Tag Archives | Drones
President Obama is now considering whether to order the Central Intelligence Agency to kill a U.S. citizen in Pakistan. That’s big news this week. But hidden in plain sight is the fact that Amazon would be an accessory to the assassination.
Amazon has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide the agency with “cloud” computing services. After final confirmation of the deal several months ago, Amazon declared: “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”
The relationship means that Amazon — logoed with a smiley-face arrow from A to Z, selling products to millions of people every week — is responsible for keeping the CIA’s secrets and aggregating data to help the agency do its work. Including drone strikes.
Drone attacks in Pakistan are “an entirely CIA operation,” New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti said Tuesday night in an interview on the PBS NewsHour. He added that “the Pakistani government will not allow the [U.S.] military to take over the mission because they want to still have the sort of veneer of secrecy that the CIA provides.”
The sinister implications of Amazon’s new CIA role have received scant public attention so far.… Read the rest
Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald write at the Intercept:
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The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.
According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.
The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
It’s mooted by Jon Turi at Engadget that Nikola Tesla, as ever ahead of his time, designed the first military drone, although he’s quoted as saying himself, “You do not see there a wireless torpedo; you see there the first of a race of robots, mechanical men which will do the laborious work of the human race”:
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…Tesla once said, “The world moves slowly, and new truths are difficult to see.” It was his way of responding to the crowd’s stunned disbelief upon viewing his scientific wizardry at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1898. Using a small, radio-transmitting control box, he was able to maneuver a tiny ship about a pool of water and even flash its running lights on and off, all without any visible connection between the boat and controller. Indeed few people at the time were aware that radio waves even existed and Tesla, an inventor often known to electrify the crowd with his creations, was pushing the boundaries yet again, with his remote-controlled vessel.
Love him or hate him, at least give Brand credit for being a celebrity that’s unafraid to speak his mind. Here he is in Brave New Films’ Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.
Activist documentarian Robert Greenwald can be relied on to address the most topical issues of the moment, ranging from Wal-Mart’s dubious employment practices to corporate war profiteering in Iraq, exposing the Koch Brothers or showing what happens to whistleblowers.
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What drew you to this topic in the first place? Did your perspective change as you worked on the documentary?
I was drawn to it because I’ve done a series of films and investigations around the war issues. I did the first film around the Iraq war and the reasons we were given for it; I did another film called Iraq for Sale about war profiteering; I went to Afghanistan and did a film challenging the military policy there. I see the idea of the bipartisan militarization of policy — the bipartisan belief that we will be safer by invading or occupying or droning — as one that is highly questionable.
Prepare for more drone warfare.
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At a NASCAR racetrack in Miami earlier this month, teams from NASA, Google, and 14 other groups of engineering gurus put cutting-edge robots through some challenging paces.
The aim was to see how well the robots could tackle tasks that may sound simple, but are tricky for nonhumans – including, say, climbing a ladder, unscrewing a hose from a spigot, navigating over rubble, and steering a car.
The contest was dreamed up by the Pentagon’s futuristic experimentation arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and senior defense officials were watching it carefully – well aware that the Pentagon is growing increasingly reliant on robotics.
The Defense Department will become even more reliant on such devices in the decades to come. That’s the conclusion of a new blueprint quietly released by the Pentagon this week, which offers some telling clues about the future of unmanned systems – in other words, drones and robots.
Thanks to activists like Robert Greenwald and his new film Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars, many Americans are well aware of the ominous threat of weaponized aerial drones. Few, however, know that the United States Navy also has a drone program. From TIME Swampland:
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While you were out shopping Sunday for those last-minute holiday gifts, the Navy pushed ahead with its own vision of an underwater sugar plum: a fleet of “long endurance, transoceanic gliders harvesting all energy from the ocean thermocline.”
And you thought Jules Verne died in 1905.
Fact is, the Navy has been seeking—pretty much under the surface—a way to do underwater what the Air Force has been doing in the sky: prowl stealthily for long periods of time, and gather the kind of data that could turn the tide in war.
The Navy’s goal is to send an underwater drone, which it calls a “glider,” on a roller-coaster-like path for up to five years.
Via Next Nature comes this interesting and regrettably useful guide to spotting drones. You can print it out or take advantage of a handy option for ordering a copy in drone surveillance disrupting reflective paper.