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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Study Group attorneys file response to DOE effort to quash lawsuit

Source: Los Alamos Study Group Bulletin:
Bulletin #100
October 22, 2010
Study Group attorneys file response to DOE effort to quash lawsuit

DOE Secretary to initiate another new study of LANL nuke facility

Yesterday attorneys for the Los Alamos Study Group filed a Response (pdf) to the Obama Administration's motion to dismiss the Study Group's lawsuit, which requests a halt to further investment pending preparation of an applicable Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed $5+ billion plutonium facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF).

That response lays out further bases, beyond those mentioned in the Complaint (pdf), for halting the project.

The case is being heard by the Honorable Judith Herrera of Federal District Court in Albuquerque.
The Study Group is being represented by Thomas Hnasko and his colleagues at Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin, LLP; Lindsay A. Lovejoy, and Diane Albert.  This litigation would be impossible without their generous assistance, as well as that of Study Group donors and supporters.

In an important development, industry publication Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor has revealed today in an article written by veteran reporter Todd Jacobsen, that Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu "is in the process of initiating his own independent study on the NNSA’s two biggest construction projects."  See the article here (pdf), reprinted by permission.

Vice President Biden, in a letter made public by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, has nevertheless promised the Administration's whole-hearted support for the CMRR-NF and a companion facility in Tennessee for manufacture of uranium warhead components.  Biden told senators (see pp. 124-125) the Administration would be announcing further increases in the Administration's financial commitment to these projects and the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA's) nuclear weapons program "in the fall."  (Nuclear Weapons and Material Monitor broke that story, but to my knowledge it has not been in the mainstream media.)

Investments in CMRR-NF are intensifying.  The Administration sought and received emergency increase in nuclear weapons spending on October 1, which includes an increase in annual spending from $58 million to $169 million on CMRR-NF.

Study Group Director Greg Mello: "We are pleased that Secretary Chu has recognized the need to re-study this facility, but greatly question whether a thoughtful review can be done in the advertised six weeks.  We have already developed a set of reasonable alternatives to this facility and anticipate working productively with the review team and with Congress.  What is needed for an objective review is a halt to further investments in the project.  Likewise we need a de novo environmental review that analyzes 'all' reasonable alternatives to the project, as the law requires.  The two go together -- again, as NEPA recognizes and requires.

"Nuclear laboratory unit costs in this proposed facility have risen by a factor of about 23 in this project since it was first funded by Congress, and its mission is more dodgy than ever.  We believe no part of this facility -- not the vault, not the additional labs, not the additional facility to prepare on-site subcritical nuclear testing to get around the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) -- is remotely necessary or desirable to maintain the existing U.S. nuclear stockpile for the indefinite future, assuming that's the Administration's goal.

"CMRR-NF should not be desirable to weapons administrators because there are much better, less managerially risky, cheaper, and safer facility options for preserving U.S. nuclear weapons.  To we who find nothing beneficial about nuclear weapons, it is a vast misdirection of resources, and a symbol of how dangerously perverted our priorities have become.  It's too bad that the Obama Administration offered it up so readily to the most hawkish members of Congress in return for their possible vote on New START ratification.

"We now need a new 'bipartisan' consensus that wasting boatloads of money to create a facility to make plutonium pits we don't need -- and which, if made, would degrade confidence in the stockpile -- is a bad idea.  The key is for the Administration to 'stop, look, and listen' before taking the plunge on this thing."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Iraq War Logs

At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports ('The Iraq War Logs'), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a 'SIGACT' or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.

Source.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Los Alamos pretrial hearing of the LANL-8

NEWS RELEASE
Contact Trinity Nuclear Abolition (TNA): 505 242-0497
22 October 2010

7 NUCLEAR PROTESTERS PLEAD “NOT GUILTY”
1 PLEADS “NO CONTEST”

  LOS ALAMOS, NM  Seven nuclear abolitionists, arrested for trespass
last August as they sat in front of the locked gate of a plutonium
processing facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), will
plead their case to a jury picked from residents of Los Alamos, New
Mexico, where The Bomb was born.

At a pretrial hearing October 21 in Los Alamos Magistrates Court,
Magistrate Pat Casados set a trial date of Tuesday, February 8, 2011
for seven of the eight people arrested last August 6, the 65th
anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Defendant Elias Kohn, a
student at the University of Southern California, pleaded "no contest"
and was sentenced to 60 days probation and fined $500.

  The seven proceeding to trail are Jeff Freitas and Jason Ahmadi
(from California); David Coney and Bryan Martin (from Boise, Idaho);
Sister Megan Rice (from Las Vegas, Nevada); Lisa Fithian (from Austin,
Texas) & Jack Cohen-Joppa (from Tucson, Arizona).

  The LANL-8 were part of a group of over 100 activists who held a
colorful demonstration in the streets of Los Alamos on the 65th
anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Their march
lead onto LANL property for a ceremony in front of the Chemistry
Metallurgy Research (CMR) building on Diamond Drive, where critical
plutonium engineering for nuclear weapons goes on. Eight people
entered the security gate and sat down peacefully. LANL then asked
local police to arrest the eight activists for alleged "trespassing".

Police were told by demonstrators that the true crime at hand was
continued nuclear weapons production, and the people had assembled to
stop it. Police chose to arrest the eight, who were booked at the jail
and released later that evening. 24-year old Think Outside The Bomb
participant Bryan Martin said, “What I learned this Summer in Chimayo,
New Mexico has led me into dedication as I have begun to realize just
how much there is to overcome to create a positive change in the
world.”

   Because the Department of Energy (DoE) is spending billions of
dollars on a CMR Replacement (a plutonium pit facility to continue the
work of the Manhattan Project) many peace activists came from around
the U.S. to Los Alamos to pray and act for peace on August 6th.  The
resisters know that plans to continue developing new nuclear weapons
are a crime against existing international and humanitarian law. They
contend that the Nuremberg Principles oblige all civilians to act to
prevent known criminal activity. In so doing, they went to the older
CMR building to prevent pro-nuclear work there.

“Our action is necessitated by a delay of 65 years in ending the continual
manufacture of nuclear weapons,” said 80-year old defendant Sr. Megan
Rice. “The original Manhattan Project scientists recognized (but
failed to convince the world) that continuing the nuclear weapons
project was intrinsically evil.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What makes the CIA's drone programme tick

The Suffolk County courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, is an unlikely place to learn about the CIA's drone program. Yet a contract dispute currently being litigated in Superior Court there offers a rare glimpse into the computer systems and software that are at the heart of the program.

The suit gives worrying indications that the CIA may have knowingly relied on untested and substandard software to operate its drones. It also raises important questions regarding potential civil and criminal liability for civilian casualties that could result from flawed/erroneous drone strikes.

The CIA is not a party to the Massachusetts case. But its unmanned aerial vehicle program, whose operations are very much at issue in the case, was responsible for at least 20 missile strikes that are believed to have killed more than 150 people last month in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan.

Further reading.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drone attacks based on feeble evidence

New information on the Central Intelligence Agency’s campaign of drone strikes in northwest Pakistan directly contradicts the image the Barack Obama administration and the CIA have sought to establish in the news media of a program based on highly accurate targeting that is effective in disrupting al-Qaeda’s terrorist plots against the United States.

A new report on civilian casualties in the war in Pakistan has revealed direct evidence that a house was targeted for a drone attack merely because it had been visited by a group of Taliban soldiers.

The report came shortly after publication of the results of a survey of opinion within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan showing overwhelming popular opposition to the drone strikes and majority support for suicide attacks on U.S. forces under some circumstances.

Meanwhile, data on targeting of the drone strikes in Pakistan indicate that they have now become primarily an adjunct of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, targeting almost entirely militant groups involved in the Afghan insurgency rather than al-Qaeda officials involved in plotting global terrorism.

The new report published by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) last week offers the first glimpse of the drone strikes based on actual interviews with civilian victims of the strikes.

In an interview with a researcher for CIVIC, a civilian victim of a drone strike in North Waziristan carried out during the Obama administration recounted how his home had been visited by Taliban troops asking for lunch. He said he had agreed out of fear of refusing them.

The very next day, he recalled, the house was destroyed by a missile from a drone, killing his only son.

The CIVIC researcher, Christopher Rogers, investigated nine of the 139 drone strikes carried out since the beginning of 2009 and found that a total of 30 civilians had been killed in those strikes, including 14 women and children.

If that average rate of 3.33 civilian casualties for each drone bombing is typical of all the strikes since the rules for the strikes were loosened in early 2008, it would suggest that roughly 460 civilians have been killed in the drone campaign during that period.

The total number of deaths from the drone war in Pakistan since early 2008 is unknown, but has been estimated by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann of the New America Foundation at between 1,109 and 1,734.

Only 66 leading officials in al-Qaeda or other anti-U.S. groups have been killed in the bombings. Reports on the bombings have listed the vast majority of the victims as “militants,” without further explanation.

The victim’s account of a drone attack based on the flimsiest rationale is consistent with the revelation in New York Times reporter David Sanger’s book The Inheritance that the CIA was given much greater freedom in early 2008 to hit targets that might well involve killing innocent civilians.

The original rationale of the drone campaign was to “decapitate” al-Qaeda by targeting a list of high-ranking al-Qaeda officials. The rules of engagement required firm evidence that there were no civilians at the location who would be killed by the strike.

But in January 2008 the CIA persuaded President George W. Bush to approve a set of “permissions” proposed by the CIA that same month which allowed the agency to target locations rather than identified al-Qaeda leaders if those locations were linked to a “signature” – a pattern of behavior on the part of al-Qaeda officials that had been observed over time.

That meant the CIA could now bomb a motorcade or a house if it was believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, without identifying any particular individual target.

A high-ranking Bush administration national security official told Sanger that Bush later authorized even further widening of the power of the CIA’s operations directorate to make life-or-death decisions based on inferences rather than hard evidence. The official acknowledged that giving the CIA so much latitude was “risky,” because “you can make more mistakes – you can hit the wrong house, or misidentify the motorcade.”

The extraordinary power ceded to the CIA operations directorate under the program provoked serious concerns in the intelligence community, according to one former intelligence official. It allowed that directorate to collect the intelligence on potential targets in the FATA, interpret its own intelligence and then make lethal decisions based on that interpretation – all without any outside check on the judgments it was making, even from CIA’s own directorate of intelligence.

Officials from other intelligence agencies have sought repeatedly to learn more about how the operations directorate was making targeting decisions but were rebuffed, according to the source.

Some national security officials, including mid-level officials involved in the drone program itself, have warned in the past that the drone strikes have increased anti-Americanism and boosted recruitment for the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. New support for that conclusion has now come from the results of a survey of opinion on the strikes in FATA published by the New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow.

The survey shows that 76 percent of the 1,000 FATA residents surveyed oppose drone strikes and that nearly half of those surveyed believe they kill mostly civilians.

Sixty percent of those surveyed believed that suicide bombings against the U.S. military are “often or sometimes justified.”

Meanwhile, data on the targeting of drone strikes make it clear that the program, which the Obama administration and the CIA have justified as effective in disrupting al-Qaeda terrorism, is now focused on areas where Afghan and Pakistani militants are engaged in the war in Afghanistan.

Most al-Qaeda leaders and Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who has been closely allied with al-Qaeda against the Pakistani government, have operated in South Waziristan.

North Waziristan is where the Haqqani network provides safe havens to Pashtun insurgents fighting U.S.-NATO troops in Afghanistan. It is also where Hafiz Gul Bahadur, leader of a Pakistani Taliban faction who has called for supporting the Afghan insurgency rather than jihad against the Pakistani government, operates.

In 2009, just over half the drone strikes were still carried out in South Waziristan. But in 2010, 90 percent of the 86 drone strikes carried out thus far have been in North Waziristan, according to data collected by Bill Roggio and Alexander Mayer and published on the Web site Long War Journal, which supports the drone campaign.

The dramatic shift in targeting came after al-Qaeda officials were reported to have fled from South Waziristan to Karachi and other major cities.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration was privately acknowledging that the war would be a failure unless the Pakistani military changed its policy of giving the Haqqani network a safe haven in North Waziristan.

When asked whether the drone campaign was now primarily about the war in Afghanistan rather than al-Qaeda terrorism, Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative told IPS, “I think that’s a reasonable conclusion.”

Bergen has defended the drone campaign in the past as “the only game in town” in combating terrorism by al-Qaeda.

(Gareth Porter, IPS)

Link to Report: http://www.civicworldwide.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=445&Itemid=202  (press info) and here. (PDF)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grim reapers striking again and again

Johann Hari on drone bombings as recruiting of jihadi's:

Imagine if, an hour from now, a robot-plane swooped over your house and blasted it to pieces. The plane has no pilot. It is controlled with a joystick from 7,000 miles away, sent by the Pakistani military to kill you. It blows up all the houses in your street, and so barbecues your family and your neighbours until there is nothing left to bury but a few charred slops. Why? They refuse to comment. They don't even admit the robot-planes belong to them. But they tell the Pakistani newspapers back home it is because one of you was planning to attack Pakistan. How do they know? Somebody told them. Who? You don't know, and there are no appeals against the robot.

Now imagine it doesn't end there: these attacks are happening every week somewhere in your country. They blow up funerals and family dinners and children. The number of robot-planes in the sky is increasing every week. You discover they are named "Predators", or "Reapers" – after the Grim Reaper. No matter how much you plead, no matter how much you make it clear you are a peaceful civilian getting on with your life, it won't stop. What do you do? If there was a group arguing that Pakistan was an evil nation that deserved to be violently attacked, would you now start to listen?

Further reading.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Remote control warfare


The English online edition of Der Spiegel with a series of articles on Obama's drone warfare.

CIA finds out the earth is flat

During the George W. Bush years, the CIA knew that the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan were a haven for al-Qaida and the Taliban. And yet the CIA once went eight months without bombing these regions with its unmanned drones, for fear of reprisal from the locals.

Contrast that with President Barack Obama. Last month, these same unmanned planes bombed five targets a week in tribal Pakistan. The attacks, the U.S. government argues, are working; reports have shown that al-Qaida's senior management in Pakistan has basically been wiped out, including one of Osama bin Laden's sons and the terrorist who orchestrated the Heathrow bombing plot. But many Pakistanis hate the U.S. involvement and counter that the majority of the dead are civilians.The Pakistani media reported that 700 civilians died from drone attacks in 2009 alone.

James L. Harper Jr, AFP / Getty Images
Unmanned drones like this Air Force MQ-9 Reaper bombed five targets a week in Pakistan last month.
If that's the case, then Brian Williams' study should, well, shock and awe. Williams is a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and the author of a work, out this month, that argues that the civilians in these tribal regions actually favor the drone attacks.
Further reading.

Nobody


If necessary, we inform you that Nadie means: Nobody.
Venezuelan/Spanish cartoonist Eneko's view at drone attacks

Eleven people killed in Pakistan by drone attacks

Catching up on their “one a day” average of drone strikes against Pakistan’s tribal area, the US launched four separate drone strikes against North Waziristan today, killing at least 11 and leaving an unknown number of others wounded.

The first attack destroyed a home in the Datta Khel region, while the second two strikes each destroyed vehicles. The final attack hit the rubble from the house, killing two people who were trying to pull people from the house.

The Pakistani officials who reported the attacks to the media termed everyone killed, including the people in the final strike as “militant suspects,” but as has been so often the case there was no indication of any “high value” targets, or anyone confirmed to have major ties to any particular group.

President Obama has repeatedly approved massive escalations to the US drone strikes, which were a comparative rarity during the waning years of the Bush Administration. Well over a thousand people have been killed in the drone strikes, though only a few dozen were ever confirmed to have ties to the militants, and large numbers were innocent civilians.
Antiwar Newswire

Monday, October 11, 2010

Using illegal inaccurate software for killer drones


The CIA is implicated in a court case in which it's claimed it used an illegal, inaccurate software "hack" to direct secret assassination drones in central Asia.

The target of the court action is Netezza, the data warehousing firm that IBM bid $1.7bn for on Monday. The case raises serious questions about the conduct of Netezza executives, and the conduct of CIA's clandestine war against senior jihadis in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The dispute surrounds a location analysis software package - "Geospatial" - developed by a small company called Intelligent Integration Systems (IISi), which like Netezza is based in Massachusetts. IISi alleges that Netezza misled the CIA by saying that it could deliver the software on its new hardware, to a tight deadline.

Further reading.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Collaborative Swarms...

Just posting a few articles on UAV´s here, that we found on our newly installed newsreel under these postings. For documentation use.

Like this one:

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2010/09/22/Reaper-joins-British-air-force-in-combat/UPI-10731285183029/

Sierra Nevada Corp. to develop Navy collision-avoidance system to enable UAVs to operate in civil airspace - Military & Aerospace Electronics

Sierra Nevada Corp. to develop Navy collision-avoidance system to enable UAVs to operate in civil airspace - Military & Aerospace Electronics

Drone Warfare on Trial

Drone Warfare on Trial
Sept 30th, 2010
BOB KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH
Drone warfare - assassination by unmanned aircraft - is arguably one of the most hellish spawns of the modern military-industrial era, and its use is becoming routine in the Af-Pak war, yet (what else is new?) there's no debate about it at the level of national policy, just a shrug and a void.

The nation's future is itself on a sort of autopilot. It belongs to the market forces, in tandem with the reckless, short-term strategic interests of the Pentagon and the politics of empire. There's no moral voice at the core of this system - not even, any longer, a voice of common sense. We live in a spectator democracy: Our role is to gape at the spectacle. The news cycle runs 24/7 and tells us nothing, if the act of "telling" includes in its meaning an invitation to participate.

Like the students who sat in at segregated lunch counters and otherwise disrupted the nation's Jim Crow status quo nearly half a century ago, we have to find a way to interrupt the false consensus of military-industrial America at the level at which it wages war and engages with the rest of the planet. Doing so takes persistence and courage - and sometimes a breakthrough occurs.

I bring you the Creech Air Force Base 14: Father John Dear, Dennis DuVall, Renee Espeland, Judy Homanich, Kathy Kelly, Father Steve Kelly, Mariah Klusmire, Brad Lyttle, Libby Pappalardo, Sister Megan Rice, Brian Terrell, Eve Tetaz, Father Louis Vitale and Father Jerry Zawada.

A year and a half ago, they were part of a 10-day vigil outside the base in Indian Springs, Nev. (about 35 miles from Las Vegas), protesting the Predator and Reaper drone flights over Afghanistan and Pakistan that are remotely piloted from the base. At the end of the vigil, these 14 activists entered the base illegally, carrying a letter, according to Kathy Kelly of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence, "we wanted to circulate among the base personnel, describing our opposition to a massive targeted assassination program." They were arrested and charged with trespassing.

What happened at their trial in Las Vegas two weeks ago may turn the incident into more than simply a symbolic protest. What was supposed to be a cut-and-dried trespassing trial - a crime's a crime, the law's the law - ended up being something far larger than that.

Read more at link above...

Fr Steve Kelly SJ on Russia TV...

Thanks to us watching Youtube this Friday evening on this weblog (because of John´s film), we found this following interview with Fr Steve Kelly SJ about the case of the "Creech 14" via Russia TV ...

Fr. Louie Vitale Speaks with John, Creech AFB Sept 11th 2010

Thanks to John Amidon.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

War is the Obscenity!

On October 2nd 2010, Veterans For Peace hung banners inside and on the outside of the Newseum in Washington, DC. See the photo and film here. No one got arrested, the banners were returned, and as you can see it attracted a lot of attention!

Here is a link to the Newsbulletin:

WAR IS THE OBSCENITY

The ‘F’-word vs. the ‘W’-word

by Kim Carlyle

Our culture views the “f”-word as vulgar and offensive—even obscene, yet accepts the “w”-word with no such sense of revulsion.
Strange!

Read more: http://indypendent.org/pdf/WCT_Special.pdf



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