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U.S. Navy $176+ Million Unmanned Drone Crashed in Maryland Swamp
One would think for $176+ million we could get a drone that would fly without crashing into a Maryland swamp? Amazing how when Republican politicians grouse about the deficit they forget to mention how much those unmanned drones cost and how poorly they function. Then there's that 17% civilian casualites that just keeps pissing off occupied people enough for them to give up their families and their lives to become terrorists. Sounds like a cycle for perpetual warfare at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers for the sole benefit of the military-industrial complex..
BTW - Here is where our taxpayer dollars are going;
Navy Drone Crashes and Burns in Maryland Swamp
$176+ Million Drone Lost in Dorchester County
by Jason Ditz, June 11, 2012
A US Navy training flight took to costly detour into a swamp in Maryland today, leading to the destruction of a $176 million RQ-4A Global Hawk drone. Officials say it is “unlikely” anyone was hurt in the crash.
The drone was sent up on a “routine training flight” from the Patuxent River air station, and lost contact with the base shortly thereafter. Aircraft found the drone burning in a swamp in Dorchester County, Maryland.
The RQ-4A is one of the most advanced and most expensive drones in the military’s fleet, and the naval version was configured for “broad area martime surveillance.” The official list price for the drone is just over $100 million, but the budget office put the price tag at $176 million in 2010, and prices have been seen rising in the past few years (South Korea abandoned their planned purchases after the price doubled).
The drones are meant to be deployed near aircraft carriers to provide constant surveillance of the area around them. The Pentagon already signed a $1.16 billion for the Naval program with Northrop Grumman the largest drone buy for the Navy so far.
One of our rare and endangered honest politicians speaks out against the use of drones and how civilian casualites aid in recruitment to Al Queda and Taliban;
Drone Killings a Stain Upon Our Nation
By Dennis Kucinich
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 31, 2012) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has opposed the use of combat drones against suspected terrorists abroad since the first known attack in 2004. In February 2006, he asked the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to suspend the use of Predator drones citing the “high toll in innocent civilian life.” In the 111th Congress, he sponsored a bill to prohibit the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens abroad in response to revelations that the Administration included U.S. citizens on its targeted killing list. Today, he is leading a growing number of Members of Congress to demand the President’s legal justifications for drone strikes.
“The New York Times recently revealed a series of stunning revelations about the secretive U.S. drone campaign abroad. 1) President Obama personally authorizes each drone strike. 2) The White House continues to fail to provide its legal rationale for the killings which include Americans and civilians. 3) Any male of fighting age killed by a drone is automatically assumed to be a militant. At the same time, The Washington Post has reported that our use of drones in Yemen has actually strengthened Al-Qaeda’s recruiting efforts and generating sympathy for our enemies.
Middle East Policy Council
Drone Warfare: Blowback from the New American Way of War
Leila Hudson, Colin S. Owens, Matt Flannes
Targeted killing by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, has become the central element of U.S. counterterror operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Over nearly a decade, drone-attack frequency and death rates have increased dramatically. Rather than calming the region through the precise elimination of terrorist leaders, however, the accelerating counterterror program has compounded violence and instability. These consequences need to be addressed, since the summer of 2011 has seen the dramatic expansion of the drone program into Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
Drone warfare has complicated the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a sisyphean counterinsurgency and nation-building project, by provoking militant attacks in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan.1 At the strategic level, fragmented U.S. intelligence and military policies are working at cross purposes, eroding trust through "covert" drone warfare on the Pakistani side of the Durand line while trying tardily to build trust on the Afghan side.2 The growing outrage of Pakistani society came to a head in spring 2011 over the Raymond Davis incident and the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden. These events put great stress on relations between the United States and the world's most volatile nuclear state.
Although its proponents promote drone warfare as more precise and effective than traditional counterterror measures, the death toll from drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004 hovers imprecisely between 1,500 and 2,500 people.3 The public is routinely assured that a high percentage of those extrajudicially killed are militants, but victims are often unnamed and deaths rarely investigated.4 The few successful drone attacks on high-profile targets seem to have mobilized existing networks of followers to conduct symbolic revenge attacks of comparable magnitude, like the December 2009 Khost bombing, which sought to avenge the drone killing of Beitullah Mehsud in Waziristan earlier that year. By extension, non-militants victimized by drone attacks directly or indirectly far outnumber targeted militants. Thus, a stream of new adversaries is produced in what is called the "accidental guerrilla" phenomenon.5
On a different level, the erosion of trust and lack of clarity in drone policy produces strategic and tactical confusion within the U.S. defense and intelligence agencies. This confusion proves unhelpful as exit strategies for the Afghan war are debated and continuing evaluation of U.S.-Pakistani relations are assessed behind closed doors. By the same token, the ongoing ambivalence of the Pakistani civilian and military leadership on the topic of U.S. drone strikes has fanned the flames of popular discontent in the country's fragile political system, revealing the infrastructure of contradictions in the roles of its military-intelligence sectors that simultaneously work with the United States and promote militant organizations. All these forms of blowback — the unintended consequences of policies not subjected to the scrutiny of the American public — complicate U.S. policy in the region and should be considered before drone warfare is expanded into the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.6
In total, we argue that drone warfare has created five distinct, yet overlapping, forms of blowback: (1) the purposeful retaliation against the United States, (2) the creation of new insurgents, referred to as the "accidental guerrilla" syndrome, (3) the further complication of U.S. strategic coordination and interests in what the Bush and Obama administrations have designated the Afghan/Pakistan (Af/Pak) theatre, (4) the further destabilization of Pakistan and (5) the deterioration of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. As the drone policy is adapted for use in post-Saleh Yemen, it is important to address these forms of blowback.
DRONE WARFARE 101
Drones were first used for battlefield reconnaissance, but over the last 10 years have evolved into America's preferred killing machines for locations where the U.S. military does not operate openly on the ground. The evolution of drone technology has been quick, with new developments allowing for longer flight, heavier payloads, vertical takeoff from ships, and deployment to more areas of the world. While the Predator MQ-1 and Predator B (Reaper) MQ-9 have carried out most surveillance and attacks, new platforms have been deployed that will likely be engaging targets in the near future. The most recent evolution of UAVs are the RQ-4 Global Hawk (designed and used for surveillance only) and the MQ-8B Fire Scout. The latter is currently deployed on ships off the Horn of Africa and in the Caribbean.7 With basic models starting at $4.5 million, these aircraft are cost efficient and carry little risk burden, especially since human pilots are removed from the equation.
Figure 1: Types of Drones8
Make Model/Name Use Payload (approx.)
General Atomics Predator/MQ-1 Surveillance/Armed Strikes 450 lbs.
General Atomics Predator B/Reaper/MQ-9 Surveillance/Armed Strikes 850 lbs.
Northrop Grumman Global Hawk Surveillance 2,000 lbs.
Northrop Grumman Fire Scout MQ-8B Surveillance/Armed Strikes 800 lbs.
The use of armed drones by the United States has developed over nearly a decade. The program's evolution can be broken into four phases. Phase one, roughly 2002-04, served as a testing period of limited strikes on high-value targets. The first use of remotely piloted drones for missile attacks outside identified war zones took place in 2002. This attack, in northeastern Yemen, killed al-Qaeda member Salim Sinan al-Harethi, who was suspected of masterminding the 2000 USS Cole bombing in Aden. The next attack, in 2004, targeted Nek Mohammad, a former mujahed who became an influential member of the Taliban and fled to Pakistan after the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. 9
The second phase, 2005-07, consisted of a slight increase in strikes but retained the same target set: high-value terrorist suspects. These attacks were conducted exclusively in Pakistan and followed the initial success of the program, defined by eliminating high-value targets. In 2005, the United States claimed it killed al-Qaeda's number three, Hamza Rabia, but conflicting reports cast doubts on Rabia's actual position and foreshadowed the ambiguity involved in targeting and identifying high-value targets.10
The third phase of drone warfare took place during the end of the Bush administration and consisted of an acceleration of attack frequency: 37 during 2008, compared to a total of nine in the first two periods.11 The success of the drone program during its infancy, as defined by the ability to kill high-value targets like Harethi and Nek Mohammad, gave the Bush administration the impression that if limited drone strikes were successful, more strikes would be even better.
The Bush administration's increased reliance on the program started in 2008; however, it is with the Obama administration that we see the most rapid proliferation of attacks. The final phase of the drone program is characterized by an even greater increase in attack frequency and an expansion of the target list to include targets of opportunity and unidentified militants of dubious rank — and funerals.12 As of May 2011, the CIA under the Obama administration has conducted nearly 200 drone strikes. This suggests that the drone target list now includes targets of opportunity, likely including some selected in consultation with the Pakistani authorities in order to facilitate the increasingly unpopular program. This development, in turn, has now decreased the effectiveness of the program when assessed in terms of the ratio of high-value to accidental kills.
As Figure 2 shows, the steady increase in drone attacks conducted in Pakistan between 2004 and 2010 has resulted in a far higher number of deaths overall, but a lower rate of successful killings of high-value militant leaders who command, control and inspire organizations. If we define a high-value target as an organizational leader known to intelligence sources and the international media prior to attack and not someone whose death is justified with a posthumous militant status, we see fewer and fewer such hits — the alleged killing of al-Qaeda commander Ilyas al-Kashmiri in 2009 and again in June 2011 notwithstanding.13
Figure 2: Drone Strikes by Phase16
Phase Strikes High Value Targets Killed Total Deaths HVT-to-Total Deaths Ratio
1 (2002-2004) 2 2 11 1:5
2 (2005-2007) 6 2 53 1:26
End of Bush's Term 48 5 333 1:66
Obama Administration 161 7 1029 1:147
Data analysis shows that at the beginning of the drone program (2002-04), five or six people were killed for each defined high-value target. As part of that high-value target's immediate entourage, they were much more likely to be militants than civilians. By 2010, one high-value target was killed per 147 total deaths. The increased lethality of each attack is due to larger payloads, broader target sets such as funeral processions, and probable new targeting guidelines (including targets of opportunity).14
Over time, these more deadly drone attacks have failed to effectively decapitate the leadership of anti-U.S. organizations but have killed hundreds of other people subsequently alleged to be militants; many were civilians.15 The rapidly growing population of survivors and witnesses of these brutal attacks have emotional and social needs and incentives to join the ranks of groups that access and attack U.S. targets in Afghanistan across the porous border.
Drone attacks themselves deliver a politically satisfying short-term "bang for the buck" for U.S. constituencies ignorant of and indifferent to those affected by drone warfare or the phenomenon of blowback. In the Pakistani and Afghan contexts, they inflame the populations and destabilize the institutions that drive regional development. In addition to taking on an unacceptable and extrajudicial toll in human life, the drone strikes in unintended ways complicate the U.S. strategic mission in Afghanistan, as well as the fragile relationship with Pakistan. As a result, the U.S. military's counterinsurgency project in Afghanistan becomes a victim of the first two forms of blowback.
1. PURPOSEFUL RETALIATION
The Khost Bombing, December 2009
The Khost bombing exemplifies the dynamic of drone provocation in Pakistan and terrorist retaliation in Afghanistan. In late December 2009, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian national, entered the CIA compound within Camp Chapman, located just outside of Khost, Afghanistan. Shortly after entering the compound, al-Balawi detonated an explosive vest, killing himself, seven CIA officers including the station chief, and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Before this incident, U.S. and Jordanian intelligence services had recruited al-Balawi, a medical doctor, to gather information on al-Qaeda's then number two, Ayman al-Zawahri. In a video released after the bombing at Camp Chapman, al-Balawi states, "This attack will be the first of revenge operations against the Americans and their drone teams outside the Pakistani borders."17
Al-Balawi's video testimony makes clear that he was motivated to avenge the death of Beitullah Mehsud, killed in August 2009 by a drone strike in Zengara, South Waziristan. Ironically, in the case of the Khost bombing, it was the United States that was subject to a decapitation attack aimed at a strategic intelligence center.
2. THE ACCIDENTAL GUERRILLA
Radicalization and Recruitment
Between 2004 and 2009, our research and databases compiled by others document a dramatic spike in deaths by suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan.18 While it is impossible to prove direct causality from data analysis alone, it is probable that drone strikes provide motivation for retaliation, and that there is a substantive relationship between the increasing number of drone strikes and the increasing number of retaliation attacks.
For every high-profile, purposeful attack like the Khost bombing, many more low-profile attacks take place. These types of attacks can be explained by what military strategist David Kilcullen calls the accidental-guerrilla phenomenon, a local rejection of external forces.19 By using drone warfare as the only policy tool in the FATA without any local political engagement, the United States is almost certainly creating accidental guerrillas. These new combatants, unable to retaliate against the United States within FATA, will likely cross the border into Afghanistan, where U.S. troops and NATO and Afghan security forces are concentrated and present easily identifiable targets. Or they may join the ranks of groups like the Pakistani Taliban, whose attacks within Pakistan destabilize the U.S.-Pakistani alliance. The last days of June 2011 illustrated the worst extremes of this phenomenon: a married couple carrying out a suicide attack in Pakistan, and an eight-year-old duped (not recruited) into an Afghan suicide attack.20
It should be emphasized that only a small minority of those affected by drone attacks become the kinds of radicals envisioned by Kilcullen. However, with the average frequency of a drone strike every three days in 2010, this would be enough to provide a steady stream of new recruits and destabilize the region through direct violence. The less direct effect of steady drone attacks and militant counterattacks is a smoldering dissatisfaction with dead-end policy. On the U.S. military, intelligence and policy side, this results in division in the ranks, preventing a unified effort.21 In Afghanistan and Pakistan, this cycle results in anti-government agitation and anti-American sentiment, which may force sudden policy adjustments by political and military actors.
3. U.S. COMPLICATIONS
In Afghanistan, the U.S. military is using newly codified counterinsurgency doctrine distilled from Iraq. It focuses on diminishing the political, social and economic conditions that create and bolster the armed resistance seen as insurgency. The rules governing the use of force in U.S. counterinsurgency theory have been designed to reduce deaths generally and thus prevent creating new insurgents.22 This type of strategy was long sidelined in favor of a counterterrorism policy targeting militants. However, the U.S. military has been forced to acknowledge the centrality of this strategy in stabilizing Iraq, as indicated by the massive decrease in civilian and coalition casualties.
Ironically, the initial success of drone killings in disrupting strategic organizations has bred its own downfall. The further down the militant hierarchy drone strikes aim and hit, the fewer the high-value targets and the less critical the disruption to the organization. On the other hand, due to counterinsurgency policy across the border in Afghanistan — which relies on "hearts and minds" and troops living on the ground side by side with civilians — the damage to the high-cost campaign is even more palpable.
The strategic disconnect between counterinsurgency and counterterrorism is only exacerbated by the remote-control nature of the covert drone program, which allows the U.S. public to turn a blind eye. Drone strikes, launched from bases within Pakistan but directed from sites as far away as the American Southwest, are popular with their proponents for several reasons. They are cheaper, less risky to U.S. personnel and easy to run with minimal accountability.23 The same lack of accountability that makes them a favorite of covert intelligence programs disguises the long-term and local effects of regularly, but unpredictably, unleashing violence from the skies. However, if and when a high-value target is killed, the death is celebrated in Western media. The first example of this was Harethi's death in 2002, which has been followed by a handful of successful attacks, such as the alleged but unproven killing of Ilyas al-Kashmiri in 2011.
Debate over the drone program continues within the U.S. policy and strategic community. The CIA wants to continue its mission in Pakistan unabated; the Department of State and the Pentagon would like more restrictions on the program. No one is willing to argue that the program needs be cut completely, but many within State and the Pentagon believe that the current pace of drone strikes risks destabilizing a nuclear-armed ally and makes the task of U.S. diplomats more difficult.24
4. DESTABILIZING PAKISTAN
Exposing the Contradictions
Loss of life from drone strikes is an emotional and enormously volatile public issue in Pakistan. Drone attacks on Pakistani territory killing Pakistani citizens every two to three days are a constant challenge to established ideas of sovereignty by a putative ally and patron. The notion of attack from the skies, without direct agency or accountability, may in theory be an attractive vehicle for U.S. counterterrorism, but it comes at a high price. Drone attacks compound the feeling of those on the ground in the target area of their asymmetrical vulnerability and the necessity of fighting back smartly.25
In a country whose political structure is ambiguous, Pakistanis who hope to petition their government with grievances regarding the drone program, or report critically on Islamabad's relationship with the United States and militants, are met with stiff resistance and sometimes violence. A recent attack resulted in the death of the prominent Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, bureau chief for The Asia Times. Shahzad was reporting on links between al-Qaeda and the Pakistani security apparatus, which may have facilitated the attack on Pakistan's Mehran Naval Base late in May 2011. Internal reporting on the Pakistani military and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is often self-censored because of its inherent dangers; those bold enough to report on it often face physical danger. Shahzad's body was found in a ditch south of Islamabad two days after he missed a scheduled television appearance. The ISI claims no knowledge of, and takes no responsibility for, the abduction and death of Shahzad, but other journalists reject that claim.26 In sum, the drone program serves to further destabilize an already fragile system by deepening divides between a citizenry that abhors the attacks and government institutions that tolerate or facilitate them and brook no critical oversight.
5. PRECARIOUS ALLIANCE
On January 27, 2011, American citizen Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistanis in the streets of Lahore. Davis, a CIA contract employee gathering intelligence on the Lashkar-e-Taiba, claimed the two men were attempting to rob him when he fired upon them. Davis spent a total of seven weeks incarcerated while the United States and Pakistan worked on the conditions of his release, ultimately secured through traditional blood-money payments.27 During the first half of Davis's imprisonment through February 20, drone strikes within Pakistan stopped altogether. As a deal between the two governments took shape, drone strikes resumed, as if the incident had never occurred. While negotiations were taking place, Pakistan was able to call for a reduction of actions by the CIA and U.S. Special Operations within their territory and for a reduction of drone strikes, but this demand was not permanently realized.28 The incident illustrates the precarious position of the Pakistani government, torn between local popular opposition and its overbearing U.S. patron.
While Pakistanis have protested drone strikes in the past, most of these protests have gone unnoticed in the U.S. media. It took what was presented in the Western press as a human-interest story about an American citizen engaging in self-defense to remind the U.S. population what the Obama administration is doing in Pakistan and bring Washington's strategy to the forefront. But what, if anything, has been learned from the Raymond Davis incident? The United States continues to conduct drone attacks without apparent regard for even the acute anger created in the wake of the Davis negotiations.
In the early hours of May 2, 2011, U.S. Navy SEALs raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing Osama bin Laden. The fact that soldiers, not drones, conducted the raid is telling. It is clear that the U.S. administration and military command at least recognize that the use of drones is not a silver bullet, and that human discretion and judgment are needed when combating an elusive and fluid network. Again, it took a sensational U.S. media story — the story of the decade, no less — to focus American public opinion and congressional oversight briefly on the decline of U.S.-Pakistani relations. These two incidents, the Raymond Davis negotiations and the Bin Laden raid, reveal that drone warfare has brought the U.S.-Pakistani marriage to a volatile nadir. And yet the drone policy, like the drones themselves, remains out of the limelight.
Lessons for the Future
Taxpayers support military drones at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our society.
•The U.S. boosted spending on unmanned Predator and Reaper drones by almost 60% in 2011, to $1.9 billion -- enough to eliminate the budget deficits of the Chicago Transit Authority ($277 million), the Chicago public schools ($720 million), and the City of Chicago ($635 million) -- which is closing mental health clinics and cutting other neighborhood services to “save” money -- even though the hidden costs of service cuts push up fiscal pressures on families, neighborhoods, hospital emergency rooms and the Cook County jail, which jail officials have described as "the largest mental health provider in Illinois."
•Drone attacks by the U.S. in Pakistan, conducted in tandem with the “NATO” war in Afghanistan, have had lethal consequences for civilians. More than 175 children are among at least 2,347 people reported killed in US attacks since 2004. There are credible reports of at least hundreds of civilians among the dead.
•Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed, including more than 60 children; at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners -- tactics condemned by leading legal experts.
•Although drone attacks began in 2004 under the Bush administration, the Obama administration has stepped them up enormously in Pakistan, with at least 260 attacks by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan since 2008 through February 2012 – averaging one every four days. Because the attacks are carried out by the CIA, no information is given on the numbers of people killed.
Who are the Pimps?
Sounds like the IRS and the military-industrial complex are the biggest and baddest pimps in town!
Who are the Hos?