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The Places Where America’s Drones Are Striking, Now on Instagram

Technology has countervailing effects. We can send a battle by air to a land we have never set foot in, laying previously unimaginable distance between us and our wars. But at the same time we can see on a device in our pocket a satellite picture of these places so remote. Maybe, Bridle writes, the instant connectivity of our world can be a platform not just for faster information, but for deeper empathy for people who live a world away.

See more. [Images: Dronestagram]

“… deeper empathy for people who live a world away.”



The drone program has resulted in mistakes, and the deaths of a high number of civilian bystanders, both of which are fueling anti-U.S. sentiment in the countries in which the U.S. is conducting targeted killing operations. Robert Grenier, the head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center during the Bush administration, said recently that “we have been seduced” by drones, and that drone killings “are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield.” Whatever short-term gain there might be from targeted killing is outweighed by long-term damage to our national security. As Ibrahim Mothana, a Yemeni pro-democracy activist recently wrote, “Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair.”
Nathan Wessler - Staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. (via mehreenkasana)






During Bush’s entire presidency, there are approximately 45 Drone strikes in Pakistan.
In the first year of Obama’s presidency (2009),  there were 53. Since then, Obama has ordered 202 additional air strikes in Pakistan.
On Wednesday, the pentagon chief admitted that we are at war with Pakistan.


During Bush’s entire presidency, there are approximately 45 Drone strikes in Pakistan.

In the first year of Obama’s presidency (2009), there were 53. Since then, Obama has ordered 202 additional air strikes in Pakistan.

On Wednesday, the pentagon chief admitted that we are at war with Pakistan.




ABC News’ Jake Tapper grilled Press Secretary Jay Carney over the White House’s use of drones in the Middle East while engaging in a heated argument with his fellow reporter.

As Tapper tried to ask another followup, he heard some grumbling in the row behind him. He turned and said, “I’m sorry?”

CBS News Radio’s Peter Maer leaned toward him and said, “I’m just wondering how many questions — I mean, maybe you should have like an interview with him somewhere.”

After an uncomfortable pause, and an icy stare from Tapper, Maer said, “Go ahead.”

"Do you mind if I continue?" Tapper asked.

"Go right ahead." Maer said.

(via @AntDeRosa)


My problem with Obama: He only listens to what he wants to hear.

Obviously I support President Obama and his campaign for reelection in November. I’ve posted many times before about why and how I think overall this administration has brought to an extent the ‘change’ promised despite the pundits and disenchanted supporters. My support however is not a free pass and increasingly I’ve been alarmed by the way certain things have been handled despite overwhelming opposition by the very people who put this administration in office.

Transparency and greater involvement with the everyday Americans that government often overlooks, the poor, the middle class, minorities and so on, were a large part of the ‘change’ that was promised in 2008. Yet in 2012 our voices only seem to be heard when ‘change’ matches ‘gain.’ There’s no denying that President Obama has done many great things for women, for the LGBTQ community, for students and young people, for tax payers, for home owners, for the military, for our country. We have moved forward, but we’ve also taken huge steps back. We’ve been conditioned to believe that everything is black and white, that Democrat and Republican is what defines us not compromise, not progress, not innovation. You’re either for us or against us and any sort of criticism casts you as extreme. This is not the ‘change’ I supported in 2008, but a watered down, mainstream, nicely wrapped excuse for the change that we are capable of.



Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea, Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, “When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”



William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011, said the president and his advisers understood that they could not keep adding new names to a kill list, from ever lower on the Qaeda totem pole. What remains unanswered is how much killing will be enough


“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Mr. Daley said, describing the internal discussion. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”



One wonders how many Yemenis may be moved in future to violent extremism in reaction to carelessly targeted missile strikes, and how many Yemeni militants with strictly local agendas will become dedicated enemies of the West in response to US military actions against them. AQAP and those whom it trains and motivates to strike against civilian targets must continue to be resisted by the joint efforts of the civilised world. But the US would be wise to calibrate its actions in Yemen in such a way as to avoid making that obscure and relatively limited and containable threat into the Arabian equivalent of Waziristan.



"There is concern that another hit [by the drones] will push US-Pakistan relations past the point of no return. We don’t know how far we can push them [Pakistan], how much more they are willing to tolerate."


“We may strike soon if an extremely high value target pops up, but otherwise there is hesitation to pull the trigger right now.”

Long war journal citing US officials.



'Bugsplat': The ugly US drone war in Pakistan.


This weekend, Pakistan ordered the closure of the US drone base after a US attack killed 26 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. This news will be welcomed by the people of Waziristan, where communities have borne the brunt of the “collateral damage” of the US covert drone war. But for many, this decision comes too little too late. For too long, authorities ignored the deaths of innocent civilians being “bugsplat” by drones. After a recent trip to Pakistan to investigate the human consequences of the US drone attacks, I had no idea how close I was to come to understanding the horror of it.

In Islamabad I took part in a jirga - the traditional Pashtun forum for public discussion and dispute settlement - where tribal elders and villagers from the Pakistan tribal areas (FATA) came to meet with us to explain their personal experiences of US drone attacks. Sitting just two rows behind me was a 16-year-old boy named Tariq Aziz. Listening to story upon story of the extrajudicial murder of innocent civilians and children, the heartache for loved ones lost and the constant terror instilled by the now familiar roar of drones overhead, I could not have imagined that Tariq and his family would soon suffer the same fate.

Three days later Tariq was killed along with his 12-year-old cousin Waheed when their car was targeted by a Hellfire missile as they headed home to Norak, a village in Waziristan near the Afghan border.

Drones are described not only as the future of warfare, but as risk-free war. But Tariq’s death - and the hundreds of other civilian deaths recorded in a recent Bureau of Investigative Journalism study - demonstrate that this PlayStation warfare is only risk-free for operators of these remote-controlled killers. From the safety of an office building in Langley, Virginia, CIA operatives play games with Pakistanis’ lives.

As I landed at Heathrow, thousands of miles away from the dirt road where Tariq and Waheed now lay dead, a CIA operative in northern Virginia will have reported “bugsplat”. Bugsplat is the official term used by US authorities when humans are killed by drone missiles. The existence of children’s computer games of the same name may lead one to think that the PlayStation analogy with drone warfare is taken too far. But it is deliberately employed as a psychological tactic to dehumanise targets so operatives overcome their inhibition to kill; and so the public remains apathetic and unmoved to act. Indeed, the phrase has far more sinister origins and historical use: In dehumanising their Pakistani targets, the US resorts to Nazi semantics. Their targets are not just computer game-like targets, but pesky or harmful bugs that must be killed.

It was Hitler who coined this phraseology in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. In Mein Kampf, Hitler refers to Jews as vermin (volksungeziefer) or parasites (volksschädling). In the infamous Nazi film, Der ewige Jude, Jews were portrayed as harmful pests that deserve to die. Similarly, in the Rwandan genocide, the Tutsis were described as “cockroaches”. This is not to infer genocidal intent in US drone warfare, but rather to emphasise the dehumanising effect of this terminology in Nazi Germany and that the very same terms are used by the US in respect of their Pakistani targets. The US asserts that targeted killings are justified as a necessary counter-terrorism measure: Terrorists and militants are the pesky bugs that must be swatted.  

The term “bugsplat” dehumanises their targets - often innocent civilians - with families, friends, hopes and aspirations. I will never forget the pensive, yet curious look Tariq gave us as we joined the jirga, a look so reminiscent of my brothers at that same age. He had his whole life ahead of him. But two days later, “bugsplat”, and Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed by drones in Pakistan to 175.