Will There Be a Ban on Killer Robots? October 18, 2018

C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed by Obama, Is Expanded in Africa Under Trump Sept. 9, 2018

Click here for 2018 Notes on Drone Warfare & US Military Presence Worldwide, by Richard Moody, former fighter pilot. 

A Dozen Google Employees Resign Over Pentagon Drone Contract as 4,000 Workers Demand End to Project May 16, 2018

U.S. Now Moving Toward Armed Drones, Lethal Force in Niger Oct. 26, 2017

Pentagon tests Lasers and Nets to Combat a Vexing Foe: ISIS Drones Sept. 23, 2017

White House Seen Easing Limits on Drone Strikes Sept. 21, 2017

Don't Believe the Dangerous Myths of "Drone Warrior" July 16, 2017

Trump's New Drone Strike Policy May Violate Centuries of Christian Ethics March 23, 2017

Preventing a Free-for-All with Drone Strikes, March 16, 2017

A New Industry: Countering Unwanted Drones Jan. 3, 2017

Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enabled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Oct. 5, 2016

U.S. Military is Building a $100 Million Drone Base in Africa
Sept. 29, 2016

"I Refuse to Serve as an Empire Chaplain": U.S. Army Minister Resigns over Drone Program Democracy NOW! June 03, 2016

Peace Policy by Notre Dame & the Kroc Center In Drones on March 10, 2016

Regret Over a Drone’s Deadly Damage April 24, 2015

Drone Strikes in Yemen Said to Set a Dangerous Precedent  April 13, 2015

Ethical Perspectives on Drone Warfare

The Myth of a Perfect Weapon and a Perfect War

Debating Drones: A Response to Michael Hayden 
Read complete articles
 

Afghanistan: 17 Civilians Killed by U.S. Drone Strikes April 08, 2016 Headlines Democracy NOW!

Afghan officials say at least 17 civilians were killed by U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan on Wednesday. The first strike reportedly hit the truck of a local elder who was on his way to resolve a land dispute—killing the elder and 11 others. The second drone reportedly struck and killed two people were collecting their bodies. A third drone strike reportedly killed three more who had come to see what had happened. The Pentagon has confirmed two of the three drone strikes, but says there were no civilian casualties. Meanwhile, a U.S. oversight office has issued a damning report indicating the $113 billion effort to reconstruct Afghanistan has largely been a failure. The report details shoddily built structures, dangerous roads and hundreds of empty schools. U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, who was responsible for the report, said, "Fifteen years into an unfinished work of funding and fighting, we must indeed ask, 'What went wrong?'" Since 2002, the U.S. has spent more than $113 billion on reconstruction efforts—more than the total spending on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. Read complete article  

Ethical Perspectives on Drone Warfare  Peace Policy In Drones March 10, 2016 By Rashied Omar

The hegemonic view about the use of drones in warfare is that of a surgically precise tool that makes the world a safer place by enabling targeted killings of so-called terrorists without collateral damage. This narrative has been proven to be patently false by a number of credible research studies.

One of the earliest studies is “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from U.S. Drone Practices in Pakistan,” produced by the law schools of Stanford University and New York University. The research provides unequivocal evidence refuting government and media claims that drones are pinpoint weapons with limited collateral impact.

In May 2015, the U.S.-based Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare sent a letter to President Obama and the Congress expressing grave concerns about drone warfare and calling for its immediate cessation. The letter was signed by twenty-nine Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith leaders. Read complete article
 

Do U.S. Drones Really Make Us Safer? The New York Times Letters to the Editor The following are excerpts from the three Letters to the Editor Re “The Case for Drones” (Sunday Review, Feb. 21), click here to read all three in their entirety.

To the Editor:
Gen. Michael V. Hayden writes that the bottom line about drone warfare is that “it works.” However, in reaching this conclusion he fails to reckon with the very real concerns raised by a global targeted killing program carried out according to secret rules and with no real accountability. Nor does he deal with the long-term security risks and consequences this poses to the United States and to the global system.

BY CHRISTOF HEYNS
Pretoria, South Africa

The writer is the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and a law professor at the University of Pretoria.

To the Editor:

I have lived the reality of drone warfare. In 2012, drones attacked the wedding celebration in Yemen of my eldest son. I survived; two of my relatives did not. My brother-in-law Salem was an imam. Days before his death he preached against Al Qaeda’s hateful ideology, as he had many times before. My nephew Waleed was the village policeman, keeping our townspeople safe.

Michael V. Hayden, a former C.I.A. director, says deaths happen in war. That deceives the American people about drone attacks, which usually take place miles from any battlefield. Our village was no war zone. The Hellfire missiles that General Hayden praises tore apart a peaceful wedding.

BY FAISAL BIN ALI JABER
Montreal

To the Editor:

Michael V. Hayden presents a false choice between the use of targeted killing to prevent future terrorist attacks and the failure to take action.

This obscures the real question: Is targeted killing as effective as other counterterrorism strategies? The Obama administration should engage in a strategic review of drone strikes to evaluate their effectiveness. Hitting the right target is one thing; actually making this country safer in the long run is another.

BY RITA SIEMION
International Legal Counsel
Human Rights First
Washington
Read all three LTE's

Americans Are Still Flying Blind on Drones By Carol Giacomo The New York Times Editorial Blog February 25, 2016

One of the least understood aspects of American security policy is the use of armed drones for killing alleged terrorists overseas. These covert executions have long raised grave questions of morality, legality and secrecy. Yet President Obama is failing to adequately address them despite promises to make the program more transparent and accountable.

In the last year and a half, “there has been virtually no progress and little has changed with regard to the U.S. lethal drone policy,” according to a new report by the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, that measured progress on recommendations made by a bipartisan panel of military and intelligence experts in June 2014. The new report, by the Stimson staff, gives Mr. Obama shockingly poor grades of Cs, Ds and Fs across a range of critical categories.
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NYT Contributor Has Multiple Motives for Denying Drone Crimes By Jim Naureckas Feb 22, 2016 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting

Drone strike illustration: Mike McQuade, New York Times

New York Times
illustration (by Mike McQuade) depicts drone strikes literally as pinpoint attacks.

Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the NSA and CIA, began his New York Times op-ed (2/21/16) with 24 paragraphs of dialogue illustrating how carefully the US government chooses drone targets so as not to put the innocent at risk:

The decision maker asks if there are civilians nearby.

“The family is in the main building. The guys we want are in the big guesthouse here.”

“They’re not very far apart.”

“Far enough.”…

He asks the probability of killing the targets if they use a GBU-12, a powerful 500-pound, laser-guided bomb.

“These guys are sure dead,” comes the reply. “We think the family’s OK.”

“You think they’re OK?”

“They should be.” But the analyst confesses it is impossible to be sure. Read complete article

Today, drone strikes are a settled policy in Washington circles, but that does not mean Americans should accept everything a former CIA director says about them.

Former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Gen. Michael Hayden has an op-ed in Saturday’s New York Times: “To Keep America Safe, Embrace Drone Warfare.” The two-thousand-word piece provides some unique insights into the process by which CIA directors authorize—including over the phone—individual drone strikes and even order the specific munition to be used. Moreover, Hayden provides a more plausible and granular defense than those offered by other former CIA chiefs, including George Tenet, Leon Panetta, and Michael Morrell. He even makes some effort to engage directly with certain prominent criticisms of these lethal operations. Read complete article

Hunting Boko Haram - The U.S. Extends Its Drone War Deeper Into Africa With Secretive Base The Intercept By Joshua Hammer Feb. 25 2016
Cameroon US military
“These forces … will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” Obama stated. A White House official later said the troops would not be used for combat, but to oversee intelligence gathering and surveillance. The president didn’t reveal the exact location of the new facility, but the U.S. ambassador to Cameroon, Michael Hoza, said it would be in Garoua, the site of a Cameroonian air force base. No Western journalists had apparently visited this place since Obama’s announcement, little had been written about it in the American media, and the Pentagon was keeping quiet, so I set out to find out what was going on. Read complete article

 

Speaker from the first ever national Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare in Princeton, NJ January 2015, Dr. Mary Ellen O'Connell debates on Drone Strikes Program at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (Click image below to watch full debate)

DebateonDroneStrikesPrograms01 20 16MaryEllenOConnell


Obama’s Embrace of Drone Strikes Will Be a Lasting Legacy
By Micah Zenko January 12, 2016 The New York Times
In January 2009, when President Obama came into office, he inherited two controversial covert counterterrorism programs from George W. Bush: the rendition and harsh interrogation (including torture) of terrorist suspects, and the use of drones to kill terrorist suspects outside of traditional battlefields. Two days after taking the oath of office, Obama signed an Executive Order, which revoked the Bush-era directives authorizing torture, and reemphasized international conventions and federal laws prohibiting torture. The following day, Obama authorized two Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, which, combined, killed an estimated one militant and 10 civilians, including between four and five children.

Troubling questions endure about who is targeted, how sure we are of who is being killed and what oversight of the program is enforced.

Obama’s embrace and vast expansion of drone strikes against militants and terrorists will be an enduring foreign policy legacy. Whereas President George W. Bush authorized approximately 50 drone strikes that killed 296 terrorists and 195 civilians in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, Obama has authorized 506 strikes that have killed 3,040 terrorists and 391 civilians. (Using the average estimates provided by three non-governmental organizations.) A technology developed and matured shortly before 9/11 to kill one individual, Osama bin Laden, became the default tactic for a range of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions outside of traditional battlefields. Read complete article

Use by Iraqi Military May Be a Boon for China-Made Drones HONG KONG — After more than a decade of fighting in Iraq, the names of the American-made drones striking targets there have become familiar: Predator, Reaper, Sentinel.

But this month, a new model entered the fray: the Chinese-made Caihong-4.

According to footage released by the Iraqi armed forces, soldiers used the Chinese drone on Dec. 6 to destroy an ISIS position amid efforts to retake the city of Ramadi. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense confirmed the video was real.

The lethal strike represents a major step forward in China’s drive to become a leading exporter of military equipment, experts say. Iraq is the only known export user of the drone, also known as the CH-4, which closely resembles the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. Read complete article

Former Drone Pilots to Obama: Civilian Killings Driving 'Terrorism, Instability' Wednesday, November 18, 2015 by Common Dreams
Four former U.S. Air Force drone operators issued a public letter on Wednesday warning that the United States' ongoing targeted killing program "is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."

The letter (pdf), addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Chief John Brennan accuses the administration of fueling "tragedies such as the attacks in Paris" while "lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program."

"We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS," the whistleblowers wrote, "while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay." Read complete article

The New York Times and Washington Post are Ignoring Civilians Killed by US Drone Strikes, Jeff Bachman, October 22, 2015 (PDF)

Friends Committe on National Legislation (FCNL) Reacts to Leaked Drone Documents October 16, 2015
On Thursday, October 15, 2015, The Intercept released very troubling details of the Administration’s targeted killing program through leaks by an anonymous whistleblower. FCNL is calling on Congress to exercise its vital oversight role and is urging a Congressional hearing and inquiry into the U.S.’s lethal drones program. This is essential in order to inform the American people about the deliberate killing of Americans and non-nationals outside of declared war zones.

“The Drone Papers,” reveal startling details of the high percentage of civilian casualties, faulty intelligence, and the central role that the targeted killing program has in our U.S. counterterrorism policy. Read complete article

Drone War Exposed: Jeremy Scahill on U.S. Kill Program's Secrets & the Whistleblower Who Leaked Them
Democracy NOW! October 16, 2015
One of the most secretive military campaigns in U.S. history is under the microscope like never before. In a major exposé based on leaked government documents, The Intercept has published the most in-depth look at the U.S. drone assassination program to date. "The Drone Papers" exposes the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, revealing a number of flaws and far more casualties than the intended targets. The documents were leaked to The Intercept by an unnamed U.S. intelligence source who says he wanted to alert Americans to wrongdoing. We are joined by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, lead author of the exposé, "The Drone Papers."
Read complete article

The Past, Present and Future of the U.S. Drone Program The Take Away October 16, 2015
A whistle-blower working inside the federal intelligence community has given The Intercept a cache of documents detailing the U.S.'s drone strike assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Intercept Reporter Ryan Devereaux focuses his coverage on the U.S.'s drone program in Afghanistan, in "Manhunting in the Hindu Kush." Devereaux details the intelligence provided by the whistle-blower and the Afghan program intended to be a model for the future of American warfare.

The CIA conducted its first drone strike outside of a declared war zone in November 2002, against Al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen. Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld refused to confirm the U.S.'s role in the strike, but he did comment on the death of one of the men involved: Qaed Senyan al-Harthi. Read complete article

Nearly 90 Percent Of People Killed In Recent Drone Strikes Were Not The Target The Huffington Post
By Marina Fang October 15, 2015
The controversial U.S. drone strike program in the Middle East aims to pinpoint and kill terrorist leaders, but new documents indicate that a staggering number of these "targeted killings" affect far more people than just their targets.

According to a new report from The Intercept, nearly 90 percent of people killed in recent drone strikes in Afghanistan "were not the intended targets" of the attacks.

Documents detailing a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker, show that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. In Yemen and Somalia, where the U.S. has far more limited intelligence capabilities to confirm the people killed are the intended targets, the equivalent ratios may well be much worse. Read complete article

The Drone Papers The Intercept October 15, 2015 The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.
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Drone Spending: the MQ-9 Reaper Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College October 12, 2015 By Dan Gettinger
The MQ-9 Reaper is a medium-altitude long-endurance surveillance and strike drone. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., the primary contractor for the program, is responsible for manufacturing the aircraft and the ground control system. Other contractors include Raytheon, which supplies some of the advanced sensors on the drone, and L-3 Communications, which provides training simulators and satellite communication infrastructure. While the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is the primary U.S. Government recipient of the MQ-9 Reaper, other military departments such as the Missile Defense Agency and Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) invest procurement and research funding in the Reaper. Outside of the military, NASA and the Customs and Border Protection also operate Reaper variants.

We have dived into the Department of Defense budget documents to find out exactly how much the U.S. military is spending on the Reaper and where those funds are going. The Reaper’s funding can be divided into two broad categories: Air Force spending that directly impacts Reaper operations and spending on associated programs that are relevant to the Reaper. The Air Force has proposed allocating approximately $1.1 billion in spending for the MQ-9 Reaper in Fiscal Year 2016, a sum that could see an extra $170 million if the National Defense Authorization Act is signed into law. When combined with other Reaper-relevant spending—which includes spending by other departments besides the Air Force, procurement of the Hellfire missile munitions, and other research programs that will impact the future development of the Reaper—the total is estimated at around $1.94 billion for FY16. Read complete article

Recommendations and Report of The Task Force on US Drone Policy The Stimson Center June 2014
Download PDF of Report

Dana Milbank: A human face for drone victims The Washington Post Opinions October 29, 2013
From Washington, the drone-warfare program looks almost aseptic: Remote-controlled aircraft fire with precision on targets half a world away.

But on Tuesday, this anonymous form of warfare assumed a name and a face: that of 9-year-old Nibila ur Rehman, who, along with her father and older brother, came all the way from Pakistan’s tribal region to talk about the drone strike that killed her grandmother a year ago. Read complete article

Not a Bug Splat  A giant art installation targets predator drone operators.
In military slang, Predator drone operators often refer to kills as ‘bug splats’since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.

To challenge this insensitivity as well as raise awareness of civilian casualties, an artist collective installed a massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.
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Out of Sight, Out of Mind Infographic on Lethal Drone Attacks, done by Pitch Interactive. The primary date came from a dataset maintained by the Bureau of Investigative Jounralism (BIJ).
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The Lessons of Anwar al-Awlaki
The New York Times Magazine August 27, 2015 By Scott Shane
Type ‘‘Anwar al-Awlaki’’ into YouTube’s search bar, and you get 40,000 hits. Most of them bring up the earnest, smiling face and placid voice of the first American citizen to be hunted and killed without trial by his own government since the Civil War. Here is Awlaki on what makes a good marriage; on the nature of paradise; on Jesus Christ, considered a prophet by Muslims; on tolerance; on the holy month of Ramadan; and, more quirkily, on ‘‘obesity and overeating in Islam.’’ Here is Awlaki, or Sheikh Anwar, as his many admirers still call him, easily mixing Quranic Arabic with American English in chapters from his 53-CD series on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, once a best seller among English-speaking Muslims.

Scientists worry about arms race in artificial intelligence San Francisco Gate July 28, 2015
LONDON — Scientists and tech experts — including Professor Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — warned Tuesday of a global arms race with weapons using artificial intelligence.

In an open letter with hundreds of signatories, the experts argued that if any major military power pushes ahead with development of autonomous weapons, “a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow."
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Secret assassination and its aftermath Acting in Faith, a Blog published by the American Friends Service Commitee (AFSC) July 24, 2015 By Stephen McNeil
"Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbor secretly." -- Deuteronomy 27:24

Some believe that drone attacks save U.S. lives because they do not rely on "boots on the ground" and thus service members are spared death and injury.

But what about other people's lives? Recently, as a Quaker and an American Friends Service Committee staff member, I joined a gathering of 150 interfaith folk at Princeton Theological Seminary to consider that very question.
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The Moral Case Against Drone Strikes Patheos July 24, 2015 By Rabbi Michael Lerner
There was a brief and rare moment this year in which people openly discussed the U.S. lethal drones program. For a few days, the Obama administration apologized for a strike, the American people expressed shock, and the media took note. But that moment ended as quickly as it began, and only happened in the first place because a U.S. citizen was inadvertently killed by an American drone strike. For the remainder of the year, hundreds to thousands of non-Americans suffer the same fate but their stories go untold, and the drones program remains relegated to a dark corner at the back of the American public’s consciousness.

That is why I joined nearly thirty faith leaders to write a letter to the U.S. government expressing our joint outrage at the immorality of lethal drones, and calling for the program to be halted.
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Retired US general: Drones cause more damage than good Aljazeera July 16, 2015 Retired US Lieutenant General Michael Flynn calls for "different approach" on drones in interview with Al Jazeera.
US President Barack Obama's former top military intelligence official has launched a scathing attack on the White House's counter-terrorism strategy, including the administration's handling of the ISIL threat in Iraq and Syria and the US military's drone war.

In a forthcoming interview with Al Jazeera English's Head to Head, retired US Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in August 2014, said "there should be a different approach, absolutely" on drones.

"When you drop a bomb from a drone… you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good," Flynn said. Read complete article

Why People of Faith Oppose Drones The Huffington Post July 1, 2015 By Jim Winkler, President of the National Council of Churches
There has been much sensationalistic coverage recently about a drone strike that killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Many have succumbed to the temptation to celebrate this death without stepping back and evaluating precisely what the larger drone war has accomplished. Recently, I joined nearly 30 of my fellow faith leaders to take on that exact issue. In a world of division, it is remarkable when people of diverse perspectives can agree - particularly people of diverse faiths. That is why I am proud to have joined my friends of faith in speaking with one united voice to express our common concerns with the U.S. government's use of drone warfare.

From a range of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish perspectives, we jointly signed a letter urging the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress to halt its policy of lethal drone strikes. Despite the range of our different belief systems and ideas about warfare, we found that we shared many of the exact same questions and concerns about the drones program that led us to send this letter. Here are a few of those concerns. "
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Drones and the epoch of one-click wars The Washington Examiner By Benjamin H. Friedman July 20, 2015
The United States has a problem unique to history's greatest powers. Our wars are often too cheap. Air campaigns like the 2011 campaign in Libya, the ongoing one against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and the drone strikes that periodically target militants in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia sacrifice few if any American lives and spend the federal equivalent of loose change.

Because these wars risk so little, or seem to, we have grown too fond of them. We make war without much regard for whether it is worthwhile. Recent U.S. decisions to bomb countries bear less resemblance to the struggle between branches of government that the constitution anticipates than to one-click shopping online, where low upfront cost and ease of delivery encourage whimsical choices uninhibited by debate about value. "
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The one word Obama wouldn’t say MSNBC Online By and There was a key word missing from President Barack Obama’s speech at the Pentagon on Monday. Despite discussing more than 5,000 airstrikes against the self-described Islamic State and emphasizing the need for partners on the ground to be trained and equipped for combat, the president stopped short of calling the U.S. military campaign “war.”

In fact, the word “war” has been largely absent during the entire year-long conversation about what’s happening in Iraq and Syria. Perhaps this is because, after more than thirteen years of a seemingly endless war on terror, acts of violent extremism are actually on the rise globally and it’s clear that war isn’t working. But turning away from endless war involves changed policies, not changed names. First we need to figure out: what exactly is war? "
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Today’s Civilian Victims in Yemen Will be Ignored Because U.S. and its Allies Are Responsible
The Intercept by Glenn Greenwald July 6, 2015
In Fayoush, Yemen this morning, just outside of Aden, “a massive airstrike” hit a marketplace and killed at least 45 civilians, wounding another 50. Officials told the AP that “bodies were strewn about following the strike.” The bombing was carried out by what is typically referred to as a “Saudi-led coalition”; it is rarely mentioned in Western media reports that the U.S. is providing very substantial support to this “Saudi-led” war in Yemen, now in its fifth month, which has repeatedly, recklessly killed Yemeni civilians.

Because these deaths of innocents are at the hands of the U.S. government and its despotic allies, it is very predictable how they will be covered in the U.S. None of the victims will be profiled in American media; it’ll be very surprising if any of their names are even mentioned. No major American television outlet will interview their grieving families. Americans will never learn about their extinguished life aspirations, or the children turned into orphans, or the parents who will now bury their infants. There will be no #FayoushStrong Twitter hashtags trending in the U.S. It’ll be like it never happened: blissful ignorance. "
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Obama Administration On Plan To Take Away CIA's Drones: Never Mind, Keep 'Em The Huffington Post By Ali Watkins June 24, 2015
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has abandoned his two-year push to consolidate his controversial targeted killing program under Pentagon control and has spent the past several months finalizing a new plan that would give the Defense Department and the CIA joint control of drone strikes, sources tell The Huffington Post.

Two years ago, Obama promised during a speech at the National Defense University that he would move the CIA's controversial drone program out of the covert shadows and into the relative sunlight of the Defense Department. Drone critics greeted the announcement with cautious optimism, hoping that a Pentagon-run drone program would be more transparent and allow more oversight of targeted killings. "
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Fire from heaven The Mennonite By Titus Peachey June 23, 2015
A reflection on Luke 9:51-56
In this text, two of Jesus’ most beloved disciples are ready to engage in what we may describe as an act of terror by calling down fire on their social enemies, the Samaritans. And the disciples are explicit … they intend this holy fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans.

Just before this incident, Jesus and the disciples had a mystical experience on the mountain, where they met Moses and Elijah. In the book of 2 Kings in the Hebrew Bible, we read how the prophet Elijah had called down fire on 100 servants of King Ahaziah, so perhaps this precedent of “fire from heaven” was on the minds of the disciples as they were on their way to Jerusalem, arguing about who would be the greatest. "
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Drones are demons The Mennonite By Isaac S. Villegas June 23, 2015
Just as the early church called for prayer against demons, we are called to pray against drones.
In February, The Guardian reported that a U.S. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), a weaponized drone, killed Mohammed Tuaiman, a 13-year-old boy in Yemen.

When Mohammed’s brother Maqded arrived at the scene of attack, he was horrified: “I saw all the bodies completely burned, like charcoal,” he said. “We couldn’t move the bodies so we just buried them there. "
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CIA didn’t know strike would hit al-Qaeda leader The Washington Post  The CIA did not know in advance that al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen was among the suspected militants targeted in a lethal drone strike last week, according to U.S. officials who said that the operation went forward under counter­terrorism guidelines that were eased by the Obama administration after the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Yemen this year.

The officials said that Nasir ­al-Wuhayshi, who also served as ­al-Qaeda’s overall second-in-command, was killed in a “signature strike,” in which the CIA is permitted to fire based on patterns of suspected militant activity even if the agency does not know the identities of those who could be killed.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism's spreadsheet of Drone Casualties 2004 to Present
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CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — After a decade of waging long-distance war through their video screens, America’s drone operators are burning out, and the Air Force is being forced to cut back on the flights even as military and intelligence officials are demanding more of them over intensifying combat zones in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The Air Force plans to trim the flights by the armed surveillance drones to 60 a day by October from a recent peak of 65 as it deals with the first serious exodus of the crew members who helped usher in the era of war by remote control.
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A dangerous mission in Libya requires a firm approach The Washington Post 
THE PENTAGON says it thinks a U.S. airstrike in Libya on Sunday may have killed one of the most dangerous terrorists in Africa, a man believed to have led a 2013 attack on an Algerian gas field that killed 38 civilians, including three Americans. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda has confirmed that its leader in Yemen was killed by a U.S. drone strike last week. It’s good those two militants have been taken off the battlefield, but their elimination will not remedy the growing crises in Libya and Yemen. In that respect, the operations are another example of the limited benefits of President Obama’s narrow approach to counterterrorism.

For years, Mr. Obama has authorized drone strikes and raids against individuals designated as threats to the United States in Libya, Yemen and Somalia, while making only attenuated efforts to support the construction of stable governments in those countries. The result is that all three nations continue to produce a steady stream of recruits for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Yemen and Libya have grown increasingly violent and chaotic.
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As Stress Drives Off Drone Operators, Air Force Must Cut Flights The New York Times CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — After a decade of waging long-distance war through their video screens, America’s drone operators are burning out, and the Air Force is being forced to cut back on the flights even as military and intelligence officials are demanding more of them over intensifying combat zones in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The Air Force plans to trim the flights by the armed surveillance drones to 60 a day by October from a recent peak of 65 as it deals with the first serious exodus of the crew members who helped usher in the era of war by remote control.
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Al Qaeda Deputy Leader Killed in U.S. Bombing in Yemen The New York Times June 16, 2015
DUBAI/SANAA — The deputy leader of al Qaeda, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a U.S. bombing in Yemen, the group and the White House said on Tuesday, removing the director of a string of attacks against the West and a man once seen as a successor to leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

A close associate of Osama bin Laden in the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, Wuhayshi, a Yemeni in his late 30s, was named by Zawahri as al Qaeda's effective number two in 2013.
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Families of Drone Strike Victims in Yemen File Suit in Washington The New York Times WASHINGTON — The families of an anti-Qaeda cleric and a police officer killed in an American drone strike in Yemen filed suit in federal court in Washington on Sunday night, asking the court to declare that the strike was unlawful.

The lawsuit, which seeks no monetary damages, is described by the complainants as an attempt to break through the secrecy surrounding drone strikes and to have the court impose some public accountability for mistakes made in the program.
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Headlines Notwithstanding, Support for Drones Drops SlightlyHeadlines Notwithstanding, Support for Drones Drops Slightly Voices for Creative Nonviolence by Buddy Bell, June 2, 2015
Headlines Notwithstanding, Support for Drones Drops Slightly Voices for Creative Nonviolence June 2, 2015 by Buddy Bell A new survey just released by the Pew Research Center found that respondents have become much more likely to voice their disapproval over the U.S. drone assassination program. In a phone survey conducted from May 12-18, 2015, Pew found that 35 of every 100 respondents said they disapproved “of the United States conducting [drone strikes] to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” The complete report PDF of the survey indicates that the last time Pew asked this particular question was from February 7-10, 2013. In that survey, only 26 of every 100 respondents disapproved, meaning that in the span of two years the disapproval rate shot up by 9 points, constituting a 34% increase.

Approval for the drone program went up, too, though not as dramatically. Between 2013 and 2015, responses of approval increased from 56 to 58 per 100, a change which is actually smaller than the survey’s stated margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.
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Interfaith Letter Expressing Grave Concerns on Drone Warfare Sent to President Obama and Congress
Press Release, Religion News Service June 1, 2015
Twenty-nine faith leaders from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh traditions have sent an Interfaith Letter on Drone Warfare to President Barak Obama and the U.S. Congress.

The signers say it is morally unacceptable that thousands of innocent people have been killed by US lethal drone strikes. The letter also raises concerns that targeted killings by drones lack transparency and accountability. Finally the letter argues that drone strikes do not make Americans safer, but rather aid recruitment by extremist groups.

Download PDF File  Press Release Religion News Service


Mini-documentary (half hour) on the war on terror and drone use in northern Pakistan:

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The Tragic Truth About Drones By April 29, 2015 The US News & World Report
The news Thursday that an American held hostage by al-Qaida was inadvertently killed by a U.S. drone strike in January was tragic, but not shocking. What is shocking is that American foreign policy has quietly transformed into a series of permanent, secretive, unaccountable drone wars which made this tragedy possible. What's more, this overreliance on drone warfare is based largely on misunderstandings and myths. Here is the truth about drones.
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CIA's torture experts now use their skills in secret drones program By Trevor Timm Wednesday 29 April 2015 The Guardian
The controversy over the CIA's secret drone program has gone from bad to worse this week. We now know that many of those running it are the same people who headed the CIA's torture program, the spy agency can bomb people unilaterally without the president's explicit approval and that the government is keeping the entire program classified explicitly to prevent a federal court from ruling it illegal. And worst of all, Congress is perfectly fine with it.
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Joe Burton: Burr violated laws Letters to the Editor By Joe Burton April 29, 2015 The Raleigh News & Observer
According to the April 28 news story "N.C.'s Burr chided after terror report," in 2013 Sen. Richard Burr wanted the CIA to find and kill a U.S. citizen, Muhanad Al Farekh.One would think that a U.S. senator would believe in the rule of law and recognize that extrajudicial killing is illegal. He must know it is unlawful to target for killing persons who have not been accused and convicted of a crime. It violates International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. For a U.S. citizen, it also violates the U.S. Constitution, Amendment V.
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The dangers of drones By Joshua Russell, The Mennonite Central Committee on Drones April 23, 2015 Washington Memo
Armed drones have become one of the weapons of choice for the United States over the past few years.  The rapid expansion of their use has not received a great deal of notice by the public in this country until recently.
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Drone Strikes in Yemen Said to Set a Dangerous Precedent By April 13, 2015 The New York Times 
WASHINGTON — An investigation of American drone strikes in Yemen concludes that the Obama administration has not followed its own rules to avoid civilian casualties and is setting a dangerous example for other countries that want to use unmanned aircraft against terrorists.

Death by Drone -
Civilian Harm Caused by U.S. Targeted Killings in Yemen April 2015 Report by Open Society Justice Initiative
In 2013, President Obama promised that before any U.S. drone strike, “there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” Death by Drone questions whether he has kept that promise. 

The report casts serious doubt on whether the United States’ “near-certainty” standard is being met on the ground, and whether the U.S. is complying with international law. The nine case studies documented in this report provide credible evidence that U.S. airstrikes have killed and injured Yemeni civilians. These incidents include a drone strike that killed 12 people, including a pregnant woman and three children, and another in which the U.S. struck a house containing 19 people, including women and children.

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