New Briefing: ‘Into the Fire: The dangers of redeploying British armed drones after Afghanistan’

Originally posted on Drone Wars UK:

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As NATO military operations come to an end in Afghanistan and the MoD faces a judicial review over its refusal to detail where UK drones will next be sent, Drone Wars UK is publishing a new briefing on the dangers of re-deploying UK armed drones.

The UK has used armed drones to undertake airstrikes since 2004, either in conjunction with the US or utilizing its own fleet of armed Reapers acquired in 2007.  And increasingly it seems the UK is  relying on its Reaper drones to undertake airstrikes, with Ministry of Defence figures showing the percentage of British airstrikes in Afghanistan undertaken by drones rising from 52% in 2009/10 to 82% in 2013/14.

Although the UK has committed to continue to operate its Reaper drones, due to air safety regulations they would simply not be allowed to fly in British airspace. So far the MoD have refused to reveal where their long-term home…

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U.S. Special Command outsourced $13 billion in contracts since 2009

A report by The Remote Control Project explores the billions of dollars’ worth of procurements by the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command. Unsurprisingly, the military-industrial complex is fully integrated in “off-the-radar” missions.

Corporations are integrated into some of the most sensitive aspects of these activities: flying drones and overseeing target acquisition, facilitating communications between forward operating locations and central command hubs, interrogating prisoners and translating captured material, and managing the flow of information from regional populations to the U.S.military presence and back again.
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U.S. police department uses “Stingray” surveillance equipment

A Washington state police department just south of Seattle has for years been quietly using controversial surveillance equipment that can collect records of all cellphone calls, text messages and data transfers within a half-mile radius, according to local media. The Stingray surveillance system, deployed by the Tacoma Police Department since 2009, “tricks cellphones into thinking it’s a cell tower and draws in their information,” local news website The Olympian reported Wednesday

Al Jazeera America.

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The NSA’s ICREACH program

The Intercept reports on one NSA program that allows domestic law enforcements agencies–including the FBI and DEA–to search through its trove of metadata for “foreign intelligence.” As the article notes, this includes “incidental” data on U.S. citizens. As I mentioned earlier this week, although the scale of this dragnet is unprecedented, the actual procedure of information sharing is nothing new – and dates back to the SHAMROCK and MINERVA operations throughout the Cold War.

NSA's ICREACH

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The Iraq-ISIS conflcit in maps

Lots of well-illustrated maps over at the NYT

Air strikes in Iraq against ISIS

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Map of ‘botched’ paramilitary raids in the US

This map represents botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids in the U.S. Website and story here.

Botched paramilitary raids

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The NSA’s Project SHAMROCK

This article covers an important historical precursor to contemporary NSA surveillance: Project SHAMROCK, the name for the NSA’s interception of telegrams passing over US soil between 1945 and 1975.

Three telegraph companies handed over tapes of their telegram data to the Fort Meade spy agency. This wholesale “upstream surveillance” was then processed and passed on to other law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, under Project MINERVA. Civil rights activists in particular were targeted and placed on an extensive “watch list.” This was the time of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI after all, during which time “national threats” could be little more than civil disturbances.

The pivotal Senate Church Committee report can be found here, and it provides an impressive amount of detail and context on the first instance of mass (electronic) surveillance in U.S. history.

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