"I want the US government to stop killing people in countries around the world. I want it to stop terrorizing populations. I want it to stop incinerating children. I want it to stop using war to give corporations money and Americans a false sense of security. I want it to stop creating anti-American violence in the name of fighting it."

"Bloodless Liberals" by David Mizner

Every week or so, I return to this essay. It makes the point that the Deleuze quote I posted a few days ago was making: human rights are nothing in and of themselves; we must create the situation for them to have meaning and that’s much more difficult than waving around human rights law to stop violations.

"International law defines a combatant and thus a legitimate target in terms of direct participation in hostilities and an imminent threat. It’s more complicated than that, as I’ll show later, but this is enough for Chamayou to fire off two key questions: How can anyone be participating in hostilities if there is no longer any combat? How can there be any imminent threat if there are no troops on the ground? The drone, praised for its forensic ability to distinguish between combatant and non-combatant, in fact abolishes the condition necessary for such a distinction: combat itself"
"When you ask Sadaullah or Karim or S. Hussein and others like them what they want, they do not say “transparency and accountability.” They say they want the killing to stop. They want to stop dying. They want to stop going to funerals — and being bombed even as they mourn. Transparency and accountability, for them, are abstract problems that have little to do with the concrete fact of regular, systematic death.’"

From Madiha Tahir’s ‘Louder than Bombs’ about drones in Pakistan



In effect, drones are supposed to introduce a new, intrinsically ethical symmetry to asymmetric warfare: they save ‘our’ lives and ’their’ lives. They combine the power to kill and to save, to wound and to care, a weapon at once humanitarian and military – ‘humilitaire’, as Chamayou has it. (Others have made a case for the humanitarian uses of unarmed drones, but their arguments are a far cry from military applications).

Yet if this new military power saves lives, Chamayou demands, what is it saving them from? His answer: from itself, from its own power to kill. And if this seems the lesser evil, in Eyal Weizman‘s terms the ‘result of a field of calculations that seeks to compare, measure and evaluate different bad consequences’, then we need to remind ourselves, with Hannah Arendt, how quickly ‘those who choose the lesser evil forget … that they chose evil.’

"Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All of them reported that three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day–Mammana Bibi, a grandmother and midwife who was preparing to celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid… Not a militant, but my mother."

Our family are not your enemy. In fact, the people you killed had strongly and publicly opposed al-Qa’ida. Salem was an imam. The Friday before his death, he gave a guest sermon in the Khashamir mosque denouncing al-Qa’ida’s hateful ideology. It was not the first of these sermons, but regrettably, it was his last.

Our town was no battlefield. We had no warning – our local police were never asked to make any arrest. My young cousin Waleed was a policeman, before the strike cut short his life.

Your silence in the face of these injustices only makes matters worse. If the strike was a mistake, the family – like all wrongly bereaved families of this secret air war – deserve a formal apology. To this day I wish no vengeance against the United States or Yemeni governments. But not everyone in Yemen feels the same. Every dead innocent swells the ranks of those you are fighting.


Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States.

These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Drone usage in the US.

The United States carried out 75 drone attacks inside Pakistani territory during 2011 killing 609 people, among them only three were Arab commanders of Al-Qaeda; one was UK’s most wanted and just four were senior commanders of different factions of Pakistani militants, says Conflict Monitoring Centre’s annual report on drone attacks. It says that no drone attack was conducted in December last year.

The report is based on the data collected from mainstream national and international media. “The CIA failed to eliminate more than four Al-Qaeda leaders in its highly costly and controversial ‘assassination by drones’ campaign inside Pakistan during the year 2011”, the report says.

The report says a total of 303 drone attacks were carried out since 2004 in which 2661 people were killed. The report notes 43 percent decline in drone attacks in 2011 compared to the previous year 2010. The CIA had conducted 132 drone attacks in 2010. The number of fatalities in drone attacks has also dropped by 35 percent.

“Mounting protest and public backlash against drone attacks as well as tension between US and Pakistan during the year led to the decline in drone attacks. The US has suspended drone attacks after an attack by NATO helicopters on a Pakistani military check post on November 26, 2011”, the report says.

"Beyond the political consequences, the drone program also imposes severe bureaucratic costs. Within the U.S. Intelligence Community, various lethal targeting programs are heavily classified, compartmented, and SAPed — meaning, they are mostly closed off from each other. This is one reason why the CIA and JSOC maintain separate, non-overlapping kill lists in Yemen. It also means it is practically impossible for anyone, in any position including the top of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to exercise proper oversight over the program. In other words, we have created an unaccountable killing machine operating at an industrial scale, to borrow CNAS President John Nagl’s phrasing."

Joshua Foust on our drone program

Really good article. He also mentions how contractors have a financial incentive to review as many people for killing as possible. We’ve incentivized death. He also raises the possibility that the drone program is so destabilizing Yemen it may end up going like Iran, as in the president is kicked out and a hostile to the US government takes its place.