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Posts Tagged ‘drones’

Lobbying Report: Drones Fly Through Congress to Enter US Skies

Saturday 16 April 2011
by: Nick Mottern, Truthout

Within weeks and possibly days, President Obama is likely to sign into law a bill that will bring unmanned aerial vehicles – drones – into US general airspace, crisscrossing the country in company with passenger planes and other human-carrying aircraft.

The story of how planes without on-board pilots will gain entry into our crowded airspace, where birds are life threatening, possibly within the next three years, is one involving campaign contributions, jobs and fear. As we will see, safety appears not to be the top priority.

I became aware of the pro-drone legislation from a February 10, 2011, Syracuse Post Standard report that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) was supporting an amendment to the pending Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill (S. 223) that would create test zones for the introduction of drones into general airspace.

Senator Schumer was interested in the pro-drone amendment because MQ-9 Reaper drones, killer drones that are flying over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, are stationed at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse. However, FAA safety restrictions have limited drone flights out of Hancock.

“If Schumer’s legislative move succeeds this week,” said the Post Standard, “it would help ensure the future of 1,215 jobs at the (air) base in Mattydale (New York) and potentially lead to millions of dollars in radar research contracts for local defense companies.”

Bad Drones – Good Drones?

Drones have a grisly war history of misidentification. For example, on April 11, 2011, The Los Angeles Times carried a story of how a failure of US Air Force drone operators at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to accurately identify the enemy led to the deaths in February 2010 of at least 15 non-combatant Afghani men, the wounding of 12 more and the deaths of a woman and three children.

“Technology can occasionally give you a false sense of security that you can see everything, that you can hear everything, that you know everything,” said Air Force Major Gen. James O. Poss, who oversaw the Air Force investigation, according to the Times. “I really do think we have learned from this.”

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Editorial

The Guardian, UK,  Tuesday 24 March 2009

Evidence that Israel committed war crimes in its 23-day operation in Gaza mounts by the week. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have both appealed for a United Nations inquiry, after conducting their own investigations. Last week Ha’aretz published the testimonies of Israeli soldiers who alleged that a sniper shot a Palestinian mother and her two children, and that a company commander ordered an elderly woman to be killed. Yesterday Physicians for Human Rights accused soldiers of ignoring the special protection that Palestinian medical teams are entitled to receive. Today the Guardian releases three films in which our reporter Clancy Chassay reveals evidence that Israel used drones to fire at civilian targets, killing at least 48; he interviews three Palestinian youths used by Israeli soldiers as human shields and alleges that soldiers targeted paramedics and hospitals.

None of this is to deny that a case also exists against Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza. Firing unaimable rockets at civilians in southern Israel is also a war crime. But there is no symmetry of guilt. Israel has weapons it can place to within a metre of its intended targets. Its drones have high-quality optics that can see the colour of the target’s sweater. And they film everything both before and after each attack. The army has the means to refute these allegations, but feels no obligation to do so. An international inquiry should be launched for no other reason than to hold it accountable.

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