Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



UAV NEWS
'National Bird' shines light on secretive drone wars
By Frankie TAGGART
Los Angeles (AFP) Nov 3, 2016


The convoy had stopped for prayers in a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan when the Hellfire missiles came out of a clear blue sky, incinerating vehicles and liquidating 23 unarmed civilians.

The February 2010 attack, involving US drone operators who were later described as "inaccurate and unprofessional" in a military investigation, fueled the growing outcry over America's rapidly expanding drone wars.

The personnel who mistook the travelers for insurgents had been analyzing Predator drone footage from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, directing a remote-control massacre thousands of miles from the victims.

They reported that they could see only military-age men in the three vehicles but several of the dead and wounded turned out to be women in brightly-colored civilian clothing and their children.

The incident, and what it reveals about America's secretive drone program, is the subject of "National Bird," a disturbing documentary released in US theaters on November 11.

The feature-length investigation follows three whistleblowers who, plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries, decide to speak out.

"I knew I had to do something because I knew what was happening was wrong and it was growing exponentially out of control," Lisa Ling, a former drone system technical sergeant in California, told AFP.

In the documentary Ling shares a letter of commendation she received for having helped to identify 121,000 insurgent targets over a two-year period.

She asks that viewers "do the math" to estimate how many deaths there have been since America declared war on the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US.

- Faraway consequences -

The problem with drone warfare, says Ling, is partly the unreliability of the fuzzy images analysts use to make life and death decisions, although the technology will inevitably improve.

A bigger issue however is the detachment of the drone operators -- geographically and emotionally -- from the faraway consequences of their decisions.

The White House puts the number of non-combatants killed by drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya from 2009-15 at up to 116, although the Bureau of Investigative Journalists claims the figure is at least six times that.

President Barack Obama has defended the use of the technology, declaring in 2013 that strikes were only carried out when there was "near certainty" that the target was present.

"At that time there wasn't a lot of information at all," said New York-based filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck, who was just starting research for "National Bird."

"People were commenting about the drone war but you couldn't really get access to people who worked in the program."

She managed to track down Ling, Heather Linebaugh, a former drone operative suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and "Dan," a civilian intelligence analyst who was the target of an Espionage Act investigation.

Kennebeck traveled with Ling to Afghanistan to meet the innocent victims of the 2010 attack, adults and children who had lost loved ones, not to mention limbs.

- 'Drones are terror' -

The aim, she says, was to start a debate that had been utterly absent from the public conversation, about whether people wanted drone warfare waged on their behalf and -- if they did -- how to regulate it.

"The question is how precise and surgical is it really to drop a bomb on a house? Do you really know with 100 percent certainty who is inside and who you are killing?" she asks.

According to US public policy think tank New America, 86 countries have some drone technology.

Earlier this year Nigeria became the eighth country to have used armed drones in combat. The Lebanese Islamist militant group Hezbollah has also used them.

"This is our taxpayer money. We are paying to have this happen so at least we should say we are okay with this, or not okay with it," US-based Ines Hofmann Kanna, who produced "National Bird," told AFP.

"We're not even discussing it, really. That's a problem."

The 92-minute "National Bird" is being released as Obama prepares to make way for a successor who will be in a position to re-evaluate the moral case for drones, and their efficacy in warfare.

"I'd like to see whoever comes into office watch this film and understand that, from the ground, drones are terror," says Ling.

"If you're walking through a garden with your grandmother and you don't know within the next 10 seconds whether you're going to see your grandmother in pieces, that's called terror."


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
UAV News - Suppliers and Technology






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
UAV NEWS
AAI gets $206 million U.S. Army contract for Australian Shadow drone
Washington (UPI) Nov 1, 2016
AAI Corp. has been awarded a $206 million U.S. Army contract for work on the Australia's RQ-7B Shadow drone program. The cost-plus-fixed-fee foreign military sales contract will cover contractor logistics sustainment services for Shadow. Work will be performed in Maryland with an estimated completion date of October 2017. The Army Contracting Command is the contracting ent ... read more


UAV NEWS
Yemen rebel missile shot down near Mecca: coalition

US to deploy missile defense to South Korea 'soon'

China, Russia blast US missile defence at regional forum

Raytheon to update the Netherlands' Patriot missile system

UAV NEWS
USS Carl Vinson test-fires Rolling Airframe Missile, Phalanx

Is China's new short-range missile system designed to compete with Iskander

Raytheon receives Rolling Airframe Missile contract modification

BAE receives max $600 million U.S. Navy contract for laser-guided rockets

UAV NEWS
U.S. Navy's first drone squadron stands up

Northrop Grumman receives $190 million Hunter drone contract

Beijing's Battle-Tested War UAVs Confirm China's 'Leading Manufacturer Role'

'National Bird' shines light on secretive drone wars

UAV NEWS
Comtech supplies troposcatter systems to Swedish military

Lockheed Martin gets $92 million military satellite contract modification

Russia develops new satellite communication system for military use

Arizona aerospace company wins $19M Navy satellite contract

UAV NEWS
Lasers, hybrid power for Army's next-gen combat vehicle, experts say

Ceradyne producing next-gen helmets, body armor

First U.S. Stryker with 30mm cannon debuts

L-3 Oceania to supply Australia with night fighting equipment

UAV NEWS
Turkish foreign minister hits back at 'weak' Iraq PM

Pentagon suspends clawback of decade-old enlistment bonuses

Saab buys Danish defense company

Airbus protests furiously over Poland's handling of chopper deal

UAV NEWS
Kerry calls ties to Manila 'ironclad' despite 'differences'

Ex-Philippine leader resigns as Duterte's China envoy

China president slams 'conspiracies' in Communist Party

S. Korea coastguard fires machine guns at Chinese trawlers

UAV NEWS
Researchers nearly reached quantum limit with nanodrums

Nanoparticle taxicab materials can identify, collect and transport debris on surfaces

First time physicists observed and quantified tiny nanoparticle crossing lipid membrane

A tiny machine




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement