Every Drone Assassination Kills 28 Civilians

It takes 28 civilian lives to kill a single terrorist leader – UK human rights group

Russia-Today

http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/borowitz-drones.jpg

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator, unmanned aerial vehicle (Reuters / U.S. Air Force)

 

Eliminating a specific terrorist leader is a ‘targeted killing’ according to the US. However, Britain’s Reprieve human-rights group calculated that it takes about 28 innocent lives to take out a single terrorist leader, often with multiple drone strikes.

The UK human-rights group gave The Guardian the latest statistics (November 24) compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, on collateral damage from American drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

The statistics are the most striking in 10 years: attempts to kill 41 terrorist leaders resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, the vast majority – civilians and families.

“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” said Jennifer Gibson, who headed Reprieve’s study.

Over the decade of ever-intensifying drone strikes in countries Washington has never actually declared war on, thousands of civilians have been killed – something the US has consistently denied.

“The only people we fire a drone at are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level, after a great deal of vetting that takes a long period of time. We don’t just fire a drone at somebody and think they’re a terrorist,” The Guardian cited the US Secretary of State John Kerry as saying at a BBC forum in 2013.

Yet the statistics speak for themselves: it takes dozens, sometimes hundreds of lives to eliminate a single Al-Qaeda or Taliban warlord.

Over the last eight years there have been several attempts to eliminate an Al-Qaeda leader called Ayman Zawahiri. Drones have proved ineffective – the man is still alive. In two known attempts, in 2006, as many as 76 children and 29 adults were killed.

If Zawahiri’s name sounds familiar to some Americans, this definitely cannot be said about Qari Hussain, a former deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban.

Supporters of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, an Islamic organization, burn a U.S. flag as they shout slogans during a protest against U.S. drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal region, in Karachi November 8, 2013 (Reuters / Athar Hussain)

Supporters of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, an Islamic organization, burn a U.S. flag as they shout slogans during a protest against U.S. drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal region, in Karachi November 8, 2013 (Reuters / Athar Hussain)

In 2008-2010 there were four attempts to get this man before missiles from an American drone killed him. But there was collateral damage: the US drones accidentally killed 128 people, including 13 children.

Most of the terror suspects were targeted in Pakistan, where a drone hunt after 24 terrorist leaders resulted in the deaths of 874 people, 142 of them children. The mission registered only six successful strikes.

This makes the terrorist/civilian drone death ratio in Pakistan as high as 1:36.

In Yemen, 273 people were killed (including at least seven children) in drone airstrikes targeting 17 terror suspects (terrorist/civilian death ratio 1:16).

However, 41 terrorist deaths claimed can’t actually be confirmed. Some have apparently been proclaimed dead twice, some have disappeared from American intelligence radar, and also identities have been mistaken. Others were even found dead under circumstances different from drone strikes.

There were 33 confirmed drone kills of the named targets, yet 947 people died in the attacks.

The statistics presented by Reprieve don’t cover other types of American drone strikes. These are the so-called ‘signature strikes’ against groups of people whose activities appeared to be ‘suspicious.’

The usually conservative US Council on Foreign Relations think tank assesses that in Afghanistan and Iraq, alone, some 500 drone ‘signature airstrikes’ have killed 3,674 people.

All CIA or Joint Special Operations Command drone strike operations are conducted in strict secrecy. Any information that is leaked is done so anonymously. So the data compiled by Reprieve is far from being complete.

“President Obama needs to be straight with the American people about the human cost of this program,” Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson told The Guardian. “If even his government doesn’t know who is filling the body bags every time a strike goes wrong, his claims that this is a precise program look like nonsense, and the risk that it is in fact making us less safe looks all too real,” Gibson said.

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Demands Google Search Dictatorship Be Broken-Up

[In case anyone hasn’t noticed, or hasn’t been paying attention, Google’s infamous “secret algorithm” has been squeezing most blogs out of search results.  Even blogs which are treasure troves of information on the Imperial war on humanity, such as No Sunglasses, can no longer be found by “stumbling-upon” them in concerted searches on specific topics, using Google searches.  Prior to Google’s previous reworking of its search algorithm, called “Panda” (SEE:  Getting Squeezed-Out of Google Searches With the Panda Logarithm), which devastated the Alexa Ratings Index for this website and others like it, “therearenosunglasses” nearly always came up in most web searches pertaining to the American dictatorship.  Now, after the new algorithm rework, we are faced with Google’s next generation search barricade, called “Hummingbird” (SEE: Hummingbird Unleashed), which has flat-lined most of us.  The proof of Hummingbird censorship has been summed-up in this article from aangirfan, “TRUTH BLOGS UNDER ATTACK.”  It is impossible at this stage of the game to determine whether this can all be written-off to more of the same govt/corporate censorship of truth-tellers (a.k.a., “conspiracy theorists”), or it can be partially explained by the move to hand-held computers and the tendency to turn everything into another “APP” (SEE: Lets talk about Hummingbird—Parts 1 and 2)]

google-chains

Europe to call for ‘break up’ of Google in bid to end search monopoly

the inquirer

Drastic measures could be taken to ‘restore competition online’

Europe to call for 'break up' of Google in bid to end search monopoly

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT is reportedly going to call for Google be broken up into separate companies in a vote next week, in a bid to combat the online firm’s dominance.

Google has long found itself tied up in European investigations. Currently, the firm is involved in an antitrust investigation into its Android operating system, along with the ongoing case regarding its dominance in the search engine market, which was originally set to close in the summer of this year.

Europe could take drastic measures in a bid to put an end to this ongoing case, with a leak suggesting that a motion to break up the company could be on the agenda.

A draft motion seen by The Financial Timeswhich reportedly has support from Europe’s two largest political partiessays that an “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services” should be considered as a potential solution to Google’s dominance.

It also calls for an end to Google’s “illegal and discriminatory treatment” and calls “to restore competition in the online marketplace.”

However, the report notes that the European parliament has no authority to force the break up of a company like Google, but that it does have the ability to influence the European Commission, who decides on new legislation.

One of the motion’s supporters, a Spanish MEP, told the website that such it is necessary to consider such a move as a long-term solution because the commission could not “ask the secret of [Google’s] algorithm.”

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has said she will listen to Google and its various critics before deciding how to go forward with an antitrust inquiry.

“The issues at stake in our investigations have a big potential impact on many players; they are multifaceted and complex. I will therefore need some time to decide on the next steps,” she said at a hearing in Brussels.

Google declined to comment on the report, but The Financial Times has heard that executives at the company are “furious” at the motion.

A vote on the motion is expected to take place in European Parliament next Thursday. µ

Kaspersky Labs Outs US/British Malware Attack On EU

Regin malware is the work of Western intelligence agencies, claims Kaspersky

the inquirer

Doesn’t seem to have infected any of the ‘Five Eyes’ nations

 

Symantec uncovers 'most sophisticated espionage malware tool' ever

THE REGIN TROJAN, which has been described as one of the “most sophisticated pieces of malware ever created” is the work of Western intelligence agencies, further research by security Kaspersky has claimed.

First uncovered and named by Symantec, the malware, dubbed a “top-tier espionage tool”, doesn’t seem to have infected any of the so-called ‘Five Eyes’ nations.

Since, Kaspersky Lab has revealed that 14 nations have so far been identified as being infected by Regin, including Russia, Iran and Germany, but not the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand or Canada, as the map below shows.

Kaspersky also noted that it is odd that Fiji and Kiribati are victims of Regin.

“Fiji and Kiribati are unusual, because we rarely see such advanced malware in such remote, small countries. In particular, the victim in Kiribati is most unusual,” it said. “To put this into context, Kiribati is a small island in the Pacific with a population of around 100,000.”

The report by Kaspersky also reveals that the Regin tool has been used to access mobile networks, undoubtedly to siphon off data, which again suggests the work of US and UK spy agencies in light of other operations revealed by Edward Snowden.

When it announced its discovery, Symantec said Regin had been used in spying campaigns against a range of international targets since at least 2008.

“A backdoor-type Trojan, Regin is a complex piece of malware whose structure displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen,” said Symantec.

“Customisable with an extensive range of capabilities depending on the target, it provides its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance and has been used in spying operations against government organisations, infrastructure operators, businesses, researchers and private individuals.”

Backdoor.Regin is a multi-staged threat, and each stage is hidden and encrypted with the exception of the first stage.

The first stage starts a domino chain of decryption and loading of each subsequent stage to a total of five.

Each stage provides little information on the complete package, and only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyse and understand the threat.

Symantec said that the development of Regin could have taken years, and the malware’s authors have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks.

“Its capabilities and the level of resources behind Regin indicate that it is one of the main cyber espionage tools used by a nation state,” the security firm added.

Regin infections have been observed in a variety of organisations between 2008 and 2011, after which it was abruptly withdrawn. A new version of the malware resurfaced in 2013.

Symantec believes that some targets may be tricked into visiting spoofed versions of well-known websites, and that the threat may be installed through a web browser or by compromising an application.

Log files on one computer showed that Regin originated from Yahoo Instant Messenger through an unconfirmed exploit.

“Regin’s developers put considerable effort into making it highly inconspicuous. Its low-key nature means it can potentially be used in espionage campaigns lasting several years,” the firm added.

Symantec said that it is very difficult to ascertain what the malware is doing, even when its presence is detected, and that analysis of the payloads was possible only after decrypting sample files.

Pedro Bustamante, director of special projects at Malwarebytes, told The INQUIRER that Regin is the cyber equivalent of a specialist covert reconnaissance team.

“The analysis shows it to be highly adaptable, changing its method of attack depending on the target,” he said.

“It also has some very advanced evasion techniques that make it suitable for spending long periods carrying out undercover surveillance.”

Sec. Def. Hagel Fired for Outlying the Liar-In-Chief About “ISIS Threat”?

Obama Stops Lying About Afghanistan–We are there Forever, To Do Anything or Kill Anyone We Want

[Many observers have been stating the obvious for years, that America would NEVER LEAVE AFGHANISTAN(SEE: Manufacturing Justification for the NATO Takeover of Central Asia–Smashing Greater Central Asia – (Part One); (Part  Two) Risking the World; (Part III) Smashing Greater Central Asia; (Part IV) Smashing Greater Central Asia).]

Obama secretly extends US combat operation in Afghanistan

Russia-Today
U.S. President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Ethan Miller)

U.S. President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Ethan Miller)

President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order that expands the United States’ direct combat role in Afghanistan throughout 2015, the New York Times reported.

Signed over the last few weeks, the secret order permits American forces to continue to battle the Taliban and other militants that pose a threat to either the Afghan government or US personnel. According to the Times, US jets, bombers, and drones will be able to aid ground troops – be they Afghan or US forces – in whatever mission they undertake.

Under the order, ground troops could join Afghan troops on missions, and airstrikes could be carried out in their support.

If true, this marks a significant expansion of America’s role in Afghanistan in 2015. Previously, President Obama said US forces would not be involved in combat operations once the new year begins. He did say troops would continue training Afghan forces and track down remaining Al-Qaeda members.

Obama signed the secret order after tense debates within the administration. The military reportedly argued that it would allow the US to keep the pressure on the Taliban and other groups should details emerge that they are planning to attack American troops. Civilian aides, meanwhile, said the role of combat troops should be limited to counter-terror missions against Al-Qaeda.

The Times said an administration official painted the secret order’s authorization as a win for the military, but another said the US would not carry out “offensive missions” against the Taliban in 2015.

“We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe.”

The change in direction came as the administration faces pointed criticism from those who say the US withdrew from Iraq too quickly, allowing the so-called Islamic State to make rapid gains in a country whose military proved to be easily intimidated and defeated.

Meanwhile, new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has a much softer position on the US presence in his country compared to his predecessor Hamid Karzai. Ghani reportedly asked the US to keep battling the Taliban into 2015. He also removed restrictions against US airstrikes and joint raids that were implemented by Karzai.

It appears that the number of troops that will be operating in Afghanistan next year will remain unchanged from previous plans. There will be 9,800 soldiers left throughout next year, and that number will be cut in half by the end of the year.

By the end of 2016, the remaining troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan, ending the US military presence in the country.

House GOP File Lawsuit Against Obama

House Republicans on Friday filed a long-awaited lawsuit accusing President Barack Obama of overstepping his executive authority when implementing his signature health care law.

And though the suit is centered on the Affordable Care Act, the GOP moved on the legal action the morning after the president announced he will unilaterally grant temporary relief to millions of undocumented immigrants.

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”

The suit, filed against the heads of Health and Human Services and Treasury Department, is centered on the White House decision to delay the employer mandate of the health care law and accuses the administration of unlawfully giving $175 billion to insurance companies.

House Republicans approved a bill authorizing the legal action in a 225-201 vote in July. No Democrats supported the measure.

The suit has been dismissed by Democrats as a politically motivated waste of taxpayer money. The president has said his actions have only been necessary because Republicans in Congress have refused to work with him.

Arming Kyiv With New Advanced Heavy Weapons Is Putin’s Line In the Sand

[SEE: Putin: ‘Russia Will Not Allow Ukraine to Defeat Rebels]

Russia warns US against supplying ‘lethal defensive aid’ to Ukraine

Russia-Today

Members of the "Donbass" self-defence battalion attend a ceremony to swear the oath to be officially included into the reserve battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine near Kiev June 23, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Members of the “Donbass” self-defence battalion attend a ceremony to swear the oath to be officially included into the reserve battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine near Kiev June 23, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Moscow has warned Washington a potential policy shift from supplying Kiev with “non-lethal aid” to “defensive lethal weapons”, mulled as US Vice President visits Ukraine, would be a direct violation of all international agreements.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that reports of possible deliveries of American “defensive weapons” to Ukraine would be viewed by Russia as a “very serious signal.”

“We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power in the region,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevichcautioned.

Ukrainian army soldiers with an artillery field gun maneuver on the coastline near the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on October 21, 2014. (AFP Photo/Alexander Khudoteply)

Ukrainian army soldiers with an artillery field gun maneuver on the coastline near the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on October 21, 2014. (AFP Photo/Alexander Khudoteply)

His remarks follow US deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken Wednesday’s statement at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, in which he said that Biden may offer the provision of “lethal defensive weapons” as he visits Ukraine. Lethal assistance “remains on the table. It’s something that we’re looking at,” Blinken said.

“We paid attention not only to such statements, but also to the trip of representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions to Washington, who tried to muster support of the US administration,” Lukashevich said.

The Ministry made it clear that such a move by Washington would violate a number of agreements.

“This is a very serious signal for several reasons. First of all, this is a direct violation of agreements, including the ones achieved in partnership with the United States. I mean the Geneva Declaration from 17 April,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

US Vice President Joe Biden (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

US Vice President Joe Biden (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal aid from the US during a visit to Washington in September.

READ MORE: Obama declines to give Ukraine ‘lethal aid’ despite Poroshenko’s plea

The American Vice President who has arrived in Kiev late Thursday has not yet made any official announcement, but Reuters’ sources point to the possibility that US might increase a “non-lethal” aid package to Kiev instead of opting to supply arms.

Under the non-lethal aid package, the US could deliver to Ukraine first Humvee vehicles and radars but as officials pointed out such deliveries would unlikely alter the conflict. Previous non-lethal aid to Ukraine announced in September included military equipment such as counter-mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars and other gear worth $53 million.

At the same time the US diplomatic branch announced that it will continue to send advisers to Kiev and has allocated funds to Ukraine to battle what both the US and Ukraine see as a threat from Russia.

Medical volunteers unpack individual first aid kits similar to those used by NATO during a ceremony where they were donated by Kiev's Mayor Vitaly Klitschko in Kiev October 31, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Medical volunteers unpack individual first aid kits similar to those used by NATO during a ceremony where they were donated by Kiev’s Mayor Vitaly Klitschko in Kiev October 31, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

“The United States, as you’re no doubt aware, is providing about $116 million in security assistance to help Ukraine in this effort,”State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Thursday. “This assistance also includes advising and training, and the United States will continue to send advisory teams to Kiev to help improve Ukraine’s combat medical care and to identify areas for additional security assistance.”

Rathke also said that lethal assistance to Ukraine is not yet “off the table.”

“Our position on lethal aid hasn’t changed. Nothing is off the table, and we continue to believe there’s no military solution. But we, in light of Russia’s actions, as the nominee mentioned yesterday in his testimony, this is – as he indicated, this is something that we should be looking at,” Rathke said.

For now all will be decided Friday when Biden is expected to hold talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and President Petro Poroshenko. Following the talks, Biden and Poroshenko will make a joint press statement.