Category Archives: Drones

Saudi Arabia joins the killer drone arms race

Saudi Arabia joins the killer drone arms race

The US is still responsible for the vast majority of drone strikes, but that may have more to do with politics than capability. A GAO report from 2012 found that more than 75 countries have some form of drone system. Most are unarmed but some, like the systems used in Australia, Japan, and Singapore, could be retrofitted for military purpose. More importantly, the US’ use of drones — more than 50 strikes in 2013 alone— seems to have whetted a global appetite for combat drones. ‘If you think of this as part of a broader trend of the proliferation of military robotics, then the idea that we were going to have a monopoly on this kind of technology was always a bit far-fetched,’ says University of Pennsylvania political scientist Michael Horowitz. ‘The American monopoly on drones is over and probably never really existed.'”

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US senators remove requirement for disclosure over drone strike victims

US senators remove requirement for disclosure over drone strike victims

“At the behest of the director of national intelligence, US senators have removed a provision from a major intelligence bill that would require the president to publicly disclose information about drone strikes and their victims.

The bill authorizing intelligence operations in fiscal 2014 passed out of the Senate intelligence committee in November, and it originally required the president to issue an annual public report clarifying the total number of ‘combatants’ and ‘noncombatant civilians’ killed or injured by drone strikes in the previous year. It did not require the White House to disclose the total number of strikes worldwide.”


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CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

“Brandon Bryant, a former US Predator operator, told the film he decided to speak out after senior officials in the Obama administration gave a briefing last year in which they said they wanted to “transfer” control of the CIA’s secret drones programme to the military.

Bryant said this was disingenuous because it was widely known in military circles that the US air force was already involved.

‘There is a lie hidden within that truth. And the lie is that it’s always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been.'”


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UN Drone Investigator: U.S. Must Explain Civilian Deaths

UN Drone Investigator: U.S. Must Explain Civilian Deaths

“Asserting that obligation is core to the report. ‘In essence, the report states that it is governments who now bear the legal burden of explaining the strikes,” Knuckey writes. The report also recommends that the UN “set-up a panel of experts to discuss and report on the legal issues raised by the use of drones for targeted killings.'”

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Obama will never end the War on Terror

Obama will never end the War on Terror

“What began as one horrific attack 13 years ago and a simple, 60-word Authorization for the Use of Military Force three days later has morphed all but unnoticed into a war with no name or parameters—against an enemy that the government will no longer even officially identify, on battlefields that didn’t exist when the measure hurriedly passed Congress.

And as the Yemen strike suggests, the war hardly appears to be winding down. Nor do U.S. forces seem to be getting much better at avoiding “collateral damage.” The grave but very real danger is that this strangest of wars will never end, certainly not before the expiration of Obama’s second term. And his successors may be left with nearly the entire unresolved mess: an open-ended war authorization and inchoate rules for drone and special operations, the promised-but-never-carried-through closing of Guantánamo Bay, and a National Security Agency that’s still not sure whom or what it can spy on.”

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The NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination program

The NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination program

“In one tactic, the NSA ‘geolocates’ the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have ‘absolutely’ been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.”

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Review: Killing by Remote Control: The Ethics of an Unmanned Military edited by Bradley Jay Strawser

Drone Wars UK

Killing by Remote Control: Ethics of an Unmanned Military is a new collection of academic essays edited by Bradley Jay Strawser, a philosophy professor at the US Navy Postgraduate School in California.  Strawser, as readers of this blog may remember, was interviewed by The Guardian last year and quoted as saying in relation to unmanned drones: “It’s all upside. There’s no downside. Both ethically and normatively, there’s a tremendous value.”  Famously, Strawser argues that the US has a moral duty to use drones.

Most, but not all, of the authors writing in this collection are coming from a military perspective, either as former serving officers or currently employed within military teaching institutions. As Strawser notes in his introduction “none of the contributors hold that there is an absolute moral prohibition against UAV use… however many have principled issues with their use [and] some argue that there is something about this form of…

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Chomsky: No wonder the world is terrified of America — we’re the biggest threat

Chomsky: No wonder the world is terrified of America — we’re the biggest threat

“‘Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?’

The United States was the champion by a substantial margin, winning three times the votes of second-place Pakistan.”
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