| Drone |
|Interest of||• Josh Begley|
• Peter Burt
|Remote controlled flying robots, used for a wide range of purposes, but still not a prominent feature of most people's lives.|
Drones are flying objects which can be operated remotely. Companies in Israel and the US are leading producers of these systems, which feature more prominently in military rather than civilian life, but which appear to be on the way in, for everything from delivering pizzas to carrying out assassinations.
- 1 Early development
- 2 Productions
- 3 Combat use
- 4 By nation
- 5 Regulation
- 6 A Drone victim on Wikispooks
- 7 Related Documents
- 8 References
The CIA developed a prototype in 1972 that would act as a short range spy drone and from it's appearance would mimic a dragonfly that could pass over embassy walls and reach windowsills. The "Insectothopter" was built for Intel gathering and designed to be able to record audio.
Sikorsky developed the "Cypher" as unmanned air surveillance vehicle from 1986 on. It was designed for airborne reconnaissance and payload delivery and was able to fly autonomously with no operator intervention.
Israel has lead the world in the development of drones for many years. It used the Gaza Strip as the leading testing ground for both armed and surveillance drones. Israel produced 60% of all drones manufactured from 1985 to 2015. US produced 24% followed by Canada at 6.4% and France with 1.6%. from 2010-2014, UK was the world's #1 importer of drones, with 1/3 of global drone imports. "Google's artificial intelligence technologies are being used by the US military for one of its drone projects."
As of September 2015, only 3 countries were known to have use lethal drones to kill people: US, UK and Israel. Israel used Gaza as a testing ground for development of drone technology. Drones were initially developed for use by militaries in combat - both for general warfare and assassination of particular individuals - and then rolled out for use on civilians. Electronic Intifada reports that in 2014, Israel killed 840 people in Gaza. In March 2017, Connecticut lawmakers were considering proposals to permit the US police to fire deadly weapons from drones.
Use of drones can have a lasting impact on their operators.
Former US drone operators describe a culture of callousness which sanctions the murder of civilians and children, report widespread use of alcohol and other recreational drugs by operators, and describe the drone program as "one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world", asking "Have we forgotten our humanity in the pursuit of vengeance and security?" Only a small proportion of those killed by US drones are the intended targets. A set of former drone operators charged in a 2015 press conference that "[the Obama] administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."
In 2015, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the company that makes the Predator and Reaper drones, announced plans to integrate a 150KW laser onto its Avenger (née Predator-C) drone. The company suggested that this could be a reality by 2017.
Illegitimate off-battlefield use
Reprieve opposes the illegitimate off-battlefield use of weaponised drones anywhere in the world. This programme has already killed more than 4,000 people – most of whom remain nameless, even to the Congressional Committees tasked with overseeing the policy. As Reprieve began freeing Guantánamo Bay prisoners, George Bush’s Attorney-General told us “if you don’t let us imprison and interrogate these guys, we will just kill them”. Under the Obama Administration, this is exactly what came to pass – initially in secret. The CIA drone killing programme has taken the Guantánamo ‘legal black hole’ strategy one step further. Instead of imprisoning without due process, the US is now executing without due process.
President Obama personally signs off each day’s ‘kill list’, and even authorised the killing of a US citizen along with his teenage son. Targeted killing via drone warfare is a clear change in US policy: from abduction, torture and detention to extra-judicial execution; yet with the same, if not greater, radicalising effect.
Like Guantánamo Bay, the drones programme initially attracted little opposition because its victims were presented as the ‘worst of the worst’. In fact, the CIA’s error rate is at least as bad as at Guantánamo Bay, and victims are never given a chance to defend themselves.
Police use of armed drones
In 2015, drones were used to capture video footage that shows construction progress at the Sacramento Kings’ new stadium in California. Drones capture video which is fed into a computer to create a 3d model of the progress of the construction.
- Trump wants President François Hollande of France to target President Bashar al-Assad with a French drone.
- Trump wants PM Benjamin Netanyahu to target Assad's daughter Zein, and two sons Hafez and Karim, with an Israeli drone.
- Exxon Mobil takes 40% of Syria's oil.
- Total S.A. takes 20% of Syria's oil.
- BP takes 20% of Syria's oil.
- Afek, subsidiary of Genie Energy, takes 20% of Syria's oil.
In 2016, the UK Ministry of Defence tried to rebrand its new batch of airborne drones from General Atomics, terming them "Protector" drones rather than their actual trade name of "Reaper". Research into both creating and disrupting drones was ongoing as of 2019.
On 7 September 2015, speaking to the House of Commons on its first day back after the summer break, David Cameron justified as an act of self-defence the targeting of UK citizens fighting alongside ISIS in Syria by an unmanned General Atomics Reaper drone costing £10 million. Reyaad Khan, a 21-year-old from Cardiff, who had featured in a prominent ISIS recruiting video in 2014, and Ruhul Amin, 26, were killed in the attack on the Syrian city of Raqqa on 21 August 2015. A third Briton, Junaid Hussain, 21, was killed by a separate US airstrike three days later as part of a joint operation.
The strikes were authorised by David Cameron at a meeting of senior members of the National Security Council some months ago after intelligence agencies presented evidence to ministers that Khan and Hussain were planning to attack commemorative events in the UK. It is understood that the two events were the VE Day commemorations, presided over by the Queen at Westminster Abbey on 10 May 2015, and a ceremony to mark the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Armed Forces Day on 27 June 2015. Following preparations, which took place over a period of months, the prime minister convened a meeting of the National Security Council attended by the Attorney-General Jeremy Wright who advised that a strike would be legal on the grounds of self defence.
Questioning by Jeremy Corbyn
Questioning the legal basis for the use of drones, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
- “Urgent consideration now needs to be given to the appropriate process by which attacks such as this one are sanctioned, on what evidence and on what basis of law.” On 11 September 2015, it was revealed that a letter sent to the UN Security Council (UNSC) by the British government had claimed drone strikes in Syria were “a necessary and proportionate exercise of the individual right of self-defence of the United Kingdom,” but added that “action against ISIL in Syria is lawful in the collective self-defence of Iraq.”
Jeremy Corbyn said Cameron’s failure to mention the additional justification of defending Iraq raised the question of whether Parliament had been misled:
- “The government appears to have used an additional and entirely separate justification for this covert strike in their letter to the UN, which was not mentioned in the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament. Why did the government cite the defence of Iraq when justifying this strike to the UN, but not when doing so to Parliament?”
- “Is it because Parliament previously voted against action in Syria, making this justification at odds with the will of the Commons? The Prime Minister cannot face two ways on this issue – he needs to urgently explain this discrepancy.”
In May 2016, Labour MP Harriet Harman chair of Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights said the legal justification for the drone strike on Khan was "confused and confusing". She called for the UK government to lead the way internationally by defining a clear legal basis for action, and to make sure that those who made decisions were held accountable:
- "As the world faces the grey area between terrorism and war, there needs to be a new international consensus on when it is acceptable for a state to take a life outside of armed conflict. Our government has said they're going to be targeting people in other parts of the world, but there's no independent scrutiny afterwards."
- "If the UK is going to go down this road of engaging in targeted strikes, much like the US, there has to from the outset be a clear policy that sets out the legal framework within which these strikes are going to be taken and proper accountability mechanisms."
In April 2017, UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee published their report into the UK’s drone-targeted killing of Reyaad Khan in Syria in August 2015. The ISC report was heavily censored by Theresa May's government before release and, due to the calling of the 8 June general election, the Committee stated they were prevented from "pushing back against the amount of redactions that have been imposed." Even before the redactions, however, the Committee were refused access to what they described as “central”, “key” and “clearly relevant” documents on the strike against Reyaad Khan. In addition they were refused all access to information on the US drones strikes conducted in conjunction with the UK on Junaid Hussain and Mohammed Emwazi ('Jihadi John').
Whereas the ISC have apparently done their best to scrutinise the intelligence basis of the UK’s first drone-targeted killing outside the battlefield, they faced determined resistance from the National Security Secretariat and the government. While it may be understandable that some information is deemed too sensitive to be publicly released, the whole point of the ISC is that they are allowed to see such information in order for there to be proper and appropriate parliament scrutiny of government activities. As the ISC report says:
- “Without sight of the actual documents provided to Ministers we cannot ourselves be sure – nor offer an assurance to Parliament or the public – that we have indeed been given the full facts surrounding the authorisation process for the lethal strike against Reyaad Khan.”
The UK Police report that drones have already proved useful in searching for missing people. BBC announced in 2015 that UK police would start routine use of drones for mass surveillance, as part of the "war on terror". They also reported that the UK Police would take over responsibility for drone monitoring from the Civil Aviation Authority, preventing any effective oversight of drone use by UK police. The Daily Mail announced in 2016 that "A tiny remote-controlled aircraft modelled on an insect will become Britain’s latest weapon against terror."
The US Government announced in 2015 that it would require registration for anyone using a drone.
Drones are banned in various areas of Seoul.
A Drone victim on Wikispooks
|Document:Exclusive: I Can Reveal the Legal Advice on Drone Strikes, and How the Establishment Works||article||9 September 2015||Craig Murray||Craig Murray reveals how Sir Daniel Bethlehem continues to bring a Zionist perspective to any legal advice emanating from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office|
|Document:Off the Leash: How the UK is developing the technology to build armed autonomous drones||Article||10 November 2018||Peter Burt||The United Kingdom should make an unequivocal statement that it is unacceptable for machines to control, determine, or decide upon the application of force in armed conflict and give a binding political commitment that the UK would never use fully autonomous weapon systems|
|Document:Spot-Shoot||article||13 July 2010||Jonathan Cook||On the use of drones against Palestinians|
|File:Living under drones.pdf||paper||September 2012||International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic|
- "Reprieve: Drone Strikes"
- "Trump drones on about Assad"
- "David Cameron faces scrutiny over drone strikes against Britons in Syria"
- "‘UK bombed Syria to protect Iraq’: Cameron changes his story in UN letter"
- "Drone killings: Legal case 'needs clarifying'"
- "Intelligence Committee Report on UK Drone Killing: Little Information. Few Answers. No Accountability."