Targeted Hype

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We are so kind to ourselves. John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, repeats the Obama narrative that touts the “surgical” precision and minimization of collateral damage of “targeted killing” using drones. Minimal collateral damage would be zero, however, a study by NYU School of Law and Stanford Law School puts the number of civilians killed between 474 and 881, including 176 children.

The study calls Obama’s narrative “false.”

The NYU/Stanford study also reports on Obama’s despicable use of the “double tap”:

The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur and Professor of Human Rights Law, has said that if first responders “are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.”

Reaper drones carry the Hellfire II laser guided missile with a 20 pound warhead of high explosive, and two 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. The GBU-12 has a blast radius of 200 meters, hardly surgical. These are the same weapons that are dropped from other platforms such as manned aircraft. Their precision is not enhanced when launched from drones.

The Hellfire missile has a Circular Error Probability (CEP), the distance from the aiming point that the missile will land 50% of the time, from 9 to 24 feet. he NYU/Stanford study cites a claim that the “double tap” may be a second strike required because the first one missed the target, although that is hardly a mitigating circumstance.

The NYU/Stanford study also notes that “the vast majority of the ‘militants’ targeted have been low-level insurgents.” The number of “high-level” targets is estimated at only 2%.

The Obama administration is using Bush-style tactics to cover up the killing of women and children. This includes over-hyping the accuracy of the weapons and redefining the term “militant” to include anyone who’s killed.

While drones can play an effective role as intelligence gathers and fire support on the battlefield, their inaccuracy makes them unsuitable for “targeted killing.” The probability of a drone strike killing women and children is so high that the drone can be reasonably considered a terror weapon and its use an act of terrorism. The media’s collusion on the Obama narrative enables the terrorism.

H/T: Glenn Greenwald, Kevin Drum, Daniel L. Byman (Brookings), TBIJ, Aviation International News, openDemocracy.

121 thoughts on “Targeted Hype

  1. Obama has fallen in love w/ drones. They really fit his aloof personality, literally and figuratively. I’m a realist. Drones are a very effective weapon when used prudently. However, I’m also practical. Drones do not afford us the opportunity to capture terrorists and gain valuable information on future operations. Finally, I find the abuse of these numerous drone attacks as cowardly.

  2. Thanks for this post, Nal!

    Amy Goodman talked about this study on C-Span this morning.


    Study Finds U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Miss Militant Targets and “Terrorize” Civilians
    (Democracy Now)
    “A new report on the secret U.S. drone war in Pakistan says the attacks have killed far more civilians than acknowledged, traumatized a nation and undermined international law. In “Living Under Drones” researchers conclude the drone strikes “terrorize men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.” The study concludes that most of the militants killed in the strikes have been low-level targets whose deaths have failed to make the United States any safer. Just 2 percent of drone attack victims are said to be top militant leaders. We’re joined by report authors: James Cavallaro, director of the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford University; and Sarah Knuckey, professor at New York University School of Law and former advisor to the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.”

  3. The British bombed the Krauts by night and we bombed them by day. War criminals because surely there were rescuers on the ground picking up bodies after the previous bombing. So, once you bomb, wait a month, then its ok. Or, never bomb. Let Iran get the big one and drop it on Jersey.

  4. I don’t think they are above using these drones in the U.S. for, among other things, spying on Americans:

    The Obama administration has overseen a sharp increase in the number of people subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance of their telephone, email and Facebook accounts by federal law enforcement agencies, new documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union on Friday revealed.

    The documents, released by the ACLU after a months-long legal battle with the Department of Justice, show that in the last two years, more people were spied on by the government than in the preceding decade. The documents do not include information on most terrorism investigations and requests from state and local law enforcers. Nor do they include surveillance by federal agencies outside Justice Department purview, like the Secret Service.

    (Huffington Post). Once these things are considered “normal” no telling what they will be used for.


    Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan Foreign Minister: Drones Are Top Cause Of Anti-Americanism by Joshua Hersh

    “Asked why opinion polls consistently rank Pakistan among the most anti-American countries in the world, Khar responded with a single word: “Drones.”

    Khar noted that the Pakistani government approves of their overall strategic purpose — to target and kill high-level militants — but the manner in which they have been used by the U.S., she said, has been “illegal” and has turned the local populations against the United States.

    “What the drones are trying to achieve, we may not disagree. We do not disagree. If they’re going for terrorists, we do not disagree,” Khar said, according to the AFP. “But we have to find ways which are lawful, which are legal.””

  6. It really would be terrorizing to have a hell fire missile circling your neighborhood. I have had helicopters from time to time but they can’t cause instant death like these drones can. The constant noise produces a huge amount of fear.

  7. I am not particularly worried about using drones in a war zone. My problem is that there is a war zone in the first place.

    Drone strikes in heavily populated areas are a real problem. I have less problem with targeting a high value target in a vehicle on a desert road.

    As for accuracy, they have that down to about a meter or less with most ordnance; however, things can go wrong and the thing can miss. In WW-II, if a bomb crew flying at 30,000 feet could get their bomb load within six miles of a target, they were doing pretty good.

    The real solution is to declare victory, turn security over to the local government and leave. They can have whatever kind of government they want and are willing to tolerate. A friend of mine is a psychiatrist, a Muslim and a really smart guy who was born and raised in the middle east. My daughter asked him one day why they cannot just sit down and talk out their problems. He told her that is not going to happen, because fighting among themselves is a way of life in that part of the world and has been going on for two or three thousand years. The US and its allies are not going to make them change in a single generation or two. He told her that change is going to have to come from within, and he is not hopeful about that. Staying there until, or through, 2014 is not going to make one whit of difference in the security picture. There will just be more dead and injured American troops.

    Bring them home. Now. It is time. It is past time.

  8. Why are we not calling this what it is? IT IS MURDER.
    Even if we where in a declared war with Pakistan, this would be murder.
    I never though I would see the day where the rule of law slowly slipped out of our grasp only to be replaced by the law of the jungle.

  9. Let us not forget about the use of domestic drones in this country.

    Domestic Drones

    U.S. law enforcement is greatly expanding its use of domestic drones for surveillance. Routine aerial surveillance would profoundly change the character of public life in America. Rules must be put in place to ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of this new technology without bringing us closer to a “surveillance society” in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the government. Drone manufacturers are also considering offering police the option of arming these remote-controlled aircraft with (nonlethal for now) weapons like rubber bullets, Tasers, and tear gas.

    Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to change airspace rules to make it much easier for police nationwide to use domestic drones, but the law does not include badly needed privacy protections. The ACLU recommends the following safeguards:

    USAGE LIMITS: Drones should be deployed by law enforcement only with a warrant, in an emergency, or when there are specific and articulable grounds to believe that the drone will collect evidence relating to a specific criminal act.

    DATA RETENTION: Images should be retained only when there is reasonable suspicion that they contain evidence of a crime or are relevant to an ongoing investigation or trial.

    POLICY: Usage policy on domestic drones should be decided by the public’s representatives, not by police departments, and the policies should be clear, written, and open to the public.

    ABUSE PREVENTION & ACCOUNTABILITY: Use of domestic drones should be subject to open audits and proper oversight to prevent misuse.

    WEAPONS: Domestic drones should not be equipped with lethal or non-lethal weapons.

  10. I suppose if we had a more willing partner with Pakistan actually cleaning up its act and taking responsibiity in ending the Terrorist residency problem in their country the drone strikes would not be as many.

    But what can we expect when the West’s public enemy #1, Bin Laden, was found 1 mile away from one of Pakistan’s most prestigious military academies hiding out. I don’t beleive the suggestion the ISI had no knowledge of this prior to the US raid there.

    I don’t know what an acceptable alternative to the drone strike would be. A general airstrike is out of the question, sending in an assasination team would be very risky to US personnel and getting Pakistan to go in an get them is not likely to happen every time.

  11. Exclusive: PowerPoint Shows Drone Industry’s Lobbying Plan To Expand Over Domestic, Law Enforcement Markets
    By Lee Fang

    Drones are mainly associated with the Predator airships that patrol the Afghanistan sky. But thanks to a bipartisan vote last week, the public can expect 30,000 domestic drones flying over the United States in the next eight years.

    The dramatic change in policy, which has raised concerns with everyone from civil liberties groups like the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation to the pilot association and the Independent Institute, as well as conservative think tanks, occurred thanks to an aggressive and well-organized effort by drone makers and their lobbyists.

    Yesterday, we reported how the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVS), a drone trade group, actually doubled its recent lobbying expenses. Today, we report on a PowerPoint presentation put together by top AUVS lobbyists Michael Toscano, Mario Mairena, and Ben Gielow. The lobby group — which maintains an official partnership in Congress with Reps. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and dozens of other lawmakers — was the driving force behind the domestic drone decision passed last week. In the presentation obtained by Republic Report, there are several fascinating concerns raised by the lobbyists:

    – Page 5: Drone lobbyists claimed access to airspace and “Global Conflict – particularly U.S. and allied nation involvement in future conflicts” will “either positively or negatively” influence “market growth” for the industry.

    – Page 6: The drone lobbyists take full credit for authoring the expansion of domestic drone use codified in the FAA authorization bill passed last week, noting “the only changes made to the UAS section of the House FAA bill were made at the request of AUVSI. Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word.”

    – Pages 10-12: The drone industry eagerly anticipates that civil drone use, including use of drones for “suspect tracking” by law enforcement, will soon eclipse military use of drones. Under a section called “Challenges facing UAS,” the lobbyists listed “Civil Liberties.”

  12. Elaine, Domestic drones MAY be a problem. However, the ACLU has shown that the amount of electonic/telephonic surveillance has grown exponentially since Obama took office. Even Nixon would blush @ the numbers. That’s not a potential problem, it is a clear and present danger.

  13. SWM, Being an introvert I too hate noise. Presuming you live in an urban area the helicopters are not CIA, most likely news or police. I can tell you helicopters can be invaluable in catching bad guys. Annoying noise..yes. Frightening, come on!

  14. VIDEO: See What Armed Domestic Drones Look Like
    By Josh Bell, ACLU

    A big worry about U.S. law enforcement’s expanding use of drones is the lack of rules protecting from privacy violations. But drone manufacturers are also considering offering police the option of arming these remote controlled aircraft with non-lethal (for now) weapons like rubber bullets, Tasers, and tear gas.

    As ACLU attorney Catherine Crump puts it, “There’s a big difference between an individual officer on the ground deciding to use force and a drone operator making the same decision. The individual officer is there. He has a nuanced grasp of the situation. A drone officer doesn’t have that same immediate sense of what’s at stake.”

  15. Darren, We sent in a team to the aforementioned garrison city to get Bin Laden w/ limited collateral damage and reportedly no US casualties. Dangerous..hell yes. But, we got the SOB and we got some good intelligence.

  16. Elaine,

    Unfortunately people support even invasive things until they are the victims of the invasion of things they take for granted….. Until then you can’t convince them their views are questionable……

  17. Congress must rein in military drones
    By L. Michael Hager, co-founder and former director general, International Development Law Organization, Rome, Italy. – 09/28/12

    Beyond the immediate death and destruction of the drone attacks is the constant fear that 24/7 drone surveillance creates among the villagers in North Waziristan. As one of the residents told report interviewers “Strikes are always on our minds. That is why people don’t go out to schools, because they are afraid that they may be the next ones to be hit.” According to the report, “Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women and children, giving rise to anxieties among civilian communities.” Not surprisingly, the report later concludes that drone attacks help terrorist groups attract new recruits.

    The LUD questions the legality of the drone strikes. Unless the Pakistani government has consented (doubtful based on current evidence), they clearly violate national sovereignty. Nor would a claim of self-defense satisfy international law standards under Article 51 of the UN Charter, which requires “armed attack” for such justification. If the actions qualify as “armed conflict,” they would run afoul several provisions of the international humanitarian law. Absent “armed conflict,” the limits of international human rights law would apply. US drone policy may also violate US domestic law, which prohibits assassination and limits executive power.

    Living Under Drones is a wake up call for Congress and the president. The LUD report says that US drone policy needs serious “rethinking.” Americans alarmed by the targeted killings (akin to actions of a mob hit squad) and the collateral deaths, injuries and property losses suffered by innocent civilians, would go further. Congress should prohibit CIA deployment of drones in civilian areas and fix standards for drone use that comply with both international and domestic law.

  18. AY,

    “Unfortunately people support even invasive things until they are the victims of the invasion of things they take for granted…”

    I believe that is true of many people.

  19. Nick,

    I do not think that the WHO should be used as a CIA covert operation…….that undermines the credibility of the entire purpose….. And yes…. The WHO leaders were pretty upset that they were duped….

  20. SWM, Understood now.

    AY, I agree using the WHO was not kosher[pun somewhat intended]. However, it did help save innocent lives. This is a war and as Churchill said, “The first casualty of was is truth.”

  21. Elaine,

    This is one of the areas I miss anon nurse for….. She could give you the apparent inside skinny about these types of operations….. But you are doing a fine job…… Wonderful in fact….

  22. Drone warfare’s deadly civilian toll: a very personal view
    I was minutes from ordering a drone strike on a Taliban insurgent – until I realised I was watching an Afghan child at play
    By James Jeffrey
    19 September 2012

    I find myself caught between the need to follow the drone debate and the need to avoid unpleasant memories it stirs. I used drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – during the nadir of my military career that was an operational tour in Afghanistan. I remember cuing up a US Predator strike before deciding the computer screen wasn’t depicting a Taliban insurgent burying an improvised explosive device in the road; rather, a child playing in the dirt.

    After returning from Afghanistan at the end of 2009, I left the British army in 2010. I wanted to put as much distance as I could between myself and the UK, leaving to study in America (where I still reside). By doing so, I inadvertently placed myself in the country that is spearheading development in drone technology and use, highlighted by each report of a drone strike and the usual attendant civilian casualties.

    Political theorist Hannah Arendt described the history of warfare in the 20th century as the growing incapacity of the army to fulfil its basic function: defending the civilian population. My experiences in Afghanistan brought this issue to a head, leaving me unable to avoid the realization that my role as a soldier had changed, in Arendt’s words, from “that of protector into that of a belated and essentially futile avenger”. Our collective actions in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 were, and remain, futile vengeance – with drones the latest technological advance to empower that flawed strategy.

    Drones are becoming the preferred instruments of vengeance, and their core purpose is analogous to the changing relationship between civil society and warfare, in which the latter is conducted remotely and at a safe distance so that implementing death and murder becomes increasingly palatable.

    Hyperbole? But I was there. I sat in my camouflaged combats and I took the rules of engagement and ethical warfare classes. And frankly, I don’t buy much, if any, of it now – especially concerning drones. Their effectiveness is without question, but there’s terrible fallout from their rampant use.

    Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the west as a result of President Obama’s increased reliance on drones. When surveying the poisoned legacy left to the Iraqi people, and what will be left to the Afghan people, it’s beyond depressing to hear of the hawks circling around other theatres like Pakistan and Yemen, stoking the flames of interventionism.

    I fear the folly in which I took part will never end, and society will be irreversibly enmeshed in what George Orwell’s 1984 warned of: constant wars against the Other, in order to forge false unity and fealty to the state.

  23. The concept of “double tap” usually refers to engagements in quick succession (firing a missile, or dropping a precision guided bomb one after the other) in order to assure target destruction. Using a larger bomb could reduce the need for double-tap, but that causes more collateral damage and could be a payload issue for a UAV. The point is that the timing of a double-tap shouldn’t allow for first responders to arrive on the scene.
    There is no doubt that the UAV strategy has been hugely successful, and if it is making people nervous in Waziristan, then stop harboring terrorists; I am certain your losses will be greater if more conventional military force was applied to the neighborhood.

    It was the Obama administration that directed the FAA to make the US airspace UAV-friendly. It is definitely a bit scary to imagine being an airline passenger passing through skies populated by remote-controlled aircraft, but that seems to be the future. With respect to law enforcement, UAVs are going to be a massive enhancement to their capabilities, but at what cost to civil liberties I am not sure.

    And if you really want to get excited, think about the world as UAV technology proliferates and is put to use by military and law enforcement in “less developed” countries.

  24. One of the things that bothers me is the risk of interference with general aviation or commercial air traffic. Radio control model airplanes are limited to line of sight of the operator and a ceiling of 400 feet above ground level (AGL). Radio control model airplanes also have a weight limit, and if the hobbies has a model that goes over that limit, then there are waivers that must be obtained. All this is in the interest of safety to the operator, nearby structures and individuals.

    When a drone is operated by the military, friendly pilots in the area are vectored away from the drone, so there will be no airspace conflicts. A deputy sheriff “pilot” in the back of a mobile unit will not have that advantage. I can easily envision a news helicopter covering a car chase or hostage situation having a close encounter of the worst kind with a police drone. News helicopters are in contact with airspace control and are aware of each other. Drones are another matter.

    A drone is roughly the size of a Cessna, and hitting one would ruin your whole day. A Predator has a 47 foot wingspan, which is slightly larger than a Cessna 172, with its 36 foot wingspan. The Reaper, the second generation version of the Predator, has a 67 foot wingspan. Those being made available to the police will probably be half the size of the military version.

    I have talked to our local sheriff, and told him I believe they should have an “air force” for surveillance and other law enforcement functions that would work better by air. Helicopters are not cost effective, because they are a collection of several thousand parts that are constantly trying to fling themselves apart. Maintenance and operation of helicopters is expensive. I have suggested to local law enforcement they should consider using fixed wing aircraft for such purposes. The aircraft in the video below can be had for a little more than $50,000, which is not much more than one fully equipped patrol car. Maintenance is cheap, and a full annual inspection on this aircraft can be done in four or five hours, instead of four or five days. An aircraft that can fly 20 MPH would be as useful as a helicopter for law enforcement and safer for the public than a drone. This aircraft is a copy of the German Fiesler Storch, designed as an observation and liaison aircraft back in 1936. Visibility is fantastic. Top speed is around 100 MPH, and stalls at 16 MPH. In an emergency it could actually land safely in a space as small as a tennis court.

    This is not the only slow takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft available. This is just one of the most efficient ones with the best visibility for the crew.

  25. Not sure what happened, but the video above is another STOL aircraft, a Maule, which many pilots use as bush planes for obvious reasons. Let’s try again and see if this gets the Storch.

  26. OK, I see what happened. It was one video in a queue, and the code picked up the next video. Trying a third time. This should do it.

  27. As a member of a Human Rights group I have been disgusted with the media’s silence on this issue. Even the Human Rights groups in the US have been slow on reacting against this because they of course were initially ‘in love’ with Pres. Obama.
    I still can’t believe that our president was given the Nobel Peace Price. I have stopped to respect the committee who nominates the winner for this price almost to the point where I feel it’s a waste of time and money but then again, some on whom this prize was bestowed were fabulous and courageous human beings. There is much more that Pres. Obama does which goes under the radar which would have prompted howls from the left had it been under former Pres. Bush, like the detention of the Afghan prisoners in Parwan, Afghanistan.

  28. US troops in Afghanistan to get personal, portable killer drones
    Two-foot-long Switchblade designed to be simple to carry, fly use send to self-destructive attack
    By Kevin Fogarty
    June 15, 2012

    This summer the Pentagon will send test samples of yet another generation of killer drones to Afghanistan – in the backpacks of U.S. soldiers.

    The Army will ship about 50 of the new, Switchblade mini-UAVs to Afghanistan during the next month or so, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    The Army will put the new drones in the hands of front-line U.S. special-forces units to give them a way to get a bird’s-eye-view of the battlefield, and attack snipers or other specific threats by diving on them and setting off the small warhead it carries.

    Switchblade is a precision-strike weapon that poses far less of a risk to civilians that strikes from Predator or Global Hawk drones, which carry 100-pound, laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound bombs, according to William I. Nichols, who headed the Army’s Switchblade development project at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala., according to the LAT.

    The Pentagon is under orders to avoid civilian casualties from drone strikes, that have become a larger military and political problem for the White House, which has had to defend them against complaints from Pakistan and from anti-war groups.

    However, Switchblade’s greater value may be to ground troops, who chronically complain that the Air Force provides inadequate air cover for firefights on the ground.

    Air Force pilots who fly the drones that now make up a third of the U.S. military aircraft in Afghanistan tend to focus more on their own intelligence-gathering and strike missions than on supporting troops on the ground, as some U.S. troops have complained.

  29. Just arriving, I’ll bypass all the comments and say thank you Nal for a measured dose of vital information. Especially for those who wonder why we are so hated in the muslim world. Every casualty has millions of brothers and sisters as they see it.

    Let me ask a military question, just to then pose a possbile answer, which might make the use of the GBU clearer.

    A blast radius is defined as that which the weapon employed can kill or maim to the point of later death of 90 per cent of the people within that radius.
    Then imagine yourself standing 2 football field and end zones from the point of impact. You are dead, effectively so. Does this seem a reasonable weapon to use in civilian areas?
    If my figures are wrong, corrections are welcome.
    It’s been 55 years since I threw a standard grenade.

  30. Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control (2012). OR Books. ISBN 978-1-935928-81-2 [22]

    This is a book written by Medea Benjamin, a member of code pink. I saw her speak of it on C-span. Scary, Scary.

  31. idealist707, I’m pretty sure the effectiveness of our military technology is not the basis for why we are hated within the Muslim world, but with respect to your military question:
    I believe we are talking about the GBU-12, which is essentially the old Mk-82 500lb bomb fitted with a kit that allows it to be guided, albeit unpowered, to a laser designated target. I am not sure where your blast radius information comes from because it is very difficult to get simply because of how to define it (where the bomb is used, altitude of detonation, and other factors). The lethality of this bomb is best derived from overpressure created by the concussion, and that range is certainly far less than two football fields. It is reasonable to presume that some shrapnel from the bomb, or debris from the target, will be distributed two football fields away but, unlike a grenade, this bomb is not designed to maximize maiming via fragmentation.
    The use of the GBU-12 would be whenever a target is in a building because the mass and acceleration of the bomb will crash through the structure and explode likely killing all in the modest sized structure from the overpressure.
    If the target is outside walking around or in a vehicle, then the right weapon choice is the Hellfire, which has a much smaller warhead.


    “Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represents families of civilians killed in U.S. drone strikes, was finally granted a visa to enter the U.S. this week after a long effort by the State Department to block his visit. He has just arrived in Washington, D.C., to attend the “Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control,” organized by human rights groups to call attention to the lethal rise in the number of drone strikes under the Obama administration. Obama argues U.S. drone strikes are focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists and have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. “Either President Obama is lying to the nation, or he is too naive, to believe on the reports which CIA is presenting to [him],” responds Akbar. The summit comes as the United States pursues a radical expansion of how it carries out drone strikes inside Yemen. The so-called “signature” strike policy went into effect earlier this month, allowing the U.S. to strike without knowing the identity of targets.

    We’re also joined by Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and an organizer of this weekend’s summit. “So many people who spoke out against George [W.] Bush’s extraordinary rendition and Guantánamo and indefinite detention have been very quiet when it comes to the Obama administration, who is not putting people in those same kind of conditions, instead is just taking them out and killing them,” Benjamin says. “So we need to make people speak up and say that when Obama says this [program] is on a tight leash, this is not true, this is a lie.” [includes rush transcript]”

  33. Crisis Management,

    The blast radius is given by NAL. Maybe he can answer the question.
    As to interpreting what a blast radius IS, my military
    education is from pre-1962.
    On consideration it would seem odd to use a concussion bomb against essentially personne. Cluster bombs would seem a better choice, and many more could be carried to attack many more targets. To put it in military-ese:
    You don’t have to blow them apart, just make them bleed heavily.
    Thanks for your views. On the other point, that is just my opinion, no more. Yours is as welcome as mine is.

  34. Expanding on the comment by Crisis Management just above, the AGM-114 Hellfire missile is only seven inches in diameter and five feet long. It weighs about 100 pounds, most of that being rocket propellant. The warhead is 20 pounds of explosive. That is about enough to take out a truck or automobile, but not enough to knock down a building. If it flies through a window or doorway, it will take out whoever or whatever is in that room, but adjacent rooms are likely to be undamaged. It has a maximum flight speed of about 940 MPH and a range of just over 500 yards.

    Ideal use of the AGM-114 Hellfire is to take out small targets, such as insurgents planting IEDs in a roadway, or vehicles. It is not useful on large targets at all–it has a very small blast radius. A 500 pound GBU-12 guided bomb is big enough to flatten the average size house, but will not take out a whole neighborhood.

    Just wanted to clear up any technical questions people might have.

  35. It hit me!!!!! The 500 pound bomb is not appropriate in the use which it is claimed to be employed.

    That simply is a sham. The real purpose of the bomb is to terrorize the people who survive.

    A 500 pound bomb, correct me if I am wrong, is effective in taking down multi-story modern buildings. It is not an anti-personell weapon as described here. If it does not deliever fragments it is worthless.

    The basic law of physics says that the effect decreases as the radius squared, ie very rapidly from a concussion.

    But they are effective noise-makers, thus terror machines.

  36. Nal’s story talks about the Hellfire being antipersonnel. That is what it is designed for. Using a 500 pound bomb is a waste of ordnance for anti-personnel unless it is the last round in the chamber and the target is about to get away. If the GBU-12 is set for airburst, it can take out a crowd, but is way too big for most anti-personnel use. The much smaller Hellfire is the preferred weapon for anti-personnel strikes.

    Close air support for troops is more effective with a chain gun than bombs or missiles.

  37. “The Obama administration is using Bush-style tactics to cover up the killing of women and children.”

    The only nit that I could pick off the body of your post was the above notion that these are Bush-style tactics; the drones and tactics are now fully owned by O-Bomb-a and at an unprecedented level of use.

  38. The NYU/Stanford study also reports on Obama’s despicable use of the “double tap”:
    Are you going to do it or not? Get out of that part of the world and stay out. Don’t give them any money. They can’t drink their oil.

  39. Expanding CIA Drone Strikes Will Likely Mean More Dead Innocents
    APR 19 2012

    An eye-opening report published last November in the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Obama Administration was permitting the CIA to kill people in Pakistan without even knowing who they were: “Signature strikes target groups of men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren’t always known. The bulk of CIA’s drone strikes are signature strikes.” As I noted at the time, this is the same CIA that is known to have jailed innocent people, subjecting them to harsh interrogation tactics and years of wrongful imprisonment. Despite those errors, and the CIA’s lack of transparency and accountability, the Obama Administration loosed it in Pakistan, where we’ve killed lots of innocent people. And while it’s been operating in Yemen for some time, the CIA now wants official permission to kill people whose identities it can’t confirm in that country either.

    Is President Obama going to agree? “If approved, the change would probably accelerate a campaign of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen that is already on a record pace, with at least eight attacks in the past four months,” The Washington Post reports. “For President Obama, an endorsement of signature strikes would mean a significant, and potentially risky, policy shift. The administration has placed tight limits on drone operations in Yemen to avoid being drawn into an often murky regional conflict and risk turning militants with local agendas into al-Qaeda recruits.”

    It’s worth pausing at that line about the “tight limits” on current drone operations in Yemen. Here’s how Jeremy Scahill, who reported on the ground there, described the reality of American policy:

    “For years, the elite Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA had teams deployed inside Yemen that supported Yemeni forces and conducted unilateral operations, consisting mostly of cruise missile and drone attacks. Some of the unilateral strikes have killed their intended targets, such as the CIA attack on Awlaki. But others have killed civilians–at times, a lot of civilians. And many of these have been in Abyan and its neighboring province of Shebwa, both of which have recently seen a substantial rise of AQAP activity. President Obama’s first known authorization of a missile strike on Yemen, on December 17, 2009, killed more than forty Bedouins, many of them women and children, in the remote village of al Majala in Abyan. Another US strike, in May 2010, killed an important tribal leader and the deputy governor of Marib province, Jabir Shabwani, sparking mass anger at the United States…

    “The October drone strike that killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, a US citizen, and his teenage cousin shocked and enraged Yemenis of all political stripes. “I firmly believe that the [military] operations implemented by the US performed a great service for Al Qaeda, because those operations gave Al Qaeda unprecedented local sympathy,” says Jamal, the Yemeni journalist. The strikes “have recruited thousands.” Yemeni tribesmen, he says, share one common goal with Al Qaeda, “which is revenge against the Americans, because those who were killed are the sons of the tribesmen, and the tribesmen never, ever give up on revenge.” Even senior officials of the Saleh regime recognize the damage the strikes have caused.”

  40. Not to overdue the weapon of choice question, BUT:

    Cluster bombs were to be banned. Did you accept and withdraw them from use?

    Chain guns: How can they be targeted by remote control.
    The travel time from Afghan to USA via satellite is long enough to make remote targeting difficult.

    Doubt if the drones themselves are sufficiently agile for tactical use for the same reason. No opinion of the the aeronautic.

    PS That Storch was fantastic. You’d have to tie it down to keep it from lifting in a good headwind on the tennis court.

  41. Chain guns are attached to A–10 Warthogs and Apache helicopters. If I am pinned down in a ditch with close range incoming fire, I want a Warthog or Apache that can lay down a field of fire at close range. Something with a real human butt in the front seat, not a drone.

  42. You can see the laser designator illuminating the sniper so the A-10 pilot can see it. The rounds are traveling at three times the speed of sound, so you see the target “light up” before you hear the roar of the Gatling gun.

  43. idealist707 1, September 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I think the cluster bombs are really good. One cluster bomb will kill everybody within the size of a football field.
    Chain guns: How can they be targeted by remote control.

    The computers do it. Give me an A-10 Warthog. I wasn’t in the Air Force.
    The travel time from Afghan to USA via satellite is long enough to make remote targeting difficult.

    Not really.
    Doubt if the drones themselves are sufficiently agile for tactical use for the same reason. No opinion of the the aeronautic.

    Tell all the Taliban and Al Quedo shi*heads who have already been killed. Who gets to be fish food?
    PS That Storch was fantastic. You’d have to tie it down to keep it from lifting in a good headwind on the tennis court.

    The Stork only does the delivery. Somebody else has to do the rest.

  44. I am not a pilot, but I know what I call a control loop is in terms of the time between event to reaching the command function and back to the effectuation process, be it air surface control or munition firing.

    I presume the ground troops had IR detection stuff.
    Or maybe night glasses would suffice.

    Thanks. No comment needed.

  45. I notice that a few posters mentioned congress has agreed to this but it seems to be a point essentially overlooked. I am afraid the professor, and others, have become so anti_Obama that any other entity or person also responsible just goes by the wayside.

  46. ID707: “On consideration it would seem odd to use a concussion bomb against essentially personne. Cluster bombs would seem a better choice, and many more could be carried to attack many more targets. To put it in military-ese:
    You don’t have to blow them apart, just make them bleed heavily.”

    Srsly, cluster bombs? Srsly? Disgusting suggestion.

    The US hasn’t signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions so I suppose it is still an option for the US. Earlier this year I was watching a cooking program and the host visited Vietnam. He was in the countryside having lunch with a farm family. Dad only had one foot. The other was lost to a cluster bomb-let in his field. They’re still a problem in Vietnam and other countries long after the conflict has ended.

  47. Has the Nobel committee ever demanded the return of one of its prizes? If not it might be a good time to start.
    A print article regarding the Montgomery County police highlighted in the vid Elaine posted at 11:51:

    “Texas county police buys drone that can carry weapons
    Published 31 October 2011

    The police in Montgomery County — and area north of Houston, Texas — is the first local police in the United States to deploy a drone that can carry weapons; the police says it will be used in chases of escaping criminals and tracking drug shipments …. The drone was purchased with a $300,000 grant from DHS.”

    “The drone was purchased with a $300,000 grant from DHS.”

    Various govt. agencies offer grants to local police to buy military level equipment as well as having programs to sell used military equipment and material to local police. That includes APCs, various specialized trucks, boats, electronic equipment and aircraft. I went looking for a link to the site listing equipment availability which I had posted a while ago in another discussion) and kept running into a newly consolidated DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) site (Aug. of this year inception) that contained- or appeared to contain- the info I wanted. You needed to open an account to get in past the splash pages. No thanks. Suffice it to say, the Feds want the locals militarized to the teeth.

  48. Leejcaroll, Good point. I am unable to post an appropriate response regarding Congress, something to do with banned words, but Elaine at 11:36 did post an article link and excerpt regarding Congress allowing drone industry lobbyists to write the new rules regarding use of domestic airspace which should expand drone use significantly in the next few years:

    “Exclusive: PowerPoint Shows Drone Industry’s Lobbying Plan To Expand Over Domestic, Law Enforcement Markets”

    That’s domestic policy and Congress seems ready and willing to roll over whenever a lobbyist commands, whore is a word that comes to mind but it tends to denigrate hardworking sex workers by comparison. As to foreign policy, specifically anything to do with wars, the war on terror(tm), exploding things, killing people etc. etc. Congress totally ceded its authority to the Executive long ago; that side into the abyss started with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. These days the Executive acts and Congress just nods “OK” with or without any grandstanding. The lobby’s that own Congress like war, it’s a moneymaker.

  49. Have to wonder what Mitt will owe Adelson if he was to win the WH.
    Seems like war one of the biggest moneymaker, just ask Cheney ):

  50. Elaine Asked:


    Would you support the use of drone strikes against American terrorists like Timothy McVeigh?

    There is not the same circumstances with regard to taking out terrorists in a semi-hostile foreign country and those within our own. More conventional police / LE measures will work just as well.

    That said, if we had to take out McVeigh before he detonated a truck of explosives in a crowded building, and that involved some rather unusual methods, sometimes there are rare circumstances where one could say it is better to look the other way and take out a terrorist than to just allow him to murder 180 people or more. And yes, we are both aware this can lead to some rather bad things in gov’t if this was allowed to continue.

    Here is another situation. You might all remember back in 1995 when a man stole a Patton Tank and went on a rampage destroying many vehicles in its path and miraculously did not kill anyone inside. Police were not equipped to stop the tank. It was only that it became high-centered on a Jersey Barrier before LEOs could climb up and stopped him. I know from someone I am acquainted with who was a LEO down there the brass was within a few minutes of calling in the military to take the tank out, and that likely would have been in the form of a helicopter fired missle. I can say if the tank had not been stopped, the chances for many deaths were a certainty. This is one situation where it could be considered necessary.

  51. LottaKatz,

    I agree it is a disgusting weapon, but my words were not said as a suggestion. Why do you assume so. I was speaking with my military ordnance knowledge and the principals of war as regulated by the Geneva convention.
    Are you familiar with the one I was implicitly referring to. The restriction says that the purpose of military action is to cause such damage that the enemy combatant has to be removed from his the battlefield and thus is no longer available to fight. The purpose is NOT to kill, nor to maim per se. So much for principals.
    Thanks for the info on their use in VietNam, didn’t know they were available so early.

    I have worn many hats in my life, one as an Army officer on two years active service in a techical capacity. My job was not to kill but received basic info on the mission of the Army etc. Cluster bombs is one of these devilish weapons, devilish in that many unexploded capsules remain which can wound women and children who enter an area after the explosion.

    Let us look at white phosporous artillery shells. They were used in the latest armed attacks on Gasa, leaving the question of “guilt” aside. In modern form they can be set to explode at differnt heights in the air above humans, civilian as in Gaza or soldiers. They can be used singly as markers to guided other attacking delivery systems, etc. In the Gaza case, it caused terrible burns in children and other civilians. Phosphorous burns, eating into the flesh and bone. Quenching and removal is very difficult. The white phosphorous wss used by the Israelis, and in my opinion were a reason that Israel lost moral ground and some international support from populations earlier in their favor, in that long term conflict.

  52. LottaKatz,

    I would support the retraction of the Nobel Peace Prize from Obama, if the agreed conditions of allow such a retraction and return of such a prize.
    Premature awards are often the case in the Peace Prizes history. One example was the Award to Arafat and Rubin (?), and possibly the former prime minister (socialist/labor).

    Knut Hamsum, litterature winner, was a subject of retraction. Whether it was or not I do not know. But Wiki knows. He had been a supporter of the Nazis, along with the infamous one who gave us a new word: Quisling.

    I write this as general info and hope that those who read will check better sources. I offer them of course when I have them.

  53. That is a question using the sarcasm and irony I love.
    Welcome back. Hope it was nothing serious that kept you away Michael Murry.

    I would also suggest a standdown of the drone attacks. No more aid to the Pakisanis until they go in and use an old and also modern technique to quelch the Taliban supporters. One prime minister there used it against resistance on the SW frontier successfully. What? Kill the sources of food. In Baluchistan they were nomadic animal holders.

    I won’t mention the starvings we caused in Iraq.

    Inhumane?? Damn right. But it did not stop us from using it. Nor the Pakistanis either.

    Personally, I think Obama and the general officers who devised the Surge strategy should be held accountable.
    Our surge troops hide in the very province of Helmand that they were sent to control—unable or unwilling to do their job.
    I suspect that it is an ordered stand down due to the bad publicity and election effects from the continued American casualities.

    On the whole, the Surge is a failure according to their own official stats. Taliban initiated attacks and IED explosions are up 30 percent since the Surge started.

    Whoopee, let’s have a new surge. All in all, we’ve got more contractors there than troops. Great profits. Who said that war is hell? He was and is right.

    It is HELLacious profitable.

  54. Jeremy Scahill Says Obama Strikes In Yemen Constitute ‘Murder’
    By Benjamin Hart
    Posted: 06/03/2012

    Weighing in on President Obama’s targeted drone strikes in the Middle East, journalist Jeremy Scahill did not mince words.

    During his appearance on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” Saturday morning, Scahill repeatedly said that such attacks, when they killed innocent civilians, amounted to “murder.”

    Asked by Hayes why he would use such a “loaded” word to describe the strikes, Scahill responded at length.

    “If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of innocent people in a shopping mall, they’ve murdered those people. When the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of a green light to drop missiles on people or to send in AC130s to spray them down…”

    “But that wasn’t the case here,” interrupted retired colonel Jack Jacobs. “You’re talking about a targeted person here.” Scahill continued:

    “If you go to the village of Al-Majalah in Yemen, where I was, and you see the unexploded clusterbombs and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do–the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen–those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from Al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to Al Qaeda there. And 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike and the U.S. tried to cover it up, and say it was a Yemeni strike, and we know from the Wikileaks cables that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder–it’s mass murder–when you say, ‘We are going to bomb this area’ because we believe a terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I’m sorry, that’s murder.”

  55. “Sphere of influence”. That term no longer has currency. One might argue that the Stan “countries”, and I am not talking about Stan Musial, needs some oversight. The same can be said for the Arab and Persian so called “countries”. A quantum of land which is not controlled by civilized people with an army and police force sufficient to quell pirates and terrorists (same thing with different goals) cannot be termed a “country”. When the Soviet Union invaded and somewhat controlled Afghanistan the United States made a stupid decision to oppose that. The Stan quantums of land are adjacent to Russia. They are more familiar with the land, mountains, streams, and dreams of the inhabitants. Perhaps no military or civil organization can civilize some of the tribes. America’s main agenda should be to keep muslims with box cutters from boarding airplanes that can crash into buildings in America. Russia perhaps has a similar agenda. Thirty years ago America recruited the likes of al Zawari (sp) and other Egyptians and Saudis to go organize with other Muslim Brotherhood hoods to throw the Soviets out of Afghanistan. When the Soviets left there was a void.

    We helped create the Taliban and al qaeda. Least you forgetful guys like Turley and fellow commenters forget. Now Bush I and Bush II put us into two Stan quantums of land which none dare call “countries” or be called dumb and dumber. Obama inherits this and is extricating. He should have learned the phrase back when Nixon was President: Dick, pull out now, like your father should have.

    I harken back to the days when the Soviets had some control in Afghanistan and even made secular forays such as allowing women into professions there. We did not have Muslim Brotherhood guys getting on planes with box cutters trying to hijack the plane and crash it into New York. A drone is a bad way to control the Taliban and al qaeda and it wont solve much except keep some of the tentheads guessing and some of them wondering why they are dead and there is no nirvana.

    There is one message from this dog. Obama, pull out now like your predecessors should have. Let others wallow in Watergate.

  56. The censorship on this blog needs to be addressed. Why employ the word “moderation”? What is profane about b, i , t , c, h? or b, a , s, t, a, r, d? One is a female dog and one is a dog without a father or a father to be named later? Better to censor really crude words like Cheney. There is a dog here on this blog from my dogpack who had to change the pellingSpay of her name to pig latin in order to get her name printed. Free speech my ssaY

  57. Nal,

    You’re welcome.


    Jeremy Scahill: US Has Become ‘Nation of Assassins’
    US Peace conference puts face to drone victims
    – Common Dreams staff
    April 30, 2012

    International law experts, peace activists, journalists and human rights advocates from around the world gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to inform the American public about US drone policy and the impact it is having on human populations throughout the world.

    Peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights hosted the first International Drone Summit as a way to build an organizing strategy against the growing use of drones, call an end to airstrikes that kill innocent civilians, and to prevent the potentially widespread misuse both overseas and in the United States.

    “Drone victims are not just figures on a piece of paper, they are real people and that’s why it is important to see what happens on the ground when a missile hits a target,” said Pakistani attorney Shahzad Akbar, according to the Pakistani newspaper DAWN. “We have to see what exactly is happening on the ground, what is happening to the people,” he told the Washington conference.

    During his speech, journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has done in-depth reporting on the US drone program in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, questioned the Obama Administration’s policy of assassination. “What is happening to this country right now?” asked Scahill after noting that recent legislation in the US Congress opposing the assassination of US citizens abroad without due process received only six votes in the House of Representatives. “We have become a nation of assassins. We have become a nation that is somehow silent in the face of — or embraces, as polls indicate — the idea that assassination should be one of the centerpieces of US foreign policy. How dangerous is this? It’s a throwback to another era — an era that I think many Americans thought was behind them. And the most dangerous part of this is the complicity of ordinary people in it.”

    Scahill was emphatic in his talk that the drone and assassination programs have received wide bi-partisan support and lamented those in the US who ceased to voice their concern over such policies as soon as President Bush left office. “President Obama has shown us in a very clear way that when it comes to the premiere national security policy of this nation, there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.”

  58. Peace conference puts face to drone victims
    Anwar Iqbal | 30th April, 2012

    WASHINGTON: Drone victims are not just figures on a piece of paper, they are real people and that’s why it is important to see what happens on the ground when a missile hits a target, argues Pakistani attorney Shahzad Akbar.

    “We have to see what exactly is happening on the ground, what is happening to the people,” he told a Washington conference on drones.

    “We apologise to the people of Pakistan for the strikes that have killed so many civilians,” said Nancy Maneiar, a peace activist associated with the US-based, anti-war Code Pink Group.

    “The CIA needs to be held accountable for their strikes.”

    “Those who order a drone strike act at once “as prosecutors, judges, jury and executioners,” said journalist Jeremy Scahill who recently travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to observe the consequences of the drone war.

    “This is lawless activity that the US is indulging in around the world,” he said.

    “War on terror is an oxymoron. How can you end terrorism by spreading terror via horrific remote control killing machines,” said Dr Amna Buttar, a PPP MPA from Punjab.

    “All 190 million people are the victims of this remote-controlled war.”

    They were among two dozen peace activists, lawyers, journalists and retired military officials attending a two-day conference, which began in Washington on Saturday.

    International peace groups had to lobby hard for Akbar to attend the conference as the US government delayed his visa application for 14 months because he has sued the CIA over drone strikes in Pakistan.

    Akbar told an audience of about 300 people from across the United States that it was important to put faces on the drone victims; otherwise people will not understand their plight.

    “They feel this imminent threat of being attacked from the sky. And they feel helpless because they have no other place to relocate. Many have no skills, no education, so they cannot relocate to other parts of Pakistan,” he said. Advocate Akbar showed a photo of a teenager named Saadullah, who was helping his mother in the kitchen when a drone hit their home in Fata in 2009. He woke up in a hospital three days later without his legs.

    Sanaullah, a 17-year-old pre-engineering student, burned alive in his car during another strike in 2010.

    Akbar also showed photos of the Bismillah family: mother, father, a daughter and a son, all killed in a drone strike.

    Other speakers noted that US drone strikes in Pakistan had also killed 168 children. They quoted from recent surveys suggesting the number of ordinary people killed could be 40 per cent higher than previously reported.

    US officials, however, have rejected such studies as “exaggerated”, and said the “the claims of extensive non-combatant casualties are uncorroborated”.

    The “Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control,” organised by American human rights groups, noted that there had been a lethal rise in the number of drone strikes under the Obama administration.

    President Obama argues that drone strikes are focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists and have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.

    Supporters of drone warfare say the drone technology is an accurate and less expensive weapon that minimises risks to US troops and protects America by killing terrorists.

    Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director of Reprieve, an organisation that helped secure the release of 65 prisoners from notorious Guantanamo Bay, also highlighted this point.

    “We can kill people without any risk to ourselves and that’s why the politicians like it,” said Smith while addressing the drone conference.

  59. The Drone Summit and Why the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner Wasn’t Funny
    Loren Fogel
    May 7, 2012

    As Washington and Hollywood celebrities were busy getting ready for an evening of glamour and amusement at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, across town human rights and peace advocates, along with the family members of individuals who have been killed in US drone attacks, gathered to discuss the Obama Administration’s policies of targeted killing at the first International Drone Summit.

    The event was organized by CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Reprieve, and facilitated by Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of CODEPINK and the author of a new book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

    Panelists and audience members alike spoke of the need for transparency and official acknowledgement of what the CIA is and has been doing in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

    One never sees any images of drone victims in the American mainstream media—but Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of Reprieve, which co-organized the Summit, showed the audience pictures of children who had been killed alongside images of missile parts from the weapons that took their lives. He asked, “How can we get people to pay attention?”

    Chris Woods, a senior reporter with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and a leader of the Bureau’s covert war investigation team, offered a PowerPoint presentation challenging the Obama Administration and CIA’s unwillingness to acknowledge that there have been civilian casualties. According to TBIJ’s reporting, between 2004 and 2012, the CIA launched 321 drone strikes in Pakistan, 269 of which were carried out under President Obama’s command. Between 2,429 and 3,097 people have been killed in these drone strikes, including 479 to 811 civilians and 174 children.

    The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill had audience members riveted by his passion, depth of knowledge, and understanding of shadowy covert affairs. He said, “We need to disavow ourselves of any notion that this [targeted killing] policy is markedly different than that of Bush and Cheney.” He explained how the U.S. killed American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, and said, “This is lawless activity that the United States is engaged in around the world. It goes up against every fiber that the Constitution is supposed to embody. Every single fiber of that document is violated in the preemptive assassination policy that this Administration is unleashing around the world.”

    Scahill also talked about Congress’ failure to carry out its oversight responsibilities, and how this allowed the CIA to wreak havoc under the cloak and dagger of covert warfare. He explained the significance of the word “persons” in the 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” (AUMF) as a clear indicator that Congress was specifically authorizing assassination policy. The AUMF says: “That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

    Scahill explained how the CIA recently asked President Obama for an “expanded mandate” to carry out “signature strikes” in Yemen and Somalia.

    He said:

    “The idea of the signature strikes is that you can develop a pattern of life, and you can study a pattern of life being engaged in by certain people in Yemen, and you can determine without knowing their identity, or knowing that they’ve had any connection to terrorism whatsoever that they are a terrorist because of how they act, because of who they associate with, and that once you develop that pattern of life, you then develop a very efficient pattern of death for those people. Which is to bring in the drones and take them out. And this is what has been going on in Pakistan, of course, for many many years now, and it’s expanding into Yemen, and Somalia has been hit multiple times with drones, but also with cruise missiles launched from the sea, and also US covert forces going into Somalia, landing and capturing people or snatching them.”

  60. ElaineM,

    I went to “up with chris hayes” and scanned the “recent videos” banner portraits at the top of the page.
    No Scahill given for September 29. No mention in the text either for 29 September.

    Any tips, please?

  61. ElaineM,

    Fixed it. It is available on HuffPost media. Link given previously. I had not gone there for verbal rehashes and/or interpretations ars less interesting than direct recordings.

    Hoping to learn more of how it all works on the media net.

  62. The IDF conscripts go to India and hashish to recuperate.
    Of course, their experiences are not quite as horrendous as our soldiers are. Can you imagine facing a fourth tour there?

    Where’s the hashish guys? Fix me up, I’m done for now.

  63. ElaineM,

    Thank you for your kindness.
    I see my error. Apparently I must read dates of publication of the items linked. Most of your links are “the latest news” so assumed this was also.
    My bad….!

    “Jeremy Scahill Says Obama Strikes In Yemen Constitute ‘Murder’
    By Benjamin Hart
    Posted: 06/03/2012

    Weighing in on President Obama’s targeted drone strikes in the Middle East, journalist Jeremy Scahill did not mince words.

    During his appearance on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” Saturday morning, Scahill repeatedly said that such attacks, when they killed innocent civilians, amounted to “murder.””

  64. SWM, thanks for the clip. Mitt seems to be happy to threaten war whenever and wherever, I guess that is what he considers ‘diplomacy’

  65. “This past Thursday was a beautiful day for a protest, both in London, England, and in San Diego, California. Fortunately for those of us who still care about peace and justice in the world — even to the point of opposing cold-blooded murder no matter who does the murdering or how far away the victim is — Veterans For Peace has become an international organization.

    General Atomics is the manufacturer of the Predator and Reaper UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) in service with the U.S. and U.K. militaries. These drones have been used in numerous attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. People targeted by these weapons are killed from above without warning and without due legal process. Numerous entirely innocent people including women and children have been killed by these weapon systems. Here’s a former British drone pilot who just admitted that he was minutes away from murdering “an insurgent” when he realized it was a little kid playing in the dirt.”

  66. “I remember cuing up a US Predator strike before deciding the computer screen wasn’t depicting a Taliban insurgent burying an improvised explosive device in the road; rather, a child playing in the dirt.”

    scroll down for pictures of drone victims, and more information both about drone murder and people who will actually stand up and say this is wrong, even though it’s not Mitt Romney, it’s Barack Obama who’s doing this killing.

  67. It is true that these drones are in US airspace. I suspect armed drones will be flying all over the place soon enough. We need to take a stand against all USGinc, wars of empire, both domestic and international.

    At a certain point, the majority of this population must honestly face what USGinc. is doing. We are the only ones who can stop it. Even if it is painful, we must look at the truth. Then we must take actions based on a principles of peace and justice. USAinc. will not stop these highly profitable wars (drones are great business) unless we the people say, “No, you may not do this way any longer”.

    I think it is interesting that Catholic nuns and atheists have been two groups in the forefront of the campaign against drones and other wars.

  68. UAVs (drones) are not being used in US airspace yet, however the Obama administration has directed the FAA to prepare the management of our skies so that they can be. Law enforcement will be the biggest user (including Coast Guard and ICE), which of courses raises 4th Amendment concerns.

    I wouldn’t be too concerned at this point about UAVs being used to engage a domestic criminal gunman; they are always very easily eliminated by a trained shooter after other means of coaxing them to a peaceful end fail.

    My biggest fear is the operator of the UAV sucking on his Coca Cola when the FAA calls for him to change his heading just as he spills his sticky drink onto the joystick and keyboard. This is also almost certainly the reason for all the unintended victims of previous drone strikes.

  69. C.M.,

    UAV’s have already been put to use domestically (see info about TX, the various political conventions etc.) There have not been any unintended victims of drone strikes. Strikes are approved by Obama on Terror Tuesdays. He knows the victims are guilty because whomever he kills is defined as a terrorist, even babies. “Innocence” has no meaning when everyone who dies is made guilty by their having died.

  70. lottakatz 1, September 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Congress totally ceded its authority to the Executive long ago; that side into the abyss started with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. These days the Executive acts and Congress just nods “OK” with or without any grandstanding. The lobby’s that own Congress like war, it’s a moneymaker.
    Indeed. LBJ didn’t have what it takes to conclude the situation himself. Nixon had to finish it, then Nixon resigned.

    Wait until the Chinese stop buying our bonds. What do you think they’re preparing for? This country better stop destroying its manufacturing base.

  71. Elaine M. 1, September 30, 2012 at 8:43 am

    “But that wasn’t the case here,” interrupted retired colonel Jack Jacobs. “You’re talking about a targeted person here.” Scahill continued:

    “If you go to the village of Al-Majalah in Yemen, where I was, and you see the unexploded clusterbombs and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do–the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen–those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from Al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to Al Qaeda there. And 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike and the U.S. tried to cover it up, and say it was a Yemeni strike, and we know from the Wikileaks cables that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder–it’s mass murder–when you say, ‘We are going to bomb this area’ because we believe a terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I’m sorry, that’s murder.”
    Stay out of that part of the world. If you want to buy their oil, apparently you have to kill them. That includes women and children. Stop buying their oil. Leave them to rot. They have nothing without oil.

  72. I hear too many people waffling on this most important issue and kudos to those who haven’t. I would suggest that those who think this policy is a useful one read Esquire’s article. It is long and a bit jumbled, but it is also an intellectually measured indictment. I have had lots of reactions from Liberals and Dems that lead to understanding them as unwilling to face reality if it criticizes Obama. The link:

  73. DifferentDog-

    Regarding your complaint about censorship here (Sept.30,,9:04 am), you said,”Better to censor really crude words like Cheney”. I agree. I recently wrote a comment on a Yahoo! News story and mentioned Dick Cheney. Yahoo! News censored the word “Dick”. I thought that was hilarious.

  74. Matt Johnso

    You said,”Wait until the Chinese stop buying our bonds. What do you think they’re preparing for? This country better stop destroying its manufacturing base.”

    I have often thought that if we ever go to war with China, we would need to declare a truce periodically so the war-monger industries could take delivery of cheap Chinese parts for the planes, guns, humvees, plastic handcuffs, black hoods, water boards, and other war materials they make. They have to keep their profit margins up, don’tcha know. They’re the job creators, don’tcha know. They have to take care of our brave boys overseas, don’tcha know. It’s their patriotic duty, don’tcha know.

  75. “Why I’m Going to Pakistan: Under Scrutiny, the Drone Strike Policy Will Fall”

    Sunday, 30 September 2012 11:29 By Robert Naiman, Truthout

    “US drone strikes in Pakistan have helped turn the Pakistani public against the United States. Three quarters of Pakistanis now consider the United States to be an enemy. Only 13% of Pakistanis think relations with the U.S. have improved in recent years; four-in-ten believe that US economic and military aid is having a negative impact on Pakistan, while only about one-in-ten think the impact is positive. Only 17% back U.S. drone strikes, even if they are conducted in conjunction with the Pakistani government.”

  76. Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists

    By Greg Miller,

    This project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing. This is the first of three stories.

    Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

    The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

    Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.

    Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.

    “We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. . . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”

    It’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy, “senior Obama officials”.

  77. Hardly a self-fulfilling prophecy. The conflict is there whether or not we use precision attacks. Continue the hunt!

  78. Thanks for posting the WP article, Gene H.

    “Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent”

    “Complete with a newly coined, creepy Orwellian euphemism – ‘disposition matrix’ – the administration institutionalizes the most extremist powers a government can claim”

    by Glenn Greenwald

    The Biggest New Spying Program You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

    By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:18pm


    Glenn Greenwald (link above):

    “But even more significant is the truly radical vision of government in which this is all grounded. The core guarantee of western justice since the Magna Carta was codified in the US by the fifth amendment to the constitution: “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” You simply cannot have a free society, a worthwhile political system, without that guarantee, that constraint on the ultimate abusive state power, being honored.

    And yet what the Post is describing, what we have had for years, is a system of government that – without hyperbole – is the very antithesis of that liberty. It is literally impossible to imagine a more violent repudiation of the basic blueprint of the republic than the development of a secretive, totally unaccountable executive branch agency that simultaneously collects information about all citizens and then applies a “disposition matrix” to determine what punishment should be meted out. This is classic political dystopia brought to reality (despite how compelled such a conclusion is by these indisputable facts, many Americans will view such a claim as an exaggeration, paranoia, or worse because of this psychological dynamic I described here which leads many good passive westerners to believe that true oppression, by definition, is something that happens only elsewhere).

    In response to the Post story, Chris Hayes asked: “If you have a ‘kill list’, but the list keeps growing, are you succeeding?” The answer all depends upon what the objective is.”


    “The core guarantee of western justice since the Magna Carta was codified in the US by the fifth amendment to the constitution: “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” You simply cannot have a free society, a worthwhile political system, without that guarantee, that constraint on the ultimate abusive state power, being honored.”

    We’re no longer “a free society.” Fact.

    I saw Obama a few times on the 39th floor at 230 South Dearborn in Chicago. I’m beginning to think I don’t trust him. I don’t trust Hillary Clinton either.

    Just get your fossil fuel at home. Do you know that gasoline prices have been dropping recently? It’s down by about 50 cents a gallon.

    Maybe you should ask Monicka Lewinsky about the stain on her dress.


    UN to investigate civilian deaths from US drone strikes

    Special rapporteur on counter-terror operations condemns Barack Obama’s failure to establish effective monitoring process

    Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent, Thursday 25 October 2012 13.07 EDT

    The United Nations is to set up a dedicated investigations unit in Geneva to examine the legality of drone attacks in cases where civilians are killed in so-called ‘targeted’ counter-terrorism operations.

    The announcement was made by Ben Emmerson QC, a UN special rapporteur, in a speech to Harvard law school in which he condemned secret rendition and waterboarding as crimes under international law.

    His forthright comments, directed at both US presidential candidates, will be seen as an explicit challenge to the prevailing US ideology of the global war on terror.

    Earlier this summer, Emmerson, who monitors counter-terrorism for the UN, called for effective investigations into drone attacks. Some US drone strikes in Pakistan – where those helping victims of earlier attacks or attending funerals were killed – may amount to war crimes, Emmerson warned.

    In his Harvard speech, he revealed: “If the relevant states are not willing to establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms … then it may in the last resort be necessary for the UN to act.

    “Together with my colleague Christof Heyns, [the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings], I will be launching an investigation unit within the special procedures of the [UN] Human Rights Council to inquire into individual drone attacks.”

    The unit will also look at “other forms of targeted killing conducted in counter-terrorism operations, in which it is alleged that civilian casualties have been inflicted, and to seek explanations from the states using this technology and the states on whose territory it is used. [It] will begin its work early next year and will be based in Geneva.”

    Security officials who took part in waterboarding interrogations or secret rendition removals should be made accountable for their actions and justice, Emmerson added.

    “The time has come,” he said, “for the international community to agree minimum standard principles for investigating such allegations and holding those responsible to account.

    “Let us be clear on this: secret detention is unlawful as a matter of international law. Waterboarding is always torture. Torture is an international crime of universal jurisdiction. The torturer, like the pirate before him, is regarded in international law as the enemy of all mankind. There is therefore a duty on states to investigate and to prosecute acts of torture.”

    The US stance of conducting counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaida or other groups anywhere in the world because it is deemed to be an international conflict was indefensible, he maintained.

    “The global war paradigm has done immense damage to a previously shared international consensus on the legal framework underlying both international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” Emmerson said. “It has also given a spurious justification to a range of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.

    “The [global] war paradigm was always based on the flimsiest of reasoning, and was not supported even by close allies of the US. The first-term Obama administration initially retreated from this approach, but over the past 18 months it has begun to rear its head once again, in briefings by administration officials seeking to provide a legal justification for the drone programme of targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia …

    “[It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.”

    Emmerson singled out both President Obama and the Republican challenger Mitt Romney for criticism. “It is perhaps surprising that the position of the two candidates on this issue has not even featured during their presidential elections campaigns, and got no mention at all in Monday night’s foreign policy debate.

    “We now know that the two candidates are in agreement on the use of drones. But the issue of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques is an one which, according to the record, continues to divide them.

    “I should make it absolutely clear that my mandate does not see to eye to eye with the Obama administration on a range of issues – not least the lack of transparency over the drone programme. But on this issue the president has been clear since he took office that water-boarding is torture that it is contrary to American values and that it would stop.

    “… But Governor Romney has said that he does not believe that waterboarding is torture. He has said that he would allow enhanced interrogation techniques that go beyond those now permitted by the army field manual, and his security advisers have recommended that he rescind the existing restrictions.”

    The Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, he pointed out, used the technique. “Anyone who is in doubt about whether waterboarding is torture should visit Tuol Sleng, the infamous S-21 detention facility operated by the Khymer Rouge in Phnom Penh.

    “Over a period of four years 14,000 people were systematically tortured and killed there. It is now a genocide museum. And right there, in the middle of the central torturing room, is the apparatus used by Pol Pot’s security officials for waterboarding.”

  82. Got this in my email re Apple app and drone strikes.,:
    Apple Inc., which has received over $9 million in Pentagon contracts in recent years, has rejected from its App Store, and therefore from all iPhones, a simple informative application.

    Drones+ is an application that shows no depictions of the carnage of war and reveals no secret information. It simply adds a location to a map every time a drone strike is reported in the media and added to a database maintained by the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

    Apple has rejected the app as “objectionable and crude.”

    Drone wars continue because the U.S. public is unaware what is being done in our name with our money. We are interested in knowing where our government is using drones and has killed people, not in celebrating that killing.

    The people in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere living under the drones can’t ignore what’s being done to them. Neither should we, as it’s done with our money and in our names.

    A recent study by Stanford and NYU found that drones traumatize innocent populations, who have no way of knowing how to protect themselves from drone strikes. Further, only 2% of victims of these strikes are high-level targets. The drones kill civilian men, women, and children, are being used to target rescuers, schools and funerals, and create significant anti-U.S. hostility — exactly as the Pakistani and Afghan governments have said they do.

    Ask Apple to stop hiding the simplest of facts.
    (this is click to petition – )

  83. Jeremy Scahill and Dennis Kucinich: In Obama’s 2nd Term, Will Dems Challenge U.S. Drones, Killings?

    During Democracy Now!’s seven-hour election special last night, investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill asks Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich about the secret drone war that has expanded under President Obama’s first term and the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen struck by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year. [includes rush transcript]

    Filed under Election 2012, Drone Attacks, Yemen, Pakistan, Jeremy Scahill, Rep. Dennis Kucinich


    Jeremy Scahill, investigative reporter and Democracy Now! correspondent.

    Rep. Dennis Kucinich, U.S. representative from Ohio.

  84. Transcript:

    AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to the issue of progressive politics. I want to play an excerpt from our six-hour election special last night, about the secret drone war that’s expanded under President Obama. Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill asked Congressmember Dennis Kucinich on our show about the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: I just wanted to ask you—I was talking about you earlier and saying that with the loss of you, or with you not being in the House anymore, there basically isn’t another Democrat who filled the space that you did, particularly on civil liberties issues, on foreign policy issues. And I was—I was just remembering the last time that I visited you in Washington.

    We were talking about how you put forward this bill after it became clear that President Obama had authorized the killing of a U.S. citizen, Anwar Awlaki, who had not been charged with any crime, had not been indicted with any crime. And this was well before Awlaki was killed. Of course, he was killed in a drone strike in September of 2011, along with another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, who had also not been indicted and whose family had been told by the FBI that he had not committed any crimes. Then two weeks later, Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman was killed while he was having dinner with his teenage cousins and friends. And there’s been no explanation as to why that young American citizen was killed in this drone strike. So you had Obama killing—or authorizing operations that killed three U.S. citizens in a two-week period.

    And when you, a year before this happened, put forward legislation in the Congress, that didn’t mention Awlaki by name but just said that the president does not have the right to unilaterally authorize the assassination of a U.S. citizen without due process, only six of your colleagues signed on to that legislation. I mean, to me, that’s one of the sort of enduring symbols of your legacy in Congress, the fact that you were one of only half-a-dozen members of Congress—not a single senator—to simply state on the record that American citizens have the right not to be assassinated by their own government without due process.

    What—what is your—I mean, what is your sense of how much damage this administration has done to those core causes that you fought for for so long?

    REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: First of all, thank you.

    Secondly, it’s amazing that we’re in an America where we have to defend the rights of Americans to be free from assassination by their own country, to be free from extrajudicial killing by their own government.

    I expect that the Obama administration will continue their policies of drone strikes, which have killed hundreds of innocent people and have put to death, through drone strikes, thousands of individuals who were just determined to be combatants, often because they happened to be the wrong age. This is repugnant to morality. It’s morally depraved, this drone strikes. And whether you’re a Democrat or Republican doesn’t matter. This is about what kind of human beings we are.

    When partisan politics trumps morality, we are in big trouble. So I had no problem whatsoever in challenging this administration, the Bush administration, the Clinton administration, or any other administration, whenever I felt the—the honor of our country, the heart of our country was at risk.

    The drone situation is abominable. By the way, I’m going to have a briefing in Washington on November 16th on the drone policies. We’re going to be bringing some of the top people in the world who have something to say about this and could be considered experts, on civil liberties and other matters.

    But our country is changing, you know, and think about this: drones are now being offered and used domestically. How long is it before some local police department uses a drone to intercept and kill a suspect, and when that becomes commonplace? People say, “Oh, well, that can’t happen.” Well, it’s happening now overseas, and we’re committing acts of war in other countries without Congress’s knowledge or without Congress’s assent. We’ve got a problem here. And no matter who wins tonight, we still have a problem.

    AMY GOODMAN: That’s outgoing Congressmember Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, Ohio. He lost in a challenge to Marcy Kaptur when they were redistricted. Marcy Kaptur also won last night in Ohio, beating “Joe the Plumber,” whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher.

    This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, we’ll stay with Ben Jealous of the NAACP and journalist Laura Flanders, but we’re going to talk about the ballot initiatives around the country and more about progressive politics. Stay with us.

  85. Priosn for Protesting Drones

    Got this in my email from Rootsaction.:
    My name is Brian Terrell. I’m co-coordinator of a group called Voices for Creative Nonviolence. We support the petition to ban drones organized by RootsAction. On November 30th I report for six months in a federal prison in Yankton, S.D., as a result of protesting drones.

    The appearance of war being made easy by drones is resulting in more war. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and in places we don’t know about, in places where we are not at war, we’re sending these unmanned pilotless airplanes into foreign air space to hunt down people who’ve been accused of crimes only in the private court of the administration. They’re hunted down and killed along with anybody who might be in the immediate vicinity.

    Drones are creating new wars rather than scaling down old ones. Drone pilots in Afghanistan have been targeted and killed. Drone pilots in the United States suffer PTSD at higher rates than real pilots.

    Drone victims are 98% innocent civilians according to the recent Stanford/NYU study. The other 2% are targeted victims of murder without charge, trial, due process, or in many cases even knowing the target’s name.

    Drones buzzing over houses traumatize children before they kill them. That those children are (in most cases) not American hardly diminishes the immorality.

    Drones are rapidly being developed and deployed by other nations. Would you support the equal right of other nations to kill with drones in this country? And if not, why not? And how can that thinking not apply to U.S. policy as well?

    As I head to prison I urge you to add your name to the petition to ban drones and to ask others to do so.

    Back on April 15th, about 40 people, mostly from the Kansas City area, went to Whiteman Air Force Base and held a short rally outside the gates on a public right of way. We had a petition — an indictment we called it — that listed the laws that drones are violating and the damage they are doing. We took that to the gate and were stopped. Three of us asked directions to deliver the petition and were immediately put in handcuffs. About 40 military police in full riot gear appeared (video) and did a choreographed dance including high kicks and grunts and beating their shields, two steps forward and one step back, to get rid of the rest of the U.S. citizens, who were acting legally under the First Amendment.

    At my sentencing I told the judge:

    “Each of the government’s witnesses, all of them Air Force police personnel, testified that participants in this protest were nonviolent, respectful and peaceable in assembling at Whiteman Air Force Base, a government installation, to petition that government for redress of a grievance, demanding that the remote control killing carried out daily from Whiteman cease. They testified that at no time, before or during our protest, did they perceive us as a threat.

    “Our expert witnesses testified that our behavior was consistent with the activities that the drafters of the First Amendment intended to be protected, not persecuted, by the government. The order and security of the base would not have been compromised had the security police allowed us to proceed to the headquarters to deliver our petition. No testimony to the contrary was offered this court.

    “Instead of planning to accommodate a constitutionally protected peaceable assembly, however, the Air Force chose intimidation and conspired to deprive us of the rights they are sworn to protect. We learned from government witnesses that the phalanx of goose-stepping riot police is a ‘Confrontation Management Team,’ deployed only in the case of preannounced events. Whiteman security did not call out the Team to defend the base but to intimidate citizens engaged in lawful activities.”

    Sign the petition to ban militarized drones now, before it is delivered to government officials.

    Please forward this email widely to like-minded friends.

    –Brian Terrell for


    America’s Use of Drones: The Legality Issue

    Published: November 30, 2012

    “Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy” (front page, Nov. 25) raises the issue of the legality of the United States’ ever-changing drone policy.

    As his first term in office draws to a close, and with a vacancy to fill at the top of the Central Intelligence Agency, President Obama has an opportunity to press the reset button on American drone policy.

    Over the last four years the use of drones has become ever more permissive. Lethal strikes are no longer restricted to “high-value targets,” Guilt, not innocence, is the apparent presumption.

    Administration sources have told the media that in the tribal areas of Pakistan, men of fighting age are assumed to be combatant targets in the absence of intelligence to the contrary. If true, this is both unconscionable and a violation of the laws of war.

    This can’t go on. American drones have taken lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. Meaningful public review of this most secretive of government programs is long overdue. We don’t need a new rule book; we just need the existing rules — international human rights and humanitarian law — to be applied.

    Executive Director
    Amnesty International USA
    New York, Nov. 27, 2012

    To the Editor:

    You report that President Obama is finally expressing some “wariness of the powerful temptation drones pose to policy makers. ‘There’s a remoteness to it that makes it tempting to think that somehow we can, without any mess on our hands, solve vexing security problems,’ he said.”

    What an understatement of the “mess on our hands” given how 76 countries now possess drones, having discovered how cheap and easy they are to develop and use! Whose hands will they fall into? More and more people in foreign countries living under American drone strikes have understandably become radicalized. Didn’t anyone consider how they would make the perfect weapon of asymmetrical warfare?

    Pandora’s box has opened wide, adding to our “vexing security problems.” We should never have forgotten what Sir Peter Ustinov is credited as saying: Terrorism is the poor man’s war, and war is terrorism of the rich.

    Apple Valley, Minn., Nov. 26, 2012

    The writer is the retired F.B.I. agent who exposed intelligence failures before the 9/11 attacks.


  87. Drones are fool’s gold: they prolong wars we can’t win

    New appointments in the White House hail an era of hands-free warfare. Yet these weapons induce not defeat, but retaliation

    The Guardian, Thursday 10 January 2013


    The drone wars seem pointless yet unstoppable. Their appeal to western leaders lies partly in their sheer novelty, partly in the hope they may make defeat less awful. They are like the USS New Jersey’s shelling of Lebanon’s Chouf mountains in 1984, a blood-thirsty display to cover withdrawal. The drone is not an aid to victory, but it eases the defeat its use has made more likely.

    The Taliban in Waziristan are no threat to London or to Washington. Al-Qaida can do no more to undermine the state than set off the occasional bomb, best prevented by domestic intelligence. Today’s “wars of choice” reflect a more sinister aspect of democracy. Elected leaders seem to crave them, defying all warnings of the difficulty of ending them. Mesmerised by Margaret Thatcher’s gain from the Falklands, they all want a good war.

    In this the drone is fool’s gold. Driven by high-pressure arms salesmanship, Obama (and David Cameron) are briefed that they are the no-hands war of the future, safe, easy, clean, “precision targeted”. No one on our side need get hurt. Someone else can do the dirty work on the ground.

    The tenuous legality of this form of combat requires the aggressor to have “declared war” on another state. But al-Qaida is no state. As a result these attacks on foreign soil are not just wars of choice, they are wars of self-invention. How soon will it be before the US finds itself “at war” with Iran and Syria, and sends over the drones? When it does, and the killing starts, it can hardly complain when the victims retaliate with suicide bombers.

    Nor will it just be suicide bombers. Drones are cheap and will easily proliferate. Eleven states deploy them already. The US is selling them to Japan to help against China. China is building 11 bases for its Anjian drones along its coast. The Pentagon is now training more drone operators than pilots. What happens when every nation with an air force does likewise, and every combustible border is buzzing with them?

    I did not fear nuclear proliferation because I believe such bombs are mere prestige acquisitions, so horrible not even lunatics would use them. Drones are different. When they were called guided missiles, they were in some degree governed by international law and protocol, as was the practice of global assassination.

    Obama rejects all that. He and the US are teaching the world that a pilotless aircraft is a self-justifying, self-exonerating, legal and effective weapon of war. However counter-productive a drone may be strategically, it cuts a glamorous dash on the home front. It is hard to imagine a greater danger to world peace.

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