Tag - drones

Drone strikes on rescuers in Pakistan – New report says yes

If civilian ‘rescuers’ are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.

Bureau of Investigative Journalism
August 1 Creative Commons
Additional reporting by Mushtaq Yusufzai

A field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Pakistan’s tribal areas appears to confirm that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) last year briefly revived the controversial tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers at the scene of a previous drone strike. The tactic has previously been labelled a possible war crime by two UN investigators. (Image: KAZ Vorpal)

The Bureau’s new study focused mainly on strikes around a single village in North Waziristan – attacks that were aimed at one of al Qaeda’s few remaining senior figures, Yahya al-Libi. He was finally killed by a CIA drone strike on June 4 2012.

The Bureau’s field researcher found five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosque

Read More

Florida highway closed after drone crashes with still-active ‘small self-destruct charge’

Move along, nothing to see here…

(Raw Story) – An unmanned drone aircraft fell from the sky and exploded by a Florida highway on Wednesday morning, snarling traffic and closing the road for the next 24 hours. According to a statement from Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, State Highway 98 is closed “as a precautionary measure due to fires resulting from the crash and a small self-destruct charge carried on board the drone.”

“An unmanned Air Force QF-4 drone, assigned here to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, crashed on the drone runway during take-off at 8:25 a.m. today. No personnel were injured during the incident,” the report said. “Base and local police and safety officials have closed Highway 98 and are anticipating that it will remain closed for up to 24 hours.” The stretch of highway — which runs between the town of Mexico Beach and Panama City, Florida — is closed because of the risk of fire in the acres of pine forest around Tyndall AFB, but also because of “a small self-destruct charge carried on board the drone.”

“The status of this device is unknown,” said the Air Force statement, “however, it is powered by a short-life battery which will be fully depleted in 24 hours,” rendering the area safe. more

US navy to attempt drone landing on aircraft carrier for first time

(The Guardian) – The US navy will attempt to land a drone the size of a fighter jet aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time, showcasing the military’s capability to have a computer program perform one of the most difficult tasks a pilot can be asked to do.

A successful landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft would mean the navy can move forward with plans to develop another unmanned aircraft that will join the fleet alongside traditional aeroplanes to provide around-the-clock surveillance while also possessing a strike capability.

The aircraft’s success would pave the way for the US to launch unmanned aircraft without the need to obtain permission from other countries to use their bases.

John Brennan Doesn’t Rule Out Targeting Americans for Assassination in United States – Mark Karlin, Editor BuzzFlash and TruthOut

I’ve known  Mark Karlin (online) for a while.  As editor of BuzzFlash, he was generous enough to run my voting rights and other  articles on more than a few occasions.  He’s an excellent analyst in addition to his editorial skills and a solid progressive Democrat from Chicago.  All the more reason to take  his article below is a fair warning about the potential abuse of power.     Michael Collins

By Mark Karlin, Editor
BuzzFlash and Truthout

These are the powers of a modern day Nero, not the leader of a nation based on the foundation of a Constitution guaranteeing specific rights and legal recourse.

Sometimes, it even takes BuzzFlash at Truthout a little time to write commentaries about killer issues, in this case literally.

According to the Wall Street Journal (in a February 15 article), Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, ambiguously left open the possibility that US citizens could be targeted for assassination in the United States: Read More

Code Pink, the Taliban and Malala Yousafzai

by Meredith Tax

(Originally posted by openDemocracy, republished under a Creative Commons license)

The US antiwar group Code Pink, which describes itself as “a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end US funded wars and occupations,” recently sent a delegation to Pakistsan to campaign against drones with Imran Khan. On October 9th, a dozen of them held a symbolic twelve hour fast outside the Islamabad Press Club, holding “pictures of the more than 160 Pakistani children who have been killed by American drones.”

The same day, in nearby Swat, another Pakistani child, 14 year old Malala Yousafzai, was gunned down by the Pakistani Taliban because she was an advocate of education for girls. They stopped her school bus, asked for her by name, and shot her twice in the head, wounding two other students in the process

No turn of events could more forcefully illustrate the idiocy of the US peace movement’s one-sided approach to solidarity.  Read More

Hezbollah Says It Flew Iranian-Designed Drone Into Israel

New York Times, By Anne Barnard, October 11

Beirut – Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group and political party Hezbollah, declared Thursday that his fighters had assembled and piloted a drone that flew 35 miles into Israel on Saturday, calling the flight an unprecedented achievement in “the history of the resistance.”

In a televised, 50-minute speech, Mr. Nasrallah said the drone, which was shot down by Israeli forces, had been designed in Iran and assembled by Hezbollah experts in Lebanon.

“It is our right to send other drones whenever we want,” Mr. Nasrallah said, noting that Israel frequently violated Lebanese airspace. “It was not the first time and it will not be the last.” Read More

Israeli air force shoots down drone over south of country

Reports suggest unmanned aircraft was for intelligence gathering and did not come from Gaza Strip

The Guardian, By Cass Jones, October 6

The Israeli air force has shot down a drone after it entered the south of the country, the military has confirmed.

Troops are searching for the remains of the unmanned aircraft after it was intercepted and brought down over the Negev desert on Saturday morning.

It was not clear where it came from although local reports suggested that it did not depart from the Gaza Strip.

The drone was spotted above the Mediterranean Sea in the area of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to the west of Israel, said a military spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich.

It was escorted by air force jets once it crossed into Israeli air space and travelled around 35 miles east across Israel’s southern Negev desert before being shot down.


In a statement, Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, congratulated the military, saying: “We view this incident of attempting to enter Israeli airspace very severely and we will consider our response later.”

Please be from the US, please, please, please!

Sorry, Conor — Even Chomsky Says He’d Vote For Obama If He Lived In A Swing State

Via Raw Story:

MIT professor Noam Chomsky would vote for President Barack Obama if he lived in a swing state, but only to keep Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan out of the White House.

Chomsky explained last week on the Matthew Filipowicz Show that activists should not spend much time on the “carefully orchestrated electoral extravaganza” with a few exceptions.

“Between the two choices that are presented, there is I think some significant differences,” he said. “If I were a person in a swing state, I’d vote against Romney-Ryan, which means voting for Obama because there is no other choice. I happen to be in a non-swing state, so I can either not vote or — as a probably will — vote for [Green Party candidate] Jill Stein.”


h/t Brian Beutler

White House secret meetings examine al-Qaeda threat in North Africa

Washington Post, By Greg Miller & Craig Whitlock, October 1

The White House has held a series of secret meetings in recent months to examine the threat posed by al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa and consider for the first time whether to prepare for unilateral strikes, U.S. officials said.

The deliberations reflect concern that al-Qaeda’s African affiliate has become more dangerous since gaining control of large pockets of territory in Mali and acquiring weapons from post-revolution Libya. The discussions predate the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. compounds in Libya but gained urgency after the assaults there were linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.

U.S. officials said the discussions have focused on ways to help regional militaries confront al-Qaeda but have also explored the possibility of direct U.S. intervention if the terrorist group continues unchecked.

“Right now, we’re not in position to do much about it,” said a senior U.S. counterterrorism official involved in the talks. As a result, he said, officials have begun to consider contingencies, including the question of “do we or don’t we” deploy drones.

Almost Half Of All Americans Support Domestic Surveillance Drones

Only one third fear for privacies

Infowars.com, Steve Watson, September 28

Close to half of Americans say they are in favor of police departments deploying surveillance drones domestically.

According to a survey conducted by The Associated Press and The National Constitution Center, 44 percent support the idea of police using unmanned aerial vehicles to track suspects and carry out investigations.

Only 36 percent said that they “strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose” police use of drones, according to the survey.

The poll also found that only one third of Americans say they are significantly concerned about their privacy being eroded by the adoption of drones by police forces throughout the country.

Thrity-five percent of respondents said they were “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” when asked if they believed that police departments’ use of drones for surveillance would impact their privacy.

Almost exactly the same number, 36 percent, noted that they were “not too concerned” or “not concerned at all”, while twenty-four percent were neutral on the issue, saying they were only “somewhat concerned” about a potential loss of privacy.

David Eisner, president and CEO of the constitution center in Philadelphia, told the AP that he was somewhat baffled by the response to the poll:

“I had assumed that the idea that American police would be using the same technology that our military is using in Afghanistan would garner an almost hysterical response,” Eisner said. Support for drone use “shows that people are feeling less physically secure than they’d like to because they are willing to accept fairly extreme police action to improve that security.”

The poll comes in the wake of a stark warning concerning the deployment of drones from The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the biggest union of law officials in the country. The IACP has issued guidelines calling for a reassessment of the potential widespread use of aerial drones for domestic policing.

The Association’s national advisory for the use of unmanned aircraft notes that more and more departments across the nation are considering  turning to drones to conduct search and rescue operations, traffic accident scene mapping and surveillance activities.

Don Roby, chairman of the IACP’s aviation committee noted in comments to USA Today, that in the face of such plans, the advisory represents an “urgent” call to limit the use of drones.