Armed Drone Tech Moving To Urban Combat And Law Enforcement

No military technology has defined the “Global War on Terror” more than unmanned aerial vehicles, referred to commonly as drones. Initially used just for aerial surveillance, drones have become a central player in counter-terrorism strategy and morphed from vehicles for supporting intelligence collection to lead-role killing machines.

The next iteration may be even more troubling as drones are moving from being strictly instruments of war to tools for domestic law enforcement.

Drones first saw major combat with the 2001 U.S. war in Afghanistan. The first confirmed use of a drone for a targeted killing attack was in February 2002, when a CIA operated Predator drone shot a Hellfire missile in Paktia province in Afghanistan at what was supposed to be Osama Bin Laden.

The missile hit its target, but, in what would soon become a common occurrence, the target itself had been misidentified. Instead of killing a high-value enemy of the United States, innocent civilians were blown away. In this case, local Afghans collecting scrap metal.

Since 2002, the drone targeted killing program has expanded to numerous countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The amount of people killed so far under the program runs in the thousands.

The American government has already admitted that at least four Americans have been killed by a U.S. drone strike, with one, Anwar Al-Awlaki, being intentionally targeted for assassination. The then-Obama Administration’s legal memo justifying the killing of Al-Awlaki was released after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU argues the memo shows that “the government claims broad authority to kill American terrorism suspects without judicial process or geographic limitation.”

As U.S. law has been rewritten (or, more accurately, reinterpreted) to allow unrestricted drone killings, drone technological advancement has continued flying forward. Now, a new generation of drones are being offered based not on targeted strikes in (theoretically) remote and loosely populated areas, but urban warfare and pacification.

Among this new wave is the TIKAD drone offered by Duke Robotics based in Florida, a company co-founded by a former colonel in the Israeli special forces. The TIKAD is a small multi-rotor remote controlled drone designed for urban combat that can be equipped with armaments such as a machine gun or grenade launcher.

According to Defense One, Duke Robotics has already secured a a contract with the Israeli military to buy TIKAD drones and is also pursuing U.S. contracts.

Israel is a central hub in U.S. defense technology development. One of the leaked U.S. State Department cables published by Wikileaks shows that the U.S. considers Rafael Advanced Systems in Haifa, Israel to be part of the “critical infrastructure and key resources” needed to maintain U.S. security. If the TIKAD proves itself in Israel and the occupied territories, expect the U.S. to make its own much larger purchases.

And there’s every reason to believe that the drone will prove to be useful as a Duke Robotics drone has been used in at least one improvised combat scenario already. From Defense One again:

In 2015, Israeli Special Forces took out a target with a sniper rifle mounted on an off-the-shelf consumer drone supplied by Duke Robotics.

A similar improvised killing was performed by the Dallas police department in July of 2016, when they rigged a bomb to a Northrop Grumman Remotec Andros F5 robot and killed a man who was suspected of shooting multiple police officers. This is believed to be the first intentional use of a robot by a government agency to kill an American citizen on American soil.

But now we are moving past improvised uses of military drone tech to systemic ones. The TIKAD joins other next generation drone and robot tech that will be used for urban combat situations – by they military or law enforcement related.

The law enforcement market can be just as lucrative as the defense market. In fact, thanks to the 1033 program that allows local and state law enforcement-agencies to request military equipment from the Pentagon, those markets are increasingly overlapping.

The 1033 program gained some national attention when protesters in Ferguson, Missouri were met with military grade urban warfare equipment by local police.

Police are already using drones to chase down suspects, how long before those drones are authorized to kill suspects? Given the drones are (for the time being) under human control, it could be argued there’s no fundamental difference between a police officer pushing a button and pulling a trigger to neutralize someone categorized as an imminent threat to public safety.

These questions, once considered science fiction, are now science fact. These are not theoretical weapons, they are operational and in the process of being distributed.

Killer drones are coming home.

Ep. 26 Torture in the American Empire feat. Jeffrey Kaye

Dan and Joanne interview retired psychologist and writer Jeffrey Kaye about the history of torture in the American empire and the latest news of black sites and outsourced torture in Yemen.

Jeff is a retired psychologist and a writer, specializing on the topics of torture, national security, civil rights. He has done some major collaborative investigatory work (some co-written with Jason Leopold) that have been published at Firedoglake, Truthout, and The Public Record.

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Recorded on June 27, 2017. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Ep. 25 (BONUS): Russiagate or Intelgate?

Listen to or download Episode 25 at Patreon.

Dan and Joanne discuss Russiagate and analyze Stephen Cohen’s and Oliver Stone’s recent comments about how the intelligence “assessment” was contrived. Both Cohen and Stone spoke strongly on the subject, turning the tables, citing three main figures in the Obama administration’s national security state. Is Russiagate the real scandal rivaling Watergate? Or is it Intelgate?

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Recorded on June 23, 2017. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Podcast Episode 24: What is the Antiwar Right? feat. Angela Keaton

Originally published on June 21, 2017.

In Around the Empire Episode 24, Dan and Joanne talk with Angela Keaton, executive director of Antiwar.comabout libertarian and right-wing opposition to war and about areas of common ground with the antiwar Left where alliances or coalitions might be formed.

Angela is a second generation libertarian, a writer, legal researcher, and the Executive Director of Antiwar.com. She has worked in news and public affairs broadcasting since 1999 and she has served on the Libertarian National Committee. Her work is focused on a long term goal of ending militarism, war and torture.

Follow Angela on Twitter @Antiwar2.

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Podcast Episode 23: High-Level Leaks, Soft Coup, and Conspiracy feat. Philip Giraldi

Originally published on June 14, 2017.

In episode 23 of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne talk with Phil Giraldi about his recent article, “Do High-Level Leaks Suggest a Conspiracy?” Former intelligence officers are questioning whether leaks and other events signal an ongoing soft coup based in the national security establishment.

Phil Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA. Giraldi is a columnist at The American Conservative and unz.com. He is also a commentator on mainstream and independent media. He is a consultant, the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, and he is a member of a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Phil’s article: “Do High-Level Leaks Suggest a Conspiracy?

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Podcast Episode 22: Shadow Wars and the Manchester Bombing feat. Christopher Davidson

Originally published June 7, 2017.

Dan and Joanne speak with author and scholar Dr. Christopher Davidson about manipulation of the Middle East by Western powers, the use of extremist groups as a strategic asset, the strife and extremism that has resulted. We also focus on the recent attack in Manchester by a man who fought with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which helped overthrow Gaddafi.

Dr. Christopher Davidson is a scholar and expert in Middle East politics who teaches at Durham University in northern England. He is the author of numerous books including his latest: “Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East,” based on four years of archival work and interviews with former intelligence officials.

Follow Dr. Davison on Twitter @Dr_Davidson

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Podcast Episode 21: Impeach Trump, Get President Pence? Hell No feat. Doug Henwood

Originally published on May 24, 2017.

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne talk with Doug Henwood about the anti-Trump faction’s endgame, the force applied by the unelected permanent government and about the prospect of a President Pence (a “horror”) and Republican-controlled Congress implementing the Republican dream in short order.

Doug Henwood is an American journalist, economic analyst, and financial trader who writes frequently about economic affairs. He publishes a newsletter, “Left Business Observer” and he hosts “Behind the News” a weekly radio show covering economics and politics.”

Follow Doug on Twitter @DougHenwood

Doug’s recent article “The post-Trump Era?”

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Podcast Episode 20 (bonus): Comeypocalypse

Originally published on May 15, 2017 for our patrons. You can get our bonus material by becoming a patron of Around the Empire.

In Episode 20, a bonus episode for our excellent patrons (thank you!), Dan and Joanne talk with about the firing of FBI director, James Comey and the immediate aftermath.
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Recorded on 5/12/17. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Podcast Episode 19: Deep State Sells Out American Counterterrorism Interests feat. Gareth Porter

Originally published on May 9, 2017.

In Episode 19, Dan and Joanne talk with Gareth Porter about how US national security bureaucracies or the “Deep State” sell-out American counterterrorism interests by conducting policy and operations that serve their own and their allies’ interests. The result is that they strengthen and fuel the rise of extremist groups like al Qaeda.

Gareth Porter is an American historian, investigative journalist and policy analyst specializing in the national security state. He is the author of several books including: “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.” His work has been published in distinguished media for decades, and he was the 2012 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. He is also working on a new book on the same subject as his recent article.

Follow Gareth on Twitter at @GarethPorter.

Gareth’s recent article “US ‘deep state’ sold out counter-terrorism to keep itself in business”

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Podcast Episode 18: Kurdish Fighters in Iraq and Syria feat. Joe Lawrence (Joey L.)

Originally published on May 2, 2017.

In episode 18, Dan and Joanne interview photographer and film director Joe Lawrence (Joey L.) about Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria, particularly the YPG/YPJ, the Yazidis YBS, the Peshmerga, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

We discussed his trips and photography in Raqqa and Sinjar, the recent Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish groups, and the precarious triangle of the United States, Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.

Joe Lawrence, known professionally as Joey L., is a Canadian-born photographer now based in Brooklyn who specializes in long term portrait photography projects. He is also a film director. One of his documentaries is titled: “Guerrilla Fighters of Kurdistan.” Joey has traveled far and worked in Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, and India.

Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeyLDotCom

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Episode 17 (bonus) – Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?

Originally published on May 1, 2017 for our patrons.  You can get our bonus material by becoming a patron of Around the Empire.

In Bonus Episode 17 for our patrons (thank you!) Dan and Joanne explore the many contradictions of Donald Trump’s foreign policy and compare his actions with his campaign rhetoric.

Was Trump lying or did he get captured by the deep state? Why, if Trump was going to pursue these establishment-friendly policies did he attack the establishment so much?

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Recorded on April 30. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Podcast Episode 16: The Blacklisting of Independent Media feat. Kyle Kulinski (Secular Talk)

Originally published on April 25, 2017.

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview progressive journalist and activist Kyle Kulinski (Secular Talk) about media concentration and the seemingly coordinated strategy to weaken, undermine, and destroy independent media.

The discussion focuses on “ProporNot” blacklist and other “fake news” claims that establishment media has used to call for a crackdown on platforms such as Facebook, which has now agreed to begin blacklisting unapproved content.

A similar crackdown has occurred against independent media on YouTube known as the “Adpocalypse,” which has demonetized numerous independent media content under the guise of preventing advertisers from being in front of “extremist content.” The crippling demonetization of Kyle and others’ news and politics shows comes as YouTube begins to launch YouTube TV with establishment media companies.

The blacklisting and demonetization are occurring on both platforms as independent media is increasingly taking market share and relevance from legacy outlets. The dangers of “fake news” and “extremist content” appear more and more to be pretexts for anti-competitive practices to protect established media monopolies.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleKulinski

Podcast Episode 15: Were the Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria a Slam Dunk? feat. Brad Hoff

Originally published on April 20, 2017.

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview educator, investigative journalist, and Marine veteran Brad Hoff on the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War.

Hoff has traveled and lived in the Middle East, including Syria. The discussion focuses on the recent chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun and the 2013 attack in Ghouta, and the parallels between the two.

Also examined is the White House assessment and counterarguments from experts about the evidence, the parties involved, and the potential for further military intervention by the United States.

Follow Brad on Twitter @BradRHoff ‏

 

Podcast Episode 14: The Future of China in the Age of Trump feat. Peter Lee (Chinahand)

Originally published on April 17, 2017

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview China expert Peter Lee about the future of U.S.-China relations and the situation in North Korea.

Lee discusses how solving the Korean crisis is actually antithetical to the goals of the U.S. empire. If there ever was a unification of North and South Korea, the U.S. would have difficulty justifying its presence in the region and South Korea would gravitate away from America towards China.

China’s own ambitions are also discussed, including the country’s scramble to secure resources in the developing world, especially in Africa where China is on a collision course with an ever-expanding U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Follow Peter on Twitter @chinahand

Podcast Episode 13: Crowdstrike’s Russian Hacking Claims feat. Jeffrey Carr

Originally published on April 12, 2017.

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr about Crowdstrike’s controversial claims on successfully identifying Russia as the actor that hacked the Democratic National Committee. The evidence has always been thin despite U.S. intelligence agencies ultimately supporting the claim.

Carr discusses Crowdstrike’s history of bad calls, including having to recently rewrite a report on alleged Russian hacking in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government as well as other cybersecurity experts heavily disputed Crowdstrikes initial claims.

Carr also offers a broader view of the cybersecurity industry and why firms like Crowdstrike are incentivized to often make specious claims concerning attribution of a hack. For firms like Crowdstrike, there’s no financial downside in pretending to be able to attribute a hack as the nature of cyber makes it hard to prove or disprove an attribution. Additionally, each report serves as marketing material for future clients.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffreyCarr