In 2009, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort to strengthen worldwide diplomacy. But critics believe he didn’t deserve it then and doesn’t deserve it now. The activist group Roots Action is spearheading an online petition that has gathered thousands of signatures to take the prize out of the hands of the US president due to his broken promise of closing Guantanamo Bay and his aggressive drone policy abroad. Leah Bolger, a board member for Veterans for Peace, joins us with more about the online campaign.
This is just one of the results from the brilliant power play by Sen Rand Paul and Crew. They outed MSNBC-GE-Comcast, Democrats, OBOMBA Koolaid drinkers, AND the McCain / Graham RINO’s!!!!! Gotta love it!
Actor John Cusack describes himself as a progressive, but he has been a critic of the federal government’s drone program regardless of who has been is in office. Frankly, he has also be a pretty harsh critic of President Barack Obama as well.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and other GOP senators on Wednesday conducted an old-school filibuster on the Senate floor to block John Brennan’s nomination and bring attention to the potential for drone strikes on U.S. soil. As the hours went by, Cusack was curious to know: “where are Democrats?”
Cusack had one tweet that was longer than 140 characters, but here’s what he wrote:
AG say its ok to kill us citizens–and other bad guys- but trust us we’re the good guys..
how’d that play out through history mr holder…
pay no attention to the man behind that curtain
the great and powerful O has spoken…
The filibuster lasted almost 13 hours.
One of the oldest and most storied traditions of the Senate made a sudden return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday when a junior senator seized control of the chamber with an hours-long filibuster involving rambling speeches aimed at blocking a vote on President Obama’s choice to lead the CIA.
Led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) with help from other junior senators, the filibuster was aimed at drawing attention to deep concern on both sides of the aisle about the administration’s use of unmanned aerial drones in its fight against terrorists and whether the government would ever use them in the United States.
Shortly before noon, Paul — the scion of a political family at the heart of the libertarian movement — came to the Senate floor and declared his opposition to the nomination of John O. Brennan, Obama’s choice to lead the spy agency, who has overseen the drone program.
“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said as he began. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
The Obama Administration could use lethal force on Americans within the United States and without trial during “an extraordinary circumstance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday.
In a letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Holder said the Administration favored the use of law enforcement over the military when it came to fighting terrorist threats within the country. However, Holder refused to rule out the possibility that the President of the United States could use a drone strike on U.S. soil in an extreme situation.
“As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so,” he wrote. “As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show.
The documents provide more details about the surveillance capabilities of the department’s unmanned Predator B drones, which are primarily used to patrol the United States’ northern and southern borders but have been pressed into service on behalf of a growing number of law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and local police.
Homeland Security’s specifications for its drones, built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, say they “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,” meaning carrying a shotgun or rifle. They also specify “signals interception” technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones, and “direction finding” technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained a partially redacted copy of Homeland Security’s requirements for its drone fleet through the Freedom of Information Act and published it this week. CNET unearthed an unredacted copy of the requirements that provides additional information about the aircraft’s surveillance capabilities.
Homeland Security’s Predator B drone can stay aloft conducting surveillance for 20 hours.(Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
Concern about domestic use of drones is growing, with federal legislation introduced last month that would establish legal safeguards, in addition to parallel efforts underway from state and local lawmakers. The Federal Aviation Administration recently said that it will “address privacy-related data collection” by drones.
The prospect of identifying armed Americans concerns Second Amendment advocates, who say that technology billed as securing the United States’ land and maritime borders should not be used domestically. Michael Kostelnik, the Homeland Security official who created the program, told Congress that the drone fleet would be available to “respond to emergency missions across the country,” and a Predator drone was dispatched to the tiny town of Lakota, N.D., to aid local police in a dispute that began with reimbursement for feeding six cows. The defendant, arrested with the help of Predator surveillance, lost a preliminary bid to dismiss the charges.
“I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners,” says Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. “This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.”
Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency declined to answer questions about whether direction-finding technology is currently in use on its drone fleet. A representative provided CNET with a statement about the agency’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that said signals interception capability is not currently used:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not deploying signals interception capabilities on its UAS fleet. Any potential deployment of such technology in the future would be implemented in full consideration of civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy interests and in a manner consistent with the law and long-standing law enforcement practices.CBP’s UAS program is a vital border security asset. Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and day-and-night cameras, the UAS provides real-time images to frontline agents to more effectively and efficiently secure the nation’s borders. As a force multiplier, the UAS operates for extended periods of time and allows CBP to safely conduct missions over tough-to-reach terrain. The UAS also provides agents on the ground with added situational awareness to more safely resolve dangerous situations.
During his appearance before the House Homeland Security committee, Kostelnik, a retired Air Force major general who recently left the agency, testified that the drones’ direction-finding ability is part of a set of “DOD capabilities that are being tested or adopted by CBP to enhance UAS performance for homeland security.” CBP currently has 10 Predator drones and is considering buying up to 14 more.
If the Predator drones were used only to identify smugglers or illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican and Canadian borders, or for disaster relief, they might not be especially controversial. But their use domestically by other government agencies has become routine enough — and expensive enough — that Homeland Security’s inspector general said (PDF) last year that CBP needs to sign agreements “for reimbursement of expenses incurred fulfilling mission requests.”
“The documents clearly evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is developing drones with signals interception technology and the capability to identify people on the ground,” says Ginger McCall, director of the Open Government Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “This allows for invasive surveillance, including potential communications surveillance, that could run afoul of federal privacy laws.”
A Homeland Security official, who did not want to be identified by name, said the drones are able to identify whether movement on the ground comes from a human or an animal, but that they do not perform facial recognition. The official also said that because the unarmed drones have a long anticipated life span, the department tries to plan ahead for future uses to support its border security mission, and that aerial surveillance would comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other applicable federal laws.
The documents show that CBP specified that the “tracking accuracy should be sufficient to allow target designation,” and the agency notes on its Web site that its Predator B series is capable of “targeting and weapons delivery” (the military version carries multiple 100-pound Hellfire missiles). CBP says, however, that its Predator aircraft are unarmed.
Gene Hoffman, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s the chairman of the Calguns Foundation, said CBP “needs to be very careful with attempts to identify armed individuals in the border area” when aerial surveillance touches on a constitutional right.
“In the border area of California and Arizona, it may be actively dangerous for the law-abiding to not carry firearms precisely due to the illegal flow of drugs and immigrants across the border in those areas,” Hoffman says.
CBP’s specifications say that signals interception and direction-finding technology must work from 30MHz to 3GHz in the radio spectrum. That sweeps in the GSM and CDMA frequencies used by mobile phones, which are in the 300MHz to 2.7GHz range, as well as many two-way radios.
The specifications say: “The system shall provide automatic and manual DF of multiple signals simultaneously. Automatic DF should be able to separate out individual communication links.” Automated direction-finding for cell phones has become an off-the-shelf technology: one company sells a unit that its literature says is “capable of taking the bearing of every mobile phone active in a channel.”
Although CBP’s unmanned Predator aircraft are commonly called drones, they’re remotely piloted by FAA-licensed operators on the ground. They can fly for up to 20 hours and carry a payload of about 500 lbs
Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama’s former press secretary, says that he was once instructed by the White House not to acknowledge the administration’s use of drones.
“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program,” Gibbs said on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” on Sunday. “You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”
Or, to paraphrase an oft-quoted line from David Fincher’s 1999 film “Fight Club“: The first rule of the drone program is you do not talk about the drone program.
Gibbs, who was recently hired by MSNBC as a contributor, called the proposition “inherently crazy.”
“You’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists,” Gibbs, who served as White House press secretary from 2009 to 2011, said. “So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program—pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Obama’s former spokesman said that while the administration has recently expressed the need to be more transparent about its use of drones, certain aspects of that program are “highly sensitive” and will likely remain secret.
“I have not talked to him about this, so I want to be careful,” Gibbs said, “but I think what the president has seen is, our denial of the existence of the program when it’s obviously happening undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes.”
DRONE WARS & INTERNET FASCISM; Panetta Announces Pentagon’s New Medal For Drone Warfare & Cyber Warfare
This new “Distinguished Warfare Medal” outranks the Bronze Star, so it’s clear which direction they are heading… drone wars and internet fascism.
2013.2.14 Pentagon Creates Special Medal For Drone Pilots (RT, youtube.com):
Soon receiving military honors might be as easy as adjusting a joystick. The Pentagon is reportedly readying a new award, the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, which could be presented to any of the men and women of the US military who control unmanned aerial vehicles, sometimes from thousands of miles away. Additionally, the troops that are involved in America’s covert cyberwars would also be eligible to receive the honors.
RT’s Liz Wahl has more on the medal.
2013.2.14 Medal Of Droner; Pentagon Award For Deadly Joystick Warriors (RT, youtube.com):
They may be known as the faceless killers of modern warfare, but it seems the US military wants them firmly in the spotlight. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which will be handed out to joystick wielding drone pilots, who wage their battles far from the frontline.
DORNER MANHUNT; Liberal Media Suggests Drone Killing Dorner, Promotes EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING Of ‘Suspect’ Deemed ‘DOMESTIC TERRORIST’
Christopher Dorner has been deemed a “Domestic Terrorist”, and many in the so called “Liberal” media are calling for him to be killed by drone strike, without a trial (ie, extrajudicial killing), and they add, “why not just kill him?”
CNN first made a statement floating the idea of using a drone to kill Dorner… then the fake Liberal “Young Turks” decided to discuss this in great detail and, after acting so concerned about such an idea, they basically seem to conclude that it sounds like a good idea!!
To drone or not to drone, that is not the question… the concern here is that they are deeming Christopher Dorner a “Domestic Terrorist” and therefore they can kill him… WITH NO DUE PROCESS!!!!!!!!!!!
Being deemed a “Domestic Terrorist” theoretically means Dorner no longer has any Constitutional Rights… this is a very DANGEROUS and horrible precedent.
Today the so called “Liberal” British newspaper “The Guardian” has proven my point in spades (and only a mindless British serf (subject) could come up with this kind of judicial logic). These people are dangerously stupid, or they’re being told to write this garbage. Here are some choice excerpts (emphasis mine):
Here’s my question: if the surveillance drones detect his location, should the lives of law
enforcement agents be risked, along with other civilians, in an attempt to apprehend
this highly-trained warrior? Why shouldn’t an armed drone instead be immediately
dispatched once his location is ascertained and simply kill him?
For those of you who believe it’s possible to know someone’s guilt without a trial, there
is very little doubt about his guilt. Nobody has contested the authenticity of the
confession posted in his name, nor the threats of further killing. He admitted and
justified the killings on his Facebook entry. [No one has ever hacked, jacked, or created a fake Facebook account!!!! - Joel]
For those of you who believe there is a clear definition of “terrorism”, Dorner meets it
easily. LAPD chief Charlie Beck today said that Dorner was engaging in “domestic
terrorism”. That’s because he has not only threatened to kill random LAPD officers but
also their children and family members in order to terrorize the department into
publicly apologizing to him. He vowed to wage what he called “unconventional and
asymmetrical warfare” in pursuit of his goal. As intended, the entire community is in
terror. If that’s not “domestic terrorism” under the conventional defintion (sic), then nothing is.
Instead, suppose the LAPD locates Dorner in a cabin in a remote area of the California
wilderness, just sitting alone watching television. Why should they possibly risk the lives
of police officers to apprehend him? Why would anyone care if this terrorist’s rights are
protected? What’s the argument for not simply killing him the moment he’s located?
Given that everyone seems certain of his guilt [Trial by media? - Joel], that he’s threatened further killings of innocents, that he declared himself at “war”, and that the risk from capturing him would be high, what danger is created by simply shooting a Hellfire missile wherever he’s
Or suppose that, as feared, he makes his way into Mexico. What’s the objection to
sending an armed drone to killing him there? [Um, because it's a different sovereign country???? - Joel]
The impetus for my asking is obviously the widespread support for killing US citizen
Anwar Awlaki without a trial or charges based on suspicions of guilt: it’s far from clear
that apprehending Awlaki would have been infeasible, and Dorner poses at least as
much risk to Americans as Awlaki did, almost certainly more so. But leave that aside:
independent of comparisons to any other case, including Awlaki, what would be wrong
or dangerous, if anything, about simply droning this domestic Terrorist to death even in
the absence of lethal resistance? What would be the harm from doing that? What are the
reasons not to, if any?
2013.2.11 Should An Armed Drone Be Dispatched To Kill Christopher Dorner? (guardian.co.uk):
2013.2.8 CNN; Should We Use Drones In America? (CNN, TheYoungTurks, youtube.com):
CNN’s Erin Burnett asked whether or not law enforcement should use drones as they try to fine former cop turned revenge killer, Christopher Dorner. Is this what it’s come to? Are drone attacks abroad so normalized that we can honestly ask if drones would be a good idea to use domestically? Cenk Uygur, Jimmy Dore (TYT Comedy) and Ben Mankiewicz (Turner Classic Movies) discuss Burnett’s question and its implications.
Alec will be appearing on the Jack Blood Show Tomorrow (Friday) 2.8.13
It is my understanding, throughout the duration of your Presidency, that you have persistently authorized drone strikes on innocent Middle Eastern civilians who were supposedly working for, or somehow affiliated with Al-Qaeda. As a further matter, you have gone so far as to publicly announce – in accordance to your Administration’s white paper concerning the legalities and justifications concerning your drone policy, which was leaked to NBC – that you have the authority to drone bomb any American citizen.
The Hill wrote, “In the document, the Justice Department concludes that a lethal strike against a senior operational leader of al Qaeda — or an affiliated terrorist group — can occur if a three-part test is met: that a high-level American intelligence official has determined the individual poses an imminent threat, that capture is infeasible, and that the strike is conducted according to the laws of war governing use of force.”
The key phrase here is:
“Or an affiliated terrorist group.”
This is chilling. It is jaw-dropping, rather. Why? It’s simple. According to multiple documents – such as the FBI’s “Project Megiddo” document from the late 1990’s and the FBI’s and BJA’s “Communities Against Terrorism” documents – we, the American people, are considered “an affiliated terrorist group.”
It is also interesting to note the hypocrisy which you have entangled yourself in. You have made it clear, upon the reauthorization of the NDAA with Sections 1021 and 1022 on December 31, 2011, with this leaked white paper concerning drone bombings, and with your countless public appearances regarding terrorism, that anyone who is affiliated – or somehow deemed a terrorist – shall be denied their Constitutional rights. However, have you ever noticed the glowing hypocrisy here? Your administration has openly aided the Al-Qaeda rebels in Syria (Reuters, Daily Mail, etc.) firearms.
Aren’t these the very people you’re against? Aren’t these the very people by which you have used to justify the killings of countless innocent civilians?
From what I have seen, and with respect to the policies/actions mentioned above, you and your Administration should be considered a “rogue” group which aids the terrorist faction Al-Qaeda. If you can’t consider yourself that, then – at the very least – you need to consider yourself “an affiliated terrorist group”. With that said, it seems as though you need to indefinitely detain or drone bomb yourself, right? After all, you do meet the requirements for such actions. Now, of course, this is hypothetical. I wish no harm to you or any of your bureaucrats. However, I am using this to exemplify your hypocrisy.
Moreover, it is my understanding that you have gone so far as to justify the killing of 16 year old American citizen, for being a suspected Al-Qaeda operative, by having your Press Secretary come out and say it was moral and just. Whatever the case may be, Anwar Awlaki – the 16 year old whom you killed – was denied due process of law, a jury trial, and was not given the opportunity to defend his case in front of a jury of his peers.
I am a 16 year old high school student myself. Am I next? After all, I am considered an affiliated terrorist group because I support the Constitution and Ron Paul. Will you slaughter me, like you did Awlaki?
Mr. Obama, you will have an uprising on your hands if you do not change your antics. I am not calling for an uprising – nor do I support one – but I am warning you that a plethora of Americans are growing angry over your policies.
On behalf of the large group of concerned American citizens and from a concerned American high school student,
Founder of We Are 1776
Resolution bans all municipal agencies from buying or leasing drones
A statue of Thomas Jefferson overlooks the Charlottesville, Va., campus of the University of Virginia.
Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.
The resolution, passed Monday, “calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court,” and “pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.”
The resolution passed by a 3-2 vote and was brought to the city council by activist David Swanson and the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group based in the city. The measure also endorses a proposed two-year moratorium on drones in Virginia.
Councilmember Dede Smith, who voted in favor of the bill, says that drones are “pretty clearly a threat to our constitutional right to privacy.”
“If we don’t get out ahead of it to establish some guidelines for how drones are used, they will be used in a very invasive way and we’ll be left to try and pick up the pieces,” she says.
The passed resolution is much less restrictive than the draft Swanson originally introduced, which would have sought to declare the city a “No Drone Zone” and would have tried to banned all drones over Charlottesville airspace “to the extent compatible with federal law.” The draft would have also banned all Charlottesville municipal agencies from buying, leasing, borrowing, or testing any drones.
Councilmember Dave Norris says the city has a “long tradition of promoting civil liberties.”
“It’s just part of our culture here,” he says.
Charlottesville is located 120 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., and has a population of about 43,000. The city is home to the University of Virginia, which has not tried to obtain a waiver to test drones from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The move earned praise from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Amie Stepanovich, a lawyer with the group, says that the “Charlottesville resolution demonstrates that people care about protecting their civil liberties and Fourth Amendment rights and are willing to devote the time necessary to closely examine this issue.”
“Lawmakers should be looking at [drone privacy] issues now in order to ensure that there are safeguards in place to protect individual privacy from these invasive technologies,” she says.
Smith admits that the final legislation won’t do anything to prevent federal- or state-operated drones from operating over Charlottesville’s skies, but that the symbolic move could push other cities to follow suit.
“With a lot of these resolutions, although they don’t have a lot of teeth to them, they can inspire other governments to pass similar measures,” she says. “You can get a critical mass and then it does have influence. One doesn’t do much, but a thousand of them might. We want this on [federal and state lawmakers'] radars.”
Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos, who voted against the resolution, says she “can imagine ways in which drones might be used for positive things” and that the move was premature.
“I think drones have been used for bad things, but it’s like banning airplanes because they can drop bombs,” she says. “At this point, the city isn’t even talking about using drones. It seems premature to me to ban them altogether.”