funny that murder is the only crime war erases. …

Read on: http://warisacrime.org/content/can-drone-murder

Yemeni at U.S. hearing describes drone strike on his village

Yahoo! News – By Tabassum Zakaria (Reuters) – April 23, 2013

A Yemeni man told a Senate hearing on Tuesday about a U.S. drone strike on his village last week that he said turned residents against America.

In an emotion-filled voice, Farea Al-Muslimi, a writer, described his shock at the drone attack and the blowback in public opinion from residents against the United States.

His comments stood out among the debate over the legal aspects of President Barack Obama’s drone policies at a rare public hearing on the topic held by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, titled: “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.”

Obama has promised more transparency about the program as lawmakers increasingly demand the administration reveal its legal justifications for killing terrorism suspect overseas who are U.S. citizens. Drone strikes have also increased tensions among local populations in countries like Pakistan where the United States conducts them in the tribal regions.

A committee aide said Al-Muslimi was already to have testified at the hearing when it was scheduled a week ago. But the hearing was postponed as the panel hoped the administration would send an official to testify, but that did not happen.

In the intervening week, an al Qaeda leader and four militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike in the town of Wessab in Dhamar province south of the capital Sanaa, a Yemeni official said.

“Most of the world has never heard of Wessab. But just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers,” Al-Muslimi said.

“The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine.”

In his youth, Al-Muslimi was awarded a State Department scholarship to an exchange program that aimed to build understanding between Americans and Muslim countries and lived for a year with an American family in California, he said.

“As I was thinking about my testimony and preparing to travel to the United States to participate in this hearing, I learned that a missile from a U.S. drone had struck the village where I was raised,” he said. …

Read on: http://news.yahoo.com/yemeni-u-hearing-describes-drone-strike-village-000458591.html

In New Mexico desert, U.S. drone pilots learn the new art of war

Toronto Sun – By Tabassum Zakaria – April 23, 2013

The tide of war may be receding, as President Barack Obama is fond of saying, but U.S. military demand for unmanned drones and their remote pilots is growing.

Here in the New Mexico desert, the U.S. Air Force has ramped up training of drone operators – even as the nation increasingly debates their use and U.S. forces prepare to leave Afghanistan.

“Every combatant commander in the world is asking for these things. Down in Southcom, Africom, Pacom, they’re all asking for these assets, so it is in very high demand,” said Lt. Col. Mike Weaver, 16th Training Squadron commander at Holloman Air Force Base, referring to the military’s Southern, Africa and Pacific commands.

Weaver is an example of a fighter jet pilot turned pilot of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or RPA, as the Air Force insists on calling drones. He flew F-15 fighter jets over Iraq and, after those squadrons were drawn down, trained on drones and flew them over Afghanistan.

“With the growth of the RPAs being what it is, a fast-growing industry in the Air Force really, you’ve got pilots coming from all different walks of life to fill the shoes,” Weaver, clad in a green flight suit, said in his office here.

The use of drones to target and kill individuals has become increasingly controversial, and lawmakers have questioned Obama’s legal justifications for using them to kill militants overseas who are U.S. citizens. …

Read on: www.torontosun.com/2013/04/23/in-new-mexico-desert-us-drone-pilots-learn-the-new-art-of-war

Brokaw: We Need to Examine Drone Policy as a Motivation for Terrorism

crooksandliars.com – By Nicole Belle – April 21, 2013

The media narrative around the Boston marathon bombing is beginning to coalesce: Older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev had recently embraced fundamentalist and radical Islamic thought after a trip to Russia, starting a YouTube channel that pointed to jihadist videos. Such was his interest that he became a subject of an investigation by the FBI, reportedly at the request of the Russian government. Angry, isolated and increasingly radicalized, he enlisted the services of his younger, idolizing brother to fulfill the jihad here in the US, of whom he felt used the Bible “as an excuse for invading other countries”. …

Read on: http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/brokaw-we-need-examine-drone-policy-m

ACLU Appeals Ruling Allowing Feds to Stay Mum on Drone Targeted Killings

WIRED – By David Kravets – April 15, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union today appealed a judge’s ruling allowing the President Barack Obama administration to keep mum on its legal basis for its drone targeted killing program, including information connected to the killing of Americans via drones.

The appeal concerns an “Alice in Wonderland” decision by U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon of New York, who in January ruled that she was trapped in a “paradoxical situation” of allowing the administration to claim it was legal to kill enemies outside traditional combat zones while keeping the legal rationale secret.

The appeal (.pdf) comes days after McClatchy Newspapers reported that, “Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al-Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified ‘other’ militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.”

The use of drones to shoot missiles from afar at vehicles and buildings that the nation’s intelligence agencies believe are being used by suspected terrorists began under the George W. Bush administration and was widened by the Obama administration to allow the targeting of American citizens. Drone strikes by the Pentagon and the CIA have sparked backlashes from foreign governments and populations, as the strikes often kill civilians, including women and children.

By some estimates, the United States has killed more than 4,000 people with drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, including 1,000 civilians. …

Read on: www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/04/alice-wonderland-drone-appeal/

Faith Community Organisations Speak Out on Drones

A vital group of allies in the April Days of Action Against Drones in city after city have been faith-based groups. Indeed, faith-based groups are longstanding stalwarts in the antiwar movement, and a growing number of faith groups are entering the struggle for human rights, peace, and justice.

Group letters, blogs, vigils, and denominational resolutions have all been part of the faith response to drones so far.

Nonetheless, there is much, much more work for the faith community to do in addressing the problem of drones.

Read more here: http://nodronesnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/faith-based-groups-and-april-days-of.html

It would be good to encourage the Faith Communities here in the UK to write to David Cameron re UK Drones and Barack Obama re US Drones

Anonymous murder from a safe distance

The Chicago Tribune – By William Pfaff – April 9, 2013

War is war and murder is murder. The law draws the distinction. The American armed drone is a weapons system of war, not of policemen. And even if it were a police weapon (as it may, one fears, become in the future), the United States Department of Defense and the CIA are not police forces, nor has the United States a commission to police the world of its radicals, jihadists and religious fanatics, although for too many years it has acted as if it did.

Nor is the United States constitutionally at war. President George W. Bush declared war on “terror” after the 9/11 attacks, which is legally meaningless, and the U.S. Congress responded with a joint resolution authorizing the president to use all necessary and appropriate force against those responsible for the attacks. That still was not a declaration of war, but it was interpreted by the U.S. government, the U.N. Security Council, NATO and most major nations to represent a legally legitimate position of self-defense — which it obviously was not, although it was a matter of legitimate retaliation.

However, the people currently being killed by the United States’ armed drones had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, even if they undoubtedly approved, or now approve, of those attacks, considering them legitimate acts of Arab retaliation against American complicity in Israel’s military annexation and occupation of territories legally belonging to Palestinians, Washington’s enforcement of devastating civilian sanctions on Iraq, and the continuing presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia, in proximity to Muslim sacred sites.

Therefore, it is reasonable and necessary to say that the drone attacks are the continuation of an undefined state of conflict between the U.S. government and Muslim individuals and groups hostile to the United States and to some of its Arab allies, and who aim mainly to establish radical Muslim religious governments in various Islamic states. However, since 2001, none of these groups has managed to succeed in committing acts of war against the United States, although groups have plotted attacks that failed or were thwarted. What the Islamists do with and to their own countries is their affair. …

Read on: www.chicagotribune.com/sns-201304091600–tms–wpfafftr–v-a20130409-20130409,0,5489580.column

Three key lessons from the Obama administration’s drone lies

The Guardian – By Glenn GreenWald – April 11, 2013

The axiom that political officials abuse their power and lie to the public when operating in the dark is proven yet again

For years, senior Obama officials, including the president himself, have been making public claims about their drone program that have just been proven to be categorically false. The evidence of this falsity is so conclusive that even establishment sources are using unusually harsh language – including “lies” – to describe Obama’s statements. McClatchy’s national security reporter, Jonathan Landay, obtained top-secret intelligence documents showing that “contrary to assurances it has deployed US drones only against known senior leaders of al-Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified ‘other’ militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area.” That article quotes drone expert Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations as saying that “McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is ‘misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.'”

In his own must-read article at Foreign Policy about these disclosures, Zenko writes – under the headline: “Finally, proof that the United States has lied in the drone wars” – that “it turns out that the Obama administration has not been honest about who the CIA has been targeting with drones in Pakistan” and that the McClatchy article “plainly demonstrates that the claim repeatedly made by President Obama and his senior aides – that targeted killings are limited only to officials, members, and affiliates of al-Qaida who pose an imminent threat of attack on the US homeland – is false.” Beyond the obvious harms of having the president and his administration continuously lie to the public about such a crucial matter, Zenko explains that these now-disproven claims may very well make the drone strikes illegal since assertions about who is being targeted were “essential to the legal foundations on which the strikes are ultimately based: the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and the UN Charter’s right to self-defense.” Marcy Wheeler uses the documents to show how claims about drones from other key officials, including Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, are also unquestionably false. …

Read on: www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/11/three-lessons-obama-drone-lies

Anti-drone protests hit New York

RT – April 3, 2013

This month protests against top secret drone program are planned all across the US. Activists demand to stop UAVs’ strikes that kill hundreds of people and violate the sovereignty of other countries.

The Shift in the Drone Debate

Antiwar.com – By John Glaser – April 02, 2013

When a forum as hawkish at The Washington Post‘s editorial page starts running pieces arguing the drone war is creating more enemies than it is eliminating, you know the dialogue is beginning to shift.

In an Op-Ed yesterday, Danya Greenfield, “deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East,” and David J. Kramer, “president of Freedom House,” insisted the high numbers of civilian casualties in the Obama administration’s drone war in Yemen is having the unintended consequence of expanding the support base of extremist militants, while also criticizing “the lack of transparency and accountability behind the drone policy.”

They write: “Thirty-one foreign policy experts and former diplomats — including us — sent a letter to President Obama last week that said the administration’s expansive use of unmanned drones in Yemen is proving counterproductive to U.S. security objectives: As faulty intelligence leads to collateral damage, extremist groups ultimately win more support.”

Despite considerable U.S. humanitarian aid and development support to their government, most Yemenis associate U.S. engagement with the ongoing drone campaign to destroy al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and they see it as having little regard for its effect on civilians. A number of former U.S. military and intelligence officials argue that the drone program’s costs might exceed its benefits. Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal has articulated the hazards of overreliance on drones, and Gen. James E. Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned last month against unintended consequences, arguing that no matter how precise drone strikes may be, they breed animosity among targeted communities and threaten U.S. efforts to curb extremism.

Of course, the Op-Ed was not nearly strong enough. The still-expanding drone war in Yemen, which often kills civilians, does in fact cause blowback and help al-Qaeda recruitment – as attested to by numerous Yemen experts, investigative reporting on the ground, polling, testimony from Yemen activists, and the actual fact that recent bungled terrorist attacks aimed at the US have cited such drone attacks as motivating factors. …

Read on: http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/04/02/the-shift-in-the-drone-debate/

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