Northrop Grumman / Chad Slattery / Handout via Reuters
A review of classified US intelligence records has revealed that the CIA could not confirm the identity of about a quarter of the people killed by drone strikes in Pakistan during a period spanning from 2010 to 2011.
According to a purportedly exclusive report by NBC News that mirrors findings of an April analysis by McClatchy, between September 3, 2010 and October 30, 2011 the agency’s drone program over Pakistan routinely designated those killed as “other militants,” a label used when the CIA could not determine affiliation, if any.
The review by NBC News paints both a confusing and troubling picture of the CIA’s reported drone strike success, which three former Obama administration officials feared could have missed or simply ignored mistakes.
Of the 14 months worth of classified documents reviewed, 26 out of 114 attacks designate fatalities as“other militants,” while in four other attacks those killed are only described as “foreign fighters.”
Even more irregular are the cases when entry records conflict on the number of those killed, with one such example indicating a drone attack had killed seven to 10 combatants, and another estimating 20 to 22 fatalities. Read More
Protesters hold signs and chant slogans outside the White House in Washington on April 13, 2013 during a demonstration against the use of dones against Islamic militants and other perceived enemies of the US around the world. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
As Washington pushes to expand its drone warfare in Africa, hundreds have gathered in front of the White House to protest the “robotic killing machines” slaughtering thousands across the globe.
Organized by the ANSWER coalition, the movement is calling on the administration to stop the use of drones on foreign soil. The coalition urges its members to stop the US government as it “functions as a death squad government, permitting the president and military leaders to create secret ‘kill lists’ of people who have been selected for assassination.”
On the organization’s website people have voiced their reasons behind their protest.
“No one should sit passively and allow our government to wage a ‘quiet war’ – an undeclared war but a real war in our name!” Rev. Graylan Hagler, a senior minister wrote.
“It’s time we Americans join the rest of the world in condemning President Obama’s barbaric drone killing spree, a policy that benefits the war profiteers but makes us hated around the world,” Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of CODEPINK said in her post. Read More
Yemeni President Abdu-Rabu Mansour Hadi.(Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)
The number of American airstrikes has risen sharply in Yemen as the US helps the weak local government to fight against local militants. But civilian casualties and secrecy trigger public uproar and win more support for Al-Qaeda.
The Obama administration’s anti-terrorism effort is heavily reliant on aerial strikes, particularly those delivered by drone aircraft. Yemen, a fractured and impoverished Arab Peninsula country with a government that cannot control large portions of its territory, is one of the primary battlefields.
The clandestine nature of the use of drones makes it difficult to track the number of such attacks and their victims. The Long War Journal, a nonprofit website that tries to do it, says that since 2002 the US has launched 57 airstrikes in Yemen. The bulk of those came this year, in which 38 strikes have been carried out. Read More
William McGuinness | The Huffington Post
Sometime around 9:30 on Monday night, Josh Begley, a New York University graduate student, got fed up and began tweeting times, dates and casualty counts for every drone strike the United States has ordered. He’s tweeting the drone strike history from DroneStream, an account he created.
Originally, Drones+, an iPhone app of Begley’s design, was intended to send a notification to users every time the U.S. ordered a drone strike. Apple rejected the app three times — twice for technical reasons, and once for objectionable or crude content.
Wired explained Apple’s response in August:
Begley is about at his wits end over the iOS version of Drones+. “I’m kind of back at the drawing board about what exactly I’m supposed to do,” Begley said. The basic idea was to see if he could get App Store denizens a bit more interested in the U.S.’ secretive, robotic wars, with information on those wars popping up on their phones the same way an Instagram comment or retweet might. Instead, Begley’s thinking about whether he’d have a better shot making the same point in the Android Market.
[See what it could be]
Law enforcement agencies across the US are lining up to be among the first to use drones to serve and protect, but unmanned vehicles are likely to replace the traditional cop cruiser in just a few short years.
In places like California, Texas and Washington State, police officers in recent weeks have intensified their demands for surveillance drones, a necessary addition they say to their arsenal of tools to help thwart crime. The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to finalize plans to put drones in US airspace, but by the end of the decade as many as 30,000 UAVs are expected to be soaring through the sky.
By 2025, those drones are predicted to take the place of the police patrol car as unmanned vehicles operated by cops are being considered a likely inclusion on our roads of tomorrow.
Leading up to this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, carmakers were asked to put together prototypes showing what they envision highway patrol vehicles to look like in the year 2025. The entries, from big manufacturers like BWM and Honda, are largely based on the still primitive drone technology that is used in military and surveillance missions overseas. Read More
Members of the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron from Indian Springs, Nev., perform pre-flight checks on the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle prior to a mission.
The UK military reportedly aims to double the size of its armed drone fleet in Afghanistan to ten by purchasing five US-made Reaper drones, which for the first time will be controlled from a UK base. The first five were controlled at US stations.The Royal Air Force (RAF) announced the expedited purchase of the US-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with operations set to begin in six weeks, AFP reported. The drones will be flown and operated from a tech hub built 18 months ago in the British region of Waddington in Lincolnshire, a leap forward in technological prowess for the UK.
The other five drones the UK operates in Afghanistan were controlled from a US Air Force base in Nevada, and target suspected insurgents in Afghanistan’s southwest province of Helmand.
“The new squadron will have three control terminals at RAF Waddington, and the five aircraft will be based in Afghanistan,” an RAF spokesperson told the Guardian. “We will continue to operate the other Reapers from Creech though, in time, we will wind down operations there and bring people back to the UK.”
It is not known whether the drones will remain in Afghanistan following the NATO withdrawal in 2014. Read More
The American Civil Liberties Union is taking the CIA to court for the agency’s refusal to comply with a FOIA request to hand over documents about the Obama administration’s “targeted killing” drone program.
The CIA claims its drone program is “secret,” even though President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and senior government officials have publicly spoken about the program. In May, the New York Times found that President Obama personally oversees a drone “kill list,” using the weapon to target and kill terrorists abroad and often cause fatalities to bystanders near the target. But the CIA considers all military-age males killed in a strike zone to be “combatants,” the Times found.
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in January 2010 asking the government to disclose “its use of predator drones to conduct ‘targeted killings’ overseas,” but the CIA refused to confirm or deny any information regarding the drones.
“The CIA cannot deny the existence of the government’s targeted killing program and refuse to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about the program while officials continue to make public statements about it,” the ACLU wrote in a press release. Read More