Red-Eye Killer in the Sky

October 19, 2010

“Always find your target true
And we will always pay for you
To turn a terrorist’s skin a paler hue.”

To A Drone: A Poem

(Illustration found here).

The so-called drone war in the Af-Pak theater is getting more dumb-ass everyday — not only are these remote-controlled killers running nearly blind, but this whole techno-horror show might be shut down by a courtroom judgment over bad-running software and not enemy bullets.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, i.e., drones) has a history stretching back to the Civil War with balloons, then in World War II and even Vietnam with “Firebee drones,” but the real shit didn’t get started until after the first Gulf War a couple of decades ago.
Under George Jr. the concept gained traction and now it’s part of the world-wide, never-ending war on terror.

And under President Obama, the drone war as intensified.
According to Pajhwok Afghan News this morning, at least six militants were killed and five others wounded when US drones fired missiles at a suspected militant headquarters in northern Waziristan near the Afghan border and two of the dead were foreign militants while the other four were regional gunmen. The headquarters of a regional Taliban commander called Hafiz Gulbahadur exists in the area.
Who says?

Gareth Porter, one of the best war writers around right now, reports these drone attacks against so-called higher ups is based upon shitty intelligence at best, and just plain murderous at worse, with very little in between.

A new report on civilian casualties in the war in Pakistan has revealed direct evidence that a house was targeted for a drone attack merely because it had been visited by a group of Taliban soldiers.

The new report published by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) last week offers the first glimpse of the drone strikes based on actual interviews with civilian victims of the strikes.
In an interview with a researcher for CIVIC, a civilian victim of a drone strike in North Waziristan carried out during the Obama administration recounted how his home had been visited by Taliban troops asking for lunch. He said he had agreed out of fear of refusing them.
The very next day, he recalled, the house was destroyed by a missile from a drone, killing his only son.

Porter reports nine of the 139 drone strikes carried out since the beginning of 2009 a total of 30 civilians had been killed in those strikes, including 14 women and children, and since early 2008, there has been estimated between 1,109 and 1,734 bystanders killed.
Highly proficient, huh?

This drone mess could end with a judge’s ruling.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban haven’t been able to bring down the CIA’s Predator drones. But a new lawsuit alleging parts of their targeting software are pirated (and faulty) could.
On December 7, 2010, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle is expected to issue a decision on a complicated contract and intellectual property-related lawsuit that could ground the CIA’s Predator drones.

According to a 2009 report by the Brookings Institute, 10 or more civilians die for every terrorist killed by drone missiles–and the topic of civilian casualties due to improperly targeted (or simply reckless) drone attacks is a controversial one.

Internal emails obtained by Fast Company indicate that both IISi and Netezza were aware of serious flaws in Geospatial, as-is, at the time of the alleged intellectual property fraud.
The exact term used by IISi was “far from production ready code.”
In two emails dated September 16, 2009, IISi CTO Rich Zimmerman complains of “problems with some very intricate floating point calculations that are causing me to fail a lot of my regression tests” and that the software was not “production ready.”

In other words, to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld: You go to war with what you’ve got, not what you want, no matter the death rate.

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