British government helps US drone assassinations


This November 2011 video is called Jemima Khan talks about her latest visit to Pakistan with Reprieve [about CIA drone strikes killing Pakistani civilians].

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

RAF bases used for secretive US drones

Monday 31st October 2016

Calls for government to ‘come clean’ on role in assassinations

BRITISH military bases are being used in a secret US drone war, according to a report from Reprieve published yesterday.

The human rights charity demanded that the government “come clean” on the role of the bases in drawing up “secretive US assassination lists,” saying that the latest documents “are the strongest evidence yet that the US may be conducting its illegal, secret drone war from bases on British soil.”

Jobs advertised at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire, which is leased to the US, have included a vacancy for a “MQ-9 Reaper ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] mission intelligence co-ordinator.”

A private contractor advertising for “full motion video intelligence analysis in support of US Africom … and Special Operations Command Africa” operating from the same base indicates that Molesworth may be being used to support illegal drone strikes in countries including Somalia, according to Reprieve.

British ministers have stated that the US does not operate drones from British soil. However, they refuse to answer questions on whether bases in this country play a role in choosing targets and “drawing up the ‘US kill list’.”

Reprieve staff lawyer Jennifer Gibson said the British government has questions to answer about its involvement in the secret war.

“Simply to say that drones are not flown from the UK is missing the point, if it is personnel on British soil that are at the top of the so-called ‘kill chain’ and British agencies who are feeding targets into those lists.

“The US drone programme, conducted in the shadows, has killed hundreds of civilians without any accountability.”

Documents released recently by news website the Intercept exposed the role played by joint British-US intelligence base Menwith Hill in drawing up drone targets.

One document purported to show that Yemeni targets were “tasked by several target offices at NSA and GCHQ.”

Stop the War Coalition deputy chair Chris Nineham said: “This appears to be further evidence of Britain’s undeclared war on the people of Yemen.

“British forces are currently involved in seven different theatres and only one of these has had any democratic scrutiny.”

Warning of “an escalating series of foreign interventions,” he said the Reprieve report “underlines the need for campaigning for a 180-degree turn in UK foreign policy.”

US drone pilot: “I don’t know how many people I’ve killed”: here.

Edward Snowden and drone warfare


This video from the USA says about itself:

Part 1: “It’s a War on Whistleblowers”: Snowden Pens Foreword to New Scahill Book

3 May 2016

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wrote the foreword for the new book by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program,” which is based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower.

Snowden writes, “These disclosures about the Obama administration’s killing program reveal that there’s a part of the American character that is deeply concerned with the unrestrained, unchecked exercise of power. And there is no greater or clearer manifestation of unchecked power than assuming for oneself the authority to execute an individual outside of a battlefield context and without the involvement of any sort of judicial process.” We speak with Scahill, who says the Obama administration has targeted Snowden for being a whistleblower, while allowing others to leak information that benefits it.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Part 2: “It’s a War on Whistleblowers”: Snowden Pens Foreword to New Scahill Book

This video from the USA says about itself:

“The Assassination Complex”: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars in New Book

3 May 2016

As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional war zones, we look at a new book out today that paints a very different picture of the U.S. drone program. “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program” is written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, and based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower.

The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. We speak with Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.

Drone strikes and the anger they generate effectively serve to recruit people into the Taliban and other extremist organizations. Even those involved in the program have come to the same conclusion: here.

The Army Chaplain Who Quit Over ‘Unaccountable Killing’ of Obama’s Secretive Drone Program: here.

Night and day, U.S. “pilots” sit in cushioned chairs near Las Vegas, commanding drones on the other side of the planet, tracking and killing people, what retired Col. Ann Wright and other activists call a war crime, writes Dennis J Bernstein.

The US government today claimed it has killed between 64 and 116 “non-combatants” in 473 counter-terrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya between January 2009 and the end of 2015. This is a fraction of the 380 to 801 civilian casualty range recorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from reports by local and international journalists, NGO investigators, leaked government documents, court papers and the result of field investigations: here.

Numbers in Obama’s drone deaths report just don’t add up: here.

United States drones kill Afghan civilians


This video from the USA says about itself:

U.S. Drone Strike Kills 17 Civilians, Including First Responders In Afghanistan

11 April 2016

American airstrikes in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktika killed at least 17 civilians, local officials and elders said on Thursday, differing from official American and Afghan claims that only militants had been killed…

Read more here and here and here.

Afghan Civilians Among 18 Killed In U.S. Strike On ISIS, Police Say: here.

USA: Could the outage of this classified computer system be behind a series of disastrous drone strikes?

Since its inception, the United States’ targeted killing program has been shrouded in secrecy. For years, the ACLU has sought basic facts about the way the program operates, as well as its legal and policy justifications, through multiple Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. Today, we’re back in front of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York for the third time in three years, again asking for records that will yield a more complete public picture of the government’s law and policy governing the program: here.

‘Drones may help meadow birds’


This video from Cornwall is called Meadow Pipit: Birds Singing and Chirping a Beautiful Bird Song.

Drones may be abused to kill civilians.

However, they can also be used to make beautiful videos of dolphins, like this one.

Today, regional broadcaster RTV Oost in the Netherlands reports they can help nesting meadow birds.

Drones with infrared cameras may record where meadow bird nests are better than observers on the land. Then, farmers can be warned how to avoid damaging the nests while working on the land.

Drone, film on extra-judicial killing


This video says about itself:

DRONE TRAILER (Official version)

The secret CIA drone war. People living under the drones and young dronepilots coming to terms with killing through joysticks. DRONE uncovers crucial secrets of the CIA drone program, and shows how drones have changed war and possibly our future. See the documentary that inspired Homeland!

Directed by Tonje Hessen Schei and produced by Flimmer Film.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Drone, a Norwegian-made documentary: “We just made orphans out of all these children”

29 January 2016

Directed by Tonje Hessen Schei

Drone, directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tonje Hessen Schei, about the illegal CIA drone program, has been screened at various documentary film festivals and played in certain theaters in North America.

The use of drones by the United States for purposes of assassinations has greatly increased over the past decade. Hessen Schei’s movie brings together opponents of this specialized killing tool, including authors, commentators, human rights attorneys and investigative journalists.

The real heart and strength of Drone lies in its interviews with two former drone operators from the US Air Force, Brandon Bryant and Michael Haas, both young men suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bryant and Haas served in time periods that straddled the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. One of Bryant’s entries in his diary: “On the battlefield there are no sides, just bloodshed. Total war. Every horror witnessed. I wish my eyes would rot.”

Hessen Schei presents images and stories focusing on the northwestern Pakistani province of Waziristan, a region that has been a particular target of homicidal American drone bombing.

Reprieve, the British human rights organization whose founder, Clive Stafford Smith, is interviewed in the film, points out: “To date, the United States has used drones to execute without trial some 4,700 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia—all countries against whom it has not declared war. The US’ drones programme is a covert war being carried out by the CIA.”

In the documentary, Chris Woods, author of Sudden Justice, further observes that “nowhere has been more bombed by the CIA than Waziristan. The first recorded CIA drone strike in Pakistan took place in 2004. The number of those strikes has accelerated.” He calls it “an industrialized killing program.”

In Waziristan, a young drone strike survivor, Zubair Ur Rehman, shyly tells the camera that “the drones circulate 24 hours a day. Two or three at a time. Always two, but often three or four. When we hear the sound of the drones, we get scared. We can’t work, play or go to school. It is only when it’s cloudy that we don’t hear the drones.”

The barbaric strikes, which have increased sharply under the Obama administration, are illegal under international and US law and amount to war crimes. In the Hessen Schei film, Pakistani photojournalist Noor Behram displays his dossier of devastating photographs of child victims of drone attacks: “Every time I sleep, I hear the cries of the children.”

Drone also deals with the attacks on the would-be rescuers of the victims of the drone strikes. This is what the American military refers to as a “double tap.” Missiles are launched, killing and injuring people. Moments later, when nearby residents race to the scene to help the wounded, another round of missiles is fired. As one analyst points out, the US government, in many cases, has no idea whom they are killing.

From Drone, children with missile pieces

Imran Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, affirms that “when people gather round to save the injured [from a drone strike], there’s another drone attack! … You can hear the cries of the injured for hours because no one goes to help them.”

Another of the movie’s commentators emphasizes, “It’s never been easier for an American president to carry out killing operations at the ends of the earth … and when you define the world as a battlefield, it’s a very broad range of operations you can carry out.”

According to Woods: “You’ve got the president signing off on particular death lists; you have the US Air Force flying the drones; the Central Intelligence Agency responsible for the strikes; CENTCOM [United States Central Command] involved in launching and targeting of strikes; NSA [National Security Agency] providing intelligence for strikes … the entire apparatus of the United States government has been bent towards the process of targeted killings over the past decade.”

As a means of recruiting drone pilots, the military has developed “militainment”—war presented as entertainment. In the warped minds of the armed forces’ top brass, video gamers have skill sets that it values.

Former drone operator Bryant, who served as a sensor operator for the Predator program from 2007 to 2011, movingly explains that “I didn’t really understand what it meant to kill at first. … We sat in a box for nearly 12-hour shifts. … We’re the ultimate voyeurs. The ultimate Peeping Toms. No one is going to catch us. We’re getting orders to take these peoples’ lives. It was just a point and click.”

One of Drone’s interviewed experts argues the more distant the perpetrator is from the victim, the crueler the act of killing. The separation in space creates and encourages indifference. He refers to “the psychology of distance.”

Haas, who served in the US military from 2005 to 2011, participated in targeted killing runs from his computer at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada that ended the lives of insurgents and others in Afghanistan some 8,000 miles away: “I joined when I was barely 20 years old. I did not know what I was in for. I thought it was the coolest damn thing in the world. Play video games all day and then the reality hits you that you may have to kill somebody.

“In our control room, they had a picture of the September 11 [2001] plane hitting the second [World Trade Center] building. They make you pissed off all over again just before you go do your job. ‘These guys have to die. These guys deserve to die.’ And you’ve got to make it happen.”

As opposed to the remorse felt by the former airmen, Andy Von Flotow, chairman of Insitu, which builds unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the state of Washington, was in on the ground floor in the development of drones. He boasts that “we started this unmanned aircraft business in the early 1990s, shortly after GPS made it possible.” His company built a small airplane with a camera on it in 1999 to help tuna fisherman. While the fishermen did not buy the planes, “George Bush took us into his adventures.” Flotow claims that “we have 25 percent of unmanned flight hours in Iraq and Afghanistan. … War is an opportunity to do business.”

One of the most intense moments in the film occurs when Bryant opens up to the filmmakers: “I didn’t really understand what it meant to kill at first. It was horrible. The first time was horrible. The second time was horrible. The third time was numbing. The fourth time was numbing. But of course the first time sticks with you the longest [he describes the procedure]. … Then I watched this man bleed out … and I imagined his last moments. I knew I had ended something I had no right to end. I swore an oath, I did what I was supposed to do. I followed through with it. … It was like an image of myself was cracking up and breaking apart.

Earlier in the film, he says: “Over the last five and one half years, 1,626 people were killed in the operations I took part in. … When I looked at that number, I was ready to put a bullet in my brain.”

Fellow drone operator Haas discloses that “you never knew who you were killing because you never actually see a face—just silhouettes and it’s easy to have that detachment and that lack of sympathy for human life. And it’s easy just to think of them as something else. They’re not really people, they’re just terrorists.” His military superiors, he remarks, “don’t have to take that shot or bear the burden—I’m the one who has to bear that burden. They don’t have to do the actions or live with the repercussions … and we just made orphans out of all these children. They don’t have to live with that. I do.”

The CIA drones program is global assassination without trial. The operations of this state-run murder machine are kept shrouded in secrecy by the Obama administration. While the outlook of the creators of Drone is not strong––essentially consisting of appeals to the United Nations and the Pakistani government––the movie provides further insight into the lawless and ruthless character of US foreign policy.

Somali cattle herder drone attack victims sue Dutch government


This video from the USA says about itself:

Drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen & Somalia include targeting rescuers and funerals

US Drone Strike statistics based on research by a team of journalists of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
(As of October 10, 2012).

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Somali drone attack victims want money from Dutch government

Today, 11:21

Two Somali nomads who in January 2014 were hit during a US drone attack are sueing in the Netherlands. For that attack, the US had access to information provided by the Netherlands, say their lawyers Göran Sluiter and Liesbeth Zegveld.

… One of them lost two of his daughters and a leg as well in the attack. The other person was injured. In addition, most of their livestock was killed.

The Ministry of Defence in The Hague rejects any responsibility in this case. In the Volkskrant daily says the ministry says it does not know on the basis of what information the US military went into action. “This is absolutely incredible,” says Sluiter. “The Netherlands knows very well for what the information is provided.”

Complicity

That Dutch intelligence services share information with the US was revealed earlier in information of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Sluiter hopes that the Netherlands therefore will recognize that they are accomplices and will pay compensation. That chance is small, making court intervention necessary.

Sluiter and Zegveld chose a case in the Netherlands because the government in the USA in cases likes this hides behind state security claims. A case in the US because of that has no chance.

United States drone killings, new revelations


This video from the USA says about itself:

Leaked: ‘New Snowden‘ releases Obama’s drone program papers

15 October 2015

A cache of classified documents has revealed the inner workings of US drone operations in Somalia and Yemen, including the mechanism of targeting suspects slated for assassination.

The documents were provided to The Intercept by a source within the US intelligence community who wished to remain anonymous because of the government’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers. The documents, slides, visuals and analysis have been posted by The Intercept on Thursday as “The Drone Papers.”

He says the American public has the right to know about the process by which people are placed on kill lists and assassinated on orders from US government officials.

By Jeremy Scahill in the USA:

The Drone Papers

Secret military documents expose the inner workings of Obama’s drone wars.

The following story was published today by The Intercept, a digital magazine dedicated to producing fearless, adversarial journalism that brings transparency and accountability to powerful institutions.

This is an excerpt from the first article in The Drone Papers series, produced by a team of Intercept reporters and researchers who spent months analyzing secret government documents. Read the rest of The Drone Papers here.

NEW YORK – The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military’s kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars — between 2011 and 2013. The documents, which also outline the internal views of special operations forces on the shortcomings and flaws of the drone program, were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programs described in the slides. The Intercept granted the source’s request for anonymity because the materials are classified and because the U.S. government has engaged in aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers. The stories in this series will refer to the source as “the source.”

The source said he decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government. “This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source said.

United States drone warfare in Afghanistan

A part of The Drone papers, on Afghanistan.

The US Military’s Expanded Drone Network in East Africa and The Arabian Peninsula: here.

Leaked documents: vast majority of those killed in US drone strikes not intended target: here.