Archive for Arms Proliferation

Apr
24

Don’t fear the Reapers

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First MQ-9 Reaper arriving at Creech AFB, March 2007
By United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

But who’s counting? As Digby pointed out last night, there is a lot less precision to these “precision” drone strikes than meets the monitors of drone pilots at Creech Air Force Base. The government can’t even keep count of how many Americans they’ve killed. The Guardian reports:

The targets of the deadly drone strikes that killed two hostages and two suspected American members of al-Qaida were “al-Qaida compounds” rather than specific terrorist suspects, the White House disclosed on Thursday.

The lack of specificity suggests that despite a much-publicized 2013 policy change by Barack Obama restricting drone killings by, among other things, requiring “near certainty that the terrorist target is present”, the US continues to launch lethal operations without the necessity of knowing who specifically it seeks to kill, a practice that has come to be known as a “signature strike”.

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Apr
23

Your Friends in Moyock, NC

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At Timestamp 19:45.

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Apr
14

Shutting down Skynet

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You know you’re in trouble when life starts resembling a Schwarzenegger movie. What with economic insecurity, huge income disparity, severe drought in California, massive NSA surveillance, a virtual
war on the poor, police firing on unarmed civilians, and a population pacified with reality TV, The Running Man (1987) comes to mind. In a dystopian, near-future police state, Ah-nold gets framed as “The Butcher of Bakersfield” after a police helicopter crew (following orders) fires on food rioters.

But that was 2017. Today, the Air Force is hot to open your friendly skies to its large Predator, Reaper, Global Hawk, and Sentinel drones. A few weeks ago, I wrote about that at Crooks and Liars. The press focus has been on the FAA’s congressionally mandated commercial drone testing, yet “there is no funding from FAA to support the test sites.” Plus, everywhere you look, the people involved in the testing program seem to include Department of Defense, ex-military, Air National Guard, or members of the defense industry. I wrote:

It’s not that commercial drones aren’t of interest to the private sector. Ask Amazon. But the military and U.S. defense contractors want access to civilian airspace for testing exportable military hardware and for keeping their drone pilots’ skills sharp. Several drone testing programs are fashioned as university research programs and appear as civilian efforts. That might be understandable after George W. Bush’s speech about drones attacking civilians with “chemical and biological weapons,” and after revelations about widespread domestic surveillance here and abroad.

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General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base, NV, one of several test sites promoted by the state.

We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States. – Pres. George W. Bush, Cincinnati, OH, October 7, 2002

That was the first time many of us heard the term “unmanned aerial vehicles.” Ticking off a litany of bogus reasons for invading Iraq, Bush hoped we would collectively wet our pants in fear of unmanned drones over America unleashing death from above. That was then. This is now.

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Mar
06

No joy in joystick

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The Air Force seems to have a problem retaining drone pilots. They are quitting faster than new ones can be trained, writes Pratap Chatterjee at Alternet:

The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it’s humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

But is it possible that a brand-new form of war — by remote control — is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a “coward’s war” (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm’s way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?

Burnout may be a factor. Whereas pilots for manned Air Force aircraft log 300 hours per year, the drone warriors can spend 900-1,800 flying drones in circles, working “either six or seven days a week, twelve hours a day,” according to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh.

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Jun
19

Shootings on the Tens

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Today’s gun violence forecast. But first, the weather…

RJ Eskow. All he needs is a green screen. Maybe some little AR-15s forming a fast-moving front. Brought to you by Glock. When they say there’s a fast-moving “front” in this forecast, they mean it in the Remarque sense.

And this just in:

Florida dad killed by neighbor’s stray bullet as family welcomes home newborn

Catch RJ and guests each Saturday at noon on The Zero Hour at WeAct Radio.

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Feb
26

When Enforcing Laws Is Outlawed…

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Only Law Enforcement Officers Will be Outlaws

(UPDATED below: The Zombie Apocalypse is here.)

Via Crooks and Liars,

A Texas state representative says that a bill banning the enforcement of any new gun control laws is constitutional because it would only prosecute police and other state officials.

Texas is the asylum. Guess who’s running it?

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Because at this special time of year every all-American kid dreams of being an assassin.

Semiauto handgun? Check. Bushmaster? Check. (Picked it up at Walmart’s everyday low prices.) High-capacity magazines? Check. Silencers? Doh!!

Not to worry, though. The NRA — yes, Wayne LaPierre’s NRA — is hoping to get silencers deregulated as wholesome, kid-friendly, essential firearm accessories. As seen in Newtown! Salon reports:

In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, the gun lobby’s grand strategy rests grotesquely on fake concern for child hearing health. Among the opening shots in the campaign was a feature in the February 2011 issue of Gun World, “Silence is Golden,” penned by the veteran gun writer Jim Dickson. “One only has to look at children in the rest of the world learning to shoot with silencers, protecting their tender young ears, to see what an innocent safety device we are talking about here,” writes Dickson. “To use an overworked propaganda phrase, legalize silencers ‘for the sake of the children.’” [Emphasis Salon's]

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Or these test subjects. VIDEO: 2009 ABC News Experiment Demonstrates More Guns Unlikely to Stop Mass Shootings

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WTVD: “The Tea Party in Asheville is being criticized for a fundraising raffle for two guns, including one similar to one used in the school shootings in Connecticut.”
[...]
“Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper says he’s surprised by the tea party’s timing, when the National Rifle Association took down its Facebook and Twitter accounts after the shooting.

Jane Bilello with the Asheville Tea Party says the fundraiser was planned before the shooting. But she stands by the group’s position that gun control does not work.

The raffle includes an AR15 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a .22 Magnum pistol.”

Asheville Tea Party and Asheville Tea PAC Board Members’ email addresses:

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