Drone collision in Afghanistan sparks debate on U.S. availability
US Army Shadow UAV at Mosul Airbase Iraq Photo by: Ralph Greenaway/AKE
August 19th, 2011
10:31 AM ET

Drone collision in Afghanistan sparks debate on U.S. availability

By CNN Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes

A collision between a drone and a cargo plane in Afghanistan this week echoed all the way to Washington, revving up a debate on when the unmanned vehicles will soar over American skies.

The 450-pound remotely-piloted drone–the RQ-7 known as the Shadow– hit a C130 on Monday, destroying the drone, damaging the big jet and forcing an emergency landing.

The accident gave proponents of unmanned air systems a chance to trumpet how successful they have been in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We have more than 1.3-million flying hours on unmanned aircraft systems without something like this happening," said Tim Owings of the Army's Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

And he calls the collision, "a very, very rare event."

And of course, the conditions that the Shadow and its sister craft endure is severe, "in combat conditions, very dangerous conditions, very dirty environments." Owings said. "The systems are quite safe, quite reliable and they have been doing great work."

Owings was one of thousands of people wandering this week through acres of exhibits in the Washington Convention Center at the annual show of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

In a giant mesh cage, inventors can show off their latest zooming, whirling drones that can beam back high-definition color pictures of the enemy burying explosives in an Afghanistan road.

Closer to home, they can show the course of a wildfire in the American west or the size of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"There are no two alike," Insitu executive Paul McDuffee, who was at the exhibit, said about the number of unmanned systems.

"They are like snowflakes. These systems are designed to perform a specific function, the real product of UAS (unmanned air systems) is not the flying platform itself it is the data it delivers."

And McDuffee and others point out that the demand for drones and other airborne gizmos is growing back home, especially as soldiers who had them in their military tool-kit wonder why they don't have the same technology on their civilian jobs.

"For example you have people lost on skiing expeditions or mountain climbing, these systems are tailor-made to go into very hostile weather conditions, and change the calculus of a situation and by that I mean you're no longer worried about the risk of a guy flying through a snow storm," Owings said.

"You use an unmanned system to go, spot people and save lives. And that's really the benefit we provide, saving lives in theater and I think there is an equal benefit state-side as well."

But while proponents of unmanned aircraft want to see those benefits, they aren't holding their breath.

McDuffee predicts that the Federal Aviation Administration may approve some drone use by an estimated 2025 deadline, but the technology for unmanned aircraft to detect and evade potential problems needs more work.

However, he said, the technological solution is probably out there on the giant floor of the AUVSI exhibit.

"That is really the heart and soul of the real issue that faces our industry, how do you safely integrate all of this capability into our national airspace so we can start deploying these systems for commercial use - that is the bottom line," McDuffee said.

And he thinks the FAA was caught off guard about how many unmanned aircraft were coming on line and how to protect the public in the air and on the ground.

"I think it was their belief that this was simply an annoyance. They really never fully understood or appreciated what the total impact of this technology was going to be in the near term," McDuffee said.

"They now realize this is a much bigger, bigger problem, that UAS are here to stay, they are going to have to wrestle with the issue."

And senior military officers are calling for the industry to speed up and offer up new machines.

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch told inventors, scientists and corporate executives attending the conference that he begins his day at the Pentagon by looking at laminated cards with the names and faces of the 153 soldiers lost when he was commanding troops in the early days of fighting in Iraq.

He says he could have benefited from the drones' "persistent stare" to check on insurgents planning an attack or planting an improvised explosive device.

"If I could have done that, I could have watched him continuously and when the bad guys start doing bad things, I could have killed them," Lynch said.

The commanding general of the U.S. Army installation management command said they are a great addition.

"I believe candidly we can accelerate the evolution of technology," Lynch said. "I contend there are things we can do to improve the survivability of our service members."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • drones • Homeland Security • Military
soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. ford dealer

    Great issues altogether, you just gained a new reader. What might you suggest about your put up that you made some days ago? Any sure?

    April 8, 2012 at 5:26 am | Reply
  2. rajeev

    Weird, Birdlike Mystery Drone Crashes in Pakistan

    It looks a bit like silver bird. It probably was used to spy on insurgents. And now it’s in the hands of the Pakistanis.

    WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson flags pictures of an unusual, unfamiliar drone that reportedly crashed crashed over southwestern Pakistan late last week. It’s a surveillance drone, with a camera attached — recovered from the crash but not apparently visible in this photo — rather than the larger, deathly flying robots that shoot missiles. This one looks tiny, with a wingspan not much longer than a man’s outstretched arms, and clearly light enough for a grown man to carry.

    The Pakistani Frontier Corps in Baluchistan province recovered the drone. And they confidently declare it to be an “American surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle.” But as Anderson points out, it doesn’t look like anything the U.S. flies — or at least acknowledges flying. What’s the deal?

    Danger Room asked some of our favorite drone and aviation enthusiasts for their perspective on the small mystery drone. And we weren’t the only ones who thought it looked decidedly avian.

    Check out the SmartBird, a drone designed by the engineers at Festo and modeled explicitly on the herring gull:

    It’s clearly not the same drone, as the wings are obviously different: the mystery drone’s wings are straighter and more sharply angled than the SmartBird’s sleeker, more rounded wings, which mimic those of the gull. Judging from the light of the second picture, the SmartBird’s wings — which flap to enable autonomous flight — are made of more than one type of material, which doesn’t appear to be the case with the downed drone. What’s more, the downed drone’s wings have ailerons and its nose kinda-sorta looks like it hosted a propeller, two features the SmartBird lacks. One of our eagle-eyed experts points out to us that since the SmartBird is designed to weigh less than a pound (!), it probably couldn’t have carried a camera in its belly.

    But the two drones look fairly similar, especially with their fantail design in the rear, and their dimensions appear to roughly align. (.PDF). TechCrunch has a cool video from last month of the SmartBird flying above a TED talk given by Festo’s Markus Fischer.

    And there’s a recent push to design small drones to look more like birds that extends beyond Festo. Back in the spring, AeroVironment launched a pint-sized drone that looks like a hummingbird. That drone didn’t look anything like the one that crashed over Pakistan. But masquerading a spy robot as a bird has obvious benefits to the stealthy drone program that hunts al-Qaida in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

    Of course, all this speculation overlooks the simplest explanation: Forge is back in his mutant workshop.

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/08/weird-birdlike-mystery-drone-crashes-in-pakistan/

    August 29, 2011 at 11:57 am | Reply
  3. roger smith

    mid-air collision will become reality in pakistan as airspace between Islamabad and Afghan border (altitude 23000 to 25000 ft ) is reserved for drones

    August 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  4. Aaron

    I think drones would be a great way to have patrol eyes on the street as a deterrent to murder and rape. You can't let one tiny accident (which is the fault of the Air traffic controler AWACS) dictate what happens. That said I think we know that un-manned is a cheaper, safer way to keep eyes in the sky.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • GreyGeek

      Cameras on every corner like it is in Britain, or drones over head pointing cameras at anyone who looks suspicious (and by whose standards?) isn't the kind of America the Constitution was written to create. One only has to recall FDR's abuse of the Census Act, which strictly forbid the use of census data to target specific groups of people to understand how even such a "harmless" idea like the census can be abused by well-intended people.

      The best way to fight terrorism isn't behaving like sheep acting out of fear and voting for a power hungry politician who promises "safety", like tyrants do. It is by having the courage our Founding Fathers had to believe that they could defend themselves, individually or as a group by carrying their own personal weapons. The 2nd Amendment is destroyed when politicians, control freaks and do-gooders support and pass laws infringing the freedom it bestows. The 2nd Amendment doesn't say "you can bear arms, except at location X or if city council Y says no". Israel should be our model for ground and air security, not the TSA.

      The DHS is fraught with potential freedom destroying abuse, which was made clear in January of 2009 when they released a document to law enforcement officers around the country characterizing soliders returning from Iran and Afghanistan as being potential terrorists, along with fully half of the political spectrum. Right now we are living under the threat of a Presidential Order which give the President the authority (but not the right) at any time to declare any individual or group of people to be terrorists, on his or her word alone. Then the DHA, FBI, ICE and the TSA will leap into action, completing the total destruction of our Constitutional rights.

      August 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
      • ranger 830

        Bravo as a former Ranger I was Totally insulted by pilot one and called a terrorist along the likes of Tim Mcvey WTF. Twenty four years of service and called a terrorist by a little turd button pusher REMF.If all of us prior service guys are terrorists for defending the constitution set fourth by our founding fathers then so be it!!!!! If all of us jsoc, guys are terrorists pilot one then I would be affraid very affraid.I took an oath to defend this country against all enemies forign and DOMESTICT and thats just what I will do should push come to shove!!!!!!!!

        August 28, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Pilot 1

      Actually, Drones would be a great way to have patrol eyes on the street as a deterrent to all crime and terrorism like ranger over there.

      August 29, 2011 at 7:42 am | Reply
  5. LarryMoniz

    The scariest part of this story is that the writer is clueless about airplanes. He/she says: "The 450-pound remotely-piloted drone–the RQ-7 known as the Shadow– hit a C130 on Monday, destroying the drone, damaging the big jet and forcing an emergency landing." One has only to look at a picture of a C130 to realize it's a PROPELLER DRIVEN aircraft, not a jet. In fact, it was designed to takeoff and land low-and-slow on runways too short for a jef aircraft to handle. This is just another that the quality of CNN reporting is in rapid decline. If it wasn't for Anderson Cooper I'd totally give up on it.

    August 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • wek

      C130's have turbine engines driving the propellers. These things were called propjets to differentiate them from the last of the piston engine propeller aircraft. It is not uncommon to cut that description to jets. It was pretty hot technology when it was introduced in 1954.

      August 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      Jef aircraft? What in the world is a jef aircraft? How much runway does a jef aircraft need? Could a drone hit take down a jef?

      Just how safe are these jefs?

      August 25, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  6. vet2640

    PILOT ERROR, enough said.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:34 am | Reply
  7. Pistoya

    Like Paul Wofowicz, John McCain and Rick Santorum sing "BOMB BOMB, BOMB, BOMB; BOMB, BOMB IRAN

    For Democracy ! For Freedom ! For Truth ! .............. For America !!!! Kill em all and let God sort em out !

    August 23, 2011 at 10:49 am | Reply
  8. Pilot 1

    My heros are John McCain and Paul Wolfowicz !!! Like PORCHE ..There is NO substitute !!!!! .... There is NO substitute !!!!! MOTHERF----KERS !!!!!!!

    August 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Reply
    • Pistoya

      Thumbs up to You Pilot 1. I like.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • Some Guy

      Lol, pilot, i gotta thank you for the entertainment you have provided. You twisted view of reality has entertained me for the last 45 minutes. This would be a fantastic county of about 3 people if the punishment for EVERYTHING was to just shoot them. Yea, i clocked you at 45.1 in a 45, so have this bullet. Lol irrational people are funny.
      And just a quick thing for rajeev, nobobdy wants to read your repasta (repost for all you newfags) and i have to agree with the other people who replied, way to show one side of th aurgument and no the other.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Reply
      • Some Guy

        Aww, I made myself look like a newfag, I meant copypasta not repasta.

        August 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  9. Pilot 1

    Hey Ron Paul ! Read the middle fingers if all the airmen and commandos doing the work of America and taking it to the enemy !!!!!!!! Read between the lines baby !!!! Read between the lines !!!!!!

    August 22, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  10. Pilot 1

    Bear in mind that the United States Congress and the President agrees with us ! When it come to terror and crime, we take no prisoners. When the order comes for me to drop my bombs or spray my 30 mm cannon, I serve my country for the pleasure of it. And the bloody corpses of the offending enemy on the ground make it all worthwhile. I feel vindicated as if I just accomplished an orgasm for freedom and democracy. Sometimes violence is good. Very Good !!!!!!

    August 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  11. ranger 830

    @ pilot 1,If the drones are going to catch all the bad guys! I guess we will have alot circling Washington DC. LOL Thats where the real criminals are!!!! Leave the pot heads alone!!! What a waste of $$$$$$$ Typical CNN since when do c130s have jet engines.I have over 50 jumps and dont remember c130s having jet engines.I fought for freedom how free is being servailed 24/7? Remember the constitution? I for one feel we have given up enough since 911!!!! This is not the America where I was raised!!!! You can have my weapons when you pry them from my cold dead fingers!!!!!

    August 22, 2011 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Pilot 1

      Nothing wrong with the constitution. I love the constitution. We need survaillance everwhere 24/7 as Timothy McVeigh taught us. Remember him ? You know the decorated war hero turned domestic terrorist ? It sounds like You are thinking of following in his footsteps and if You are - then certain peril awaits as drones will most certainly be deployed over Your house and everywhere You go if You are going to have an attitude like that. You better serve Your master and not bite his hand as he feeds You. In the next few years, all the terrorists and criminals are going to come to learn the true meaning of power and who controls it.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Reply
      • ranger 830

        First of all Tim Mcvey was no hero nor was he highly decorated he was a trader!!!! How dare you put words in my mouth
        not knowing me or where i have been.You have alot of balls!!!! I served proudly for 24 years my country not your vision of my country!!!! I fear no one not you or our Govt. The day the U.S. becomes a police state will be terrible and the people wont stand for it!!! We will be no better than the former East Germany or Soviet Union! I refuse to be part of it and im sure im not alone!!!! So say what you like and do what you wish!!!! I meant what i said! I took an oath to protect this country from all enemies forign and domestict!!! You should pray that you are not deemed a domestic terrorist at some point then you may have to deal with the likes of me!!!!! I did not get paid to miss when I send it it counts. Promise xoxoxo
        Dont Tread On Me!!!!! Dont get me wrong drones are great for what they do on the battle field but not for spying on ones own neighbors!! Innocent until proven guilty!!!! You sir and people like you are whats wrong with America. If you are so affraid of Terrorists and pot farmers and bank robbers then maybe you should go and bubble wrap your head!!!!
        You will be safe then from all of us gun carrying god fearing Americans!!!!!!!!!!!

        August 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Pilot 1

      "Leave the pot heads alone!!!" ??????

      I dont think so. They are law breakers. Just like speeders and bank robbers are. Just like the terrorists for example like the domestic terrorists that are "flash mobbing" the place making it necessary to patrol everwhere 24/7. You say You abide by the constitution yet You defend criminals ? Let me tell You a thing or two. If my CO tells me to push a button on a guy, I am going to follow orders and push a button. How about You ? If You were a ranger worth Your salt, You would understand perfectly well what I am taking about. Thats what we train for. Criminals and terrorists. They are all the same to me when conducting an operation and I'll tell You what. I love my job. If I ever do decide to rejoin civilianhood, I will join a SWAT team that does a lot of no knock warrants because at the root of it You never feel as alive as You do when You are taking down the bad guys. Dont make me tired.

      August 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
      • Robert

        You espouse some form of Constitution, but given your diatribe, it's hard to tell which one.

        Speeders and pot growers are along the same lines as terrorist and bank robbers? So you're going to be the guy with LIDAR on one tripod and a riffle in the other picking off speeders? Be sure to tell the watch captain of your plans.

        Further, you seem to have your branches of government mixed up. SWAT and other law enforcement personnel, (and you really need to get to know this word before handing out free samples of wooded shampoos)....go after "suspects". It's up to the prosecution and a jury to deem them "criminals". Know the diffrence before suiting up.

        And speaking of "drones"...you had better have the intestinal fortitude to know the difference between a lawful and unlawful order from your CO before you stand in line on a kick and thump squad. You might want to wiki the Nuremburg Trials. This "I was just following orders" BS will not stand up in court (Yes, even JACK BOOTED THUGS have rights).

        August 22, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
      • melvinslizard

        Really? Potheads are like terrorists and bankrobbers? Thank you for your gross ignorance. 90% chance your kids are "terrorists"

        August 23, 2011 at 10:03 am |
      • melvinslizard

        Pilot1
        I hope you are never hired to serve and protect our society. Homicidal maniacs such as yourselves have a place in the world.

        It's called Guantanamo Bay.

        August 23, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Pilot 1

      People ! We need to listen to people who know how things are like John McCain and Paul Wolfowicz. We need to deploy and kill em all ! In Libya for example. You want freedom and democracy ? Join Us !!!!! The US kicks BUTT !!!!! You remember that !

      August 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Reply
      • ranger 830

        You would push a button , Thats the key here!!! GOOD ANSWER! You cant bullshit me! What does a button pusher know?
        Thats the problem we are becoming mindless button pushers.What do you know about CQB. NOTHING!!! im sure!!! Have you humped the mountains? Have you been ambushed?Have you had people close to you die grusome deaths?Have you been ied,ed?Have you killed at close range young men in their teens?YOU DONT KNOW SHIT EXCEPT HOW TO PUSH ABUTTON WHEN ORDERED! Admit it YOU ARE JUST A R.E.M.F You clearly are no solider!!!! You would never make it as a Ranger! You may be required to be intelligent quick on your feet and have to think outside the box to get the job done! Swat team your joking right your wanna be rambo ass would catch a case in no time.You should look up Miranda rights,and R.O.E. (RULES OF ENGAUGEMENT)So stay safe in the rear with the gear my little REMF friend and enjoy your three hots and a cot.Because we dont get hots and cots etc.You should choose more carefuly who you accuse of being not worth his salt and a terrorist.We are all Americans and we dont want to live in east germany or the soviet union! Your living a huge pipe dream my fried!!!!! I will defend my country against all enemies forighn and domestict! When you grow up and become a big boy get back with me!!! I see spinless little remf. turds like yourself as a clear and present danger to our country,the constitution,and American way of life. See you soon I hope xoxoxo SIN PARE !!!!!

        August 24, 2011 at 11:35 am |
      • ranger 830

        Dont worry America all your troubles are over!!!!!!! Have no fear Pilot1 is here with his drone to save the day!!!!! I have my trusty drone and with it I will shoot all the speeders, and hippies,and flash mobbers and bank robbers and kids skipping school,Americans who dont pay their taxs and anyone else him and his retarded cronies see as a threat.Wake up America choose wisly when you vote or this is what you get!!!!! I will say it again reel slow you can have my weapons come and get em!!!!! Mr swat team button pushin badass!!!!! Be safe now in your bunker in the rear with the rest of your robotic but buddies!!!!!!!! I will have no further comment you have proven my point for me! Captian America is gonna save the world from his bunker with his drone. Useless bag of hot air!!!!! You are no American a communist in disguise for sure!!!!!

        August 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  12. Pilot 1

    To those that are unemployed - Study Security and Surveillance as a career. Your opportunity just arrived. You can hone Your skills as a domestic drone operator helping our domestic forces catch the bad guys.

    August 22, 2011 at 7:28 am | Reply
  13. Pilot 1

    Dont underestimate our drones ! Libya will soon be free and cheap gas will be back by Christmas. It was our drones that identified most of the targets for the rebels and now we can install Ali Suleiman Aujali and the TNC in power. Never again will we have to worry about some Libyan tyrant being a stone in our shoe again. Chalk up another victory for our drones. If You are smart, You will buy stock in companies that manufacture them cause business will soon be booming more than ever before.

    August 22, 2011 at 6:02 am | Reply
  14. Pilot 1

    Well like it or not, drones are here to stay and You better believe that if You are a criminal or a hater of freedom, You have a lot to be concerned about. In about three years, we will have nearly 4 million drones with various capablities flying domestic missions alone, so if You grow or smoke pot, speed on our highways, rob banks or are into flash mobs, You may find Yourself surprised and maybe even shot or blown up by our law enforcent drones witnessing the crimes in progress for which we dont need a warrant. And God cant even help You if You are a terrorist in a foreign country. I expect You will hear of thosands of perp incinerations in the coming months in Afganistan, Libya, Iraq and Iran. This is the greatest technology thew world has ever seen ! Its time for the criminals and terrorists to feel a little fear. And feel it they will. They will mess their pants.

    August 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  15. Rod C. Venger

    While I am all for the drone systems for use overseas military use, the use of drones here in the US needs to be tightly regulated. I've been flying R/C aircraft for years and it's not something the neighbors want to see over their homes, even though it's perfectly legal. I'm a fair to middlin flyer but over the years I've probably lost a half dozen aircraft due to my errors and an equal number to technical glitches. One plane accidentally got out of range of my radio and just kept on going, never to be seen again. There's no way to assure the public, my neighbors, that my small, 3 pound aircraft, are always going to do what I want them to do or that I'll never make an error and crash it into their home, car or kids. Compound that reality by making it a 100 pound or 500 pound aircraft and there's a genuine threat to life and limb, not to mention property. This is why people go out into the sticks, or a designated model airport, to do their flying.

    It's only a matter of time before local governments and other entities will dream up reasons to have UAV's flying over our cities and towns. Law enforcement will probably be first, and I gotta say, the first time I see a craft with "LAPD" emblazoned on it, hovering over my pool ogling my old lady, that UAV will shortly be sitting at the bottom of the pool or in pieces on the deck, and LAPD will have some explaining to do if they want it back.

    August 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Reply
    • allenwoll

      Comparing R/C aircraft to well-designed and constructed drones is utterly absurd ! ! !

      August 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Reply
      • Robert

        How so?

        With the, HD video/FPV, jet engines, vectored thrust, composite construction, onboard GPS, Data link/TSPI data and auto pilot/tracking available COTS, a few of these radio controlled units would give some UAVs designed just a few years ago a run for their money.

        Furthermore, you could meet the FedEx guy at the door, charge the batteries and in a few hours be in your backyard spy'n on the neighbor's dog. No feds/FAA notification required.

        August 22, 2011 at 12:12 am |
      • Don't know a thing

        You'd be surprised. For all that quality design, these things are still a danger to everybody in the airspace as soon as they're aloft.... People aren't going to be happy when Dulles is shut down because a UAS is lost-link over the field, orbiting for whatever ungodly loiter time it's got, and waiting to crash down on US soil.... Technology is great, but there's a lot to be said for having a pilot on board.

        August 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  16. juan

    C130's are not jets, they are propeller driven!

    August 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  17. Sean

    Free advertising for the military-industrial complex. Not balanced at all. Drones are invasive and thwart privacy which is counter to sound domestic policy. I don't want these irritating gnats flying around. They are an evil nuisance. I am sick and tired of "security concerns" preempting decency and privacy time and time again. No government or corporation has a right to tread on me or any other law abiding citizen. Drones in the USA should be ILLEGAL!

    August 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • DEAN ALLEN JONES

      I'm with Sean on this one. Those who are in power thrive on maintaining a sense of a permanent state of crisis in people's minds. The result of which is that all too many people in so-called free societies are prepared to surrender more and more rights and freedoms to governments and their corporate allies who profit from selling "security". The more one streamlines and "automates" the processes of government surveillance, policing, and punishment, the easier it becomes to abuse the process. Who is watching those who plan to park drones over the heads of as many people as possible in the name of fighting crime, or drug cartels or terrorism? And who will hold them accountable for their inevitable misuse of the system?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    • macbaldy

      Roger that! If a Canada goose in a the air intake of jetliner can bring it down–sometimes, a much larger drone would be more certain disaster. They should not be allowed to be in civilian airspace without full FAA monitoring.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  18. Pilot 1

    People are missing the point. The United States has at its disposal the greatest tool imposing our international will and protecting the country as well as effecting civilian behaviors in a positive way. Who will internationally stand against us if we have a response mechanism anywhere in the world only miles away from the threat with swift and overwhelming response capability ? Other insurgent countries that hate our freedom will tremble in their boots. As I said before, the drones being developed now will even have the capability to be our Johnny on the spot police force, but even better possessing SWAT style capabilities. No longer will that robber at the bank have a chance to get away, because we can hit him with a precision guided gunshot to the head from a mile away and if he is so fortunate enough to get into his getaway vehicle, we can put a hellfire missle up his backside as he attempts to drive away. Crime will virtually be eliminated ! And the deterrent value will be invaluble.

    August 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • rajeev

      Fireside: CIA Lies About Civilian Drone Deaths
      Obama's counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan recently made the claim that because of the exceptional proficiency, the precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop, referring to use of unmanned drones, that there hasn't been a single collateral death for almost a year. But as the New York Times documented today, it doesn't seem to add up. And in response John Brennan then said that U.S. officials could not confirm any deaths.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
      • Greg

        You are right. We are at war and collateral damage will happen. Either we stop the war or accept the collateral damage as a consequence of war. If you want you could ride on roads looking for targets and risk IEDs or you could use Drones to find these targets.
        Make a decision. Stop the war, stop the collateral damage. Support the war and accept the consequences.

        If you SUPPORT OUR TROOPS then stop the warssssss. NOTE: PLURAL

        August 22, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Yeah, shooting a $100,000 hellfire at a car belonging to a guy that just stole $4000, makes a lot of sense, especially while he's weaving his way down Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills with traffic all around him. Blown out store windows, cars on fire, a few dozen people peppered with shrapnel are a great PR move.

      Maybe we should stick to spike strips and just following the guy in a helicopter until the fool runs out of gas and we set a dog on him instead?

      August 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Reply
    • Martinez

      Ever heard of EMP ??? Perfect weapon to shoot little drones down....

      August 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  19. DEAN ALLEN JONES

    What a bunch of nonsense! Many of the military people, as well as the drone designers and technicians quoted in this article seem to suffer from a bad case of "American exceptionalism". Technology is not static, and Americans have no monopoly on imagination or creativity, or ruthlessness. Drones of all types will be made and used by many nation states, and they will market them to whomever they wish. The next generation of IED's faced by Western forces in some future insurgency will probably be planted or delivered by cheap off the shelf drones, and may in fact be drones themselves. Drones have shown themselves to be quite useful against second and third rate powers which have no real 21st century military infrastructure with which to counter them. In spite of this, the wars continue with no signs of the technologically outclassed enemy being prepared to surrender and to accept terms imposed upon them by drone attacks. Drones are not the panacea for dealing with geo-political problems simply because they are cheap, and because they allow Americans to enjoy the elusion of getting to wage wars in which only the other side sheds blood.

    August 21, 2011 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • david burns

      The drones do a good service without risking another American life. So, if things go as usual for the pentagon they will just sign a blank check and ask them how many they want. Money is never an object for the military.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:05 am | Reply
      • Robert

        If the drones risk no American lives, why did the C-130 declare an emergency?

        August 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  20. tedbohne

    the use of drones is the act of cowards who are well aware their ground forces are impotent. these machines kill indiscriminately and against targets the US BELIEVES are good.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • mwm54

      How it it any different from planting mines or firing rockets from miles away?

      August 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • Exodus

      what about the weapons of today? sniper rifles can peg a guy from over four miles away. We have nuclear weapons that can wipe out millions. Tanks that render many forms of infantry irrelevant. Battleships that make said tanks seem like tin cans. Are you saying we should go back to the days of beating each other to death with our fists to show that our ground forces are not impotent?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Reply
    • Dale

      No people who strap bombs to themselves or others and walk in a crowded marketplace and kill hundreds of innocent people in the name of religion, is a coward.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  21. Pray this Prayer

    The ILLUMINATION OF
    CONSCIENCE predicted by O u r L a d y in Garabandal in 1961 will take place soon to
    save the world.

    The Warning is taking place to:

    1. Prove to all that God exists.
    2 Bring everyone to J e s u s and the Way of Truth.
    3. To help save us before the final day of judgement by giving us a chance to ask for
    forgiveness for the sins we have committed.

    What will Happen?

    TWO COMETS WILL
    COLLIDE IN THE SKY.

    The sky will turn red, it will look like fire & then you will see a large cross in the sky to
    prepare you.

    Everyone over the age of 7 will experience a mystical encounter with J e s u s C h r i s t which will last
    anything up to 15 minutes.

    Pray this prayer to be prepared: Oh my precious J e s u s,embrace me in your arms and allow my head to rest upon your shoulders so that you can raise me up to your glorious kingdom when the time is right. Allow your precious blood to flow over my heart that we can be united as one.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:07 am | Reply
    • ch

      OH...Piss off!!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:46 am | Reply
  22. lindseyp3

    Use the term the military uses – turboprop, not jet. That's poor execution on CNN's part.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:50 am | Reply
    • CMSGT Matt Ferrara

      And the C-130 is not big either. It's smaller than a C-17, a C-5 (A,B & C models)and the old C-141's. Nice going CNN. Next time have a reporter who knows something about the subject write the story. That would be a novelty. LOL LOL

      August 21, 2011 at 11:54 am | Reply
  23. OldGoat

    The 450-pound remotely-piloted drone–the RQ-7 known as the Shadow– hit a C130 on Monday, destroying the drone, damaging the big jet and forcing an emergency landing.

    The C-130 is not a "big jet." Luckily for the crew, the drone didn't fly into one of the C-130's propellers. That would have been bad—real bad.

    August 21, 2011 at 12:47 am | Reply
    • amused123

      yea. " big jet": What is the writer; 10?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  24. CD

    They're proud of how many hours they've gone without a midair collision. How many things can you run into in remote, combat areas in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're relying on the "big sky theory" and it doesn't work.

    August 21, 2011 at 12:39 am | Reply
    • Earnan

      Right. It "doesn't work" to the extent that a collision has happened... Exactly once. Oh, the humanity!

      August 21, 2011 at 7:26 am | Reply
  25. rajeev

    August 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  26. rajeev

    August 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  27. Hasai

    Yo, CNN!
    The C-130 is a four-engine turboprop, NOT a jet!
    Think maybe you should restrict reporting on military matters to people who have a clue?

    August 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      It has four jet turbine engines. They turn the propellers. Exhaust gas does boost thrust. If you want to nit pick high by-pass turbo fans are not jet engines since most thrust comes from a fan.

      August 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Reply
      • tedbohne

        actually, the engines on a C-130 ARE jet engines. the difference is the exhaust turns a few more turbines connected to a shaft that turns a propeller rather than used as thrust.

        August 21, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • vbscript2

      Technically speaking, a turbo prop is a jet engine. However, in a turboprop, most of the thrust comes from the jet engine core driving a propeller. In a turbojet (the long, cigar-shaped jet engines that were common on older airliners and are still seen on DC-9's, MD-88's, MD-90's, etc.,) the thrust is produced by the jet engine core itself. In a turbofan (the wide jet engines, such as those seen on 747's, 757's, 767's, 777's, and new 737's,) most of the thrust (about 75%) is produced by a large fan driven by the jet engine core while the core itself produces the rest. While most people don't think of turboprops as being jet engines, they technically are.

      August 21, 2011 at 12:11 am | Reply
      • Joe

        True, technically a turbo prop is a jet engine. Since Apache Helicopters also use turbo prop(s) to drive "propellers," should we also call these helicopters "jets"? The term "turbo prop" is better suited to describe airplanes with exposed propellers such as the C130.

        August 21, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • JoJoJo

      Thank you.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:42 am | Reply
  28. edgarX

    Hmmm... the C130 is not a jet..... its a turbo prop.

    August 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  29. Pray this Prayer

    The ILLUMINATION OF
    CONSCIENCE predicted by Our Lady in Garabandal in 1961 will take place soon to
    save the world.

    The Warning is taking place to:

    1. Prove to all that God exists.
    2 Bring everyone to Jesus and the Way of Truth.
    3. To help save us before the final day of judgement by giving us a chance to ask for
    forgiveness for the sins we have committed.

    What will Happen?

    TWO COMETS WILL
    COLLIDE IN THE SKY.

    The sky will turn red, it will look like fire & then you will see a large cross in the sky to
    prepare you.

    Everyone over the age of 7 will experience a mystical encounter with Jesus Christ which will last
    anything up to 15 minutes.

    Pray this prayer to be prepared: Oh my precious Jesus,embrace me in your arms and allow my head to rest upon your shoulders so that you can raise me up to your glorious kingdom when the time is right. Allow your precious blood to flow over my heart that we can be united as one.

    August 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Reply
    • JT

      Why are you bringing superstition into a discussion about reality?

      August 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Reply
    • oldguy

      Time to wake up, Prayer...

      August 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • Bon Smith

      wow, you are a realy fucking looney toon aren't you?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:23 am | Reply
    • AF1706

      Are you high? What does this have to do with ANYTHING about this article?

      August 22, 2011 at 5:23 am | Reply
  30. derek

    ok i flew the shadow in iraq.i have over 1700 flight hours on the system and 500+ launch and recoveries. This aircraft has one of the best flight records of any out there. no, not every aircraft is perfect and this one does have its flaws. But drones are out there to save lives, we do the dull dirty or dangerous missions so we dont risk the lives of actual pilots. these drones have been instumental in the fight in afganistan, and iraq. ask any commander that has troops in contact or troops doing patrols and it gives the commander a new view of the battlefield. we save lives by telling troops on the ground where the enemy is and how many. we can fly in sandstorms when other aircraft are grounded but the troops still have to go out, we go with them. we are angels on their shoulders. we can walk troops right up to the house someone just attacked from. we are the future. one day there will be a total unmanned airspace across the united states. we patrol the borders, we save lives, this mishap is one. and everyone flips out saying they are unsafe. you try flying 1.3 million hours and not have a few problems. people really need to see that they advantages of these air vehicles far outweigh the disadvantages.

    August 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      If we have total unmanned air space in the U.S., will we return to cross country trips by automobile?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  31. Dick Trickle

    "the RQ-7 known as the Shadow– hit a C130 on Monday, destroying the drone, damaging the big jet" Huh? I guess the military hasn't taken the propellers off of the wings of C-130s yet.

    August 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Plexie

      If one thinks of the author in terms of the insect world, I think such an obvious error points to the author as being a drone.

      August 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      "Technically" it is a turbine driving the C130 – just with a propeller (Turboprop). But I agree. If you are going to report on aviation – make sure you understand the topic a bit more. Always irritates me that anytime a GA Aircraft has an incident it is always a "Piper Cub" or a """""""CESSNA""""""""" in the media. There are hundreds of other aircraft out there and it can give these businesses a bad name.

      August 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  32. Deephaven

    I was a bit surprised regarding the suggestion that these enormously expensive tools should be used to rescue people lost on skiing expeditions and mountain climbing adventures. I thought we were in an era where people were screaming for budget cutbacks and no increases in taxes. I feel that people who are driven to go out on dangerous skiing trips or mountain climbing adventures should go with the understanding that they're on their own, and should not count on an enormously expensive, taxpayer funded rescue if they get into trouble. Nobody NEEDS to go on these types of adventures. If it were up to me, I'd also require pilots of small planes to purchase search and rescue insurance. We don't need to be subsidizing hobbies of the wealthy.

    August 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • Craig

      I fly. Not as much as I would like though. I make $48,000 a year do you think I am wealthy?
      I don't!

      August 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Reply
      • Rob

        Totally disagree. I fly too – combined family income of 98K. I rent an aircraft. We all DO pay for it through our taxes on 100LL, Airport fees, controller fees (in some areas), extra insurance, etc. This would be the equivalent of me saying that if you choose to fly in a commercial airliner to go on vacation (you are therefore rich because you didn't take a bus)..and if something happens you – you should not expect any govt assistance. Furthermore if you are in another country and you have problems, you should have no expectation of assistance from the US embassy (as you should have known the risk).

        While we are at it – if you are riding Amtrak and the train derails, you should expect no assistance from local law enforcement. Or if you are out on a boat and it catches fire, you should expect no assistance from fire fighters – because you "Must be rich".

        This stuff really gets me going – how on earth do you expect to have your @$$ flown around in the future if pilots aren't able to train in light aircraft first? Nearly every pilot out there started out flying a light aircraft at a cost out of their own pocket. (Going rate is roughly $100-$150 per hour) + $40-$50 for instruction. Oh and NOW the new requirements are going to ask for 1500 hours MINIMUM before you can fly for the airlines. (At that "Rich" pilot's expense). All so they can start out making about $20K per year.

        Oh – and guess what – a lot of the search and rescue costs do in fact get passed down to the "rescued" already. Insurance covers a lot of it though.

        August 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
      • Greg

        Does it really matter if a C-130 is a Jet or an prop plane????? It got hit by an un-manned aircraft. Was the airplane blue? or was it Sky-blue? It doesn't matter. Did the pilot have blue eyes or brown??? It doesn't matter.

        August 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Robert

      And Deephaven, no one "needs" a personal automobile. So no help for those involved in an auto accident. We certainly don't need to subsidize the more affluent which can afford a personal automobile.

      August 21, 2011 at 12:29 am | Reply
  33. paul c torbert

    @rajeev, War is War.... ever heard of collateral damage??? think back to a war where civilians have not been killed accidentally.... can you name a war that has had NO Civilian deaths in history???? i didnt think so.... oh, and what would you call a "Martyr" with explosives blowing himself up in a market place??? low tech drone, is what i call it....

    as for the "Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes" inability to produce an accurately detailed reoprt in the english language, have any of you looked at other reports here on CNN or any of the other so-called News Agencies?, its as if they never attended an english class or a journalism class.... under-educated and over-paid...

    i am the second of 3 generations of United States Air Force veterans, in my family.... its up to AMERICANS to clean up AMERICA from the inside, out.... STAND UP against a corrupt few in government!!! and STAND UP against any threat to OUR Nation and the Freedoms our Founding Fathers established!!!!

    and remember, YOU are an immigrant to this land.... the only folks who ARENT immigrants are the Native Americans... unless the Science and concept of Human Migration has escaped you...

    uh, why is the submit button labeled, "Publicar"?????

    August 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • Literalist

      Even "native" Americans weren't native. They just happened to get here long before the Europeans arrived. There are very few places in the world where one dominant human society hasn't replaced another existing human society at some point. The existence of such a history is neither good, bad, nor indifferent. It just is, but you can try to put a spin on it if you like.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:54 am | Reply
  34. cynic

    this shadow is a drone designed in the 80s. thing should be redeisgned or taken out of service, however looks like we still got em

    August 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
    • bigbear

      cynic, you might want to do a little research before you make any comments on the Shadow. The RQ-7A Shadow was designed in the late 90's not the 80's as you stated. The current Shadow that is fielded in the the RQ-7B and has been in service since 2004. Also the Shadow system is the only UAV fo be certified by the FAA to fly out of a public use airport.

      "The Shadow system has also received a special airworthiness certificate (experimental) from the Federal Aviation Administration authorizing operations at Benson Municipal Airport, a general aviation facility in southeastern Arizona. This airworthiness certificate is the first issued by the FAA permitting an unmanned aircraft to operate at a public-use airport that serves general aviation, and the first FAA certificate covering the system's technologically sophisticated automated landing system. This is currently the only FAA certification category available to UAS manufacturers."

      August 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  35. bill

    Not if they will fly over the US..... when.....1984 is here boys and girls like it or not. The cops in Indiana don't need a warrant to come in anymore. Your only recourse if you survive the attack is to sue. Did you know that? Now you do.

    August 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Reply
    • Pilot 1

      If You are not guilty, then You have nothing to worry about, plus employment of drones and the extended forces behind them will in the coming months lower unemployment by putting our GIs and Airmen back to work in a vocation they were trained for, which is to hund down and kill our enemies. And Yes many of our ememies invlufing the terrorists and drug dealers are already here. We are talking of nothing more than a modern day posse with advanced technology to kill or capture the terrorists and criminals that threaten us everyday. Look at the new flash mob problem. Soon, we will be able to deply the number of drones necessary to hone in on these thugs and kill them while they are in the middle of the act ir follow them home after the robbery is no longer in progress to prosecute these thugs.

      August 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Reply
      • Bad Guy

        If You are not guilty, then You have nothing to worry about .............spoken like a true American, most likely a Democrat. Sit back let the Government decide if you are guilty of anything.

        August 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
      • Mars

        I guess Pilot 1 has not heard of the little known document called the Constitution, perhaps reading it might give you a little perspective on this thing called a democracy.

        August 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
      • Marshall Johnson

        "If You are not guilty, then You have nothing to worry about" – as far as laws go, this reasoning is a logical fallacy in the US due to the Constitution stating that you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

        For instance, let me see what you're doing in your bedroom. You might not like the idea but you should comply since if you are not guilty, then you have nothing to worry about. What are you trying to hide?- This would be illogical. It's not up to you to prove your innocence against my accusations. It's up to me to prove your guilt in a court of law.

        August 21, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  36. Dave

    Why don't drones have TCAS?

    August 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  37. Pilot 1

    The collision while regrettable is a very very rare event. The value of drones in the air is indispensable. They allow us to hit the high value targets with low risk and high efficiency. In the future, they will be even more valuable in police work for example as new X Ray and stealth technologies are added. SWAR teams will no longer stand idle for months at a time as the drugs whereabouts will be known at all times enabling them to make arrests without the drugs hotting the streets. At some point soon we will have the capability to saturate the Chinese skyline with stealth drones in order to premptively strike and prevent their missiles from hitting our shores.

    August 20, 2011 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • Mars

      The drones already saturate China's skyline....it's called a test flight before the pack and ship the drone to the US.

      August 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • ranger 830

      I dont need you or your drones thanks !!!! I have the second ammendment and a mean dog!!!!!!

      August 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  38. us1776

    Keep these drones out of civilian air space.

    .

    August 20, 2011 at 11:32 am | Reply
    • isolate

      A hundred years a ago you would have been among the Luddites protesting to keep wicked airplanes out of the skies and lightning-attracting telephones out of homes. Change happens. Most people can deal with it, some people can't. Do a simple cost-benefit analysis. Drones have an extraordinary safety record, and have saved innumerable American lives. By comparison, automobiles have an accident rate several thousand times higher. Will you now be wanting cars out of cities?

      August 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Reply
    • Greg

      Amen to that. That 450pd drone if it hit my 3700lb Cherokee Six is going to ruin my day for sure.

      August 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  39. Gaddffly

    The pilot of the drone "Otto Matic" was able to eject and landed safely under parachute. Haha

    August 20, 2011 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • Mars

      Good one!...but the funniest ones come from Pilot 1.

      August 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
      • ranger 830

        Yeah This guy is pissing me off to no end. I have a joystick for him right here!!!!!! The only thing this shit for brains is capable of piloting is his bubbies meat whistle COWARD Hes affraid of bank robbers and pot farmers give me a break!!!
        Just another way of prying into honest peoples business.

        August 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  40. riptide

    so its ok for a buch of terriost to kill women and children by the thousands for a prophet who died with worms in his mouth and a god why by there account love vilence and death but every time a kid gets killed cause they hide behind them and use them as human shields we should just let them alone and let them strike out at us anytime anywhere i dont think so

    August 20, 2011 at 8:07 am | Reply
    • Elmer

      First, go back to school and learn grammar and spelling, then try to comment intelligently.

      August 20, 2011 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Jane

      You are an ignorant human being.
      May God destroy you and everyone like you today.

      August 20, 2011 at 11:42 am | Reply
    • Alex

      I understand his post just fine. And he's exactly right.

      August 20, 2011 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • pazzel

      I understand too, and I think he is right. Really guys, if you don't agree with what the post is about, make sure you have something to say. Knocking on the writing is pretty lame.

      August 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Reply
    • ranger 830

      Roger that well said!!!!!

      August 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  41. pilot

    A turboprop is a jet engine

    August 20, 2011 at 4:46 am | Reply
    • Dan

      Glad I wasn't the only one to notice that.

      August 20, 2011 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      I'd not call a C-130 a big jet. Large turboprop, but not a large jet aircraft.
      Fortunately, the C-130 IS a sturdy bird, else the story about the collision would've been SUBSTANTIALLY different.

      As for drones in American skies, operated by civilian agencies, that is as much civilian airspace management. Drones (well, most of them) are NOT the hazard that even civil aviation craft are at low altitude. If one crashes, one has a few pounds of junk, if a Cessna or similar small craft crashes, one ends up with quite a few hundreds of pounds of junk and burning fuel.
      Hence, authorizing lower altitude for the drones would be more acceptable and some mid-altitudes as well, assigned to drone traffic, with specific climb/descent spaces assigned.

      August 20, 2011 at 10:10 am | Reply
    • Green Collar Worker

      A C-130 is not a jet at all, it has propellers. It's big enough to carry 64 jumpers or 2 HMMWV's comfortably.

      August 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  42. Helicopter Pilot

    If drones were required to talk over radios (their handlers, obviously) to other air traffic and/or air traffic controllers, it would be one thing. But when you're flying to drop off your passengers somewhere in Afghanistan and you know that you'll have to look for drones that are circling your LZ (because they want to see what's going on). Hello, you can't land if they're there! There won't be any action to watch unless the stupid drones are out of the way. Every other Army helicopter pilot I've talked to has said the same thing. They need to follow all of the rules of aviation if they want to fly. I'm seriously surprised they haven't hit any helicopters yet, because they fly in the same altitudes. If they fly, they need to talk on radios. It's not that hard to figure out!

    August 20, 2011 at 4:35 am | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      I have to agree. The drones SHOULD be assigned an altitude above or below the approach glide path. To do otherwise is foolish and hazardous.
      Of course, THEN, controllers wouldn't need to be in constant contact with the drones, as they'd KNOW where the craft are supposed to be. They'd only be contacted when one was breaking off to RTB or if control was lost.

      August 20, 2011 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • Mars

      This technology is being used in a war zone where it does an outstanding job and you are correct sir, the drones need to fly according to the regulations that every other pilot follows. Otherwise the next collision might claim a fatality.

      August 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  43. jayman419

    I'd almost feel bad for all the human pilots put out of work by this, if they weren't glorified autopilot babysitters playing around on the internet... while they overshoot their target airport by hours. Not that it matters, when they get their the controller's probably asleep anyway.

    Maybe the robots deserve the work.

    August 20, 2011 at 1:18 am | Reply
    • bobthepilot

      I can't wait to see the look on your face the first time you board a commercial flight and look in the cockpit to find out there are no human pilots flying your flight. I predict you will turn your ignorant a** around and get off.

      August 20, 2011 at 2:17 am | Reply
      • Mars

        I predict that people will refuse at first but never say never, the days of the human pilot are numbered because corporations are greedy and a robot does not go on strike....this is just a side note thought, we went off the subject.

        August 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • bulfrog5

      You obviously do not realize that the drone is remotely piloted by a HUMAN.

      August 20, 2011 at 4:43 am | Reply
      • Robert

        "bulfrog5
        You obviously do not realize that the drone is remotely piloted by a HUMAN."

        Until, Bullfrog......it is not.

        How about this scenario: UAV takes off near the Nation's Capital. Control link is lost and the UAV (uncontrolled mind you) enters the DC SFRA. Where's it going? What (in its ones and zeros) thinking?

        Give yourself an A if you remember this very scenario a few months back. Give yourself an A+ if you remember what the outcome for the pilot was.

        Point is, if this would have been a pilot in a Cessna 150, buildings might have been evacuated, there would be an escort, and probably fines and/or suspension to follow. In the first scenario, who do you fine? Who do you suggest receive remedial training? Who do you suspend?

        UAS/UAV/Unmanned aircraft in the civil airspace is a 3 dimensional discussion. Do I think they are safe? Sure. Do I think they have value added to the civilian mission? Absolutely. However, given the rules and regs pilots must follow, I demand that if I am to abide by those rules least someone smite me, then the one who controls that UAV be equally smitten should an infraction be made.

        August 21, 2011 at 12:12 am |
      • Robert

        Even further, say I have a few grand lying around and I purchase a Dragonfly Radio Controlled craft (or any other COTs system available to the public). I greet Mr. Fedex at the door, charge the batteries and in a few hours I'm in my backyard spy'n on the neighbor's dog. No License. No training. No registration and the feds are none-the-wiser. No laws are broken (well fido may feel violated).

        Now, say I realize the value of such a device and offer my services to the public and/or the local PD. Why then do the feds get involved?

        August 21, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Wzrd1

      It's a crying shame that you are too stupid to realize the difference between MILITARY AVIATION and civilian aviation.
      Between "babysitting the autopilot and playing on the internet" while missiles are being fired at you in Afghanistan and your civilian airliner here at home.
      But, don't worry, we'll gladly let you fly low altitude recon flights in Afghanistan. JUST to make you happy to not have a babysitter on an autopilot.
      And to be rid of another moron, before it is permitted to breed.

      August 20, 2011 at 10:17 am | Reply
  44. Clint

    Ok, It's probably already been said, but.....a C-130 is NOT a JET. It has four engines with propellers on them.

    I'm almsot afraid to read the story past that point. The C-130 has been around since the 1950's, you'd think people would know what it is by now......

    August 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Reply
    • Military Reporting

      Clint,
      Ditto. See below...

      August 20, 2011 at 12:20 am | Reply
    • bulfrog5

      I was thinking the same thing. I would imagine that most professional journalist would take more pride in their work. What is truly sad is the writer of this article is the "Senior National Security Producer" for CNN. This guy should be more knowledgeable about the subject he specializes in.

      August 20, 2011 at 4:46 am | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      I partially agree. The C-130 isn't a JET, it's a TURBOPROP. A turbine engine (most uninformed would call it a jet engine) turns the propellers.

      August 20, 2011 at 10:14 am | Reply
  45. Rich

    Great read security clearance section but the very first question every general should ask is how many of our own lives should we sacrifice so it looks like we are doing everything possible, to keep McConnel and McCain of your back Commander and Chief and so I FEEL SECURE so a single bomb never goes off,-in fact so this effort keeps us feeling a little safer no matter what corner of the world it comes from.

    So far we are down about 5,000 but whatever Poet...

    August 19, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  46. George Wolfe

    The C-130 is not a jet. It has 4 turbine engines that each drive a propeller. If you want to report on military technology, at least get your facts straight.

    August 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Reply
    • Military Reporting

      George,
      Take a look at my comment, below. I share the very same sentiment. Also, read the posts from sr71blackbird and AJW.

      I pointed out this really glaring error 6 1/2 hours ago, and they still haven't corrected it. Charley Keyes should be embarrassed to call himself a "Senior National Security Producer". Does he have an editor? Does anyone review these articles before they are posted? When such an elementary fact is misstated, it makes you wonder whether these clowns have any idea what they are talking about.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Reply
    • raster1944

      A turboprop engine is a jet engine attached to a propeller – small airliners and transport aircraft are powered by turboprops. Leave for more discussion! A jet or not a jet?

      August 20, 2011 at 10:21 am | Reply
  47. Dot8

    Lets just take the loss like a good sport and get the heck out of Afghanistan.

    August 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Reply
    • Tea Man

      Totally agree, also we need to pull out from over 130 military bases in the world, we need to rebuild our own country first! 1st to Balance the budget; secend to cut down the taxes including corporate tax and income tax, thirdly, to rebuild the USA with modernized technologies. Stop wasting our tax payers' money, stop fool around other countries where we don't belong!!!

      August 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Reply
      • Yeah

        You're a fake. That has nothing to do with this mission, the only people who would love that would be China and maybe Russia.

        August 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Yeah

      That wouldn't be a loss. We won the war in 2 weeks flat. Then had dificulty with the nation building aspect.

      Permanent military occupation isn't in the definition of winning, unless you are a dictator. You just have to beat their military and we did that very early on.

      August 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Reply
    • JeffinIL

      Loss? We went in to get Osama bin Laden because the Taliban wouldn't hand him over. He's gone. This is a perfect time to declare victory – a lost art in America, I know – and come home.

      August 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply
      • CelebrateGoodTimesCmon

        We need a Mission Accomplished Banner and an Aircraft Carrier

        August 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  48. sr71blackbird

    Military Reporting is absolutely correct, the C130 is a 4 engine turbo-prop plane used for troop and cargo transport, Elint, Sigint, Special-Ops, Gun Ship, etc. I believe CNN will have a vacancy for Senior National Security soon.

    August 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Reply
    • C130FE

      Been flying on the C130 for 5 years now. We frequently call it a jet. It has turbo-prop engines, which are jet engines that spin a propeller, more or less. Not worth discounting the story because of that statement.

      August 19, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Reply
      • Military Reporting

        C130FE,
        I've been flying on C130's, C17's, C5's, C141's a lot longer than 5 years. The C130 isn't a jet any more than the the AH-64 Apache is a "jet". Furthermore, in any misunderstanding of the technology and terminology, the C130 would not be considered a "big jet" as the story refers to it when you have such significantly larger jet aircraft in the USAF inventory.

        People refer to an M2 Bradley as a "tank", an Arleigh Burke class destroyer as a "boat", and the ammunition you load into the Benelli M4 shotgun as "bullets". That doesn't mean they know what they are talking about. It also doesn't make them "idiots", it is just that you wouldn't expect someone with a byline that includes "CNN Senior National Security Producer" to make those kinds of mistakes. Nor should we expect the "CNN Senior National Security Producer" to call the C130 a "big jet".

        August 20, 2011 at 12:15 am |
      • a slozomby

        so by that definition an abrams tank is also a jet because it has a turbine that powers it?

        August 20, 2011 at 4:33 am |
      • Jim

        You may call it a jet, but that's a misnomer on your part. Jets are called jets because their engines 'jet' air aft for thrust. Turboprops use nearly all their energy to turn the prop, as you know.

        NOTAR helicopters 'jet' engine exhaust to compensate for rotor torque in lieu of a tailrotor, yet no one calls them jets.

        August 20, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  49. Henry

    Its to bad the drones can/t be set up to shoot american planes down than maybe you get the hell out of there and go home. I am so tired of all this killing. and mark my word you will not win

    August 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Reply
    • Xed

      Hmmm, so you advocate killing Americans but are tired of all the killing?

      You make no sense.

      August 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • zED

      who are the you in this statement?

      you make no sense.

      August 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Reply
    • Tea Man

      Totally agree. Peaceful mentality is what we need, not the killing game spirit in a chess game. Weapon will not resolve our problems, but create more problems for our kids to sustain.

      August 19, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  50. Bud

    If they're considered safe enough to fly over the soil of others, why aren't they safe enough for flight over our own soil? After all, we build them!!

    August 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Reply
    • Tom

      It's a matter of sharing the airspace with other aircraft. What other aircraft are in the area, how are they being tracked, how is the UAV tracked, is the UAV under line-of-sight control, are other aircraft aware that a UAV is operating nearby, is the UAV pilot aware of other aircraft, antenna tower heights and locations, etc. In other words, a significant contrast to the warzone conditions where UAV's are deployed. Despite technology and regulations, there still are mid-air collisions and close calls between piloted aircraft. I'd hate to think of the liability the first time an airliner is brought down by a collision with a UAV.

      August 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Reply
    • donnas

      more basically, why are we in Pakistan using drones to murder people for no reason? why are we bombing Pakistan anyway? ok then, what is our (?) military goal in Pakistan? who authorized whatever military goal anyone can identify? this looks like madness to me....and who is paying for all this while 20% of the children in the U.S. are going hungry every day? none of this makes any sense to me....please explain.

      August 19, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Reply
      • JCL

        donnas we have drones operating in pakistan to go after the bad guys that like to cross into afgan and shoot at our men and woman in uniform and then return to a so called safe place for them since pakistan does not have the courage to do so, and drones are not troops they are UAV's no need for aproval from any one in congress

        August 19, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
      • Earnan

        Donas, if you're so worried about those "hungry children"-weren't you just whining about "the epidemic of childhood obesity" the other day?-then turn off your computer and go get a job and donate your income to feeding the fat little fucks.

        In the meantime, we need more drones over Pakistan, killing more Islamic terrorists.

        August 21, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  51. rajeev

    More Than 160 Children Killed in America's Drone War in Pakistan
    One in seven of all US strikes appear to have resulted in child fatalities.

    The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has identified credible reports of 168 children killed in seven years of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These children would account for 44% of the minimum figure of 385 civilians reported killed by the attacks.

    Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, said in response to the findings: ‘Even one child death from drone missiles or suicide bombings is one child death too many.’

    Children have been killed throughout the seven years of CIA strikes.

    Pakistani father Din Mohammad had the misfortune to live next door to militants in Danda Darpakhel, North Waziristan. His neighbours were reportedly part of the Haqqani Network, a group fighting US forces in nearby Afghanistan.

    On September 8 2010, the CIA’s Reaper drones paid a visit. Hellfire missiles tore into the compound killing six alleged militants.

    One of the Hellfires missed its target, and Din Mohammad’s house was hit. He survived. But his son, his two daughters and his nephew all died. His eldest boy had been a student at a Waziristan military cadet college. The other three children were all below school age.

    Although the Bureau’s (Bureau of Investigative Journalism) field researchers have verified the details of this strike, the US continues to deny civilians are being killed in Pakistan strikes.

    Those who died that day are just four of some 168 children credibly reported as killed and identified by the Bureau.

    ‘One in three’

    The highest number of child deaths occurred during the Bush presidency, with 112 children reportedly killed. More than a third of all Bush drone strikes appear to have resulted in the deaths of children.

    On only one occasion during Bush’s time in office did a single child die in a strike. Multiple deaths occurred every other time. On July 28 2008 for example, CIA drones struck a seminary in South Waziristan, killing al Qaeda’s chemical weapons expert Abu Khabab al Masri along with his team. Publicly the attack was hailed a success.

    But the Agency’s strike also killed three young boys and a woman. Despite the secrecy surrounding the drones campaign, details emerged in May of this year that not only was the US aware of this ‘collateral damage’, but that the then-CIA chief Michael Hayden personally apologised to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani for the error.

    Religious school attacked

    It is one of the worst incidents of the entire drones campaign, yet one of the least reported. A CIA strike on a madrassa or religious school in 2006 killed up to 69 children, among 80 civilians.

    The attack was on a religious seminary in Chenegai, in Bajaur Agency.

    CIA drones attacked on October 30, flattening much of the school. Their target was reportedly the headmaster, a known militant. According to some reports, there was also a token late contribution to the assault by Pakistani military helicopters. But dozens of children were also killed, the youngest aged seven.

    Veteran BBC Urdu journalist Rahimullah Yousufzai, speaking from Peshawr, recalls visiting the village just after the strike: ‘People were devastated. I met with a father who had lost two children. He was very patient, talking of how God must have willed this, but he was clearly traumatised.’

    Initially the Pakistan Army claimed that it had carried out the bombardment, even as shops and offices closed across the region and protests spread. But as the scale of the attack unfolded, the story changed. The Sunday Times carried a report from a key aide to Pakistan’s then-President Musharraf stating:

    We thought it would be less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US. But there was a lot of collateral damage and we’ve requested the Americans not to do it again.

    A week after the attack, The News published the names and home villages of 80 victims. 69 were reported as children aged 17 or under. According to the paper’s sources:

    It was claimed that one of the deceased was only seven-year old, three were eight, three nine, one was 10, four were 11, four were 12, eight were 13, six were 14, nine were 15, 19 were 16, 12 were 17, three were 18, three were 19 and only two were 21-years-old.

    Yousufzai is adamant that the attack was the work of the CIA: ‘I am absolutely confident, 100 per cent, that this was carried out by US drones, based on witnesses at the time and the subsequent comments of [Pakistani] government officials.’

    Escalating War

    President Obama, too, has been as Commander-in-Chief responsible for many child deaths in Pakistan. The Bureau has identified 56 children reported killed in drone strikes during his presidency – although child deaths have dropped significantly in recent months.

    On February 14 2009 the 8-year-old son of Maezol Khan lost his life. More than 25 alleged militants were killed in a massive strike on a nearby house. But flying shrapnel killed the young boy as he slept next door. His grandfather later asked asked: ‘How can the US invade our homes while we are sleeping, and target our children?’

    But one 2009 incident in which children died gives a chilling insight into the tactics of those the CIA are hunting. On August 11 of that year drones attacked an alleged Pakistan Taliban compound, killing up to 25 people. At the time there were reports of women and children killed.

    Two years later, young survivor Arshad Khan, now in Pakistani police custody, told reporters that the compound was a training camp for teenage suicide bombers. He named four young victims. Arshad says he was recruited without realising he was to be a suicide bomber.

    Commenting on children killed by drone strikes, Unicef’s South Asia regional spokesperson Sarah Crowe told the Bureau:

    Even one child death from drone missiles or suicide bombings is one child death too many. Children have no place in war and all parties should do their utmost to protect children from violent attacks at all times.

    Reducing deaths

    There are indications that the Obama administration is making efforts to reduce the number of children being killed. Following the incident in September 2010 that killed Din Mohammad’s children, and another strike just weeks earlier in which a further three children died, there has been an apparent steep fall in the number of child fatalities reported by media.

    That is partially in line with claims by some US intelligence officials that drone targeting strategies have been altered to reduce civilian casualties. Although the Bureau has demonstrated that CIA claims of ‘zero casualties’ are false, there are fewer reports of child casualties since August 2010.

    Along with two undefined reports of ‘children killed’, a 17-year-old student was killed in November last year. And on April 22 2011 two drones destroyed a house and guesthouse in Spinwan, North Waziristan. A 12-year-old boy, Atif, was killed in that strike, according to researchers working with the Bureau in Waziristan.

    Mirza Shahzad Akbar, an Islamabad-based lawyer representing a number of families caught up in drone strikes said:

    All these children are a big recruitment agent for militants in the area. When you can show people that children are being killed in the drone strikes, all those who are so far non-aligned, that gets them onto the other side. That is what most worries me as a Pakistani.

    A US counter-terrorism official, commenting generally on the Bureau’s findings, denied that civilians were being killed in the numbers suggested and said: ‘Nobody is arguing perfection over the life of the program, but this remains the most precise system we’ve ever had in our arsenal.’

    Additional reporting by David Pegg and Alice Ross.

    * For this research, we have adopted the UN’s definition of a child as being someone aged between 0 and 17. The majority of those we have come across have been significantly younger than 17.

    The Bureau has sought to identify accurately the time, location and likely target of all known attacks; to obtain as clear an explanation as possible of what took place during the event; and to detail the numbers, and names where possible, of those killed and injured, whether militant or civilian.

    This article breaks down our approach into two sections: our sources and our methodology.

    Our Sources

    The CIA does not officially acknowledge or comment on its drone campaign, and the Pakistani government does not publish a count of those killed and injured. Instead, the most comprehensive information on casualties lies in the thousands of press reports of drone strikes filed by reputable national and international media since 2004. Most reports are filed within a day or two of an attack. Sometimes relevant reports can be filed weeks – even years – after the initial strike. We identify our sources at all times, and provide a direct link to the material where possible.

    Our media sources for this study include:

    From Western media – CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Fox News, Reuters, the BBC, Associated Press, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

    From Pakistani media – Dawn, Express Tribune, The Nation, Pajhwok and Geo TV.

    From non-mainstream media – New America Foundation, Long War Journal, WikiLeaks and Amnesty International, amongst others.

    Every strike covered in our database contains reference links to each news report that has been considered whilst researching that incident.

    At present, the Bureau’s access to Urdu-language news resources on the strikes is limited. The main reason is that some Urdu material is not online and in remote parts of Pakistan. This is a situation we hope to remedy in the future.

    Other sources include the fieldwork of credible researchers and lawyers who have been examining the drone attacks in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. For example, certain legal cases have been brought in Pakistan against the CIA on behalf of civilian victims of the attack.

    A number of leaked US intelligence reports and diplomatic cables also deal directly with specific drone attacks, which the Bureau cites where relevant.

    We have incorporated relevant material from research papers, books and articles by journalists, academics, politicians and former intelligence officers.

    On most occasions, there is a reasonable consensus between sources. Where contradictory accounts occur, we indicate this in our material. We have also striven to speak with particular journalists about their stories to clarify discrepancies. On a handful of occasions, we have used field researchers ourselves in Waziristan.

    How the Bureau’s sources and data compares with others

    Although the CIA is understood to have extensive data on each strike, that information is not made available publicly. A US counter-terrorism official, speaking with the Bureau on background terms, has provided estimates of the numbers killed in the CIA’s strikes.

    A number of other organisations also record details of Pakistan drone strikes. The New America Foundation and the Long War Journal have both done invaluable work, for example, and are a useful cross-referencing tool. However neither resource actively collects and presents data on reported civilian casualties of the drone strikes. Where estimates of civilian casualties have been made, both show significant under-reporting, according to the Bureau’s own findings.

    The Bureau’s source base is wider than other organisations, incorporating casualty data not always published in news reports; we have identified more strikes; and we have striven to identify the most current casualty figures for each attack. We believe these factors, in the main, explain our higher figures. For more information on this, please read the related article ‘Untangling the data.’

    Our Methodology

    The Oxford Research Group, which champions the monitoring of civilian casualties in conflicts, recently published a paper on drone strikes in Pakistan. It concluded by calling for: ‘transparency of definitions, a ‘thorough’ scope that allows incidents to be identified through the provision of detailed descriptions, a fully outlined methodology that discusses its own assumptions, and the diligent citation of the sources for all published data.’ The Bureau has striven to adopt these recommendations as best practice.

    How we list the strikes:

    We have given each strike a unique code. This is a sequential number, with the prefix B for the Bush years, or Ob for Obama years. Where additional strikes are later confirmed, they will be inserted into the sequence with the suffix A, for example see Ob47A. A number of single-source reports have additionally been identified, which may or may not be drone strikes. These also occur in sequence, with the suffix C (see Ob28C, Ob39C and Ob130C, for example). Ob0 is not classified as a drone strike but we have included it in our data for reference purposes.

    How we reconciled the material:

    Even within a specific report there can be contradictory information. Reconciling multiple sources can present particular challenges.

    This story first appeared on the Bureau of Investigative Journalism site.

    By Chris Woods

    August 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • Zoglet

      Good for you in posting this article- it says a tremendous amount about CNN that they have never pursued this aspect of the use of ariel terrorism in this manner. THere is ZERO debate about the ethics of this – its high time there was.

      August 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
      • rajeev

        It from alternet

        August 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Ayesha

      You should compalin to ur friend Tailban about their cowardly behaviour of hiding behind women & kids. But u r coward who knows his head will be severed, so u choose to rant on a country which allows freedom of speech.

      August 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
    • WOBH

      I'd be willing to bet that more children died in the bombing of Hanoi during the Viet Nam conflict. Knowing our leadership if they didn't have UAVs they be carpet bombing the tribal regions. Lesser of evils?

      August 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • Tom

      Rajeev,

      Two words: Shove it. As long as terrorists choose to conduct their business surrounded by innocent civilians, there will be casualties. If you want it to stop, then tell the terrorists to do business elsewhere. Do not hide like a bunch of cowards among women and children. It is a simple equation: No terrorists -- no airstrikes. Get it? Besides, how many innocent lives have been lost to the "brave" suicide bombers? It's obvious to me which culture does not value human life.

      August 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • brown

      Kill them all ... let Allah sort them out!

      August 20, 2011 at 12:44 am | Reply
    • Rufus Johnson

      They would only grow up to be terrorists.

      August 20, 2011 at 2:01 am | Reply
    • isolate

      If the Pakistani Taliban is so concerned with the deaths of children, why does it keep blowing them up by the hundreds? Why do Taliban meetings always include women and children, intentionally putting them at risk?

      The American military and the CIA have done an exemplary job of protecting civilians under very difficult conditions. Unlike the Taliban, American forces make every attempt to avoid targeting locations where children are present. But when the Taliban is using them as human shields, just as Hamas does in Gaza, what's the alternative?

      August 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
    • kirk

      nuke em , gas them, exterminate them all, scorced earth policy,,along the line of shermans march to the sea leave not even insects alive..show them a face of war so terrible that they shudder at the thought of even thinking about attacking us

      August 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Reply
      • kirk

        you see extreams of any form is bad WE HAVE THE POWER TO DO THIS BUT REFRAIN OURSELVES the only problem is the other side has no problems killing kids ...where is your outrage..oh that right you say it ok because they are children of nonbelievers... you remind me of why i have a shotgun and a shovel

        August 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Earnan

      Make war on America or our allies? Maybe it's not a good idea to keep your kids in the same room with the bomb-builders in that case.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:36 am | Reply
    • Vumba

      All that writing and not one mention of a Taliban atrocity. Shame on you rajeev for droning on and not saying anything.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:50 am | Reply
      • rajeev

        Two weeks ago, President Obama's former Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, excoriated the White House for its reliance on drones in multiple Muslim nations, pointing out, as Politico put it, that those attacks "are fueling anti-American sentiment and undercutting reform efforts in those countries." Blair said: "we’re alienating the countries concerned, because we’re treating countries just as places where we go attack groups that threaten us." Blair has an Op-Ed today in The New York Times making a similar argument with a focus on Pakistan, though he uses a conspicuously strange point to make his case:

        Qaeda officials who are killed by drones will be replaced. The group's structure will survive and it will still be able to inspire, finance and train individuals and teams to kill Americans. Drone strikes hinder Qaeda fighters while they move and hide, but they can endure the attacks and continue to function.

        Moreover, as the drone campaign wears on, hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan. American officials may praise the precision of the drone attacks. But in Pakistan, news media accounts of heavy civilian casualties are widely believed. Our reliance on high-tech strikes that pose no risk to our soldiers is bitterly resented in a country that cannot duplicate such feats of warfare without cost to its own troops.

        Though he obviously knows the answer, Blair does not say whether this widespread Pakistani perception about civilian casualties is based in fact; if anything, he insinuates that this "belief" is grounded in the much-discussed affection which Pakistanis allegedly harbor for fabricated anti-American conspiracy theories. While the Pakistani perception is significant unto itself regardless of whether it's accurate - the belief about drones is what fuels anti-American hatred - it's nonetheless bizarre to mount an anti-drone argument while relegating the impact of civilian deaths to mere "belief," all while avoiding informing readers what the actual reality is. Discussions of the innocent victims of American military violence is one of the great taboos in establishment circles; that Blair goes so far out of his way to avoid discussing it highlights how potent that taboo is.

        Last month, I interviewed Chris Woods of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which had just published a report conclusively documenting the falsity of John Brennan's public claim that "in the last year, 'there hasn't been a single collateral death'" from U.S. drone attacks. Last week, the Bureau published an even more detailed report focusing on the number of Pakistani children killed by American drone attacks:

        The Bureau has identified credible reports of 168 children killed in seven years of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These children would account for 44% of the minimum figure of 385 civilians reported killed by the attacks. . . .

        The highest number of child deaths occurred during the Bush presidency, with 112 children reportedly killed. More than a third of all Bush drone strikes appear to have resulted in the deaths of children. . . . President Obama, too, has been as Commander-in-Chief responsible for many child deaths in Pakistan. The Bureau has identified 56 children reported killed in drone strikes during his presidency . . . .

        The report indicates that the number of Pakistani children dying from drone attacks has decreased substantially over the past several months - since September, 2010, when one man's son, two daughters and nephew were all killed by a single U.S. strike - but such deaths nonetheless continue (including one in April of this year, in which a 12-year-old boy, Atif, was killed). These facts make John Brennan's blatant lie particularly disgusting: it's one thing to kill children using remote-controlled weaponized air robots in a country in which we're not formally at war, but it's another thing entirely to stand up in public and deny that it is happening.

        In several ways, the Bureau's study significantly understates the extent of U.S.-caused civilian deaths in the region. As Woods told me, the Bureau uses such a rigorous methodology - counting civilian deaths only when they can be definitively confirmed up to and including the victims' names - that some deaths almost certainly go uncounted in the notoriously inaccessible Waziristan region. Other credible reports provide an even starker assessment of the number of innocents killed. Moreover, this latest report from the Bureau counts only child deaths, not those of innocent adult men and women in Pakistan, nor does it discuss the large number of civilian deaths from drones outside of Pakistan (Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq), nor the U.S.-caused deaths of civilians from means other than drones (such as the "amazing number" of innocents killed at checkpoints in Afghanistan).

        Adm. Blair's Op-Ed may have had a much greater impact had it included a discussion of these facts, rather than implying that the problem with American drone attacks is Pakistani paranoia. That's precisely why the Op-Ed - like most discussions in establishment venues of this topic - didn't include those facts.

        * * * * *

        Thanks so much to Yves Smith, Maz Hussain, and Mark Adomanis for providing such stimulating and enlightening discussions during my absence last week. Filling in for a writer is not easy, as I learned when I did it for Digby way back in early 2006, very soon after I began writing about politics. You try to maintain your own voice and focus while realizing that you're writing for someone else's readership with its own pre-existing set of interests and expectations. All three did a superb job of balancing those considerations and it made my week off more enjoyable knowing that excellent content was being provided. You can continue reading Yves at her Naked Capitalism blog, Maz on his blog and on Twitter, and Mark on his Forbes blog and on Twitter.

        August 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
      • rajeev

        http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/08/15/drones/index.html

        August 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
      • rajeev

        You ignorant fool there is no mention about Taliban it all about innocent people in Pakistan kill by CIA agent using air drone and they lie to you.

        August 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • ranger 830

      Yeah lets just forget about the 1,437 innocent muslims killed the last year I was there from jihadist ied,s intended for coalition forces? I dont here any outrage form islam over this?Not to mention the cowardly habits of jihadists hiding among the public ie. in homes of non coms or in mosques and schools etc. Dont hide in public houses and the hellfires wont land there.If allah protects you and you are riteous fighters of god why hide among civilians.Jihad is to blame for all of Islams problems not drones Dummy! Thanks and have a great day LOL Rangers lead the way!!! Remember we are watching always watching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Reply
      • rajeev

        James Cromitie was a man of bluster and bigotry. He made up wild stories about his supposed exploits, like the one about firing gas bombs into police precincts using a flare gun, and he ranted about Jews. "The worst brother in the whole Islamic world is better than 10 billion Yahudi," he once said.

        A 45-year-old Walmart stocker who'd adopted the name Abdul Rahman after converting to Islam during a prison stint for selling cocaine, Cromitie had lots of worries—convincing his wife he wasn't sleeping around, keeping up with the rent, finding a decent job despite his felony record. But he dreamed of making his mark. He confided as much in a middle-aged Pakistani he knew as Maqsood.

        "I'm gonna run into something real big," he'd say. "I just feel it, I'm telling you. I feel it."

        Maqsood and Cromitie had met at a mosque in Newburgh, a struggling former Air Force town about an hour north of New York City. They struck up a friendship, talking for hours about the world's problems and how the Jews were to blame.

        It was all talk until November 2008, when Maqsood pressed his new friend.

        "Do you think you are a better recruiter or a better action man?" Maqsood asked.

        "I'm both," Cromitie bragged.

        "My people would be very happy to know that, brother. Honestly."

        "Who's your people?" Cromitie asked.

        "Jaish-e-Mohammad."

        Maqsood said he was an agent for the Pakistani terror group, tasked with assembling a team to wage jihad in the United States. He asked Cromitie what he would attack if he had the means. A bridge, Cromitie said.

        "But bridges are too hard to be hit," Maqsood pleaded, "because they're made of steel."

        "Of course they're made of steel," Cromitie replied. "But the same way they can be put up, they can be brought down."

        Maqsood coaxed Cromitie toward a more realistic plan. The Mumbai attacks were all over the news, and he pointed out how those gunmen targeted hotels, cafés, and a Jewish community center.

        "With your intelligence, I know you can manipulate someone," Cromitie told his friend. "But not me, because I'm intelligent." The pair settled on a plot to bomb synagogues in the Bronx, and then fire Stinger missiles at airplanes taking off from Stewart International Airport in the southern Hudson Valley. Maqsood would provide all the explosives and weapons, even the vehicles. "We have two missiles, okay?" he offered. "Two Stingers, rocket missiles."

        Maqsood was an undercover operative; that much was true. But not for Jaish-e-Mohammad. His real name was Shahed Hussain, and he was a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

        Ever since 9/11, counterterrorism has been the FBI's No. 1 priority, consuming the lion's share of its budget—$3.3 billion, compared to $2.6 billion for organized crime—and much of the attention of field agents and a massive, nationwide network of informants. After years of emphasizing informant recruiting as a key task for its agents, the bureau now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies—many of them tasked, as Hussain was, with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States. In addition, for every informant officially listed in the bureau's records, there are as many as three unofficial ones, according to one former high-level FBI official, known in bureau parlance as "hip pockets."

        The informants could be doctors, clerks, imams. Some might not even consider themselves informants. But the FBI regularly taps all of them as part of a domestic intelligence apparatus whose only historical peer might be COINTELPRO, the program the bureau ran from the '50s to the '70s to discredit and marginalize organizations ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to civil-rights and protest groups.

        Throughout the FBI’s history, informant numbers have been closely guarded secrets. Periodically, however, the bureau has released those figures. A Senate oversight committee in 1975 found the FBI had 1,500 informants. In 1980, officials disclosed there were 2,800. Six years later, following the FBI’s push into drugs and organized crime, the number of bureau informants ballooned to 6,000, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1986. And according to the FBI, the number grew significantly after 9/11. In its fiscal year 2008 budget authorization request, the FBI disclosed that it it had been been working under a November 2004 presidential directive demanding an increase in "human source development and management," and that it needed $12.7 million for a program to keep tabs on its spy network and create software to track and manage informants.

        The bureau's strategy has changed significantly from the days when officials feared another coordinated, internationally financed attack from an Al Qaeda sleeper cell. Today, counterterrorism experts believe groups like Al Qaeda, battered by the war in Afghanistan and the efforts of the global intelligence community, have shifted to a franchise model, using the internet to encourage sympathizers to carry out attacks in their name. The main domestic threat, as the FBI sees it, is a lone wolf.

        The bureau's answer has been a strategy known variously as "preemption," "prevention," and "disruption"—identifying and neutralizing potential lone wolves before they move toward action. To that end, FBI agents and informants target not just active jihadists, but tens of thousands of law-abiding people, seeking to identify those disgruntled few who might participate in a plot given the means and the opportunity. And then, in case after case, the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity.

        Here's how it works: Informants report to their handlers on people who have, say, made statements sympathizing with terrorists. Those names are then cross-referenced with existing intelligence data, such as immigration and criminal records. FBI agents may then assign an undercover operative to approach the target by posing as a radical. Sometimes the operative will propose a plot, provide explosives, even lead the target in a fake oath to Al Qaeda. Once enough incriminating information has been gathered, there's an arrest—and a press conference announcing another foiled plot.

        If this sounds vaguely familiar, it's because such sting operations are a fixture in the headlines. Remember the Washington Metro bombing plot? The New York subway plot? The guys who planned to blow up the Sears Tower? The teenager seeking to bomb a Portland Christmas tree lighting? Each of those plots, and dozens more across the nation, was led by an FBI asset.

        Over the past year, Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley have examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases, as defined by the Department of Justice. Our investigation found:

        Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations. (For more on the details of those 508 cases, see our charts page and searchable database.)
        Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that total, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.
        With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings. (The exceptions are Najibullah Zazi, who came close to bombing the New York City subway system in September 2009; Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, an Egyptian who opened fire on the El-Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport; and failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.)
        In many sting cases, key encounters between the informant and the target were not recorded—making it hard for defendants claiming entrapment to prove their case.
        Terrorism-related charges are so difficult to beat in court, even when the evidence is thin, that defendants often don't risk a trial.

        "The problem with the cases we're talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents," says Martin Stolar, a lawyer who represented a man caught in a 2004 sting involving New York's Herald Square subway station. "They're creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror." In the FBI's defense, supporters argue that the bureau will only pursue a case when the target clearly is willing to participate in violent action. "If you're doing a sting right, you're offering the target multiple chances to back out," says Peter Ahearn, a retired FBI special agent who directed the Western New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and oversaw the investigation of the Lackawanna Six, an alleged terror cell near Buffalo, New York. "Real people don't say, 'Yeah, let's go bomb that place.' Real people call the cops."

        August 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
      • rajeev

        http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants

        August 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
      • rajeev

        Ranger 830 it not the islamic problem it the CIA drone strike on innocent people in pakistan you stupid hypocrite

        August 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
      • rajeev

        Locked Up Abroad—for the FBI

        When Gulet Mohamed finally returned home on a chilly Virginia morning in January, the 19-year-old from Fairfax was wearing the same outfit he had on when he disappeared a month earlier in Kuwait. Clad in a fleece hat and a gray Real Madrid sweatshirt, the straggly-bearded, wide-eyed teenager stepped out of arrivals at Dulles Airport and into a phalanx of television cameras. He wore a bewildered smile—as if he was still unsure of what had happened to him but was just grateful it was over.

        For more than a year, Mohamed had been living in Kuwait City with an uncle. On December 20, 2010, according to legal records (PDF), he went to the airport to renew his tourist visa for an additional three months. The process took longer than usual. From a waiting area, Mohamed emailed his brother to let him know he'd run into some red tape.

        Soon afterward, two men in street clothes came in, blindfolded him, escorted him out of the airport, and led him into the back of a vehicle. They drove maybe 15 or 20 minutes. When the men removed his blindfold, he was in a cell with white walls.

        Later, the men—members of Kuwait's security forces, Mohamed inferred—marched him to an interrogation room, where they shouted names at him in Arabic.

        "Osama bin Laden! Do you know him?" "Anwar al-Awlaki?"

        When he responded "no," his interrogators slapped him across the face. As the days passed, Mohamed claims, they beat him with sticks on the soles of his feet, asked him to choose between torture by electrocution or power drill, and threatened his family.

        Sometimes, Mohamed later told his lawyer, his captors escorted him, blindfolded, to another part of the facility, where a man who spoke with an American accent posed specific questions about his life in the US. He inquired about Mohamed's siblings by name. "Don't you know we know everything about you?" he asked.

        Mohamed is one of a growing number of American Muslims who claim they were captured overseas and questioned in secret at the behest of the United States, victims of what human rights advocates call "proxy detention"—or "rendition-lite." The latter is a reference to the Bush- and Clinton-era CIA practice of capturing foreign nationals suspected of terrorism and "rendering" them to countries such as Egypt, Jordan, or Morocco (PDF) for interrogations that often involved torture.

        Many of these episodes follow a similar script. A US citizen is detained, questioned, and sometimes abused in a Middle Eastern or African country by local security forces. Often his interrogators possess information that could only have come from US authorities; some of the detainees say American officials have been present for the questioning. When the suspect is released from detention, he often discovers he's on the no-fly list and can't return home unless he submits to further questioning by FBI agents. Sometimes he's denied access to a lawyer during these sessions.

        In the past, the FBI has denied that it asks foreign governments to apprehend Americans. But, a Mother Jones investigation has found, the bureau has a long-standing and until now undisclosed program for facilitating such detentions. Coordinated by elite agents who serve in terrorism hot spots around the world, the practice enables the interrogation of American suspects outside the US justice system. "Their citizenship doesn't seem to matter to the government," says Daphne Eviatar, a lawyer with Human Rights First. "It raises a question of whether there's a whole class of people out there who've been denied the right to return home for the purpose of interrogation in foreign custody."

        Although it's difficult to say for certain whether the men in this story—which is based on interviews with law enforcement and intelligence officials, court documents, transcripts, and other records—are terrorists, tourists, or something in between, one thing is clear: Pakistanis, Saudis, and Somalis aren't the only ones being captured and questioned on our behalf. Americans are too.

        In October 2008, a few days before Halloween, a 27-year-old Somali American drove a car full of explosives into a government office in northern Somalia. The bomber's name was Shirwa Ahmed, and he'd grown up in Minneapolis playing basketball and listening to Ice Cube. Ahmed is widely believed to be the first American suicide bomber (PDF).

        What worries federal authorities is that Ahmed was one of at least 20 young men who left Minnesota between 2007 and 2009 for Somalia—intending, the FBI believes, to join the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Shabaab. Since then, several more of these men are believed to have become suicide bombers—including one just this past May.
        When he requested a lawyer, one of the agents told him: "You're here; your lawyer is not."

        Cases like Ahmed's seem to be on the rise. Between 2002 and 2008, an average of 12 people per year were indicted on charges relating to "domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism," according to a 2010 report by the RAND Corporation (PDF). That number rose to 42 in 2009. For counterterrorism officials, the face of Islamic terrorism was no longer a Saudi trained in the mountains of Afghanistan. It was Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, radicalized over the internet, or Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010 (PDF). A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report released in January 2010 warned that Al Qaeda (PDF) "seeks to recruit American citizens to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States" and singled out Yemen and Somalia as places where such recruits might travel.

        Gulet Mohamed had spent time in both countries—which by itself would have raised "a lot of flags," according to a former senior State Department official familiar with his case. He first visited Yemen in March 2009, planning to study Arabic and Islam. After a few weeks, however, he and his mother decided that the country was not safe, and he made his way to a relatively stable part of northern Somalia to stay with family. In August 2009 he moved on to Kuwait, where he remained until his arrest.

        After a week of beatings and harsh interrogation, Mohamed was transferred to a Kuwaiti deportation facility. It was here, he says, that the FBI showed up. Agents interrogated him repeatedly, asking him why he had traveled to Somalia and Yemen and whether he knew Shahzad or Zachary Chesser, an American Muslim charged in July 2010 with aiding al-Shabaab. According to Mohamed, when he requested a lawyer, one of the agents told him: "You're here; your lawyer is not."

        Mohamed was also informed that his name had been placed on the no-fly list—effectively blocking his return to the US. "Your government is not letting you back into your country," one Kuwaiti official told him. Another said: "Gulet, we have relationships with the Americans. This interrogation is between you and your government."

        Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, is one of the gems of the Arabian Peninsula. Even as the country teeters on the brink of chaos, tourists still visit the ancient hill city to gape at the intricate rammed-earth houses that compose its crenellated skyline.

        One January morning in 2010, Sharif Mobley was drinking tea outside a convenience store bedecked with a Coca-Cola sign when two white vans screeched to a halt on the dusty street. Eight armed men dressed in black jumped out. One grabbed Mobley's jacket, but the 26-year-old—a black belt in tae kwon do—slipped away.

        He made it a couple of steps before two bullets fractured his femur. "I'm an American!" he yelled as he was dragged away. The men threw him in the van and sped off.

        Mobley, who was in Sanaa with his wife and two young children, had been advised not to go to Yemen. "It is unstable," his childhood imam had warned. But for young Muslims, Sanaa can be irresistible. Lonely Planet pitches Yemen as "a great place to learn Arabic," and it is; the language schools are cheap, good, and plentiful. It has also become a place for young western Muslims to complete their radicalization—which is exactly what government officials say Mobley was doing.

        After Mobley vanished, his family would not hear anything authoritative about him for nearly six weeks. But on March 11, 2010, news broke that an American had been involved in an action-movie-style escape attempt at al-Jumhori Hospital in Sanaa. It was Mobley.

        According to Yemeni officials, Mobley had tricked his guards at the hospital into putting down their guns to join him for prayers. Then he grabbed one of the weapons, shot two guards—one fatally—and made a break for it. He didn't get far before the entire floor was on lockdown. Yemeni counterterrorism forces—many of which are trained and funded by the US—descended on the hospital and eventually reapprehended Mobley.

        After the firefight, information about Mobley's past poured out in the press: He had once called an acquaintance who had fought in Iraq a "Muslim killer," and he was employed as a maintenance worker at several nuclear power plants—a fact that inspired much speculation. By the end of the week, the AP reported that, according to "US officials," Mobley had "traveled to Yemen with the goal of joining" Al Qaeda. Also incriminating was the anonymously sourced allegation that Mobley had communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born Al Qaeda propagandist now hiding out in Yemen.

        Awlaki and Mobley spoke on the phone and corresponded over email a number of times, Mobley's defense lawyer, Cori Crider, told Mother Jones, but about religious and personal matters, not terrorism. She says the two men met in person once in 2008, more than a year before his arrest.

        Initial news accounts mirrored the official version of the incident, reporting that Mobley had been captured in early March—when in reality he'd been in custody for six weeks. According to a notarized letter to Crider from two top officials at the police hospital in Sanaa, Mobley was "admitted to the hospital on the 26th of January to the 10th of February 2010 post gun shot with a femur fracture. The surgical therapy was done by one of our orthopedic surgeons on the 26th of January. After treatment the patient was discharged and handed back to the National Security of the Republic of Yemen."

        According to legal documents prepared by Crider, Mobley had been visited by two American agents, "Matt from FBI and Khan from [the Pentagon]," while chained to his bed in a secure wing of the hospital. Matt looked "kind of like Matt Damon," and Khan was a "heavyset person of South Asian, possibly Pakistani, descent," Mobley told Crider. When Mobley asked for a lawyer, the agents told him that he was not under formal arrest and would not be read his rights. Mobley claims Matt and Khan questioned him repeatedly over the next several weeks, threatening his family and telling him he would be raped in a Yemeni prison if he didn't cooperate. Some of their questions focused on Awlaki. Eventually, according to the documents, Mobley was transferred to a Yemeni prison—but not before his catheter was removed so roughly that he started bleeding profusely from his penis.

        In prison, Mobley told Crider, he was beaten and dragged down stairs before eventually blacking out on a metal slab while the blood from his penis soaked through the front of his prison garment. He was later taken to a second hospital, where, he said, Matt and Khan returned to interrogate him at least once more. Eventually, he tried to escape. "Imagine for a minute you were shot and held in secret for weeks on end, beaten up, threatened with rape, and told that your wife and two babies would face the same fate you had," Crider says. "Most of us in that situation would go to extraordinary lengths to protect our families."

        Mobley, like Mohamed, has never been charged with any crime under US law. Yemeni officials told the AP that he hadn't even been on their list of "wanted militants." But as of this writing, he's still in prison in Yemen, awaiting trial for allegedly killing a guard during his escape attempt.

        Prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the FBI didn't maintain much of a foreign presence. But in the years since, the bureau has increasingly relied on its network of legal attaches, or Legats—elite FBI agents stationed at US embassies and charged with forming counterterrorism alliances with local law enforcement and intelligence services.

        Between 1993 and 2001, the FBI more than doubled the number of Legat offices from 20 to 45 (PDF), opening new bureaus in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Another 14 have opened since 9/11 (PDF). The FBI refers to Legats as "the foundation" of its "international program" and says they are "essential" to preventing terrorist attacks. Among their main duties, according to the congressional testimony of one former FBI official, is "coordinating requests for FBI or host-country assistance overseas."

        This could mean something as routine as setting up meetings between FBI honchos and foreign intelligence officials. But according to current and former FBI officials familiar with the process, sometimes it also entails encouraging a foreign security service to detain an American terrorism suspect and passing along questions for interrogators. According to bureau sources, top FBI, Justice Department, and sometimes even White House officials must authorize such requests before they're passed on to the Legat in the country where the suspect is traveling.

        In a statement to Mother Jones, the FBI stopped short of admitting that it has requested the detention of American terrorist suspects. The bureau acknowledged, however, that information it has "elected to share" with "foreign law enforcement services" has "at times" resulted in the "detainment of an individual." It also said FBI agents have occasionally "been afforded the opportunity to interview or witness an interview" with detainees abroad. The bureau maintains that FBI agents have "acted in accordance with established FBI policy and guidelines" in these cases. The bureau declined to comment on specific cases.

        "America since the fall of the Berlin Wall has been eager to find proxies to do our dirty work," says Michael Scheuer, the ex-head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit and the author of a recent biography of the late Al Qaeda leader. "We've been lucky to find Jordans and Egypts that were willing to do that—not just to help us, but also because the people we were aiming at were the people they were also aiming at."

        In theory, an FBI official says, foreign security forces are told that US citizens detained as part of this program are not to be harmed. But, the official acknowledges, foreign security forces are sometimes overzealous. Torture isn't the point, though, the source explains—fear is. Throwing a guy from suburban Virginia into a Middle Eastern jail cell might shake loose information that wouldn't come out in an FBI interrogation room in Washington, DC.

        Whether the information is accurate is another matter. Weeks after being interviewed by FBI agents in the United Arab Emirates in 2008, Naji Hamdan, a naturalized US citizen who had run an auto-parts business in California, was abruptly arrested by the country's security forces. Over a period of three weeks, he was repeatedly beaten and questioned (PDF). "If you don't confess, I swear to God I'm going to bring your wife to this room, and you'll see what we do to her," the lead interrogator vowed at one point. During one interrogation, Hamdan says, an American was present. "I've lived enough in the US to recognize the accent of the person when he talks," he says. "I had no doubt that the person who was talking to me was a Caucasian American." Hamdan's interrogators kicked him in the side until he passed out. When he came to, the "American" spoke: "You better do what these people want, or they'll fuck you up."

        Hamdan eventually confessed to being a member of a variety of terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, and spent another 11 months in prison before the UAE deported him to Lebanon. He later said his confession was fiction—after weeks of torture, he'd told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear. The FBI, for its part, extensively investigated Hamdan's activities in the US. He was never charged with a crime.

        "From some of the other proxy detentions, it's clear that the government has got it flat wrong about which individuals pose a threat," says the ACLU's Michael Kaufman, who's on Hamdan's legal team. "It wouldn't be surprising if Naji was one of those horrible, horrible mistakes."

        Along with the cases of Hamdan, Mobley, and Mohamed, there are others that show indications of US involvement. Yusuf Wehelie, another 19-year-old Virginian, claims he was detained and beaten by Egyptian security forces in May 2010 after the FBI questioned him and his older brother Yahya at a hotel in Cairo. The Egyptians who beat and interrogated Wehelie "stated over and over that they worked for the United States government, and that they were questioning me at the request of the United States government," he later said. The Egyptian interrogators asked Wehelie "the same questions that the American FBI agents had been asking." Some focused on Mobley. After Wehelie was allowed to return home, his brother was forced to remain in Cairo for two more months. Yusuf later told a reporter he was interviewed by the FBI 10 times and submitted to a polygraph test before he was permitted to return home. (The Wehelies, through their lawyer, declined to comment.)

        In 2007, Kenyan authorities arrested Amir Meshal, of New Jersey, and New Hampshire-raised Daniel Maldonado after they sought refuge in Kenya when Ethiopia invaded Somalia and displaced its Islamist government. (Both men claim they went to Somalia, which was comparatively stable before the Ethiopian invasion, only for the experience of living in an Islamic country.) Maldonado has since taken a plea deal and is serving a 10-year sentence for receiving training from Al Qaeda. But Meshal has not been charged with a crime. Backed by the ACLU, he is suing the government (PDF), claiming that FBI agents violated his rights by interrogating him in a series of African prisons without access to a lawyer.

        Human rights advocates believe many more Americans may have been subjected to proxy detention but have not come forward for fear of retaliation or prosecution; some may still be secretly imprisoned. As Gulet Mohamed declared when he arrived back in the US: "There are still probably other people out there that are being tortured like I was. My voice has been heard, but their voices are not being heard."

        During his detention in Kuwait, one of Mohamed's fellow prisoners had given him access to a smuggled cell phone. He called his family, who contacted a lawyer; eventually Mohamed used the phone to describe his plight to the New York Times' Mark Mazzetti. The story made headlines, embarrassing the Obama administration and raising questions about its track record on civil liberties and human rights. An irate US Embassy official later visited Mohamed's cell with a highlighted copy of the Times story. "You didn't cooperate with the FBI," he said, according to Mohamed. "That is why you didn't leave. You went public. We need to calm this down."

        At a press conference when Mohamed finally did return home, his lawyer, Gadeir Abbas, addressed the scrum of reporters. "What's great about being an American citizen traveling abroad is that you have the full power and privilege of the most powerful country in the world at your back," he said. "But in this situation, it doesn't look like Gulet had those powers and privileges that are routinely granted to other American citizens."

        August 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
      • rajeev

        http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/proxy-detention-gulet-mohamed

        August 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
      • rajeev

        you must respect the Muslim people in America rather than hating them you idiot

        August 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  52. Military Reporting

    It is pretty pathetic to see the CNN Senior National Security Producer refer to a C130 as a "jet". I would say that calling the C130 a "big jet" is also an inaccurate depiction. I would call the Boeing 747 a "big jet" at 231 feet, the Lockheed C5 at 247 feet is also a "big jet", or even the 174 foot C17 might be considered a "big jet". The 97 foot turbo-prop (read "propeller") C130 is certainly not a "big jet".

    I would concede that calling the C130 a "big jet" does not make a material difference in this story. Nonetheless, it is grossly inaccurate. I think this fits a patter at CNN that has people reporting on military matters without even the most basic understanding of the military.

    re: "hit a C130 on Monday, destroying the drone, damaging the big jet"

    August 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • AJW

      Indeed!
      Know your beat!

      August 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  53. Jarhead

    Keeping drone technology is probably already being compromised in Afghanistan and deploying the system in the US and in the hands of private individuals or institutions would only accelerate the process of diffusion.

    August 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Reply

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