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Human Rights in Ireland
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Dublin Opinion
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting

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‘Drone strikes killed more civilians than publicly acknowledged’ – UN investigator

category international | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Saturday October 19, 2013 14:06author by Turing Report this post to the editors

Yes, the level of the slaughter is being covered up. Full story at link.

A UN report accuses the United States of downplaying the number of civilians killed in anti-terrorist drone operations, while failing to assist in the investigation by releasing its own figures.

With the increased use of remotely piloted aircraft in military operations in a number of countries, the nagging question of civilian “collateral damage” as a consequence of these deadly technologies is a growing concern for the United Nations and human right groups.

In Afghanistan, for example, the number of aerial drone strikes surged from 294 in 2011 to 447 during the first 11 months of 2012, according to data released by the US Air Force in November 2012, UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson noted in his interim report.

Pakistan officials confirmed that out of 2,200 deaths “at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of remotely piloted aircraft strikes and a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants.”
Pakistani protesters belonging to United Citizen Action march behind a burning US flag during a protest in Multan on September 30, 2013, against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas (AFP Photo / S.S Mirza)
Pakistani protesters belonging to United Citizen Action march behind a burning US flag during a protest in Multan on September 30, 2013, against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas (AFP Photo / S.S Mirza)

Emmerson’s 24-page document, which is due to be presented to the UN General Assembly next Friday, mentions a report by a US military advisor that contradicted official US claims that drone attacks were responsible for fewer civilian deaths compared with other aerial platforms, for example, fighter jets.

He pointed to research by Larry Lewis, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses, who examined aerial strikes in Afghanistan from mid-2010 to mid-2011. With the help of classified military data, Lewis found that the missile strikes conducted by drones were “10 times more deadly to Afghan civilians” than those performed by fighter jets, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper.

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author by Tpublication date Sat Oct 19, 2013 18:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The figure of 2,200 drone deaths is probably an underestimate and remember that is only counting Afghanistan. These things are being used in quite a lot of countries although probably not to the same extent as Afghanistan.

These deaths do make a complete mockery of the notion of fighting terrorism since these attacks are quite simply acts of terror themselves carried out by the biggest rogue state about.

author by Mary Kellypublication date Wed Oct 23, 2013 19:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Six protesters who broke into RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, home of Britain's first unmanned drones base, were described by a judge at their trial on Monday as "dutiful people". He said it was only with a "heavy heart" that he found them guilty of criminal damage to the base.

The six, who staged their protest on 3 June to mark International Child Victims of War Day, were detained only after civilian police were called to the base.

District Judge Stobart ruled: "I find, and not without some hesitation, that the lack of proximity or relationship between the defendants and those in Afghanistan who may be either targeted or hit accidentally by these drones is insufficient. I therefore, with a very heavy heart, find all the defendants guilty.


author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Wed Oct 23, 2013 22:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I totally welcome this posting and also Gilmore should be asked serious questions in relation to American war planes going through Shannon. People - not their fault, see drones as silent humming birds in the sky, what they don't see is the killing machines that they really are.

I would like to end by asking the moderators tonight and I use the word please deeply to give the posting on asbestos, one last chance. I ask you Wageslave to do this please because I know numerous people who have been reading Indymedia, not just here, but in Camden town, Cricklewood and Kilburn. At the moment, I am on business in Germany and I was talking to former factory workers there and to my amazement they were reading Indymedia Ireland.

I have to agree the slagging matches in relation to the Attic must stop now. I say this to Mr Murphy and to Cara, please stop. I hope that the posting can go back up as I said for one last chance to redeem the purpose of its existence and the video 'Death on the Docks' which has the capacity to show people the dangers of what asbestos can cause in health disease to people exposed to it.

I had planned over the long weekend to put up a second video on asbestos and I hope this opportunity will be given to me but only if Mr Murphy can stop the rants and the personal attacks on individuals. This is not the agenda. We need to focus on a topic that the public ought to know about.

Wageslave, I again ask you, just one last chance, and I hope Mr Murphy can take on board that this is the last chance saloon for his topic because I will not assist on this posting if he continues with his behaviour. This is about Asbestos not personal grudges.

Back to the drones, I agree totally with Mary Kelly and the others. These drones are in existence a long time now and RTE sadly but not to my amazement don't highlight the destruction and slaughter of the innocents.

I thank you Wageslave if you can give Mr Murphy, who I don't know from Adam the opportunity to redeem himself in the plight of the topic asbestos.

Brian Flannery

author by wageslavepublication date Sun Oct 27, 2013 02:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors


for the record, I am in favour of hugh's article being unhidden.
I have petitioned on the editorial list for the asbestos article to be reinstated but other moderators have disagreed and because of this currently I am powerless to reinstate the article. Perhaps in light of the recent interest shown in it, there will be a change of heart??


author by Brian Flannery - Justicepublication date Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

At the moment I am away on business. I have been showing several Irish people that are now in various countries how to process Indymedia and make their opinions known from afar.

I will be looking forward to more debates on the site in the coming months. The point this morning I want to make is quite relevant. I have received enormous feedback from people in Ireland and abroad that the link for 'Death on the Docks' should be, if possible, reinstated. It has caught the mindset of many. I understand that there are guidelines. I understand that there are legal implications and I also understand from a Belfast source that Mr Murphy has calmed down. I believe that your colleagues should stand up on this one. Take out the aggressive comments and let this topic flow, if it is possible. I believe nothing is impossible if you really want it.

Ironically I know Maura Harrington and I am reading William's reply - she meant no offence because she is not that type of person, she only stated that she can't understand where he is coming from with all the various links that lead back to his personal blog. I wish William the very best in his quest for justice but I do believe simplicity in the way we write is the key for others to understand.

Seeing I am on the topic of Drones. Again, I say sadly of the thousands of people and children that these machines have slaughtered. The Americans class them as their toys but the world must be able to see the slaughter of the innocents.

Thanking you again in your reply and hopefully the other moderators who I also appreciate because they give their time voluntarily in running Indymedia on a daily basis.

Brian Flannery

author by Tpublication date Sun Oct 27, 2013 13:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There was an article carried on Information Clearing House on Fri which is basically the confessions of a Drone operator, Brandon Bryant and how eventually the job got to him and he quit because of it.

In it, he describes the day to day operations of a drone pilot and "sensor" operator -the one who presses the button to release the Hellfire missiles that travel at supersonic speed to their human targets to blow them apart. He describes how he was lured into the job through the Air Force at only age 21 and then some of the particular instances including his first kill as described here in this extract:

He zoomed the camera in on the suspected insurgents, each dressed in traditional shalwar kameez, long shirts and baggy pants. He knew nothing else about them: not their names, not their thoughts, not the thousand mundane and profound details of their lives.

He was told that they were carrying rifles on their shoulders, but for all he knew, they were shepherd’s staffs. Still, the directive from somewhere above, a mysterious chain of command that led straight to his headset, was clear: confirmed weapons. He switched from the visible spectrum—the muted grays and browns of “day-TV”—to the sharp contrast of infrared, and the insurgents’ heat signatures stood out ghostly white against the cool black earth. A safety observer loomed behind him to make sure the “weapon release” was by the book. A long verbal checklist, his targeting laser locked on the two men walking in front. A countdown—three…two…one…—then the flat delivery of the phrase “missile off the rail.” Seventy-five hundred miles away, a Hellfire flared to life, detached from its mount, and reached supersonic speed in seconds......

......He kept the targeting laser trained on the two lead men...... As he watched the men walk, the one who had fallen behind seemed to hear something and broke into a run to catch up with the other two. Then, bright and silent as a camera flash, the screen lit up with white flame.

Airman First Class Brandon Bryant stared at the scene, unblinking in the white-hot clarity of infrared. He recalls it even now, years later, burned into his memory like a photo negative: “The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot. His blood is hot. But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on.”

This is what the brave soldiers get up to. As we can see these guys had no-one idea and had zero chance. The procedure for checking whether they are armed was basically if it looked like a weapon, then it was a weapon. It was essentially plane murder.

The article goes on to describe other aspects of the drone operations and notes that: "by 2025, drones will be an $82 billion business.."

What we also discover is that Bryant came from a poor background and he struggled to afford to get education and go to college. As usual the regularly exploits these kind of people with the offers of jobs and education.

He not only operated drones from a base in Nevada but spent time in Iraq working from bases there where the drones were used in conjunction with soldiers on patrol and in this next extract describes the more mundane side too.

Mostly the drone crews’ work was an endless loop of watching: scanning roads, circling compounds, tracking suspicious activity. If there was a “troops-in-contact” situation—a firefight, ground troops who call in a strike—Bryant’s Predator could be called to the scene in minutes with its deadly payload. But usually time passed in a haze of banal images of rooftops, walled courtyards, or traffic-snarled intersections.

Sitting in the darkness of the control station, Bryant watched people on the other side of the world go about their daily lives, completely unaware of his all-seeing presence wheeling in the sky above. If his mission was to monitor a high-value target, he might linger above a single house for weeks. It was a voyeuristic intimacy.

By the time 2011 he had enough as it had finally got to him. And while for some reading this we may take some comfort in the fact that his conscience got to him and he quit, from the Air Force point of view, they don't particularly care as they have 100s of more recruits ready to step in where he left off and after each of them goes through the same cycle and quits, yet more people will be killed. And to the Air Force that is all that matters, -having operators at the controls who will fire the missiles and kill on command.

This next extract shows this to some extent:

By the spring of 2011, almost six years after he’d signed on, Senior Airman Brandon Bryant left the Air Force, turning down a $109,000 bonus to keep flying. He was presented with a sort of scorecard covering his squadron’s missions. “They gave me a list of achievements,” he says. “Enemies killed, enemies captured, high-value targets killed or captured, stuff like that.” He called it his diploma. He hadn’t lased the target or pulled the trigger on all of the deaths tallied, but by flying in the missions he felt he had enabled them. “The number,” he says, “made me sick to my stomach.”

Total enemies killed in action: 1,626.

And what this figure shows is the just one operator managed 1,626 kills and very likely more unaccounted. There are 100s if not 1000s of operators and this shows what a lie it is when the US govt downplays the number of people killed by drones. The figures out there are probably underestimated by at least a factor of 10 if not 100.

Full article can be read at the link below

Related Link:
author by Crazy Catpublication date Fri Feb 21, 2014 16:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Article from Robert Frisk of the Independent:

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