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U.S. Releases Drone Strike ‘Playbook’ in Response to ACLU Lawsuit

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posted on Aug, 7 2016 @ 04:33 AM
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NEW YORK — In response to a court order in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama administration has released a redacted version of the White House document that sets out the government’s policy framework for drone strikes “outside the United States and areas of actual hostilities.”

The Presidential Policy Guidance, once known as “the Playbook,” was issued by President Obama in May 2013 following promises of more transparency and stricter controls for the drone program. But while the administration released a short “fact sheet” describing the document, it did not release the PPG itself, or any part of it.



U.S. Releases Drone Strike ‘Playbook’ in Response to ACLU Lawsuit

The Obama stance on 'transparency' hasn't paid off with this release of his 'Playbook' for the use of drone strikes. The document is redacted throughout to protect and withhold the name of a department involved in decisions to drone who, what, when and where.



The parameters about who is a valid target for drone strikes are an interesting gumbo of legal language and clauses. Non-combatants aren't valid targets unless they're 'part of a belligerent party and it isn't clear how this is distinguished. Reading between the lines makes it appear that you're only a 'non-combatant' until you're not.



Buried in the document are numerous redacted clauses that suggest carte blanche loopholes. When defining the courses of action regarding lethal force, or the preferred choice of capture, there are lines and paragraphs missing. Have a look at where the redacted passages appear and draw your own conclusions.



Page 12 is almost completely blacked out.

Page 17 shows that despite all the previous pages, it all boils down to a Presidential nod.





posted on Aug, 7 2016 @ 06:08 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

This was one of the main reasons I voted for Gary Johnson in 2012. People say drones cut down ov civilian causalities but that actually doesn't seem to be the case. A quick perusal shows me how spot on Code Pink has been in protesting Obama the last 5 years or so. They're a good source to look to for more info on US drone warfare.



posted on Aug, 7 2016 @ 06:51 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

Heh...

Collateral damage to be avoided where "reasonably possible".

Here's a fun fact: p

Human bodies are squishy. Therefore, shooting rockets at a cluster of people to take out one percent of their number, is never reasonable. Shooting a bullet directly into the brain pan of your true enemy? Understandable, though unfortunate and brutal. Blowing him and everyone around him into a fine mist? Totally unacceptable. Why aren't better humans writing this play book? Why are people who are more interested in saving their own skin than being human, writing this stuff? Who employs this walking filth?

Find them, egg their houses, send pizza to their abodes, despite their intense dislike for mozzarella... Do something for the love of all that's right in the world!



posted on Aug, 7 2016 @ 08:59 AM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

Yeah, and put a bag of dog doo on their porch, light it on fire, and ring the doorbell too!



posted on Aug, 7 2016 @ 09:35 AM
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"Better people" aren't writing the books because there are no "good" people calling the shots in government.
The book was written by and for those who want to use the drones, and was only written to satisfy some "regulation"

The "good" people were the ones who decided they needed to have rules- but in this world the good people don't get to write those rules.



posted on Aug, 8 2016 @ 01:07 AM
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a reply to: lordcomac

At what point does one stop accepting that hegemony?

How much dishonour can a nation be put through by its leadership, before the nation turns toward its Capitol with the intention of clearing it completely out and starting fresh?



posted on Aug, 8 2016 @ 02:32 AM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

We pretty much found out when ~1 million people arrived in London to say "Don't invade Iraq." As we know, it didn't make any difference beyond switching off a lot of people and creating more distrust for 'democracy.' The US equivalent is yet to come and I wouldn't expect it to go down any differently.

The fudge about defining a target renders the given stats on civilian versus 'combatant' deaths equally fudgey. According to recent news as many as 116 civilians have been killed in non-war areas compared to 2500 combatants. Human rights groups and news outlets have argued that the civilian death toll is much higher and reports from areas like Pakistan and Afghanistan also claim higher figures. As long as it's possible to define the targets as 'belligerent' it'll reduce the death count of civilians.

It's under the umbrella of 'counter-terrorism' and none of us want to be blown up or murdered in our own nations. We can get behind actions that make us safer. Where I have concerns is the radicalisation that occurs when drones kill civilians and we then report them as 'enemy combatants' due to their 'belligerent' associations.

With all this Left/Right conflict too, I wonder if the drone strikes would have been more or less frequent under a GOP president? I tend to think it would be much of the same.



posted on Aug, 8 2016 @ 06:44 PM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

Blowing people up in a dessert cannot, by any stretch of imagination, make our people safer. It makes enemies and does their work for them. They must save an awful lot of money on propaganda, considering all these civilian deaths and what not.

And another thing, with respect Kandinsky, no, we cannot ALL get behind things which make us safer. The people of the western world are being offered a binary choice, veiled, disguised, but a choice.

Liberty, or safety.

I have no time for safety what so ever, save that which I provide for myself. If I die a free man, whose nation is not dishonoured, it's name not blackened by nefarious dealings, it's people not bent under the weight of its leaderships stupidity both at home and abroad, then I will die a happy man. I cannot say I would find the same peace, with things being what they are however.

After all, it's not just the American military who cause more casualties than are strictly necessary in order to get a job of work done.

Our lot have done it too.



posted on Aug, 8 2016 @ 07:01 PM
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Considering how much each of these hellfire missiles cost I think we'd be better off by throwing stuff from planes like air conditioners, stereos, refrigerators, Chevy 4wd pick ups, Twinkies by the case - parachuted in of course - you get the idea.

We'd win many more friends that way while saving the taxpayer lots of money.
edit on 8-8-2016 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 8 2016 @ 08:33 PM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

Do you really think it's a good idea for us to pull pranks against people who think like this? You're practically sending us to our deaths (or indefinite detentions) over a pizza.



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 01:37 AM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant

So the examples were bad.

The point is that something needs doing about these morons in high places.



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 03:41 AM
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a reply to: TrueBrit



Blowing people up in a dessert cannot, by any stretch of imagination, make our people safer. It makes enemies and does their work for them. They must save an awful lot of money on propaganda, considering all these civilian deaths and what not.


'Blowing people up in a desert' is a simplification and 'our people' are made safer by tactical support. There have been humanitarian air drops that have required tactical strikes to ensure they go to the people. Islamic State have been disrupted almost beyond functioning by drone strikes. The alternative of IS expanding (and stable) would certainly pose a distinct risk to the safety of those living within, or near, their domain and, by extension, the West.

I don't know if you read the OP? I was saying the policy has made it open season on anyone. Picture me writing it with a grumpy face if it helps - it's not celebrating the fact that we can drone strike whoever we like. It was pointing out the fact and letting people make their own minds up.




I have no time for safety what so ever, save that which I provide for myself. If I die a free man, whose nation is not dishonoured, it's name not blackened by nefarious dealings, it's people not bent under the weight of its leaderships stupidity both at home and abroad, then I will die a happy man. I cannot say I would find the same peace, with things being what they are however.


Emotive rhetoric aside, the history of England is blackened in parts and dishonoured in others. Nefarious dealings are the oil of realpolitik. Is there a nation out there that hasn't been dishonoured at some point? Let me know because I can't think of one.


a reply to: Asktheanimals

Pokemon Go too? I like your thinking

edit on 8.9.2016 by Kandinsky because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 04:13 AM
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originally posted by: TrueBrit
a reply to: enlightenedservant

So the examples were bad.

The point is that something needs doing about these morons in high places.

I agree with that. Just playfully pointing out that there's not really anything we can do. Most of the people in charge of those policies aren't in elected positions, so it's not like we can vote them out, recall them, or fire them. And clearly both major "sides" of the political spectrum agree with their collateral damage policies, which is why we've been doing it for who knows how many decades.

Plus, gun ownership is high here and many of our states have "Stand your ground" laws. So even if we confronted them physically, they might be able to kill us without being prosecuted by claiming "self defense". It's a really crappy situation.



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 04:22 AM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant




Most of the people in charge of those policies aren't in elected positions, so it's not like we can vote them out, recall them, or fire them. And clearly both major "sides" of the political spectrum agree with their collateral damage policies, which is why we've been doing it for who knows how many decades.


The Play Book shows they aren't elected and neither are they accountable in any meaningful sense. Yes, both sides of the political spectrum support the same things. It's a myth that one side is for doves whilst the other is for hawks.

"Trust us. We looked at the evidence and the strikes were justified."



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 05:27 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

Yeah, there are also a lot of former drone operators who talk about this. Whistleblower and former operator Brandon Bryant is one famous example. Here are a few articles with accounts from former operators:

Former Drone Operators Say They Were “Horrified” By Cruelty of Assassination Program

Former Drone Pilots Denounce 'Morally Outrageous' Program

Life as a drone operator: 'Ever step on ants and never give it another thought?'

Here's an excerpt from the last article:

The aim of the missions was to track, and when the conditions were deemed right, kill suspected insurgents. That’s not how they put it, though. They would talk about “cutting the grass before it grows out of control”, or “pulling the weeds before they overrun the lawn”.

And then there were the children. The airmen would be flying the Predators over a village in the tribal areas of Pakistan, say, when a series of smaller black shadows would appear across their screens – telling them that kids were at the scene.

They called them “fun-sized terrorists”.

Haas is one of four former air force drone operators and technicians who as a group have come forward to the Guardian to register their opposition to the ongoing reliance on the technology as the US military’s modern weaponry of choice. Between them, the four men clocked up more than 20 years of direct experience at the coalface of lethal drone programs and were credited with having assisted in the targeted killings of hundreds of people in conflict zones – many of them almost certainly civilians.


Oh, I tried to find a basic wikipedia page on the whistleblower and former operator Brandon Bryant. The English search redirects to a dancer on "Dancing with the Stars"! But the German page brings up the American whistleblower I'm talking about lol (HERE). He's mentioned specifically in the Guardian link I posted, so you can still find info about him (he's also appeared on a lot of shows discussing the same things).



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 05:50 AM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant

Thanks for those links


Yeah, Brandon Bryant's story is one I know about; it was bookmarked on an old computer for the account rather than his name. There's another good treatment in Rolling Stone - The Untold Casualties of the Drone War



According to retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a Vietnam veteran who served as chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell and is now a visiting professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary, America's drone wars are a call to arms for its enemies. "The way we operate now, it is difficult not to conclude that drones feed terrorist recruitment," he says. "There is a cowardly empire killing them from the skies and the only way for them to fight back is asymmetrical. The things they do seem like heinous acts of terrorism to us, but in fact that is the only option we've left them with.'"


The drone strikes seem to be a go-to with unexpected costs to moral values, radicalisation, recruitment and the effects on Allied operators.

The asymmetry seems to go over most people's heads. A drone strike hitting a hospital causes as much anger and hatred as some self-styled terrorist killing civilians in a Mumbai train station or flying planes into landmarks. No, I'm not condoning terrorism or being an apologist (before anyone makes the accusation). It's just common sense that perceptions of fairness versus unfairness elicit some of humanity's strongest, most visceral reactions.



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 06:58 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

I agree (and I'll look into that Rolling Stone article).

I've been saying this whole time that I'm against both "sides" in this conflict precisely because of this. Both "sides" justify killing innocent civilians, which is something I will never agree with. No friend, spouse, or family member is going to be ok with their loved one being blown up, especially when their loved one didn't do anything wrong. Getting murdered because of someone else's idea of "freedom" or "jihad" isn't going to make the pain go away.

But don't get me wrong, I'd have no problem at all with the leaders of each faction fighting it out in the Octagon lol. Not to the death, but definitely until they worked out their grudges. I just hate that so many civilians and well meaning people get sucked into this cycle of murder & vengeance.

It's like people don't understand that those are other humans being indiscriminately killed and that their families will be damaged forever because of this stuff. As if we're the only people in the world who are allowed to feel anger at being wronged.



posted on Aug, 9 2016 @ 07:22 AM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant

We'll never be rid of wars as conflict is a part of the human condition. There'll always be a greedier leader to justify the eternal battle between sword and shield. We'll always have armed forces. That's realpolitik with power being permanently negotiable. That's me acknowledging that I'm neither dove nor hawk - war has always been a part of life.


Still, I agree that both (or all) sides are dragging us down the crooked path. Conflict is escalating with every atrocity committed to the point I've been feeling negative about the future. Not my future, but the one that's left for the next two or three generations.

The Play Book's slippery definitions of combatants/belligerents/HVT/civilian makes anyone fair game under 'extraordinary circumstances.' The terrorist cells and enemies of the West have their own terminology that makes us all equally fair game. It has the potential to polarise the world back into blocs and put millions of people across the world under a system that only worsens.

I worry that nobody has the political will and courage to try and roll back from where we're all headed. It's a fact that no current world leader is capable of brokering more peace and less war. So we're looking 4-5 years ahead with no realistic prospect of entente cordiale or conflict stasis - it's mission creep on all sides.



posted on Aug, 10 2016 @ 01:55 PM
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originally posted by: Kandinsky
a reply to: enlightenedservant

We'll never be rid of wars as conflict is a part of the human condition. There'll always be a greedier leader to justify the eternal battle between sword and shield. We'll always have armed forces. That's realpolitik with power being permanently negotiable. That's me acknowledging that I'm neither dove nor hawk - war has always been a part of life.


Yeah, I know.
But it doesn't have to be like that. I have no problem with settling problems through competitions and conflicts; I just hate the killing and maiming of people, the widespread destruction of infrastructures, the devastated postwar environments in the areas of conflict, etc. I don't think I'd have a problem with each side sending in 101 troops have to 1 on 1 combat matches to decide the winner (no killing though), or with settling the conflict in Olympics-style sports competitions. Then everyone could still go home afterwards and no infrastructure has been destroyed.



Still, I agree that both (or all) sides are dragging us down the crooked path. Conflict is escalating with every atrocity committed to the point I've been feeling negative about the future. Not my future, but the one that's left for the next two or three generations.

Then you're in luck because the number of conflicts and deaths through war has decreased dramatically, even when compared to the last century. Don't forget the tens of millions of people who were killed in each World War, or the 1918-1920 Flu pandemic which killed a shocking 50 to 100 million people worldwide. And things were even worse before then, with entire populations being wiped out in wars and invasions (like the 250,000+ Taino people being reduced to roughly 500 people after Columbus's Caribbean occupations). In short, I actually think the number of deaths through war & aggression will continue to decrease over the next 2 or 3 generations, even if the fearmongering doesn't reflect it.



The Play Book's slippery definitions of combatants/belligerents/HVT/civilian makes anyone fair game under 'extraordinary circumstances.' The terrorist cells and enemies of the West have their own terminology that makes us all equally fair game. It has the potential to polarise the world back into blocs and put millions of people across the world under a system that only worsens.

True. But on the other hand, countries have been doing this all along, even before this playbook. For example, let's not forget that Japan wiped out entire cities of civilians in China during its 20th century occupation (like in Nanking). And King Leopold II had 8 to 10 million people in the Congo killed during his short reign over them. And most of the European countries in World War 1 actively used chemical weapons in mass. And WW2 was practically built on indiscriminate bombings of civilians, from Hitler's V2 missiles into the UK, the UK & US's bombings of Dresden, the entire front between Germany and Russia, the entire front between the US & Japan, etc.

I agree that the drone program and it's justifications of "collateral damage" civilian killing is horrible. I've been a big critic of it for a long time, saying it's no different from terrorist killings of civilians. But I also acknowledge that it's still an improvement over the past (though I fully believe that all forms of the "collateral damage" doctrine need to be eliminated).



I worry that nobody has the political will and courage to try and roll back from where we're all headed. It's a fact that no current world leader is capable of brokering more peace and less war. So we're looking 4-5 years ahead with no realistic prospect of entente cordiale or conflict stasis - it's mission creep on all sides.

Honestly, I blame the voters for this. In many countries, pacifists are seen as weak or cowardly. So the majority of voters intentionally choose people who are belligerent and pro-war. Sometimes, it come from fear or a desire for safety from perceived bogeymen. But other times, it comes from a love of war, a desire to control other countries, and/or the "glory" that comes with being a conqueror.

If citizens/voters on all sides of the political spectrum rejected war, we'd see the roll back from warlike policies. Remember, we even have a volunteer based military. No one's forcing these people to sign up to invade other countries or be a drone pilot. They're even getting paid to do these things. So we can't really blame politicians for the warlike atmosphere when it's the citizens who seem to embrace war the most.
edit on 10-8-2016 by enlightenedservant because: typos everywhere



posted on Aug, 10 2016 @ 02:58 PM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant

I truly hope you're right about future wars


Personally, I worry about humanity being at a fork in the road. The growing polarisation between ideologies could be a blip or it could lead to long-term and widespread wars and micro-conflicts. These times remind me of 16th Century Europe with nations being fractured within and sabre-rattling at neighbours and rivals. They also seem to parallel the 1930s with emotions riding high and voters demanding short term gains over long term peace and prosperity.

Despite the worries, I'm optimistic we'll take the right path.




Honestly, I blame the voters for the this. In many countries, pacifists are seem as weak or cowardly. So the majority of voters intentionally choose people who are belligerent and pro-war. Sometimes, it come from fear or a desire for safety from perceived bogeymen. But other times, it comes from a love of war, a desire to control other countries, and/or the "glory" that comes with being a conqueror.


Have you heard of Kohlberg's stages of moral development? It's a framework that's lost a lot of its sparkle over the years. It basically describes how people have selfish concepts of morality as infants and then gradually learn that social, interactive guidelines reap more long term benefits. It's the difference between cheating at cards and playing by the rules. Everyone cheating creates conflict whereas, in theory, playing by agreed rules creates more harmony and security.

I only mention it as an analogy for how nations and populations can be defined and it lends an insight into your views about voters seeking war. Some nations are ready to come to terms with an agreed set of principles and rules of conduct; others aren't there yet and seek to game the advantage. The long term outlook for humanity, in theory, should be better served if all nations agree to abide by consensual rules.


So we can't really blame politicians for the warlike atmosphere when it's the citizens who seem to embrace war the most.


It's symbiotic too, isn't it? Politicians are citizens and voters too.

To be honest, I struggle to express my views on these subjects. I've studied history and appreciate the value of conflict in getting us this far. Whilst world peace and a massive reduction in atrocities is an ideal I wish for; it's tempered by accepting human nature for what it is.



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