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Living Under Drones
September 25, 2012 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan. An extensive new study (PDF) by human rights lawyers from Stanford and NYU examines the impact of drone strikes on civilians in Pakistan, including the strategic effectiveness of the policy as well as the psychological impact on those living in constant fear that they might come under attack. [Via]
posted by homunculus (47 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've always thought it odd that the Military Times's forum's most active thread in the Air Force section was "Sensor Operator Retraining (1U0X1)". Having once been in the Air Force, I read the forum occasionally to see what life in the service is like these days, and I just ignored that particular thread whenever it came up because I was getting sick of seeing it and I was interested in other discussions. Now I see it's stacked up to 5830 replies and still going. Holy crap. The 1U0X1 description is here. I'm now wondering how extensive the drone operations are. Are hundreds of them airborne at any given moment?

Man, I hope this stuff doesn't get turned against us domestically.
posted by crapmatic at 1:26 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, I hope this stuff doesn't get turned against us domestically.

I don't think it could happen here, except as fiction. But I've been wrong before.
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on September 25, 2012


Man, I hope this stuff doesn't get turned against us domestically.

I'm pretty sure that particular flying death robot has already left the barn. Every quasi-military law enforcement agency in the country is slavering over this shit, and they are in the process of getting it.
posted by brennen at 1:46 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


yeah, domestic drone usage is a "when", not "if" situation.

Men, women and children are subjected to almost constant trauma – including fear of attack, severe anxiety, powerlessness, insomnia and high levels of stress – says a nine month investigation into CIA drone strikes in Pakistan by two top US university law schools.

Dear Rest of the World: I'm really sorry. Seriously.
posted by dubold at 1:57 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's the deal with the Pakistan government? Are they receiving billions in aid in exchange for giving up their territorial rights? As a Canadian, I would be furious at my government if it allowed US drones in our airspace, allowed a foreign power to routinely spy on my fellow citizens and kill people without trial.
posted by Phreesh at 2:07 PM on September 25, 2012


Phreesh: Drones AFAIK are limited to the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), such as North Waziristan, a largely lawless area with only marginal territorial control by the Pakistani government. The government is playing a complicated game, alternately using the US and the Taliban/Haqqanis/other jihadis to neutralize each other and help them fight India in Kashmir and elsewhere.

Canada's government allowed a lot of US military monitoring etc. in its far north during the Cold War as a defense against the USSR; not an exact analogy but there's some similarity.
posted by msalt at 3:07 PM on September 25, 2012


Interesting stuff but not hardly any kind of scholarly study. These groups explicitly engage students in activism and the study hand-picked 3 drone strikes where civilians were hurt; one of the attacks was from 2009. Is it news that military attacks (of any kind) result in death, injury, economic loss and fear?
posted by msalt at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


These reports are based on the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has the most accurate drone reports. I don't know if they add much that BIA has already said.

Phreesh: Drones AFAIK are limited to the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), such as North Waziristan, a largely lawless area with only marginal territorial control by the Pakistani government. The government is playing a complicated game, alternately using the US and the Taliban/Haqqanis/other jihadis to neutralize each other and help them fight India in Kashmir and elsewhere.

These strikes have mostly been launched from Pakistani airbases with the full knowledge of Pakistan. It plays a double game with its people, allowing the strikes and then acting angry when public opinion boils over. Essentially Pakistan wants us to eliminate their Taliban and not attack the Afghan Taliban so that they will have a line on controlling Afghanistan. All sides give a little and get a little in terms of who they attack.

Currently, the BIA lists the following as the numbers killed in Pakistan:

Total US strikes: 346
Obama strikes: 294
Total reported killed: 2,570-3,337
Civilians reported killed: 474-884
Children reported killed: 176
Total reported injured: 1,232-1,366

These appear to be the most reliable numbers out there.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:01 PM on September 25, 2012


Take Two Drones and Call Me in the Morning: The perils of our addiction to remote-controlled war.
posted by homunculus at 5:33 PM on September 25, 2012


Drones Subject to GPS Spoofing, Privacy ‘Abuses,’ GAO Report Warns
posted by homunculus at 6:14 PM on September 25, 2012


The FAA has promised to open the U.S. skies to civilian drones by 2015 and has estimated that by 2020, there could be 30,000 of them aloft.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:28 PM on September 25, 2012


Pakistan drone attack love song racks up YouTube hits

"My gaze is as fatal as a drone attack"

The hit for singer Sitara Younis follows her success last year with another love ballad, which warns a besotted man to keep his distance: "Don't chase me, I'm an illusion, a suicide bomb."


The paper said: "All in all, the war on terror in these tribal areas has not only become a part of their art, literature and cinema but even the Pashto tele-films, which are famous for vulgarity and Kalashnikov culture."
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:56 PM on September 25, 2012


There was a story on NPR tonight about a battle among defense experts between their "drones" which were souped up versions of off-the-shelf RC aircraft. One guy protected his helicopter's rotors by putting them inside a big coil. The winner used radio jamming to ground his opponents.
posted by msalt at 7:47 PM on September 25, 2012


Canada's government allowed a lot of US military monitoring etc. in its far north during the Cold War as a defense against the USSR; not an exact analogy but there's some similarity.

There's very little similarity between the idea of drone overflights spying on Canadian citizens without Canadian oversight and NORAD.

NORAD is a reciprocal air defense arrangement. Canada and the United States swap radar data and plan to fight under joint command if either came under air attack. It's equitable; there are American officers based in Canada, but there are also Canadian officers based in the States. The second in command at Peterson Air Force Base/Cheyenne Mountain is Canadian (giving Canada access to the Stargate program).

NORAD made more sense than most cold war arrangements from the perspective of both countries. The US gets an extra 4500 km of early warning buffer zone against possible attack from the north and Canada gets some degree of assurance that the US would help if the Russians got any more serious about planting their flag in Canadian territory. NORAD makes both countries stronger defensively in a way that does not threaten our neighbors, making a pointlessly destructive war less likely, which is why it still makes good sense as part of our alliance.

NORAD does not spy on Canadian citizens, not unless you own your own four engine bomber.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:35 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


NORAD does not spy on Canadian citizens, not unless you own your own four engine bomber.
So, just wonderin' you know, no particular reason... what if I do?
posted by coriolisdave at 10:58 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Obama doctrine: Drones and just wars
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:50 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Democracy Now interview with two of the authors: Study Finds U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Miss Militant Targets and "Terrorize" Civilians
posted by homunculus at 9:23 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


'Every Person Is Afraid Of The Drones: The Strike's Effect On Life In Pakistan', The Atlantic
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:00 AM on September 26, 2012


That last Atlantic article is pretty ludicrous (and based entirely on the lead article of this post).

Whatever you might say about the Pakistani tribal areas such as North and South Waziristan, the residents are fierce fighters who celebrate battle, courage and pride. The British could never control the area, and Pakistan's own army didn't enter some areas until this century because it was too dangerous.

The idea that the residents are being emotionally destroyed by the fear that someone might shoot them is not only way off base, but probably deeply insulting to them.
posted by msalt at 4:38 PM on September 26, 2012


US Department of Homeland Security looking for (more than) a few good drones: DHS to test unmanned aircraft for variety of applications
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on September 27, 2012


Not Even the White House Knows the Drones’ Body Count
posted by homunculus at 2:12 PM on September 29, 2012


Calling U.S. Drone Strikes 'Surgical' Is Orwellian Propaganda
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:23 AM on September 30, 2012


Yemen's President Thinks Drones Are Smarter than Humans
posted by homunculus at 12:04 PM on September 30, 2012


Obama risks handing ‘loaded gun’ drone programme to Romney
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2012


Reason: Something New To Worry About: Murderous, Autonomous Drones
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:12 AM on October 2, 2012


In happier drone news: Drones Help Conserve Sumatran Orangutans and Other Wildlife
posted by homunculus at 9:55 AM on October 2, 2012


My Other Prius Is A Drone bumper sticker
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:46 AM on October 3, 2012


BBC: US drone war in Pakistan prompts fear and anger
posted by homunculus at 5:16 PM on October 5, 2012


Imran Khan Protest Convoy Against US Drones Heads toward Waziristan, Pakistan
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on October 6, 2012


Israel Downs Drone Over Its Airspace, Suspects Hezbollah
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:22 AM on October 7, 2012


Deadlier Drones Are Coming: How smarter robot warplanes now in development could attack targets on their own.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:05 PM on October 7, 2012


Homeland Security Learns To Love Small Spy Drones

Dependable Expendables?
While cheap precision weapons, supposedly expendable drones, and invulnerable standoff fires continue to fascinate publics and intrigue policy makers, we should be careful before subsuming these developments into a coming “new way of war.” As a recent RAND study points out, in a comparison between reusable platforms (think strategic bombers and strike aircraft) and expendable weapons (think cruise missiles), expendable weapons become less cost-effective during prolonged conflict.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:32 AM on October 8, 2012


Obama’s Drone Dilemma: The killings probably aren’t legal—not that they’ll stop.
posted by homunculus at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2012


Pakistani Activist, 14, Is Shot by Taliban

She is the author of Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl

Private schools in Pakistan's troubled north-western Swat district have been ordered to close in a Taleban edict banning girls' education. Militants seeking to impose their austere interpretation of Sharia law have destroyed about 150 schools in the past year.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:52 AM on October 9, 2012


Navy Lasers’ First Target: Enemy Drones
posted by homunculus at 4:06 PM on October 10, 2012


Stand up against Taliban to save Pakistan: Altaf

Addressing heads of the armed forces and the ISI, Altaf asked them to move ahead and crush the Taliban, saying the 180 million people of the country would be standing behind them. He said MQM workers were with the armed forces to eliminate extremist elements from the country.

He said the MQM had always condemned drone strikes and killings of innocent people in these attacks. He categorically stated the MQM could not support drones in the country.

posted by Golden Eternity at 3:49 PM on October 14, 2012


Voice of a native son: Drones may be a necessary evil
Pakistan's sovereignty claim itself is completely invalid. Pakistan does not now nor has it ever had a complete sovereign control -- as modern nation-states define the term -- over FATA. In fact, it is precisely Pakistan's lack of sovereign control over FATA that allows the militants, many of whom are not Pakistanis, to operate so openly there and invite drone strikes. And that is the best case scenario for Pakistan; the worst case, many believe, is that Pakistan houses and trains these militants in FATA.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:12 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is so impossible to understand what comes out of Pakistan. It seems so fragmented and corrupt.

The The Peshawar Declaration referred to in the article is fascinating. It discusses the supposed sources of support for the Taliban and terrorism (Al-Qaedia - the supposed primary purpose of which is Arab expansionism, and the Strategic Depth policy of the Pakistani Army - the purpose of which was to defend against Russia and India) and ideas to stop terrorism in FATA - which are quite good IMO. Like the author, it seems to come from a Pashtun independence movement of some sort and is 'severely' pro-drone and anti-Pakistani military.

The issue of Drone attacks is the most important one. If the people of the war-affected areas are satisfied with any counter militancy strategy, it is the Drone attacks which they support the most. According to the people of Waziristan, Drones have never killed any civilian. Even some people in Waziristan compare Drones with Ababels. (The holy swallows send by God to avenge Abraha, the intended conqueror the Khana Kaaba). A component of the Pakistani media, some retired generals, a few journalists/analysts and pro-Taliban political parties never tire in their baseless propaganda against Drone attacks.

Never killed any civilian???? Yeah, right. I wonder how true it may be that the people actually living under Taliban oppression (Pashtun's in FATA?) may not be opposed to the drone strikes, and may see the Pakistani army as protecting the Taliban, not the native population. Or maybe this is all propaganda. Who knows what to believe.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:55 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see a lot of people speaking for the Waziris and what they support or oppose, but I think it's almost impossible to tell at this point. The Pakistani government itself has a very tenuous presence, the media is entirely absent, and political opponents on all sides are routinely assassinated. Notably, local Taliban have assassinated fully 200 of the local leaders (Maliks) who tried to resist their move into Waziristan after Bora Bora fell.

Certainly one can imagine a lot of resentment at drones, the innocents killed, the buzz, even the real jihadis killed (among those who sympathize). But I can also imagine some intimidated people happy to see the Taliban get comeuppance, and I can imagine more undecided people who prefer drone attacks to a massive Pakistani army invasion which would probably kill many more innocents and destroy much of the district. In the 2009 invasion, 80,000 to 100,000 civilians were driven from their homes and became refugees; casualty figures are not available.
posted by msalt at 4:47 PM on October 15, 2012


America Breaks Record for Flying Most Killer Drones at the Same Time
posted by homunculus at 4:14 PM on October 16, 2012


Looking forward to air shows by the Black (ops) Angels
posted by msalt at 9:16 PM on October 16, 2012


The Bizarre Story of How Drones Helped Get Us Into the Iraq War
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on October 18, 2012


The Lethal Presidency Has Become an Everyday War
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on October 18, 2012


CIA seeks to expand drone fleet, officials say
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on October 19, 2012


Droneland
The Vice President: It’s my pleasure to hold this press conference for the most successful American military asset in Pakistan.

Drone TK-738: [series of beeps]

Carrie: Something is not right about him. I know that because I was in Iraq.

Drone TK-738: [series of beeps]

Carrie: Clearly he’s communicating with faraway masters, using some kind of code.

Carrie: You have to let me do surveillance on him (I’m already doing surveillance on him).

Saul: No Carrie.

Carrie: He acted like a terrorist in Pakistan.

Saul: Impossible Carrie. He obeys the Commander in Chief, and unlike super mean George W. Bush, Barack Obama seems cool and groovy.

Carrie: Look at this proof that the Obama Administration ordered him to fire missiles at Pakistani civilians.

Saul: Obama’s policies don’t matter. What matters is that Obama seems cool and groovy.

Carrie: He hovered over harmless villages in Waziristan, blowing up families, just to spread fear among—

Saul: COOL. AND. GROOVY.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:37 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


reason: America's Drone Terrorism
In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

This narrative is false.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:38 AM on October 21, 2012


WIRED: Army’s Giant Spy Blimp Plan for Afghanistan Set Adrift
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:39 PM on October 22, 2012


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