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UK, US, Israeli 'double tap' drones flown by war criminals
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground
New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-ki ll-1147

The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur.

Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not.

However many Americans know who Zawahiri is, far fewer are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010.

Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm.

A new analysis of the data available to the public about drone strikes, conducted by the human-rights group Reprieve, indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November.

Reprieve, sifting through reports compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, examined cases in which specific people were targeted by drones multiple times. Their data, shared with the Guardian, raises questions about the accuracy of US intelligence guiding strikes that US officials describe using words like “clinical” and “precise.”

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The analysis is a partial estimate of the damage wrought by Obama’s favored weapon of war, a tool he and his administration describe as far more precise than more familiar instruments of land or air power.

“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” said Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson, who spearheaded the group’s study.

Some 24 men specifically targeted in Pakistan resulted in the death of 874 people. All were reported in the press as “killed” on multiple occasions, meaning that numerous strikes were aimed at each of them. The vast majority of those strikes were unsuccessful. An estimated 142 children were killed in the course of pursuing those 24 men, only six of whom died in the course of drone strikes that killed their intended targets.

In Yemen, 17 named men were targeted multiple times. Strikes on them killed 273 people, at least seven of them children. At least four of the targets are still alive.

Available data for the 41 men targeted for drone strikes across both countries indicate that each of them was reported killed multiple times. Seven of them are believed to still be alive. The status of another, Haji Omar, is unknown. Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, whom drones targeted three times, later died from natural causes, believed to be hepatitis.

The data cohort is only a fraction of those killed by US drones overall. Reprieve did not focus on named targets struck only once. Neither Reprieve nor the Guardian examined the subset of drone strikes that do not target specific people: the so-called “signature strikes” that attack people based on a pattern of behavior considered suspicious, rather than intelligence tying their targets to terrorist activity. An analytically conservative Council on Foreign Relations tally assesses that 500 drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people.

As well, the data is agnostic on the validity of the named targets struck on multiple occasions being marked for death in the first place.

Like all weapons, drones will inevitably miss their targets given enough chances. But the secrecy surrounding them obscures how often misses occur and the reasons for them. Even for the 33 named targets whom the drones eventually killed – successes, by the logic of the drone strikes – another 947 people died in the process.

There are myriad problems with analyzing data from US drone strikes. Those strikes occur under a blanket of official secrecy, which means analysts must rely on local media reporting about their aftermath, with all the attendant problems besetting journalism in dangerous or denied places. Anonymous leaks to media organizations, typically citing an unnamed American, Yemeni or Pakistani official, are the only acknowledgements that the strikes actually occur, or target a particular individual.

Without the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command declassifying more information on the strikes, unofficial and imprecise information is all that is available, complicating efforts to independently verify or refute administration assurances about the impact of the drones.

What little US officials say about the strikes typically boils down to assurances that they apply “targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us,” as John Brennan, now the CIA director, said in a 2011 speech.

“The only people that we fire a drone at [sic] 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,” the secretary of state, John Kerry, said at a BBC forum in 2013.

A Reprieve team investigating on the ground in Pakistan turned up what it believes to be a confirmed case of mistaken identity. Someone with the same name as a terror suspect on the Obama administration’s “kill list” was killed on the third attempt by US drones. His brother was captured, interrogated and encouraged to “tell the Americans what they want to hear”: that they had in fact killed the right person. Reprieve has withheld identifying details of the family in question, making the story impossible to independently verify.

“President Obama needs to be straight with the American people about the human cost of this programme. If even his government doesn’t know who is filling the body bags every time a strike goes wrong, his claims that this is a precise programme look like nonsense, and the risk that it is in fact making us less safe looks all too real,” Gibson said.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EDF France: Inquiry after drones buzz nuclear sites:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29831897

'An investigation has been launched after France's state-owned EDF power company said unidentified drones had flown over seven of its nuclear plants.

The first unmanned aircraft was spotted on 5 October and there had been further sightings up to 20 October, EDF said.

Who is behind the drones is unclear but pressure group Greenpeace has denied any involvement.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says measures are being taken to "neutralise" the drones.

Under French law, no aircraft is allowed to enter a 5km-wide (three-mile) zone around a nuclear plant, nor fly below 1,000m (3,300ft) there.

The air force is responsible for the protection of all such sites.

France is 75% reliant on nuclear power for its electricity and has 58 reactors operated by EDF at 19 sites.

According to the company, the first drone flew over its Creys-Malville plant at Isere in south-east France, 50km (31 miles) east of Lyon.

EDF says other incidents took place at

Bugey in the southeast
Blayais in the south-west
Cattenom and Chooz in the north-east
Gravelines in the north
Nogent-sur-Seine, the closest plant to Paris
Most of the flights took place between 13 and 20 October and either at night or early in the morning, the company says.

'No threat'

Greenpeace said a drone had also flown over the CEA nuclear research institute in Paris and accused EDF of minimising the significance of the incidents. Le Figaro website reported that drones had flown over several other CEA sites as well.

map
Air force spokesman Col Jean-Pascal Breton said all the drones involved were small-sized and commercially available and because of their size they were not considered a threat.

Mr Cazeneuve said a judicial inquiry was under way and measures were being taken to "know what these drones are and neutralise them".

Suspicion had initially fallen on Greenpeace as a paraglider from the activist group flew over the Bugey plant in 2012. Last month, 55 Greenpeace activists were given suspended sentences for breaking into the nuclear power station at Fessenheim near the German border.

But the group was adamant that it was always very open with its activities and had nothing to do with the drones.

"The overflights in question took place sometimes on the same day at four sites which are far apart from each other," Greenpeace said in a statement. "For example at Bugey, Gravelines, Chooz and Nogent-sur-Seine on 19 October - which proves it's a large-scale operation."

EDF said there had been no implications for the "security or the functioning" of the plants and the company had "no fear" of the drones as they were unlikely to cause any damage.

President Francois Hollande has pledged to reduce the number of French reactors by 2025, bringing France's reliance on nuclear energy down from 75% to 50%.'

And THIS:

(This video does not have subtitles, but here is a reasonable translation of the story, which will give people an idea what was said):

"These drones are in the process of mapping the nuclear plants" (Màj video):
http://www.fdesouche.com/535067-bruno-comby-ces-drones-en-train-cartog raphier-les-centrales-nucleaires

'Two men and a woman, were taken into custody in the investigation into the repeated survey of French nuclear power plants by drones.

Le Parisien

For the record, last August, the Islamic state has conquered a stronghold of Syrian government forces ... with a drone to 450 euros.
Islamist fighters and used a simple public drone made in China, the DJI Phantom FC40, to achieve an air locating the base to attack.

Undoubtedly one of the most sold in the world, with those of the French Parrot, this simple leisure drone controlled by radio or via a simple smartphone has four propellers and an integrated camera. Piloted remotely, can stabilize at predetermined GPS coordinates, then sweep the area. Anyone can order one online. All for 450 euros ...

Through identifying the drone, the jihadists were able to detect weaknesses in the defense of the basic Tabqa then sent two suicide truck to destroy them. The conquest of this strategic base in the north of the city of Raqqa they would also have to get your hands on a ground-air defense system MANPADS, capable of launching missiles against aircraft and helicopters at 16,000 feet.

The Point

" People that do not know might be plotting something much more serious than September 11 with the power fails. This would result in the collapse of the entire economy. The best time to commit this kind of act would be at the first cold snap in early December. "

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RAF Waddington drone protest: Four arrested
1 hour ago
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-30679979

Lincolnshire
Protesters at RAF Waddington
Police said the group were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass
Four people have been arrested after cutting through the wire at an RAF base in Lincolnshire.
The group were protesting at RAF Waddington about the use of armed drones, controlled from the base, which they claim cause civilian casualties.
The four, from Oxford, Nottingham, Leicester and Coventry, are currently in police custody.
An RAF spokesman said operation of the drones - known as Reapers - was unaffected.
The group, calling itself End The Drone Wars, named the protesters as Chris Cole, 51, from Oxford, Katharina Karcher, 30, from Coventry, Gary Eagling, 52, from Nottingham and Penny Walker, 64, from Leicester.
In a statement it said: "We come to RAF Waddington today to say a clear 'no' to the growing normalisation and acceptability of drone warfare.
"Thanks to the marketing of drone war as 'risk free', 'precise' and above all 'humanitarian', war has been rehabilitated and accepted as virtually normal by those who see little or nothing of the impact on the ground thousands of miles away."
The RAF said: "We fully respect people's right to protest peacefully within the law but have a duty to protect public property and to ensure that we meet operational needs.
"MOD has a duty to maintain security at all defence installations and uses all lawful means to do so.
"RAF Waddington, like all large airfields, has a large perimeter fence that is protected by a variety of security measures. Whilst some protesters did breach the perimeter fence, Reaper operations continued completely unaffected".
Police confirmed the four had been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GERMANY IS THE TELL-TALE HEART OF AMERICA’S DRONE WAR
BY JEREMY SCAHILL @jeremyscahill FRIDAY AT 5:07 PM
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/17/ramstein/

This is a joint investigation with the German news magazine Der Spiegel.

A TOP-SECRET U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Intercept confirms that the sprawling U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany serves as the high-tech heart of America’s drone program. Ramstein is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries. The top-secret slide deck, dated July 2012, provides the most detailed blueprint seen to date of the technical architecture used to conduct strikes with Predator and Reaper drones.

Amid fierce European criticism of America’s targeted killing program, U.S. and German government officials have long downplayed Ramstein’s role in lethal U.S. drone operations and have issued carefully phrased evasions when confronted with direct questions about the base. But the slides show that the facilities at Ramstein perform an essential function in lethal drone strikes conducted by the CIA and the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.

The slides were provided by a source with knowledge of the U.S. government’s drone program who declined to be identified because of fears of retribution. According to the source, Ramstein’s importance to the U.S. drone war is difficult to overstate. “Ramstein carries the signal to tell the drone what to do and it returns the display of what the drone sees. Without Ramstein, drones could not function, at least not as they do now,” the source said.

The new evidence places German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an awkward position given Germany’s close diplomatic alliance with the United States. The German government has granted the U.S. the right to use the property, but only under the condition that the Americans do nothing there that violates German law.

The U.S. government maintains that its drone strikes against al Qaeda and its “associated forces” are legal, even outside of declared war zones. But German legal officials have suggested that such operations are only justifiable in actual war zones. Moreover, Germany has the right to prosecute “criminal offenses against international law … even when the offense was committed abroad and bears no relation to Germany,” according to Germany’s Code of Crimes against International Law, which passed in 2002.

This means that American personnel stationed at Ramstein could, in theory, be vulnerable to German prosecution if they provide drone pilots with data used in attacks.

While the German government has been reluctant to pursue such prosecutions, it may come under increasing pressure to do so. “It is simply murder,” says Björn Schiffbauer of the Institute for International Law at the University of Cologne. Legal experts interviewed by Der Spiegel claimed that U.S. personnel could be charged as war criminals by German prosecutors.


A top-secret slide confirms the central role Germany plays in the U.S. drone war.
RAMSTEIN IS ONE of the largest U.S. military bases outside the United States, hosting more than 16,000 military and civilian personnel. The relay center at Ramstein, which was completed in late 2013, sits in the middle of a massive forest and is adjacent to a baseball diamond used by students at the Ramstein American High School. The large compound, made of reinforced concrete and masonry walls and enclosed in a horseshoe of trees, has a sloped metal roof. Inside this building, air force squadrons can coordinate the signals necessary for a variety of drone surveillance and strike missions. On two sides of the building are six massive golf ball-like fixtures known as satellite relay pads.

In a 2010 budget request for the Ramstein satellite station, the U.S. Air Force asserted that without the Germany-based facility, the drone program could face “significant degradation of operational capability” that could “have a serious impact on ongoing and future missions.” Predator and Reaper drones, as well as Global Hawk aircraft, would “use this site to conduct operations” in Africa and the Middle East, according to the request. It stated bluntly that without the use of Ramstein, drone “weapon strikes cannot be supported.”

“Because of multi-theater-wide operations, the respective SATCOM Relay Station must be located at Ramstein Air Base to provide most current information to the war-fighting commander at any time demanded,” according to the request. The relay station, according to that document, would also be used to support the operations of a secretive black ops Air Force program known as “Big Safari.”

The classified slide deck maps out an intricate spider web of facilities across the U.S. and the globe: from drone command centers on desert military bases in the U.S. to Ramstein to outposts in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Qatar and Bahrain and back to NSA facilities in Washington and Georgia. What is clear is that most paths within America’s drone maze run through Ramstein.

https://prod01-cdn03.cdn.firstlook.org/wp-uploads/sites/1/2015/04/rams tein_map_v5.jpg



ramstein_map_v5.jpg
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Transatlantic cables connect U.S. drone pilots to their aircraft half a world away. (Josh Begley)
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ramstein_map_v5.jpg



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www.mp911truth.org
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www.thisweek.org.uk
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http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Drones will hunt in packs, as US Navy unveils LOCUST prototype launcher':
http://rt.com/usa/250233-us-drones-navy-locust/

'Drone technology is getting ever more deadly. The US Navy has released a video detailing LOCUST – the new tool allowing multiple drones to coordinate and swarm the enemy autonomously. It’s designed to protect large US vessels nearby.

The concept was detailed by the Navy last year, which only this month allowed the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to demonstrate what LOCUST – or the Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Swarming Technology program – can do. They’re touting the tool as a new era in autonomous warfare.

LOCUST is essentially a system that can launch swarming UAVs to overwhelm the enemy and provide the marines and sailors operating them with a massive tactical advantage, ONR explains in the press release.

“The recent demonstrations are an important step on the way to the 2016 ship-based demonstration of 30 rapidly launched autonomous, swarming UAVs,” program manager Lee Mastroianni says.

“This level of autonomous swarming flight has never been done before… UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter,” he adds.

The program acts in several stages: first, a tube-based launcher will fire a swarm of UAVs from a ship, aircraft, or any surface, for that matter – owing to the device’s small footprint. Once airborne, the drones share information and coordinate an offense or a defense, each drone playing its allotted part.

ONR says the technology is revolutionary in its heavy advantage over remote-controlled UAVs. But safeguards are always needed, so human personnel will be standing by to take over if necessary.........'


'Drones can now fly in packs: US Navy unveils LOCUST prototype launcher':
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPVSBT7Irkk&feature=em-uploademail

40-second video clip

'China unveils anti-drone laser weapon able to shoot down 'small aircraft' within 5 seconds': http://rt.com/news/201795-china-drone-defense-laser/

'China has developed and successfully tested a highly accurate laser defense system against light drones. The homemade machine boasts a two-kilometer range and can down "various small aircraft" within five seconds of locating its target.

Boasting high speed, great precision and low noise, the system is aimed at destroying unmanned, small-scale drones flying under an altitude of 500 meters and at speeds below 50 meters per second, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement by one of the developers, the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP).

A recent test saw the machine successfully bring down over 30 drones - a 100-percent success rate, according to the statement. The laser system is expected to play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas.

"Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage," explained Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp.....'

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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-ki ll-1147
New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes
drone strikes
‘Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise.’ But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them.’ Photograph: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Spencer Ackerman in New York @attackerman
Monday 24 November 2014 16.55 GMTLast modified on Monday 24 November 201417.23 GMT
The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur.
Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not.
However many Americans know who Zawahiri is, far fewer are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010.
Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm.
A new analysis of the data available to the public about drone strikes, conducted by the human-rights group Reprieve, indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November.....

Inside Obama's drone panopticon: a secret machine with no accountability
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/25/us-drone-program-secrec y-scrutiny-signature-strikes
An apparatus of official secrecy, built over decades and zealously enforced by Obama, prevents meaningful open scrutiny of ‘signature strikes’
Armed drone aircraft The White House disclosed this week that two western al-Qaida hostages were killed by a missile fired from a US drone in tribal Pakistan in January. Photograph: Guardian
Spencer Ackerman in New York @attackerman Saturday 25 April 201512.00 BST
Of all the reactions to the deaths of two hostages from a missile fired from a US drone, Congressman Adam Schiff provided the deepest insight into the logic underpinning the endless, secret US campaign of global killing.
“To demand a higher standard of proof than they had here could be the end of these types of counter-terrorism operations,” said Schiff, a California Democrat and one of the most senior legislators overseeing those operations.
The standard of proof in the January strike in tribal Pakistan was outlined by the White House press secretary in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s admission about the deaths. An agency that went formally unnamed – likely the CIA, though the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) also conducts drone strikes – identified what Josh Earnest called an “al-Qaida compound” and marked the building, rather than particular terrorists, for destruction.
Thanks to Obama’s rare admission on Thursday, the realities of what are commonly known as “signature strikes” are belatedly and partially on display. Signature strikes, a key aspect for years of what the administration likes to call its “targeted killing” program, permit the CIA and JSOC to kill without requiring them to know who they kill.
The “signatures” at issue are indicators that intelligence analysts associate with terrorist behavior – in practice, a gathering of men, teenaged to middle-aged, traveling in convoys or carrying weapons. In 2012, an unnamed senior official memorably quipped that the CIA considers “three guys doing jumping jacks” a signature of terrorist training.
Civilian deaths in signature strikes, accordingly, are not accidental. They are, as Schiff framed it, more like a cost of doing business – only the real cost is shielded from the public.
An apparatus of official secrecy, built over decades and zealously enforced by Obama, prevents meaningful open scrutiny of the strikes. No one outside the administration knows how many drone strikes are signature strikes. There is no requirement that the CIA or JSOC account for their strikes, nor to provide an estimate of how many people they kill, nor even how they define legally critical terms like “combatant”, terrorist “affiliate” or “leader”. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing an obstinate administration to compel disclosure of some of the most basic information there is about a program that has killed thousands of people.
The National Security Agency has a complementary term to describe the effects of its mass surveillance on the world’s emails, texts, phone records, webcams,gaming and all other forms of communication: “incidental collection”. Incidental collection is all of the untold trillions of communications data NSA and its partners hoover up that have nothing to do with terrorism or espionage. That collection may not be, strictly speaking, intentional – those communications are not NSA’s “targets” – but it is neither accidental nor, by the logic of bulk surveillance, avoidable.
Similarly, civilian deaths in signature strikes do not operate quite like the “collateral damage” familiar from earlier wars. It is one thing for US bombs and missiles to miss their targets or to hit facilities that, at the time of the strike, no longer have their targets in them. It is another for them to hit targets absent prior confirmation that the target is an enemy as a matter of policy.
“It is a different kind of use of the drone, and it raises issues that are important,” said Glenn Carle, a former CIA interrogator, who added that he is not categorically opposed to drone strikes.
“I know how the institution [the CIA] functions. For all the errors I’ve spoken about, people are as responsible and serious as humans can be.”
Yet the secrecy around the strikes permits self-interested officials to misrepresent them.
“By targeting an individual terrorist or a small number of terrorists with ordnance that can be adapted to avoid harming others in the immediate vicinity, it is hard to imagine a tool that can better minimize the risk to civilians than remotely piloted aircraft,” John Brennan, who is now director of the CIA, said in a landmark 2012 speech.
But the disclosure of the hostage deaths in January demonstrates that neither an individual terrorist nor a small number of terrorists are necessarily the target of any given strike. Instead, the target can be a facility, transport or other proxy associated with suspected terrorists. (For that matter, the size of the ordnance is relatively small – Hellfire missiles weigh about 100lb – because Predator and Reaper drones are designed to be disposable airframes that can’t hold large payloads.) “Targeted”, in the drone context, is a term that conceals more than it explains.
Schiff’s reaction condensed the root argument of the administration’s drone advocates: it’s this or nothing. The Obama administration considers the real alternatives to drone strikes to be the unpalatable options of grueling ground wars or passive acceptance of terrorism. Then it congratulates itself for picking the wise, ethical and responsible choice of killing people without knowing who they are.
The proposed intelligence budget of the US for the next year is $53.9bn. The NSA and CIA argue that as much of the world’s communications as possible must be collected and clandestine killing operations must be subsequently conducted, or else Americans will die. But according to one of the lead congressional overseers of the drone strikes, expecting the US not to kill people until it knows that they are in fact US enemies – the expectation every platoon leader and sergeant places on every private and corporal – would represent “the end of these types of counterterrorism operations”.
Schiff is hardly alone within intelligence oversight circles. The default position of congressional overseers, a small slice of Congress empanelled to see secret evidence, is to defend the people they nominally review, even when faced with examples of official duplicity.
During Brennan’s February 2013 confirmation hearing, the Senate intelligence committee laced into the nominee with complaints of how the CIA he sought to lead was lying and obstructing the panel’s investigation into agency torture. Yet then-chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, added a defense of drone strikes predicated on how the CIA had assured her in private briefings that the strikes were now so precise they only killed “single digits”-worth of civilians annually.
After the hearing, a reporter asked Feinstein why she believed the CIA would lie to her about torture and not about drone strikes.
“That’s a good question, actually,” she responded, after a pause.
A solemn White House pledged on Thursday to review its drone strike rules. Yet its record casts doubt on anything changing. Obama declared two years ago that he would launch drone strikes only when he had “near certainty” that the “terrorist target is present” and civilians were not. That did not stop the January signature strike that killed Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto.
No Obama official involved in drone strikes has ever been disciplined: not only are Brennan and director of national intelligence James Clapper entrenched in their jobs, David Barron, one of the lawyers who told Obama he could kill a US citizen without trial as a first resort, now has a federal judgeship.
Beyond the question of when the US ought to launch drone strikes lie deeper geostrategic concerns. Obama’s overwhelming focus on counter-terrorism, inherited and embraced from his predecessor, subordinated all other considerations for the drone battlefield of Yemen, which he described as a model for future efforts.
The result is the total collapse of the US Yemeni proxy, a regional war Obama appears powerless to influence, the abandonment of US citizens trapped in Yemen and the likely expansion of al-Qaida’s local affiliate. A generation of Yemeni civilians, meanwhile, is growing up afraid of the machines loitering overhead that might kill them without notice.
“One can make a very strong argument that the costs outweigh the benefits. But it’s not simple,” said Glenn Carle.
The view through the soda-straw camera carried in the drone’s belly obscures much of the real picture.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GCHQ documents raise fresh questions over UK complicity in US drone strikes
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/24/gchq-documents-raise-fr esh-questions-over-uk-complicity-in-us-drone-strikes
Details of 2012 Yemen drone strike prompt call for UK to reveal extent of involvement in US targeted killing programme outside recognised war zones
Yemenis walk past graffiti showing a US drone
Alice Ross and James Ball Wednesday 24 June 2015 12.00 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 24 June 201512.10 BST

British intelligence agency GCHQ is facing fresh calls to reveal the extent of its involvement in the US targeted killing programme after details of a fatal drone strike in Yemen were included in a top secret memo circulated to agency staff.

A leading barrister asked by the Guardian to review a number of classified GCHQdocuments said they raised questions about British complicity in US strikes outside recognised war zones and demonstrated the need for the government to come clean about the UK’s role.

The documents, provided to the Guardian by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times, discuss how a joint US, UK and Australian programme codenamed Overhead supported the strike in Yemen in 2012.

The files also show GCHQ and Overhead developed their ability to track the location of individuals – essential for the targeted killing programme – in both Yemen and Pakistan. The legality of the US’s lethal operations in both countries has been questioned by international lawyers and human rights groups.

Jemima Stratford QC, who reviewed the Snowden documents for the Guardian, said: “Assuming that the documents which I have seen are genuine, in my view they raise questions about the extent to which UK officials may have had knowledge of, or helped to facilitate, certain US drone strikes which were not carried out in the context of an international armed conflict,” she said.

“These documents underline why greater transparency as to UK official policies would help to ensure legality from a domestic and international law perspective.”

Stratford published a legal opinion last year warning that UK intelligence support for lethal strikes outside traditional battlefields – such as Iraq and Afghanistan – was likely to be illegal. “In our view, if GCHQ transferred data to the NSA in the knowledge that it would or might be used for targeting drone strikes that transfer is probably unlawful,” she wrote.
Ex-GCHQ chief Sir David Omand.
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Ex-GCHQ chief Sir David Omand signed a letter last November calling on the UK government to disclose its guidance on intelligence-sharing where individuals may be targeted by covert strikes. Photograph: Michael McGurk/Rex

British officials and ministers follow a strict policy of refusing to confirm or deny any support to the targeted killing programme, and evidence has been so scant that legal challenges have been launched on the basis of single paragraphs in news stories.

Even a former head of GCHQ has objected to Britain’s continuing secrecy over the issue. David Omand joined MPs Tom Watson and David Davis in signing a letter last November calling on the government to disclose its guidance on intelligence-sharing where individuals may be targeted by covert strikes.

The release of the information, they wrote, would “underline the distinction between Reaper strikes by our armed forces in Afghanistan, and now Iraq, and those of other states elsewhere”.

Watson told the Guardian: “The government has always maintained we are not complicit in targeted extra-judicial killings. Any note of ambiguity identified by these documents has to be thoroughly investigated.”

The new documents include a regular series of newsletters – titled Comet News – which are used to update GCHQ personnel on the work of Overhead, an operation based on satellite, radio and some phone collection of intelligence. Overhead began as a US operation but has operated for decades as a partnership with GCHQ and, more recently, Australian intelligence.

The GCHQ memos, which span a two-year period, set out how Yemen became a surveillance priority for Overhead in 2010, in part at the urging of the NSA, shortly after the failed 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot in which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his underpants on a transatlantic flight.

Ten months later a sophisticated plot to smuggle explosives on to aircraft concealed in printer cartridges was foiled at East Midlands airport. Both plots were the work of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot.

GCHQ noted in the memos that the NSA’s focus on Yemen was a “great opportunity” for UK agents to focus on any leads they had in the country. Given the domestic terror threat to the UK as well as internal conflicts in the country, GCHQ has multiple reasons to be monitoring individuals in the country.

One Comet News update reveals how Overhead’s surveillance networks supported an air strike in Yemen that killed two men on 30 March 2012. The men are both described as AQAP members.

In the memo, one of the dead men is identified as Khalid Usama – who has never before been publicly named – a “doctor who pioneered using surgically implanted explosives”. The other is not identified.

In the two years of memos seen by the Guardian, this was the only specific strike detailed, raising questions as to why GCHQ’s team decided to notify staff about this particular strike among hundreds.
GCHQ
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The files show GCHQ (pictured) and Overhead developed their ability to track the location of individuals – essential for the targeted killing programme – in both Yemen and Pakistan. Photograph: GCHQ/EPA

The Guardian asked GCHQ whether this was because UK personnel or bases were involved in the operation. The agency declined to comment, and offered no explanation as to why British staff were briefed on this particular strike.

US officials confirmed to Reuters in 2012 that there had been a single drone strike in Yemen on 30 March of that year. According to a database of drone strikes maintained by the not-for-profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the only incident in Yemen on that date targeted AQAP militants, causing between six and nine civilian casualties, including six children wounded by shrapnel.

Asked whether the strike described in the GCHQ documents was the same one as recorded in the Bureau’s database, GCHQ declined to comment.

The incident is one of more than 500 covert drone strikes and other attacks launched by the CIA and US special forces since 2002 in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – which are not internationally recognised battlefields.

The GCHQ documents also suggest the UK was working to build similar location-tracking capabilities in Pakistan, the country that has seen the majority of covert strikes, to support military operations “in-theatre”.

A June 2009 document indicates that GCHQ appeared to accept the expanded US definition of combat zones, referring to the agency’s ability to provide “tactical and strategic SIGINT [signals intelligence] support to military operations in-theatre, notably Iraq and Afghanistan, but increasingly Pakistan”. The document adds that in Pakistan, “new requirements are yet to be confirmed, but are both imminent and high priority”.

The note was written months after Barack Obama entered the White House and escalated the use of drones in Pakistan, conducting more strikes in his first year in office than George W Bush had in the previous four years.

By this point NSA and GCHQ staff working within the UK had already prioritised surveillance of Pakistan’s tribal areas, where the majority of US covert drone strikes have been carried out. A 2008 memo lists surveillance of two specific sites and an overview of satellite-phone communications of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in which nearly all Pakistan drone strikes have taken place, among its key projects.

British intelligence-gathering in Pakistan is likely to have taken place for a number of reasons, not least because UK troops in Afghanistan were based in Helmand, on the Pakistani border.

One of the teams involved in the geo-location of surveillance targets was codenamed “Widowmaker”, whose task was to “discover communications intelligence gaps in support of the global war on terror”, a note explains.
The radar domes of RAF Menwith Hill in Yorkshire
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Menwith Hill RAF base in Yorkshire, where some of the personnel involved in the ‘Widowmaker’ programme were based. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Illustrating the close links between the UK, US and Australian intelligence services, Widowmaker personnel are based at Menwith Hill in the north of England, in Denver, Colorado, and in Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Other Snowden documents discuss the difficult legal issues raised by intelligence sharing with the US.

A secret 2009 legal briefing suggests that British military lawyers believe that some US operations beyond traditional battlefields may be unlawful – a document that also highlights GCHQ’s efforts to operate within the bounds of the law in a complex and challenging environment.

The briefing prepared for GCHQ personnel sharing target intelligence in Afghanistan instructed them to refer to senior compliance staff before sharing information with the US if they believed it may be used for a “detention or cross-border operation”.

This, the documents states, was because the US forces were operating under Operation Enduring Freedom rules, which are less restrictive than the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force rules governing UK personnel. As a result, sharing intelligence “may result in unlawful activity” by GCHQ staff.

The Guardian contacted GCHQ with the information contained in this article, and asked a series of questions on the extent of intelligence sharing with the US in connection with targeted killing, and the legal framework for any such activities. The agency declined to comment on specifics, but provided the following statement.

“It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters,” said a spokesman. “Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.

“All our operational processes rigorously support this position. In addition, the UK’s interception regime is entirely compatible with the European convention on human rights.”

The Guardian asked Downing Street why it refused to clarify any UK role in US drone strikes. A government spokesperson said: “It is the longstanding policy of successive UK governments not to comment on intelligence operations. We expect all states concerned to act in accordance with international law and take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties when conducting any form of military or counter-terrorist operations.”

Asked last year about the Britain’s role in US operations outside traditional war zones, defence minister Mark Francois told parliament that “strikes against terrorist targets in Yemen are a matter for the Yemeni and US governments”. Ministers including Sayeeda Warsi have used similar language when discussing drone strikes in Pakistan.

The UK has faced previous legal challenges over the issue. In 2012, the family of a tribal elder killed in Pakistan, Noor Khan, launched a court case in England in which barristers claimed GCHQ agents who shared targeting intelligence for covert strikes could be “accessory to murder”. Judges twice refused to rule on the issue on the grounds it could harm the UK’s international relations.

• Alice Ross formerly worked on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s drones team.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

UK EXTRA JUDICIAL DRONE KILLINGS RAMP UP TO PROTECT THE QUEEN

TERROR ALERT: UK faces attacks within WEEKS, government warns as is prepares drone strikes

TERRORISTS are planning to strike in Britain within WEEKS, the Defence Secretary has warned, as he said the Government "would not hesitate" to launch further drone strikes against British jihadis in Syria.
http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/603565/David-Cameron-ISIS-Briti sh-jihadists-RAF-drone-attack-Syria

By MACER HALL AND GREG HEFFER
PUBLISHED: 00:57, Tue, Sep 8, 2015 | UPDATED: 11:14, Tue, Sep 8, 2015
Michael Fallon warned Britain should be braced for terror attacks in coming weeks

Michael Fallon's chilling warning that further attacks on UK soil are being planned by "a number" of so-called Islamic State militants came a day after the Prime Minister revealed that British jihadist Reyaad Khan, who plotted to blow up the Queen, was wiped out in a RAF drone strike.

Two other British jihadis were also killed.

The defence secretary revealed that there were more than three people who represented such threat to the UK that airstrikes against them could be authorised - but refused to say whether the Government had an American-style "kill-list".

He said: “There are other terrorists involved in other plots that may come to fruition over the next few weeks and months and we wouldn’t hesitate to take similar action again.

"There is a group of people who have lists of targets in our country, who are planning armed attacks on our streets, who are planning to disrupt major public events in this country and our job to keep us safe, with the security agencies, is to find out who they are, to track them down and, if there is no other way of preventing these attacks, then yes we will authorise strikes like we did.”

He added: "Imagine the outcry if it transpired that one of the events were to take place but we had done nothing about it.

"We wouldn't hesitate to do it again if we know an armed attack is likely."

Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan, 21, was blitzed in a targeted remote-control attack near Raqqah last month, the Prime Minister revealed yesterday.

Two other Islamist fighters - including British-born Ruhul Amin, from Birmingham - were also killed when their vehicle was hit by a precision missile.

The strike, on August 21, was the first time that a British drone aircraft has been used to kill enemy targets in a territory where UK Armed Forces are not directly involved in combat operations.

And Mr Cameron insisted he sanctioned the unprecedented military action in response threats of massive terrorist outrages on British soil.

“We took this action because there was no alternative,” the Prime Minister told a hushed House of Commons this afternoon.

“We were exercising the UK’s inherent right to self defence,” he said.

Another British-born jihadist involved in plotting terrorist outrages in the UK, 21-year-old Junaid Hussein, was killed in a US airstrike in Raqqah three days later, MPs were told.

Khan and Hussain were seeking to recruit other British nationals and plotting “barbaric attacks” on the UK mainland, the Prime Minister said.

They were understood to be linked to a plot to detonate a massive bomb at the commemoration in London to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ (Victory in Japan) Day, the end of the Second World War.

The Queen, Prince Charles and other senior members of the Royal Family were among dignitaries at the ceremony held in Whitehall.

MI5 agents thwarted the assassination plot, which involved the planned detonation of a massive pressure cooker bomb capable of causing hundreds of casualties.

The ISIS terrorists were also though to have plotted to attack an annual Armed Forces Day event in London over the summer.

Both plots were among six attempts to launch major terrorist outrages in Britain over the last 12 months that have been thwarted by police and the security services, the Prime Minister said.

Mr Cameron authorised the Reaper drone strike after British spies identified a “direct threat” from Khan.

He discussed the threat with senior members of his National Security Council, agreeing to use a remote control aircraft over Syrian territory.

Once the vehicle carrying Khan and other fighters was identified near Raqqah, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon gave the order for the drone to attack.

Mr Cameron insisted the strike was within international law even though Parliament has not voted in favour of military action by Britain’s Armed Forces in Syria.

Khan was linked to a plot to kill the Queen at a VJ Day anniversary event over the summer

“My first duty as prime minister is to keep the British people safe,” the Prime Minister said.

“There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him. This government does not for one moment take these decisions lightly.

“But I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain to the House why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done,” the Prime Minister told MPs.

He added: “Both Junaid Hussain and Reyaad Khan were British nationals based in Syria who were involved in actively recruiting ISIL sympathisers and seeking to orchestrate specific and barbaric attacks against the West including directing a number of planned terrorist attacks right here in Britain, such as plots to attack high profile public commemorations, including those taking place this summer.

“We should be under no illusion. Their intention was the murder of British citizens. So on this occasion we ourselves took action.”

No civilians were injured in the drone attack, the Prime Minister told MPs.

“I am clear that the action we took was entirely lawful.

“The Attorney General was consulted and was clear there would be a clear legal basis for action in international law,” he said.

“There was clear evidence of the individuals in question planning and directing armed attacks against the UK.

“These were part of a series of actual and foiled attempts to attack the UK and our allies.

“And in the prevailing circumstances in Syria, the airstrike was the only feasible means of effectively disrupting the attacks planned and directed by this individual.

“So it was necessary and proportionate for the individual self-defence of the UK.”

Mr Cameron also warned that the direct threat to the UK from ISIS was “growing”. There were 15 ISIS-related incidents around the world in 2014 but already 150 such incidents have been recorded this year.

Straight-A pupil Khan, who used the jihadist name Abu Dujana Britani, was a former pupil at Cantonian High School and St David’s Catholic sixth-form college in the Welsh capital.

He travelled to Syria in 2013 having believed to have been radicalised by extremist websites.

Khan appeared alongside fellow Cardiff extremist Nasser * in a chilling ISIS propaganda video.

Meanwhile Hussain, who was married to female British jihadist Sally Jones, was the mastermind of ISIS’s online recruitment cell.

The couple were dubbed ‘Mr and Mrs Terror’.

David Cameron described the deadly drone strike as "self defence"
In August 2013, MPs rejected possible British military intervention against Syria's dictator President Basha al-Assad in order to prevent the use of chemical weapons on civilians.

Mr Cameron failed to win the support of then Labour leader Ed Miliband as he saw his Government defeated in a Commons vote.

However, it is believed the Prime Minister will again push for a vote on military action, in the form of British forces being called upon to conduct airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria.

The RAF is already part of a US-led coalition bombing jihadists in Iraq, while British pilots were recently revealed to have been taking part in raids in Syria while embedded with US and Canadian forces.

The Prime Minister is likely to face questions over his decision to authorise military action
A new Parliamentary vote to authorise British bombing raids in Syria could hinge on the election of the new Labour leader.

The four candidates to replace Mr Miliband as leader of the Opposition - Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall - have so far declined to expand British airstrikes on ISIS militants into Syria.

Hard-left candidate Mr Corbyn, currently the favourite to win the Labour leadership ballot, today repeated his opposition to a Syrian bombing campaign by British forces.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GERMANY IS THE TELL-TALE HEART OF AMERICA'S DRONE WAR
https://theintercept.com/2015/04/17/ramstein/

Jeremy Scahill Apr. 17 2015, 5:07 p.m.
This is a joint investigation with the German news magazine Der Spiegel.

A TOP-SECRET U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Intercept confirms that the sprawling U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany serves as the high-tech heart of America’s drone program. Ramstein is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries. The top-secret slide deck, dated July 2012, provides the most detailed blueprint seen to date of the technical architecture used to conduct strikes with Predator and Reaper drones.

Amid fierce European criticism of America’s targeted killing program, U.S. and German government officials have long downplayed Ramstein’s role in lethal U.S. drone operations and have issued carefully phrased evasions when confronted with direct questions about the base. But the slides show that the facilities at Ramstein perform an essential function in lethal drone strikes conducted by the CIA and the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.

The slides were provided by a source with knowledge of the U.S. government’s drone program who declined to be identified because of fears of retribution. According to the source, Ramstein’s importance to the U.S. drone war is difficult to overstate. “Ramstein carries the signal to tell the drone what to do and it returns the display of what the drone sees. Without Ramstein, drones could not function, at least not as they do now,” the source said.

The new evidence places German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an awkward position given Germany’s close diplomatic alliance with the United States. The German government has granted the U.S. the right to use the property, but only under the condition that the Americans do nothing there that violates German law.

The U.S. government maintains that its drone strikes against al Qaeda and its “associated forces” are legal, even outside of declared war zones. But German legal officials have suggested that such operations are only justifiable in actual war zones. Moreover, Germany has the right to prosecute “criminal offenses against international law … even when the offense was committed abroad and bears no relation to Germany,” according to Germany’s Code of Crimes against International Law, which passed in 2002.

This means that American personnel stationed at Ramstein could, in theory, be vulnerable to German prosecution if they provide drone pilots with data used in attacks.

While the German government has been reluctant to pursue such prosecutions, it may come under increasing pressure to do so. “It is simply murder,” says Björn Schiffbauer of the Institute for International Law at the University of Cologne. Legal experts interviewed by Der Spiegel claimed that U.S. personnel could be charged as war criminals by German prosecutors.

A top-secret slide confirms the central role Germany plays in the U.S. drone war.
RAMSTEIN IS ONE of the largest U.S. military bases outside the United States, hosting more than 16,000 military and civilian personnel. The relay center at Ramstein, which was completed in late 2013, sits in the middle of a massive forest and is adjacent to a baseball diamond used by students at the Ramstein American High School. The large compound, made of reinforced concrete and masonry walls and enclosed in a horseshoe of trees, has a sloped metal roof. Inside this building, air force squadrons can coordinate the signals necessary for a variety of drone surveillance and strike missions. On two sides of the building are six massive golf ball-like fixtures known as satellite relay pads.

In a 2010 budget request for the Ramstein satellite station, the U.S. Air Force asserted that without the Germany-based facility, the drone program could face “significant degradation of operational capability” that could “have a serious impact on ongoing and future missions.” Predator and Reaper drones, as well as Global Hawk aircraft, would “use this site to conduct operations” in Africa and the Middle East, according to the request. It stated bluntly that without the use of Ramstein, drone “weapon strikes cannot be supported.”

“Because of multi-theater-wide operations, the respective SATCOM Relay Station must be located at Ramstein Air Base to provide most current information to the war-fighting commander at any time demanded,” according to the request. The relay station, according to that document, would also be used to support the operations of a secretive black ops Air Force program known as “Big Safari.”

The classified slide deck maps out an intricate spider web of facilities across the U.S. and the globe: from drone command centers on desert military bases in the U.S. to Ramstein to outposts in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Qatar and Bahrain and back to NSA facilities in Washington and Georgia. What is clear is that most paths within America’s drone maze run through Ramstein.

Transatlantic cables connect U.S. drone pilots half a world away. (Illustration: Josh Begley) Transatlantic cables connect U.S. drone pilots to their aircraft half a world away. (Josh Begley)
Creech Air Force Base in Nevada is central to multiple prongs of the U.S. drone war. Personnel stationed at the facility are responsible for drone operations in Afghanistan — which has been on the receiving end of more drone strikes than any country in the world — and Pakistan, where the CIA has conducted a covert air war for the last decade. The agency’s campaign has killed thousands of people, including hundreds of civilians. Some drone missions are operated from other locations, such as Fort Gordon in Georgia and Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico.

The pilots at Creech and other ground control stations send their commands to the drones they operate via transatlantic fiber optic cables to Germany, where the Ramstein uplink bounces the signal to a satellite that connects to drones over Yemen, Somalia and other target countries. Ramstein is ideally situated as a satellite relay station to minimize the lag time between the commands of the pilots and their reception by the aircraft, called latency. Too much latency — which would be caused by additional satellite relays — would make swift maneuvers impossible. Video images from a drone could not be delivered to the U.S. in near real time. Without the speed and precise control an installation like Ramstein allows, pilots would practically be flying blind.

A diagram in the secret document shows how the process works. Ramstein’s satellite uplink station is used to route communications between the pilots and aircraft deployed in a variety of countries. Video from the drones is routed back through Ramstein and then relayed to a variety of U.S. intelligence and military facilities around the U.S. and the globe. Another diagram shows how pilots at Creech connect to Ramstein and then to the Predator Primary Satellite Link, which facilitates direct control of the drone wherever it is operating.

All of this — location, combined with the need to securely house the large quantities of equipment, buildings and personnel necessary to operate the satellite uplink — has made Ramstein one of the most viable sites available to the U.S. to serve this critical function in the drone war.

When the prominent German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the German public television broadcaster ARD published an expose on Ramstein in May 2013 and alleged that the base was being used to facilitate drone strikes, it created a massive controversy in Germany. The report spurred parliamentary investigations and calls for the U.S. to explain exactly what it was doing at the base. In response, the German and U.S. governments mischaracterized the reporting and the German government claimed it had no hard evidence of Ramstein’s role in lethal strikes.

A month later, in a June 2013 speech in Berlin, President Obama addressed the issue of Ramstein’s role in the drone war. He did not mention that the satellite relay facility at Ramstein enables U.S. drone strikes. Instead, he denied a claim that the journalists had not made: “We do not use Germany as a launching point for unmanned drones … as part of our counterterrorism activities,” Obama said.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: United States President Barack Obama and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive at The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art on November 15, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. World leaders have gathered in Brisbane for the annual G20 Summit and are expected to discuss economic growth, free trade and climate change as well as pressing issues including the situation in Ukraine and the Ebola crisis. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
In response to questions for this article, Pentagon spokesman Maj. James Brindle echoed the precise language of previous government statements. “We maintain robust civilian and military cooperation with Germany and manage all base activities in accordance with the agreements made between the United States and German governments,” he said. “The Air and Space Operations Center at Ramstein Air Base conducts operational level planning, monitoring and assessment of assigned airpower missions throughout Europe and Africa, but does not directly fly or control any manned or remotely piloted aircraft.”

The German government has issued similar statements, saying no drone pilots are based at Ramstein and no drones are launched from the base. “The U.S. government has confirmed that such armed and remote aircrafts are not flown or controlled from U.S. bases in Germany,” government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said last year. In 2013, members of the Bundestag, the German parliament, submitted written questions to their federal government. “To the knowledge of the Federal Government, is it true that U.S. drone attacks in Africa could not be carried out without a special satellite relay station for unmanned flying objects in Ramstein?” the lawmakers asked.

“The Federal Government has no reliable information in this regard,” read the official reply. Pressed further on the satellite facility and its purpose, the government replied: “The Federal Government has no information regarding the installation of the satellite system or when it started operating.”

Internal German government communications provided to The Intercept by Der Spiegel show how some German officials tried and failed to get the government to confront the U.S. about what connection facilities in Germany had to drone strikes. According to a June 2013 document, a senior Foreign Office official, Emily Haber, advocated demanding a clear answer from Washington about the role U.S. facilities in Germany played in drone strikes. Haber was overruled: “The Federal Chancellery and the Defense Ministry would prefer to ‘sit out’ the pressure from parliament and the public,” the response read. The unofficial German-U.S. agreement appears to amount to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” understanding.

While most, if not all, of the official statements by both governments may be technically true, it is also true that without the base, it would be very difficult for the United States to sustain the current drone war. The slide deck contains an array of arrows showing the complex system used to operate drones across the world. In the end, all arrows point to Ramstein. “Everything relies on Ramstein and Creech as central hubs for communication” in both armed and unarmed drone operations, says the source. Aside from the possibility of using an undisclosed satellite uplink station, the only drone operations that would not rely on Ramstein in these regions would be those conducted via aircraft that have a line of sight to a ground control station.

1-crop A top-secret slide deck obtained by The Intercept shows the complex architecture of the U.S. drone program.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS in Germany, as well as opposition politicians, have long suspected that Ramstein has played a direct role in the U.S. drone war. They have called on the German government to stop allowing the armed U.S. drone program to operate from German soil.

Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former director of the Combined Air Operations Center, accused such critics of the drone program of being influenced by “misinformation that’s provided by terrorist organizations that these things are being effective against.”

Deptula oversaw the implementation of the U.S. armed drone program starting in 2001. In an interview with The Intercept, he defended the use of drones. “Operations conducted by remotely piloted aircraft really are the most accurate and precise means of applying force,” Deptula says. “Why would the Germans want to shut down operations that effectively provide information to increase situational awareness of a community of nations that are trying to combat terrorism?”

Kat Craig, the legal director at Reprieve, an international human rights organization that represents victims of drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere, said the notion that critics of the drone program are being manipulated by propaganda from terrorist organizations “would be laughable, were it not so offensive towards civilian victims of drone strikes.”

A new report from The Open Society Foundations, published this month, studied nine U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and found that 26 civilians were killed, including several children and a pregnant woman.

“It has become all too clear that, too often, those carrying out the strikes simply do not know who they are hitting,” Craig said. “This misguided campaign has been allowed free rein because it has been kept hidden from public scrutiny.”

Yemenis gather around a burned car after it was torched by a drone strike on January 26, 2015. Among the dead was a teenage boy. (AFP/Getty Images)
WHILE THE GERMAN government has so far managed to dodge questions on Ramstein’s role in drone strikes, the country’s judicial system may not have that option.

Two related cases have been winding their way through the German legal system. In 2010, a German citizen was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. Two years later, a federal prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation “to examine whether Bünyamin Erdogan’s violent death qualified as a war crime under Germany’s international criminal code.”

The case was later dropped after investigators determined that at the time he was killed by a missile fired from a drone, Erdogan was not considered a civilian protected under international law. Rather, they asserted that he had been a “member of an organized, armed group that participated as a party in an armed conflict.” Pakistan, according to German interpretations of international law, is considered a war zone in cases involving known militants in certain areas.

German courts haven’t established whether other targeted countries, such as Yemen and Somalia, qualify as war zones. Last October, a Yemeni man whose relatives were killed in a 2012 U.S. drone strike filed a lawsuit against the German government. Faisal bin Ali Jaber said his brother-in-law, a well-respected moderate imam known for his anti-al Qaeda sermons, and his nephew were killed in a strike.

Jaber claimed the strike would not have been possible without the use of the satellite relay facility at Ramstein. “Were it not for the help of Germany and Ramstein, men like my brother-in-law and nephew might still be alive today. It is quite simple: without Germany, U.S. drones would not fly,” Jaber said at the time. “I am here to ask that the German people and Parliament be told the full extent of what is happening in their country, and that the German government stop Ramstein being used to help the U.S.’s illegal and devastating drone war in my country.” A member of Jaber’s legal team accused Germany of “hiding behind status-of-forces agreements,” saying the government should “admit its responsibility for civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone warfare.”

In response to the suit, the German defense ministry submitted a reply on behalf of the government, which is named as the defendant in the case. “The defendant denies, by claiming ignorance, that the satellite-relay-station in use on the air base transfers field data of unmanned aerial vehicles from Yemen to the U.S. or to other unmanned aerial vehicles and that the air base is a fundamental hub for the data transfer necessary to operate unmanned aerial vehicles in Yemen,” read the January 20 filing. As for the suit’s demand that Germany prevent the relay station at Ramstein from facilitating drone strikes, the German government stated that it could not be expected to act “as a ‘global public prosecutor’ towards other sovereign states and punish alleged infringements outside of their own sovereign territory.”

However, some legal scholars in Germany aren’t satisfied with that response. They argue that if U.S. personnel based at Ramstein are involved in what the government considers an extra-judicial killing in a non-declared war zone, they would not be entitled to immunity — at least not on German soil. The NATO Status of Forces Agreement explicitly grants German authorities the right to investigate members of the U.S. military suspected of having committed a crime.

To date, German prosecutors have shown little interest in pursuing such action. The German government position boils down to this: We have asked the U.S. if they are violating any agreements or laws and the Americans have said no. Case closed.

“What happens between the U.S., Ramstein and the drones is a division of labor in different locations,” says Wolfgang Kaleck, the head of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, one of the organizations bringing the Yemen suit against the German government. “The German government doesn’t ask tough questions because they obviously don’t want to know what really happens.”



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exclusive: I Can Reveal the Legal Advice on Drone Strikes, and How the Establishment Works
by craig on September 9, 2015 2:17 pm in Uncategorized
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/09/exclusive-i-can-reveal -the-legal-advice-on-drone-strikes-and-how-the-establishment-works/

This may be the most important article I ever post, because it reveals perfectly how the Establishment works and how the Red Tories and Blue Tories contrive to give a false impression of democracy. It is information I can only give you because of my experience as an insider.

It is a definitive proof of the validity of the Chomskian propaganda model. It needs a fair bit of detail to do this, but please try and read through it because it really is very, very important. After you have finished, if you agree with me about the significance, please repost, (you are free to copy), retweet, add to news aggregators (Reddit etc) and do anything you can to get other people to pay attention.

The government based its decision to execute by drone two British men in Syria on “Legal Opinion” from the Attorney-General for England and Wales, Jeremy Wright, a politician, MP and Cabinet Minister. But Wright’s legal knowledge comes from an undistinguished first degree from Exeter and a short career as a criminal defence barrister in Birmingham. His knowledge of public international law is virtually nil.

I pause briefly to note that there is no pretence of consulting the Scottish legal system. The only legal opinion is from the Attorney General for England and Wales who is also Honorary Advocate General for Northern Ireland.

So Jeremy Wright’s role is as a cypher. He performs a charade. The government employs in the FCO a dozen of the most distinguished public international lawyers in the world. When the Attorney-General’s office needs an Opinion on public international law, they ask the FCO to provide it for him to sign.

The only known occasion when this did not happen was the Iraq War. Then the FCO Legal Advisers – unanimously – advised the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, that to invade Iraq was illegal. Jack Straw asked the Attorney General to dismiss the FCO chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood (Goldsmith refused). Blair sent Goldsmith to Washington where the Opinion was written for him to sign by George Bush’s lawyers. [I know this sounds incredible, but it is absolutely true]. Sir Michael Wood’s deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, resigned in protest.

In consequence Blair and Straw decided that, again for the first time ever, the FCO’s chief legal adviser had to be appointed not from within the FCO legal advisers, who had all declared the war on Iraq to be illegal, but from outside. They had to find a distinguished public international lawyer who was prepared to argue that the war on Iraq was legal. That was a very small field. Blair and Straw thus turned to Benjamin Netanyahu’s favourite lawyer, Daniel Bethlehem.

Daniel Bethlehem had represented Israel before the Mitchell Inquiry into violence against the people of Gaza, arguing that it was all legitimate self-defence. He had also supplied the Government of Israel with a Legal Opinion that the vast Wall they were building in illegally occupied land, surrounding and isolating all the major Palestinian communities and turning them into large prisons, was also legal. Daniel Bethlehem is an extreme Zionist militarist of the most aggressive kind, and close to Mark Regev, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UK.

Daniel Bethlehem had developed, in his work for Israel, an extremist doctrine of the right of States to use pre-emptive self-defence – a doctrine which would not be accepted by the vast majority of public international lawyers. He clinched his appointment by Blair as the FCO chief legal adviser by presenting a memorandum to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in 2004 outlining this doctrine, and thus de facto defending the attack on Iraq and the Bush/Blair doctrine.

A key sentence of Daniel Bethlehem’s memorandum is this

“It must be right that states are able to act in self-defence in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups, even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.”

There is a fundamental flaw in this argument. How can you be certain that an attack in “imminent”, if you are not certain where or what it is? Even if we can wildly imagine a scenario where the government know of an “imminent” attack, but not where or what it is, how could killing someone in Syria stop the attack in the UK? If a team were active, armed and in course of operation in the UK – which is needed for “imminent” – how would killing an individual in Syria prevent them from going through with it? It simply does not add up as a practical scenario.

Interestingly, Daniel Bethlehem does not pretend this is accepted international law, but specifically states that

“The concept of what constitutes an “imminent” armed attack will develop to meet new circumstances and new threats”

Bethlehem is attempting to develop the concept of “imminent” beyond any natural interpretation of the word “imminent”.

Daniel Bethlehem left the FCO in 2011. But he had firmly set the British government doctrine on this issue, while all FCO legal advisers know not to follow it gets you sacked. I can guarantee you that Wright’s Legal Opinion states precisely the same argument that David Bethlehem stated in his 2004 memorandum. Knowing how these things work, I am prepared to wager every penny I own that much of the language is identical.

It was New Labour, the Red Tories, who appointed Daniel Bethlehem, and they appointed him precisely in order to establish this doctrine. It is therefore a stunning illustration of how the system works, that the only response of the official “opposition” to these extrajudicial executions is to demand to see the Legal Opinion, when it comes from the man they themselves appointed. The Red Tories appointed him precisely because they knew what Legal Opinion would be given on this specific subject. They can read it in Hansard.

So it is all a charade.

Jeremy Wright pretends to give a Legal Opinion, actually from FCO legal advisers based on the “Bethlehem Doctrine”. The Labour Party pretends, very unconvincingly, to be an opposition. The Guardian, apparently the leading “opposition” intellectual paper, publishes articles by its staff neo-con propagandists Joshua Rozenberg (married to Melanie Phillips) and Rafael Behr strongly supporting the government’s new powers of extrajudicial execution. In summer 2012 Joshua Rozenberg presented a programme on BBC Radio 4 entitled “Secret courts, drones and international law” which consisted mostly of a fawning interview with … Daniel Bethlehem. The BBC and Sky News give us wall to wall justification of the killings.

So the state, with its neo-con “opposition” and media closely in step with its neo-con government, seamlessly adopts a new power to kill its own subjects based on secret intelligence and secret legal advice, and a very weird definition of “imminent” that even its author admits to be outside current legal understanding.

That is how the state works. I do hope you find that helpful.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact the Daniel Bethlehem is now retired from the FCO.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Console to Trigger: How Pentagon "Exploits" Video Game Culture to Wire Youth for War

http://www.democracynow.org/stories/15704

Among the issues tackled in the new documentary film "Drone" is the connection between video games and military recruitment. We air a clip from the film and speak to its director, Tonje Hessen Schei, as well as drone war whistleblower Brandon Bryant. "I think gamers should be offended that the military and the government are using [video games] to manipulate and recruit," Bryant says. "We’re more interconnected now than at any time in human history — and that’s being exploited to help people kill one another."

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I want to turn to a clip from the film Drone about the connection between video games and military recruitment. This clip features Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Callahan and former U.S. Navy pilot Missy Cummings. But first, P.W. Singer, author of Wired for War.

P.W. SINGER: There’s always been a connection between the world of war and the world of entertainment. And I call this phenomenon "militainment," where the military world is actually now pulling tools from the world of entertainment to do its job better. The military has invested in creating video games that they’re using as recruiting tools.

LT. COL. BRYAN CALLAHAN: How do we find our 18X pilots? There’s been a lot of different theories. If you can answer that question or I can answer that question, you can make a lot of money for the Air Force right now, because we don’t know. We’re trying to get our arms around what really does make the best candidate for unmanned airplanes and how do we identify these people early.

MISSY CUMMINGS: Video gamers do have a skill set that is very important and actually enhances the skill set of drone operators. So, when I talk to people about this, I say, "We don’t need Top Gun pilots anymore. We need Revenge of the Nerds."

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We’re also joined by Tonje Hessen Schei, the director of the film, of Drone.

Tonje, welcome to Democracy Now! Could you talk about this whole issue of the recruitment of gamers by the military?

TONJE HESSEN SCHEI: Yeah, the gamers have been incredibly important for the U.S. military, and they have been targeting gamers in their recruiting strategies for the last decade. And this has been very successful, and it is now also spreading around the world. It is done in Germany and in Sweden and also in Norway. You know, gamers, their brains are pretty much wired to handle the challenges in modern warfare. And, you know, their eye-thumb coordination, their multitasking, their team fighting, the target shooting—they are basically perfect for the drone war.

And the relationship between the military and the entertainment industry, I think, is very, very important to take a close look at here. Our children are basically growing up playing real war scenarios from a very young age. And this game fight, you know, strange perception of war, has a big impact on them. To them, war is made to look fun, killing is made to look cool. And it really shapes them. And I think this "militainment" has a huge cost. And working with the drone operators, too, just seeing, you know, how the gaming attitude maybe is bleeding into how the drone program is operating, has been very disturbing to me.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, you guys know, in your own experience, that you’re involved in a war where you never actually meet or see the people you’re killing. You have no direct relationship—no real relationship to the war that you’re actually playing such a critical role in. I’m wondering what you—your thoughts on that?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Drone Pilots have Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Frozen by Feds for Exposing US Murder
http://www.globalresearch.ca/drone-pilots-have-bank-accounts-and-credi t-cards-frozen-by-feds-for-exposing-us-murder/5491576

By William Norman Grigg
Global Research, November 26, 2015

For having the courage to come forward and expose the drone program for the indiscriminate murder that it is, 4 vets are under attack from the government they once served.

“My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,” Radack lamented on her Twitter feed (the spelling of her post has been conventionalized). This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense – but this is a trivial formality in the increasingly Sovietesque American National Security State.

Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis, who served as drone operators in the US Air Force, have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the program. Some of those disclosures were made in the recent documentary Drone; additional details have been provided in an open letter from the whistleblowers to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan.

.@wikileaks My #drone #whistleblowers went public this wk & now their #CreditCards + #BankAccts are #frozen. Advice? pic.twitter.com/4wymwZgeZ9

— unR̶A̶D̶A̶C̶K̶ted (@JesselynRadack) November 22, 2015

“We are former Air Force service members,” the letter begins. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

Elsewhere the former drone operators have described how their colleagues dismissed children as “fun-sized terrorists” and compared killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long.” Children who live in countries targeted by the drone program are in a state of constant terror, according to Westmoreland: “There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what’s going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them.”

By reliable estimates, ninety percent of those killed in drone strikes are entirely harmless people, making the program a singularly effective method of producing anti-American terrorism. “We kill four and create ten,” Bryant said during a November 19 press conference, referring to potential terrorists. “If you kill someone’s father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.”

Haas explained that the institutional culture of the drone program emphasized and encouraged the dehumanization of the targeted populations. “There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,” he recalled. “Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.”

Unable to repress his conscience or choke down his moral disgust, Haas took refuge in alcohol and drug abuse, which he says is predictably commonplace among drone operators. At least a half-dozen members of his unit were using bath salts and could be found “impaired” while on duty, Haas testifies.

Among the burdens Bryant now bears is the knowledge that he participated in the mission that killed a fellow U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Identified as a radical cleric and accused of offering material support for al-Qaeda, al-Awlaki was executed by a drone strike in Yemen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a separate drone strike a few weeks later while sitting down to dinner at the home of a family friend. Asked about the killing of a native-born U.S. citizen – who, at age 16, was legally still a child – former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to justify that act by blaming it on the irresponsibility of the innocent child’s father.

As Bryant points out, as a matter of law the elder al-Awlaki was innocent, as well.

“We were told that al-Awlaki deserved to die, he deserved to be killed as a traitor, but article 3 of section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that even a traitor deserves a fair trial in front of a jury of his peers,” Bryant notes, lamenting that his role in the “targeted killing” of a U.S. citizen without a trial was a violation of his constitutional oath.

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill has produced evidence suggesting that the White House-approved killing of Anwar al-Awlaki’s son may have been carried out as retaliation against the family for refusing to cooperate in the search for the cleric. There are indications that the government has tried to intimidate the whistleblowers by intimidating their families.

In October, while Brandon Bryant was preparing to testify about the drone program before a German parliamentary committee, his mother LanAnn received a visit in her Missoula, Montana home from two representatives of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. The men claimed that her personal information was in the hands of the Islamic State, which had placed her name on a “hit list.” She was also told not to share that disclosure with anyone – a directive she promptly ignored by informing Ms. Radack, who represents Brandon and the other whistleblowers.

According to Radack, a very similar episode occurred last March in which the stepparent of another whistleblower received a nearly identical visit from agents of the Air Force OSI. “This is the US government wasting taxpayer dollars trying to silence, intimidate and shut up people. It’s a very amateurish way to shut up a whistleblower … by intimidating and scaring their parents. This would be laughable if it weren’t so frightening.”

Given the role played by the U.S. government in fomenting, equipping, and abetting the growth of ISIS, such warnings have to be perceived as credible, albeit, indirect death threats.

The original source of this article is Free Thought Project
Copyright © William Norman Grigg, Free Thought Project, 201

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DRONE STRIKES
Drone: Inside the CIA's Secret Drone War
From drone operators to strike victims, we examine the impact of remote-controlled killing and the future of warfare.
03 Apr 2016 07:26 GMT | Drone strikes ,
Pakistan, CIA , US , Science & Technology

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2016/03/drone-cia-se cret-drone-war-160330081229214.html

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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UK drone strikes 'could leave all those involved facing murder charges'
Joint parliamentary committee calls on government to urgently clarify legal basis for targeted kill policy against Isis militants
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/10/uk-drone-strikes-murde r-charges-clarify-legal-basis-targeted-kill-policy-isis

Alice Ross and Owen Bowcott
Tuesday 10 May 2016 00.01 BST Last modified on Tuesday 10 May 2016
British drone pilots, intelligence officers and ministers could face murder charges if the government does not clarify its policies on targeted killing, a parliamentary committee has warned.

Confusion over the precise legal justification exposes frontline personnel and all those involved in decisions to launch lethal attacks outside warzones to “criminal prosecution for murder or complicity in murder”, according to a report by the joint committee on human rights (JCHR).

Although the Crown Prosecution Service is highly unlikely to pursue such a case in the UK, other nations might do so, for example if their citizens were killed abroad, its MPs and peers caution.

“We owe it to all those involved in the chain of command for such uses of lethal force to provide them with absolute clarity about the circumstances in which they will have a defence against any possible future criminal prosecution, including those which might originate from outside the UK,” says the committee, chaired by the former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman MP.


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The warning comes in a report into the government’s policies on targeted killing with drones published on Tuesday. The committee launched its inquiry after David Cameron announced that UK drones had targeted and killed a 21-year-old Briton Reyaad Khan in Syria last August.

The attack took place months before MPs voted for airstrikes in Syria. Another Briton, Ruhul Amin, and a Belgian, Abu Ayman al-Belgiki, who were travelling in the same vehicle also died. British-born Junaid Hussain was killed in a separate joint UK-US strike days later. In January, the US military revealed that civilians had been killed in a previous attempt on Hussain’s life; the UK would not confirm if it had been involved.

Cameron described the strike on Khan as a “new departure”, explaining that this was the first time in modern times that the UK had used a drone to kill someone in a country where it was not at war.

The committee investigated whether the strike reflected a new UKpolicy in the vein of the controversial US one in which hundreds of drone strikes have been carried out in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

While the UK government denies it has a “targeted killing policy”, the committee notes the phrase “sounds uncomfortably close to assassination” and that Britain does have “a policy to use lethal force abroad outside armed conflict for counter-terrorism purposes”.

The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, told the committee that the government would be justified in attacking “say, a training camp in Libya” if it would prevent “a direct and imminent threat to the United Kingdom”.

But questions remain about the legal basis for such killings. The government refused to answer detailed queries about “important aspects” of the legal framework, and provided differing explanations to parliament and to the UN, says the committee.

The committee condemns the government’s view: – that by following the law of war for strikes outside legal warzones, the government is also meeting its obligations under the more stringent human rights law – as based on a “misunderstanding”. The need for clarification is “now urgent”, its report adds.

The government argued that its policy on strikes outside warzones was different from that of the US, which it is maintained on the basis of a 2001 law that the US is engaged in a global war with al-Qaida and its allied organisations. The US says that this extends to Islamic State, even though the group formed long after the law was passed and regards itself as a rival to al-Qaida.

But the UK has recently provided support to strikes under the US legal framework, for example in February, when Fallon allowed RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk to be used for a US airstrike on Libya. The government must provide “absolute clarity” on the legal basis to reassure staff that there is no risk of being prosecuted for “complicity in killings which may lack international legal justification”, the committee writes.

Its report accepts the UK has a legitimate right to self-defence if threatened with imminent, armed attack. The report states: “We welcome the government’s recognition that such use of lethal force abroad outside of armed conflict should only ever be ‘exceptional’ … We accept that in extreme circumstances such uses of lethal force abroad may be lawful, even outside of armed conflict. Indeed, in certain extreme circumstances, human rights law may even impose a duty to use such lethal force in order to protect life.”

Harman told the Guardian: “While no one wants the government to stand by while terrorists are killing people, no one wants a government that’s trigger-happy.”

Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer at the legal charity Reprieve, said: “This report is a wake-up call. Not only does the committee raise troubling questions about whether the government ‘misunderstood’ the legal frameworks that apply, but it warns they may be at risk of prosecution for murder as a result.”

She warned that the UK risked “following the US down the slippery slope of kill lists and targeted killings”.

The committee calls for a “trusted” independent body to scrutinise any such list and suggests that the intelligence and security committee (ISC), whose reports are often kept largely secret, is well placed to carry out that task. It also called for the ISC’s remit to be broadened to investigate any future strikes.

The ISC, whose members are security vetted, has launched its own inquiry into the killing of Khan and Amin.

Harman added: “If a police officer killed someone on a street in this country it’s automatically sent to the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission]. If the state takes a life [abroad] there must be accountability and there must be scrutiny.”

No inquest has been held into the deaths of Khan and Amin. Khan’s local MP, Kevin Brennan, asked ministers if there should not be a coroner’s court case to help establish “the legal parameters in such cases”. Unless a body is repatriated, a coroner is under no obligation to investigate.

The JCHR report adds: “While this is theoretically possible, if the family of the UK national were to repatriate the body of their family member, it does not appear to have been an issue in relation to any of the UK nationals who are known to have been killed by drone strikes in Syria. It therefore seems unlikely that there will be a coroner’s inquest into any of those deaths.”

In the course of its inquiry, the committee was given access to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire from where drones flying over the Middle East are controlled via satellite links.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

US personnel ‘targeting killer drones from Britain’
Campaigners say the UK is complicit in activities that may be in breach of international law
Jamie Doward Sunday 30 October 2016 00.38 BST
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/29/drones-us-kill-chain-raf -britain

US military personnel serving at the UK’s RAF bases are helping to identify targets for drone strikes, according to their job specifications.

Human rights groups have seized on the descriptions of the roles as proof of the UK’s part in the covert US drone programme, which some critics claim is in breach of international law.

One job advertised at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire was for an “all source analyst”, in support of US operations in Africa. The suitable candidate will “perform a variety of advanced targeting operations ... in support of employment of GPS guided weapons, weaponeering and collateral estimation, as well as utilizing the tools required for advanced targeting”.

The CV of a US military analyst, uploaded to a recruitment site, states that he was an MQ-9 Reaper ISR Mission Intelligence Coordinator at Molesworth. The MQ-9 is the US’s chief strike drone, capable of firing Hellfire missiles and dropping laser-guided GBU 12 Paveway II bombs.

Molesworth has also been recruiting “full motion video analysts” to study footage taken by drones and other surveillance craft in order to identify potential targets. The consultancy giant Booz Allen Hamilton is advertising for a “maritime multi-level targeting analyst” at the same base. The job involves providing “comprehensive assessments... of intelligence data” to “support the client targeting cycle in order to answer intelligence questions and provide recommendations for further action or collection”.

The Ministry of Defence insists that the US does not operate drones from the UK. A senior MoD source said: “Despite the continuing conspiracy theories and associated hype in the media, the reality is that there are no US Remotely Piloted Air System support facilities operating anywhere in the UK.”

But the human rights group Reprieve said that the job specifications indicated UK complicity in the US drone programme. “Simply to say that drones are not flown from the UK is missing the point, if it is personnel on British soil that are at the top of the so-called ‘kill chain’ and British agencies who are feeding targets into those lists,” said Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at Reprieve. “The British government has questions to answer over its own involvement in this secret war.”

The US air force last year reportedly floated the idea of establishing a drone operations centre at RAF Lakenheath, subject to British approval. The move would prove controversial. The US recently gave the German government an assurance that “kill” commands for drones were no longer being sent via its Ramstein base amid mounting controversy over the legality of the programme.

Staff from RAF Molesworth will be absorbed into RAF Croughton, near Milton Keynes, chosen as the site for a new $300m US intelligence-gathering hub known as the Joint Analysis Centre that is expected to play an important role in future US drone operations focused on Africa and the Middle East.

Plans filed with the local council reveal that the four-year renovation project at the base, due to start next year, will see the construction of seven new buildings and the renovation of several existing ones.

Boasting a fitness centre, shop, accommodation block, post office, nursery and school, hundreds of personnel will live on-site, while others will be housed nearby.

Around a third of all US military communications in Europe already pass through Croughton, which has a direct cable link to GCHQ, the intelligence services’ giant listening hub at Cheltenham. A high-speed fibre-optic line connects the base to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, from where the US flies drones that target terrorist groups in Somalia.

Paul Mobbs, a close observer of Croughton, who contributes to the Free Range Activism website, said: “Croughton is becoming a hub which will receive content from across Europe and North Africa and near Middle East, and then slice and dice it for use by intelligence agencies. At the same time its communications capacity is being enhanced to tie in to other intelligence centres.”

Chris Cole, editor of the website Drone Wars, believes the US military’s need to process massive amounts of data, sucked up by its rapidly expanding surveillance programme, lies behind Croughton’s transformation. “You need a huge amount of bandwidth,” Cole said. “They distribute it around so it’s not a case of huge amounts all going to one place. And it’s secure – it can’t be knocked out in one place.”

Critics say the US drone programme is taking place on British soil without sufficient oversight. “There is no oversight, no accountability,” said Lindis Percy, co-ordinator of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Airbases.

“The United States Visiting Force is present in the UK at the invitation of the British government,” an MoD spokesman explained. “There are no circumstances under which UK military assets, including those bases made available to the US, could be used operationally by the US without the agreement of Her Majesty’s government.”

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

US Drone Killing Machine Now on Autopilot
Posted on January 23, 2017 by Laurie Calhoun
https://thedroneage.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/us-drone-killing-machine- now-on-autopilot/

For years now I have been pointing out that Obama’s lasting legacy would be his ill-advised decision back in 2009 to normalize assassination, which his administration successfully rebranded as “targeted killing”. This was supposed to be the latest and greatest form of “smart war”: the use of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), or lethal drones, to go after and eliminate evil terrorists without risking US soldiers’ lives.

It all sounds so slick and, well, Obama cool. The problem is that any sober consideration of Obama’s foreign policy over the course of his eight years as president reveals that the reality is altogether different. Judging by the murder and mayhem being perpetrated all across the Middle East, “smart war” was not so smart after all.

It’s not easy to tease out how much of the mess in the Middle East is specifically due to Obama’s accelerated use of lethal drones in “signature strikes” to kill thousands of military-age men in seven different lands. For he also implemented other, equally dubious initiatives. Planks of Obama’s bloody “smart power” approach included deposing Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and massively arming (from 2012 to 2013) a group of little-understood “appropriately vetted moderate rebels” in Syria.

Adding fuel to the fire, Obama oversaw the largest exportation of homicidal weapons to the Middle East ever undertaken by a single US president. Saudi Arabia wasted no time in using its US (and also UK) military provisions to lay Yemen to waste. Conjoined with Obama’s use of drones in that land, the result has been a horrific civil war in which many civilians have been killed and many civilian structures destroyed.

As if all of this were not bad enough, Obama also managed to drop more than 26K bombs in 2016, after having dropped more than 23K in 2015. Given all of this very warlike behavior in undeclared wars, no one can truly say precisely how much drones are to blame for the ongoing carnage throughout the Middle East. What is beyond dispute is that together these measures culminated in a huge expansion and spread of ISIS and other radical jihadist groups.

At the same time, given the tonnage of bombs dropped by Obama in seven different countries, the use of drones does seem to have led directly to a willingness of the president to use also manned combat aerial vehicles, notably in countries with which the United States was not at war when Obama assumed his office. While his predecessor, George W. Bush, can be properly credited with the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama managed to contribute heartily to the destruction of Libya, Yemen, and Syria, while attacking the people of Somalia as well.

Enter Donald J. Trump, who became the new US president on January 21, 2017. On that same day, two drone strikes in Yemen killed a slew of people, three of whom were said to be “suspected Al Qaeda leaders”. The US government has not confirmed that it launched the strikes. It is the policy of the CIA, put in charge by Obama of the drone program “outside areas of active hostilities” (in countries such as Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, et al.), not to share the details of its covert operations. This would seem to imply that the drone strikes on January 21, 2017, were not the doings of the Pentagon, now under the direction of General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who was sworn in on the same day as the new president.

Trump’s choice for CIA director, Mike Pompeo, has not yet been sworn in, as his confirmation process is still underway. In other words, the drone strikes carried out under the auspices of the CIA this past weekend were done so without a director in place. Obama therefore succeeded not only in normalizing assassination as “targeted killing” when the implements of homicide used are missiles, and they are launched under the direction of the CIA, but he also left the killing machine on autopilot. Note that the former CIA director, John Brennan, who first served as Obama’s drone killing czar, before being promoted to director, has spent his time in recent days bashing the new president, not serving as Trump’s interim adviser.

The incineration of military-age men using missiles launched from drones has become so frequent and commonplace that US citizens, including legislators, did not blink an eye at the fact that the killing machine set in motion by President Obama is now effectively on autopilot. It’s worth remembering that, once upon a time, acts of war were to be approved by the congress. Now even acephalic agencies such as the directorless CIA are permitted to use weapons of war to kill anyone whom they deem to be worthy of death. All of this came about because Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack “no boots on the ground” Obama wanted to be able to prosecute wars without appearing to prosecute wars. Fait accompli.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The short film 'Slaughterbots' depicts a dystopian future of killer drones swarming the world
Ben Brimelow - Nov. 20, 2017, 3:59 PM 5,687
http://www.businessinsider.com/slaughterbots-short-film-depicts-killer -drone-swarms-2017-11

The short film "Slaughterbots." http://autonomousweapons.org/

Slaughterbots

Link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HipTO_7mUOw

If this isn’t what you want, please take action at: http://autonomousweapons.org

The Future of Life Institute released a short film showing a dystopian future with killer drones powered by artificial intelligence.
The short is part of a campaign warning about the dangers of weaponized artificial intelligence and is designed to draw attention to the issue.

"Nuclear is obsolete. Take out your entire enemy virtually risk free. Just characterize him, release the swarm, and rest easy."

These were some of the first words said in the short film "Slaughterbots." A joint project between University of California at Berkeley professor Stuart Russell and the Future of Life Institute, the short gives viewers a warning about a fictional dystopian future.

The short starts with a representative from a defense contractor advertising his company's newest product: A palm-sized, explosive-filled drone with an artificial-intelligence implant that allows it to find, target, and kill people with a precise detonation to the head.

"You can target an evil ideology, right where it starts," the representative says, pointing to his head amid a massive round of applause. The drones are then shown to fall into the wrong hands and wreak havoc on innocent people all around the world.

The short was released last week by the Future of Life Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to showing the dangers of advanced artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies. The institute, backed by Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and other skeptics of artificial intelligence, is also behind the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, according to Seeker.

The release coincided with the UN's Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva, Switzerland, which will discuss autonomous weapons. And it comes as the world's three largest arms exporters, the US, Russia, and China, have all shown signs of interest in unmanned weapons systems. There is a fear there could be an arms race to create a fully autonomous militarized AI.

Researchers, CEOs, and high-profile individuals like Musk and Hawking signed an open letter in July calling for the banning of military AI, and warning of its dangers to humanity.

See the short video below:

SEE ALSO: The US military is developing a swarming army of drones
NOW WATCH: Watch Lockheed Martin's laser beam system burn drones out of the sky

outsider wrote:
'Drones will hunt in packs, as US Navy unveils LOCUST prototype launcher':
http://rt.com/usa/250233-us-drones-navy-locust/

'Drone technology is getting ever more deadly. The US Navy has released a video detailing LOCUST – the new tool allowing multiple drones to coordinate and swarm the enemy autonomously. It’s designed to protect large US vessels nearby.

The concept was detailed by the Navy last year, which only this month allowed the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to demonstrate what LOCUST – or the Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Swarming Technology program – can do. They’re touting the tool as a new era in autonomous warfare.

LOCUST is essentially a system that can launch swarming UAVs to overwhelm the enemy and provide the marines and sailors operating them with a massive tactical advantage, ONR explains in the press release.

“The recent demonstrations are an important step on the way to the 2016 ship-based demonstration of 30 rapidly launched autonomous, swarming UAVs,” program manager Lee Mastroianni says.

“This level of autonomous swarming flight has never been done before… UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter,” he adds.

The program acts in several stages: first, a tube-based launcher will fire a swarm of UAVs from a ship, aircraft, or any surface, for that matter – owing to the device’s small footprint. Once airborne, the drones share information and coordinate an offense or a defense, each drone playing its allotted part.

ONR says the technology is revolutionary in its heavy advantage over remote-controlled UAVs. But safeguards are always needed, so human personnel will be standing by to take over if necessary.........'


'Drones can now fly in packs: US Navy unveils LOCUST prototype launcher':
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPVSBT7Irkk&feature=em-uploademail

40-second video clip

'China unveils anti-drone laser weapon able to shoot down 'small aircraft' within 5 seconds': http://rt.com/news/201795-china-drone-defense-laser/

'China has developed and successfully tested a highly accurate laser defense system against light drones. The homemade machine boasts a two-kilometer range and can down "various small aircraft" within five seconds of locating its target.

Boasting high speed, great precision and low noise, the system is aimed at destroying unmanned, small-scale drones flying under an altitude of 500 meters and at speeds below 50 meters per second, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement by one of the developers, the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP).

A recent test saw the machine successfully bring down over 30 drones - a 100-percent success rate, according to the statement. The laser system is expected to play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas.

"Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage," explained Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp.....'

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www.v911t.org
www.thisweek.org.uk
www.abolishwar.org.uk
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www.radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/2149
http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AI Researchers Create Video to Call for Autonomous Weapons Ban at UN
November 14, 2017/by Jessica Cussins
https://futureoflife.org/2017/11/14/ai-researchers-create-video-call-a utonomous-weapons-ban-un/

In response to growing concerns about autonomous weapons, a coalition of AI researchers and advocacy organizations released a fictitious video on Monday that depicts a disturbing future in which lethal autonomous weapons have become cheap and ubiquitous.

The video was launched in Geneva, where AI researcher Stuart Russell presented it at an event at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Russell, in an appearance at the end of the video, warns that the technology described in the film already exists and that the window to act is closing fast.

Support for a ban has been mounting. Just this past week, over 200 Canadian scientists and over 100 Australian scientists in academia and industry penned open letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull urging them to support the ban. Earlier this summer, over 130 leaders of AI companies signed a letter in support of this week’s discussions. These letters follow a 2015 open letter released by the Future of Life Institute and signed by more than 20,000 AI/Robotics researchers and others, including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking.

These letters indicate both grave concern and a sense that the opportunity to curtail lethal autonomous weapons is running out.

Noel Sharkey of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control explains, “The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is not trying to stifle innovation in artificial intelligence and robotics and it does not wish to ban autonomous systems in the civilian or military world. Rather we see an urgent need to prevent automation of the critical functions for selecting targets and applying violent force without human deliberation and to ensure meaningful human control for every attack.”

Drone technology today is very close to having fully autonomous capabilities. And many of the world’s leading AI researchers worry that if these autonomous weapons are ever developed, they could dramatically lower the threshold for armed conflict, ease and cheapen the taking of human life, empower terrorists, and create global instability. The US and other nations have used drones and semi-automated systems to carry out attacks for several years now, but fully removing a human from the loop is at odds with international humanitarian and human rights law.

A ban can exert great power on the trajectory of technological development without needing to stop every instance of misuse. Max Tegmark, MIT Professor and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, points out, “People’s knee-jerk reaction that bans can’t help isn’t historically accurate: the bioweapon ban created such a powerful stigma that, despite treaty cheating, we have almost no bioterror attacks today and almost all biotech funding is civilian.”

As Toby Walsh, an AI professor at the University of New South Wales, argues: “The academic community has sent a clear and consistent message. Autonomous weapons will be weapons of terror, the perfect tool for those who have no qualms about the terrible uses to which they are put. We need to act now before this future arrives.”

More than 70 countries are participating in the meeting taking place November 13 – 17 organized by the 2016 Fifth Review Conference at the UN, which established a Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons. The meeting is chaired by Ambassador Amandeep Singh Gill of India, and the countries will continue negotiations of what could become an historic international treaty.

For more information about autonomous weapons, see the following resources:
Autonomousweapons.org
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
Making the Case The Dangers of Killer Robots and the Need for a Preemptive Ban, Human Rights Watch
Meaningful Human Control or Appropriate Human Judgment? The Necessary Limits on Autonomous Weapons, Global Security
ETHICALLY ALIGNED DESIGN A Vision for Prioritizing Human Wellbeing with Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems, IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems
Killing by machine: Key issues for understanding meaningful human control, Article 36

TonyGosling wrote:
The short film 'Slaughterbots' depicts a dystopian future of killer drones swarming the world
Ben Brimelow - Nov. 20, 2017, 3:59 PM 5,687
http://www.businessinsider.com/slaughterbots-short-film-depicts-killer -drone-swarms-2017-11

The short film "Slaughterbots." http://autonomousweapons.org/

Slaughterbots

Link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HipTO_7mUOw

If this isn’t what you want, please take action at: http://autonomousweapons.org

The Future of Life Institute released a short film showing a dystopian future with killer drones powered by artificial intelligence.
The short is part of a campaign warning about the dangers of weaponized artificial intelligence and is designed to draw attention to the issue.

"Nuclear is obsolete. Take out your entire enemy virtually risk free. Just characterize him, release the swarm, and rest easy."

These were some of the first words said in the short film "Slaughterbots." A joint project between University of California at Berkeley professor Stuart Russell and the Future of Life Institute, the short gives viewers a warning about a fictional dystopian future.

The short starts with a representative from a defense contractor advertising his company's newest product: A palm-sized, explosive-filled drone with an artificial-intelligence implant that allows it to find, target, and kill people with a precise detonation to the head.

"You can target an evil ideology, right where it starts," the representative says, pointing to his head amid a massive round of applause. The drones are then shown to fall into the wrong hands and wreak havoc on innocent people all around the world.

The short was released last week by the Future of Life Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to showing the dangers of advanced artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies. The institute, backed by Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and other skeptics of artificial intelligence, is also behind the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, according to Seeker.

The release coincided with the UN's Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva, Switzerland, which will discuss autonomous weapons. And it comes as the world's three largest arms exporters, the US, Russia, and China, have all shown signs of interest in unmanned weapons systems. There is a fear there could be an arms race to create a fully autonomous militarized AI.

Researchers, CEOs, and high-profile individuals like Musk and Hawking signed an open letter in July calling for the banning of military AI, and warning of its dangers to humanity.

See the short video below:

SEE ALSO: The US military is developing a swarming army of drones
NOW WATCH: Watch Lockheed Martin's laser beam system burn drones out of the sky

outsider wrote:
'Drones will hunt in packs, as US Navy unveils LOCUST prototype launcher':
http://rt.com/usa/250233-us-drones-navy-locust/

'Drone technology is getting ever more deadly. The US Navy has released a video detailing LOCUST – the new tool allowing multiple drones to coordinate and swarm the enemy autonomously. It’s designed to protect large US vessels nearby.

The concept was detailed by the Navy last year, which only this month allowed the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to demonstrate what LOCUST – or the Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Swarming Technology program – can do. They’re touting the tool as a new era in autonomous warfare.

LOCUST is essentially a system that can launch swarming UAVs to overwhelm the enemy and provide the marines and sailors operating them with a massive tactical advantage, ONR explains in the press release.

“The recent demonstrations are an important step on the way to the 2016 ship-based demonstration of 30 rapidly launched autonomous, swarming UAVs,” program manager Lee Mastroianni says.

“This level of autonomous swarming flight has never been done before… UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter,” he adds.

The program acts in several stages: first, a tube-based launcher will fire a swarm of UAVs from a ship, aircraft, or any surface, for that matter – owing to the device’s small footprint. Once airborne, the drones share information and coordinate an offense or a defense, each drone playing its allotted part.

ONR says the technology is revolutionary in its heavy advantage over remote-controlled UAVs. But safeguards are always needed, so human personnel will be standing by to take over if necessary.........'


'Drones can now fly in packs: US Navy unveils LOCUST prototype launcher':
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPVSBT7Irkk&feature=em-uploademail

40-second video clip

'China unveils anti-drone laser weapon able to shoot down 'small aircraft' within 5 seconds': http://rt.com/news/201795-china-drone-defense-laser/

'China has developed and successfully tested a highly accurate laser defense system against light drones. The homemade machine boasts a two-kilometer range and can down "various small aircraft" within five seconds of locating its target.

Boasting high speed, great precision and low noise, the system is aimed at destroying unmanned, small-scale drones flying under an altitude of 500 meters and at speeds below 50 meters per second, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement by one of the developers, the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP).

A recent test saw the machine successfully bring down over 30 drones - a 100-percent success rate, according to the statement. The laser system is expected to play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas.

"Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage," explained Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp.....'

_________________
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Google Is Quietly Providing AI Technology for Drone Strike Targeting Project
Lee Fang
https://theintercept.com/2018/03/06/google-is-quietly-providing-ai-tec hnology-for-drone-strike-targeting-project/

March 6 2018, 8:40 a.m.

Google has quietly secured a contract to work on the Defense Department’s new algorithmic warfare initiative, providing assistance with a pilot project to apply its artificial intelligence solutions to drone targeting.

The military contract with Google is routed through a Northern Virginia technology staffing company called ECS Federal, obscuring the relationship from the public.

The contract, first reported Tuesday by Gizmodo, is part of a rapid push by the Pentagon to deploy state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology to improve combat performance.

Google, which has made strides in applying its proprietary deep learning tools to improve language translation, and vision recognition, has a cross-team collaboration within the company to work on the AI drone project.

The team, The Intercept has learned, is working to develop deep learning technology to help drone analysts interpret the vast image data vacuumed up from the military’s fleet of 1,100 drones to better target bombing strikes against the Islamic State.

The race to adopt cutting-edge AI technology was announced in April 2017 by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who unveiled an ambitious plan called the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team, code-named Project Maven. The initiative, Work wrote in an agency-wide memo, is designed to “accelerate DoD’s integration of big data and machine learning” and “turn the enormous volume of data available to DoD into actionable intelligence and insights at speed.”

The first phase of Project Maven, which incorporates multiple teams from across the Defense Department, is an effort to automate the identification and classification of images taken by drones — cars, buildings, people — providing analysts with increased ability to make informed decisions on the battlefield.

“The technology flags images for human review, and is for non-offensive uses only,” a Google spokesperson told Bloomberg. “Military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We’re actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies.”

The idea is to essentially provide a recommendation tool, so that the AI program can quickly single out points of interest around a type of event or target so that drone analysts can work more efficiently.

The department announced last year that the AI initiative, just over six months after being announced, was used by intelligence analysts for drone strikes against ISIS in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Gregory C. Allen, an adjunct fellow with the Center for New American Security, says the initiative has a number of unusual characteristics, from its rapid development to the level of integration with contractors.

“The developers had access to the end-users very early on in the process. They recognized that [with] AI systems … you had to understand what your end-user was going to do with them,” Allen said. “The military has an awful lot of experts in analyzing drone imagery: ‘These are the parts of my job I hate, here’s what I’d like to automate.’ There was this iterative development process that was very familiar in the commercial software world, but unfamiliar in the defense world.”

“They were proud of how fast the development went, they were proud of the quality they were getting,” added Allen, co-author of “Artificial Intelligence and National Security,” a report on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

While the contract with Google has gone unreported until today, Project Maven leaders have not been shy about their push to partner with Silicon Valley and harness the growing reach of commercial AI technology.

Not long after the formation of the Defense Innovation Board, which was created in 2016 to encourage the military adoption of breakthrough technology, the board released a set of recommendations that stressed the importance of adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning, stressing that technological superiority with AI is as important as “nuclear weapons in the 1940s and with precision-guided weapons and stealth technology afterward.”

The DIB — which is chaired by Eric Schmidt, former executive chair of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — recommended “an exchange program and collaboration with industry and academic experts in the field.”

Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, director for defense intelligence overseeing Project Maven, joked at the GeoINT2017 conference that he hoped Google would start sharing more of what it knows with the Pentagon. “On the far end of the scale, you see Google. They don’t tell us what they have, unless anyone from Google wants to whisper in my ear later,” he said.

Top photo:A U.S. Air Force pilot, left, and a censor operator, right, prepare to launch a MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, from a ground control station at a secret air base in the Persian Gulf region on Jan. 7, 2016.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MoD accidentally reveals British drones firing thermobaric missiles in Syria
BY CHRIS COLE on 02/05/2018
https://dronewars.net/2018/05/02/mod-accidentally-reveals-british-dron es-firing-thermobaric-missiles-in-syria/

The Ministry of Defence has revealed for the first time – seemingly accidentally – that British drones are firing thermobaric weapons in Syria. The disclosure comes in an Freedom of Information (FoI) response to Drone Wars detailing the use of Reaper drones over the previous three months.

In the response, officials give a breakdown of the type of Hellfire missiles fired, stating that 19 AGM-114N4 and 44 AGM-114R2 had been used. The ‘N’ version of the missile uses a Metal Augmented Charge (MAC) warhead that contains a thermobaric explosive fill using aluminium with the explosive mixture. When the warhead detonates, the aluminium mixture is dispersed and rapidly burns. The sustained high pressure explosion is extremely damaging, creating a powerful shock wave and vacuum. Anyone in the vicinity is likely to die from internal organ damage.

Thermobaric weapons, sometimes called ‘vacuum’ weapons have been condemned by human rights groups and, as the Times reported in 2008 , “the weapons are so controversial that MoD weapons and legal experts spent 18 months debating whether British troops could use them without breaking international law.” The ‘debate’ came to an end when a ‘Yes Minister’ solution was offered – they “redefined” the weapon as an ‘enhanced blast missile’.



Test of thermobaric missile warhead

In 2010, the MoD specifically refused to answer questions in the House of Commons by then Oxford East MP Andrew Smith on whether British drones were firing the thermobaric version of the Hellfire missile. Thanks to this diligent answer from an MoD official we now know they are.

However, the answer raises new questions. Given the extremely harmful nature of the weapon why are so many – roughly a quarter of the weapons fired from British drones in the first three months of the year – being used? Has the use of this weapon been at the same level since 2014? Or are they being used more frequently now?

The revelation comes alongside news that UK drone strikes have hugely intensified in Syria since January. In the first three months of 2018, UK drones fired as many weapons in Syria (92) as they have over the previous 18 months. And, despite the MoD regularly insisting that its Reaper drones are primarily used for surveillance and intelligence gathering, UK Reaper drones have now fired more weapons in Syria than the UK’s dedicated bomber, the Tornado.

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