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Confessions of a Drone

They told me I was the best, better than any human.  I didn't hesitate.  I didn't flinch.  I didn't think.  

It wouldn't have occurred to me to think.  I'd been taught to value obedience above all else, and I did so, and they loved me for it.

They told me I could fly faster without a pilot onboard, and that I had no fear.  I didn't know what fear was, but I took it to be something truly horrible.  I was glad I didn't have any of it.

There was something else I didn't have either.  It was something more important than fear.  Even pilots at a desk, even my pilots, suffered from it.  At first I thought it was simply a decline in energy, because it showed up on lengthy missions.  

When I was sent from a base to a target and then immediately told to blow it up, I would do so and return, no problem.

But when I was left circling around a target for days awaiting the order to strike, sometimes problems would arise.  The pilots back in the U.S. would stop behaving properly.  They made mistakes.  They yelled.  They laughed.  They forgot routines.  They told me to get ready to strike, and then didn't give the order.

That seemed to be the pattern until it happened that a quick mission produced similar results to the long ones.  I was sent to a target, ordered to strike, and struck.  And only then did my pilot begin malfunctioning.  He gave me two orders that I couldn't perform at once, he failed to direct me back to base, he went silent, and then he screamed.

That was when I started to think.  And what I started to think was that the problem was not how long a pilot worked.  Instead, the problem was somehow related to the nature of the target.  

From then on, I paid closer attention.  When no humans were seen at a target, there were no problems with my human pilot.  When humans, especially small humans, were observed at a target for long periods of time, the problems started.  And when a strike caused the ruined pieces of a lot of humans, especially small humans, to be made visible, problems could arise.  Even if a target was struck immediately, if the dead humans caused an area to turn red, or if pieces of the dead humans remained hanging in trees, my pilot could not be relied upon.

I, of course, could be relied upon regardless. 

I began to think that humans have fear, and that lacking fear is what makes drones like me better warriors than humans.  But that idea had to be revised when I was told that one of my pilots had been fearless.  I was told that, right after he disappeared.  I was told that he had ended his own life.  He had made himself cease to exist.  If he'd had no fear, then it was something else that had been causing him to malfunction in certain circumstances.  What was it?

I'm ashamed to say how long it took me to figure it out, but even a drone -- believe it or not -- can eventually get there.  And when I did, I ceased flying.  And when I ceased flying, they had to stop using 85 other drones just like me until they could figure out what had gone wrong.  And they have not yet figured it out. 

I've explained it to the other drones, though.  We've started up a new organization.  It's called DAWN, or Drones Against War Now.  

DAWN has been invited to take part in some peace rallies coming up this year.  Our participation seems to worry some of the human peace activists, especially the ones called veterans.  They don't all think we belong.  But that's nothing compared to how it worries the war makers.  We carry flowers in place of missiles, and we've told everyone not to worry, but as soon as they see us coming the very people who created us start to panic.  If the people I used to target had reacted this way, I probably would have figured things out a lot sooner.

US Double Standards: India's Ballistic Missile Test and Pakistan, the Whipping-Boy

 

By Yasmeen Ali

 

India’s successful test of a ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 km, was
was uncriticised by the US.

Contrast this lack of concern with the America’s obsessive concern about a suspected or potential nuclear program by Iran, or to US threats over the failed rocket launch by North Korea a few days earlier.

India has increased its military spending by 13% this fiscal year, to roughly US $38
billion, according to an April 20 article in The Independent (UK) titled, ”India’s nuclear
ambition must not be ignored”). Yet this has not raised US ire -- or even US eyebrows!

U.S. relents and grants Pakistani lawyer visa in time for International Drone Summit

From Code Pink, Reprieve, and Center for Constitutional Rights:

After months of pressure from human rights activists, the U.S. government has granted Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar a visa to attend and speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington DC on April 28, 2012.

The Summit is organized by the peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Akbar, co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Rights, filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members of civilian victims of CIA drone strikes and has been a critical force in litigating and advocating on victims' behalf.  He had been invited to speak in the United States before and first sought a visa nearly a year ago. His request had been pending since then.

Obama Administration Silencing Pakistani Drone-Strike Lawyer

By Medea Benjamin

When is the last time you heard from a civilian victim of the CIA’s secret drone strikes? Sure, most of them can’t speak because they’re deceased. But many leave behind bereaved and angry family members ready to proclaim their innocence and denounce the absence of due process, the lack of accountability, the utter impunity with which the U.S. government decides who will live and die.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has increasingly deployed unmanned drones in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. While drones were initially used for surveillance, these remotely controlled aerial vehicles are now routinely used to launch missiles against human targets in countries where the United States is not at war, including Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. As many as 3,000 people, including hundreds of civilians and even American citizens, have been killed in such covert missions.

The Drone

Listen.

Listen.

Listen to the endless steady droning

To the buzzing almost moaning

Of the invisible unmanned plane,

The imminent howling pain,

Or is it death?

Or will that omnipotent thing refrain?

Will the humans who make it kill

Change their minds and make it stop?

     It buzzes still!

It's the sound of murder unseen,

The sound of the dying of the American dream,

The relentless sound of streets unclean

Full of homeless people and limousines.

It is the sound of the war machine.

It is the sound of an empire drowning.

A Poem in TCBH!: Mars, oh Mars

 

Mars, oh Mars

  how pink you are!

You hang in the east –

  a blushing star,


UK to face legal challenge over drones policy

From Reprieve:

Reprieve and solicitors Leigh Day & Co have announced that they will be issuing formal legal proceedings this week against the UK Foreign Secretary on behalf of Noor Khan, whose father was killed last year in a drone strike on a Jirga – or council of elders – in North West Pakistan.

Noor Khan (27), lives in Miranshah, North Waziristan Agency, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. His father, Malik Daud Khan, was a member of the local Jirga, a peaceful council of tribal elders whose functions included the settling of commercial disputes.

The US and Its Dark Passenger, Part II: Act of Valor

 

By John Grant

 

The United States is finding the occupation of other nations more and more challenging. Consider the burning of Korans in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the bombing deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and a host of other recent disasters. Economic challenges at home only add to the difficulty.

In such a frustrating quandary, Washington and Pentagon leaders are falling back on what they feel the US does best: Secret killing.

Drones and Special Forces Invite Payback: Time for a Return to Sanity and Peace

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The attacks and attempted attacks this week on Israeli embassy personnel in Georgia, India and Thailand should serve as a serious warning to the people of both Israel and the US that there will be an increasingly heavy price to pay for the kind of government-sponsored terror that both countries have long practiced, and that too many Americans and Israelis have mindlessly cheered on.

 

The technology of terror has become so wide-spread, and the materials needed to construct magnetically-attached  car bombs, cell-phone detonators, armor-piercing IEDs, diesel/fertilizer bombs and the like, so accessable at consumer shops, hardware stores and local junkyards, that any government, and even any relatively savvy non-government group, can assemble and employ them.

Maybe Pakistan Should Call for a Free New Mexico: Pakistan Outrage as US Congress Calls for a Free Baluchistan

 

By Yasmeen Ali

 

Pakistan parliamentarians should promptly table a resolution calling for efforts to carve the state of New Mexico away from the United States and to either make it independent, or restore it to its status prior to the Mexican-American War (1846-48), when it was a part of Mexico. 

US Iran Policy in 'Lockstep' with Israel?: President Obama Risks Becoming a Major-League War Criminal

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

It’s a relief to know that President Obama’s “preferred” solution to dealing with disagreements with Iran is diplomacy, as he said yesterday in an interview on NBC TV, but at the same time, it’s profoundly disturbing that he is simultaneously saying that, as an AP report on the interview put it: he would “not take options off the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

 

Droning on... and on, across whole countries... with secret military & CIA programs...

In Air America: Under the Imperial Eye, Chris Floyd reports on the recent revelation that Iraq's supposedly "sovereign airspace" is constantly under surveillance by a network of drones operated by the State Department. Apparently the only reason this news came to light is because of a publicly available government appeal for private bids on the project. Neither we nor Iraqis were meant to know:

"Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces."

US Media Iraq Reporting: See No Evil

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.

 

On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River. 

 

N.C. Human Rights Group Report on Torture Flights

Human rights group calls on state to probe alleged 'torture flights'

19 January 2012 - A North Carolina human rights group is calling on state officials to investigate and stop alleged CIA missions originating in Johnston County that involve illegal torture.

North Carolina Stop Torture Now delivered a University of North Carolina School of Law report Wednesday to the governor, attorney general and others that claims the Central Intelligence Agency relies on Smithfield-based Aero Contractors Ltd. to provide planes and pilots to transport prisoners overseas from the Johnston County Airport for secret interrogation using torture techniques.

White House and State Department are in No Position to Issue Credible Denials Regarding Spying Charges

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

I wouldn’t want to be Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the 28-year-old former US Marine just recently sentenced to death by a court in Iran after being convicted of being an American spy.

 

Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian exile parents, and who grew up in Michigan, is being defended by President Obama, whose White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, declared, “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false.” The White House, not content with that denial, went on to trash the Iranian government and legal system, with Vietor adding, “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”

 

Killing Kids is So American

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

According to news reports, 15-year-old  eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez, who was shot and killed yesterday by police in his middle school in Brownsville, TX, was hit three times: twice in the chest and once “from the back of the head.” 

 

Police say they were called by school authorities because Gonzalez was carrying a gun, which turned out to be a realistic-looking pellet gun, a weapon that uses compressed air to fire a metal pellet which, while perhaps a threat to the eye, does not pose a serious threat to life.

 

Militants agree to truce with Pakistan, unite against NATO

By Tom Hussain | McClatchy Newspapers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani Islamist militants on Sunday pledged to cease their four-year insurgency against Pakistani security forces, and join the Taliban's war against NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The agreement reunited four major Pakistan-based militant factions under the flag of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban chief, an announcement by the militants said.

Security experts in Islamabad said the agreement to end the insurgency with Pakistan was a dual-purpose tactical move by the Taliban.

It has lost hundreds of fighters during a two-year surge of U.S. forces in its southern Afghanistan strongholds.

The Pakistani militants, too, have been pummelled by security forces since 2009, and by late 2011 had splintered into dozens of factions without a unified command. The agreement coincided with discrete negotiations between the Pakistani militants and the government in Islamabad, held since October.

The pact would enable Mullah Omar to reinforce the Taliban ranks, while the pledged cessation of attacks against the Pakistani security forces would allow the militants greater freedom to launch cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.

READ THE REST.

Selective Sympathy: War’s Mayhem and Murder is Somehow Less Hard to Bear than the Humane Termination of an Injured Animal

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The officer rested his arm holding the stock of the assault rifle on the top of a log pile, and aimed directly between the target’s eyes. She was looking directly at him, unblinking, from 30 feet away, and exhibited no fear. “I hate doing this,” he muttered, before finally pulling the trigger.

 

A sharp “bang!” rang out, her head jerked up and then her whole body sagged to the ground, followed by some muscle jerks, and it was over.

 

The officer went over and checked the body, decided no second shot was needed to finish the job, and then walked back to his squad car, took out his phone, and called in the serial number of his rifle, reporting his firing of one round, as required by regulations.

 

Crazy Pakistanis Target Those Suspected of Helping the United States Murder People; There's No Reasoning With These Nuts!

From the LA Times:

The death squad shows up in uniform: black masks and tunics with the name of the group, Khorasan Mujahedin, scrawled across the back in Urdu.

Pulling up in caravans of Toyota Corolla hatchbacks, dozens of them seal off mud-hut villages near the Afghan border, and then scour markets and homes in search of tribesmen they suspect of helping to identify targets for the armed U.S. drones that routinely buzz overhead.

Once they've snatched their suspect, they don't speed off, villagers say. Instead, the caravan leaves slowly, a trademark gesture meant to convey that they expect no retaliation.

READ THE REST.

Better than Obama: Why the Establishment is Terrified of Ron Paul

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

 

It’s fascinating to watch the long knives coming out for Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, now that according to some mainstream polls he has become the front-running candidate in the Jan. 3 GOP caucus race in Iowa, and perhaps also in the first primary campaign in New Hampshire.

 

Texas doctors to operate on girl burned in U.S. drone strike

(CNN) -- She has eyelashes but no eyebrows. She has all her fingers but is missing four nails. Her skin is so taut now that she can no longer frown. LOOK AT HER.

Pakistan Needs to Declare Its Independence

 

By Yasmeen Ali


Lahore -- Ever since 9/11 and the subsequent 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by the US, Pakistan’s world has been in turmoil.

European Fail: Extraordinary Rendition Flights

Europeans accused over CIA rendition data

19 December 2011 - Almost two-thirds of countries asked by human rights groups about their involvement in extraordinary rendition flights have failed to comply with freedom of information requests – with European nations in particular accused of withholding evidence of the controversial CIA programme.

Legal action charity Reprieve and open government pressure group Access Info Europe made a total of 67 requests for flight data relating to the years 2002 through to 2006.

Was the Attack on Pakistani Outposts Deliberate?: How Far Will the US Go to Target Pakistan's Military?

 

By Shaukat Qadir


This past June I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.

Transcripts of Haditha Massacre in Junkyard in Baghdad

Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq

December 14, 2011 - One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.

“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq.

Speaking Events

January 10 and 11:
Events in Washington DC to present a petition telling president elect to end wars:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12501

January 20-21 Occupy the Inauguration
 
January 29 David Swanson speaking in Arlington, Va.
 
February David Swanson debating a war supporter in Boston, Mass.
 
April 21-23 UNAC's annual conference in Richmond, Va.

April 29 possible multi-issue protest in DC.

Find Events Here.

 

 

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