Thursday 21st of October 2021

losing the plot...


manipulated into reiterating government propaganda...

Earlier in the week, Joe Becker and Scott Shane of The New York Times revealed that US President Barack Obama has “embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties” in drone strikes that in effect classifies “all military-age males” in a strike zone as “combatants”. The report highlights a concern that this has led to “deceptive estimates” of civilian casualties in a way that Glenn Greenwald over at Salon has described as “nothing less than sociopathic”; he also notes that news organisations now reporting drone strikes must avoid the term at the risk of “knowingly disseminating a false and misleading term of propaganda”.

But the implications run even deeper. The revelation in the New York Times proves a continuing government effort of a supposedly Liberal and ‘Open’ government to use ‘transparency’ and media briefings for political objectives. When the Bush administration was shown to have been briefing journalists through the medium of anonymous sources to justify the Iraq War, news outlets (not least The New York Times) were terrified to find they had been manipulated into reiterating government propaganda. Though many papers changed their policies on anonymous sourcing as a result of this vast oversight, the revelation about the definition of the term “combatants” proves how governments continue to develop strategies to obfuscate and confuse the media to garner support for their policies.

the hardline blitz...

Rockets fired from a US drone killed between eight and 15 people in north-west Pakistan on Monday, officials have said in varying accounts. It is the third strike in as many days after attacks on Saturday and Sunday killed a total of 12 people.

The latest strike targeted a militant hideout in the Hesokhel village of the North Waziristan tribal region, officials said.

US drones hit targets in the South Waziristan tribal region on Saturday and Sunday. There have been a total of seven strikes in less than two weeks.

The US and Pakistan are deadlocked in difficult negotiations for the reopening of overland supply routes to Nato forces in Afghanistan. No breakthrough is in sight.

Islamabad blocked the routes in November 2011 after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by cross-border "friendly fire" from Nato aircraft. To reopen the roads Islamabad wants an apology and an end to drone strikes but the US president, Barack Obama, is taking a hardline stand.

zionist-owned drone used by aussies in afghanistan...

A senior Australian Defence Force officer has revealed details of how the Royal Australian Air Force deploys Israeli-owned drones for battlefield surveillance and to target anti-government Islamic fighters in Afghanistan.

Wing Commander Jonathan McMullan says Australia is "just buying hours" on the Heron drones from a Canadian company that in turn "leases them from IAI" (Israel Aerospace Industries), which is wholly owned by the Israeli government.

While enthusiastically endorsing the Heron's capabilities, Wing Commander McMullan was highly critical of the quality of training provided by Israeli and Canadian instructors to Australian drone crews.

The unarmed Israeli Herons first entered RAAF service in Afghanistan in December 2009.

They are the centrepiece of the ADF's rapidly expanding drone warfare capability that has so far cost an estimated $550 million.

Australian Defence Force chief General David Hurley told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra late last month: "I wouldn't discount the fact that we might have armed UAVs thinking through our force structure review into the future."

In this report, Foreign Correspondent's Mark Corcoran goes behind the scenes of Australia's drone war.

'Saving Australian lives'

The Royal Pines Golf Resort on the Gold Coast is a long way from Afghanistan.

But it was there recently, at the Heli and UV Pacific aviation convention, that Australia's top military drone commanders launched an extraordinary public relations offensive.

the armchair war of president obama...

The recent New York Times article on Obama’s use of drones has reverberated across the internet. The fractured lives and fractured diplomacy these attacks have left in their wake has become the subject of articles, blogs and television segments. While drone warfare is nothing new, the article revealed that the technology has become increasingly advanced and drones are now the go-to weapon for Obama’s ‘War on Terror’. Indeed, this lurch towards more hawkish right-wing policiess has some suggesting that the President has become “George W. Bush on steroids”. I believe Obama’s drone strategy is a betrayal of all who supported him. In turn, the silence of all those who voted for “hope” and “change” is worrying; it suggests that the US liberal electorate would rather support Obama, who they perceive as a lesser political evil than his Republican adversaries, than actually questioning the political hypocrisy his foreign policy entails’s-drone-wars-strain-the-liberal-principles-he-espoused-in-2008/

accident, militia or terrorism... it's bloodshed...


Gen. John Allen apologizes for civilians killed in airstrike in Afghanistan

By Saturday, June 9, 1:11 AM

KABUL — The top American commander in Afghanistan apologized to Afghans on Friday for a coalition airstrike that killed women and children in Logar province earlier in the week.

Marine Gen. John Allen flew to Logar province, just south of Kabul, to meet with villagers and offer his condolences for the bombing Wednesday that Afghan officials said killed 18 civilians. The airstrike was called in by U.S. troops after they came under fire while pursuing a Taliban fighter in a village in the Baraki Barak district.

“I know that no apology can bring back the lives of the children or the people who perished in this tragedy and this accident, but I want you to know that you have my apology and we will do the right thing by the families,” Allen told the Afghans, according to the Associated Press. NATO troops often make condolence payments to the families of victims in civilian casualty incidents.

Allen told an Associated Press reporter traveling with him that the troops did not know there were civilians inside the house at the time of the airstrike.

“They were taken under fire. A hand grenade was thrown. Three of our people were wounded. We called for the people who were shooting to come out, and then the situation became more grave, and innocent people were killed,” he told the AP.

“Our weapons killed these people,” Allen said.



BEIRUT — A team of United Nations observers saw burned buildings and evidence of bloodshed Friday after reaching a village in central Syria to investigate reports that scores of civilians were massacred by pro-government militiamen, activists and residents said.

A BBC reporter traveling with the unarmed observers in a convoy from the capital, Damascus, said the smell of charred flesh hung in the air in the deserted village of Qubair as the monitors toured gutted buildings that were allegedly attacked by government-backed militiamen two days earlier.

Surviving residents of the tiny village, a cluster of about 20 homes, said Syrian security forces visited them the night before and threatened them with death if they cooperated with the monitors. Nonetheless, one resident told The Washington Post in a telephone interview that he covered his face and led the monitors on a tour of the devastation inflicted Wednesday, when armed pro-government militiamen converged on Qubair and embarked on a killing spree.

“We took them to the graves where we buried the bodies; we showed them the burned houses and the bloodstains in the other houses,” the resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he fears for his safety. He said he also showed the U.N. observers bloodied sticks that had been used to batter some of the victims and led them to see dead cows that he said were also slaughtered by the assailants.

Hundreds of people from nearby Sunni villages are now packing up their belongings and fleeing to other areas because they fear further attacks, he added.

The observers had turned back Thursday after being stopped at Syrian military checkpoints and coming under small-arms fire from unidentified gunmen, U.N. officials said. They renewed their effort to reach Qubair on Friday.

According to opposition activists and survivors, militiamen known as shabiha attacked the Sunni village in Hama province Wednesday, slaughtering at least 78 people in their homes. Survivors said the attackers were from three neighboring pro-government villages populated by members of President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

The government has blamed “terrorists” for the attack, in which it says nine people were killed.

The critical term is Sunni...  Who is supplying weapons to the "protesters", "freedom fighters" or the "opposition activists" in Syria? Saudi Arabia? The "West"? What are the goals of the "opposition activists' and who are they?... And are pro-government militia sanctioned by the Syrian government? Are these militia actually part of "opposition activists" and working to "embarrass" the government?


Meanwhile in "América Central"

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has launched an investigation into a raid on a remote Honduran village that killed four people including two pregnant women. Four others were also injured in the operation in May.

In the waking hours of May 11, a group of indigenous villagers travelling by canoe in the Mosquita region came under helicopter fire. Four of them including two pregnant women and a child died.

US officials said the killings followed a sighting of men unloading cocaine onto a truck nearby. The US State Department-owned helicopters were sent to investigate.

Initially the US denied any civilians were killed, but later said Americans were only involved in a supporting role.

The DEA says it is investigating the killings in May.

Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokesperson, said: "In this particular operation on May 11, the US DEA was involved only in a supporting role. We did not use force. No US personnel fired any weapons. We were involved purely supporting and advising. The units that we support were comprised primarily of host country – in this case Honduran – law enforcement officers. They were trained, they were vetted, as part of this programme altogether...The Honduran authorities are doing a broad investigation of this incident to evaluate what exactly happened and how it happened. So I think we need to let that go forward."

According to US State Department estimates, 79 per cent or more than 3/4 of all cocaine-smuggling flights leaving South America land in Honduras – with the Mosquita coast as the major transfer point – on their way to Mexico and the US.

The US has been increasing its presence in Honduras, with three new military bases. Commando-style squads have been deployed from a team originally constituted to investigate drug traffickers in Afghanistan.

The recipients of US funding and military support are the administration of Porfirio Lobo, the Honduran president, and the security services that facilitated his rise to power by overthrowing the democratically-elected Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

US corporations also have major investments in agriculture and mining there. 

A few days after the incident 
The New York Times citing an anonymous US official reported an initial account of the raid.

Al Jazeera's request to interview the DEA and the US State Department on this topic was declined.

Inside Story Americas asks: What did happen that night near the Honduran village of Ahuas, and what is motivating US policy in Central America?

"drones and all"...

Obama has replaced boots on the ground with robots in the air.
MORE than a decade after George W. Bush launched it, the ''war on terror'' was supposed to be winding down. US military occupation of Iraq has ended and NATO is looking for a way out of Afghanistan, even as the carnage continues. But another war - the undeclared drone war that has already killed thousands - is now being relentlessly escalated.
From Pakistan to Somalia, CIA-controlled pilotless aircraft rain down Hellfire missiles on an ever-expanding hit list of terrorist suspects - the missiles have already killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians in the process.
At least 15 drone strikes were launched in Yemen last month, as many as in the whole of the past decade, killing dozens; while in Pakistan, a string of US attacks has been launched against supposed ''militant'' targets in the past week, incinerating up to 35 people and hitting a mosque and a bakery.

Read more:

new pinpointing drones...

The drones, which US officials hope will help reduce civilian casualties in war zones, pack tiny explosive warheads that can destroy targets with pinpoint accuracy.Seeking to reduce civilian casualties and collateral damage, the Pentagon will soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

Errant drone strikes have been blamed for killing and injuring scores of civilians throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving the US government a black eye as it targets elusive terrorist groups. The Predator and Reaper drones deployed in these regions typically carry 100-pound (45-kilogram) laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound GPS-guided smart bombs that can reduce buildings to smouldering rubble.

The new Switchblade drone, by comparison, weighs less than six pounds (2.7 kilograms) and can take out a sniper on a rooftop without blasting the building to bits. It also enables soldiers in the field to identify and destroy targets much more quickly by eliminating the need to call in a strike from large drones that may be hundreds of kilometres away.

Read more:

I have built around 20 "model" aeroplanes, mostly gliders, some used in competitions, when I was a young lad... When I was older, some members of the club were building planes flying with V1 engines-types... Easy to make, they called the engines (translation) "pulsoreactors"... A little plane about 80 centimetres wingspan would pack a hell of a speed... In those days we were doing it for fun and the understanding of aerodynamics... with the bonus of the smell of petrol, rincin oil, ether and kerosin (Kerosene)... These days it's war... Sad...

no drones used by the epa...


Reining in the rumor about EPA ‘drones’


Published: June 17

It was a blood-boiler of a story, a menacing tale of government gone too far: The Environmental Protection Agency was spying on Midwestern farmers with the same aerial “drones” used to kill terrorists overseas.

This month, the idea has been repeated in TV segments, on multiple blogs and by at least four congressmen. The only trouble is, it isn’t true.

It was never true. The EPA isn’t using drone aircraft — in the Midwest or anywhere else.

The hubbub over nonexistent drones provides a look at something hard to capture in American politics: the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood. This one seems to have been born less than three weeks ago, in tweets and blog posts that twisted the details of a real news story about EPA inspectors flying in small planes.

Then the falsehood spread, via conservative Web sites, mentions on Fox News Channel and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” and the endless replication of Twitter. In its mature stage, the idea was sustained by a digital echo chamber. Congressmen repeated false reports — and then new reports appeared, based on the congressmen.

“We’ve never thought that. We’ve never said that. I don’t know where it came from,” said Kristen Hassebrook, at the association of Nebraska Cattlemen, when asked about drones buzzing cattle farms. Her group seems to have started this hubbub, then watched as its actual complaint against the EPA was turned into something it wasn’t. “But obviously the word ‘drone’ is a very sexy word.”

This is the part that’s true: For more than a decade, EPA inspectors have flown over farmland in small private planes — the traditional kind of aircraft, with people inside them. The inspectors are looking for clean-water violations, like dirty runoff or manure dumped into a stream.

The EPA says the flights are legal, under a 1986 Supreme Court decision. And they’re cheap: An on-the-ground inspection might cost $10,000, but it costs just $1,000 to $2,500 to survey the same farm by air. An agency spokesman said these flights are not happening more frequently now than in the past.

But in Nebraska, the cattlemen have raised new concerns about the effect of the flights.

“It is truly an invasion of privacy,” said Chuck Folken, who runs a farm and cattle feedlot in Leigh, Neb. Farmers worry about photos of private homes and back yards winding up in government files. “We don’t need our own government . . . flying over us, taking pictures of us, telling us what we’re doing wrong.”


Meanwhile in Vic...

Victoria Police have confirmed they are investigating the use of unmanned drones to help fight crime.

Police say the technology could make their jobs safer but civil libertarians fear drones could lead to grave invasions of people's privacy.

Police will not specify what roles drones would have in the force, but it is believed they could be used in surveillance and during car chases.

In a written statement, Victoria Police described the technology as rapidly evolving and said anything that could provide more effective and safer policing is worth assessing.

Law enforcement agencies in the US are set to begin using drones from tomorrow and Victoria's Police Airwing recently hosted a conference to examine their potential.

Victoria Police said on Sunday it will continue its investigations into whether drones are suitable for future operations, but did not provide any time frame for a decision.

killing international laws with drones...

The US policy of using aerial drones to carry out targeted killings presents a major challenge to the system of international law that has endured since the second world war, a United Nations investigator has said.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama's attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human rights standards.

In his strongest critique so far of drone strikes, Heyns suggested some may even constitute "war crimes". His comments come amid rising international unease over the surge in killings by remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

saving lives with drones...

The use of unmanned aircraft or drones by American military has been controversial and has grabbed international headlines for its deadly strikes.

But the drone technology can also be used to save lives as a German company has showed.

The company has already helped fight fires in Germany with its drones, and has expressions of interest from as far afield as France, Indonesia and Australia.

Al Jazeera’s Nick Spicer reports from Germany.

a wilful myopia that ignores...



Peshawar is on the edge of this abyss, the entry point to a tribal land that remains impossible for Westerners and most Pakistanis to visit. Since 9/11, it has been occupied by the Pakistani army and militants and often remains lawless.

It is where US president Obama, far more than his predecessor George W Bush, has unleashed an unprecedented number of drone strikes, killing hundreds of civilians since 2009, according to a recent study by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. These men, women and children are rarely given names by the Western media. Instead our media class are happy to simply repeat official Pakistani and American government claims of killing "terrorists".

We degrade our profession by mindlessly rehashing White House press releases with no evidence to support the thesis. Sadly it has become a regular occurrence in both the tabloid and so-called quality press, including the ABC, Fairfax and News Limited. "10 militants killed"; "7 Al-Qaeda terrorists killed". No evidence. Rarely any photographs or video. This isn't journalism; it's stenography.

Hayat's voice is invisible in the West, despite speaking fluent English. Here's a man with unique access to one of the most challenging areas on the planet and yet most Western news outlets seemingly prefer to rely on familiar faces and voices. When was the last time you read an article about Iraq or Afghanistan by an Afghan or Iraqi actually based in their respective countries?

During research for my book, The Blogging Revolution, on the internet in repressive regimes, a work that took me to Cuba, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and China, it became clear that many in the Western media are reluctant to hear voices that don't conform to their idea of what a foreigner should sound like or think. It is the only explanation for the near-complete exclusion of indigenous voices from conflict zones in our mainstream press.

Their freedom of speech is ignored because of the inherent, Western-centric nature of our leading journalists and media practitioners. Let me be blunt; our white-skin dominated media often doesn't trust brown, yellow or black skin. The result is a wilful myopia that ignores both the nuance of a nation and the reasons post 9/11 that so little is understood about the reality of the rapacious "war on terror" and its reach in dozens of countries worldwide.

Why do "they" hate us? Because we occupy and kill "them".


protest against supplies in pakistan...

Thousands of members of political and religious parties have begun a march toward Pakistan's capital in a massive convoy of vehicles to protest against the government's decision to allow the US and other NATO countries to resume shipping troop supplies to Afghanistan.

The "long march", which started in the eastern city of Lahore, was organised by the Defence of Pakistan Council, a group of more than 40 politicial and religious parties who have been the most vocal opponents of the supply line.

Pakistan closed the route in November in retaliation for US airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops.

Following months of negotiations, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the route last week after Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, apologised for the deaths.

Clinton met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for the first time since the apology on Sunday on the sidelines of an Afghan aid conference in Tokyo and expressed hope that resolution of the supply line conflict would lead to better relations between the troubled allies.

One of the reasons Pakistan waited so long to resolve the conflict is that the government was worried about a domestic backlash in a country where anti-US sentiment is rampant despite billions of dollars in US aid over the past decade.

The US drone campaign in northwest Pakistan, which has killed thousands of people since 2004, many of them civilians, remains a huge source of anger.

apparently, at apple app approval department...


Apple has rejected an iPhone app designed to keep track of fatalities caused by U.S. drone strikes for its "objectionable" content.

The company withheld App Store approval for Drones+, an app that sends text messages to iPhones whenever the media reports casualties resulting from a drone strike and shows users the locations of drone strikes on a Google map. (See brief video demonstration below.) Apple has rejected the app three times this summer, the most recent of which cited App Store guidelines that prohibit "objectionable" content, according to Josh Begley, the app's creator.

"We found that your app contains content that many audiences would find objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store guidelines," the company wrote Monday in an e-mail to Begley, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Begley, a graduate student at New York University, told The Times that he understood Apple's position.

"I totally understand it from Apple's perspective," he said. "They don't want to have anything that could be considered controversial by anyone. I get that, and I understand that."

However, The New York Times points out that the material deemed objectionable in Begley's app is nearly identical to material available on an Apple-approved app from The Guardian that included an interactive map of drone strikes.


see image at top...


double tap...

Late in the evening on 6 June this year an unmanned drone was flying high above the Pakistani village of Datta Khel in north Waziristan.

The buzz emitted by America's fleet of Predators and Reapers are a familiar sound for the inhabitants of the dusty hamlet, which lies next to a riverbed close to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and is a stronghold for the Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

As the drone circled it let off the first of its Hellfire missiles, slamming into a small house and reducing it to rubble. When residents rushed to the scene of the attack to see if they could help they were struck again.

According to reports at the time, three local rescuers were killed by a second missile whilst a further strike killed another three people five minutes later. In all, somewhere between 17 and 24 people are thought to have been killed in the attack.

The Datta Khel assault was just one of the more than 345 strikes that have hit Pakistan's tribal areas in the past eight years but it reveals an increasingly common tactic now being used in America's covert drone wars – the "double-tap" strike.

More and more, while the overall frequency of strikes has fallen since a Nato attack in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and strained US-Pakistan relations, initial strikes are now followed up by further missiles in a tactic which lawyers and campaigners say is killing an even greater number of civilians. The tactic has cast such a shadow of fear over strike zones that rescuers often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack.

"These strikes are becoming much more common," Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who represents victims of drone strikes, told The Independent. "In the past it used to be a one-off, every now and then. Now almost every other attack is a double tap. There is no justification for it."


See toon at top...

At the moment the 'war" is a lopsided unilateral asymmetric war... But I have the feeling that, say, the Russians would have invented by now a "simple" way to KILL OFF the drones... But one of the perversion here is that the Russians would not be unhappy to see the Taliban and their allies suffer for the defeat they inflicted on the russians in the 1980s. As well the Russians would not be unhappy to the see the Americans and their allies bogged down in a non-winnable war despite using massively superior technology...

Now how would you stop a drone from being a lethal weapon? One has to consider there is far more than the drone itself, but the targeting system and the identification of targets... The drones themselves have a few Achilles heels despite the constant updating of the controlling encryptions... Engines, wings, flight systems, gyroscopes, radars, etc.

The Chinese would have to be weary as well, thus they would have their own tools to disrupt such drones... But would they be prepared to show off their wares now when, I guess, they have to be prepared to deal with "muslim insurgency" in their own quarters?... 


drone-killing drone, soon in a war near you...

From Chris Floyd

Thus the new report, by the law  schools of New York University and Stanford (a famously if not notoriously conservative institution) should be, in a sane and rational world, a case of carrying coals to Newscastle or selling ice to the Inuit: an exercise in redunancy.

But instead, sadly, the report, "Living Under Drones," is a very, very rare instance of speaking truth to the power that is waging a hideous campaign of terror -- there is no other word for it -- against innocent people all over the world. 

The personal testimonies gathered by the researchers -- on the ground, in Pakistan -- are shattering ... at least for those who actually believe that these swarthy foreigner are actually human beings, with "hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions .. fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is." You can be sure -- you can be damned sure -- that the Nobel Peace Laureate in the White House has never and will never read these stories of the ones he is terrorizing, night and day. These testimonies will never appear beside the scraps of rumor, conjecture and brutal prejudice that constitute the "reports" he sees each Tuesday -- "Terror Tuesday" -- when he meets in the Oval Office 
with his death squad team to decide who will be assassinated that week.


As I have written in the comment above, someone somewhere must have invented a drone-killing drone... A new drone specifically designed to sneak behind  another drone and shoot it down... We'll see what's up next, doc...

drones in the hands of "contractors"...


Drone crashes mount at civilian airports

By Saturday, December 1, 7:22 AM

The U.S. Air Force drone, on a classified spy mission over the Indian Ocean, was destined for disaster from the start.

An inexperienced military contractor, flying by remote control in shorts and a T-shirt from a trailer at Seychelles International Airport, committed blunder after blunder during a six-minute span on April 4.

The pilot of the unarmed MQ-9 Reaper drone took off without permission from the control tower. One minute later, he yanked the wrong lever at his console, killing the engine without realizing why.

As he tried to make an emergency landing, he forgot to put down the wheels. The $8.9 million aircraft belly-flopped on the runway, bounced into the air and then plunged into the tropical waters at the airport’s edge, according to a previously undisclosed Air Force accident investigation report.

The out-of-control drone crashed at a civilian airfield that serves a half-million passengers a year, most of them sun-seeking tourists. No one was hurt, but it was the second Reaper accident there in five months – under eerily similar circumstances.

“I will be blunt here,” an Air Force official at the scene told investigators afterward. “I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening again.’” He added: “You go, ‘How stupid are you?’ ”

The April wreck was the latest in a rash of U.S. military drone crashes at overseas civilian airports in the past two years. The accidents reinforce concerns about the risks of flying the robot aircraft outside war zones, including in the United States.

A review of thousands of pages of unclassified Air Force investigation reports, obtained by The Washington Post under public-records requests, shows that drones flying from civilian airports have been plagued by a variety of setbacks.

Among the problems repeatedly cited are pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs in the “brains” of the aircraft, and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers.

On Jan. 14, 2011, a Predator drone crashed off the Horn of Africa while trying to return to an international airport next to a U.S. military base in Djibouti. It was the first known accident involving a Predator or Reaper drone near a civilian airport. Predators and Reapers can carry satellite-guided missiles and have become the Obama administration’s primary weapon against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Since then, at least six more Predators and Reapers have crashed in the vicinity of civilian airports overseas.


chris floyd goes away for a while...


We have arrived at what Tennessee Williams once called A Moon of Pause. When I asked him what on earth the phrase meant, as spoken by an actress in one of his plays, "It is," he said loftily, "the actual Greek translation of menopause." I said that the word "moon" did not come from menses (Latin, not Greek, for "month"). "Then what," he asked suspiciously, "is the Latin for moon?" When I told him it was luna and what fun he might have with the world "lunatic," he sighed and cut. 
Gore Vidal


Our revels now are not quite ended, but they have come to a moon of pause. I'm taking a sabbatical from the blog for a while -- perhaps a long while. There are many reasons for this: personal, political, physical, psychological, philosophical (and other words beginning with p). I thought at first to set down a few of these reasons here; but on second thought, I thought not. Suffice to say that when the Burlesque returns, it will be with some new costumes, new dance routines, new music, new approaches. At least I hope so. 

Meanwhile, thanks to the goodness of the blog's creator and webmaster, Rich Kastelein ("il miglior fabbro"), the site will remain "live" while I'm gone. Indeed, Rich's powerfulcollection of photos showing the realities of the American Imperium at war actually draws a large proportion of the blog's traffic every day. So the site itself will not be substantially affected by my absence.

In that absence, I leave behind a few statements which express some of the basic premises and stances behind the blog -- just in case somebody wanders by and wants to know what kind of place this is.

See you down the line somewhere.



One of the last posts from Chris Floyd, now gone on a Sabbatical...


No Absence of Malice: Whitewashing the White House Murder Program


On Sunday, the New York Times -- the paper of record, the bellwether by which all "serious" American media sets its compass -- published a story about the Obama administration's efforts to codify its "extrajudicial killing program" before the election. The aim, we were told, was to make sure there were "clear standards and procedures" in place to keep the death squads going, even if the president lost the election.

The story was yet another in a series of White House-directed pieces about the killing program, in which anonymous, high-level administration officials leak top-secret information and insider gossip designed to paint the president and his aides as moral paragons struggling nobly to find the most effective and ethical way to use the killing programs and keep Americans safe. That is not only the underlying assumption of the story; it is the only assumption allowed in the story. There are three paragraphs in which duly accredited establishment figures voice what could be taken as mild criticisms about certain tactical aspects of the White House killing program. 

But even these muted voices end with Shuja Nawaz -- an Establishment worthy from the Atlantic Council who is "Pakistani-born," the New York Times takes pains to tell us (without telling us that he once worked for the New York Times) -- calling on the Obama administration not to end the murderous drone campaign in his native land but to be more proud of it, more open about it, to detail every death it causes, including any "collateral deaths." This transparency will evidently assuage the anger of those who've watched their innocent loved ones -- including their children -- blown to bits by American drones, and they will no longer listen to "propaganda" from "jihadist groups." 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the full extent of the criticism of the killing program permitted in the paper of record in its front-page Sunday story. The only possible problem with the president of the United States and his deputized subordinates killing people all over the world outside any legal procedure or standards of evidence or, in many cases,  without knowing anything at all about who they are killing -- is that the program might not be as open and efficient as it could be.

I was going to write at length about this extraordinary piece of sinister puffery, but I find that Arthur Silber is already on the case, saying everything I wanted to say, and more. So I'm just going to excerpt a few passages from his piece, while urging you to get on over there and read the whole thing.


  1. "The NYT story is a vile exercise in fantasy, and a lie from beginning to end. As we know from numerous reports -- and as we know from what the Obama administrationitself has acknowledged -- the Murder Program murders innocent human beings. This isn't a possibility, something that the administration fears might happen. It has happened in an unforgivable number of cases. Moreover, the NYT story tells us this with stark clarity. Here's the most obvious example:



  • "[F]or several years, first in Pakistan and later in Yemen, in addition to “personality strikes” against named terrorists, the C.I.A. and the military have carried out “signature strikes” against groups of suspected, unknown militants.
  • Originally that term was used to suggest the specific “signature” of a known high-level terrorist, such as his vehicle parked at a meeting place. But the word evolved to mean the “signature” of militants in general — for instance, young men toting arms in an area controlled by extremist groups. Such strikes have prompted the greatest conflict inside the Obama administration, with some officials questioning whether killing unidentified fighters is legally justified or worth the local backlash."


These tragedies must end

These tragedies must end
Obama: Nation isn’t doing enough to protect children...

Yes indeed... See toon at top...

like clay ducks in a shooting gallery...

Afghan president Hamid Karzai is barring his country's ground forces from calling in NATO air strikes after an attack this week killed a number of children.

In an address on Saturday to young officers at a military academy in Kabul, he said asking for air support from foreign soldiers was banned from now "under any conditions".

"Our forces ask for air support from foreigners and children get killed in an air strike," he said.

This was apparently a reference to an attack during an overnight raid on Wednesday (local time) by combined Afghan and NATO ground forces on a Taliban hideout in a remote eastern region.

Initial reports said 10 civilians, including five children and four women, were killed when the air strike was called in.

Three Taliban commanders, including a notorious Al Qaeda-linked militant leader called Shahpoor, were also killed in the raid, Afghan officials said.

Civilian casualties caused by NATO forces fighting Taliban Islamist insurgents are a highly sensitive issue and are regularly condemned by Mr Karzai.

bombing conducted without consent...


The United States has violated Pakistan's sovereignty and destroyed tribal structures with unmanned aerial drone strikes in its counterterrorism near the Afghan border, a UN human rights investigator has said.

"As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign in Pakistan is ... being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate Government of the State," Ben Emmerson, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, said in a statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on Friday.

Emmerson visited Pakistan for three days this week as part of his investigation into the civilian impact of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killings.

"It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty," he said.

Emmerson said in January that he would investigate 25 drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. He is expected to present his final report to the UN General Assembly in October.

Washington had little to say about Emmerson's statement.

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See image at top...


playing the double game...

There are credible reports coming out of Europe that the CIA is keeping a very close tab (spying) on Islamist extremists in the war against the government in Syria... First, the CIA knows that the "rebels" need the support from these extremists to win... But after the rebels take power, the CIA is already poised to take out the Islamist extremists with drones... All this for? The USA apparently want to keep its interests intact in Syria, with the help of course of the Saudis... 


As the Europeans have maintained an embargo on officially sending arms to the rebels, the West is helping the countries that are supplying weapons to the rebels by various ways.  


Is this war soon to become a battle between the Russians and the West?


Al-Nusra Front, also referred to as Jabhat al-Nusra (Arabicجبهة النصرة لأهل الشام‎ Jabhat an-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham, meaning: "The Support Front for the People of Syria"), is an Islamic group of militant rebels operating in Syria. The group announced its creation on 23 January 2012 during the Syrian civil war.[4] It is described as "the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force".[3] The group was designated by the United States as a terrorist organisation in December 2012.[5]


The battle of the flags...

Most revolutions have a flag. But presently the Al-Nusra Front does not like the Free Syria movement flag nor its goals which is to bring back the "republic" and as such is thus using the old republican flag of Syria.

The Al-Nusra Front fight to bring a pure Islamic Salafist jihadist with extreme sharia laws in Syria (Salafism, as wahabism, is the strict religion of the Saudi regime). The Syrian population that loved them at first is starting to be frightened by the prospect of "sharia", "jihad' and "fatwah" ruling the country in which they seek more "freedom". Already the "battle of the flags" is taking place: The Al-Nusra jihadists are taking anyone caught with the revolution republican flag to Islamic courts in the areas they control.


republican flagrepublican flag


Al-Nusra Islamist flagAl-Nusra Islamist flag

secret deal on drones...

From the NYT



[June 2004] Less than 24 hours later, a missile tore through the compound, severing Mr. Muhammad’s left leg and killing him and several others, including two boys, ages 10 and 16. A Pakistani military spokesman was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, saying that Pakistani forces had fired at the compound.

That was a lie.

Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

That back-room bargain, described in detail for the first time in interviews with more than a dozen officials in Pakistan and the United States, is critical to understanding the origins of a covert drone war that began under the Bush administration, was embraced and expanded by President Obama, and is now the subject of fierce debate. The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization.

The C.I.A. has since conducted hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed thousands of people, Pakistanis and Arabs, militants and civilians alike. While it was not the first country where the United States used drones, it became the laboratory for the targeted killing operations that have come to define a new American way of fighting, blurring the line between soldiers and spies and short-circuiting the normal mechanisms by which the United States as a nation goes to war.         


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bounty hunter...

The farming and ranching town of Deer Trail, Colorado, is considering paying bounties to anyone who shoots down a drone.

Next month, trustees of the town of 600 that lies on the high plains, 55 miles (34km) east of Denver, will debate an ordinance that would allow residents to buy a $25 hunting licence to shoot down "unmanned aerial vehicles".

Governments once paid bounties to hunters who killed animals that preyed on livestock, but only after they produced the ears. Similarly, the town would pay $100 to anyone who could produce the fuselage and tail of a downed drone.

"Either the nose or tail may be damaged, but not both," the proposal notes.

The measure was crafted by resident Phillip Steel, a 48-year-old army veteran with a master's degree in business administration, who acknowledges the whimsical nature of his proposal. But the expansion ofdrones for commercial and government use was alarming, he said.

"We don't want to become a surveillance society," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

He said he had not seen any drones, but that "some local ranchers" outside the town limits had.

Under the proposal, hunters could legally shoot down a drone flying under 1,000 feet with a 12-gauge or smaller shotgun.

The town would also be required to establish a drone "recognition programme" for shooters to properly identify the targeted aircraft.

"In no case shall a citizen engage an obviously manned aerial vehicle," the draft proposal reads.

fox highlight ....

I'm a huge fan of Reza Aslan - mainly for his thoughtful and accessible analysis of religious studies and cultural movements. This reporter was confused by his credentials and decided to ask a really silly question - over and over. Seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it?

A Muslim Scholar Wrote A Book About Jesus. Watch A Confused Newscaster's Brain Shut Down


is it a bird? is it a plane? is it a?... it's mini-drone!

Maveric puts observers off the scent with a split tail and flexible, rounded wings

LAST UPDATED AT 15:16 ON Thu 28 Nov 2013

WHAT'S the best way to keep a drone on the down-low?

US military engineers have found a way to render their latest high-tech gadget effectively invisible, even to people looking straight at it.

"The big problem with drones is they look like, well, drones," says Wired's Allen McDuffee. "It makes them easy to spot, and easy to target."

Maveric, a micro-drone with rounded, flexible wings and a split tail, seeks to sidestep the problem with its bird-like profile. The theory is that anyone looking for aircraft will ignore its gentle, natural-looking silhouette.

The six-inch drone drone, which can reach speeds of 65mph as it cruises at 25,000ft, is equipped with a retractable all-weather camera for reconnaissance missions.

Made from composite materials, it weighs little more than 1kg and can fly for an hour on a single battery charge.

It was designed by Prioria, an American robotics firm which won a $4.5 million contract with the US Army to provide 36 of the drones for what Wired described as "an urgent, but undisclosed, need".

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“Why did you kill my family?” ...

An American drone hovers along a main thoroughfare in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. Not a real drone, but rather a 7 foot-long rendition of an unmanned aircraft spray-painted near the top of a whitewashed city wall. Below it, a stenciled-on child is writing: “Why did you kill my family?” in blood-red English and Arabic script.

Painted by Yemeni artist Murad Subay, the Banksy-esque mural sits beside three others also admonishing the United States’ use of drones in Yemen to track and kill terrorism suspects. This drone art is part of Subay’s latest campaign, “12 Hours”, which aims to raise awareness about twelve problems facing Yemen, including weapons proliferation, sectarianism, kidnapping and poverty. Drones are the fifth and arguably most striking “hour” yet completed.

“Graffiti in Yemen, or street art, is a new device to communicate with the people,” says Subay, 26, who after taking up street art two years ago in the wake of Yemen’s Arab Spring revolution has almost single-handedly sparked the growing Yemeni graffiti movement. “In one second, you can send a message.”

Read more: Yemen’s New Ways of Protesting Drone Strikes: Graffiti and Poetry |

a CIA drone addiction...

WASHINGTON — In the skies above Yemen, the Pentagon’s armed drones have stopped flying, a result of the ban on American military drone strikes imposed by the government there after a number of botched operations in recent years killed Yemeni civilians. But the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone war in Yemen continues.

In Pakistan, the C.I.A. remains in charge of drone operations, and may continue to be long after American troops have left Afghanistan.

And in Jordan, it is the C.I.A. rather than the Pentagon that is running a program to arm and train Syrian rebels — a concession to the Jordanian government, which will not allow an overt military presence in the country.

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assassinate first, ask questions later in 5 eyes conspiracy...


In April news emerged that two Australians were killed in Yemen as part of what is said to have been an anti-terror operation.

Christopher Havard and Darryl Jones—a dual citizen of New Zealand—were reportedly among five members of al-Qaeda killed in a drone strike.

They were the first Australians ever to have been killed by the US drone program.

Jeremy Scahill is the national security correspondent for The Nation and author of the book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, which deals with the US drone program

He also wrote and produced the documentary film Dirty Wars, based on his book.

see more:


losing 400+ drones...


More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

Since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by The Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

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drones of the slippery slope...

In our growing reliance on armed drones as instruments of war, how slippery is the slope we’re sliding on? Imagine that Vladimir Putin began using drones to kill Ukrainians who opposed Russia’s annexation of Crimea. If Putin claimed the targets were “members of anti-Russian terrorist groups,” what credibility would the United States have to condemn such strikes?

This scenario is outlined in a chilling report released Thursday by a bipartisan panel of military experts. The use of drones against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, begun by the George W. Bush administration and greatly expanded by President Obama, risks becoming “a long-term killing program based on secret rationales,” the report warns.

In the hypothetical Ukraine example, the world would demand proof that the individuals killed were indeed terrorists. The report notes that “Russia could simply repeat the words used by U.S. officials defending U.S. targeted killings, asserting that it could not provide any evidence without disclosing sources and methods.”

The report was commissioned by the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, and written by a panel that no one would consider a bunch of woolly-headed pacifists. Co-chairs of the group are retired Gen. John Abizaid, the former head of U.S. Central Command, and Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor. Included are former defense and intelligence officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“We are concerned that the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on targeted killings as a pillar of U.S. counterterrorism strategy rests on questionable assumptions, and risks increasing instability and escalating conflicts,” the report concludes. “While tactical strikes may have helped keep the homeland free of major terrorist attacks, existing evidence indicates that both Sunni and Shiite Islamic extremist groups have grown in scope, lethality and influence.”

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dreaming of drones...

SAN FRANCISCO — A MAN bleeds profusely from a leg shattered by a missile. He drags himself slowly across a field until he dies in the dirt. These images from Heather Linebaugh’s dreams play back endlessly, even in her waking hours.

Cian Westmoreland dreams of dozens of children staring at the sky in terror. And Brandon Bryant writes poems about soldiers dying in a sea of blood, their bodies imagined in the grainy infrared imagery of military operations.

I interviewed all three young Air Force veterans in order to gain a greater understanding of the costs of the White House’s secretive drone operations. As public support for foreign wars has fallen, following yearslong occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has favored this form of remote-control warfare. In the president’s first five years in office, the C.I.A. made 330 drone strikes in Pakistan alone, compared with 51 strikes in four years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

The rationale for weaponized drones was twofold. The powerful technology of high-quality video streamed in real time via satellite promised the capability to kill enemy combatants with pinpoint accuracy. At the same time, operations could be conducted in air-conditioned comfort in locations like the Nevada desert, keeping American personnel out of harm’s way.

Neither assumption was correct.


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See story and toon at top...

droning democracy to smithereens...


The Children of Syria

By Peter Koenig

March 21, 2016 "Information Clearing House" -  There is no other species, no other biological being on this planet that for no necessity at all destroys its own species for sheer greed and power.

Hardly anybody talks about and shows the horrendous situation in Syria on the ground, how this US instigated war affects the people, the individuals - and in particular the children. No future. Three million of them (UNICEF) do not go to school; they are malnourished, many sick, many die - miserable deaths, in unsanitary refugee camps; uncounted children are orphans at young age - have to fend for themselves, are being abused, exploited, mistreated, physically and mentally. 

What a future? What a life. – Add to these 3 million from Syria alone the uncounted children from Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan – and the list goes on. All of these children were made homeless and refugees and many also orphans through wars and armed conflicts started by the US and its western ‘allies’. 

Be sure always to remember, who is behind these conflicts; who could stop the misery anytime and who has the power to bring peace to humanity rather than constant war and mass killings to satisfy their greed – greed for dominance, greed for resources.

According to the UNHCR about 60 million people worldwide are on the move as refugees. This figure in reality is probably at least 70 million. It also masks another reality - one of abject poverty and misery, caused by a US-led world elite living in superb luxury and comfort, killing for more wealth and more power. The number of children can only be estimated. It is fair to guess that at least 1/3 of all refugees are children and adolescents, some 25 million. Again, most of these worldwide refugees are the result of US aggressions or conflicts initiated by Washington and carried out by US / NATO armed forces, or by America’s vassals and proxies, i.e. the war in Yemen nominally fought by the Saudis and other Gulf states, but with full backing and arms supplied by the US / NATO.

Young girls and adolescent women are often ending up in the sex-trade. Many of the boys and girls are abused as slaves or at best cheap, hardly-paid labor, working at least 12-hour days and of course – no chance of going to school – a missed opportunity to get a basic education. – What will they do in the future? - Those who may one day be ‘free’ from seeking shelter as refugees, free from slavery and able to enter a ‘normal’ work life? 

The number of refugees is increasing with every bombing run by the US and NATO; by drone assassinations, yes, personally approved by Obama, the self-appointed leader of the world who goes around the globe preaching human rights, the biggest human rights abuser in recent history. US drones have killed tens of thousands in the last 15 years. To that you may add the hundreds, perhaps thousands killed by UK and French drones. At least 90% of those killed are civilians, many of them, maybe as many as half, are children or adolescents.

Many children survive as orphans. Especially when the trigger-happy drone-trained operators in Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas or elsewhere on the US territory, or the US Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, Djibouti, direct their joysticks towards a wedding or funeral celebration in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan – you name it. They have a particular liking for these mass family gatherings. The ‘bug splats’ – military slang for people killed by remote control – are the most numerous, the most fun, the bloodiest ‘bang for the buck’, for these inhuman monsters, trained to kill in places tens of thousands of kilometers away from their comfort zone – and ordered to do so by the Assassin-in-chief, Obama; he who proudly says that he approves each killing personally. How does the man – if he still deserves the term – sleep at night?

Many of these drone ‘pilots’ work from mobile air-conditioned trailers outside large cities in the US, but also from Africa, Afghanistan or the United Arab Emirates. There are at least 60 drone bases around the world, most of them controlled by the CIA and their proxies. Their number may be flexible with a tendency to grow. They are often operating from simple airstrips, easy to set up and easy to dismantle. They are clad in a shroud of secrecy, therefore difficult to monitor. This is modern American warfare, by robot, removed from emotions. Killing is a mere statistic, a measure accounted for on a spreadsheet. Almost nobody talks about this atrocious way of combat that is easily and painlessly replicated everywhere and endlessly.

How can a future Syria be built without an educated population? There will be a generation gap, for several generations – if ever – before the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region can recuperate its economy, its social and physical infrastructure – its sheer living of normal lives. Syria, Libya and Iraq were the most progressive countries in MENA: free education and health care; a first-class social safety net and physical infrastructure that functioned; a deep and profound history of humanity, the cradle of our western civilization. No more. The very ‘western civilization’ has destroyed it all. Bombed into oblivion. They were and Syria still is socialist by definition – a red flag and no-go for the western neoliberal fascist way of thinking and economic model.

Most of these people have done no harm, are no terrorists, especially the children, they were happy to go to school, to play with their friends, to have a home and caring family and daily food on the table. Now everything is lost. No home. Street children, begging, eating from the gutters, sick, torn and filthy clothing, cold, no shelter – no health care – no care at all. Washington and Washington directed stooges have taken away their future, have plunged them into misery, those that have survived and are roaming the globe as ‘refugees’. What a western sanitized term out of the handbook on statistics – when these poor souls are more often than not at the edge of survival, expulsed from one country to another, beaten, threatened with guns, sometimes killed, hovering between a life of despair and death from starvation, disease or sheer neglect.

Because the greed-driven neoliberal western colonialists - the same Europeans and some of them have become North Americans in the 18th, 19th and 20th century - who have ravaged and raped and exploited the world for centuries, these same people - can they still be called people? - are now decimating and destroying what’s left of our globe, for full spectrum dominance. 

Killing is the new normal. Desolation and misery of living beings is of no importance. Interference without limitation, that is what the west does best, literally best. They have perfected an evil science: how to create a chaos of suffering and misery efficiently, with the least effort, at least cost - bombs, drones – poison gas, spent uranium, GMOs, and finally - the atom bomb - eradicating all. By chaos you divide and conquer.

Paradise going up in flames, taking evil humanity with it – safe for a few indigenous people, who have lived all their lives and are still living close and with nature. They may become the founders of a new humanity. 

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

expanding the "kill list"...


We’re allowing a mindset of “anything Trump does is wrong”—coupled with lightning-speed historical revisionism for the Obama era—to sustain the same mistakes in the war on terror that have continued to fuel radical Islam. But there may be a window of opportunity to turn the anti-Trump rhetoric into a review of the failed policies of the last decade and a half.

A recent example of “anything Trump does is wrong” has to do with the president changing the rules for drone-kill decision making. In May 2013 President Obama self-imposed a dual standard (known as the “playbook”) for remote killing. The White House, including Obama himself reviewing a kill list at regular meetings, would decide which individuals outside of the “traditional war zones” of Iraq and Afghanistan would be targeted.

Meanwhile, in America’s post-9/11 traditional war zones, military commanders then made, and now make, the kill decisions without civilian review, with the threshold for “acceptable civilian casualties” supposedly less strict. Because the president is supposed to make his decisions with more regard than the military for civilian deaths (though there are no statistics to support that this has been the outcome), the process represented, in the words of the New York Times, “restraint.” Other supporters refer to the president’s role as oversight.

There has been a change. In mid-March, Trump granted a Pentagon request to designate certain zones inside Yemen as “areas of active hostilities.” Trump is expected to approve the same new policy for parts of Somalia.

Read more:


see toon at top...


drones of the cia...


WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. is pushing for expanded powers to carry out covert drone strikes in Afghanistan and other active war zones, a proposal that the White House appears to favor despite the misgivings of some at the Pentagon, according to current and former intelligence and military officials.

If approved by President Trump, it would mark the first time the C.I.A. has had such powers in Afghanistan, expanding beyond its existing authority to carry out covert strikes against Al Qaeda and other terrorist targets across the border in Pakistan.

The changes are being weighed as part of a broader push inside the Trump White House to loosen Obama-era restraints on how the C.I.A. and the military fight Islamist militants around the world. The Obama administration imposed the restrictions in part to limit civilian casualties, and the proposed shift has raised concerns among critics that the Trump administration would open the way for broader — and riskier — C.I.A. strikes in such countries as Libya, Somalia and Yemen, where the United States is fighting the Islamic State, Al Qaeda or both.

Until now, the Pentagon has had the lead role for conducting airstrikes — with drones or other aircraft — against militants in Afghanistan and other conflict zones, such as Somalia and Libya and, to some extent, Yemen. The military publicly acknowledges its strikes, unlike the C.I.A., which for roughly a decade has carried out its own campaign of covert drone strikes in Pakistan that were not acknowledged by either country, a condition that Pakistan’s government has long insisted on.

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the drone war on innocent weddings...

When a Navy SEAL was killed and three others injured during a raid in Central Yemen in early 2017, Americans asked, “What are we doing there?” When three U.S. Army Special Forces troops were killed in an ambush while on patrol in Niger, folks back home said, “What are we doing there?”

While these two surprise attacks by suspected al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters on the ground raised important questions about America’s military presence in countries where it hasn’t declared war, as usual the queries and public outrage failed to illuminate the iceberg beneath the surface. U.S. military activity—in particular, airstrikes and raids in the Middle East and Africa, not to mention Afghanistan—has not only accelerated under the Trump administration, but targeted killing campaigns are reportedly operating under fewer constraints and with less transparency than even under the notoriously secretive Obama administration.

In short, there’s a lot of kinetic action going on that the American public doesn’t know about. And they probably won’t know about it—at least until something awful happens or officials are forced to show their cards. And even then, the government will still be holding most of the deck under the table.

Earlier this year, investigative journalist Nick Turse, who U.S. African Command blacklisted after claiming he was not “legitimate,” reported that the U.S. has Special Forces operating in 149 countries on the planet—a 150 percent increase over the George W. Bush years. But what about the skies? Of this we have only troubling glimpses. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Trump administration launched over 160 strikes in Yemen and Somalia in 2017—that’s 100 percent and 30 percent more, respectively, than the drone-loving Obama administration launched the year before. The attacks in Afghanistan as of January 1 were reaching the same levels as the 2009-2010 “surge,” and we all know how well that’s working out.


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house drone improvements...

The US Air Force says that it must rely on artificial intelligence technology to sift through vast troves of data gathered from surveillance drones because, “if you are not first in developing artificial intelligence and the means to employ [it] … you’re going to be last.”

Airborne data collecting platforms like the RQ-4 Global Hawk have a problem: the usefulness of the data they collect is limited by how fast and how well it can be analyzed. US military intelligence gathers a lot of data, but in order to make the data useful for a decision making process, the Air Force needs a "sensing grid that fuses together data," C4ISRNET reported Wednesday. AI will help the force interpret that fused data.

The AI will harvest information from airborne systems in development such as Gremlin drones, which the US military portrays as a swarm of small drones that take off from an aircraft mid-flight and are recovered by the same aircraft.

"How do I get the data so I can fuse it, look at it and then ask the right questions from the data to reveal what trends are out there?" Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson said in a July 31 interview with the news outlet.

"We have to do all of that at the speed of relevance," she said.


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somebody was loose and stupid...

Iran "made a very big mistake" in shooting down a US military surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz, President Donald Trump says.

However, he told reporters it could have been the result of human error, saying: "I find it hard to believe it was intentional."

Iran said the drone had violated Iranian airspace, but the US military denied this.

The incident comes amid escalating tension between the two countries.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran would take its complaint that the US "encroaches on our territory" to the UN.

"We don't seek war but will zealously defend our skies, land and waters," he said on Twitter.

What did Trump say?

Speaking at the White House, he called the drone's downing a "new fly in the ointment".

Mr Trump said it was "documented" that the unmanned drone had been over international waters and not in Iranian airspace.

"I think probably Iran made a mistake - I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down," he said.

"It could have been somebody who was loose and stupid," he added.

"Like him..." we all thought....


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See also: the art of war... in creating smoke with his own fire...


Meanwhile, we were "lucky"... Is there some geezer piloting Trump? Or is he totally vacant?


Donald Trump backtracked a bit on his hostile rhetoric toward Iran: when he said they "made a big mistake” he more meant they shot down the drone “by mistake.” He then baffled the press saying at least no one was “in the drone.”

 While Trump might have simply been emphasizing that no one was actually killed in the Thursday downing of an American surveillance drone near Iran, his word choice left more than a few people in between puzzled expressions and face-palms.

“Fortunately that drone was unarmed it was… there was no man in it. It was over international waters [...], but we didn’t have a man or woman in the drone, we had nobody in the drone.”


 A number of journalists and people on Twitter were quick to mock the president for making sure to specify that no one was physically piloting the vehicle... which is unmanned by definition.


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droning on about democracy...


Mehr News Agency - Drone-delivered democracy!

TEHRAN, Aug. 18 (MNA) – United States will increase drone flights to 90 a day over the next four years to broaden surveillance in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, the South China Sea and North Africa.



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See also:

a game changer?... in droning about the drone....

not piloted...

The recent bombing of Saudi oil facilities by unmanned aerial vehicles has raised a number of questions about drones. 

But one area that has seen considerable interest already is the problem of "moral injury" in drone pilots. 

Instead of being shielded from the psychological and emotional impacts of warfare, drone pilots instead face the risk of "moral injury". 

When drones were first being used for military operations, there was a sense that these technologies would protect pilots from the harms of warfare. 

As the vehicles could be remotely piloted, those pilots were no longer at risk of being shot down.


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Note the drones that hit Saudi Arabia's oil refineries were "not piloted".  The Houthis do not have the technology to pilot drones beyond a few kilometres. But they have the technology to program their drones to fly to a particular point using US GPS and crash. Once launched from movable ramps rather than airfields, these drones are autonomous. Some of them flew pass their intended targets and crashed to the north of the refineries.

droning civilians to death...


DANIEL HALE, a former Air Force intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to sharing classified documents about drone strikes with a reporter, has been arrested ahead of his sentencing in July.

In March, Hale pleaded guilty to one charge under the Espionage Act, and he faces up to 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July, but a federal judge has ordered him incarcerated until then for violating the terms of his pretrial release, according to court records.

It’s unclear precisely what Hale is accused of doing, and court documents show that his lawyers objected to his jailing. Minutes from a hearing last week indicated that the prosecution “seeks continued detention at this time” and that Hale’s lawyers argued that “there [are] no actual violations committed by the [defendant] as alleged.”

An attorney for Hale, Cadence Mertz, declined to explain the reason for Hale’s arrest. “Unfortunately there isn’t any comment we can make,” Mertz told The Intercept by email.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jesselyn Radack, a whistleblower attorney who has assisted Hale in the past, said in a phone interview that Hale was seeing a court-appointed therapist and that his arrest came as a surprise. “We had goodbye, farewell activities that his friends and supporters wanted to have in this final, very tense time before July,” Radack said. “He didn’t even have time to find someone to take care of his cat.”

Last month, after Hale pleaded guilty, District Judge Liam O’Grady ordered that the conditions of his pre-sentencing release include submitting to “substance abuse testing and/or treatment as directed by Pretrial Services.”

According to his 2019 indictment, Hale enlisted in the Air Force in 2009 and was assigned to work for the National Security Agency. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of the Department of Defense’s Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2012, and was responsible for “identifying, tracking, and targeting” high-valued terror suspects.

As part of his plea agreement, Hale admitted to leaking 11 classified documents to a journalist. Other reporters have alleged that the documents were used in an eight-part series about drone strikes published by The Intercept. The series raises questions about the accuracy of strikes, targeting procedures, and special operations’ expanding footprint in Africa.

After the series ran, the Obama administration committed to further transparency for the drone program, including releasing an estimate of the number of “noncombatants” killed outside war zones like Afghanistan between 2009 and 2015. Civil liberties groups praised it as a step forward, though the administration’s figures were much lower than some independent groups had estimated.

The Intercept “does not comment on matters relating to the identity of anonymous sources,” Intercept Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed said at the time of Hale’s indictment.

“These documents detailed a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and killing people around the world, including U.S. citizens, through drone strikes,” Reed noted. “They are of vital public importance, and activity related to their disclosure is protected by the First Amendment. … No one has ever been held accountable for killing civilians in drone strikes.”


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