Ground All Drones is a committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) created to address the use of drones, particularly armed drones. Drones are developed worldwide, not only by the U.S. but by other nations as well. In the U.S.unarmed surveillance drones could be used to spy on citizens, a clear violation of our Fourth Amendment Rights. The current focus of this committee is on the use of weaponized drones.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Washington Post Opinion Piece by co-chairs of Stinson Center's Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy

June 26 Washington Post
 
John P. Abizaid, a retired Army general, was head of U.S. Central Command from 2003 to 2007. Rosa Brooks was counselor to the undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009 to 2011. They are co-chairs of the Stimson Center’s Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy
 
To understand why U.S. drone strikes outside traditional battlefields make so many people so uneasy, look to the past and look to the future.

Start with the past. In 1976, exiled Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier was driving to work in Washington when a car bomb planted by Chilean agents ripped through his vehicle, killing Letelier and his young, American assistant. From the viewpoint of Chile’s ruling military junta, the killing was justifiable: Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s regime considered itself at war with leftist insurgents and viewed Letelier as a security threat.

U.S. authorities saw things differently, of course: They condemned the bombing as an assassination. The FBI opened a murder investigation, and the Senate intelligence committee launched an inquiry into illegal foreign intelligence activities on U.S. soil.

Now, imagine the future: Suppose Russian President Vladimir Putin decided that a few drone strikes in eastern Ukraine would be just the thing to eliminate some particularly irritating critic of Russian policy.

If this happened, U.S. authorities would surely denounce the strikes, just as they denounced Letelier’s killing. But Putin would surely respond by parroting the U.S. government’s justifications for drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. “First,” he might say, “I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any such Russian strikes. Second, I assure you that all Russian decisions to use lethal force comply fully with applicable law. Russia targets only terrorist combatants who pose an imminent threat to Russia, and it uses force inside other sovereign states only when those states are themselves unwilling or unable to address the threat.”

The United States would naturally demand evidence that those killed were truly dangerous terrorists, but Putin could again take a page from our book. “Unfortunately,” he’d respond, “We can’t make public such sensitive national security information.”  What could U.S. officials possibly say? They may know that they use lethal force only against those who constitute lawful targets under international law — but it’s hard to convince the rest of the world that “trust us” is a good enough basis for killing thousands of people in the territory of other sovereign states.

We both have enormous respect for the men and women charged with keeping our nation safe and believe that there are many circumstances in which drone strikes are entirely appropriate. Nonetheless, we are troubled by the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding U.S. use of targeted strikes far from traditional battlefields, as well as the lack of strategic clarity.
The United States’ drone policies damage its credibility, undermine the rule of law and create a potentially destabilizing international precedent — one that repressive regimes around the globe will undoubtedly exploit. As lethal drones proliferate, the future imagined above is becoming all too likely.

Recent events remind us that the threat posed by terrorist organizations is very real, and U.S. drone strikes have achieved significant tactical successes in certain regions, but the scope, number and lethality of terrorist attacks worldwide suggest that these successes are not producing enduring strategic gains. On the contrary: Overreliance on targeted strikes away from so-called “hot” battlefields creates a substantial risk of backlash and reinvigorated terrorist recruiting and may create a slippery slope leading to continual or wider conflict.

In his recent speech at West Point, President Obama acknowledged many of these concerns. It is time for him to take action to address them.

The court-ordered release Monday of the legal basis for the U.S.-targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, provides the public with some useful information, but much more is needed. The government should make public the approximate number and general location of U.S. drone strikes; the number of people known to have been killed and their organizational affiliations; and the number and identities of any civilians killed. In addition, Obama should create an independent, nonpartisan commission to review lethal drone strikes and should transfer responsibility for strikes from the CIA to the military. Finally, we believe the United States must take the lead in fostering the development of appropriate international norms for the use of lethal force outside traditional battlefields.

Current U.S. drone policies open the door to a dangerous and unstable future. Yes, states must be able to respond effectively to nontraditional threats from nontraditional actors, but whenever lethal force is used, it must also be consistent with the rule of law and fundamental human rights. In the end, U.S. security rests not only on a strong military but also its ability to offer credible leadership, consistent with our longstanding values.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The DRONE Memo

Here is the link to the 31 pages of the Department of Justice Drone Memo

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/2014-06-23_barron-memorandum.pdf


Mint Press News take on the memo http://www.mintpressnews.com/doj-memo-highlights-questionable-reasoning-behind-al-awlaki-drone-strike/193094/
DOJ Memo Highlights Questionable Reasoning Behind al-Awlaki Drone Strike
For the first time ever, Americans learn the United States’ criteria for killing Americans abroad.
By @FrederickReese 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Get The Data: Drone Wars

Obama 2014 Pakistan drone strikes

Students gather at the site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district
Students gather at the site of a drone strike in Hangu, November 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Syed Shah)

The events detailed here occurred in 2014. These have been reported by US or Pakistani government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources, including on occasion Bureau researchers. Below is a summary of CIA drone strikes and casualty estimates for 2014. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.
CIA strikes – Obama 2014
Total CIA drone strikes 3
Total reported killed: 15-24
Civilians reported killed: 0
Children reported killed: 0
Total reported injured: 6-8

See the databases for previous strikes under President Obama: 2013
201220112010 and 2009

See the Pakistan drone strike database for all strikes under President Bush, 2004 to January 2009

Ob333
June 11 2014

♦ 4-6 reported killed
The first drone strike in almost six months reportedly hit a house and vehicle, killing six alleged militants. Early reports put the death toll at three, although later a Pakistani intelligence source told reporters that six people had died: ‘According to intercepts of the militants, four were Uzbek militants and two members of the Punjabi Taliban,’ he said, according to NBC.

An intelligence official described to AFP how the drone targeted a pick-up truck parked against the outer wall of a housing compound, setting both on fire. But locals told NBC that the vehicle had been driving through the village when it came under attack, and the damage to buildings may have been unintended: ‘Two nearby houses were partially damaged in the missile strikes, but the target was the truck,’ resident Yar Mohammad told the news channel by telephone.

An unnamed ‘senior intelligence official’ told AFP that following the strike, intercepted communications revealed: ‘One of the militants was asking others to reach the site and search for any one injured in the strike and also to dig out the dead bodies.’

Pakistani officials told the New York Times ‘at least four’ had died and a local intelligence official said the dead were ‘three Uzbeks and two members of the Haqqani Network’.

Early reports did not identify any of the dead or indicate their seniority. The attack took place in Darga Mandi or Tabbi Tolkhel, a few miles west of Miranshah.

The attack came days after peace talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) conclusively collapsed with a bloody attack on Karachi Airport that reportedly killed at least 39 people, including 10 alleged militants. The TTP and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group with a heavy presence in North Waziristan, described the airport attack as a ‘joint operation‘ and said it was in retaliation to the November 2013 drone strike that killed TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, as well as to the multiple Pakistani military air strikes that have hit the region since the drone strikes stopped.

The lengthy pause in drone strikes was at the request of the Pakistani government, to allow peace talks with the TTP to take place, sources close to the negotiations told the Bureau. However terrorist attacks and retaliatory military air strikes on targets in the tribal belt continued throughout the hiatus in drone strikes. Following the attack on Karachi airport, the prospect of a full military operation in North Waziristan grew closer as defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told TV channel ARY (quoted in the Wall Street Journal): ‘The talks option has been pursued with sincerity by the government, but no result has come.’

Location: Tabi Tolkhel or Darga Mandi, North Waziristan
ReferencesNBC NewsAFPWall Street JournalPTICNNAssociated Press, New York Times, Dawn, Express Tribune, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Centre

Ob334
June 12 2014
♦ 6-10 reported killed
♦ 4 reported wounded

Hours after the five-month hiatus in drone strikes ended, drones fired multiple missiles at alleged militants, reportedly killing either six or 10 people. But reports disagreed on the target of the strikes, with AFP reporting that the drones targeted men who were digging out bodies at the site of the previous strike – a tactic previously exposed by the Bureau. ‘Three US drones fired six missiles on militants who had gathered to dig the debris of a compound,’ a security official told AFP. Two vehicles were also hit, he added. Islamabad-based research unit Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC) also reported the strike targeted rescuers: ‘[The] second drone strike was carried out at [the]same location after [a] few hours to target the rescue team.’ And PTI reported the strike hit the same site as the earlier attack but did not mention an attack on rescuers.

NBC News also reported that the attack took place in the same village as the previous strike, adding that it hit a house where explosives were being stored. ‘I never heard such a huge and deafening blast,’ Miranshah resident Javed Khan said. ‘It jolted the entire tribal region, and everybody thought [the] house was targeted.’

But separate reports, also by AFP and by Xinhua, presented a different account, with locals saying missiles hit four separate houses and a pick-up truck in Dande Darpakhel, killing at least 10 and wounding four. Intelligence officials and locals described seeing five to ten drones overhead. And Associated Press said three missiles hit a house and vehicle. Two unnamed officials said the attack targeted the Haqqani Network, the group that held US soldier Bowe Bergdahl captive until his release in a controversial prisoner exchange the week before the strikes resumed.

According to Pakistan local newspaper Dawn and the CMC Haji Gul, a key Haqqani network commander from Afghanistan, was allegedly killed in the Dande Darpakhel strike. The attack also reportedly killed other prominent Afghan Taliban commanders Mufti Sofian and Abu Bakar as well as destroying explosive-laden vehicles, reportedly bound for missions across the Pakistani border.

Other commanders reportedly killed in the strike and identified by Dawn and the CMC are Commander Yasin Gardezi, Abdullah Khan, Commander Jamil, Commander Asadullah and their driver Noor Khan. The CMC named six more alleged Haqqani Network members killed in the strike as: Commanders Saif el Jihad and Roohullah, both Pashtuns from Pakistan, and Hamza Gul, Hamza, Bilal and Mehmood – all reportedly of unknown origins.

Location: Darga Mandi, Dande Darpakhel or Ghulam Khan, North Waziristan
References: AFP, BBC, PTI, AFP, Associated Press, Xinhua, NBC News, Geo TV Dawn, Dawn, Express Tribune, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Centre

Ob335
June 18 2014
♦ 5-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 reported injured

The third strike of the month hit at least one house and vehicle, killing at least five alleged militants. The strike hit in the early hours – around 4-4.30am according to two reports.

The majority of sources reported as many as six missiles hit a house and a vehicle on the outskirts of Miranshah – the capital of North Waziristan – either Dargah Mandi, Danday Darpa Khel or in Miranshah itself. Some sources reported the vehicle was inside the walls of housing compound when the strike hit. Others were less specific. The reports did not identify the owner of the house or the victims of the strike, describing them simply as militants.

However the Wall Street Journal reported strike targetted a Haqqani Network compound, killing at least five, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. The attack hit at around 4am local time. The paper also reported: ‘A store and at least two vehicles were destroyed.’

And AFP reported six missiles fired by two drones hit three houses. However the agency also quoted a local security official in Miranshah as saying: ‘US drones fired six missiles which hit three separate compounds in two villages, at least five militants have been killed.’ The attacks reportedly hit minutes apart with two drones firing four missiles in the first strike and a third firing two more missiles in the second. A vehicle parked in one of the housing compounds was hit, a senior security official said.

The strike came amid Zarb e Azb – a Pakistani military offensive against terrorists in North Waziristan. Soldiers, tanks and airstrikes were reportedly being used against militant positions.
Pakistani government sources said at least 187 alleged militants had been killed by June 18, with some counts putting it over 200, as well as a handful of Pakistani soldiers. There were few reports of civilian casualties however Pakistani offensives against militants in the tribal areas in the past have caused civilian casualties. Aid agencies have estimated as many as 400,000 people may be displaced by the operation, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Location: Danday Darpa Khel, Dargah Mandi or Miranshah; Miranshah Tehsil; North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Associated Press, Voice of America, PTI, Xinhua, Wall Street Journal, The News, Khaama Press, NBC News, AFP

Monday, June 16, 2014

Missile Strike by C.I.A. Drone Kills at Least 4, Pakistan Reports

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

“Drones: A Military Revolution”

Report from France - but filmed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Pilots from France, Italy and England learning how to fly a drone.

REPORTERS

Drones: unmanned, discreet and economical planes, are the secret weapons of approximately 30 armies around the world. But these small remote-controlled aircraft are also criticized for the significant collateral damage they can cause on the ground. Our reporters in the United States bring you an exclusive report filmed on a US Army base in New Mexico. 
 

When it comes to reporting on the use of drones by the United States, one can only scratch the surface, because of the secretive nature of the American drone programme. Only a relatively small part of it is public, and its deadliest component remains a secret.

According to the US military, drones don’t even exist. The term “drones”, that is. The planes are officially called "RPAs" by all US officials, except, notably, US President Barack Obama. RPA stands for remotely piloted aircraft. By using this term, the military wants to underscore that these machines are actually piloted by humans, and aren’t just robots.

That is the main reason the Pentagon allowed us to visit Holloman Air Force Base in deepest New Mexico. The Air Force likes to show off its pilots and its many pilots-in-waiting. They are disciplined, they look like normal pilots, and in many cases they are former fighter jet pilots. But these frequent fliers rarely touch their flying machines, and only take the helm until they are already in the air. It’s a fascinating detail: a separate set of pilots, not shown to us, is responsible for take offs and landings.

The US Air Force’s drone programme is not as secretive as the CIA's, but we can't publish the names of the pilots we interviewed. It’s a prerequisite for the interview, because of the fear of reprisals or revenge attacks. The United States and its drones, after all, remain at war, and they still kill both terrorists and civilians. For security purposes we interview "Matt". That’s all we learn of his identity.
There is one short slip of the tongue, when Matt accidentally reveals his full name during a sound check. His nervous reaction is revealing: he repeatedly asks whether the footage was deleted. It was.

According to the New America Foundation, US drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen have killed around 4,500 men and women since the outset of the war on terror. The same organization says that up to 10 percent of those victims are civilians.

There are no official figures. That's because the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone programme is the body staging attacks in these countries. The CIA has neither a legal  obligation to acknowledge its actions, nor to be transparent. Therefore it has wider scope in countries that the United States is not at war with, the likes of Yemen and Pakistan.

Barack Obama wants to slowly but surely move the US drone programme from the auspices of CIA to those of the US military. But the CIA doesn’t want to budge for now. It believes it is precisely the secretive nature of the agency’s drone attacks that makes them such a useful tool.

It’s a tool increasingly used by other countries as well. We are the first journalists to meet the French drone pilots in training at Holloman Air Force Base. They will be piloting American-made Reaper drones in Niger. They tell us that they got the full training course, except the part that teaches pilots how to use the weapons that hang from the drones’ wings. The French pilots say that during those lessons, the classroom door remained firmly shut. The French Air Force has bought two Reaper drones so far, and could very well be coming back for more in the near future.

They are unarmed drones, used for surveillance purposes only. But the reality is that a Reaper or Predator drone can very easily be equipped with deadly Hellfire missiles.

More and more men and women are passing through the US Air Force’s training programme to become drone pilots. British and Italian pilots have also been spotted at Holloman Air Force Base, alongside swarms of American pilots. This year, the US Air Force will this be training more drone pilots than fighter jet pilots. It seems to be the new reality of warfare.

Read More and Check out their video report by France 24.

http://www.france24.com/en/20140508-reporters-drones-military-revolution-usa/


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Yemen, Drones Don't Kill Innocents

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Common Dreams

When US military strikes kill civilians, it seems there's always someone ready to claim that US weaponry doesn't kill anyone who doesn't deserve it.
Over the weekend, there were reports that noncombatants were among the dead after the US carried out drone strikes in Yemen on what were said to be suspected Al-Qaeda affiliates. And, sure enough, one of the first CNN segments managed to find  someone to deny that this could happen.
On CNN Newsroom (4/19/14), host Fredricka Whitfield interviewed Christopher Hill, former US ambassador to Iraq:
WHITFIELD: So in your view, how significant is this strike, hitting three well-known operatives?
HILL: Well, first of all, I think our services do quite a job tracking these people. And, you know, coming a few days after that brazen effort by the Al-Qaeda leadership to show that they're around, we, I think, demonstrated that we can hunt them down.
I have seen a number of these strikes, and it is amazing how accurate and how well-targeted they are. I mean, the idea that innocents are being killed, it's really not the case.
CNN's Barbara StarrCNN's Barbara Starr.But even by initial government accounts coming out of Yemen, that first strike did in fact kill three civilians, as CNN (4/19/14) and plenty of other outlets were reporting.

But even when that issue of civilian deaths came up, there was a curious spin on the news. Here's how Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr  (4/19/14) explained it:
It looks like three civilians were killed, and that is always a big problem for the United States, because the government of Yemen is very sensitive to these drone strikes.
Perhaps one could see the US government killing innocent people as a "big problem" even if those people's government was not "very sensitive" to the issue of a foreign military killing its citizens by remote control?

On the other hand, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen (4/20/14) did point out on the following day that there are reasons to be skeptical of any of the official claims:
You know, one of the themes of the program is if you're a military-age male in an area where a drone strike is happening, the US will often regard you as a combatant when often that is not the case. Not every military-age male is, in fact, part of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Nonetheless, the reporting on shadowy military strikes that are part of a program that US government does not officially speak about is bound to rely on mostly unnamed government officials, either here in the US or in Yemen.

Just look at today's New York Times story (4/22/14), with the headline "US Drones and Yemeni Forces Kill Qaeda-Linked Fighters, Officials Say." The paper explains that those targeted were "militants who were planning to attack civilian and military facilities, government officials said in a statement." The Times report, entirely reliant on official sources, seemed to acknowledge its own limitations:
Given that the administration would not even confirm that American drones carried out the strikes over the weekend, it was unclear how the people targeted in the strike posed a threat to Americans.
While it's possible that the strikes are indeed targeting and killing terrorists on the verge of launching attacks, history suggests that initial claims can be flat-out wrong.

When a US drone struck a wedding convoy in Yemen last December, for example, the Times offered a sketchy account that backed the official line–"Most of the dead appeared to be people suspected of being militants linked to Al-Qaeda," the paper explained (FAIR Blog, 12/13/13)

A 2009 US attack that included cluster bombs was initially reported by the Times as an attack on an Al-Qaeda camp. On-the-ground reporting (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 3/29/12) later disclosed that the attack had killed 41 civilians, including 22 children and five pregnant women.
Peter Hart

Peter Hart is the activism director at FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra, and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly" (Seven Stories Press, 2003).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Drone: exclusive clip from new documentary - video

Watch an exclusive clip from Tonje Hessen Schei's new documentary about drones. The film identifies the unit responsible for CIA operations in Pakistan, and alleges the flights are operated by the US air force, which raises questions about the legal safeguards for military pilots. The film also shows how the military recruits young gamers to fly different types of remotely piloted aircraft.

WATCH Drone Film Clip