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Gaza war anniversary: ‘Aggressive’ UK police arrest 8 at Israeli arms factory protest

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RT | July 6, 2015

Staffordshire Police have been accused of making a “heavy-handed” intervention during a protest outside an Israeli arms factory organized to mark the anniversary of last year’s Gaza conflict.

At least eight people were arrested Monday during the demonstration outside a factory in Shenstone, which is owned by a subsidiary of Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems.

An activist with London Palestine Action, speaking in personal capacity, told RT that the demonstration was meant to be a “fun, creative” experience, but was met with “aggressive [and] forceful police tactics.”

Campaigners estimate 200 people attended the protest near Birmingham, which was the site of a similar blockade in August 2014.

The protest was timed to mark the one-year anniversary of start of the Gaza conflict. Activists held a memorial service for the 2,200-plus Palestinian victims, 490 of whom were children.

Protests were also held in Tamworth and Broadstairs in the UK, and Melbourne in Australia.

Shenstone protesters targeted the UAV Engines factory where engines for Hermes, one of Israel’s primary armed drones, are manufactured.

Drones owned by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) may have been used in attacks that resulted in civilian deaths and violated international law, according to reports by Human Rights Watch and The Guardian.

A variety of campaign groups including War on Want, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign united under the umbrella movement “Block the Factory” to organize the day of action.

Protesters posted videos on Twitter indicating a heavy police presence. At one point, a police officer is seen dragging a man holding a megaphone out of a crowd and arresting him.

Speaking to RT, activist Alex Levan, 31, said organizers had intended the protest to be peaceful.

“There were lots of police from early on,” he said. “They were very rough, they manhandled protestors, [and] they were very heavy-handed.”

“The idea was to reclaim the space around the factory and to turn it into a real festival environment, a creative activist environment with workshops, with a family space, with arts and crafts.”

“But the police were heavy-handed, they’ve made at least 10 arrests, but there will probably be more. These were completely unprovoked arrests, these were peaceful protests,” he added.

“But we did spend the majority of the day, from the early hours of the morning, blocking the factory.”

The protest succeeded in halting factory production for the day.

Activists called on the British government “to initiate an immediate two-way arms embargo – to stop arming Israel and to stop buying weapons from Israel.”

The Hermes, which is partly produced in the UK, carries two Spike-MR (medium range) missiles, which are produced by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

It can stay airborne for up to 24 hours at altitudes of up to 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) and is equipped with optical, infrared and laser sensors that enable it to identify and track targets.

Human Rights Watch claim to have found evidence Spike missiles were used against two Red Cross ambulances during Israel’s conflict in Lebanon in 2006.

Six medical workers and three patients were injured in the attack. The Geneva Convention forbids armed forces from targeting medical staff or hospitals.

Staffordshire Police Chief Inspector Steve Smith said: “At Tamworth this morning, a number of individuals climbed onto the roof of a factory building as part of a protest. All seven voluntarily came off the roof. Police officers then directed them to leave the area under public order legislation. No arrests were made.

“At Shenstone, a number of protesters locked themselves to fencing and others blocked the road. A civil injunction is in place around this location so police have the power to arrest anyone breaching this injunction.

“So far eight people, seven men and one woman, have been arrested on suspicion of breaching a high court injunction.”

July 6, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The CIA Can’t Keep Its Drone Propaganda Straight

By Jameel Jaffer and Brett Max Kaufman | Just Security | June 20, 2015

This week, one government intelligence agency, after patiently and methodically tracking a terrorist leader for months through precise electronic surveillance, successfully targeted him for death by drone. Also this week, a government intelligence agency eliminated a terrorist leader through a drone strike without even knowing the leader was present, basing its decision to use lethal force on sophisticated analysis of militants’ patterns of life.

Bizarrely, this was the same agency, and this was the same terrorist leader.

On Tuesday, hardly before the dust in Yemen had settled, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake and Josh Rogin, relying on information provided by anonymous sources, supplied the public with the first narrative. In this version, the CIA killed Nasir al-Wuhayshi, “general manager” of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, “by building a methodical case on his whereabouts over months from information collected through technical means.”

On Thursday, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, also relying on information provided by anonymous officials, supplied the second narrative. In this version, al-Wuhayshi was dead not because the CIA had tracked him down but because the Obama administration had “eased” certain drone-strike guidelines in Yemen and permitted the CIA to carry out “signature strikes” — strikes that take place without the agency’s specific knowledge of the identities of the individuals marked for death. 

Rarely do the rival motives of anonymous officials come so nakedly into view, and conflict, around a single event. One faction immediately tries to capitalize on the al-Wuhayshi strike as evidence of the CIA’s other-worldly tracking abilities, even in the fog of a confusing and fraught war in Yemen. At the same time, another faction exploits the same strike to make a public case for expanding the use of a controversial targeting technique that the Obama administration earlier said, in an effort to assuage public concerns about the lawfulness of the drone program, it would retire.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that “the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function,” is the “test of a first-rate intelligence.” Here, though, the government’s conflicting stories seem something less than first-rate or intelligent — they seem amateurish and ham-handed. They also seem to suggest a total lack of concern for the possibility that anyone will ever hold officials accountable for their statements.

Lake, Rogin, and Miller work in a field in which reliance on anonymous sources is probably unavoidable and sometimes even illuminating. In this instance, though, they can’t all be right, and their competing stories serve as another reminder — in case any were needed — that the statements of anonymous intelligence officials are often efforts to mislead and manipulate, and that much of the “information” the government has provided the public about the drone program is merely propaganda.

Regrettably, this is unlikely to change anytime soon. A federal district court judge — the same judge who earlier dismissed a constitutional case relating to the government’s killing of four Americans in Yemen — ruled on Thursday that the CIA isn’t legally obliged to release any information about the drone program it hasn’t already released. For the time being at least, the CIA will continue to decide what the public knows about the CIA’s activities — even if it can’t keep its own story straight.


About the Authors

is Deputy Legal Director at the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy. Follow him on Twitter (@JameelJaffer).

is a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Technology Law & Policy Clinic at NYU School of Law. Follow him on Twitter (@brettmaxkaufman).

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

California governor vetoes bill requiring warrants for police drones

RT | September 29, 2014

Despite widely clearing both the state’s Senate and Assembly, California Governor Jerry Brown shot down a bill on Sunday that would have imposed restrictions on when law enforcement agencies can use drones for surveillance.

Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement over the weekend that he was vetoing the drone accountability act that, had it been signed into law, would require police agencies to obtain a warrant before using an unmanned vehicle, or drone, for aerial surveillance.

“There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill’s exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the Fourth Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution,” Brown said on Sunday.

One of the bill’s authors, Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, said in a tweet on Sunday that “The era of govt. surveillance continues” after the governor’s veto was announced.

As RT reported previously, the California State Senate voted 25-8 last month in favor of the bill, AB 1327, after it cleared the Assembly in January by a margin of 59-5.

“The potential for abuse of drones is high and we need to be vigilant to ensure our Constitutional rights are protected,” bill co-author and Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu told Reuters earlier this year.

“Drones are going to be extremely important for hot pursuit, which is allowed in this bill, for search and rescue and, when you get a warrant, for continuous surveillance” of a location, Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), another co-author, said similarly.

According to Brown, however, the efforts of the bill’s creators to try and curb potential drone abuses clash with what the California governor believes to be the rights of law enforcement officers.

Had Gov. Brown signed his name to the bill, it would have required a warrant for drone surveillance missions except in instances of environmental emergencies, such as oil or chemical spills, when aerial vehicles could be deployed at the drop of a hat. Additionally, the data recorded by the drones would in most instances have to be destroyed within one year.

“It’s disappointing that the governor decided to side with law enforcement in this case over the privacy interests of California,” Assemblyman Gorell told the Los Angeles Times.

Earlier this month, a group of law professors wrote Gov. Brown’s office urging him to sign the bill into law because, according to the educators, failing to do as much may have great consequences.

“Misuse of drones may chill First Amendment activity and lead to high-tech racial profiling,” the letter said in part. Separately, activists gathered in downtown LA last month to rally against the city’s police department’s plans to begin using drones of their own.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 20 states across the US have enacted laws pertaining to the use of drones by law enforcement agencies, and President Barack Obama is reportedly preparing an executive order that will require federal agencies that use unmanned aerial vehicles to disclose more details about how they are used.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Arms firms implicated in illegal US drone strikes ‘bought influence’ at NATO summit – Reprieve UK

Government leaders watch a fly-past during the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport

RT | September 8, 2014

Arms firms that provide core military components for drones deployed by the US to conduct covert strikes in violation of international law allegedly bought access to NATO’s summit in Wales last week, a British human rights charity says.

The defense companies concerned doled out up to £300,000 to ‘exhibit’ their military wares at the conference in Newport. Among the firms present were General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and MBDA, according to a British government press release.

General Dynamics manufacture Hellfire missiles utilized in most US drone strikes, while Raytheon make the targeting system for the Reaper drone deployed by the CIA and other actors to conduct strikes across the globe. Lockheed Martin operates as a contractor to provide select support services for both the Reaper and Predator, and MBDA is a European company that manufactures the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Brimstone – a variant of the Hellfire missile.

The US drone program has received widespread public criticism both at home and abroad. Critics say attacks carried out in foreign countries, including Yemen and Pakistan, are in violation of both international and US law.

Although US drone strikes have culminated in hundreds of civilian casualties, they are subject to little oversight, according to Reprieve. President Barack Obama has refused to formally acknowledge the program’s existence.

Reprieve’s Legal Director Kat Craig said it’s “deeply worrying” that a group of firms who potentially profit most from this breach of international law were able to buy access into an international global summit like NATO.

“It is unacceptable that the US’ drone campaign, and the UK’s support for it, has been allowed to remain in the shadows for so long”, he added.

“President Obama must be far more open about it – as must his European allies, especially the UK and Germany, about the support they provide.”

Craig suggested the drone manufacturers’ presence at NATO signaled their inherent capacity to buy political influence “behind closed doors,” highlighting the opaque, illicit and legally questionable nature of much of the global arms trade.

September 8, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Riot control drone armed with paintballs and pepper spray hits market

RT | June 19, 2014

With drones designed to contain ‘unruly crowds’ and ‘violent protests’, a South African company is bringing riot control to a whole new high-tech level. The unmanned aerial system is able to shoot pepper spray and non-lethal paintballs to mark offenders.

Desert Wolf, based in Pretoria, has begun selling its Skunk Riot Control Copter, a drone it says “is designed to control unruly crowds without endangering the lives of the protestors or the security staff.”

The UAS has four high-capacity gun barrels, capable of shooting up to 4,000 paintballs, pepper spray balls and solid plastic balls at rates of up to 80 balls per second. The company notes that the frequency should usually be between one and 20 balls per second, and that the high frequency of 80 “will only be used in an extreme ‘Life threatening situation’.”

Skunk CAD design (courtesy Desert Wolf)

Skunk CAD design (courtesy Desert Wolf)

The paintballs can be used to “mark” people in the crowd. “The operator has full control over each marker. He can select the RED paint marker and mark the protester who carries dangerous weapons, he can select the BLUE marker to mark the vandalising protestors,” the Desert Wolf website said.

The Skunk Copter can also employ strobe lights, “blinding lasers” and on-board speakers to send verbal warnings to a crowd, though New Zealand’s 3News notes that the Geneva Convention prohibits the use of loudspeakers and laser pointers in combat. The UAS also uses a thermal camera with night-vision capabilities and two full-HD video cameras to record events as they unfold. The eight powerful electric motors with 16-inch propellers allow the drone to lift up to 45 kilograms (99 pounds).

“Our aim is to assist in preventing another Marikana, we were there and it should never happen again,” the Desert Wolf website said. Marikana was a wildcat miners’ strike at a South African platinum mine in 2012, where 44 people were killed in the violent protests. According to autopsy reports, many of the deaths occurred when strikers were fleeing police.

The company sold 25 drones to a mining company after it unveiled the Skunk at the IFSEC security exhibition outside Johannesburg in May.

“We cannot disclose the customer, but I am allowed to say it will be used by an international mining house,” Desert Wolf’s managing director Hennie Kieser told BBC News. “We are also busy with a number of other customers who want to finalise their orders. Some [are] mines in South Africa, some security companies in South Africa and outside South Africa, some police units outside South Africa and a number of other industrial customers.”

The International Trade Union Confederation, which supports workers’ rights, told the BBC it was horrified by the new technology.

“This is a deeply disturbing and repugnant development and we are convinced that any reasonable government will move quickly to stop the deployment of advanced battlefield technology on workers or indeed the public involved in legitimate protests and demonstrations,” International Trade Union Confederation spokesman Tim Noonan said.

“We will be taking this up as a matter of urgency with the unions in the mining sector globally,” he added.

The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) campaign group is also speaking out against the use of the Shark Copter and similar technology, such as the CUPID drone that employs an 80,000-volt taser dart.

Noel Sharkey, chair of the ICRAC, told the BBC he is concerned that the deployment of such drones risks “creeping authoritarianism and the suppression of protest.”

“The use of remote-controlled drones to police or attack civilian individuals or groups with violent force is an offense against human dignity and a threat to democratic sovereignty,” Mark Gubrud, a physicist with the ICRAC, told 3News. “It is also a potential precursor to scenarios in which the robots would operate fully autonomously, choosing their own targets outside of human control.”

“These weapons cannot be sufficiently well controlled to avoid causing serious injury, especially to eyes,” Gubrud told CNet. “Many existing ‘non-lethal’ crowd-control weapons can and often do kill.”

The first batch of drones, which cost about 500,000 South African Rand ($46,000) apiece, will be deployed to South African mines later in June, according to the Verge. Strikes against three of the country’s top three platinum producers have been going on for the last five months, though a wage deal between the mining companies and unions is imminent, Reuters reported on Friday.

June 20, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

LAPD considers deploying unmanned drones for ‘tactical events’

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RT | June 6, 2014

Defending the decision to pursue unmanned drones to assist in police work, the LAPD – who say they will cooperate with privacy groups on the matter – said the devices are being purchased by citizens, so why not allow law enforcement to use it as well?

At a news conference Thursday at LAPD headquarters, Chief Charlie Beck revealed the unmanned drones could assist police forces in “standoffs, perimeters, suspects hiding…and other tactical events.”

“We’re interested in those applications,” he said.

Beck responded to criticism of the plans by human rights and privacy groups by explaining that the technology is already “in the hands of private citizens” and corporations, so why shouldn’t law enforcement experiment with the devices as well?

“When retailers start talking about using them to deliver packages, we would be silly not to at least have a discussion of whether we want to use them in law enforcement,” the police chief said.

In December, Amazon and UPS announced ambitious plans to start testing UAVs for making home deliveries.

Late last month, the LAPD received two Draganflyer X6 unmanned drones as a ‘gift’ from the Seattle Police Department, in what seems to have been an effort by the latter to avoid public uproar.

Seattle authorities purchased the UAVs for $82,000 in 2010, funded by grants from the Department of Homeland Security. However, neither the city council nor the public was aware of the police drone program until a 2012 lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation over the department’s application for operation certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The resulting public outcry over the drones forced the mayor to terminate the program in February 2013.

“These vehicles were purchased by the Seattle Police Department using federal grants. There was no cost to the city of Los Angeles,” police said.

Each remote-controlled vehicle is 3 feet (90cm) wide, has three rotors and can carry a video camera.

In order to calm public suspicion that the drones will infringe upon privacy rights, Beck said the LAPD would work closely with the American Civil Liberties Union during the “vetting process” of the UAVs.

“I will not sacrifice public support for a piece of police equipment,” Beck said, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times. “We’re going to thoroughly vet the public’s opinion on the use of the aerial surveillance platforms.”

The LAPD added it would seek approval from the Police Commission before unleashing the drones above Los Angeles.

Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, issued a statement: “The Los Angeles Police Department asked the ACLU of Southern California to meet and articulate our concerns about the privacy issues raised by the use of drones. We agreed to do so… However, at this point the ACLU SoCal has no plans to participate in any process to craft policies for LAPD’s use of drones, nor have we been formally invited to lead a team of advocates to help craft such policies.”

“As the ACLU has previously said, we question whether any marginal benefits of drones programs justify the serious threat to privacy they pose.”

June 6, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

US troops ‘kidnap’ 4-year-old drone strike victim from hospital, allege parents

RT | June 02, 2014

A four-year-old girl whose face was blown off during a US drone strike in Afghanistan was kidnapped by American troops and hidden by an international organization, her family says.

The child, named Aisha Rashid, was travelling with her parents, a sibling and several other relatives from Kabul to their home in the village of Gamber in the Kunar province on a hot September day, when the drone exploded, Expressen.se reported. An uncle, Meya Jan, is at home on his farm in that village when he receives a phone call about the strike from the neighboring village. He and others rush to the strike.

Suddenly they hear a voice. “Water, water…”

It is Aisha. She is missing a hand, her leg is bleeding, and there is nothing left of her eyes or nose.

Older relatives rush her to the hospital in Asadabad, but doctors there can do nothing. She is transported by ambulance to a hospital in Jalalabad, where surgeons do what they can to patch her face, but her case is too difficult for them. Hospital staff contact the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), who arranges for her to be sent by medical helicopter to Kabul four days later.

The incident occurred on September 7, 2013, when NATO drones destroyed a pickup truck with civilians inside after its driver agreed to give a lift to Taliban insurgents, provincial governor Shuja ul Mulk Jalala said at the time. A report listed that four women, four children, and four men had been killed in the strike. The remaining four fatalities were said to be Taliban militants. NATO command acknowledged that the strike took place, but stated that the operation killed only militants – not civilians.

Once in the Kabul hospital, Aisha is visited by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “She had lost the whole family, the entire family, 14 of them, in the bombing in Kunar. And that day . . . [note: there is a 39-second pause as Karzai struggles with his emotions] . . . that day, I wished she were dead, so she could be buried with her parents and brothers and sisters,” he said, recalling the visit in an interview with the Washington Post five months later.

“She is walking now, she is in America. We arranged for her to be taken to America. She’s there now,” Karzai said in the March phone interview.

But Jan and Aisha’s other uncle, Hasrat Gul, did not give permission for the only surviving member of the Rashid family to be taken to the US, nor were they allowed to go with her. And they were not given any news of their niece.

“We think she is in the US, that’s what they told us, but we have no contact and we don’t know if she is still in Bagram or if she’s been flown out,” Gul told Expressen’s Av Terese Cristiansson in early October. They said they believed the US military was trying to hide her because drone strikes are such a sensitive subject.The two uncles give the reporter power of attorney to find Aisha.

And so Cristiansson embarks on a journey to find Aisha that she describes as “Kafkaesque.”

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) took over the case days after Karzai visited Aisha. Cristiansson emails the ISAF, but they have turned Aisha’s case over to a relief organization named Solace, which helps Afghan children with war injuries to receive international treatment. Solace’s strategy is to pay for foreign treatment and then place the children with foster families until they can be flown back to their own country. The reporter contacts them in November, and they initially seem willing to work with her on following the case for an article and documentary. But when Cristiansson says she wants to visit Aisha at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, DC (where Solace says the girl is located), the group becomes unresponsive.

In the meantime, the family had been receiving no communications. “We were informed that she didn’t have any family,” says Patsy Wilson, one of the founders of Solace told Cristiansson. The press office at Walter Reed said the family should ask local representatives at the base in Kunar about Aisha’s condition.

The family, with no updates, believes the US military have taken Aisha. “They probably don’t want her to become a poster girl for drone repercussions,” they said. They even start doubting whether she is alive.

Karzai spoke to Aisha at the end of February, days before his Post interview. “I called the family with whom she was. She’s still blind; she will not be a normal girl again. They’re trying to conduct plastic surgery on her,” he said. “The lady that looks after her, an Afghan lady, says she keeps asking about her younger brother who was 3 years old when they were killed.”

Jan and Gul did not speak to their niece until March.

“She cried and wondered where we are and how everyone in the village is. She spoke to my son and said that ‘as soon as I’m strong I’m coming home to the village’,” Jan said to Cristiansson at the time. “She said she has learnt her ABC.”

But the two uncles say they do not want Aisha in the United States. “We were against the US taking her. They killed our entire family and now they have her,” they said. “Even Germany and France said they could help her, but the US wanted her so that the case didn’t become too big in other countries. We don’t understand why none of us got to go with her either, that she had to travel alone.”

Gul told Cristiansson they have been compensated $2,000 per victim who died in the drone strike. “They want to give us money, but we don’t want America’s money. We have said that the only apology we can accept is what it says in the Koran: 100 camels,” he said. They also want the person responsible for killing their family brought to justice, and for Aisha to return to them. They think she realizes she cannot live in a country that killed her mother, father and little brother.

“She belongs at home with us,” Jan said.

June 2, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Despite promise, US govt moves to classify justification for drone killing of American

RT | May 29, 2014

The Obama administration has launched a sudden effort to keep classified additional parts of a memo outlining the legal justification for the drone killing of an American a mere week after saying it would comply with a federal ruling to release the memo.

In January 2013, a Federal District Court judge decided that the US Justice Department could keep the document classified entirely. That ruling stood until April 2014, when a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ordered the government to publicize key parts of the document that provided the legal rationale for the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki.

Awlaki was born in New Mexico before moving to Yemen with his family as a child. He returned to the US again to attend college but eventually became a prominent Al-Qaeda propagandist who American intelligence officials have claimed helped plot terrorist attacks. He was killed by a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen that was authorized based on the 41-page memo, dated July 16, 2010.

President Barack Obama praised the strike at the time, telling reporters that Awlaki’s death was a “major blow to Al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate.”

The New York Times and American Civil Liberties Union have sought the release of the memo under the Freedom of Information Act.

It has been an issue of contention of late because David Barron, the former Justice Department attorney who wrote the memo, was confirmed by the US Senate by a narrow vote last week as a judge on a US appeals court. A number of senators said they would only vote to confirm Barron if the administration agreed not to appeal the April decision and release a redacted version of the document.

“I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the president has the power to kill an American citizen not involved in combat and without a trial,” Senator Rand Paul said last week. “It is hard to argue for the trials for traitors and people who would wish to harm our fellow Americans. But a mature freedom defends the defenseless, allows trials for the guilty, and protects even speech of the most despicable nature.”

In a new court filing obtained by The New York Times, however, assistant US attorney Sarah Normand now argues that some of the information the administration pledged to reveal should actually remain secret.

“Some of the information appears to have been ordered disclosed based on inadvertence or mistake, or is subject is distinct exemption claims or other legal protections that have never been judicially considered,” she wrote.

The Justice Department also asked that the court keep the request for parts of the memo to remain secret. That request was denied, with the judge ordering the government to unveil previously secret negotiations between the court and prosecutions deliberating which aspects of the Barron memo would remain in the dark.

“It’s deeply disappointing to see the latest effort by the government to delay even further the release of this memo to the public,” New York Times attorney David McCraw told Politico. “The government reviewed the Second Circuit’s opinion before it was released. The court made redactions in response to that review. The fact that the government then waited five weeks to file a motion – seeking yet another opportunity to review what it has already reviewed – says volumes about the administration’s position on transparency.”

Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) was one of the lawmakers who said he only voted to confirm Barron because of the administration’s promise that “redactions to the memo would focus on still-classified information – not the legal reasoning itself,” he told the Times.

“I intend to hold the White House to its word,” Udall added.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU spending over $400m on secret drone project – Civil rights group

surveillance drone

RT | February 12, 2014

The EU is investing hundreds of millions of taxpayer euros in the development of surveillance drones without political oversight, a report claims. The authors of the document warn the EU is secretly encouraging “the further militarization” of the region.

A report entitled ‘Eurodrones Inc.’ published by rights group Statewatch describes how the EU is channeling taxpayers’ money into surveillance drone projects without their knowledge.

“More than 315 million euro ($430 million) has so far been spent in EU research funding on drone technology or drones geared towards a specific purpose such as policing or border control,” writes the report.

However, the document points out that the research funding is largely “invisible” to the people and parliaments of Europe and lacks the proper political oversight. According to the report this was achieved by a secret budget line that was included in new EU legislation on air traffic control for this year.

The report describes a 20-year roadmap that aims to introduce surveillance drones into EU airspace and highlights that this plan is being shaped by “thinly accountable officials” and representatives of large corporations.

“The EU’s emerging drone policy has come about following years of successful lobbying by defense and security companies and their associates,” said co-author of the report Chris Jones in a statement on Statewatch’s website, adding that these are the same defense and security contractors that have the most to gain.

The drones in question would engage in civilian surveillance activities, such as border patrols and the search for criminals. However, Statewatch is concerned that the convert nature of the program lends itself to the “further militarization” of the European Union.

Calling for “proper democratization” and the opening of public debate on the issue, the report notes the EU turned a blind eye to a European Commission statement in 2012 that declared the development of unmanned surveillance craft should be more transparent.

It recommended the issue be discussed with a number of organizations, including the European Group on Ethics, the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament or the European Agency for Fundamental Rights and Data Protection Supervisor.

“Yet none of these bodies have been involved,” writes the report. “Their absence from policy debates means that many of the conversations the EU should be having about drones – such as what they should and should not be used for, and how to prevent further militarization and the deployment of fully autonomous weaponized drones – have been all but ignored.”

Although the authors of the report do not outwardly criticize research into drones, they do stress the fact that the current program is too “heavily skewed toward the interests of the big defense contractors.”

They argue that this could lead to “unwarranted state surveillance and repression,” as well as enhanced prospects for combat drone research for a global arms race.

“It’s easy to see why people are so excited about drones: there are many positive things they could be used for,” said co-author Ben Hayes. He concluded that given the “clear implications” for civil liberties in the balance, the EU has a “moral and legal obligation” to uphold fundamental rights and the rule of law.

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drone-spotting: Survival guide informs on new breed of aerial predators

RT | December 25, 2013

A Drone Survival Guide with hints and tips on how to thwart the “robotic birds” has been published on the internet. With over 30,000 drones expected to be flying over the US by 2030, the Guide urges readers to familiarize themselves with the craft.

In light of the growing number of drones, the Guide advises a number of techniques to evade and scramble drones. The document is available online and has been translated into 17 different languages.

“Our ancestors could spot natural predators from far by their silhouettes. Are we equally aware of the predators in the present-day?” writes the Guide.

It contains the silhouettes and measurements of all of the most widely-used drones, from the ‘Killer Bee’ to ‘The Sentinel’ as well as information on where they are currently operational. It goes on to detail ways you can hide from a drone.

“Most drones are equipped with night vision, and/or infrared vision cameras, so-called FLIR sensors. These can see human heat signatures from far away, day or night. However there are ways to hide from drones.”

Among the tactics it advices for eluding the aerial craft are: hiding “in thick forests,” wearing space blankets to confuse heat sensors, not using wireless communication, and the use of mannequins or human-sized dolls as decoys.

“Wait for bad weather. Drones cannot operate in high winds, smoke, rainstorms or heavy weather conditions.”

As well as avoidance strategies to escape from the craft, the document also gives advice on how to hack into a drone’s systems. The Guide gives the assurance that as long as a drone’s communications are not encrypted then they can be hacked. It describes how to intercept and interfere with the workings of a drone and also details a process called “spoofing”.

“Small, portable GPS transmitters can send fake GPS signals and disrupt the Drones navigation systems. This can be used, for example, to steer drones into self-destruction flight paths or even hijack them and land them on a runway.”

The US’ use of drones for surveillance as well as military strikes has drawn global recognition. Last week the Yemeni parliament passed an anti-drone motion because of the civilian lives lost in the US strikes on Al-Qaeda militants in the country. Pakistan has also condemned the US for its use of the craft, decrying the strikes as an affront to its sovereignty.

Moreover, the Obama Administration has come into the firing line for increasing the amount of drones operating in American air space.

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Montreal deploying fleet of facial recognition drones for 24/7 patrols

RT | December 4, 2013

The City of Montreal has purchased 24 drones to help law enforcement tackle crime as authorities look to cut back the police force over the next 15 years. The UAVs, equipped with facial recognition technology, will be armed to ‘neutralize suspects’.

“It’s very exciting,” the chief of police for the borough where the drones will be deployed, Montreal North, told the Montreal Journal.

“The drones with facial recognition will patrol the streets 24 hours a day. Officers will interrogate individuals suspected of criminal acts or searched directly through speakers and microphones installed in the drones, but soon they can be provided with equipment capable of neutralizing on-site suspects pending the intervention of the law enforcement officers. It will mainly make our work less dangerous, especially in an area where there is a lot of social tension,” he said.

When asked to clarify what intermediate weapons would be used to neutralize suspects, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokesman told the Journal the “UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] will carry persuasive technologies, but non-lethal types, such as electric shock, blinding or paralyzing gases.”

He added that despite the seemingly limitless possibilities, only non-lethal weapons are “intended for the moment.”

The drones are set to be deployed in early 2014.

Despite the $400-million- plus price tag, the drones are intended to facilitate cutbacks to the city’s police force in line with nationwide efforts to curb RCMP expenditures, which have doubled over the last 15 years.

Employing new technology to create leaner, more effective law enforcements agencies, however, remains highly contentious.

A late 2012 poll conducted by Jennifer Stoddart, the privacy commissioner of Canada, found the public remains ambivalent about the use of UAVs in policing.

While 80 percent of those surveyed were comfortable with police use of drones for search-and-rescue missions, only 40 percent of respondents felt comfortable with their use in monitoring public events or protests.

“Considering the capacity of UAVs for surreptitious operation, the potential for the technology to be used for general surveillance purposes, and their increasing prevalence — including for civilian purposes — our office will be closely following their expanded use,” the report read.

“We will also continue to engage federal government institutions to ensure that any planned operation of UAVs is done in accordance with privacy requirements.”

The RCMP national drone is thus far in its infancy, with Mounties promising they will not be used to conduct general surveillance against the public.

A study released last month – Unmanned Eyes in the Sky – found that despite drones’ potential benefits for police, law enforcement had not “sought feedback from the public on how UAVs should or should not be adopted as a tool to serve the public interest,” the Canadian Press reported.

The study concluded that in light of the “potential for intrusive and massive surveillance,” Canadians needed reassurances that they would not be spied on once the drone program goes into full swing.

December 4, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan blows cover of suspected CIA chief after drone strike

RT | November 27, 2013

One of Pakistan’s major political parties has published the name of what it believes to be the CIA’s chief operative in Islamabad after a US drone strike killed five people last week. The group demanded on Wednesday that the spy chief face murder charges.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), led by the country’s cricket star Imran Khan, dropped the name of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative to police in a letter in which the party demanded that the agent face up to the “gross offence” of the drone strike.

The letter was released to the media. However, the name could not be independently verified.

“I would like to nominate the US clandestine agency CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Station Chief in Islamabad … and CIA Director John O. Brennan for committing the gross offences of committing murder and waging war against Pakistan,” PTI information secretary Shireen Mazarisaid wrote in the letter.

“CIA station chief is not a diplomatic post, therefore he does not enjoy any diplomatic immunity and is within the bounds of domestic laws of Pakistan,” the letter added. The complaint was lodged with Tal police station in Hangu district, northwestern Pakistan.

Intelligence agencies in foreign countries make a habit of keeping the identities of their agents and operatives private. If the PTI has successfully named the right person then he may be forced to leave the country.

This would not be the first time that an American operative has been outed in the country. In 2010 a former station chief was forced to leave Pakistan after his name was also revealed during a drone strike which led to the deaths of civilians.

The drone strike on 21 November was extremely provocative as it was one of the first outside the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, and killed five militants – among them a senior commander of the Haqqani Network.

A separate strike at the beginning of November, which killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, prompted Khan to react with similar fury over how continued strikes could scuttle peace talks.

“The Taliban held only one condition for the peace talks and that was that drone attacks must end,” he said at a press conference. “But just before the talks began we saw this sabotage.”

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd would not confirm the Islamabad station chief’s name to the AP and declined to comment on the matter immediately.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment