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Thread: Drone Terrorism

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    Default Drone Terrorism

    Drone strikes in Pakistan have killed many civilians, study says

    Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged, a new study by human rights researchers at Stanford University and New York University contends.

    The report, "Living Under Drones," also concludes that the classified CIA program has not made America any safer and instead has turned the Pakistani public against U.S. policy in the volatile region. It recommends that the Obama administration reevaluate the program to make it more transparent and accountable, and to prove compliance with international law.

    "Real people are suffering real harm" but are largely ignored in government or news media discussions of drone attacks, said James Cavallaro of Stanford, one of the study's authors.

    Cavallaro said the study was intended to challenge official accounts of the drones as precise instruments of high-tech warfare with few adverse consequences. The Obama administration has championed the use of remotely operated drones for killing senior Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, but the study concludes that only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders.

    The CIA and Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, declined to comment.

    The report says 130 people were interviewed by researchers in Pakistan over a nine-month period, including 69 survivors or family members of victims. The interviews took place in Pakistan outside the dangerous tribal areas. The researchers relied on a Pakistani human rights group, Foundation for Fundamental Rights, to find interview subjects.

    Allegations of large numbers of civilian deaths have dogged the drone effort in Pakistan since its inception in 2004 under President George W. Bush. Under President Obama, drone strikes have emerged as the core element of a U.S. strategy aimed at disrupting and eliminating the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas, where militants have taken refuge to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

    The drone strikes have soured relations with Pakistan, which has complained about civilian deaths and infringements on its sovereignty. The Obama administration has said that drone strikes have killed few, if any, civilians.

    The study authors did not estimate overall civilian casualties because of limited data, Cavallaro said. But it cites estimates by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has reported extensively on drone strikes, of 474 to 884 civilian deaths since 2004, including 176 children.

    In April, Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, described civilian casualties from drone strikes as "exceedingly rare." Brennan said the drone program has reduced danger to U.S. pilots, limited civilian casualties and helped prevent deeper U.S. military involvement overseas.

    In January, Obama in effect acknowledged the drone program when he said the U.S. must be "judicious in how we use drones."

    The Times reported in June that lawmakers from both parties who serve on congressional oversight committees are convinced the CIA takes great care to avert civilian casualties. The committee members said independent tallies, including those by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, are often based on local news reports that are wrong. Committee staffers review video and records associated with each strike.

    Cavallaro said the report decided to give more credence to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report rather than an analysis by the Long War Journal, a website that monitors drone strikes, which estimated 138 civilians killed since 2006. The site relies too heavily on anonymous and Pakistani government sources, Cavallaro said.

    The study challenges official versions of three attacks between 2009 and 2011, including a drone strike on March 17, 2011, that killed an estimated 42 people. The gathering was a jirga, a meeting of elders, called to settle a dispute over a chromite mine, the report says.

    According to the report, most of those killed were civilians, including elders and auxiliary police. Only about four known members of a Taliban group attended, the study says, citing survivors and news accounts. U.S. officials insisted that all the dead were militants, the report says.

    The authors recommend that the U.S. Justice Department publicly state the legal basis for targeted killings by drones and the criteria for "signature strikes," those authorized against armed men who fit the profile of militants. The report says the strikes violate international law because, in part, the government has not proved the targets are direct threats to the United States.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,5793737.story

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    ‘Drones causing mass trauma among civilians,’ major study finds

    by Chris Woods


    An armed US Reaper drone over Afghanistan (U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt/ Flickr

    September 25, 2012


    The near constant presence of CIA drones 'terrorises’ much of the civilian population of Pakistan’s tribal areas according to a new report.

    Men, women and children are subjected to almost constant trauma – including fear of attack, severe anxiety, powerlessness, insomnia and high levels of stress – says a nine month investigation into CIA drone strikes in Pakistan by two top US university law schools. More than 130 'victims, witnesses and experts’ were interviewed in Pakistan for the study.

    A number of those eyewitnesses corroborated the Bureau’s own recent findings – that rescuers have been deliberately targeted by the CIA in the tribal areas.

    The new study heavily challenges US government claims that few civilians have died in CIA drone strikes, saying that there is 'significant evidence’ to the contrary.

    As the report notes in its executive summary: 'In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling "targeted killing" of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false.’

    A film accompanying the report has been placed on YouTube.




    Impact on civilians

    The joint report, Living Under Drones, is by Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic. The 165-page study looks at key aspects of the CIA’s drone programme – its legal basis, how strikes are reported, their strategic implications – and how civilians are affected.

    Psychiatrists and doctors report a deeply stressed population in parts of the tribal areas. In their ninth year of bombing, US drones now fly almost constantly over towns such as Mir Ali and Miranshah.

    One psychiatrist told researchers that many of his patients experience 'anticipatory anxiety,’ a constant fear that they might come under attack. The report goes on to note that:
    Interviewees described emotional breakdowns, running indoors or hiding when drones appear above, fainting, nightmares and other intrusive thoughts, hyper startled reactions to loud noises, outbursts of anger or irritability, and loss of appetite and other physical symptoms. Interviewees also reported suffering from insomnia and other sleep disturbances, which medical health professionals in Pakistan stated were prevalent.’
    Pakistani MP Akhunzada Chitan reported that when he visits Waziristan to see his family, people 'often complain that they wake up in the middle of the night screaming’ because of the drones.

    The Stanford/ NYU report also examines in detail three Obama administration drone strikes. Multiple eye-witness reports of civilian deaths are accompanied by 'corroborating evidence from other independent investigations, media accounts, and submissions to the United Nations, and courts in the UK and Pakistan.’

    In total, more than 50 civilians are likely to have died in these three strikes alone, the report concludes. Anonymous US officials were still claiming recently that civilian deaths have only been in 'single digits’ during Obama’s entire four years in office.

    Attacks on rescuers corroborated

    The NYU/ Stanford report also independently corroborates a major Bureau investigation with the Sunday Times, which found that multiple CIA strikes between 2009 and summer 2011 had deliberately targeted rescuers and funeral-goers. Citing a number of eyewitness accounts, the study notes:
    Secondary strikes have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.’
    Hayatullah Ayoub Khan was driving in North Waziristan when the car ahead of him was damaged in a drone strike. The report says that as Khan approached on foot to see if he could help 'someone inside yelled that he should leave immediately because another missile would likely strike.’ As he returned to his car, a second missile killed whoever had been inside.

    A second anonymised man told researchers of an attack on the home of his in-laws: 'Other people came to check what had happened, they were looking for the children in the beds and then a second drone strike hit those people.’

    People now avoid assisting victims of drone strikes, researchers were told. One 'leading humanitarian organization’ said that it insists on a six-hour mandatory delay before its workers are allowed to assist, meaning it is 'only the locals, the poor, [who] will pick up the bodies of loved ones.’

    When seven of Faheem Qureshi’s family and friends died in Obama’s first ever drone strike, he believes he only survived because he was able to walk out of the smoking rubble of the house unaided.
    'Usually, when a drone strikes and people die, nobody comes near the bodies for half an hour because they fear another missile will strike,’ Qureshi told researchers.

    Funeral practices have also changed in the tribal areas because of fears of CIA attack, according to a number of witnesses. Firoz Ali Khan told researchers:
    Not many people go to funerals because funerals have been struck by drones. Many people are scared. They don’t go to funerals because of their fear.’

    The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Professor Christof Heyns, recently described the deliberate targeting of civilian rescuers as 'a war crime.’

    Bureau drones data is 'most reliable available’

    As part of their study the legal teams at New York and Stanford universities examined the work of the three main bodies which monitor CIA drone strikes – the Bureau, the Long War Journal (LWJ) and the New America Foundation (NAF). Noting that all three databases are susceptible to bias because of reporting restrictions in the tribal areas, the report nevertheless concluded that one source was far more dependable. Both LWJ and NAF are heavily criticised for their poor sourcing of strikes, and for their insistence on defining those killed as 'militants’, even when their source materials often say no such thing.

    In contrast the Bureau’s Pakistan data is praised as 'the most reliable available source.’

    Click here for more on the report’s data coverage

    The report notes that TBIJ 'maintains a much more dynamic database than either New America Foundation or The Long War Journal, updating its strike information frequently to reflect new information as it comes to light.’
    And it notes that the Bureau links to 344 unique sources for the first 27 strikes of 2012. In contrast NAF links to 107.

    'No response’

    The joint report by two of the US’s biggest university law schools came after legal campaigning group Reprieve suggested a study into the impact of drones on civilians. It also assisted in putting researchers in touch with some of those affected in Pakistan – although Reprieve has had no editorial input, according to the report.

    Professor Sarah Knuckey of NYU’s Global Justice Clinic co-authored the study with Professor James Cavallaro at Stanford. The pair visited Pakistan twice with a team of young lawyers, interviewing more than 130 people in connection with the CIA’s bombing programme.

    Knuckey, who has previously investigated killings by the Taliban in Afghanistan, told the Bureau she had been surprised at the high levels of civilian trauma described by health professionals in the tribal areas. Incidence levels more closely resembled those found in higher intensity conflicts, she said.

    Asked what she thought the study would achieve, Knuckey said that she hoped that those responsible in the US for covert drone strikes 'look at this and say there are extremely well documented and serious concerns, both about the impact of our policies on Pakistani civilians, and also on the US’s own interests, and we need to consider this very seriously.’

    The Obama administration has so far not engaged with the authors. A July 18 request for a meeting with the US National Security Council has yet to be answered.

    Follow Chris Woods on Twitter.

    Sign up for email alerts from the Bureau here.

    Related links:





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    New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama's drones

    New research shows the terrorizing impact of drones in Pakistan, false statements from US officials, and how it increases the terror threat




    A vitally important and thoroughly documented new report on the impact of Obama's drone campaign has just been released by researchers at NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School. Entitled "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan", the report details the terrorizing effects of Obama's drone assaults as well as the numerous, highly misleading public statements from administration officials about that campaign. The study's purpose was to conduct an "independent investigations into whether, and to what extent, drone strikes in Pakistan conformed to international law and caused harm and/or injury to civilians".

    The report is "based on over 130 detailed interviews with victims and witnesses of drone activity, their family members, current and former Pakistani government officials, representatives from five major Pakistani political parties, subject matter experts, lawyers, medical professionals, development and humanitarian workers, members of civil society, academics, and journalists." Witnesses "provided first-hand accounts of drone strikes, and provided testimony about a range of issues, including the missile strikes themselves, the strike sites, the victims' bodies, or a family member or members killed or injured in the strike".

    Here is the powerful first three paragraphs of the report, summarizing its main findings:



    ...[the report] concludes: "while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians."

    But beyond body counts, there's the fact that "US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury":



    In other words, the people in the areas targeted by Obama's drone campaign are being systematically terrorized. There's just no other word for it. It is a campaign of terror...regardless of what noble progressive sentiments one wishes to believe reside in the heart of the leader ordering it. And that's precisely why the report, to its great credit, uses that term to describe the Obama policy: the drone campaign "terrorizes men, women, and children".

    ...the report confirms what had already been previously documented: the Obama campaign's despicable (and likely criminal) targeting of rescuers who arrive to provide aid to the victims of the original strike. Noting that even funerals of drone victims have been targeted under Obama, the report documents that the US has "made family members afraid to attend funerals". The result of this tactic is as predictable as it is heinous:

    "Secondary strikes have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another's rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers."

    In the hierarchy of war crimes, deliberately targeting rescuers and funerals - so that aid workers are petrified to treat the wounded and family members are intimidated out of mourning their loved ones - ranks rather high, to put that mildly. Indeed, the US itself has long maintained that such "secondary strikes" are a prime hallmark of some of the world's most despised terrorist groups.

    Perhaps worst of all, the report details at length that the prime excuse offered by Obama defenders for this continuous killing - it Keeps Us Safe™ by killing The Terrorists™ - is dubious "at best"; indeed, the opposite is more likely true:



    All the way back in 2004, the Rumsfeld Pentagon commissioned a study to determine the causes of anti-US terrorism, and even it concluded: "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies." Running around the world beating your chest, bellowing "we're at war!", and bombing multiple Muslim countries does not keep one safe. It manifestly does the opposite, since it ensures that even the most rational people will calculate that targeting Americans with violence in response is just and necessary to deter further aggression.

    A one-day attack on US soil eleven years ago unleashed a never-ending campaign of violence around the world from the target and its allies. Is it really a challenge to understand that continuous bombings and civilian-killing assaults over many years, in many Muslim countries, will generate the same desire for aggression and vengeance against the US?

    Time and again, those who have attempted to perpetrate attacks on US soil have cited the Muslim children and other innocent human beings extinguished by Obama's drones. Recall the words of the attempted Times Square bomber, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, at his sentencing hearing when the federal judge presiding over his case, Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, asked incredulously how he could possibly use violence that he knew would result in the deaths even of innocent children -- as though she were literally unaware that her own government continuously does exactly that:

    "'...the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq...they kill women, children, they kill everybody...They're killing all Muslims' . . . .

    "'I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I'm avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don't care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.'"

    The minute he was apprehended by US authorities, Shahzad, as reported by the Washington Post, "told agents that he was motivated by opposition to U.S. policy in the Muslim world, officials said. 'One of the first things he said was, 'How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.'"

    Perhaps most importantly, the report documents the extreme levels of propaganda used by the western press to deceive their citizens into believing pure myths about the drone campaign. As I've argued before, the worst of these myths is the journalistic mimicry of the term "militants" to describe drone victims even when those outlets have no idea who was killed or whether that term is accurate (indeed, the term itself is almost as ill-defined as "terrorist"). This media practice became particularly inexcusable after the New York Times revealed in May that "Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants."

    Incredibly, even after that radical redefinition was revealed, and even after the Obama administration got caught red-handed spewing demonstrable falsehoods about the identity of drone victims, US media outlets continued to use the term "militant" to describe drone victims. The new report urges that this practice stop:



    Significantly, the report says the prime culprit of these evils is what it calls the "dramatic escalation" of the drone campaign by the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate - escalated not just in sheer numbers (in less than four years, Obama "has reportedly carried out more than five times" the number ordered by Bush in eight years), but more so, the indiscriminate nature of the strikes. As Tuesday's Guardian article on this report states: it "blames the US president, Barack Obama, for the escalation of 'signature strikes' in which groups are selected merely through remote 'pattern of life' analysis."



    The report is equally damning when documenting the attempts of the Obama administration to suppress information about its drone victims, and worse, to actively mislead when they deign selectively to release information. Recognizing the difficulty of determining the number of civilian deaths with exactitude - due to "the opaqueness of the US government about its targeted killing program" as well as the inaccessibility of the region - it nonetheless documents that "the numbers of civilians killed are undoubtedly far higher than the few claimed by US officials." In other words, the administration's public statements are false: "undoubtedly" so. As the LA Times summarizes the study's findings today: "Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged."...

    ...Finally, the report notes the threat to democratic accountability posed by the Obama administration's refusal to allow any transparency or judicial oversight regarding who the president orders killed: "The opaque position of the US government on civilian casualties is also emblematic of an accountability and democratic vacuum." In that regard, the report - as its final paragraph - quotes the question I have often asked about this state of affairs, an answer to which I have never heard from Obama's drone defenders:



    What has always made that question particularly pressing for me is that American progressives cheered loudly when a similar question was posed by Al Gore in a widely celebrated 2006 speech he gave on the Washington mall denouncing the Bush/Cheney assault on civil liberties:


    "'If the president has the inherent authority to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant, imprison American citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?'"

    What has always amazed me about that is that, there, Gore was merely decrying Bush's mere eavesdropping on Americans and his detention of them without judicial review. Yet here Obama is claiming the power to decide who should be killed without a shred of transparency, oversight, or due process - a power that is being continuously used to kill civilians, including children - and many of these same progressives now actually cheer for that.

    Democrats spent several days at their convention two weeks ago wildly cheering and chanting whenever President Obama's use of violence and force was heralded. They're celebrating a leader who is terrorizing several parts of the Muslim world, repeatedly killing children, targeting rescuers and mourners, and entrenching the authority to exert the most extreme powers in full secrecy and without any accountability -- all while he increases, not decreases, the likelihood of future attacks. This new Stanford/NYU report is but the latest in a long line of evidence proving all of that.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...a-drone-deaths

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    Re-elected for 4 more years with promises of more drone attacks on the innocents.






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    Obama's Crocodile Tears on Newtown Slayings as Dirty Drone Wars Rage On




    From December 14, world media was saturated with images and comment on the latest mass slaying by a young American male armed with cheap, easily and legally available firearms. These arms increasingly include high powered infantry war-theatre weapons such as US-made M16 and Russian AK47 Kalashnikovs, Heckler & Koch HK416 and 417 assault rifles, the Iraq-made Tabuk sniper rifle, Israeli Uzi submachine guns, and a large range of similar 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibre weapons with a killer firing range of 1 kilometre or more. In the US, sales of these arms always leap after each designer killing but Barack Obama shed a couple of tears on primetime TV concerning the Newtown outrage.

    Overseas however, the USA's dirty drone war grinds on, killing every day - with child deaths a prime "collateral damage". Obama does not weep about this on primetime. TV talking heads are not too loquacious about these "extrajudicial killings".

    Members of the US Congress convened in Washington on Thursday 13 December to discuss the United States’ ongoing extrajudicial slayings of Americans and foreigners overseas using drones. On Capitol Hill, Republican Dennis Kucinich led a House Judiciary Committee panel discussion that demanded more transparency from president Obama on how his administration decides and carries out the targeted killing of suspected terrorists using drone aircraft, an increasing tactic in America’s war on terror. The death toll is of course secret, but estimates are of hundreds, possibly thousands of persons including large numbers of civilians, including women, children, and US civilians abroad, dying in these extrajudicial killings.

    KEEPING QUIET

    Despite the growing number of "extrajudicial", that is illegal killings, the White House has remained impassive and mostly quiet on its drone war program. Most information on this dirty war are only to be gleaned through intelligence leaks to the media. In Obama's rare statements on the drone war, he has only defended it. Obama's administration defends the program as "legal". In February, the US Defense Department's senior lawyer Jeh Charles Johnson defended the drone strikes with this statement: "Under well-settled legal principles, lethal force against a valid military objective, in an armed conflict, is consistent with the law of war". He then gave the official Obama administration cop out on these killings: "It does not, by definition, constitute an ‘assassination.'".

    At Newtown, Connecticut however, Obama does not defend extrajudicial killings of children. In a similar way to rising demands for gun control, opponents of the US drone war are now becoming more vocal and demanding more transparency on this cowardly and illegal killing.

    On December 13, winding up the panel discussion, Dennis Kuchinich issued a statement from his office announcing a proposed resolution that would require the Obama administration to provide the legal basis for the drone strikes. Kuchinich said: "Despite the committee’s decision to report the resolution unfavorably, the committee engaged in a timely and important debate on the use of drones abroad and the violation of the constitutional rights of US citizens targeted abroad". Like several other members of the House Judiciary Committee, Kuchinich is especially alarmed about the "proliferation threat" of drone war - firstly the US creates a dangerous legal precedent, secondly it incites or encourages other nations to follow suit with drone killings and attacks on other countries.

    These attacks have no need to limit themselves to the softest targets of all - human beings, often villagers in countries as widespread as Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan - but can attack major strategic economic targets in enemy countries. These targets will inevitably feature nuclear reactors, nuclear waste dumps, LNG terminals, pesticide and oil refining facilities, power plants, Internet and computer servers and similar vulnerable, high damage potential targets. The USA of Obama has decided to use "dirty drones" to assassinate persons - including US citizens - in countries with which it is not formally at war. It must expect to be treated, or can fear being treated the same way.

    QUITTING THE SINKING SHIP

    The dirty war in Afghanistan is winding down rapidly, as the "defenders of freedom" break ranks and steal away in the night. The latest contingent to quit this illegal war is the French Army. Obama remains dug-in in Afghanistan, for reasons of national pride and maintaining the flimsy myth of 9/11, al Qaeda, bin Laden and the Taliban organizing and executing the year 2001 kamikaze airplane attacks on New York and Washington. Another and simpler reason why the US will inevitably abandon this dirty war is that occupying and invading troops - of the USA and its remaining allies - are unable to step outside of their bunkers and dugouts without heavy military protection: they would be rapidly assassinated if not. The war to win the "hearts and minds" of the Afghan people is a total failure.

    In a November 1 Editorial Board article published by the Washington Post, the board wrote: "It has been 10 years since the first strike by an armed U.S. drone......Since then, according to unofficial counts, there have been more than 400 “targeted killing” drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — countries where the United States is not fighting a conventional war. About 3 000 people have been killed, including scores — maybe hundreds — of civilians"

    Refusing to link the drone war with the progressive winding down of the Afghan war, the Obama administration has to date given no hints of any kind that it intends abandoning this new dirty war. Persons close to the administration claim the drone program "expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years". Their well-rehearsed rationale is that while drones may indeed prompt "propaganda claims" that drone war is illegal, evil and cowardly, it is really a more effective and — indeed yes! — humane way to combat an irregular enemy: identifying and eliminating its leaders as well as a few collateral victims. Also of course, drones do not put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk and can cause fewer collateral deaths than all-out invasion and occupation of designated "rogue states".

    Another well-rehearsed defence of drone war is that other countries already use drones to take out their opponents, including Russia in Chechnya and China in Tibet. The proliferation threat is brushed aside by saying other nations will inevitably acquire or develop, and use armed drones, just as they have adopted all previous advances in military technology, from the bayonet to the cruise missile. And of course nuclear, biological and chemical weapons!

    The massive difference - and danger - of drone war is however simple to understand. The US Homeland Security surveillance program on potential threats inside the US now includes a requirement by all model airplane shops and equipment suppliers to report any suspicious purchases, especially made using cash to avoid paper trace of payment, concerning larger-sized remote controlled models. The Obama administration which sheds crocodile tears over the Newtown killings is rapidly democratizing, downsizing and cutting the entry price of strategic warfare - but does it know this?

    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article38078.html

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Josh Begley, NYU Grad Student, Tweets Every Drone Strike


    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.

    I'm going to tweet the entire history of US drone strikes tomorrow. 10 years in 10 minutes, starting at 12pm. Follow @dronestream for more.
    — Josh Begley (@joshbegley) December 11, 2012

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/1...n_2289054.html

    https://twitter.com/dronestream






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    The woes of an American drone operator



    For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.

    The container is filled with the humming of computers. It's the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren't flying through the air. They're just sitting at the controls.

    Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.

    "These moments are like in slow motion," he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.

    With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

    Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

    Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

    "Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.

    "Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

    "Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

    Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

    They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

    Invisible Warfare

    When Bryant left the container that day, he stepped directly into America: dry grasslands stretching to the horizon, fields and the smell of liquid manure. Every few seconds, a light on the radar tower at the Cannon Air Force Base flashed in the twilight. There was no war going on there.

    Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it "more humane." It's the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promoted more than any of his predecessors.

    In a corridor at the Pentagon where the planning for this war takes place, the walls are covered with dark wood paneling. The men from the Air Force have their offices here. A painting of a Predator, a drone on canvas, hangs next to portraits of military leaders. From the military's perspective, no other invention has been as successful in the "war on terror" in recent years as the Predator.

    The US military guides its drones from seven air bases in the United States, as well as locations abroad, including one in the East African nation of Djibouti. From its headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the CIA controls operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

    Colonel William Tart, a man with pale eyes and a clear image of the enemy, calls the drone a "natural extension of the distance."

    Until a few months ago, when he was promoted to head the US Air Force's Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Task Force in Langley, Tart was a commander at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, near Las Vegas, where he headed drone operations. Whenever he flew drones himself, he kept a photo of his wife and three daughters pasted into the checklist next to the monitors.

    He doesn't like the word drone, because he says it implies that the vehicle has its own will or ego. He prefers to call them "remotely piloted aircraft," and he points out that most flights are for gathering information. He talks about the use of drones on humanitarian missions after the earthquake in Haiti, and about the military successes in the war in Libya: how his team fired on a truck that was pointing rockets at Misrata, and how it chased the convoy in which former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and his entourage were fleeing. He describes how the soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan are constantly expressing their gratitude for the assistance from the air. "We save lives," he says.

    He doesn't say as much about the targeted killing. He claims that during his two years as operations commander at Creech, he never saw any noncombatants die, and that the drones only fire at buildings when women and children are not in them. When asked about the chain of command, Tart mentions a 275-page document called 3-09.3. Essentially, it states that drone attacks must be approved, like any other attacks by the Air Force. An officer in the country where the operations take place has to approve them.

    The use of the term "clinical war" makes him angry. It reminds him of the Vietnam veterans who accuse him of never having waded through the mud or smelled blood, and who say that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

    That isn't true, says Tart, noting that he often used the one-hour drive from work back to Las Vegas to distance himself from his job. "We watch people for months. We see them playing with their dogs or doing their laundry. We know their patterns like we know our neighbors' patterns. We even go to their funerals." It wasn't always easy, he says.

    One of the paradoxes of drones is that, even as they increase the distance to the target, they also create proximity. "War somehow becomes personal," says Tart.

    'I Saw Men, Women and Children Die'

    A yellow house stands on the outskirts of the small city of Missoula, Montana, against a background of mountains, forests and patches of fog. The ground is coated with the first snow of the season. Bryant, now 27, is sitting on the couch in his mother's living room. He has since left the military and is now living back at home. He keeps his head shaved and has a three-day beard. "I haven't been dreaming in infrared for four months," he says with a smile, as if this were a minor victory for him.

    Bryant completed 6,000 flight hours during his six years in the Air Force. "I saw men, women and children die during that time," says Bryant. "I never thought I would kill that many people. In fact, I thought I couldn't kill anyone at all

    http://www.presstv.ir/usdetail/278383.html



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    U.S. Drone Strikes Are Causing Child Casualties: Video and Report

    During my recent trip to Pakistan as part of our upcoming documentary film, Drones Exposed, I was struck most by the stories told to me by children who had experienced a U.S. drone strike firsthand. The impact of America’s drone war in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen will linger on, especially for the loved ones of the 178 children killed in those countries by U.S. drone strikes.

    War Costs’ latest video (with accompanying report) brings attention to the children who have died as a result of drone strikes. The video names some of the children who perished in these strikes, and points out the obfuscation tactics of American officials who will not own up to the significant amount of civilian casualties that have occurred due to this legally- and morally-dubious policy.

    In addition to the video, War Costs offers this report detailing the effects of drone strikes on children. The findings come mainly from the diligent investigative reporting of TBIJ and the groundbreaking reports on the impact of drone strikes by Stanford and New York University researchers (Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan) and researchers at Columbia University (The Civilian Impact of Drones: Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions).

    In an effort to compel answers about why these innocent civilians have died without acknowledgement or explanation from the U.S. government, War Costs is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to debate and pass Rep. Dennis Kucinich's bill that calls for more transparency regarding U.S. drone strike policy.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert...b_2224627.html



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    Behind the U.S. targeted killing program




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

    The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations.

    U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.


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


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


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


    That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism. Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus. The rosters expand and contract with the pace of drone strikes but never go to zero.


    Meanwhile, a significant milestone looms: The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al-Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.


    The Obama administration has touted its successes against the terrorist network, including the death of Osama bin Laden, as signature achievements that argue for President Obama’s reelection. The administration has taken tentative steps toward greater transparency, formally acknowledging for the first time the United States’ use of armed drones.


    Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. Spokesmen for the White House, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA and other agencies declined to comment on the matrix or other counterterrorism programs.


    Privately, officials acknowledge that the development of the matrix is part of a series of moves, in Washington and overseas, to embed counterterrorism tools into U.S. policy for the long haul.


    White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.

    Source

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    The process behind targeted killing

    The Obama administration has been developing blueprints for a “disposition matrix,” a database that officials describe as a next-generation capture/kill list. Here is an overview of how targets are collected, reviewed and presented for presidential approval.






    http://postimg.org/image/olygy9n55/


    Tracking America's drone war


    Since 2002, armed drones have become an increasingly important element of U.S. national security policy.

    This project – which will be updated regularly – documents drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.


    http://apps.washingtonpost.com/foreign/drones/
    Last edited by islamirama; May-19-2013 at 06:49 PM.

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    U.S. drone camp in the heart of Djibouti


    Expansion is underway at the United States’ first counter- terrorism base, fenced within a one-runway airport shared by military and civilian aircraft in the heart of Djibouti. Scheduled to be complete in the next two years at a cost of nearly $1.4 billion, the Pentagon hopes the upgrades will strengthen the U.S. fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa.





    http://postimg.org/image/5i5aghm2v/





    Drone theater expands beyond Pakistan




    For most of the past decade, U.S. counterterrorism policy has been concentrated on Pakistan, where the George W. Bush administration ended its tenure with an increase in drone strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. Under President Obama, the attacks have expanded in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.







    http://postimg.org/image/5c3pnetcd/

    Sources: New America Foundation; Longwarjournal.org; staff reports. Julie Tate and Bill Webster/The Washington Post. Published on October 24, 2012, 1:32 p.m.
    Last edited by islamirama; May-19-2013 at 06:51 PM.

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    US Army steadily infiltrating Africa









    WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to suppodely “train countries to battle extremists” and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge.

    The teams will reportedly be limited to training and equipping efforts, and will not be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approvals from the secretary of defense.

    The sharper focus on Africa by the U.S. comes against a backdrop of widespread instability across North Africa, and as the African Union and other nations discuss military intervention in northern Mali.

    American officials believe that the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed the ambassador and three other Americans, may have been carried out by those who had ties to ‘al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb’.

    This first-of-its-kind brigade assignment — involving teams from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division — will target countries such as Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger, where Islamic resistance groups have been active. It also will assist nations like Kenya and Uganda that have been battling al-Shabab on the front lines in Somalia.

    Gen. Carter Ham, the top U.S. commander in Africa, noted that the brigade has a small drone capability that could be useful in Africa. But he also acknowledged that he would need special permission to tap it for that kind of mission.

    “If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared,” said Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command. “But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order.”

    Already the U.S. military has plans for nearly 100 different exercises, training programs and other activities across the widely diverse continent. But the new program faces significant cultural and language challenges, as well as nagging questions about how many of the lower-level enlisted members of the brigade, based in Fort Riley, Kan., will participate, since the teams would largely be made up of more senior enlisted troops and officers. A full brigade numbers about 3,500, but the teams could range from just a few people to a company of about 200. In rare cases for certain exercises, it could be a battalion, which would number about 800.

    To bridge the cultural gaps with the African militaries, the Army is reaching out across the services, the embassies and a network of professional organizations to find troops and experts that are from some of the African countries. The experts can be used during training, and the troops can both advise or travel with the teams as they begin the program.

    “In a very short time frame we can only teach basic phrases,” said Col. Matthew McKenna, commander of the 162nd Infantry Brigade that will begin training the Fort Riley soldiers in March for their African deployment. “We focus on culture and the cultural impact — how it impacts the African countries’ military and their operations.”

    Thomas Dempsey, a professor with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said the biggest challenge will be the level of cultural, language and historical diversity across the far-flung continent.

    “How do you train for that in a way that would be applicable wherever they go?” said Dempsey, a retired Army colonel. He said he’s not sure using a combat brigade is the right answer, but added, “I’m not sure what the answer is. The security challenges differ so dramatically that, to be honest, I really don’t think it’s feasible to have a continental training package.”

    The Pentagon’s effort in Africa, including the creation of U.S. Africa Command in 2007, has been carefully calibrated, largely due to broad misgivings across the continent that it could spawn American bases or create the perception of an undue U.S. military influence there. As a result, the command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany, rather than on the African continent.

    At the same time, many African nations are eager for U.S. training or support, as they work to build their militaries, battle pirates along the coast and shut down drug trafficking, kidnapping and other insurgent activities.

    McKenna acknowledged the challenge, but said the military has to tap its conventional fighting forces for this task because there aren’t enough special operations forces to meet the global training needs. He said there will be as many as a dozen different training segments between February and September, each designed to provide tailored instruction for the particular teams.

    The mission for the 2nd Brigade — known as the “Dagger Brigade” — will begin in the spring and will pave the way for Army brigades to be assigned next to U.S. Pacific Command and then to U.S. European Command over the next year. The brigade is receiving its regular combat training first, and then will move on to the more specific instruction needed for the deployments, such as language skills, cultural information and other data about the African nations.

    Dagger Brigade commander Col. Jeff Broadwater said the language and culture training will be different than what most soldiers have had in recent years, since they have focused on Pashtun and Farsi, languages used mostly in Afghanistan and Iran. He said he expects the soldiers to learn French, Swahili, Arabic or other languages, as well as the local cultures.

    “What’s really exciting is we get to focus on a different part of the world and maintain our core combat skills,” Broadwater said, adding that the soldiers know what to expect. “You see those threats (in Africa) in the news all the time.”

    The brigade will be carved up into different teams designed to meet the specific needs of each African nation. As the year goes on, the teams will travel from Fort Riley to those nations — all while trying to avoid any appearance of a large U.S. military footprint.

    “The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country,” said Rodriguez, who has been nominated to be the next head of Africa Command. “We’re not there to show them our system, we’re there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do.”

    Rodriguez said the nearly 100 assignments so far requested by Ham will be carried out with “a very small footprint to get the high payoff.”




    Source

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    US-led drone raids kill dozens in Afghanistan

    Dozens of people have been killed in two successive US-led assassination drone strikes in eastern Afghanistan, Press TV reports.


    The deadly attacks took place in eastern Nuristan province late on Monday.

    There have been conflicting reports about the identity of the victims. Local officials say the strikes targeted Taliban militants, but villagers report that those killed were all unarmed civilians.

    Provincial police chief Ghulamullah Nuristani on Tuesday confirmed the attacks, saying the strikes targeted Taliban militants.

    He added that at least 35 militants including the foreign nationals were killed or wounded in the strikes.

    The latest attacks come on day after a US-led drone killed two people in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan,

    Foreign troops have already been under fire from both Afghan government and public over the deadly airstrikes.

    Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are al-Qaeda militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks over the past few years.

    The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington's so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led troops.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01...n-afghanistan/

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    Drone Strikes: Where Are Obama's Tears For Those Child Victims?




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    Drones reportedly carry out strikes without Yemeni government permission




    The US Central Intelligence Agency has been operating a secret airbase for unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia for the past two years.

    The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.

    A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was alleged to be AQAP's external operations chief.

    US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it.


    Senior government officials had said they were concerned that disclosure would undermine operations against AQAP, as well as potentially damage counter-terrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

    The US military pulled out virtually all of its troops from Saudi Arabia in 2003, having stationed between 5,000 and 10,000 troops in the Gulf kingdom after the 1991 Gulf war. Only personnel from the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) officially remain.


    The location of the secret drone base was not revealed in the US reports and the Saudi government has not yet commented.


    The revelation that US drone strikes against militants in Yemen have been launched from a secret base inside Saudi Arabia will be an embarrassment for the government in Riyadh.

    King Abdullah has embarked upon a gradual process of reform in the face of a conservative religious elite who strongly object to the presence of foreign non-Muslim troops in the country.

    Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's two holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there in the 1990s was seen as an historic betrayal. The campaign for their withdrawal became a rallying cry for al-Qaeda and its late Saudi-born leader, Osama bin Laden.

    However, construction was ordered after a December 2009 cruise missile strike in Yemen, according to the New York Times.

    It was the first strike ordered by the Obama administration, and ended in disaster, with dozens of civilians, including women and children, killed.

    US officials told the newspaper that the first time the CIA used the secret facility was to kill Awlaki.

    Since then, the CIA has been "given the mission of hunting and killing 'high-value targets' in Yemen" - the leaders of AQAP who government lawyers had determined posed a direct threat to the US - the officials added.

    Three other Americans, including Awlaki's 16-year-old son, have also been killed in US strikes in Yemen, which can reportedly be carried out without the permission of the country's government.

    The Washington Post reported that President Barak Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with the government in Riyadh over building the drone base.

    Saudi Arabia is home to some of Islam's holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there was seen as a historic betrayal by many Islamists, notably the late leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden.

    It was one of the main reasons given by the Saudi-born militant to justify violence against the US and its allies.


    The revelation of the drone base came shortly after the leaking of a US justice department memo detailing the Obama administration's case for killing Americans abroad who are accused of being a "senior, operational leader" of al-Qaeda or its allies.

    Anwar al-Awlaki (file) Anwar al-Awlaki was among three Americans killed in drone strikes in Yemen in 2011

    Lethal force is lawful if they are deemed to pose an "imminent threat" and their capture is not feasible, the memo says. The threat does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack, since such actions are being "continually" planned by al-Qaeda, it adds.

    NBC News said it was given to members of the US Senate intelligence and judiciary committees as a summary of a classified memo on the targeted killings of US citizens prepared by the justice department.

    The latter memo was written before the drone strike that killed Awlaki.

    Under President Obama, the US has expanded its use of drones to kill hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. It says it is acting in self-defence in accordance with international law.

    Critics argue the drone strikes amount to execution without trial and cause many civilian casualties.

    Senators are expected to ask Mr Brennan about drone strikes, the memo and the killing of Awlaki on Thursday when he faces a confirmation hearing on his nomination to become the new CIA director.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21350437

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    Why the Pentagon hates Obama's drone war


    As one official says: "Drones are an example of technology outpacing our morality and thinking".


    General Stanley McChrystal is speaking out against the Obama administration's use of drone strikes, echoing previous warnings and clashing with the White House's carefully cultivated narrative:


    To The Daily Telegraph, London:

    It's very tempting for any country to have a clean, antiseptic approach, that you can use technology, but it's not something that I think is going to be an effective strategy, unless it is part of a wider commitment.


    To Reuters:

    They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one.


    To journalist Trudy Rubin:

    [Drones are] a very limited approach that gives the illusion you are making progress because you are doing something.


    And to television anchor Candy Crowley

    It can lower the threshold for decision making to take action that at the receiving end, feels very different at the receiving end.


    McChrystal offers a unique perspective on the debate surrounding drone strikes. Serving as the commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) from 2003 to 2008, he restructured the secretive unit to capture or kill hundreds of suspected militants and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. During this time, he had the authority to deploy US forces into Pakistan – without prior approval from the White House – in order to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. As commander of the international and US forces in Afghanistan from June 2009 to July 2010, he significantly tightened the rules of engagement for airstrikes in populated areas, noting, "Air power contains the seeds of our own destruction." (Full disclosure: McChrystal served on the advisory committee of my recent report on US drone strikes, although that does not mean he agreed with my findings or recommendations.)

    Although his candour is rare in his field, many of McChrystal's concerns are increasingly shared by active-duty and retired military officials with whom I've spoken. The vast majority of these officers, who held a wide range of positions while in uniform, are deeply troubled by the Obama administration's ongoing drone wars for five reasons.

    First, many believe that discrete military operations – such as drone strikes and special operations raids – are much easier, more responsive, and less risky than previously available uses of force. However, they worry that civilian policymakers have lowered the threshold for the use of lethal force, often at the exclusion of other elements of power that are essential to achieving any strategic objective. The capabilities of Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have improved and expanded so dramatically since 9/11 that its commander, Admiral William McRaven, sincerely characterised the mission to kill Osama bin Laden as dull: "From a military perspective this was a standard raid. And not very sexy."

    If once-exceptional missions are now routine – there were 13 comparable raids in Afghanistan the night bin Laden was killed – then the major concern is that they become the default option, with limited consideration for their long-term consequences. As General Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned: "I worry about speed making it too easy to employ force ... too easy to take the easy answer – let's go whack them with special operations – as opposed to perhaps a more laborious answer for perhaps a better long-term solution."

    Second, members of the special operations community constantly repeat the mantra of F3EAD, pronounced "feed," the acronym for "Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyse, Disseminate." Found in US Army Field Manual 3-60 ("The Targeting Process"), F3EAD is a process to attempt to capture, kill, or influence (for example, sending a text message warning "we're watching you") specific high-value targets within a broader counterinsurgency campaign. While it may be necessary to kill these individuals, the preferred options are to place the targets under constant surveillance to better understand their networks, or to interrogate them to gather intelligence. One of the overriding imperatives of counterinsurgency missions is to constantly increase and refine situational awareness of the environment.

    As Brigadier General Michael Nagata – who colleagues say has perhaps as good an insight into recent clandestine operations as anyone in the US military – noted in 2011: "The fundamental value in capturing the enemy is so that you have a better grasp of the environment. The more you understand the environment, the more effective your choices will be." (Nagata was recently assigned to lead SOCOM, US Central Command, where presumably he will be able to put his theories into practice.) By that thinking, the problem with standoff airstrikes instead of riskier operations to capture suspected militants is that you cannot enhance your understanding of the villages or cities where strikes occur, much less adequately measure the effects. As one naval officer described the current strategy: "All we do in Pakistan is the find, fix, finish; we can do that forever." Nor do such strikes always finish the target: A senior official with extensive background in special operations told me that in 10 per cent of the airstrikes he has watched – whether from Hellfire missiles or 2000-pound bombs – the intended victim has simply walked or run away unharmed from a destroyed house or vehicle. "Squirters," they are called.

    Third, most service members exposed to direct combat can describe the instances - or near-instances – of collateral damage and civilian casualties caused by US airstrikes, despite the procedural safeguards in place that attempt to prevent this. Among the many mistakes and near-misses related to me: The tribal leader whose Jeep was accidentally destroyed by an Apache helicopter in western Baghdad; the tribal police in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, who were nearly targeted by a drone because they had gathered in a courtyard one evening; or the Afghan girl injured by the blast from a bomb that destroyed a neighbouring compound. Having witnessed the inherent limits of air power, many military officials...often claim that the CIA doesn't "really know who they're killing."

    Fourth, more than 2.6 million US service members have been deployed to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, where 6633 US personnel and an estimated 140,000 Iraqi and Afghan civilians have lost their lives. After witnessing such carnage firsthand, many military officials found how the White House has handled the constant promotion of the bin Laden raid troubling and offensive – especially after Obama vowed, "We don't spike the football." I have met very few people in uniform who think killing another person is in any way "tough" or "cool."

    Finally, every military (and civilian) official says "you cannot capture or kill" your way out the problems caused by those who use violence to achieve political objectives. What McChrystal noted about Afghanistan – "You can kill Taliban forever, because they are not a finite number" – would apply to any of the groups currently targeted by the US. Yet, the perception exists that killing is the only thing happening in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, in part because the military has so little faith in the capabilities of the State Department, the US Agency for International Development, and/or the host nation.

    During his confirmation hearing to become the director of central intelligence, John Brennan repeated his prior pledge regarding al-Qaeda - "We will destroy that organisation" – which, according to the latest State Department estimates, is growing to thousands of individuals among its various "affiliates". This current US counterterrorism strategy of "mowing the grass" (as it's indelicately called) through indefinite drone strikes, without thinking through the likely second- and third-order effects, will never achieve its strategic objectives. This highlights the question military planning staffs will pose to civilian policymakers who ask about bombing a target or individual: "And then what?" In the case of a campaign of drone strikes, the answer these military planners see is more drone strikes.

    Military officials consider themselves the guardians and stewards for how military force is perceived and employed. Through the iterative process in which kinetic military options are discussed and debated, they offer their best professional advice, and then follow the orders of their civilian leaders. At the same time, many military officials believe that the governmental and national conversation about what the US is achieving with drones has been wholly inadequate. A navy captain recently summarised the general consensus of his peers in other services: "Drones are an example of technology outpacing our morality and thinking." Thus, military officials increasingly believe that the Obama administration must think through its current practices and policies of targeted killings, and consider how they can be reformed, or risk others following in US footsteps.


    http://www.watoday.com.au/technology...215-2ehjg.html

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    The Democrats would be up-in-arms if Bush was killing innocent women and children in other countries. Why is it that these same people support Obama when he does it?

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    US pushed ahead with drone strikes despite Pakistani resistance

    2/24/2012

    Shortly before the US ended a two-month pause in missile strikes in Pakistan, senior US officials telephoned their Pakistani counterparts and told them Washington would be resuming its covert drone programme despite mounting objections in Islamabad.

    US Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among those who spoke with Pakistani officials shortly before the eight-week pause in the drone programme ended, sources familiar with the issue said. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to his Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani around the same time, the sources said, but a US defence official said the two men did not discuss drone strikes.

    The strike that followed on January 10, when US aircraft fired missiles at a home in the North Waziristan, was the first such attack since US aircraft, that plunged bilateral ties into a tailspin, killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along remote border with Afghanistan.

    The November 26 border incident infuriated a vulnerable government in Islamabad and prompted Pakistani officials to signal, in more emphatic terms than they had previously, that they would no longer accept US drone strikes. That set the Obama administration up for yet another potential collision with Pakistan as it continues a controversial drone programme that has become a centerpiece of US efforts to quash so called militancy there.

    The Pakistani border deaths, which NATO deemed an accident and a tragedy, prompted Pakistan to shut down an overland supply route that is key for NATO troops in Afghanistan and to force US personnel off an air base in southwest Pakistan that had been used to launch drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

    In public, the US missile strikes are a frequent target of criticism for Pakistani politicians, who decry them as a violation of the country’s sovereignty. But in private, Pakistani leaders have long supported and even encouraged the strikes provided they steer clear of certain areas and targets.

    Yet even as both governments try to put the relationship back together, current and former US officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the Obama administration will not hesitate to continue the aerial strikes when targets and intelligence are sufficiently compelling.

    But the US officials also said they are unlikely to give Pakistan advance notice about drone strikes for the time being, given the lack of trust on both sides and what American officials describe as a track record in Pakistan of intelligence leaks allowing militants to get away before planned attacks are launched.

    http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/02/us-pushed-ahead-with-drone-strikes-despite-pakistani-resistance




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    The Secret Wars: The CIA’s covert mission to combat terrorism

    It’s common knowledge that the United States embarked on two wars following September 11: Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, can you name a third?


    That’s the premise of Mark Mazzetti’s new book The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth.

    There is war going on that really still is not acknowledged by the U.S., or the details certainly are not acknowledged by the US,” Mark Mazzetti tells on the Radar, referring to the CIA’s use of drones to kill individuals the U.S. government deems terrorists in places like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.


    Mazzetti refers to the CIA’s drone program as the “wars away from the big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and the most concentrated theatre of that war is believed to be Pakistan, where just yesterday a suspected US drone strike killed four people in the northwest region of the country--an attack that the Pakistani government has condemned as an unauthorized unilateral action by the United States.

    Despite Pakistan's condemnation of yesterday's attack, Mazzetti explains that the Pakistani government gave the U.S. permission to conduct secret strikes in 2004.


    “The agreement was that the U.S. could start doing drone strikes in the tribal regions of Pakistan, but on the condition that either Pakistan takes credit for it or nobody talks about it,” Mazzetti says, going on to tell the story of former Pakistani president Perez Musharraf’s approving the use of drones.


    “President Musharraf, at the time, said he didn't think it'd be a problem keeping up the ruse because his line was ‘things fall out of the sky all the time in Pakistan’,” Mazzetti recalls.


    The drone war in Pakistan has become an open secret over the last several years, Mazzetti says there’s a lot the government has yet to be transparent about.


    There's been a lot of operations that have gone badly that have never been acknowledged,” says the author.


    “A lot of this is still being done on the fly in terms of the procedures, the targeting rules, the lists of people, who get marked for death and whether the president has to sign off on them,” Mazzetti says.
    To hear more about what Mazzetti uncovered about the CIA’s secret war, including how it has fundamentally altered the agency’s primary focus from spying to manhunting, check out this episode of On the Radar.



    ABC News' Eric Wray, Betsy Klein, Freda Kahen Kashi, Dick Norling, and Shari Thomas contributed to this episode.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-pl...112153462.html


 

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