Covert Drone War

The use of Predator and Reaper drones (unmanned flying vehicles that are often armed with video-guided missiles) by the US military and CIA is a largely untold story of the "Global War on Terror / Global Contingency Operation" - yet has caused thousands of deaths in Pakistan and Afghanistan, many of whom are women and children.

Air America: Under the Imperial Eye

by Chris Floyd 

One unanticipated benefit of the relentless drive to turn every nook and cranny of the American war machine into a cash cow for private profit is the fact that so much of the nitty-gritty operational work is now put out for bids. And this can give us an occasional glimpse -- through the weeds of contract arcana -- of what our poobahs and satraps are really up to on the far-flung fields of empire.

For example, in olden times -- when war pork was confined more to vittles and blankets and bullets and such -- we might never have known of the latest development in the not-at-all-ended American occupation of Iraq. As the New York Times reports, Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces.

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In YouTube Event, Obama Defends Government’s Use of Drones

by Kevin Gosztola 

Billed as the “first-ever completely virtual interview from the White House,” YouTube and Google+ hosted an event this evening called “Your Interview with the President.” President Barack Obama answered video questions and also took questions from a few individuals who were selected to be a part of a “hangout.” The questions were on the economy, education and a few were on digital freedom and foreign policy issues.

Two questions of interest, given Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s interview last night on 60 Minutes, were  on drone use.

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Drone Warfare: Obama's Vast Killing Operation

by Glenn Greenwald 

I intended to post sporadically or not at all this week, and that’s still my plan, but there is a new Washington Post article which contains three short passages that I really want to highlight because they so vividly capture the essence of so much.

The article, by Greg Miller, is being promoted by the Post this way: “In 3 years, the Obama administration has built a vast drone/killing operation”; it describes the complete secrecy behind which this is all being carried out and notes: “no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.”

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America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases

They increasingly dot the planet.  There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth at an air base in the United Arab Emirates that almost no one talks about. 

And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide.  Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous -- until now.

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The human toll of the U.S. drone campaign

Pakistan Protests Dronesby Glenn Greenwald

The principal reason so little attention is paid to the constant victims of American violence in the Muslim world is because the U.S. Government refuses to disclose anything about these attacks and media outlets virtually never report on those victims (MSNBC demoted and then fired its then-rising-star Ashleigh Banfield when she returned from Iraq and pointed out that fact in an April, 2003 speech denouncing the “one-sided” coverage of American wars: meaning, the invisibility in U.S. media of America’s civilian victims). It’s easy to cheer for a leader who regularly extinguishes the lives of innocent men, women, teeangers and young children when you can remain blissfully free of hearing about the victims. It’s even easier when the victims all have Muslim-ish names and live in the parts of the Muslim world we’ve been taught to view as a cauldron of sub-human demons. That’s why it’s periodically worth highlighting the actual impact of those drones and the actual people they kill, as the BBC did today:

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For Our Allies, Death From Above

by Clive Stafford Smith

LAST Friday, I took part in an unusual meeting in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

The meeting had been organized so that Pashtun tribal elders who lived along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier could meet with Westerners for the first time to offer their perspectives on the shadowy drone war being waged by the Central Intelligence Agency in their region. Twenty men came to air their views; some brought their young sons along to experience this rare interaction with Americans. In all, 60 villagers made the journey.

The meeting was organized as a traditional jirga. In Pashtun culture, a jirga acts as both a parliament and a courtroom: it is the time-honored way in which Pashtuns have tried to establish rules and settle differences amicably with those who they feel have wronged them.

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A 51st State for Armed Robotic Drones

by David Swanson

Weaponized UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), also known as drones, have their own caucus in Congress, and the Pentagon's plan is to give them their own state as well.

Under this plan, 7 million acres (or 11,000 square miles) of land in the southeast corner of Colorado, and 60 million acres of air space (or 94,000 square miles) over Colorado and New Mexico would be given over to special forces testing and training in the use of remote-controlled flying murder machines. The full state of Colorado is itself 104,000 square miles. Rhode Island is 1,000 square miles. Virginia, where I live, is 43,000 square miles.

The U.S. military (including Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) is proceeding with this plan in violation of the public will, new state legislation on private property rights, an exceptionally strong federal court order, and a funding ban passed by the United States Congress, and in the absence of any approved Environmental Impact Statement. Public pressure has successfully put the law on the right side of this issue, and the military is disregarding the law.

I spoke with Jean Aguerre, whose organization "Not 1 More Acre" ( http://not1moreacre.net ) is leading the pushback against this madness. Jean told me she grew up, during the 1960s, on the vast grasslands of southeast Colorado, where the Comanche National Grasslands makes up part of a system of grasslands put in place to help the prairie recover from the dust bowl. The dust bowl, Aguerre says, was the worst environmental disaster in the United States until BP filled the Gulf of Mexico with oil. The dust bowl had been brought on by the government's policy of requiring homesteaders to plow the prairie. The recovery programs created large tracts of land, of 100,000 acres and more, owned by "generational ranchers," that is families that would hand the ranches off to their children.

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The CIA's unaccountable drone war claims another casualty

Tariq Aziz (centre, second row) attending a meeting about drones strikes in Waziristan, held in Islamabad, Pakistan on 28 October 2011. Three days later, the 16 year old was reported killed by a drone-launched missile. Photograph: Pratap Chatterjee/BIJ

by Pratap Chatterjee

Last Friday, I met a boy, just before he was assassinated by the CIA. Tariq Aziz was 16, a quiet young man from North Waziristan, who, like most teenagers, enjoyed soccer. Seventy-two hours later, a Hellfire missile is believed to have killed him as he was travelling in a car to meet his aunt in Miran Shah, to take her home after her wedding. Killed with him was his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan.

Over 2,300 people in Pakistan have been killed by such missiles carried by drone aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper, and launched by remote control from Langley, Virginia. Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed in this way to 175, according to statistics maintained by the organisation I work for, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

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Never Been More Proud to Be in a Courtroom

We seldom hear in the media who the innocent dead really are... do we know their names? Do we know anything about them or their families? Do we, as society, even care? The youngest of the boys killed was named Shahidullah, son of Rahman–he was 7 years old, 7 years old!

by Kathleen D. Kirwin, Esq.

“AS THE FATHER OF A YOUNG SON, I WENT TO THE WHITE HOUSE ON MARCH 19TH TO BE A VOICE FOR SHAHIDULLAH.” From the closing argument of Defendant Art Laffin in DC Superior Court.

Yesterday marked a watershed day in my 27 year legal career. It did not occur as I deftly cross- examined a witness, nor while waxing eloquent in front of a jury. Rather, it transpired as I sat in the back row of courtroom 219 in the DC Superior Court while watching and listening to the final day of testimony and closing arguments at a trial where 19 American citizens argued for justice. Notwithstanding that they were the ones on trial, the justice they pleaded for was not for themselves, and it never would be. Rather, the group’s cry was brought in the names of people half a world away, and the ultimate justice sought at the trial was a simple one: Stop killing them. Stop killing them.

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America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases: Its Full Extent Revealed for the First Time

by Nick Turse  Drone
 
A ground-breaking investigation examines the most secret aspect of America's shadowy drone wars and maps out a world of hidden bases dotting the globe.
October 16, 2011  |  
 
They increasingly dot the planet.  There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth that almost no one talks about at an air base in the United Arab Emirates. 
 
And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide.  

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The Sickness Unto Death

by Chris Floyd 

Sick drones flying over our heads

Sick drones dropping ten tons of lead
Nobody controls the ghostly machine
Hacked and cracked, they still make the scene
The bombs go off, the babies are dead
Sick drones flying over our heads

War Drones Keep Flying Despite Computer Virus (NYT)

This poem originally appeared on the blog Empire Burlesque

Main Covert Drone War

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.