Turn Off, Don’t Automate, the Killing Machine

The quest to develop and refine technologically advanced means to commit mass homicide continues on, with Pentagon tacticians ever eager to make the military leaner and more lethal. Drone swarms already exist, and as insect-facsimile drones are marketed and produced, we can expect bug drone swarms to appear soon in the skies above places where suspected “bad guys” are said to reside—along with their families and neighbors. Following the usual trajectory, it is only a matter of time before surveillance bug drones are “upgraded” for combat, making it easier than ever to kill human beings by whoever wishes to do so, whether military personnel, factional terrorists, or apolitical criminals. The development of increasingly lethal and “creative” means to commit homicide forges ahead not because anyone needs it but because it is generously funded by the U.S. Congress under the assumption that anything labeled a tool of “national defense” is, by definition, good.

To some there may seem to be merits to the argument from necessity for drones, given the ongoing military recruitment crisis. There are many good reasons why people wish not to enlist in the military anymore, but rather than review the missteps taken and counterproductive measures implemented in the name of defense throughout the twenty-first century, administrators ignore the most obvious answer to the question why young people are less enthusiastic than ever before to sign their lives away. Why did the Global War on Terror spread from Afghanistan and Iraq to engulf other countries as well? Critics have offered persuasive answers to this question, above all, that killing, torturing, maiming, and terrorizing innocent people led to an outpouring of sympathy for groups willing to resist the invaders of their lands. As a direct consequence of U.S. military intervention, Al Qaeda franchises such as ISIS emerged, proliferated, and spread. Yet the military plows ahead undeterred in its professed mission to eliminate “the bad guys,” with the killers either oblivious or somehow unaware that they are the primary creators of “the bad guys.”

Meanwhile, the logic of automation has been openly and enthusiastically embraced as the way of the future for the military, as in so many other realms. Who needs soldiers anyway, given that they can and will be replaced by machines? Just as grocery stores today often have more self-checkout stations than human cashiers, the military has been replacing combat pilots with drone operators for years. Taking human beings altogether out of the killing loop is the inevitable next step, because war architects focus on lethality, as though it were the only measure of military success. Removing “the human factor” from warfare will increase lethality and may decrease, if not eliminate, problems such as PTSD. But at what price?

Never a very self-reflective lot, war architects have even less inclination than ever before to consider whether their interventions have done more harm than good because of the glaring case of Afghanistan. After twenty years of attempting to eradicate the Taliban, the U.S. military finally retreated in 2021, leaving the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (as they now refer to themselves) in power, just as they were in 2001. By focusing on how slick and “neat” the latest and greatest implements of techno-homicide are, those who craft U.S. military policy can divert attention from their abject incompetence at actually winning a war or protecting, rather than annihilating, innocent people.

Keep reading

Russia says foiled Ukrainian drone attack on the Kremlin

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it shot down two drones launched by Ukraine and accused Kyiv of attempting to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The alleged thwarted operation comes on the heels of a series of incidents — including trains sabotage — ahead of the popular WWII victory celebrations.

“Today at night, the Kyiv regime attempted to strike the Kremlin residence of the President of the Russian Federation with unmanned aerial vehicles,” the Kremlin said.

“Two unmanned aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin,” it said.

“We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the President of the Russian Federation.”

Moscow said Putin was not wounded and its forces downed the drone without any casualties.

It said that debris from the drone “fell on the territory of the Kremlin.”

Authorities have tried to reassure Russians that the conflict is distant and does not pose a threat to Russian territory.

Keep reading


THE LOOK ON Miriam’s face was abject fear. Her pink, white, and green veil had mostly slipped from her head, and her dark eyes grew wide as she stared down at her lavender smartphone. In a flash, she pulled it to her ear. “Allo!” she said, her pitch rising as her other hand nervously cradled her chin.

In the courtyard of her family’s tree-lined compound in a well-to-do neighborhood in Niger’s capital, members of Miriam’s ethnic group had been describing jihadist attacks on their historic community in a rural region to the north. Now, the six or seven men wearing tagelmusts — a combination of turban and scarf worn by Tuareg men to provide protection from sun and dust — were also glued to their phones as chimes announced incoming texts and calls. Voices on the phones sounded panicked. There were gunshots, and a familiar roar rumbled through the desert scrubland 100 miles away. At any moment, relatives warned, they expected an attack by the “motorcycle guys.”

Over the last decade, Niger and its neighbors in the West African Sahel have been plagued by terrorist groups that have taken the notion of the outlaw motorcycle gang to its most lethal apogee. Under the black banners of jihadist militancy, men on “motos” — two to a bike, their faces obscured by sunglasses and turbans, armed with Kalashnikovs — have terrorized villages across the borderlands where Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger meet. These militants, some affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State group, impose zakat, an Islamic tax; steal animals; and terrorize, assault, and kill civilians.

Jihadist motorcyclists, Miriam reminded me, had thundered into the village of Bakorat on March 21, 2021. As described afterward by one of the survivors, the motos “swept into the village like a sandstorm, killing every man they saw. They shot one of my uncles in front of me. His 20-year-old son ran to save him, but he perished as well. We found them, slumped over each other.” Attacking in overwhelming numbers and with military precision, the jihadists executed men and boys while looting and burning homes. “They attacked the well like it was a military objective, opening fire on the dozens of men there. As they killed, I heard the attackers saying, ‘This is your time … for working with the state,’” another survivor told Human Rights Watch. “I collapsed, seeing the carnage … my father, my brothers, my cousins, my friends lying there, dead and dying.” Human Rights Watch said more than 170 people were massacred near Bakorat and Intazayene villages and nearby nomad camps that day. Miriam and her relatives put the number at 245.

As we sat in the courtyard, it all seemed to be happening again.

Keep reading

The Pentagon had a childish reaction to Russia intercepting a US drone

A different type of crash occurred over the Black Sea this week, with Russian military aircraft intercepting an American drone in international airspace.

The two Russian warplanes dumped fuel on and around the drone which eventually crashed into the Black Sea. Quite a serious escalation.

But how did the Pentagon respond to this?

Well the people who are meant to keep us safe had an interesting critique of Russia’s actions. In a statement the Pentagon condemned the Russian Su-27 pilots for downing the MQ-9 in “a reckless, environmentally unsound, and unprofessional manner.”

US European Command meantime condemned the Russian pilots for behavior which was “unsafe and unprofessional.”

Oh no!

Keep reading

Slowly But Steadily, the Executive Branch is Bringing Back Widespread Drone Warfare

Not at any other time in the 21st century has the average American kept up less with the Global War on Terror, and now three presidents later, the questions of legality, productivity, and collateral damage remain as unanswered as they’ve ever been.

Over the last 15 months, the number of US drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia has increased greatly compared to the first half of the Biden Administration. On March 1st, AFP reported that local government sources in the Yemeni province of Marib said a US drone strike had killed the al-Qaeda leader Hamad bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, a “judge” of a sort-of “leadership council.”

This came about a month after similar sources reported 3 supposed al-Qaeda fighters killed in a US drone strike in the same province.

Regarding the latter, the 3 men were killed in a car. Evidence at the scene let two experts tracking the US drone warfare program believe it was an R9X Hellfire missile – an expensive and sophisticated bomb typically reserved for “high-value targets.”

“The R9X is for high-value target killing and we don’t have any [sic] ’Who is this guy, why does he merit this now?’” said David Sterman, a senior policy analyst at the Washington-based think tank New America, which for years has tracked US drone strikes in Yemen. “If it is a US strike, it raises substantial questions about what is the state of the US drone war in Yemen.”

Drones haven’t been in the news as much as they were when former-President Donald Trump substantially downgraded the required authority to launch one from the theater commander, who needed the White House’s permission under the Obama Administration, to officers on the ground.

Only recently did Joe Biden’s administration even establish a policy for their use, long after he had used them to supposedly kill al-Qaeda founder Ayman al-Zawahiri last August, and 10 innocent children and men in Kabul the August before that.

Luke Hartig, the former Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and former Dept. Director for Counterterrorism under the Sect. of Defense, is one of the only minds in America still actively criticizing drone policy from inside the establishment.

Keep reading

‘Ain’t Your Grandma’s Rocket’: ‘UFO Footage’ Filmed by US Drone Over Iraq Emerges Online

The “UFO” in question was apparently filmed by a US military drone operating in Iraqi skies, with the footage recorded in May 2022.

As public interest in UFOs dies down after it became apparent that there was nothing extraterrestrial about the flying objects the US military downed in American and Canadian airspace last month, a batch of images supposedly depicting a UFO in Iraq has emerged.

The images appear to be stills from a video recorded by a US MQ-9 Reaper drone in the vicinity of Baghdad in May 2022.

These images feature some sort of flying object that has no visible wings or fins, with a source in the US Air Force reportedly saying that the object also had no visible propulsion and appeared to be “under intelligent control.”

Documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell, who disclosed this visual information on his and investigative journalist George Knapp’s podcast, said the object seen in the video definitely “isn’t your grandma’s rocket.”

“It shows an anomalous object which has been designated as UAP by our own air force,” he told one UK newspaper, with the UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) being how UFOs are often officially referred to nowadays.

Keep reading

Ukraine Wants the US to Provide Cluster Bombs to Use With Drones

Ukraine has been seeking cluster bombs from the US to use in its war against Russian forces and is now asking for a type of the controversial munition that they want to adapt so they can be dropped from dronesReuters reported on Monday.

According to House Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Jason Crow (D-CO), Ukraine is seeking the MK-20, an air-delivered cluster bomb. They said Ukrainian officials were asking members of Congress to persuade the White House to sign off on the delivery during the recent Munich Security Conference.

Cluster munitions scatter small bombs over large areas, making them more indiscriminate than other munitions. According to Reuters, the MK-20 releases 240 dart-like submunitions or bomblets after being launched.

The bomblets in cluster munitions often don’t explode on impact, making them a huge danger to civilians who comes across them, similar to land mines. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions that bans the weapons has over 100 signatories, but the US, Russia, and Ukraine are not parties to the treaty.

Since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022, both Russian and Ukrainian forces have used cluster munitions. Kyiv was also accused of using the bombs in populated areas of Donestk back in 2014.

Keep reading

The Air Force’s Drones Can Now Recognize Faces. Uh-Oh.

The U.S. Air Force now has the capability to use facial recognition on drones that could target specific people. Special operations forces can use the drones to gather intelligence and to aid in other missions, according to a contract first spotted by New Scientist. It’s part of a growing movement to develop automated weaponry that raises legal and ethical questions.

The drone software maker, Seattle-based firm RealNetworks, claims the uncrewed craft will use artificial intelligence (AI) to fly itself and discriminate between friend and foe. The company has said that its software can also be used for rescue missions, perimeter protection, and domestic search operations.

The new Air Force drone system isn’t the only drone system to try to use facial recognition. An Israeli company is working on a drone that uses AI to help a drone find the best angles for facial recognition.

Keep reading

Zombie Drones Made from DEAD Birds Could Soon Fool Wildlife and Nature Enthusiasts

Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane — it’s a dead zombie bird scientists are using as a drone? Researchers at New Mexico Tech are using the time-honored art of taxidermy to help them develop “zombie drones” out of the bodies of deceased birds.

The team found a way to use these body parts to create realistic avian imposters. They believe that the drones can aid in wildlife monitoring, by blending in better with natural environments. Assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Mostafa Hassanalian, emphasizes that the team does not kill birds to create the devices and they have no intention of using the drones to spy on others.

“I should mention that the main and only use for this project is wildlife monitoring, not spying. Drones are being used for wildlife monitoring; however, they create lots of noise which could scare the animals,” Dr. Hassanalian says, according to a statement from SWNS.

“No real birds were physically harmed in the making of the drones, and we do not intend to do this at all. We have only used the feathers and taxidermy birds that are available in the Market and have worked with local taxidermy artists.”

Keep reading

Actually, Hordes of Highly Sophisticated Unidentified Aircraft Have Been Flying Over U.S. Territory

Things are starting to get really strange.  First, a “Chinese spy balloon” was shot down off the coast of South Carolina after it had traveled across much of the continental United States.  Then, another “unidentified object” was shot down over Alaska.  Subsequently, at the request of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a third “unidentified object” was shot down over Canada.  And now we have just learned that a fourth “unidentified object” has been shot down over Lake Huron.  In addition, a congressman from Montana is reporting that there is an “unidentified object” flying over his state.  On top of everything else, China is telling us that an “unidentified object” has been flying near the Chinese port city of Qingdao.

All of a sudden, these sightings have become the biggest news story in the entire country, and I think that it is likely that there will be even more sightings in the days ahead.

But let’s put all of this into perspective.

The only reason why most people are freaking out about this story is because the mainstream media is freaking out about this story. If the mainstream media was ignoring this story, they would also be ignoring this story.

We have been trained to believe that a story is important only when the mainstream media tells us that it is important.

If millions of Americans want to get excited about some balloons, that is fine. I will get excited with them. But the truth is that hordes of highly sophisticated unidentified aircraft have been flying over U.S. territory for years.

Keep reading