Posts Tagged ‘Militärisch-industrieller Komplex’

USA: Sand im Getriebe

Samstag, Juli 28th, 2012

“Statement before Judge Nash, 12 April 2012

Hearing for disruption of Super Committee charge

By Leah Bolger (about the author)

I joined the U.S. Navy in 1980 and served on active duty for the next 20 years relatively ignorant of the vastness of the U.S. military machine and its deep-seated entrenchment with our government and economy. I had little understanding of the “military-industrial complex’ that President Eisenhower warned us about 50 years ago, and I certainly didn’t know what Major General Smedley Butler meant when he said that “War is a racket.”

Now I am beginning to understand the enormity of the power that the U.S. military machine holds. Capitalism is supposed to be an economic system”not a foreign policy–but war making has become very profitable. Profit means money and it is money that controls the power in our government. It doesn’t matter to the government that wars are immoral, illegal or ineffective. Government policies are shaped by the will of the corporate interests who have direct, immediate and in some cases, almost exclusive access to them.

And so it was in the case of the Super Committee–a hand-selected committee of 12 senators and representatives who were given extra-ordinary (some say extra-Constitutional) powers, met in secret, and solicited testimony from not one citizen. My own Congressman did not have access to this committee, but over 250 lobbyists did. I have come to understand what millions of Americans already know–that the will of the people is of little concern to those in power. We can demonstrate and petition and write letters until we are blue in the face, but those actions can’t compete with the power of the money coming from the lobbyists and corporate interests.

It takes an enormous amount of money to be elected to Congress, and once elected Congress is forced to perpetually raise money in order to be reelected. It is a never-ending vicious circle, and Congress quickly becomes beholden to the interests who financed their elections–not the people they are supposed to be representing. So it doesn’t matter to Congress that the American people rank military spending as their #18 priority, according to the National Opinion Research Center. The same poll has repeatedly shown the health care and education are the top two priorities of the American people by far, yet the allocation of our federal tax dollars is completely opposite that of the people’s desires.

Our elected government repeatedly and consistently ignores the will of the people. So, when I saw an opportunity at the Super Committee to literally stand up and speak out on behalf of the American people–I seized it. I knew I would be arrested, but I also knew that it was a unique and rare opportunity to make sure that the voice of the people was heard. I know that most people are not able to act as I did. It takes a certain amount of latitude in ones personal responsibilities to be able to come to Washington, stand trial, and face jail time–not to mention a good deal of chutzpah to be able to walk to the well of a senate hearing room and directly address Congress. Because most people cannot do what I did, I acted on their behalf. It seems the only way for the average citizen to be heard is through an act of civil disobedience, and indeed , I am the sole citizen who was heard by the Super Committee.

Many people who support me have asked me why I am pleading guilty. I am doing so because I readily admit what I did. It would be a waste of everyone’s time to force the government to prove that. But in pleading guilty to what I did, I am also pointing an accusing finger at our government, which is completely failing its people.

I have been charged with “Unlawful Conduct–Disruption of Congress.” My dictionary has two definitions for “disrupt.” The first is to interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem– which is what I did. The second definition says to “disrupt” is to drastically alter or destroy the structure of (something). I only wish that my 52-second interruption could have truly “disrupted” the status quo, because if anything needs to be drastically altered, it’s Congress.

I think your Honor understands that I committed this act out of a sense of responsibility and obligation. I am aware that the potential penalties that you may impose as a result of my guilty plea include community service and fines. I would like your Honor to know that at this point I do not intend to pay a fine beyond the victims of violent crime fund assessment. To do so would violate my personal values. One of the main reasons I committed this act is my objection to the reality that one must pay money in order to have the ear of Congress.

I would also object to the awarding of community service as a punishment. I consider the work that I do every day as a full-time volunteer antiwar activist to be a service to the community.

Lastly, I would like to thank the court for listening to my statement and considering all of the testimony that has been submitted on my behalf.

(…)

Leah Bolger spent 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2000 at the rank of Commander. She is currently a full-time peace activist and serves as the President of more…

 
(Quelle: OpEdNews.)

Anmerkung

Die Original-Webseite (s.o.) enthält weitere Hin- und Querverweise.

EU: Der militärisch-industrielle Lobby-Komplex

Samstag, Oktober 8th, 2011

“Lobbying warfare

by Helen Burley

Lobbying Warfare – the arms industry’s role in building a military Europe maps out the key players in the defence and security lobby in Brussels, and highlights how the industry’s close alliance with EU decision makers has contributed to the expansion of the EU’s defence and security structures, and to the overall militarisation of EU foreign policy.

 

 

The activities of arms lobbyists rarely appear in the media, and when they do, it is often in connection with bribery, dubious export deals and corrupt government officials.

While the public image of arms lobbyists is generally defined by such scandals, there is a more mundane side to their activities which is no less disturbing. This is not only true at a national level, where arms companies have always had close ties with governments and defence departments, but also at the European level.

The arms industry has become an integral player in the European Union (EU), where military issues have become increasingly important. All the major arms companies have offices in Brussels, acting through a vast network of think tanks, clubs and informal circles, and their industry association is frequently consulted by EU officials.

Though arms industry lobbyists have long been active in Brussels due to the presence of NATO, the transformation of the EU into a powerful player in foreign, defence and security policies – in part due to successful lobbying by the arms industry – has increased the city’s attraction for lobbyists.

The companies’ activities, as far as they are covered in this report, are not illegal. Nevertheless, they give rise to serious questions about the EU policy-making process, with decisions made by a small elite of policy-makers and industry representatives, effectively hidden from public scrutiny. This system, which lacks transparency and public accountability, sits uncomfortably with the common understanding of how legitimate democratic decision making should work.

This close alliance between policy makers and industry has also contributed to a worrying expansion of the EU’s defence and security structures in terms of decision-making powers, staff and organisational capabilities, and to the overall militarisation of its foreign policy.

This report investigates the crucial role of big arms-producing corporations like EADS, Thales and BAE Systems in this process and exposes their symbiotic relationship with EU decision-makers. A relationship that serves as the foundation for the emerging military/security-industrial complex in Europe.

Lobbycracy

CEO_ArmsLobby_en-v2.pdf

 

(Quelle: Corporate Europe Observatory.)

USA: Parasit Pentagon

Mittwoch, September 1st, 2010

US-Generalstabschef Mullen bezeichnet Staatsverschuldung als größtes Sicherheitsrisiko. Militär verschlingt pro Jahr fast 1000 Milliarden Dollar

Von Rainer Rupp

“Angesichts des drohenden Rückfalls in eine Rezession hat der höchste Offizier der Vereinigten Staaten, Admiral Michael Mullen, Ende letzter Woche bei einer Rede vor Rüstungsindustriellen in Detroit die neue Bedrohungslage aus Sicht des Pentagon präsentiert. Als größte Gefahr identifizierte der Vorsitzende der Vereinigten Stabschefs der US-Streitkräfte allerdings weder Iran, Nordkorea, Afghanistan noch eine der zahlreichen »Terrorgruppen« à la Al Qaida. Mullen sieht die nationale Sicherheit der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika durch die exorbitante Verschuldung der US-Bundesregierung bedroht (…).”

Weiterlesen…

 

(Quelle: Tageszeitung junge Welt.)

USA: Der militärisch-industrielle Komplex im Zenith?

Freitag, Juli 23rd, 2010

“The secret private-sector government

BY GLENN GREENWALD

Former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey, The Washington Post, today, arguing against civilian trials for Guantanamo detainees:

The civilized world has tried over several hundred years to establish rules of warfare so that those who wear uniforms, follow a recognized chain of command, carry their arms openly and do not target civilians are treated as prisoners of war when captured. Those who follow none of these rules are treated as war criminals, not as ordinary defendants accused of ordinary crimes and entitled to far more robust protection than war criminals.

Dana Priest and William Arkin, The Washington Post, today, on the sprawling network of private corporations performing core U.S. military and intelligence functions:

Private contractors working for the CIA have recruited spies in Iraq, paid bribes for information in Afghanistan and protected CIA directors visiting world capitals. Contractors have helped snatch a suspected extremist off the streets of Italy, interrogated detainees once held at secret prisons abroad and watched over defectors holed up in the Washington suburbs. . . . Contractors kill enemy fighters.  They spy on foreign governments and eavesdrop on terrorist networks. They help craft war plans. They gather information on local factions in war zones. . . .

Most of these contractors do work that is fundamental to an agency’s core mission. As a result, the government has become dependent on them in a way few could have foreseen: wartime temps who have become a permanent cadre. . . .

Since 9/11, contractors have made extraordinary contributions – and extraordinary blunders – that have changed history and clouded the public’s view of the distinction between the actions of officers sworn on behalf of the United States and corporate employees with little more than a security badge and a gun.

Contractor misdeeds in Iraq and Afghanistan have hurt U.S. credibility in those countries as well as in the Middle East. Abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, some of it done by contractors, helped ignite a call for vengeance against the United States that continues today. Security guards working for Blackwater added fuel to the five-year violent chaos in Iraq and became the symbol of an America run amok. . . .

Contractors in war zones, especially those who can fire weapons, blur ‘the line between the legitimate and illegitimate use of force, which is just what our enemies want,’ Allison Stanger, a professor of international politics and economics at Middlebury College and the author of ‘One Nation Under Contract,’ told the independent Commission on Wartime Contracting at a hearing in June.

The irony here is that the decision to declare enemy fighters in Afghanistan as ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ — which is what, in turn, ‘justified’ denial of Geneva Conventions protections for them (at least until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise) — was grounded in the fact that they do not, as Mukasey put it, ‘wear uniforms, follow a recognized chain of command, carry their arms openly.’  That’s what made them, in the U.S. lexicon, not only ‘unlawful combatants’ but even Terrorists.  But, of course, exactly the same is true for our countless private contractors who are acting as combatants for the U.S. in multiple parts of the world; as Priest and Arkin document, they are so numerous and unaccountably embedded in secret government functions that they are literally ‘countless':

Making it more difficult to replace contractors with federal employees: The government doesn’t know how many are on the federal payroll. Gates said he wants to reduce the number of defense contractors by about 13 percent, to pre-9/11 levels, but he’s having a hard time even getting a basic head count.

‘This is a terrible confession,’ he said. ‘I can’t get a number on how many contractors work for the Office of the Secretary of Defense,’ referring to the department’s civilian leadership.

In sum, if you combine this second Post installment with the first one from yesterday, the picture that emerges is that we have a Secret Government of 854,000 people so vast and secret that nobody knows what it does or what it is.  Roughly 30% of that Secret Government — engaged in the whole litany of functions from spying to killing — is composed of private corporations:  ‘The Post estimates that out of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors.’  That there is a virtually complete government/corporate merger when it comes to the National Security and Surveillance State is indisputable:  ‘Private firms have become so thoroughly entwined with the government’s most sensitive activities that without them important military and intelligence missions would have to cease or would be jeopardized.’

As little oversight as National Security State officials have, corporate officials engaged in these activities have even less.  Relying upon profit-driven industry for the defense and intelligence community’s ‘core mission’ is to ensure that we have Endless War and an always-expanding Surveillance State.  After all, the very people providing us with the ‘intelligence’ that we use to make decisions are the ones who are duty-bound to keep this War Machine alive and expanding because, as the Post put it, they are ‘obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest.’  Our military, our CIA, our spying agencies (such as NSA) are every bit corporate as they are governmental:   in some cases more so.  So complete is the merger that it’s the same people who switch seamlessly back and forth between governmental agencies and their private ‘partners,’ which means we have not only a vast Secret Government, but one that operates with virtually no democratic accountability and is driven not by National Security concerns but by its own always-expanding private profits.   Just read the years of work from Tim Shorrock — which disgracefully was not even cited by the Post — documenting how dangerous all of this.

Priest and Arkin wrote yesterday that what they were describing wasn’t quite the same as Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell warning about the ‘military industrial complex’ and the threats it poses to democracy (largely because, as they put it, the mission of this entity is more ‘amorphous’ than it was in Eisenhower’s time).  Please read the relevant portions of Eisenhower’s warning and decide for yourself if this isn’t exactly what he was talking about:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience.  The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.  We recognize the imperative need for this development.  Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

That sounds quite on-point to me.  Everyone should decide for themselves if we have the ‘alert and knowledgeable citizenry’ which Eisenhower said was necessary to ‘compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.’  If we empower a massive private industry this way — with core governmental authorities — to gorge on unchecked power and huge private profits at the public expense, all derived from Endless War and civil liberties abridgments, why would one expect anything other than Endless War and civil liberties abridgments to be the inevitable outcome?”

 

(Quelle: Salon.com.)

USA: Was Obama von Eisenhower lernen könnte

Donnerstag, Juni 17th, 2010

“Declassified Documents Show Cold War Origins of Global Cutoff Proposal and Why It Failed

By William Burr

Washington, DC, June 16, 2010 – U.S. presidents long before President Obama have sought an international fissile material cutoff treaty but the reasons they have failed remain with us today, according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The proposed treaty would cut off the worldwide production of fissile material–plutonium and highly-enriched uranium–for nuclear weapons. According to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first president to propose a cutoff, “we have always said it is not technically feasible to ban the bomb now but we have actively urged the cutoff as a first step.” President Obama echoed Eisenhower’s argument in his speech in Prague at Hradcany Square on April 5, 2009, where he endorsed a cutoff treaty, along with a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and as part of his long-term nuclear abolition commitment.

The documents published today provide a close look at how the cutoff proposal developed during the 1950s and 1960s, how policymakers debated and discussed it, and why it was dropped from the U.S. arms control agenda during the 1970s, only to return after the Cold War ended. Some of the highlights are:

* Eisenhower’s early linkage of the cutoff to nuclear proliferation concerns and to short-term U.S. nuclear superiority: “we can’t go on the way we are with the nuclear build-up and the spread of capabilities.” Nevertheless, if a cutoff was implemented, it would leave the United States with a “very substantial nuclear capability.”

* Washington’s fissile material advantages informed the Soviet Union’s objections to a cutoff (paralleling Pakistan’s concerns about India today). According to Ambassador Semyon Tsarapkin, “why should [Washington] expect [the Soviets to] accept this since [the U.S.] had produced these materials for five years longer than they?”

* The controversy over the impact of a cutoff on the production of tritium, an important nuclear weapons fuel with a short half-life. During an NSC discussion, Eisenhower argued that even if the cutoff ended tritium production, the Soviets would also be affected and that would “cut down [their] ability to destroy the United States.” While current U.S. government proposals exclude tritium from a cutoff treaty, this is a controversial issue, and some nuclear experts propose its inclusion.

* A 1960 report on verifying a cutoff acknowledged that detecting clandestine nuclear facilities would be a significant challenge and that the new centrifuge uranium enrichment technology, later at issue in controversies over Pakistan and Iran, would be “easier to conceal” than gaseous diffusion plants.

* A 1961 report on the cutoff, led by Cornell University President James Perkins, which argued that a “high degree of access” was essential to check diversions and “prove the existence of a clandestine plant.” While that could compromise U.S. or Soviet technological advances, “access would improve the US intelligence position.”

* The Joint Chiefs of Staff’s changing assessment of a cutoff. Early in the 1960s, they saw a cutoff as “not disadvantageous,” but near the end of the decade, they argued that uncertainties about future stockpile needs make it “impossible to rule out … a potential for significant disadvantage to US interests.”

Declassified documents suggest that the fissile material production cutoff was integral to Cold War propaganda and diplomatic campaigns, which helps explain why it failed during the 1960s. During the 1950s and 1960s, when superpower tensions, massive production of nuclear weapons, and atmospheric nuclear tests stoked fear of nuclear war worldwide, both U.S. and Soviet heads of state tried to reduce fears with disarmament proposals, but they never let diplomacy trump their military postures. Even the strength of U.S. support for the cutoff depended on shifting military perceptions of the U.S.-Soviet balance of fissile materials stockpiles. Under such circumstances, the nuclear disarmament proposals that Moscow and Washington offered were largely nonnegotiable, whatever their merits were.

After the Cold War ended, international support for a cutoff treaty emerged as a way to check nuclear proliferation, but talks at the United Nations Committee for Disarmament (CD) negotiations have stalled. Seeking to build its fissile material stockpile, Pakistan, with possible Chinese backing, is now one of the chief obstacles. Whether the Committee for Disarmament will be able to persuade Pakistan to support the negotiations is one of many challenges facing the Obama administration.

Follow the link below for more information:

http://www.nsarchive.org/nukevault

(Quelle: National Security Archive.)

USA: Wo die Drohnen hergestellt werden

Mittwoch, Mai 19th, 2010

“Indiana connections to drone warfare technology

By Fran Quigley

The no-frills YouTube video looks like it could be the chronicling of an ambitious science fair project. Inside a spare Indiana warehouse, a young man launches a thin two and a half foot black cylinder into the air, where its propeller blades keep it hovering vertically. Then it moves slowly across the warehouse, past the Purdue University and ROTC signs, before easing its way back into the waiting hands of the same young man who launched it.

But this is no schoolboy experiment, and the small flying cylinder is no model airplane. It is the Voyeur UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a “drone.” According to the website of its manufacturer, West Lafayette-based Lite Machines, Inc., the Voyeur is designed to allow military and law enforcement to conduct surveillance and “human or non-human target acquisition.” The Voyeur can travel as far as 50 miles in the air and can hover over and/or touch its target.

Lite Machines is based in the Purdue Research Park, which promotes the fact that the company has received a $10.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy. The multi-million dollar military investment for a small company in Tippecanoe County represents part of a $4 billion annual Department of Defense budget for UAV technology, a highly secretive world of warcraft, which is being eagerly embraced by U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more pilots to operate unmanned vehicles than it did pilots for traditional fighter planes.

But the U.S. drone program is also being sharply criticized for its role in targeted killing in Pakistan and beyond, which has caused significant civilian deaths and which legal experts and peace activists label as both illegal and counter-productive. The Voyeur is one of several Indiana connections to robotic technology that is revolutionizing warfare — for good or for ill.

Other Hoosier sites of drone support include:

·Terre Haute-based Indiana Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing, which analyzes data collected from drones hovering over Afghanistan and Pakistan and sends back the results to troops in the field.

·The Indianapolis plant of Rolls Royce, one of the largest U.S. military contractors, which manufactures the engine for the drone Global Hawk.

·Southwest Indiana’s Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, which has received millions of dollars in military contracts to expand the combat capability of drones.

These developments have been touted in elected officials’ press releases applauding the money flowing to Indiana. But some Hoosiers are concerned. “Our state needs jobs, but I hate the fact that people of good conscience may be sucked into the military industrial complex process of creating machines that contribute to the deaths of innocent civilians,” says Lori Perdue, an Air Force veteran and local coordinator for the peace activist group CODEPINK. “If we could create green jobs instead of war jobs, I bet the guy working the line making jet turbines would rather be building a wind turbine.”

The rise of robot killers

Pilotless drones equipped with cameras have been used by the U.S. for military surveillance since the Vietnam War. Drones with names like the Global Hawk and the Predator conducted reconnaissance over Bosnia, Serbia and Yemen, and now regularly fly over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Shortly after the turn of the century, drones expanded beyond mere surveillance when the Predator was outfitted with Hellfire missiles.

The drones are operated remotely by computer and video display, often by Air Force personnel in Nevada or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) staff in Virginia, even when the drone is flying several thousand miles away. The lack of an onboard pilot eliminates direct risk to U.S. personnel, and is part of a movement toward robot-izing military missions chronicled in Brookings Institution senior fellow P.W. Singer’s widely acclaimed book, Wired for WarThe Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

As Gordon Johnson of the Pentagon’s Joint Forces Command told Singer regarding machines like the drones, “They don’t get hungry. They are not afraid. They don’t forget their orders. They don’t care if the guy next to them has been shot. Will they do a better job than humans? Yes.”

The extent of the current U.S. use of drones for attack purposes is not completely clear. The U.S. military and the CIA have resisted requests by Phillip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, for an explanation of the program, and a Freedom of Information Act request for similar information filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has not yet yielded a response. But it is known that the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command maintain a list of individuals to kill or capture, many of them located in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and drone-launched missiles are a preferred method for conducting the assassinations. The New America Foundation recently conducted an extensive study of drone attacks and concluded that the U.S. launched 51 drone missile strikes in Pakistan alone in 2009, with anywhere from 372 to 632 people killed, about a third of whom were civilians.

The election of Barack Obama ushered in an era of significant reliance on drone warfare. Jane Mayer recently reported in The New Yorker that, within three days of Obama taking office, a U.S. Predator airstrike in Pakistan hit the wrong target, killing an entire family including a five-year-old child. Despite that inauspicious beginning, the Obama administration has conducted drone attacks at a rate that far exceeds that seen during the George W. Bush administration. The current CIA director Leon Panetta has said of drone attacks, “Very frankly, it is the only game in town in terms of confronting and disrupting the al Qaeda leadership.”

At one strategic level, the attraction is understandable: drone attacks do not put any U.S. soldiers or pilots at immediate risk, and the strikes are potentially more precise than traditional aerial bombing. Recent drone-launched missiles reportedly killed the two top leaders of the Pakistani Taliban. Lack of media access to the rugged areas of Pakistan where drone attacks occur limit the U.S. public’s exposure to the unintended effects of such attacks, including the children and civilians killed by Hellfire missiles.

But there is also substantial evidence that drone attacks carry with them significant long-term negative impacts for the U.S. David Kilcullen, who served as a chief counterinsurgency strategist for the U.S. State Department and who helped design the U.S. military surge in Iraq, has estimated that drone attacks kill 50 non-targeted persons for each intended target. Kilcullen told Congress last year that robot-launched missiles lead to a groundswell of anger against the U.S. and spikes of extremism worldwide. New York Times reporter David Rohde recently emerged from seven months as a Taliban hostage to report that his captors’ hatred for the U.S. was fueled in part by civilians being killed by drones. “To my captors, they were proof that the United States was a hypocritical and duplicitous power that flouted international law,” Rohde wrote.

Cycles of violence and international law

In recent months, an object lesson in drones’ role in perpetuating a cycle of violence played itself out in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Multiple drone attacks last summer directed toward Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud reportedly killed over 80 people — many attending funeral services for previous drone strike victims — without claiming Mehsud. The CIA finally got its man in a well-publicized August 2009 missile strike that also killed Mehsud’s wife, physician and in-laws. Then, on December 30th, a CIA informant conducted a suicide mission at a U.S. base in Khost, Afghanistan, killing himself and seven CIA agents. The informant, Hamam al-Balawi, left behind a video stating he intended to avenge Mehsud’s death. In response, the U.S. stepped up its drone attacks in Pakistan in early 2010, killing hundreds, including the alleged planner of the al-Balawi suicide bombing.

It seems inevitable that the cycle of drone violence will soon include robot attacks on U.S. targets as well — over 40 countries are reportedly developing UAV technology, including Iran, Russia and China, and Hezbollah has already deployed UAV’s during its 2006 war with Israel. In P.W. Singer’s March 23rd testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, he compared the current state of robotics in war to the early 20th century use of the automobile or the state of computers around 1980. “The point here is that every so often in history, the emergence of a new technology changes our world,” Singer told Congress. “Like gunpowder, the printing press, or even the atomic bomb, such ‘revolutionary’ technologies are game-changers not merely because of their capabilities, but rather because the ripple effects that they have outwards onto everything from our wars to our politics.”

University of Notre Dame law professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, who has conducted a case study of the use of combat drones in Pakistan, says these ripple effects have already led to multiple aspects of U.S. drone warfare directly violating international law. Among the illegal acts O’Connell cites are the CIA’s involvement in aerial killing, the targeting of individuals in Pakistan — where the U.S. is not at war and does not have explicit permission from civilian authorities to conduct attacks, and the refusal to provide information to the U.N. regarding the program’s criteria for selecting human targets.

She also stresses that the large civilian impact of drone attacks violates centuries-old agreements on the rules of war, which limit military strikes to proportional responses that do not unnecessarily risk the lives of non-combatants. “The questions of legality and effectiveness are bound up in each other,” says O’Connell, who advocates for a law enforcement-oriented approach of capture and trial of alleged terrorists. “Most of the rules of international law, especially the law on deadly force, are good for us. Not killing people in a way that foments revenge is a rule that goes back to St. Augustine.”

Yet the U.S. drone program is clearly gaining momentum. Seven thousand drones are operated by the U.S. currently, the military budget for drones has more than doubled in just the past four years, and the New America Foundation reports that as many as 211 people have been killed by U.S. drone missiles in just the first three months of 2010. The Star Wars-like technology and the remote locations of drone missile strikes do not seem to suggest an affiliation with Midwest settings, but it turns out that there are several Hoosier connections to this trend in warfare. An ongoing investigation by NUVO, including multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to military agencies, has revealed Indiana-based activity in drone manufacture, research and operations.

Indiana’s connections to drone warfare

Department of Defense records indicate that West Lafayette-based Lite Machines received nearly $2.5 million in U.S. military contracts for fiscal year 2008 alone, including a $1.5 million contract from U.S. Special Operations Command for research and development. Lite Machines did not return several messages requesting an interview for this article, but the company’s website touts the Voyeur’s applications for military and law enforcement, including its ability to locate and detonate improvised explosive devices.

Lite Machines promotes the Voyeur’s ability to fly in swarms, and many military observers say that such mini-drones can carry weapons as well as surveillance equipment. “Mini-drones can be used for the same purposes as larger ones,” Notre Dame’s O’Connell says. “They can be used like a flying missile with explosives that can be dropped by the drone or the drone itself can be triggered to explode. The sky is the limit here.”

The Indiana Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing, based at Terre Haute’s International Airport-Hulman Field, embodies the military’s transition to robot warfare. In 2008, the base switched from a focus on F-16 fighter jets to processing information gathered by drones. First Lt. Randi Brown, the 181st’s executive staff officer, said that the Guardsmen in Terre Haute are reviewing information obtained by Predator drones and relaying their analysis back to troops and aircraft around the world.

“We receive near-real time video feeds from UAV’s, and intelligence airmen analyze that information and send it back out,” Brown said. “It is like a customer service job, in that we respond to the requests of the folks in the field, whether it be for humanitarian or combat purposes.” Although Brown could not confirm whether the 181st has been involved in the planning of controversial bombings in Pakistan or elsewhere, it has been widely reported that such video analysis provides information used to plan and conduct drone missile strikes.

The Indianapolis plant of Rolls Royce, according to Department of Defense reports, received over $473 million in government contracts in fiscal year 2008 alone, in part to pay for the manufacture of the AE 3007H turbofan engine for the drone Global Hawk. While the Global Hawk does not carry or fire missiles like the Predator does, it is known for its ability to cover tens of thousands of square miles in surveillance while staying in the air for up to 35 hours, gathering data that is used for the planning of drone and other military attacks.

Finally, southwest Indiana’s Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center received $3 million in 2005 to expand the capability of drones in “electronic warfare,” according to a statement by Senator Evan Bayh. Requests for an explanation of Crane drone activity for this article were not replied to, but Freedom of Information Act requests remain pending.

Drone technology’s impact seems destined to expand beyond the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan toward more domestic uses. Lite Machines, for example, advertises the Voyeur’s law enforcement capacity in addition to its military uses, and mini-drones are known for their ability to perch and observe via tiny video cameras in places where humans cannot go. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is already flying drones as part of its border security, and the Miami-Dade Police Department has sought and obtained authorization to create a program of drone surveillance in urban law enforcement.

To Notre Dame’s O’Connell, the CIA’s drone use in Pakistan is already replacing a difficult but achievable law enforcement challenge—arresting and putting to trial suspected terrorists in a country where we are not at war—with summary executions accompanied by civilian casualties Thus, a slippery slope is already being descended.

“We quickly moved from using drones just for data collection to weaponizing them, and we quickly moved from battlefield use of drones to killing people beyond the lines of any battlefields,” O’Connell says. “So what will keep us from using them with other crimes and in other locations, including the U.S.? In the civilian context, that is something we should definitely be concerned about.”

The overall Indiana picture is of a state with substantial and varied ties to a robotics revolution that is already transforming war and may soon do the same for law enforcement and domestic surveillance. While elected officials like Senator Bayh and institutions like Purdue University celebrate Indiana’s drone connections as an economic victory in a competition to bring some of the billions of dollars in robotic combat spending to local communities, activists like CODEPINK’s Perdue see no reason to celebrate. “It breaks my heart to see what we are doing in Indiana to sustain a form of warfare that both causes civilian deaths and creates problems for the U.S. in terms of our global image,” she says.

With reporting assistance by Jeff Cox

(Quelle: Nuvo.)