Tag Archives: drones

Too Much Power for a President – NYTimes.com

15 Jun

The Times article points out, however, that the Defense Department is currently killing suspects in Yemen without knowing their names, using criteria that have never been made public. The administration is counting all military-age males killed by drone fire as combatants without knowing that for certain, assuming they are up to no good if they are in the area. That has allowed Mr. Brennan to claim an extraordinarily low civilian death rate that smells more of expediency than morality.

via Too Much Power for a President – NYTimes.com.

International – Robert Wright – Do Obama’s Drone Strikes Imperil America? – The Atlantic

31 May

Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence until May of 2010, gave the Times a simple analysis of Obama’s penchant for drone strikes: “It is the politically advantageous thing to do–low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”

Tuesday night’s Frontline episode on Al Qaeda in Yemen didn’t add much substance to the Times-Post analysis, but it lent a visual dimension, showing us the craters left by lethal drones and the al Qaeda forces who are energized and expanded by the strikes. ‘We’re at war with America and it’s allies,” says an al Qaeda footsoldier.

via International – Robert Wright – Do Obama’s Drone Strikes Imperil America? – The Atlantic.

Drones for “urban warfare”

24 Apr

Writing in Salon, Jefferson Morley reports that ” the business of marketing drones to law enforcement is booming. Now that Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles, the aerial surveillance technology first developed in the battle space of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is fueling a burgeoning market in North America.” Some 50 companies are pushing 150 different systems at a law enforcement agency near you. And the drones won’t just be snooping. Some will be “weaponized” too.

Has anyone thought about how these drones might/will impinge on our liberties?

While industry spokesmen say existing laws will adequately protect civil liberties and privacy, Congress held no hearings on the implications of domestic drones, and a wide range of opponents insist the drones pose a threat to privacy.

In Washington, activist groups Code Pink, Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights are holding a “drone summit” this week, declaring it is “time to organize to end current abuses and to prevent the potentially widespread misuse both overseas and here at home.”

The FAA “has the opportunity and the responsibility to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected and that the public is fully informed about who is using drones in public airspace and why,” said U.S. Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, in a letter to the FAA last week.

“How will the public be notified about when and where drones are used, who will operate the drones, what data will be collected, how the data will be used, how the data will be retained and who will have access to the date?” they asked.

The companies who sell this stuff say there’s no problem. Do you believe them?

The Rise of the Warrior Corporation: Win or Lose on the Battlefield, Big Business Always Comes Out on Top | World | AlterNet

24 Feb

Although early drone technology was already being used over North Vietnam, it’s in another sense entirely that drones have been heading into America’s future since 1973. There was an eerie logic to it: first came professional war, then privatized war, then mercenary and outsourced war — all of which made war ever more remote from most Americans. Finally, both literally and figuratively, came remote war itself.

It couldn’t be more appropriate that the Air Force prefers you not call their latest wonder weapons “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or UAVs, anymore. They would like you to use the label “remotely piloted aircraft” (RPA) instead. And ever more remotely piloted that vehicle is to be, until — claim believers and enthusiasts — it will pilot itself, land itself, maneuver itself, and while in the air even chose its own targets.

In this sense, think of us as moving from the citizen’s army to a roboticized, and finally robot, military — to a military that is a foreign legion in the most basic sense. In other words, we are moving toward an ever greater outsourcing of war to things that cannot protest, cannot vote with their feet (or wings), and for whom there is no “home front” or even a home at all. In a sense, we are, as we have been since 1973, heading for a form of war without anyone, citizen or otherwise, in the picture — except those on the ground, enemy and civilian alike, who will die as usual.

via The Rise of the Warrior Corporation: Win or Lose on the Battlefield, Big Business Always Comes Out on Top | World | AlterNet.

Drones With an Eye on the Public Cleared to Fly – NYTimes.com

18 Feb

A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones.

But while businesses, and drone manufacturers especially, are celebrating the opening of the skies to these unmanned aerial vehicles, the law raises new worries about how much detail the drones will capture about lives down below — and what will be done with that information.

There are legitimate and important uses for domestic drones (this article lists some, such as looking for irrigation leaks in large fields) there are also real privacy issues, especially given a government that’s paranoid about terrorists.

via Drones With an Eye on the Public Cleared to Fly – NYTimes.com.