Drones–A Closer Look (Documentaries and Testimony)

The documentary below is useful for its close-up look at drones. It’s obviously made in complicity with the US military, which must have come with plenty of strings attached.

The other material below sheds light on the US military’s claim that it does not target civilians except in extremely rare circumstances, and on the notion that it abides by international law in regard to the use of military force by targeting only legitimate targets within a declared war zone.



See below video on drone operators, 0:00-4:35:


Farea Al-Muslimi, testimony before Congress


Brandon Bryant, US air force drone operator

GQ interview:


Video testimony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_l6ec62l6I

Malala Yousafzai, meeting with President Obama

Malala was 16 when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for her activist work supporting girls and women in education. During her trip to the US, she was allowed to meet with Obama.

She basically said that while the Taliban are trying to kill her for activism, the US is killing people like her all the time as well with its drone program.

Washington Post:

The Obamas welcomed Yousafzai to the Oval Office “to thank her for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of girls education in Pakistan,” according to a statement issued by the White House. …

“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” Yousafzai said in a statement published by the Associated Press. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.

What it’s like to get hit by a drone strike:


This excerpt concerns the January 23, 2009 drone strike, which led to a substantial number of civilian casualties—among them 14-year-old Faheem Qureshi, who suffered a skull fracture and lost and eye. …

“The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs,” the report says. “Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss.” As this account begins, a group of guests and relatives are gathered in the home of village elder Mohammed Khalil. …

At about 5:00 that evening, they heard the hissing sound of a missile and instinctively bent their heads down. The missile slammed into the center of the room, blowing off the ceiling and roof, and shattering all the windows. The immense pressure from the impact cracked the walls of the attached house, as well as those of the neighboring houses. …

In the moments after the strike, Faheem said he “could not think.” “I felt my brain stopped working and my heart was on fire,” stated Faheem. “My entire body was burning like crazy.” …

doctors operated to remove shrapnel from his abdomen and repair damage to his leg, arm, and eyes. Following the surgery, Faheem was transferred to a private hospital in Peshawar, where he remained for at least 23 days. In the end, Faheem lost his left eye, which has since been replaced by an artificial one; he also lost his hearing in one ear as a result of damage to his eardrum. His vision in his right eye is still blurred, requiring ongoing treatment, and he now has only limited mobility. …

Ejaz Ahmad, who lives just a few kilometers away, did not attend the gathering in the hujra that evening, and was instead at a friend’s home. He discovered the next morning that his paternal uncle, Khush Dil Khan, in whose hardware store Ejaz worked, died in the strike. “The bodies were completely destroyed,” Ejaz stated. “All we could retrieve was the torso and upwards.”

Glenn Greenwald comments:

All the way back in 2004, the Rumsfeld Pentagon commissioned a study to determine the causes of anti-US terrorism, and even it concluded: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.” Running around the world beating your chest, bellowing “we’re at war!”, and bombing multiple Muslim countries does not keep one safe. It manifestly does the opposite, since it ensures that even the most rational people will calculate that targeting Americans with violence in response is just and necessary to deter further aggression.

A one-day attack on US soil eleven years ago unleashed a never-ending campaign of violence around the world from the target and its allies. Is it really a challenge to understand that continuous bombings and civilian-killing assaults over many years, in many Muslim countries, will generate the same desire for aggression and vengeance against the US?

Time and again, those who have attempted to perpetrate attacks on US soil have cited the Muslim children and other innocent human beings extinguished by Obama’s drones. Recall the words of the attempted Times Square bomber, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, at his sentencing hearing when the federal judge presiding over his case, Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, asked incredulously how he could possibly use violence that he knew would result in the deaths even of innocent children — as though she were literally unaware that her own government continuously does exactly that:

“‘Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people. They’re killing all Muslims’ . . . .

“‘I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.'”

Perhaps most importantly, the report documents the extreme levels of propaganda used by the western press to deceive their citizens into believing pure myths about the drone campaign. As I’ve argued before, the worst of these myths is the journalistic mimicry of the term “militants” to describe drone victims even when those outlets have no idea who was killed or whether that term is accurate (indeed, the term itself is almost as ill-defined as “terrorist”). This media practice became particularly inexcusable after the New York Times revealed in May that “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.” …

As the LA Times summarizes the study’s findings today: “Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged.”

Tiny drones, the size of birds or butterflies, that can see through walls:


The Death Lists:

Drones in Yemen Drones Yemen 2Pakistan:



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