Sunday, March 03, 2013

Drone Killings - Are You on the Hit List?

US as Murder, Inc.
No oversight for drone killings
Air Force erases drone strike data in Afghanistan war report just one day after Rand Paul's filibuster
By Leslie Larson
10 March 2013
The Air Force has erased data on drone strikes in Afghanistan from their most recent report that was released just one day after Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster on Wednesday.
Since last October, Air Force Central Command had provided statistics on the number of weapons released from Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
As the debate on drone use heats up in the heartland, the Air Force report released on March 7 failed to list airstrikes from drones and many believe it's no coincidence given the Obama administration's embarrassment after Sen. Paul took the president to task for the U.S. government's use of drones in U.S. airspace.
Sins of omission: As of Jan. 31, the Air Force report included drone strike data (bottom right) but the most recent update released on March 7 left a giant blankspace where the data should be listed
In the heartland: This MQ-9 Predator B unmanned surveillance aircraft, in Sierra Vista, Ariz., is used to patrol the southern U.S. border
Drone warfare has become increasingly important to the U.S. military in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a way to collect intelligence and conduct airstrikes without risking American lives.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the audience at an event in South Carolina in February, that intelligence indicates that drone strikes by U.S. RPAs have killed 4,700 people in the conflicts abroad. Though they have been used over the last decade, only this October the Air Force Central
Command (AFCENT) decided to include data on strikes from RPAs in their monthly reports on air power statistics.
In 2009, 257 drone strikes were conducted in Afghanistan. That number climbed slightly to 277 in 2010 and there was a small bump up in 2011 to 294, though the data can change due to recalculation.
Come 2012 drone strikes became more frequent, climbing to 494 as the tactic became a more important part of the U.S. strategy since President Obama said he hopes to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by half in 2014. That would be an estimated reduction of 34,000 U.S. military personnel.
Stand with Rand: Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.) spoke for 13 hours on the Senate floor on Wednesday discussing his concern that the government would have the power to launch drone strikes on Americans
As of January 31, the Air Force reported a total of 44 drone strikes were launched in the beginning of 2013 but the report released in March, for February military ops, failed to include any data on drone strikes.
Data in 2012 was released for the months of November, December and in 2013 for January but the latest report released on March 7 left a blank space on RPA operations, according to a report in the Air Force Times.
Defense Department spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks told the Times the department was not involved in the decision to exclude the data.
The omission did not go unnoticed because it came the day after Sen. Paul gave a lengthy monologue on the Senate floor, voicing his fear about armed drones in U.S. airspace.
Drones are already in use by border patrol agents and law enforcement officials across the U.S.
In February 2012, Congress passed The FAA Reauthorization Act, which includes a provision for the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015.
President Obama signed the bill into law and estimates show that 30,000 drones could be in U.S. skies by 2020.
Drone warfare: The military relies heavily on RPAs to launch airstrikes in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (pictured an artist impression of a Predator Drone firing a missile)
Remote operated: An airman operates a sensor control station for a MQ-9 Reaper during a training mission. Reapers can fly for as long as 14 hours fully loaded with laser-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles
In June 2012, Paul pushed for legislation that would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before using a drone to collect information on suspected criminals in the U.S. and he also asked for assurances that the executive branch be prohibited from using a drone to kill a noncombatant American on U.S. soil.
In response, he received a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder that stated the government's use of drone strikes on its own citizens on U.S. soil was 'unlikely to occur.'
Unsatisfied with the ambiguity of the Obama administration's stance, the Kentucky Republican took his cause to the public, beginning a filibuster on the vote for Obama's choice of CIA director, John Brennan, on March 6 at 11:47am.
The son of Republican Texas Congressman Ron Paul raised the alarm that the power of the executive branch to use drones to collect information on American citizens in the U.S. would be violating the 5th Amendment of the U.S. constitution, which guarantees an American's right to due process.
With only water and candy bars to keep him going, Sen. Paul galvanized the grassroots and grabbed the spotlight while, ironically, top GOP Senators, including John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), spent Wednesday night wining and dining with President Obama at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.
Paul's oratory exhibit wrapped up at 12:39am on March 7 and his effort has brought increased scrutiny to the issue.
'I hope my efforts help spur a national debate about the limits of executive power and the scope of every American’s natural right to be free,' Sen. Paul wrote in a piece for the Washington Post on Friday.
'"Due process" is not just a phrase that can be ignored at the whim of the president; it is a right that belongs to every citizen in this great nation,' he added.
Rand Paul leads Rep. Senators filibuster against Brennan CIA...
Court Says CIA Can't Have It Both Ways On Drones
A federal appeals court has rejected an effort by the CIA to deny it has any documents about a U.S. drone program that has killed terrorists overseas, ruling that the agency is stretching the law too far and asking judges "to give their imprimatur to a fiction of deniability that no reasonable person would regard as plausible."The ruling by a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit cites several public speeches by prominent American officials about the U.S. use of weaponized drones, including a 2009 talk by then-CIA director Leon Panetta, a Google+ web chat by President Obama last year and a 2012 speech by the president's new CIA chief, John Brennan.
The case began with a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union nearly three years ago. It asked for 10 categories of information regarding drones. That request was flatly denied by CIA officials, who argued that confirming the existence of such records could in effect be revealing classified information.
So, the ACLU took the CIA to court. ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer called Friday's decision "an important victory."
Jaffer added that: "It requires the government to retire the absurd claim that the CIA's involvement in the targeted killing program is a secret, and it will make it more difficult for the government to deflect questions about the program's scope and legal basis. It also means that the CIA will have to explain what records it is withholding, and on what grounds it is withholding them."
The court says the CIA may have to prepare a list of all the drone materials and fight it out in a lower court over whether they should be turned over. The agency still has other legal defenses under the Freedom of Information Act.
The court ruling comes as members of Congress from both political parties press the White House to release more information about its program for targeting terrorism suspects, including American citizens who have been killed without charge or trial. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul highlighted the issue in a nearly 13 hour Senate filibuster earlier this month. And Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he voted against the president's new choice to lead the CIA because of the White House refusal to share legal justification for drone strikes.
The momentum built Friday with an op-ed in The Washington Post by prominent Democrat John Podesta, a chief of staff at the White House during the Clinton administration. Podesta wrote that President Obama is "ignoring the system of checks and balances that has governed our country from the earliest days" and, regarding the legal memos, he said, "give them up, Mr. President."
A spokeswoman says the Justice Department is "reviewing" the ruling written by Judge Merrick Garland and joined by Judges David Tatel and Thomas Griffith.
U.N.: U.S. drone strikes violate Pakistan's sovereignty
USA Today
March 15, 2013
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The head of a U.N. team investigating casualties from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan declared after a secret research trip to the country that the attacks violate Pakistan's sovereignty.
Ben Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said the Pakistani government made clear to him that it does not consent to the strikes — a position that has been disputed by U.S. officials.
President Barack Obama has stepped up covert CIA drone strikes targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border since he took office in 2009.
The strikes have caused growing controversy because of the secrecy surrounding them and claims that they have caused significant civilian casualties — allegations denied by the United States.
According to a U.N. statement that Emmerson emailed to The Associated Press on Friday, the Pakistani government told him it has confirmed at least 400 civilian deaths by U.S. drones on its territory. The statement was initially released on Thursday, following the investigator's three-day visit to Pakistan, which ended Wednesday. The visit was kept secret until Emmerson left.
Imtiaz Gul, an expert on Pakistani militancy who is helping Emmerson's team, said Friday that the organization he runs, the Centre for Research and Security Studies, gave the U.N. investigator during his visit case studies on 25 strikes that allegedly killed around 200 civilians.
The U.N. investigation into civilian casualties from drone strikes and other targeted killings in Pakistan and several other countries was launched in January and is expected to deliver its conclusions in October.
The U.S. rarely discusses the strikes in public because of their covert nature. But a few senior officials, including CIA chief John Brennan, have publicly defended the strikes, saying precision weapons help avoid significant civilian casualties.
A 2012 investigation by the AP into 10 of the recent deadliest drone strikes in Pakistan over the previous two years found that a significant majority of the casualties were militants, but civilians were also killed.
Villagers told the AP that of at least 194 people killed in the attacks, about 70 percent — at least 138 — were militants. The remaining 56 were either civilians or tribal police, and 38 of them were killed in a single attack on March 17, 2011.
Pakistani officials regularly criticize the attacks in public as a violation of the country's sovereignty, a popular position in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high.
But the reality has been more complicated in the past.
For many years, Pakistan allowed U.S. drones to take off from bases within the country. Documents released by WikiLeaks in 2010 showed that senior Pakistani officials consented to the strikes in private to U.S. diplomats, while at the same time condemning them in public.
Cooperation has certainly waned since then as the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has deteriorated. In 2011, Pakistan kicked the U.S. out of an air base used by American drones in the country's southwest, in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
But U.S. officials have insisted that cooperation has not ended altogether and key Pakistani military officers and civilian politicians continue to consent to the strikes. The officials have spoken on condition of anonymity because of the covert nature of the drone program.
However, Emmerson, the U.N. investigator, came away with a black and white view after his meetings with Pakistani officials.
"The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear," said Emmerson. "It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The drone campaign "involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty," he said.
Pakistan claimed the drone strikes were radicalizing a new generation of militants and said it was capable of fighting the war against Islamist extremism in the country by itself, said Emmerson.
A major reason why the U.S. has stepped up drone attacks in Pakistan is because it has failed to convince the government to target Taliban militants using its territory to launch cross-border attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.
Emmerson met with a variety of Pakistani officials during his visit, as well as tribal leaders from the North Waziristan tribal area — the main target for U.S. drones in the country — and locals who claimed they were injured by the attacks or had lost loved ones.
The tribal leaders said innocent tribesmen were often mistakenly targeted by drones because they were indistinguishable from Taliban militants, said Emmerson. Both groups wear the same traditional tribal clothing and normally carry a gun at all times, he said.
"It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other states," said Emmerson.
Americans flocking to support Sen. Rand Paul for his tireless defense of the Constitution
by: J. D. Heyes
Thursday, March 07, 2013
(NaturalNews) American patriots have a bright new star in Congress these days, and his name is Rand Paul.
The junior U.S. senator from Kentucky calls himself a Republican, but he could just as easily label himself a constitutionalist, because he - like his long-serving U.S. representative father before him, the now-retired Ron Paul - won't settle for anything less than the rule of law. What's more, his no-compromise stance is not only empowering to his constituents, but it is inspiring tens of millions of Americans from all over the country who have grown more than just a little weary of business as usual in the nation's capital.
The two most current crusades that Paul has embarked on involve the Obama administration's potential use of armed drones against American citizens on American soil, and the White House's nomination of John O. Brennan to head up the Central Intelligence Agency.
Saying no to would-be tyrants
First the drone issue. The day before the Senate Intelligence Committee voted March 6 to confirm Brennan's nomination, Paul told Fox News he had received two letters from Holder regarding the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. soil against American citizens that he said did not directly address the issue of whether such strikes could be carried out within the parameters of the nation's founding document.
Per Fox News:
In the letter, Holder says the U.S. has never carried out a drone strike against one of its citizens on American soil, and calls a situation where such a strike may occur "entirely hypothetical" and "unlikely to occur."
However, Holder does not entirely rule out that such a scenario may occur in the future, and indicates that such a strike would be legal under the Constitution.
"It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States," Holder said.

Holder just won't say no
In a follow-up response, Paul laid bare the administration's "frightening" claim that the president somehow believes he has authority to order such strikes against American citizens who may be associated with terrorist or other groups bent on attacking the country, but who do not pose an imminent threat to do so (that's why the founders included due process in the Constitution).
"The U.S. Attorney General's refusal to rule out the possibility of  drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening, it is an affront on the constitutional due process rights of all Americans," he said.
Enter Brennan.
Even the CIA nominee approves...of Holder's point of view
During questioning by the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan would not

specifically and adamantly disavow the use of armed drones in American skies targeting American citizens who are not, at the time of targeting, engaged in terrorist acts. For that, Paul vowed to filibuster Brennan's nomination for as long as he physically can (remember, many of the armed drones being used overseas to target actual terrorist enemies are CIA-owned and operated).
"I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA," Paul said as he began his filibuster around noon on March 6. "I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court."
Paul has said the authority the president and Holder are claiming means the government could literally send a drone-fired missile into a cafe where a suspect was having coffee, if they thought such an attack was warranted.
And Holder, Paul says, would not specifically disavow that tactic.
Tons of Americans lining up to
support Paul
For these stances, Paul is receiving widespread support and acclaim from tons of American citizens fed up with Obama and his thuggish governance. According to an aggregation of Tweets posted by the site Twitchy, here are just a few examples of what Paul's legions of supporters are saying about his constitutional stand:
-- Rand Paul may be opposed to drone strikes but he is lobbing numerous truth bombs in his filibuster.
-- Rock On! RT ?@jeremyscahill On Senate floor, Sen Rand Paul discusses Abdulrahman Awlaki, 16 yr old US citizen killed in drone strike
-- Music to my ears from Rand Paul. "We're not a democracy and we were never intended to be a democracy." Damn straight.
-- Rand Paul quoting Hayek on the Senate floor. I love this man.
-- C-Span 2, America. For America. Rand Paul exposing sitting president who opposed waterboarding for what he really is...
-- Pretty much everyone could benefit from @SenRandPaul's filibuster. It's so Constitutiony.
Read more tweets of support here.
Stand with Rand! Sen. Rand Paul takes determined stand against insanity of Obama's claimed power to kill Americans
by Mike Adams
Thursday, March 07, 2013
(NaturalNews) What kind of President refuses to say he will not kill Americans sitting in a cafe in Seattle, or walking down the street in Los Angeles, or driving a tractor on a farm in Texas? A President who respects no law and no rights of citizens as described in the Constitution.
That President, of course, is Barack Obama.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took a stand against tyranny by enduring a long filibuster on the floor of the U.S. Senate. As of this writing, the filibuster is well over 10 hours long and running. In taking this opportunity to take a stand against tyranny, he showed the murderous intent of President Obama and the outright criminal attorney general known as "Mr. Fast & Furious" Eric Holder.
Obama insists he can murder you while you're drinking coffee, mowing your lawn, or walking your dog
It is now clear: The battle lines have been drawn, and the Obama administration considers the entire United States of America to be a "battleground" where he can selectively choose when and where citizens have constitutional protections. At the stroke of a pen, Obama can choose to have you murdered -- shot with a weaponized drone -- even if you are not engaged in active combat or resurrection of any kind.As I have previously written, it is now clear that Obama claims the right to murder journalists and bloggers, attacking them in their own homes through militarized drone strikes. Importantly, you do not need to be actively engaged in any violence or even a rebellion. The mere act of you sending an email to someone in the Middle East can earn you a spot on Obama's "kill list" and result in a Hellfire missile being launched right into your home with the intention of instantly murdering you. This is the position President Obama is -- extraordinarily -- now defending as his "power."
As Sen.
Rand Paul expressed with stunning clarity and determination, it is now clear that President Obama believes there are NO LIMITS on his power, no limits on the military use of drone strikes, and no guaranteed protections for U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. The Bill of Rights is null and void in Obama's mind. Due process can be selectively ignored at the will of one man in a position of power. You are no longer afforded any real protections unless "king" Obama wants you to have them!
Rand Paul proves he has the stuff to be President
Sen. Rand Paul is now emerging as a great hero of the American republic. He is more presidential than the President. Although he isn't perfect and has made some mistakes on his voting record, Rand Paul apparently understands freedom better than the President, and he actually has morals and
ethics, unlike the President.
Rand Paul is one of a very short list of U.S. senators willing to take a stand against tyranny and say, "NO!" Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is also standing with him as are a few other Republican senators. Notably, not a single democrat in the U.S. Senate opposes
President Obama murdering Americans on U.S. soil using militarized drones. The democratic party has universally abandoned human rights in America in its desire to seize political power at any cost to society.
Rand Paul understands there are limits on executive power; that the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights describe immutable rights that cannot be stripped from the citizens of America.
Here are just a few of the quotes from Sen. Rand Paul on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 6, 2013, during his filibuster:
"If you're sitting in a cafe, and somebody thinks you're conspiring with (a terrorist), you should be charged or imprisoned if they can make the charges stick. But they shouldn't just drop a Hellfire missile on you."
"People who have more than seven days of food [have been deemed] a terrorist... and you might be somebody we might need to target with a drone." (The context of this quote was explaining how ridiculous it is that the government's definition of a "terrorist" includes people who store food, people who criticize the government, people who are against abortion, etc.)
"We don't want the whims of any politician or any executive to decide what the law is."
"Can you do military strikes on American citizens on U.S. soil. An easy answer is, I will obey the law." (But then why doesn't the President simply announce that he will obey the law?)
"We'd like them to say they don't have the legal authority to kill Americans on American soil." (But the President refuses to say this.)
"Our goal is to try to get the President to acknowledge something publicly."
Comments from the Twitterverse

"A sad day when killing Americans is up for debate."
"Sen. Rand Paul is giving a better human rights speech than Obama Barack ever has. And no teleprompter was in front of the Senator's desk."
"It's been a while since I could say I am a proud American. Thank you Rand. Stand with Rand!"
"Epic! Stand with Rand!"
"I get the feeling that a more Libertarian stance is the only thing that can bring about a fresh start for the GOP. Stand with Rand!"
"I haven't killed anyone yet, and I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might." - Barack Obama
"This isn't a filibuster. This is a line in the sand."
"Do you stand with Senator Rand Paul and demand an answer from the White House on extra-judicial assassinations in America?"
"Thank you, Senator Rand Paul, for standing by We the People. Stand with Rand!"
"I am a two-time Obama voter. I stand with Rand."
Obama Death Drones Creating Fear Among Americans
By NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
March 4, 2013
© 2013
The Department of Justice memo, titled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operation Leader of al-Qaeda or An Associated Force,” that
was obtained by the Fox News Channel's chief national security correspondent Catherine Herridge, defines drone attacks on U.S. citizens who were involved in violent attacks as being legal.
According to Herridge, the memo states: “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”
This latest revelation has created an outpouring for complaints regarding citizens' constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure, Fifth Amendment protection, and other issues. "What scares many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum is the use of these drones to not only conduct surveillance operations stateside but also to use them to kill terrorist suspects who are citizens without due process," said Mike Baker, a political strategist.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appears prepared to allow the use of unmanned aerial vehicles within the United States, by both law enforcement agencies and private citizens, with practically no restrictions.
Experts predict that by the end of the decade, there will be about 30,000 drones flying over the United States. Legislators in at least eleven states want to impose limits on the use of UAVs as worries grow that the unregulated use of drones would erode the liberties of Americans, according to Homeland Security News Wire.
Law enforcement agencies primarily use smaller versions of what many like to call Predator drones,
which the military and CIA utilize in war zones. The non-military versions are used by local law enforcement for surveillance, search-and-rescue missions, to monitor traffic and even help with
crowd control. While their use is now primarily for surveillance, there is concern that one day deadly weapons could be mounted onto domestic drones. However, non-lethal weaponry including rubber bullets, laser projectiles and tear gas is more likely should police agencies wish to use their UAS offensively, according to former police chief and security director Joseph Wheeler.
Unmanned aerial systems appear to be all the rage within the law enforcement and military communities, especially since they do not carry a pilot on board, but instead operate on pre-programmed routes and by following commands from pilot-operated ground stations. But members of House of Representatives decided to investigate its uses -- especially its domestic uses by federal, state and local law enforcement -- as well as its impact on civil liberties, according to a
Government Accountability Office report released on Sept. 14, 2012.
UAS can be small, generally 55 pounds or less, or large, such as unmanned helicopters. The GAO
noted that current domestic uses include law enforcement, forest fire monitoring, border security, weather research, and scientific data collection. And while current uses are limited, that is likely to change under the Obama administration.
As the nation moves closer to sequestration -- across-the-board budget cuts to the military, intelligence agencies and law enforcement departments -- Unmanned Aerial Systems may become more and more useful in maintaining a certain degree of security, according to former police commander Charles Nettinger, now a security consultant.
"Two or three unmanned aerial vehicles will be able to monitor entire cities even during the darkest nights. If need be, weapons systems could be mounted on them, but that isn't a desirable outcome," Nettinger said.
The Federal Aviation Administration authorizes UAS use on a case-by-case basis after conducting a
safety review. FAA and the other federal agencies that have a role or interest in UAS are working to provide routine access for UAS into the national airspace system, according to the 49-page GAO report.
Progress has been made, but additional work is needed to overcome many of the obstacles to the safe 
integration of UAS that the GAO first identified in 2008. At that time, the GAO analysts reported that "UAS could not meet the aviation safety requirements developed for manned aircraft and that this posed several obstacles to safe and routine operation in the national airspace system."
The GAO analysts also noted: "These obstacles still exist and include the inability for UAS to sense and avoid other aircraft and airborne objects in a manner similar to manned aircraft; vulnerabilities in the command and control of UAS operations; the lack of technological and operational standards needed to guide safe and consistent performance of UAS; and final regulations to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace system."
The U.S. Congress set specific requirements and deadlines in its FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 for FAA to safely accelerate UAS integration. FAA has begun making progress toward completing those requirements, but has missed one deadline and could miss others. Many of the requirements entail significant work, including completing planning efforts and issuing a final rule for small UAS. Most of the requirements are to be achieved by December 2015.
Concerns about privacy are far from being resolved and may influence acceptance of routine access for UAS in the national airspace system. The Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration has the authority to regulate security of all modes of transportation, including non-military (local police, fire, border patrol, and emergency management) UAS.
Meanwhile, Americans' privacy concerns include the potential for increased amounts of government surveillance using technologies placed on UAS, the collection and use of such data, and potential violations of constitutional Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizures.
Currently, no federal agency has specific statutory responsibility to regulate privacy matters relating to UAS for the entire federal government. Some lawmakers believe that the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice (DOJ) might be better positioned to address privacy issues since they generally stem from the operational uses of UAS for governmental surveillance and law enforcement purposes.
"However, many Americans may find the DHS and DOJ too politicized for such power and decision-making," said police sergeant Stanley McLaughlin, who's worked as a police aviation instructor.
"People -- myself included -- may be adverse to the use of 'eyes in the sky' being controlled by agencies that are engulfed in investigations into their alleged corruption or misconduct," said McLaughlin.
© 2013 NWV - All Rights Reserved
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Former White House press secretary admits he was ordered to lie about existence of drones
by: J. D. Heyes
Sunday, March 03, 2013
(NaturalNews) It doesn't happen often but every now and then a former government official has an attack of conscience - either that, or they are so arrogant as to believe no matter what they confess to, they're not going to be held responsible.
Robert Gibbs, the one-time White House Press Secretary for President Barack Obama, told reporters Feb. 24 he was ordered to keep the United States' active drone attack program under wraps.
"When I went through the process of becoming press secretary," he told MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes" program, "one of the first things they told me was, 'you're not even to acknowledge the drone program.'"
He added that he was told, "'you're not even to discuss that it exists.'"
'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'
Such a notion was "inherently crazy," Gibbs said.
"You're being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you're the government spokesperson acting as if the entire program - pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," Gibbs, who served as press secretary from the time of Obama's first inauguration in January 2009 to 2011, when Jay Carney took over.
The Obama administration, as has been well-documented, has been heavily criticized for inhibiting the release of information related to its overseas drone assassination program and has yet to officially even acknowledge that it exists, though there have been a number of public references to the
program, along with the disclosure of an official Obama-controlled "kill list."
Despite all that, Gibbs says he expects much of the program to remain a secret, even though some in Congress are moving for more transparency.
"I have not talked to (the president) about this, so I want to be careful, but I think what the president has seen is, our denial of the existence of the
program when it's obviously happening undermines people's confidence overall in the decisions that their government make," Gibbs said.
Despite remaining secretive about the program, Obama has expanded its scope dramatically since taking office. For example, the drone
war, so to speak, has moved out of Iraq but has widened in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has also spread to Yemen and Somalia.
Evidence all around of a drone program
In fact, according to a
recent report from the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-area think tank, drone strikes in Yemen almost tripled in 2012 compared to the previous year, rising from 18 to 53.
And, as drone strikes have increased, so has collateral damage; the Bureau of Investigative

Journalism has found that at least 171 civilians, including 35 children, have been killed in Yemen by U.S. drone strikes over the past decade. Also, communiques released by WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that the U.S. and Yemeni governments had repeatedly attempted to cover up the use of American warplanes against terrorist targets in the North African nation.
There is more evidence of the widening existence of the drone program. In mid-February, the Pentagon announced a new medal that could be awarded to drone operators though the decision by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta angered some inside the Defense Department.
The ribbon is called the "Distinguished Warfare Medal," and it will be awarded to those accomplishing "extra achievement" related to military operations. Specifically; however, the award targets cyber and drone "warriors" who sit inside consoles in the United States and launch missile attacks delivered by unmanned aerial vehicles. It will become the fourth-highest combat decoration, above the Bronze Star.
Finally, despite "official" secrecy, the president has referred to his drone program many times in public, as have officials such as counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan.
Indeed, The New York Times
ran a major story revealing that the Obama White House has asserted the authority to carry out state-sponsored assassination anywhere in the world, without having to go through any discovery or other legal processes, even against American citizens.
Clearly, despite Gibbs' admission, most Americans knew the administration has been running a drone program aimed at eliminating terrorist enemies, which is not necessarily a bad thing when placed in the context of protecting the country. So why not just fess up about it, Mr. President?
Also See:
Drones will Soon be Everywhere!
(Part 1)
(Part 2)
20 December 2012