UK Military Test Flying Israeli Drone Over Wales

Before the ash of doom cleared the flight schedules the ‘Watchkeeper‘ drone was successfully test flown on Wedenesday over Welsh skies (ht2 Mike)-

The UK tentacle of French arms giant Thales is delighted today to announce that its new “Watchkeeper” drone aircraft for the British Army has made its first flight in UK airspace. The machine first flew in 2008, above Israel, where the Hermes 450 it is based on is made.

The 20-minute Watchkeeper flight took place yesterday at the new ParcAberporth drone-drome in Wales, operated by controversial MoD selloff bonanza firm Qinetiq, which it is hoped will become a huge economic boon for Wales as the UK robocraft business booms in future. For now though, the main job it has is testing Watchkeeper.

The Watchkeeper itself is a modification of the Hermes 450 craft from Elbit of Israel, which the British Army is already using in Afghanistan under a lease deal with Elbit and Thales. Watchkeeper is superior to a basic Hermes 450, however, as it carries a ground-moving-target-indicator radar (developed with the help of Thales’ French operations) in addition to its electro-optical spyeye package.

The plan is for the British Watchkeepers and their engines to be made (or assembled, anyway) in Blighty. The aircraft will be put together at a company in Leicester called U-TacS, 51 per cent owned by Elbit – thus, Israeli-controlled. The UK engine-making factory will be fully Israeli-owned.

Apart from Thales’ I-MASTER Franco-UK radar, various other European components will replace the ones used by Israel in the Hermes 450. This process is described by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Thales as essentially endowing Britain with a new unmanned-aircraft manufacturing base boasting 2000+ well-paid, skilled British jobs. This is the main reason why it is taking years and costing hundreds of millions to field a fairly ordinary radar+EO surveillance aircraft.

So I guess there’s still a ways to go on BDS where the MOD are involved…(it’s almost as if the military and the UK government are not at the forefront of human rights, quick someone call the Decents and alert their superior moral senses, the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan may possibly not be about building creches). The base for this testing is the UAV centre at ParcAberporth (& Google map). Of course the skilled jobs are trumpeted and with little choice the fact it is making a living out of death does not get a look in, you can’t pay a mortgage with good intentions, thus capitalism marches on with its evil flying robots of death. Protests in 2004 against the site of course fell on deaf ears when corporate profit and political influence peddling in the war-on-terro era trumps all notions of…well morality-

“We are very unhappy at the proposal and we know many local people are also concerned about it,” said Rod Stallard, vice-chairman of CND Cymru yesterday. “It’s been stated by the US Navy that this type of aircraft will have an armed offence capability by 2015. We don’t think Wales should be used as the site for producing such an offensive weapon. To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines. It’s not for rural Wales, or for anywhere else.”

Local resident Keith Haworth said there were a number of questions about the project that needed to be answered.

He added, “Wales may want to be seen as the new Celtic Tiger, but is investment in remote-controlled weapons delivery technology the face a peace-orientated nation wishes to present to the world?”

ParcAberporth was created under the auspice of the legendarily corrupt patronage machine/quango the Welsh Development Agency  which is now simply the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department of Economy and Transport and the privatised Qinetiq, which was sold off cheap to the Empire’s corporate war machine. Rod Stallard had it right ‘To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines.’ Thankfully we have an election now where we can vote and change all that… oh I am funny.

Not A Mistake An Example

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Via Raed in the Middle: WikiLeaks Video: Exception or Example?

Laura Flanders with- Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films, who was in Iraq and visited the scene of the shootings just the day after they happened, and senior fellow at Peace Action, Raed Jarrar.

Rowley (there a day afterwards) recounts that a survivor of the Apache attack died when troops ran over him virtually cutting him in half and both make the point this is not an aberration in spite of ROE but because of them. Also see Democracy Now-

these residents came and told me that the man who they drove over was alive, that he had crawled out of the van that had been shot to pieces and that he was still alive when the Americans drove over him and cut him in half, basically, with a Bradley or tank or whatever armored vehicle they were driving in.

Not breaking the rules but following them, thus all the counter spin is to hide the reality and conduct of the war. Also Glenn Greenwald on this and Obama’s assassination program and Chris Floyd- The Accomodationists: Memo to Liberals on the White House Death Warrants.

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Easy

Go on, press the button, it’s easy. You’ve been trained in such a way that makes it very easy, that directs your libido into desiring the kill, to ‘Get Some’. And don’t worry, the acculturation in the Homeland is such that whatever you do you will be the Good Guy. And thus the cycle continues, mass murderers become respected and get the next bit of mass murder going. The counter narrative is already launched, that’s if it is even still on the news agenda and anyway they are censoring it for the sensitive folks back home. What then of the other side, when they’ve mown down your friends, family, given themselves medals and treat you like shit, gonna do something? You’ll have to realise that your act won’t reach the people in the Homeland, they won’t understand you as a human being who made a stand, who couldn’t take anymore who couldn’t live with the anger, grief and the need stop the pain in your head, you’ll be an insurgent, a terrorist, a fundamentalist. Heroes use $16 million gunships (that’s a stimulus to the economy, saving jobs, providing careers in science, engineering and psychology), when you improvise whatever you can get your hands on, that’s terrorism. And that act will stiffen the resolve of the righteous forces of freedom, they are protecting the folks back home from your violence. They’ll be parades for them, at your funeral a drone will Hellfire all your friends and family, I mean who else would go to the funeral of a terrorist than other terrorists? Get Some. And best of all, best of all even the caring sharing reasonable liberal journalists will deny the holocaust of deaths (especially the half a million starved children even before the WMD lies did their work), Lancet & Orb are verboten, because the Good Guys don’t do that even as they wring their hands. So war has not changed, it is series of unfolding atrocities and people who want a nice life will not get in too much of the way of that, it’s just not polite. Do your duty, don’t think too hard, value nice things that a nice salary will buy you and one day maybe when you hear rotors overhead, hope that your gang, your tribe are in the cockpit, so don’t go to protests, don’t pray to the wrong god, don’t resist an occupation that murders and tortures your friends and family. When they say they are Good Guys believe them and serve them, whatever they do to you, maybe they foreclose your home, or bulldoze your home, deny you medicine in a letter or at a checkpoint, because that’s freedom. Find the most powerful gang and join it and hope your life is not at the other end of a button push.

collateralmurder.com

Standing at the window
A farmer’s wife in Oxford shire
Glances at the clock; it’s nearly time for tea
She doesn’t see
The phantom in the hedgerow dip its wings
Doesn’t hear the engine sing
But in the cockpit’s techno glow
Behind the Ray Ban shine
The kid from Cleveland
In the comfort of routine
Scans his dials and smiles
Secure in the beauty of military life
There is no right or wrong
Only tin cans and cordite and white cliffs
And blue skies and flight flight flight
The beauty of military life
No questions only orders and flight, only flight
What a beautiful sight in his wild blue dream
The eternal child leafs through his war magazine
And his kind Uncle Sam feeds ten trillion in change
Into the total entertainment combat video game
And up here in the stands
The fans are going wild
The cheerleaders flip
When you wiggle your hip
And we all like the bit when you take
The jeans from the refrigerator and
Then the bad guy gets hit
And were you struck by the satisfying way
The swimsuit sticks to her skin
Like BB gun days
When knives pierce autumn leaves
But that’s okay see the children bleed
It’ll look great on the TV
And in Tripoli another ordinary wife
Stares at the dripping her old man hadn’t
Time to fix
Too busy mixing politics and rhythm
In the street below

UK Prioritises Killing Over Aid To Haiti

From SU

Michael Burke:- The donors conference in New York has now seen pledges of $5.3bn in aid to Haiti.

Unfortunately, there is a long history of broken promises arising from international donor conferences. Maybe that is why Britain promised absolutely nothing at all.

The Times justifies the decision here, arguing that money is going to Afghanistan and Pakistan

In fact the NGOs estimate that around $7bn in aid is requirid immediately, simply to return the country’s housing and infrastructure to pre-earthquake level, let alone provide any real development assistance.

In attempting to justify the decision to provide no new funds at the conference, Mike Foster, the Overseas Development Minister, said that Britain had pledged £20 million for initial emergency relief and had donated £33 million going through the European Commission, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Mr Foster also said that Britain’s £29 million funding this year for the UN mission in Haiti although Britain is obliged to pay for these ‘peacekeeping operations’, which existed long before the earthquake. The displeasure of the donors was marked by a refusal to grant British officials speaking rights at the press conference that followed.

Reports indicate that the British Treasury has blocked any payments, even though the international development budget is said to be one of those ‘ring-fenced’ from cuts. Ring-fenced it may be, but it appears that in boosting payments to both Pakistan and Afghanistan it is increasingly a tool of foreign policy aggression. This combination of reduced aid to the needy and increased militarisation of the Aid budget is clearly a co-ordinated foreign policy decision, presumably taken by the press’s favourite Labour Leader, David Milliband.

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Obama Admin Repeats Bush War Rhetoric To Justify Drone Assassinations

(AFP) – The US government for the first time has offered a legal justification of its drone strikes against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, citing the right to “self-defense” under international law. The CIA attacks by unmanned aircraft in Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere have sharply increased under President Barack Obama’s administration but have remained shrouded in secrecy, with some human rights groups charging the bombing raids amount to illegal assassinations. Broaching a subject that has been off-limits for official comment, State Department legal advisor Harold Koh laid out the legal argument for the strikes in a speech late Thursday, referring to “targeting” of Al-Qaeda and Taliban figures without mentioning Pakistan or where the raids are carried out.

The United States was in “an armed conflict” with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its affiliates as a result of the September 11 attacks, Koh said, “and may use force consistent with its inherent right to self-defense under international law. With respect to the subject of targeting, which has been much commented upon in the media and international legal circles, there are obviously limits to what I can say publicly,” he told a conference of the American Society of International Law. What I can say is that it is the considered view of this administration — and it has certainly been my experience during my time as legal adviser — that US targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.”

The CIA would not comment on the speech, posted on the State Department website, but told AFP: “The Agency?s counterterrorism operations are conducted in strict accord with the law.” Rights activists and some legal experts charge the drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries, outside of a traditional battlefield, amount to extrajudicial executions that violate both international and US law.

Koh, a fierce critic of former president George W. Bush’s policies before he took his post, disagreed — saying a US ban on government sanctioned assassinations did not apply. Under US law, “the use of lawful weapons systems — consistent with the applicable laws of war — for precision targeting of specific high-level belligerent leaders when acting in self-defense or during an armed conflict is not unlawful, and hence does not constitute ‘assassination,'” he said. He also argued that the US government was not obliged to offer legal rights to the militant figures targeted in the strikes as the United States was at war and acting in self-defense.

Also, American Society of International Law Press release. Yes the only empire on Earth, that spends more than all other nations together on its military, with approximately 900 military facilities in 46 countries and territories (the unofficial figure is far greater)…is acting in self defence. Koh in 2002-

Still, some national security lawyers said the practice of drawing up lists of people who are subject to lethal force might blur the lines drawn by government’s ban on assassinations. That prohibition was first ordered by President Gerald Ford, and in the view of some lawyers, it applies not only to foreign leaders but to civilians. (American officials have said in the past that Saddam Hussein would be a legitimate target in a war, as he is a military commander as well as Iraq’s president.)

“The inevitable complication of a politically declared but legally undeclared war is the blurring of the distinction between enemy combatants and other nonstate actors,” said Harold Hongju Koh, a professor of international law at Yale University and a former State Department official in President Bill Clinton’s administration. “The question is, what factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?”

He’s a great lawyer, says whatever the guy paying him wants.

Seventh Anniversary Of The Iraq Invasion

And as this video from rethink Afghanistan demonstrates the meek response and internalisation of propaganda is working, the first minute is concerned with US military casualties, then it turns to Iraq casualties and tremulously announces –At least 95,639 confirmed civilian deaths. History is written by the winners and it turns out they even get to rewrite what dissenting voices say. I know that they are after a wide US audience so deference for the imperial military forces and the civilian toll of the ongoing crimes have to be politely alluded to at best, but seven years on this does begin to indicate those who enacted this war will get to own the narrative. All helped by a hysterically embedded media, this by Barbara Plett is not much of a serious piece, it is a glorified film review of fugitive rapist Roman Polanski’s latest, but there is a telling passage-

The drama also has Adam Lang – holed up in a villa in Martha’s Vineyard – decide to stay in the United States for fear of arrest if he returns to Britain. Technically this is a feasible scenario. As a state that has ratified the Rome Treaty, Britain would be obliged to arrest anyone for whom the ICC had issued a warrant, although it had not yet for Mr Lang. The US has not ratified the treaty so it is not similarly obliged. However some legal experts are sceptical that Washington would protect such a high profile fugitive from justice, no matter how close an ally.

If Blair was ensconced in the US the White house would extradite him to face war crimes charges, she reports this expert opinion as if that would ever happen, bless. She also avoids mention of the crime of aggression and that a Chief Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz said-

“The United Nations charter has a provision which was agreed to by the United States, formulated by the United States, in fact, after World War II. It says that from now on, no nation can use armed force without the permission of the U.N. Security Council. They can use force in connection with self-defense, but a country can’t use force in anticipation of self-defense. Regarding Iraq, the last Security Council resolution essentially said, ‘Look, send the weapons inspectors out to Iraq, have them come back and tell us what they’ve found — then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do. The U.S. was impatient, and decided to invade Iraq — which was all pre-arranged of course. So, the United States went to war, in violation of the charter.”

And it is neither historically remarkable or psychologically surprising that  supporters and/or beneficiaries of slaughter deny the scale of the damage (beneficiaries are anyone still climbing upwards in their career who know it is best not to focus too strongly on deaths we cause as opposed to the evil ‘other’). There are people who deny the Holocaust, there are people who deny the death toll in Iraq, they are of the same ilk, quit whining and own your historical antecedence, you want good war, you have to hide bodies, real fucking simple. Deny the the best correlated figures of a million plus but know who you are making common cause with. There are 2.76 million Internally Displaced Persons and the figures for refugees who fled Iraq are complicated because of the necessarily scattered nature and multiple different countries reporting methods but the figure was 1,977,000-2,377,000(est.) one year ago, there is yet to be profound changes to their circumstances, in fact they are becoming worse.

Children of veterans with PTSD experience-

Iraqi adults & children themselves have massive rates of PTSD, depression and birth defects. Halliburton reported $3.1 Billion Gross Operating Profit last year, Blackwater/ XE and other mercenary firms of the privatised neoliberal war paradigm made…undisclosed total amounts often claimed to be classified, but Armor Group (Chairman former Tory Def Sec Sir Malcolm Rifkind now owned by G4S) made $3.7 million profit in 06,

Jeremy Scahill, 2007– Precise data on the extent of U.S. spending on mercenary services is nearly impossible to obtain — by both journalists and elected officials–but some in Congress estimate that up to 40 cents of every tax dollar spent on the war goes to corporate war contractors. At present, the United States spends about $2 billion a week on its Iraq operations.

Politicians, commentariat & high ranking military & intelligence personnel who conspired on the lies to enable the war have seen their careers & personal wealth flourish, those who opposed, told the truth and still do… Well at least Craig Murray got to be played by Doctor Who on Radio 4. Likelihood that because none of the prosecutors of this war have suffered adverse legal or criminal sanction that they will do it again- 100%. History & business as usual.

Happy Anniversary.

Malalai Joya In The NYT

Lacking access to broadcasters and the media within Afghanistan means that her message “for women’s rights, for human rights, against injustice and occupation,” can be spread only by telephone, by clandestine meetings in safe houses and through a poster campaign.

The United States cited the status of women among reasons for its intervention in Afghanistan. Yet Ms. Joya, who taught girls in secret basement schools during the Taliban years, argues that the situation of women has not improved.

Pointing to the 1920s, when Afghan women traveled to Turkey to study without head scarves or male relatives to accompany them, and to the 1950s, when Afghan women had professional careers, she said that the decline of women’s rights in her country was above all an issue of power.

Levels of domestic violence, rape, forced marriage and suicide make the condition of women today “worse than hell,” she says. For that she blames what she calls President Hamid Karzai’s “corrupt, misogynistic government and his circle of warlords” and on his appointments to Afghan courts.

Hamed Elmi, deputy spokesman for Mr. Karzai in Kabul, discounted Ms. Joya’s accusations. “The government is not corrupt, but we have some corrupt people in government — we try to identify and tackle the issue,” Mr. Elmi said by telephone.

He added that Afghanistan had made progress in involving women at all levels of government and that it could not be ascertained that there were warlords in Parliament since the courts had not proven them guilty. “We have an independent judiciary system,” he said. As for whether the government was misogynistic, he said simply: “She is wrong.”

Back in her homeland, Ms. Joya said, the NATO forces were perpetuating the repression of women by propping up warlords she described as interchangeable with the Taliban.

She called for the immediate departure of foreign troops, even if it would lead to more violence in the civil war. “It is better to leave us alone,” she said. “We will know what to do with our destiny.”