You are hereDrones
By Daniel Garrett
I wonder if in the end
there will be something of us
left in them:
that the great circling metal wings
might find themselves wanting
to circle with another span
of metal wings
so attracted to the glint
and gorgon eyes
that in the blue-arched rhapsody
of their fling
they might at last begin to sing
songs of desperate desire
and of earth
I do know that the
poor fucks we scorched
were scorched by us
we sent from our
that the air sucked out of daughters’ lungs
by high explosive hits
was sucked out by us
that the dismembered children
what is left of them that can be
and those later
from all the depleted
by Debra Sweet With the kind of "kabuki theater" questioning the Senate gave John Brennan last week during a public hearing, it's certain they will confirm him as Director of the C.I.A. This should not be any surprise. Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee hasn't met a national security "concern" yet that didn't trump the rights of the people; we know she was one of the select few briefed by the Bush regime when they began torture, or excuse me, "enhanced interrogations."
Greetings from the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota! As of this writing, I am two months into a six month sentence imposed due to my protest of war crimes committed by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Betsy accompanied me here to Yankton on November 29, and that evening the Emmaus House Catholic Worker community, Beth Preheim, Michael Sprong and Dagmar Hoxie, hosted an evening of music, good food and good company to see me off. Activists from around the Midwest attended, including some sisters from the Benedictine monastery here.
In the morning after a great breakfast and Gospel prayer, Betsy and Dagmar and Michael, along with Renee Espeland and Elton Davis, Catholic Workers from Des Moines, and Jerry Ebner, a Catholic Worker from Omaha, walked a “last mile” with me to the gate of the prison where I expect to remain until the end of May.
Say NO to DRONES
Tell the Alameda County Board of Supervisors you do not want a spy drone flying over your home.
By Dr Hakim ( Dr Teck Young, Wee )
It’s hard for me, an ordinary citizen of Singapore, a medical doctor engaged in social enterprise work in Afghanistan and a human being wishing for a better world, to write this from Kabul.
But people are dying.
And children and women are feeling hopeless.
“What’s the point in telling you our stories?” asked Freba, one of the seamstresses working with the Afghan Peace Volunteers to set up a tailoring co-operative for Afghan women. “Does anyone hear? Does anyone believe us?”
Silently within, I answered Freba with shame,” You’re right. No one is listening.”
So, I write this in protest against my government’s presence in the humanitarian and war tragedy of Afghanistan, as a way to lend my voice to Freba and all my Afghan friends.
I do so in dissent, against the global security of imprisoned minds.
I thought, “If no one listens as humans should, we should at least speak like free men and women.”
The national religion of the United States of America is nationalism. Its god is the flag. Its prayer is the pledge of allegiance.
The flag's powers include those of life and death, powers formerly possessed by traditional religions. Its myths are built around the sacrifice of lives to protect against the evils outside the nation. Its heroes are soldiers who make such sacrifices based on unquestioning faith. A "Dream Act" that would give citizenship to those immigrants who kill or die for the flag embodies the deepest dreams of flag worship. Its high priest is the Commander in Chief. Its slaughter of infidels is not protection of a nation otherwise engaged, but an act that in itself completely constitutes the nation as it is understood by its devotees. If the nation stopped killing it would cease to be.
What happens to myths like these when we discover that flying killer robots make better soldiers than soldiers do? Or when we learn that the president is using those flying robots to kill U.S. citizens? Which beliefs do we jettison to reduce the dissonance in our troubled brains?
Some 85% of U.S.ians, and shrinking rapidly, are theists. Flag worship may be on the decline as well, but its numbers are still high. A majority supports a ban on flag burning. A majority supports the power of the president to kill non-U.S.ians with drones, while a significantly smaller percentage supports the president's power to kill U.S. citizens with drones abroad. That is to say, if the high priest declares someone an enemy of god, many people believe he should have the power to kill that enemy . . . unless that enemy is a U.S. citizen. In secular terms, which make this reality seem all the crazier, many of us support acts of murder based on the citizenship of the victim.
Of course, the Commander in Chief kills U.S. citizens all the time by sending them into wars. Drones don't change that. Drone pilots have committed suicide. Drone pilots have been targeted and killed by retaliatory suicide bombings. Drones have killed U.S. citizens through accidental "friendly" fire. The hostility that drones are generating abroad has motivated terrorist attacks and attempted attacks abroad and within the national borders of the United States.
But feeding corpses to our holy flag looks different when we're feeding them directly to the president's flying robots without a foreign intermediary. And yet to approximately a quarter of the U.S. public it doesn't look different after all. The president, in their own view, should have the power to kill them, or at least the power to kill anyone (including U.S. citizens) so contaminated as to be standing outside the United States of America -- a frightening and primitive realm that many U.S.ians have never visited and feel no need to ever visit.
Popular support for murder-by-president drops off significantly if "innocent civilians may also be killed." But a religious belief system perpetuates itself not through the positions it takes on existing facts so much as through its ability to select which facts one becomes aware of and which facts remain unknown.
Many U.S.ians have avoided knowing that U.S. citizens, including minors, have been targeted and killed, that women and children are on the list of those to be killed, that hundreds of civilian deaths have been documented by serious journalists including victims' names and identities, that U.S. peace activists went to Pakistan and met with victims' families, that the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan said there was a U.S. government count of how many civilians had been killed but he wouldn't say what it was, that the vast majority of those killed are not important leaders in any organization, that people are targeted and killed without knowing their name, that people are targeted and killed merely for the act of trying to rescue victims of previous strikes, that the wounded outnumber the dead, that the traumatized outnumber the wounded, that the refugees who have fled the drone strikes are over a million, that the drone wars did not replace ground wars but began war making in new nations so destabilized now by the drone strikes that ground wars may develop, that some top U.S. military officials have said the drones are creating more new enemies than they kill, or that what drones are doing to our reputation abroad makes Abu Ghraib look like the fun and games our media pundits said it was.
If our courts killed without trials there would be by definition a risk of killing the innocent. The same should be understood when a president and his flying robots, or missiles, or night raids, kill without trial.
If we were being bombed we would not deem it any more acceptable to kill those who resisted than those who did not. Therefore, the category of "innocent civilian" (as distinct from guilty non-civilian) is suspect at best.
The vast majority of the "worst of the worst" locked away in Guantanamo have been exonerated and freed, something that cannot be done with drone victims. Yet John Brennan, once deemed unacceptable for his role in detention and torture, is now deemed acceptable. The goodness of his murdering evil beings outweighs the badness of his detaining and torturing people who were sometimes misidentified. The dead cannot be misidentified. The president has declared that any unidentified dead male of fighting age was, by definition, a militant. After all, he was killed.
Yet, this we know for certain: He was someone's child. He was someone's loved one. He was someone's friend.
We have a responsibility right now to grow up very, very quickly. Our government is breaking down the rule of law and stripping away our rights in the name of protecting us from an enemy it generates through the same process. Drones are not inevitable. Drones are not in charge of us. We don't have to fill our local skies with "surveillance" drones and "crowd control" drones. That's a choice that is up to us to make. We don't have to transfer to mindless hunks of metal the heroism heretofore bestowed just as nonsensically on soldiers. There is no excuse for supporting the murder of foreigners in cases in which we would not support the murder of U.S. citizens. There is no excuse for supporting a policy of murdering anyone at all.
There is no excuse for allowing your government to take your son or daughter and give you back a flag. There is no excuse for allowing your government to take someone else's son or daughter. Ever. Anywhere. No matter how scared you are. No matter what oath of loyalty you've robotically pledged to a colored piece of fabric since Kindergarten. Actual robots can perform the pledge of allegiance as well as any human. They do not, however, have any heart to place their hand over. We should reserve our hearts for actions robots cannot do.
By Dave Lindorff
The US government doesn't like Iran. I get that. It claims, on pretty dubious grounds, that Iran might be planning, at some point down the road, to take some of the uranium it is processing into nuclear fuel to a higher level of purity and make it into an atomic bomb.
When CIA nominee John Brennan faced the Senate Select Committee on So-Called Intelligence on Thursday, countless critical and cutting questions had been prepared by bloggers and journalists. None of them were asked.
Brennan might have been asked why he'd lied about the killing of bin Laden or about the murder by drone program. He had claimed that every target was known, even though he was fully aware that people were being targeted without identifying them (using so-called signature strikes). He had claimed that there were zero collateral deaths, even though independent reports have produced hundreds of names, identities, and photographs, and even though the U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan told a delegation of peace activists that there was a U.S. government count of civilian deaths and he wouldn't reveal what it was.
Brennan might have been asked how in the world it can be legal, according to a "white paper" leaked on Monday, for a "high official" to order the murder of a human being, American or non-American, without judicial or legislative or public or international oversight -- or even with such oversight. He might have been asked if he is one such high official. He might have been asked whether there was a memo to justify the murder of the three Americans thus far known to have been intentionally murdered, since none of them seem to fit the qualifications laid out in the "white paper." He might have been asked what the procedure would be if two "high officials" disagreed on the desirability of murdering a particular American. He might have been asked what authority would certify that a targeted victim could not be captured rather than killed. He might have been confronted with the rise in hostility toward the U.S. government being generated. He might have been asked about the United Nations investigation of the murder by drone program as criminal.
We Virginians were represented in the hearing room by Senator Mark Warner. He claimed what he called the "honor" of introducing the nominee, and expressed his pride that Brennan lives in Virginia along with much of the "intelligence community." Warner hyped his effort to create a U.S. Intelligence Professionals Day (which presumably we'll celebrate silently in our minds), praised Brennan in the vaguest of terms by reading through his resume, declared him ready to be confirmed pre-questioning, and outrageously asserted that Brennan backed "greater transparency" and "adherence to the rule of law." A major news story in the preceding 24 hours had been the White House's refusal to tell the public or even the legislature exactly what it was pretending that the law was.
The most informative and valuable portion of the hearing was produced by Toby Blome, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Alli McCracken, Eve Tetaz, Joan Nicholson, and Jonathan Tucker, who took turns interrupting the proceedings to ask what needed to be asked. The message that some Americans do not favor murdering children abroad was thus communicated to the world. Many others were prepared to add their voices in that room, but Chairwoman Feinstein kicked everyone out except for a handful of Good Americans, and the hearing proceeded with a mostly empty room. The "Intelligence" Committee is of course used to holding hearings in an entirely empty room with the door locked.
Senator Warner's chance to ask questions, despite having already declared his support, would come later in the hearing. By that point, Warner had to work with not only Brennan's pathetic written answers to a series of weak questions presented to him prior to the hearing, but all of his answers to other Senators during the hearing up to that point. Remarkably, during the hearing, on more than one occasion, Brennan claimed to have believed (despite voluminous public evidence) that torture was an effective tool. He did not claim to have believed that as a child, or to have believed it 10 years ago. He claimed to have believed it up until last week when he took the time to read part of the Senate committee's report, as he had been shamed and pressured into doing. He said he was shocked to learn that torture was not an effective tool. Also during the hearing, before Warner's turn came, Brennan repeatedly refused to call waterboarding torture and claimed that only a lawyer could make that judgment. Note that he was asking to direct an agency involved in torturing people, identifying himself as a non-lawyer, and declaring that only a lawyer could determine what torture was. Brennan also, by the time Warner's turn came around, had refused to list the nations in which the United States is murdering people. He had also repeatedly confessed to having had "inside control" of the underwear bomber.
When Warner's 8 minutes began, one might think he would have had something important to ask about. Couldn't you have thought of SOMETHING if it was you? Even without prior experience on the committee (or law school) might you not have thought of something, ANYTHING, significant to ask about? Wouldn't you have asked specific detailed questions about past performance, about torture, rendition, warrantless spying, lying, or killing people? Aren't any of those topics worth touching on?
Warner framed his first question as a rambling, time-swallowing speech. His question was: how can we be sure the CIA director is well informed? The general vague answer he got to this line of questioning matched the generality and vagueness of the question. If Mark Warner is afraid a CIA director might be uninformed, why not ask Brennan if he knows significant facts? Why not ask him how many people have been killed and where? Why not ask him how many are on the list to be killed? Why not ask him what the criteria are for getting on the list? Why not ask how young the youngest person on the kill list is? Why not express any concern that an "informed high official" might be killing people with the same level of "intelligence" that put so many people into Guantanamo who have since been exonerated of any guilt?
Instead Mark Warner turned to vague questions about the federal budget. Brennan's response included hyping the extensive "intelligence" efforts within the "defense" department. Wow, what an opening! The Pentagon is not supposed to be doing the "intelligence" work. Everyone knows how disastrously the Pentagon violated that rule in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Surely Warner would jump at this bait.
Warner instead moved on to asking Brennan, as many of his colleagues had already, how exactly Brennan would conduct himself in answering questions from the committee if, after he was confirmed, they were to actually ask him any questions.
By the time Warner might have had a second turn to question the witness, Warner was nowhere to be seen.
He will however be seen at the University of Virginia on Monday and if you sign up you can attend. Maybe YOU can think of something to ask HIM. If you need ideas for what to ask and how, or just want to attend as a group, you should get together with a concerned citizen who's planning to attend by emailing email@example.com
By Ann Wright, OpEdNews
Two-thirds of Palestinians killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) drones in the November, 2012 attack on Gaza were civilians. This statistic means that for the residents of Gaza, the ground-breaking investigation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights into the civilian impact and human rights implications of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing is very important.
More Palestinians Killed by Drones Alone in eight DAYS than Israelis Killed by rockets in eight YEARS
Two-thirds of Palestinians killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) drones in the November, 2012 attack on Gaza were civilians.
This statistic means that for the residents of Gaza, the ground-breaking investigation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights into the civilian impact and human rights implications of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing is very important.
Don't Trouble Your Pretty Little Heads, We'll Make the Laws in Secret and Let You Know When You're Arrested or Killed
Shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday, February 4th, the City Council of Charlottesville, Va., passed what is believed to be the first anti-drone resolution in the country. According to my notes, and verifiable soon on the City Council's website, the resolution reads:
WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville; and
WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and
WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;
NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, endorses the proposal for a two year moratorium on drones in the state of Virginia; and calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being; and pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.
The same City Council passed a resolution on January 17, 2012, calling for an end to drone wars, as well as ground wars, excessive military spending, and any possible attack on Iran.
(Photo by Ted Strong of Daily Progress)
The wording of Monday's resolution comes largely from a draft suggested by the Rutherford institute. An initial line was deleted and two amendments were made to the final paragraph, one endorsing a two-year moratorium on drones (something that had passed in committee in both houses of the Virginia legislature as of Saturday in the House and Monday in the Senate), the other committing the City not to use drones for surveillance or assault.
The wording was not as comprehensive as the draft that had appeared in the City Council's official agenda for Monday's meeting, a draft I had authored. See it here in the city agenda or on my website.
At the previous meeting of the City Council on January 7, 2013, I and a few other residents had spoken in support of a resolution, and three of the five city council members agreed to put it on the agenda for the February 4th meeting. Some of the public comments were excellent, and the video of the meeting is on the city's website.
On Monday, citizens speaking in favor of the anti-drone resolution dominated the public speaking period at the beginning of the meeting, shortly after 7 p.m. Many were quite eloquent, and the video will be available soon on the city's site. The council members did not discuss and vote on the matter until shortly after 11 p.m. The discussion was quite brief, coming on the heels of hours devoted to other matters.
The same three city council members who had put the item on the agenda voted in favor of the resolution, passing it by a vote of 3-2. They were Dave Norris, Dede Smith, and Satyendra Sing Huja. Norris and Smith negotiated the slight improvements to the Rutherford Institute's draft with Huja, who initially favored passing that draft as it was written. Norris and Smith favored banning the City from purchasing drones, but Council Member Kristin Szakos argued that there might be a positive use for a drone someday, such as for the fire department. Kathy Galvin joined Szakos in voting No.
Norris has been a leader on the City Council for years and sadly will not be running for reelection at the end of his current term.
Following the January meeting, I submitted my draft to the city, asked people to phone and email the council members, published a column in the local daily newspaper, and organized an event in front of City Hall on Sunday, the day before the vote. Anti-drone activist John Heuer from North Carolina delivered a giant model drone produced by New York anti-drone activist Nick Mottern. Our little stunt produced coverage on the two television channels and in the newspaper. I asked people to commit to attending the meeting on a FaceBook page. The room ended up packed, and when I asked those who supported the resolution to stand, most of the room did so.
No organized pro-drone lobby ever developed. We met and confronted the argument that localities shouldn't lobby states or Washington. And, of course, some people are opposed to drones in the United States but eager to see them used however the President may see fit abroad. Charlottesville's City Council ended up not including the section in my draft that instructed the federal government to end its practice of extrajudicial killing. But there was no discussion on that point, and several other sections, including one creating a local ordinance, were left out as well. The problem there, according to Smith, was that "we don't own the air."
Yet, we should. And Oregon is attempting to do so with its draft state legislation.
In the past, Charlottesville has passed resolutions that have inspired other localities and impacted federal and state policies. Let us hope this one is no exception.
by Debra Sweet
World Can't Wait's focus on stopping the use of armed and surveillance drones by the U.S. is principally based on our opposition to the immorality of attacking vast populations, and linked to our mission to bring people to see that U.S. occupations are not legitimate.
Poisonous gas in the first "world war;" nukes in the second; napalm against the Vietnamese people; and white phosphorous in the Gulf War are technologies so heinous that at least millions of people recoiled, and removed their support from the imperialist belligerents.
The Congressional Research Service has released two new reports on drones. The first is called
Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, P.L. 112-95, Congress has tasked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), sometimes referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, into the national airspace system by September 2015. Although the text of this act places safety as a predominant concern, it fails to establish how the FAA should resolve significant, and up to this point, largely unanswered legal questions....
... Perhaps the most contentious issue concerning the introduction of drones into U.S. airspace is the threat that this technology will be used to spy on American citizens. With the ability to house high-powered cameras, infrared sensors, facial recognition technology, and license plate readers, some argue that drones present a substantial privacy risk.66 Undoubtedly, the government’s use of drones for domestic surveillance operations implicates the Fourth Amendment and other applicable laws.67 In like manner, privacy advocates have warned that private actors might use drones in a way that could infringe upon fundamental privacy rights.6 ...
...If Congress chooses to act, it could create privacy protections to protect individuals from intrusive drone surveillance conducted by private actors. Such proposals would be considered in the context of the First Amendment rights to gather and receive news. Several bills were introduced in the 112th Congress that would regulate the private use of drones. Additionally, there are other measures Congress could adopt. ...
... Additionally, Congress could create a cause of action for surveillance conducted by drones similar to the intrusion upon seclusion tort provided under Restatement § 652B.151 ...
... Congress could also create a privacy statute tailored to drone use similar to the anti-voyeurism statutes, or “Peeping Tom” laws, enacted in many states.154 These laws prohibit persons from surreptitiously filming others in various circumstances and places.155 ...
...There may be instances where a landowner is entitled to protect his property from intrusion by a drone. ...
... The legal issues discussed in this report will likely remain unresolved until the civilian use of drones becomes more widespread. ...
OR, OF COURSE, until people and localities and states speak up.
The other report is
Summary: There's gold in them thar drones.
No city is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.
I write from Charlottesville, Va., but am hopeful that this message applies to your city, town, or county as well.
In the absence of state or federal laws, localities around the United States are proceeding to put unmanned aerial vehicles in our skies as they see fit. The federal government has authorized the flight of 30,000 drones, and the use of drones up to 400 feet by police departments, at least 300 of which already have surveillance drones in operation.
States and localities can ban or regulate such actions. Or they can proceed to endanger our health and our civil rights.
In Montgomery County, Texas, the Sheriff showed off a drone to the media but crashed it into his armored vehicle (thereby, I guess, proving that he needed an armored vehicle).
When the Dept. of Homeland Security challenged the University of Texas-Austin to hack into a drone and take control of it, the response was "No problem," and it was quickly done.
Drones are not safe. Surveillance by drones cannot comply with the Fourth Amendment. And the arming of drones with tear gas and rubber bullets, already underway in many U.S. localities, is an outrageous threat to our First Amendment right to assemble and petition our governments for a redress of grievances.
If Charlottesville were to remain silent while (how shall I put this delicately?) crack-pot cities continue setting de facto law, we would all be worse off.
Charlottesville City Council routinely informs the state general assembly of its wishes. That state assembly has already been considering legislation on drones. Charlottesville has a responsibility to speak up, as well as to act locally on its own behalf.
Moreover, Charlottesville's influence spreads. Its past resolutions on Iraq, military spending, uranium, and other matters have inspired other localities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to raise their voices as well. Some of these resolutions have been directed to the federal government, to which the residents of Charlottesville pay taxes and whose laws the residents of Charlottesville are subject to.
This is how our republic is supposed to work. City council members in Virginia take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Cities and towns routinely send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across America. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rule book for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate.
In 1967 a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey , 67 Cal.2d 325) that "one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known."
Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol, etc.
We are not an island. If we become environmentally sustainable, others will ruin our climate. If we ban assault weapons, they'll arrive at our borders. And if the skies of the United States are filled with drones, it will become ever more difficult for Charlottesville to keep them out.
Just over a year ago, the Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution calling for an end to "foreign ground and drone wars." U.S. drone wars are now under investigation by the United Nations as possible crimes. We now know that individuals are targeted without so much as identifying their names. We now know that hundreds of children have been killed. We now know that at least three Americans have been targeted and killed. The view of our city should be restated in the context of local and state actions on drones. This is an action desired by local people, affecting local people, and costing the local budget exactly nothing.
Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.
David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. Subscribe or unsubscribe from David's email lists here.
In the online retailer's product review section, an impromptu challenge to President Obama's kill list and 'signature strikes'.
When the cultural history of the War on Terrorism is written, scholars may be surprised by the dearth of attention paid to President Obama's drone war in the national press and liberal opinion journals. A tool likely to forever change warfare is scarcely subject to open democratic debate.
But if cultural historians look beyond the mainstream press, additional signs of early dissent will be evident. An obscure example they ought not miss is the Amazon.com page for the online merchant Tailwinds, co-founded by pilot Nancy Jayne Palozola. Tailwinds sells a number of miniature aircraft, including scale models of F-35s, WWII-era P-38 fighters, and Jayhawk helicopters used by the Coast Guard. For most models, there are no more than three or four customer reviews. Yet nearly 200 people posted noteworthy reviews of one model: the Predator drone.
Raini Pachak loved the product:
This is the best toy ever. Finally, I can pretend that I'm a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize! It's like I'm sitting right there in the White House with my very own kill list!
Defenestrate was unhappy with it:
I thought if I bought this, I could kill random people without facing justice. It doesn't work! It won't kill people, not even brown ones.
Marcy Wheeler blogs as Emptywheel at Emptywheel.net. She says John Brennan, the nominee for CIA director, has been Obama's Dick Cheney, operating outside the law, lying about bin Laden, and lying about drones; the White House has killed an American for his speech; the CIA has stopped lying to Congress only by starting to tell Congress nothing at all; Senator Diane Feinstein is complicit in the drone kill program; Congress has asked President Obama 10 times for a legal basis for the drone kill program and been blown off every time; the prosecutorial abuse in the case of Aaron Swartz is not uncommon, but evidence suggests retribution for Swartz's making accessible the Department of Justice's own public information, requesting of information on the treatment of Bradley Manning, and possible (entirely legal) assistance to WikiLeaks.
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SATURDAY, February 9, 2013
900 block of Dolley Madison Blvd., Langley, Virginia
As of January 2013 The United Nations has launched a special investigation into the US killer drone program. Leading the UN investigation is Ben Emmerson the UN rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. He said "The exponential rise in the use of drone technology in a variety of military and non-military contexts represents a real challenge to the framework of established international law," The US Military & Central Intelligence Agency drones have maimed & killed thousands including innocent people in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya,Afghanistan, & Pakistan without charge, trial or conviction of crime. This year alone there have been over 362 + strikes in Pakistan. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports on estimates up to 3461 people killed and 891 injured in Pakistan, in Yemen 1112 killed and 178 injured in these two countries alone by CIA drone strikes. Stand with us opposing CIA & US Military drones used in extrajudicial killings.
US killer drone strikes are illegal, immoral, and must stop now!
For more information contact Jack McHale: 703-772-0635
The PBS Nova broadcast "Rise of the Drones" was sponsored by drone manufacturer Lockheed Martin--a clear violation of PBS's underwriting guidelines.
As Kevin Gosztola reported (FireDogLake, 1/24/13), the January 23 broadcast was a mostly upbeat look at surveillance and weaponized drones. "Discover the cutting edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history," PBS urged, promising to reveal "the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful."
Some of that technology, unbeknownst to viewers, was created by the company described as giving Nova "additional funding" at the beginning of the broadcast. Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor with $46 billion in 2011 sales, is the manufacturer of drones used in warfare and intelligence, including the Desert Hawk, the Falcon, the Stalker and the Tracer. In December 2012, Lockheed bought AME Unmanned Air Systems, maker of the Fury drone (New Times, 12/19/12).
Nova's history of unmanned flight technology included comments from Abe Karem, dubbed the "father of the Predator" drone. His current company, FireDogLake's Gosztola noted, has a business relationship with Lockheed Martin.
The show did not entirely skirt the controversies over drones. A section of the broadcast dealt with drone pilots firing on targets in countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan. Viewers, though, are told that drone pilots have distinct advantage over conventional pilots. One drone operator talks about how, after a strike, a drone can "stick around for another few hours to watch what happens afterwards." A more critical look at drone wars might have mentioned these are the same circumstances under which U.S. drones have attacked rescue workers and funeral processions (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 6/4/12).
The show does not ignore the question of civilian deaths--though it says "the facts are hard to come by" and that "there are not fully reliable counts of civilian deaths." Nova does mention that some estimates are that 30 percent of those killed are civilians, and talks about one attack that killed 23 civilians in Pakistan.
But, in keeping with the generally upbeat tone, Nova tells viewers that technology will help turn things around. "Drones can strike with pinpoint precision," the programs explains, "but their visual sensors are limited in ways that can lead pilots to make mistakes." Not to worry, though; "engineers are working to create new sensors that can see more in greater detail than ever before."
The program's sponsorship tie to the drone industry were never mentioned--though there were opportunities to disclose that relationship. In addition to Lockheed Martin's connection to one of the interview subjects, the show discussed a U.S. drone that was captured by Iran--without mentioning that it was manufactured by Nova's underwriter. And when Nova discusses the drones of the future, it's talking about the kind of miniature drones Lockheed Martin is developing to provide "constant surveillance capabilities" (TPM IdeaLab, 7/4/12).
Though the broadcast included an underwriting announcement at the beginning ("Additional funding from Lockheed Martin: Inspiring tomorrow's engineers and technologists"), that credit was removed from the webcast, and the company is not credited on the Nova website for the episode.
So can a corporation really provide "additional funding" for public TV journalism that discusses its own interests? PBS rules would seem to say no. The network has three tests that "are applied to every proposed funding arrangement in order to determine its acceptability":
* Editorial Control Test: Has the underwriter exercised editorial control? Could it?
* Perception Test: Might the public perceive that the underwriter has exercised editorial control?
* Commercialism Test: Might the public conclude the program is on PBS principally because it promotes the underwriter’s products, services or other business interests?
On the perception test, PBS explains:
When there exists a clear and direct connection between the interests or products or services of a proposed funder and the subject matter of the program, the proposed funding will be deemed unacceptable regardless of the funder's actual compliance with the editorial control provisions of this policy.
The policy is intended to prohibit any funding arrangement where the primary emphasis of the program is on products or services that are identical or similar to those of the underwriter.
It is difficult to see how PBS could argue that the Nova special does not violate these rules. And PBS wants you the believe they take such matters seriously:
Should a significant number of reasonable viewers conclude that PBS has sold its professionalism and independence to its program funders, whether or not their conclusions are justified, then the entire program service of public television will be suspect and the goal of serving the public will be unachievable.
If PBS really believe these words, why did they allow the Lockheed-funded "Rise of the Drones" to air?
Ask PBS ombud Michael Getler to investigate whether Nova's "Rise of the Drones" violates PBS underwriting guidelines.
Phone: 703 739 5290
By Dave Lindorff
I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. It reached its gut-churning nadir near the end where he said: