Living Under Drones
posted by Keito
2012-09-30 12:58:59A new report from Stanford suggests that the ongoing terror campaign waged by the United States of America, in foreign lands far away, is having a massively detrimental effect. People living under constant fear of attack by drones. Resentment grows. Is there any wonder hatred for the US and their foreign policies exist? This is not combating terrorism... this is terrorism. This will never make the world safer. This will do nothing but make us more of a target. it will breed terrorists, who seek revenge. In the long-run, it will mean massive crackdowns by our own governments, in order to 'make us safer' when the threat of future attacks on home soil grows, as a consequence of the constant attacks made by us - a retaliation. Freedom and liberty will suffer, thanks to this wrong-doing.
'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.
Following nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones.
Real threats to US security and to Pakistani civilians exist in the Pakistani border areas now targeted by drones. It is crucial that the US be able to protect itself from terrorist threats, and that the great harm caused by terrorists to Pakistani civilians be addressed. However, in light of significant evidence of harmful impacts to Pakistani civilians and to US interests, current policies to address terrorism through targeted killings and drone strikes must be carefully re-evaluated.
It is essential that public debate about US policies take the negative effects of current policies into account.
First, while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians. In public statements, the US states that there have been “no” or “single digit” civilian casualties.” It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of US efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals. Where media accounts do report civilian casualties, rarely is any information provided about the victims or the communities they leave behind. This report includes the harrowing narratives of many survivors, witnesses, and family members who provided evidence of civilian injuries and deaths in drone strikes to our research team. It also presents detailed accounts of three separate strikes, for which there is evidence of civilian deaths and injuries, including a March 2011 strike on a meeting of tribal elders that killed some 40 individuals.
Second, US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.
Third, publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%. Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.” Drone strikes have also soured many Pakistanis on cooperation with the US and undermined US-Pakistani relations. One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.
Fourth, current US targeted killings and drone strike practices undermine respect for the rule of law and international legal protections and may set dangerous precedents. This report casts doubt on the legality of strikes on individuals or groups not linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and who do not pose imminent threats to the US. The US government’s failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in its targeted killing policies, to provide necessary details about its targeted killing program, or adequately to set out the legal factors involved in decisions to strike hinders necessary democratic debate about a key aspect of US foreign and national security policy. US practices may also facilitate recourse to lethal force around the globe by establishing dangerous precedents for other governments. As drone manufacturers and officials successfully reduce export control barriers, and as more countries develop lethal drone technologies, these risks increase.
In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits. A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.
This report also supports and reiterates the calls consistently made by rights groups and others for legality, accountability, and transparency in US drone strike policies:
The US should fulfill its international obligations with respect to accountability and transparency, and ensure proper democratic debate about key policies. The US should:
Release the US Department of Justice memoranda outlining the legal basis for US targeted killing in Pakistan;
Make public critical information concerning US drone strike policies, including as previously and repeatedly requested by various groups and officials: the targeting criteria for so-called “signature” strikes; the mechanisms in place to ensure that targeting complies with international law; which laws are being applied; the nature of investigations into civilian death and injury; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties;
Ensure independent investigations into drone strike deaths, consistent with the call made by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism in August 2012;
In conjunction with robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions, establish compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes in Pakistan.
The US should fulfill its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups with whom the US is in an armed conflict, or otherwise against individuals not posing an imminent threat to life. This includes not double-striking targets as first responders arrive.
Journalists and media outlets should cease the common practice of referring simply to “militant” deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of “militant” deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as “militants,” absent exonerating evidence. Media accounts relying on anonymous government sources should also highlight the fact of their single-source information and of the past record of false government reports.
 The US publicly describes its drone program in terms of its unprecedented ability to “distinguish … effectively between an al Qaeda terrorist and innocent civilians,” and touts its missile-armed drones as capable of conducting strikes with “astonishing” and “surgical” precision. See, e.g., John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, The Efficacy and Ethics of U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy, Remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Apr. 30, 2012), available at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/the-efficacy-and-ethics-us-counterterrorism-strategy.
 See Obama Administration Counterterrorism Strategy (C-Span television broadcast June 29, 2011), http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/AdministrationCo; see also Strategic Considerations, infra Chapter 5: Strategic Considerations; Contradictions Chart, infra Appendix C.
 Covert War on Terror, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/ (last visited Sept. 12, 2012).
 Peter Bergen & Megan Braun, Drone is Obama’s Weapon of Choice, CNN (Sept. 6, 2012), http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/05/opinion/bergen-obama-drone/index.html.
 Jo Becker & Scott Shane, Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will, N.Y. Times (May 29, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?pagewanted=all.
 Pew Research Center, Pakistani Public Opinion Ever More Critical of U.S.: 74% Call America an Enemy (2012), available at http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2012/06/Pew-Global-Attitudes-Project-Pakistan-Report-FINAL-Wednesday-June-27-2012.pdf.
 See, e.g., Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Study on Targeted Killings, Human Rights Council, UN Doc. A/HRC/14/24/Add.6 (May 28, 2010) (by Philip Alston), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.24.Add6.pdf; US: Transfer CIA Drone Strikes to Military, Human Rights Watch (Apr. 20, 2012), http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/20/us-transfer-cia-drone-strikes-military; Letter from Amnesty International et al. to Barack Obama, President of the United States (May 31, 2012), available at http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1242.
 Letter from Amnesty International et al., supra note 7.
 Terri Judd, UN ‘Should Hand Over Footage of Drone Strikes or Face UN Inquiry’, Independent (Aug. 20, 2012), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/us-should-hand-over-footage-of-drone-strikes-or-face-un-inquiry-8061504.html.'
RAP NEWS 15: Big Brother is WWWatching You
posted by Keito
Australia moves to buy $3b spy drone fleet
posted by Keito
2012-09-04 21:05:28'The Australian Defence Force is quietly resurrecting plans to buy seven huge intelligence and surveillance drones that could cost up to $3 billion.
The unmanned aerial vehicles will be used for maritime surveillance and intercepting asylum seeker boats.
The decision comes despite claims that the Royal Australian Air Force's top commanders have long opposed the acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles because they will put pilots out of a job and threaten RAAF culture.
The $200 million Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance drone is the largest, most expensive unmanned aerial vehicle in the world today.
Its vast wingspan of 39.8 metres can lift the craft to 65,000 feet and stay airborne for 35 hours with a non-stop range of 16,000 kilometres – eclipsing the endurance of similar manned aircraft.
In 2004, the Howard government was so impressed with Global Hawk that plans were announced to buy a fleet of 12 of the spy drones for $1 billion.
But in 2009 the acquisition was cancelled by Labor's Joel Fitzgibbon, who was defence minister at the time.
In May 2010, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced a Coalition government would buy three Global Hawks.
Despite this erratic political flight path, the idea of Australian Global Hawks remained in bureaucratic mothballs until July this year, when the latest Defence Capability Plan was quietly released.
Buried in the document were plans to bring forward by three years the acquisition of "high altitude, long endurance" unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The RAAF now wants seven large UAVs flying by 2019.
The favoured option is a new, maritime surveillance version of the Global Hawk - the MQ4C Triton.
The estimated cost of the project is between $2 billion and $3 billion.
Triton had a shaky take-off in June 2012, when a demonstration version of the maritime drone crashed just three days before the official unveiling ceremony at Northrop Grumman's Californian factory.
A company spokesman insists the demonstrator that went down was an old, worn-out Global Hawk, bearing little resemblance to the new, improved Triton.
When it takes to the skies for the first time later this year, Triton will appear to be a slightly larger version of its cousin, Global Hawk.
However, leading American intelligence analyst and author Matthew Aid says they are two very different drones.
"Global Hawk was designed for pin-point imagery or eavesdropping on land targets, by over flight, or by flying obliquely up to 450 kilometres off an enemy’s coastline," he said.
"Triton was designed for broad area maritime surveillance – following ships from high altitude."
The US Navy expects to start flying the first of 68 Tritons on order by 2015.
Some will be based on the US territory of Guam to cover the Asia-Pacific region, while another detachment will fly out of Diego Garcia to monitor the Indian Ocean.
In March, the Washington Post reported that the US is also considering basing Global Hawk/Triton on Australia's Cocos Islands.
The US Navy claims a single Triton 24-hour surveillance mission can cover nearly 7 million square kilometres of ocean – identifying every vessel in one vast sweep of the ocean.
But Mr Aid remains unimpressed.
"Triton does not have anywhere near the range or payload capability of the Global Hawk, and from what I can gather its imaging sensors are nowhere near as good," he said.
The Royal Australian Air Force now wants Triton to support a new generation of manned maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A, which looks like a converted 737 airliner.
Together, these two systems will replace the RAAF's aging fleet of P3 Orions that have spent decades patrolling the vast expanse of ocean surrounding Australia - about 20 per cent of the world's sea surface.
Capable of being armed with both missiles and torpedos, the 8 P8 Poseidons already on order will also be capable of anti-submarine warfare.
But is Global Hawk/Triton worth the hefty price tag of at least $200 million each?'
Beamed Power For Dragonfly Spies
posted by Keito
2012-08-13 15:10:26'DANGER ROOM reader Justin posted this comment on yesterday’s piece about the British Police’s New Spy Drone :
"During the Republican National Convention in 2004, I swear I saw a jet-black dragonfy hovering about 10 feet off the ground, precisely in the middle of 7th avenue. About six blocks later, marching toward Madison Sq. Garden, I saw another. Hovering. Motionless but for the wings beating. Dead center of the street, ten feet off the ground. Watching us.
In other words, I’m pretty sure smaller and stealthier gadgets are already in use for surveillance. Call me crazy."
Not that crazy. As far back as the 1970′s the CIA were experimenting with a micro air vehicle which looked like a dragonfly. Flight International reported last year:
Developed during the 1970s, the CIA has displayed a mock-up of the micro UAV in its museum at its headquarters in Langley, Virginia since 2003. However until now no media organisation has been given access to the material that proved that the artificial dragonfly had been flight tested.
…. In the 1970s the CIA was interested in the dragonfly concept as a small unmanned surveillance device. Flight cannot reveal exactly what materials have been seen, but can confirm the four-winged robotic insect achieved sustained flight…. The CIA’s entomopter dragonfly’s power supply and actuation system for its wings are still highly classified subjects.
The CIA drone really does look like a real dragonfly – see the photo to the left. The problem was apparently with the flight control system, as the craft could not cope with crosswinds. This type of problem can be solved much more easily with modern electronics. The big issue with a craft so small is the power supply. Until we can get something as compact and efficient as the biological version (and there already ecobots that power themslves by digesting insects), the answer for robotic insects is likely to be beamed power.
There has been a lot of serious work on this already (and let’s not talk about Tesla). As long ago as 1964, pioneer Bill Brown demonstrated a mini-helicopter powered by microwaves on the CBS News with Walter Cronkite. The craft was developed under a contract with the Air Force. NASA seem to believe that miocrowaves will be inherently inefficient because of how they spread out with range, and have been working on micro air vehicles remotely powered by laser.
But there has been more recent work on microwaves to power UAVs, using the body of the craft as an antenna to pick up power:
"We’ve already demonstrated we can transfer power with microwaves. We’ve performed tests on the safety issues of microwaves, and we’ve shown that having multiple ground stations [sending microwaves] is the best possible method, said Jenn. "Now we plan to show how we can power these UAVs using radar systems — systems the Navy already has."
That was almost ten years ago. Beamed power micro UAVs would have obvious limitations – they’re not going to be flying hundreds of miles away over enemy territory. But for covert surveillance in the domestic arena, they might be just the thing. I have no idea whether there are any dragonfly spies out there yet; but if there aren’t now, there soon will be.'
posted by Keito
2012-08-13 15:02:48'Harvesting energy from insects in quest to create tiny cyborg first responders:
Insects have served as the inspiration for a number of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) that could be deployed to monitor hazardous situations without putting humans in harm's way. Now researchers at the University of Michigan College of Engineering are proposing using actual live insects enhanced with electronic sensors to achieve the same result. The insect cyborgs would use biological energy harvested from their body heat or movements to potentially power small sensors implanted on their bodies in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.
To harvest energy from insects, the researchers have designed a spiral piezoelectric generator that converts the kinetic energy from the insect's wing movements into electricity. This power would be used to prolong the battery life of devices implanted on the insect, such as a small camera, a microphone or a gas sensor. The prototype piezoelectric generator was fabricated from bulk piezoelectric substrates and was designed to maximize the power output in a limited area.
Biological energy harvested from the insect could be used to power small sensors (Image: E...
"Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack," said Professor Khalil Najafi, the chair of electrical and computer engineering at the U-M College of Engineering. "We could then send these 'bugged' bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go."
The U-M team examined several techniques to scavenge energy from wing motion with their results were published in a paper titled "Energy scavenging from insect flight," which was recently published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. The university is now pursuing a patent for the technology and is seeking commercialization partners to bring it to market.
Getting the insects to go where their handlers want them to is another part of the puzzle that needs to be solved before insect cyborgs can be deployed. But DARPA has been working on this, having put out a call some years back for research proposals for Hybrid-Insect-Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) interfaces to control the movement of living insects. Combining the two technologies could be just the thing to take insect cyborgs to the next level and see them used to monitor hazardous situations in the not to distant future.'