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Friday, July 30, 2010

Fathering the drones

This is an elaboration of an introduction I wrote earlier on. It is in the spirit of Herbert Marcuse's One dimensional man, a book that deals in its entirety about the unbearable situation of living "as if normal" whilst the human-made death of all of humanity is being prepared. The metaphors of generation etcetera fulfill a certain ideological function: it further "normalizes" living alongside mass murder. Also cf. "sitting duck" and "barrel of fish" as references to the bombing drones.

Until I started writing this piece I did not know about a "mother of the bomb".

When you ask the internet search engine for the “father of the bomb” you get the incredible result of around six million hits. One of the first results you may get reads: “Trinity and the birth of the bomb”, which indeed goes on about the “father of the bomb”. There is a good chance you will accuse the writer of the text you now see of blasphemy when you are kindly reminded of the combination of the words trinity, birth and father. Words used in connection with a device that killed about a hundred thousand people in one instant, and another hundred thousand in the slow aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima.

When such a combination yields about six million hits this must mean “we” have accomodated to these weapons. Generally they are called weapons of mass destruction these days, which refers to damage done to buildings and other lifeless things. You do not hear the phrase weapons of mass killing. And apparently “we” accept the idea of these weapons “having been born”, they have “a father” and they have to be modernized once in a while. Then we hear about the next “generation of nuclear bombs” (about one hundred thousand hits in the search engine). Born, father, generation – all words referring to life, the ending of which is the specific aim of these weapons. If you think it unfair that the “mother of the bomb” is not mentioned you are right: she “only” gets three million hits in the search engine.

Since it refers to an insect it probably will be even harder to see the full obscenity of a killing device, the unmanned aerial vehicle, named drone. The main task of drones, male bees, is indeed: fathering. We are up to see a new generation of drones, which will be more stealthy than the present day unmanned killing device.

Let us be aware that bombs and unmanned bombing devices are directed against fathers and mothers, against those who are born and against generations. And let us remember that the most obscene about these things is still not the words used about them. It is the fact that they exist at all, that they are used or that using them is even being considered.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Louis Vitale, Richard Sauder both out of jail

From: The Nuclear Resister

Posted on July 27, 2010
Fr. Louis Vitale completed a six month prison sentence for trespass at Ft. Benning, Georgia, on Friday, July 23. He walked out of the federal prison at Lompoc, California.

Read about Vitale’s November 2009 arrest here.

Also on July 23, Richard Sauder was convicted in federal court in Minot, North Dakota, of trespassing at a nuclear missile silo last April. He was sentenced to time served, 100 days, and released. Sauder spent most of his time on federal hold at the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center in Rugby North Dakota.

Sauder wrote to the Nuclear Resister:

I want to thank everyone who wrote to me in jail to voice their support. It was very meaningful to me. Jail is a very isolating place and a psychopathic, harsh environment, so letters of support are and were an extremely welcome and vital tie with the outside. I also want to thank all who wrote to the jail administration to express concerns about the poor diet. The jail security chief informed me after my release that the food service company that prepares the inmates’ meals does so at a cost of 60 cents per inmate per meal. And that one factoid speaks volumes about the unpleasant conditions at the heart of America.

Read more here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Minnesotans join New York Protesters at Demonstration in Saratoga Springs, New York

Women Against Military Madness

July 23, 2010

Outside the racetrack... war is a bad bet.

Minnesota veterans stood in solidarity with veterans from Saratoga Springs and Albany New York as they protested the war at the Saratoga Springs race track's 142nd opening day. Veterans for Peace members stood in pouring rain with banners and placards that asked the question "How's the War Economy Working for You?" The Saratoga Race Course reopened Friday after nearly going bankrupt in 2008. As racing fans paused to buy tip sheets at the race course gates, veterans chanted "War is a bad bet! and were handed brochures that asked folks "How is the War Economy Working for You?" Some race goers stated they had thought the war economy would bring prosperity, but were disappointed with the war's multi-billion dollar drain on the economy.

According to demonstration organizer John Amidon, of Tom Paine Veterans for Peace Chapter 10 in Albany New York, upstate New York is hard-hit by the war economy. "One doesn't need to go to Detroit to see collapsed cities. Regionally Schenectady, Amsterdam, and Gloversville, NY are cities in steep decline if not already collapsed. The war economy is simply not working for the people of New York State."

Among the protesters were Minnesotans Coleen Rowley, one of Time Magazine 2002 Persons of the Year and a former FBI staff attorney, Jack Rossbach of International campaign to Ban Land Mines and Cluster Munitions, and Kim Doss-Smith of Women Against Military Madness, plus a few members of Twin Cities Chapter 27 of Veterans for Peace. They are members of a delegation of 19 Minnesota peace activists that are in Albany New York attending a national conference and strategy planning session of the national peace movement.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Conference in London: Drone Wars

Start: 18/09/2010 - 10:00
End: 18/09/2010 - 16:00
Timezone: Etc/GMT

Fellowship of Reconciliation (www.for.org.uk) is organising a conference in London on September 18th called ‘Drone Wars’. It will explore the growing use of armed, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones. Drones are remote controlled, unmanned aircraft that fire missiles at the touch of a joystick. With operators safely located in trailers 8000 miles away from the combat, drones offer the illusion of warfare that is clean, tidy and safe. But does this ‘playstation mentality’ make killing more permissible and likely?

Armed drones are used by Britain, US and others at great human cost and often in breach of humanitarian law. Used in war and for targeted killings this technology is being used by the UK with little public debate.

As well as information about drones, there will be workshops on Britain’s arms industry and drones, the use of surveillance drones in the UK, Israel’s use of drones in Gaza and elsewhere, international law and drone war, the future of robotic weapons, local campaigning and more. Join peace activists and researchers to investigate how to down the drones.

Date: Saturday 18th September 2010, 10am – 4pm, Venue: University of London Union, Malet Street. Cost: (which includes buffet lunch) £10.00/£6.00 conc.

For more information and to register, contact Mary at Fellowship of Reconciliation www.for.org.uk, telephone 01865 250781, mary@for.org.uk


Drone story from the Afghan Files

It flies at 50,000ft, is virtually invisible and carries a deadly payload of missiles and bombs. Meet the Reaper, a new variety of heavily armed unmanned drone which the war logs reveal is increasingly the coalition's weapon of choice against the Taliban.
At about $13m (£8m) each, and up to $100,000 for each of its four Hellfire missiles, that adds up to an extraordinary amount of cash that is routinely being spent to try to kill a single insurgent.
The growing reliance on the Reaper becomes apparent in the account of one operation on 29 August last year.

US soldiers on the ground studied the live video, from the Reaper's camera thousands of feet up, of a fighter "pulling weapons from a cache site in a culvert under the road". He rode his motorbike to an underground cellar in a compound, "carrying weapons back and forth".

The US soldiers waited until he met a group of men, signalling back via satellite to the pilot controlling a joystick thousands of miles away in a Nevada bunker, who loosed a missile on to their vehicle. The US claimed a kill of three insurgents.
The Reaper is much more powerful than its predecessors. It not only flies higher, but loiters longer, and – most significantly – carries a more destructive payload. In addition to the four Hellfires, it is armed with two 500lb GBU-12 smart bombs.
Typical of the extensive – and expensive – use of these drones is an operation recorded in southern Afghanistan on 30 June last year. Insurgents had attacked Afghan police. The log records "2 x INS [insurgents] moving into mountains above Khakrez" and continues: "INS were tracked by Reaper to a large tree when 1 x INS dropped his kit and ran to the south. Additional INS were observed under the cover of a tree."
The pilot in Nevada then launched his laser-guided bomb, "resulting that 3 x INS fled the area to the north, 1 x INS fled the area to the south".

The pilot steered the drone to follow the three fleeing northwards and unleashed three Hellfires on them. The Reaper continued tracking and an hour later spotted two more insurgents who were "followed to a rock pile" and hit with the final Hellfire.
A surveillance drone, a Predator, "was providing overwatch and nothing was seen moving in the area after the strike". Up to seven Taliban fighters were said to have been killed in that battle.

Another log entry tells of a Reaper hide-and-seek mission above Kandahar province on the afternoon of 28 October 2008. The remote pilot "observed INS with 82mm mortars and engaged them with 1 x Hellfire" Then he chased and launched another Hellfire at two "squirters" – slang for people fleeing a building or position after it has just been bombed.

On 27 October last year, a unit from the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) was attacked by four Taliban fighters hidden in what are known as "murder holes" in a wall of a compound near Nad-e Ali, Helmand. The Taliban dig burrows in walls then climb into them, firing guns through small slits. On this occasion, the Reaper drone bombed the wall. The log says it succeeded in killing two Taliban.
The RAF, third in the queue after the US air force and the CIA, is ordering as many Reapers as it can. It deployed its first one in Afghanistan in June 2008.
Since then British Reapers have flown more than 11,500 hours in a purely surveillance role and fired 97 missiles to help commanders on the ground, the RAF says. They fly from an airfield in Kandahar, which maintains and refuels them. No civilians have been killed as a result, according to the Ministry of Defence .
Yet Reapers are not always the perfect video-game weapon. On 13 September last year, the logs record that a rogue Reaper went out of control. The unmanned "hunter-killer" headed for neighbouring Tajikistan with its full load of missiles and bombs. An F15 fighter jet was scrambled and only succeeded in shooting it down a short distance from the border.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

British Aerospace, Plowshares, Drones and the Celtic "God of Thunder"

Ciaron O'Reilly

It was over a decade since Chris Cole and I had been at the gates of British Aerospace (BAE) Warton in Lancashire, England. That was back in the day when BAE were making their money from butchering East Timorese.

But our history with BAE goes way back before that. When those of us in the ANZUS Plowshares were released from U.S. prisons in 1992, following our New Year's Day '91 disarmament of a B52 Bomber and a year in custody, the F.B.I. had so much repsect for private property tha they gave us our hammers and boltcutters back! We shipped a set to Chris in England and on January 6th. 1993 he made his way into BAE Stevenage where he carried out £475,000 damage to BAE weapon systems. After two trials and 6 months in jail, BAE slapped a high court injunction on him. BAE later had Chris imprisoned for another 6 months under the terms of the civil injunction for writing a leaflet encouraging people to blockade BAE. But when Chirs was freed the British police returned the ploughshares hammer to him.

The hammer was passed on to four women, the "Seeds of Hope Ploughshares" who went to BAE Warton in January '96 and disarmed a Hawk Fighter ready for export to Indonesia.

Following the July '96 acquittal of the four women, we set up a community with East Timorese refugees in Liverpool and carried out sustained nonviolent resistance at BAE Warton. BAE struck back hitting 13 of us with high court injunctions and placed a spy in the Liverpool Catholic Worker.

They also ran a number of spies in the more moderate "Campaign Against the Arms Trade".

So there was a lot of history with BAE as we headed north along the M1. The plan was 4 hours on the road, four hours vigiling outside the factory and four hours back to Oxford.

We were being drawn back to BAE Warton by the unveiling of the companies latest hi tech development in death dealing - "Taranis". Apparently the weapon of choice these daze for government sanctioned assassination and untold collateral damage on the extremities of empire is the drone.

To paraphrase Pulp Fiction "If you absolutely have to kill every mother on the block to get your target, the drone is for you.!" The drone takes alienation at the point of production (of corpses and orphans) to its logical conclusion by removing the pilot. The guy presently pushing the button to unleash the U.S. hellfire missiles on to their unsuspecting victims on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border is a half a world a way in an air conditioned office/vault/bunker in Florida or Nevada. British forces in Afghanistan are presently using American Reaper and Israeli surveillance drones, but not for long! British Aerospace, always one for with an eye in the death dealing market, has spent £143 million developing the "Taranis" and this unveiling at Warton was about BAE’s "continued drive to convince the British Ministry of Defence to invest in the next generation of unmanned aircraft.” (Daily Mail)

Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is different from the UK’s current drones as it is designed not to be flown remotely from the ground via satellite, as current unmanned drones are, but rather programmed pre-flight to carry out its mission, whether intelligence, surveillance or armed strike. To make the aircraft ‘more stealthy’ i.e. invisible to radar, the drone’s bombs and missiles are carried internally.

So our humble effort at Warton last Monday was to break the consensus of silence and state a physical "no" to Defense Minister Howarth, BAE, Taranis, imperial wars and the policy of assassination and collateral damage on the empire's extremeties.

Standing there at the gates of BAE Warton with our home made banners watching a stream of limos and sports cars reminded one of the film "Ironman" without the subplot of redemption and also of the many victims this factory has produced throughout the world.

Meanwhile in the U.S. good friends including Kathy Kelly, Fr. Louie Vitale OFM, Fr. Steve Kelly SJ and Fr. John Dear SJ are being taken before the Nevada Courts for their resistance at Creech Air Force Base to the U.S. drone wars on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
(Saormheáin Éireann Iúil 19, 2010)

UK Ministry of war reveals plans for drones

The Ministry of Defence has unveiled its prototype unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).

Taranis is a concept design for a long-range strike plane that has taken over three million man hours to produce.

Defence Minister Gerald Howarth said it was a "truly trailblazing project" and featured "the best of our nation's advanced design and technology".
Further reading.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More on animals on test sites

A two-year study is underway to help wildlife biologists better understand the behavior of mountain lions living on and around the Nevada Test Site, located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Researchers hope to determine where these elusive predators live, what they eat, and how best to manage potential risks to workers at the site. With funding and field support provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office, a research team was recently assembled to trap eight mountain lions at the Nevada Test Site over the next two years, fitting each animal with a GPS satellite collar to track the cats’ movements over continuous 24-hour periods. Using the tracking devices, researchers will document each animal’s location six times per day and physically visit one or two clusters of locations per week to gather information on recent kills.

“We want to determine where lions are most likely to be predatory,” said wildlife biologist David Mattson, who is heading up the study. Dr. Mattson of the U.S. Geological Survey, along with a field team from National Security Technologies—NSTec (the Management and Operating contractor for the Nevada Test Site), aims to record the hunting behaviors of the eight collared cats, whose diets are known to include mule deer, young horses, and rabbits. “It is important to know what is being hunted and under what circumstances in order to better understand the risk to potential prey,” Mattson added.

Juvenile vs. Adult Mountain Lions

While mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare (only one attack has ever been documented at the Nevada Test Site), the last five years has seen an increase in the number of lion sightings at the site, particularly at the lower elevations. Remote, motion-activated cameras installed to monitor the movement of mountain lions have captured photographs of the animals near active work facilities. “Even though the risk of an employee being attacked by a mountain lion is extremely low,” explained Federal Project Director Peter Sanders, “we want to assess where the risk is the highest since some new projects are being conducted in mountain lion habitat.” Managing risk to workers is the primary goal of the study; but researchers also hope to explore broader questions about how predator/prey relationships play out in habitats that are restricted from public access. “This is an incredible opportunity to look at the predator/prey dynamic without the effect of human interference,” said Dr. Mattson. The government-controlled land in and around the Nevada Test Site offers an unprecedented stage for observing wildlife unaffected by construction/development and outdoor recreation, like camping and hunting, he explained. “Being able to look at an unexploited population of lions is an extraordinary situation that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else in North America at this time.”

Researchers agree that studying mountain lions in this or any kind of setting is a challenge. These nocturnal, solitary hunters are notoriously difficult to track because of their keen ability to stay out of sight and on the move. Mountain lion experts believe the species has been able to maintain its numbers, rebounding from near extinction in 1900, as a result of its elusive nature and ability to cover large territories. Trapping a lion at the Nevada Test Site, explained NSTec biologist Derek Hall, is particularly difficult at this time due to an abundance of winter rain that has increased temporary water sources at the site, dispersing prey and the hunters they attract. “As these temporary water sources dry out, prey will be restricted to just a few permanent water sources, which should increase the chances of trapping a mountain lion around these watering holes.”

Dr. Mattson hopes the research at the Nevada Test Site will someday contribute to a long-term study that looks at mountain lions on a regional scale. Since 2003, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey have been able to track more than 60 mountain lions from northwestern Arizona to southwestern Utah, observing the cats’ hunting territories and behaviors, especially when new prey is introduced (e.g. big horn sheep). Mattson admits parlaying the objectives of existing studies into one comprehensive regional effort would require more funding and a solid commitment. “In an ideal world,” stated Mattson, “it takes at least ten years to adequately study lion and deer populations.”

Next generation of drones will be stealthy

It is standard practice. Ways of killing people have a "father" (father of the bomb). The bomb is a baby. We are up to the next "generation" of nuclear bombs. Etcetera.
The metaphors referring to life have reached the drones (a name of course which itself suggests [insect] life).

Today’s killer drones are sitting ducks. Loud, slow-moving, and simple to spot, any air defense more potent than a militant with an AK is liable to take one of the robotic planes down.

But the next generation of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) won’t be the airborne equivalent of fish in a barrel. They’ll fly faster and higher than the current drone crop. And they’ll be somewhat stealthy, as well.

Take the Avenger UCAV, unveiled last year by General Atomic Aeronautical Systems, the company behind the Predator and Reaper drones.

Further reading.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meanwhile, at another desert test site

The wild Bactrian camels survived the nuclear bomb tests around Lop Nur, so it is said, but climate change, pressure from mining and herds of domesticated animals threaten their survival.
Spare a thought for those at and around this other desert site.

Vandenberg witnesses convicted

Two trials were held in Santa Barbara Federal Court on Thursday, July 15, with Dennis Apel, MacGregor Eddy, and Steve Kelly, SJ, each convicted of criminal trespass (ban & bar violation) at Vandenberg AFB for attending legal protests without intentionally “crossing the line.”

The first trial included co-defendants Dennis Apel and MacGregor Eddy. A pretrial motion to establish that the designated protest area is a public forum, was denied to the defense. Magistrate Rita Coyne-Federman rejected the argument that free speech is protected in the designated protest area, as defined by Vandenberg officials. Dennis Apel and MacGregor Eddy were convicted of violating a “ban and bar” order, which resulted from a 12/31/09 protest against a National Missile Defense interceptor test and for being present at a peace vigil on March 3, 2010.

The sentence imposed on each defendant was a $125 fine, plus court costs, totaling $320 for each defendant.

Later that afternoon a second trial was held for co-defendants Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, and Dennis Apel. Again both were convicted with fines imposed as sentence.

What is noteworthy is that this is the first time an arrest for violating a ban and bar has been prosecuted.


Vandenberg Peace Legal Defense Fund is dedicated to the purpose of donations for the legal costs. Donations can be sent to
Vandenberg Peace Legal Defense Fund
Miguel Hernandez administrator
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40 Central Ave Salinas CA 93901

Note: donations to this fund do not repeat not qualify under IRS guidelines as a charitable contribution.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Death from above

Before a bomb gets dropped in Afghanistan, dozens of people weigh in: Air controllers bark coordinates over a radio; officers double-check the target’s location against digital maps; pilots survey the scene with cameras from on high; far-flung intelligence analysts scour the plane’s footage and discuss it in a secure chat room; military lawyers make sure the strike complies with the rules of war; commanders weigh the potential combat benefits of a bomb against the risks of civilian deaths.

Darpa would like to cut out all those middle men. Instead, the Pentagon’s R&D arm wants to build an air strike network with exactly two nodes: the air controller on the ground, and the robotic, heavily-armed airplane in the sky. Darpa calls the project Persistent Close Air Support, or PCAS. Think of it as death-from-above — on demand.

The goal, Darpa says in an announcement to prospective researchers, is to give the Joint Terminal Attack Controller — that’s the guy who usually coordinates air strikes in an infantry unit — “the ability to visualize, select and employ weapons at the time of their choosing.”

The JTAC will dial up these munitions from an “optionally manned/unmanned” A-10 “Warthog.” Armed with an array of rockets, missiles, bombs and a 30mm gatling gun, it’s one of the most brutally effective airplanes ever invented for hitting ground targets. In a firefight in early 2008, a single Special Forces sergeant called in Warthogs for more than 70 air strikes, incapacitating as many as 240 insurgents.

But that’s not how U.S. troops roll these days. Concerned that civilian casualties were handing the Taliban propaganda victories, General Stanley McChrystal issued tight new restrictions on the use of air power in Afghanistan; everyone from the very top of the chain of command down to the grunt can get involved in the decision to drop a bomb. Incoming commander General David Petraeus may change those guidelines a bit, but he almost certainly won’t rescind ‘em.

It’s only one of a number of inefficiencies Darpa sees in today’s close air support (CAS) missions. “The majority of CAS is coordinated by voice over the radio. CAS platform talk-ons can be lengthy and full of errors. Due to pilot talk-on complexity only one target set can be handled at a time.”

A garbled radio request can lead to a wrong set of coordinates passed. And that can lead to an attack going astray, with innocents killed and property smashed. No one wants that, of course. But in Afghanistan, the bugs are, in a sense, used as features, slowing down (and double-checking) air strike requests. Calling a bomb can happen in as little as a few minutes, depending on location of the plane and the urgency of the request. A few extra minutes of so-called “tactical patience” can lead to a resolution of the conflict, with no air strike at all.

That’s the attitude today. In future conflicts, it could change. So, Darpa is aiming to give the air controller the ability to “request and control near-instantaneous airborne fire support.”

The program kicks off with a workshop in two weeks. The next step is to “identify and mature the critical enabling technologies necessary to enable JTAC interfaces at the tactical level to be able to accurately visualize and employ weapons on target from the A-10 aircraft.” At the end of the effort, Darpa plans to conclude “with a live-fire demonstration.”


Monday, July 12, 2010

More bases for drones

Ellsworth Air Force Base will get half of what its supporters were hoping for in a new mission piloting unmanned drones overseas. The local base will share the high-tech duties with an air base in Missouri.
But even half is a lot in a new-age world of aerial surveillance and combat where the pilots and navigators may be half a world away from the aircraft they control.
“This is more of a high-tech, futuristic type mission,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., during a news conference Monday morning in Rapid City.
The Air Force has chosen Ellsworth and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to handle an expansion of unmanned drone flights in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations. The two bases will split the new drone duties, and each will receive about 280 new military and civilian personnel. Ellsworth will come on line with the new mission early in 2012, following Whiteman in 2011. Ellsworth is being delayed for upgrades in the communications infrastructure, Thune said.
Further reading

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Censored News: Cindy Sheehan shakes up the Drone-Making Man

Posted by Brenda Norrell - July 8, 2010 at 12:32 am
BOO! Cindy Sheehan and the peace activists are coming

By Brenda Norrell
From: Censored News

WASHINGTON D.C. - Cindy Sheehan, preparing to protest the US drones that kill civilians, has already shaken up the security patrol at General Atomics in DC. Before she left home, the General Atomics "landlord" called her, concerned about the protest tomorrow, Thursday, July 8. After she arrived in DC, she was watched by General Atomics security.

Also, Sheehan's wallet was stolen and someone attempted to run up a $911.00 bill for merchandise at Target.

Backing up a bit, General Atomics is the maker of the Predator B drone that crashed near the US/Mexico border at Nogales, Arizona, in April of 2006. Fortunately, no one was under the 10,000 pound drone when it hit the ground. The official cause was lax controls and pilot error.

The drones along the US/Mexico border were grounded for a while, until the US Grim Reapers and profiteers convinced Congress and Homeland Security that what the border needs now is more of the out-of-control, crashing drones.

Grim Reaper John McCain and his cohorts in Arizona and the US Congress, along with lobbyists and the US media, turned up the "terror" volume, convincing Americans of the need for drones. More than one billion dollars in US contracts for drones have been awarded in the past few months (see below.)

On the US/Mexico border, there's $500 million available for drones and most will go for the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, also known as Predator B.

The drones killing civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are remote computer controlled by Airforce soldiers seated in their easy chairs in Nevada and Arizona.

Sheehan, now in DC to protest these drones, writes, "General Atomics builds Predator unmanned aerial vehicles that are used by the US military to drop Hellfire missiles from thousands of feet above on to mostly civilian targets and have killed thousands of innocent people."

Today, Sheehan described being questioned by General Atomics security. There's a scene right out of a paperback spy novel. The General Atomic security guard saunters past her in another part of town, on the Metro Station platform, trying to look nonchalant in a ball cap and backpack, a formula look for leading a secret life.

Not so funny is the fact that killing is big business in the United States.

Read Sheehan's detailed account of the incidents with General Atomics: http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2010/07/cindy-sheehan-confronting-drone-maker.html

Listed below are just a few of the recent drone contracts. There are too many to list, including those along the US/Canadian border, where dangerous drones are being used to stimulate the economy. Besides the construction of drones, millions of dollars in contracts are being awarded for the training of remote control drone pilots.

In the US, killing is big business

In May, General Atomics received a $195 million contract to build 34 Sky Warriors drones for the US Army.


Boeing is also profiteering from the drone business with a new contract. Boeing is well known along the Arizona border for wasting millions on spy towers that don't work. Boeing also desecrated the graves of the ancestors of the Tohono O'odham during construction of the border wall.

"A St. Louis-based unit of Boeing won a contract worth about $69.7 million by the U.S. Air Force for the initial engineering, manufacturing and development of QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Targets, drone planes that will act as targets for newly developed weapons."


In May, Northrop Grumman was awarded $620.8 million in contracts for Global Hawk UAV and signals intelligence UAV payloads.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

War zone drone crashes add up

The unmanned craft were rushed into use in 2001 and some design and system problems were never fully addressed. Losses don't involve lives but are expensive.

The U.S. military often portrays its drone aircraft as high-tech marvels that can be operated seamlessly from thousands of miles away. But Pentagon accident reports reveal that the pilotless aircraft suffer from frequent system failures, computer glitches and human error.

Design and system problems were never fully addressed in the haste to push the fragile plane into combat over Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks more than eight years ago. Air Force investigators continue to cite pilot mistakes, coordination snafus, software failures, outdated technology and inadequate flight manuals.

Thirty-eight Predator and Reaper drones have crashed during combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and nine more during training on bases in the U.S. — with each crash costing between $3.7 million and $5 million. Altogether, the Air Force says there have been 79 drone accidents costing at least $1 million each.

Further reading.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

IPS: Death By Drone: CIA's Hitlist is Murder

Source: Common Dreams
Published on Sunday, July 4, 2010 by the Inter Press Service

by William Fisher

NEW YORK - As the Barack Obama administration continues to roll out justifications for its policy of targeting U.S. citizens and others thought to be attacking U.S. troops, legal and national security experts are pondering a central question: What if there's a mistake and the wrong person gets killed?

There are no do-overs. It is a death sentence. That, in fact, has already happened. A Reuters cameraman was killed by a U.S. drone strike when the operator mistook his camera's long-range lens for a rocket-propelled grenade. Nevertheless, a top Obama counter-terrorism official is defending the government's right to target U.S. citizens perceived as terror threats for capture or killing, citing the example of the renegade al Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al- Awlaki.

Al-Awlaki, 39, was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and is an Islamic lecturer who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Yemen. He is a spiritual leader and former imam who has purportedly inspired Islamic terrorists. His sermons are said to have been attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers.

Read more here...

Gonna take Us All, Jon Fromer (RIP

To keep the spirit!


We are all Bradley Manning!