The drone scandal -- may I use that term? -- won't go away soon.
dropped one hell of a bombshell the other day when he let slip that the drones may have killed an estimated 4,700 people -- a much higher number than the previously released estimate.
The Washington-based New America Foundation says there have been 350 US drone strikes since 2004, most of them during Obama's presidency. And the foundation estimates the death toll at between 1,963 and 3,293, with 261 to 305 civilians killed.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,627 and 3,457 people have been reportedly killed by US drones in Pakistan since 2004, including between 475 and nearly 900 civilians.
A close look at John Brennan's testimony reveals that he may consider using drone strikes against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil
"It's astonishing" said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. "But it's the logical end point of the administration's claim that our war against suspected terrorists has no geographic boundaries."
Charles P. Pierce wrote a brilliant take-down
of the drone program for Esquire:
First, we have the ongoing charade of "transparency" as regards the president's assumed right to kill Americans anywhere in the world including, absent a clear statement from this administration, which has not been forthcoming, within the borders of the United States. Then we have the drone program itself, which is a constitutional abomination no matter how effective you presume it is. Then, we have another attempt to reach a kind of bipartisan consensus with the various vandals and predatory fauna in the other party. And then, last, as part of the attempt at bipartisan consensus, a deal is struck in which the president's hit list is kept in a vault while more fuel is fed into the Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!, BENGHAZI!!!!!!!111!!! infernal machine just as it was so sputtering to a halt that even John McCain was calling a cab to pick him up by the side of the road. I swear, if this deal goes through, Lindsey Graham is going to have a woody you could see from space.
This is what happens when you elect someone -- anyone -- to the presidency as that office is presently constituted. Of all the various Washington mystery cults, the one at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue is the most impenetrable. This is why the argument many liberals are making -- that the drone program is acceptable both morally and as a matter of practical politics because of the faith you have in the guy who happens to be presiding over it at the moment -- is criminally naive, intellectually empty, and as false as blue money to the future. The powers we have allowed to leach away from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the proper order of things. If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that's become the precise job description.
Of course, what goes around comes around
Germany’s federal prosecutor said yesterday that it had filed charges against two men over the alleged illegal export to Iran of dozens of aircraft engines for use in drones. It said a 30-year-old German-Iranian man identified as Iman J L and 54-year-old Iranian citizen Davood A were suspected of having contravened the law on foreign trade. They allegedly exported to Iran 61 aircraft engines for use in unmanned robotic drones without official permission between October 2008 and September 2009, the prosecutor said in a statement. It said the exported engines were “suitable for operating the ‘Ababil-3’ type drone which are used by the Iranian armed forces as target simulation-, reconnaissance- and combat drones”.
claims that drone controllers are eligible for a special medal that ranks above the purple heart
On the lighter side of this issue, we have the not-unreasonable theory that some flying saucer reports are actually drone sightings. See here
Is it an extra-terrestrial ship, a spy drone of Pakistan, a space vehicle, or one of those Chinese hot air balloons launched by locals? Rumours are swirling after reports came of an unidentified flying object (UFO) hovering over the world’s largest oil refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat, owned by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
According to the local police, an object in the shape of a red bowl was found circling the RIL unit at around 8pm on January 24. Though it was neglected as a one-of-its-kind incident, the object resurfaced after three days in the morning.
, from the Amherst Bulletin, is a bit closer to home:
I was driving with my daughter the other night when I saw something curious fly right over the road near the Amherst landfill on the outskirts of town.
“That is one weird plane,” I said, referring to the cargo planes that we see all the time flying down to the Westover Air Force Base. This was much smaller though, flew much lower, with a different lighting pattern, and made not a sound.
“Daddy, that’s a UFO,” Hattie said to me. She’s 11.
I called my father, an engineer. The voice of reason. He offered an idea. “The military might have buried some radioactive material in the landfill there and were testing their drone to see if it could detect it.”
Drones, or unmanned aircraft, have a hoarier history than many people realize. Before she became an actress, Marilyn Monroe worked in a factory that made what we would now call drones.
In a previous post, I speculated that Dennis Kucinich's famous (or infamous?) 1982 "UFO sighting"
was actually the sighting of an unmanned vehicle flying home to McChord Air Force Base, which was only ten miles away from Kucinich's location.
Kucinich may have seen a predecessor for the BQM-147A Exdrone (also called the Dragon Drone) which has been in production since the mid 1980s.
Yes, drones used to be fun. Until they started blowing people up.