War/Security

Beta testing dones on unwitting subjects

Predator_and_HellfireCivilians are the innocent victims of U.S. use of an unproven product ― drones.

In a moving testimony at the Guardian, Heather Linebaugh, a former drone analyst for the United States, writes:

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I’d start with: “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And: “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?”

Drones are accurate to the nth degree. Yet another, seemingly less complex aspect of their technology continually underperforms. Ms. Linebaugh:

What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: “The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?”

How often have we heard drone operators and analysts attest to optics that appear to be much less highly developed than the system’s targeting capabilities? Entrepreneurs who see an opening in the marketplace, as well as consumer demand for their products, have created a tradition of bringing products to the market while they’re still under development.

You have only to browse through Sears Roebucks’ catalogs over the years to appreciate the primitive form in which products often enter the market. A modern example of a product that made consumers feel like unwitting beta testers (aka guinea pigs) is the wireless router. Until the most recent generation ­― finally ergonomic ― their unreliability taxed the patience of many a consumer to the limit.

A weaponized drone system without optics powerful enough to determine whether the humans its operator and analyst are intending to target then becomes just another product brought to the marketplace before its time. In the United States today, because of the threat of lawsuits, such a product couldn’t get off the ground. But, apparently, that’s of little concern in Afghanistan, where, as in Pakistan and Yemen, only about $5,000 (who came up with that figure?) is paid to families for a wrongful deaths.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

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1 reply »

  1. we are guilty until proven innocent. the government convinces the public everything is for their own protection. when in reality they are there only protectors. what are a few deaths among the many. no knock search warrants, internment of the Japanese during world war 2, i am a down winder, the war against drugs or terror, and many more current day offense by the government. all for our own good what are a few deaths compared to the many. when are we going to make the government live by the constitution just like everyone else. it is not above the law, but has done so with impunity because we let it. i have pulled one eye out of my backside and am trying to do more pulling. i just hope everyone else is trying also. maybe we can fix the mess. who knows maybe in a generation a few more countries will like us. yes there have always been problems and there always will, it is nothing new. we can not afford to pay for the things that need to be done in this country, let alone police the whole world. just as the war in Vietnam solved nothing. these new wars will solve nothing just make the rich richer, why do you think we are there to protect them. whit we do not even protect our own, what are a few deaths. i am waiting for the nsa to bust down my door. since that(no knock search warrants are illegal constitutionally) i will not accept it. anyone can come to my business and arrest or do what ever, but my castle is different i will try to protect it no matter what people are yelling. i am an old man and i know things are not going to change in my life time but i hope in yours or your children’s. they are changing but very slowly. when in the 70’s i said drugs, all of them should be legalized there was a completely different response. there is hope, it will take many many years though. peace!!!!.

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