About This BlogPart vanity, part practical, I decided to start my own blog in January 2012 to provide a home for my musings and writings. I also wanted a place to archive old articles and studies. I plan to write about the defense budget, government secrecy, the "war" on terrorism, homeland security, and the root of all evil: Washington. I'm not looking to be a scooper or a reporter. The thoughts are mine and mine alone. Write me if you want to make me or my readers smarter. Check out asides and comments @warkin on Twitter.
- An Illustration from my book #drones Unmanned. Tarnak Farms pre-9/11 http://t.co/MJg0MQUTlk 6 hours ago
- Today is the publication date of my book Unmanned, a meditation on drones, intelligence, and airpower. amazon.com/Unmanned-Drone… 17 hours ago
- Classy @Gawker I haven't even left yet and I'm cut off from communicating internally or accessing @GawkerPhaseZero http://t.co/8Kw0QTpRQL 1 day ago
- My Departure from @Gawker hardly a "slam" just some thoughts. phasezero.gawker.com/my-departure-f… 1 day ago
- My Departure from Gawker phasezero.gawker.com/my-departure-f… 1 day ago
We’ve been tweeting top secret tidbits about the world of national security for the last few months from our Twitter account @GawkerPhaseZero, using the hashtag #PZintel. Give us a follow; and if you have intel to share, contact me at email@example.com. A round up of our latest tweets can be found on Phase Zero, including: more about the diversion of National Reconnaissance Office satellites to monitor the devastating 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and how there is a new version of Most Wanted Playing Cards in action.
This month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine features an exclusive excerpt from my book, Unmanned: Drones, Data, and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare, from Little, Brown and Company, out next month. A brief intro from the essay has been included below; for the full version, visit Harper’s website.
LOITERING WITH INTENT
By William M. Arkin
If you have spent any time thinking about the exponential increase in the use of unmanned vehicles over the past decade, you have probably thought about the Predator drone. Every second of every day, about fifty Predators are airborne. Each weighs more than a ton and has wings that extend the length of four automobiles. They fly at altitudes of 15,000 to 25,000 feet and can stay aloft for more than forty hours. They conduct deadly missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, fly quietly over Yemen and Syria, assist law enforcement in Africa and Latin America, patrol borders, monitor oceans, and do civilian and scientific work of all kinds.
Government propaganda, the news media, and Hollywood movies characterize drones almost exclusively as high-flying hunterkillers and all-seeing information machines. In fact, more than 90 percent of the world’s drones are small, short-range, and unarmed. Only about 5 percent of the drones operated by the U.S. government are as large as manned airplanes. Predators, which garner so much of the public’s attention, make up an even smaller subset—there are just a few hundred worldwide. Most U.S. military drones belong to a single type—a 4.2-pound spy machine called the Raven. These and other human-portable devices are all but standard government issue for soldiers these days, like binoculars or radios. They are remarkable, to be sure, but they are remarkable mostly in the way of smartphones: omnipresent, ultraconvenient, annoying, distancing, and subtly threatening to privacy and security. There’s no doubt that they exert an influence on our society, even if the ultimate nature of that influence is unclear.
The civilian market for unmanned vehicles has expanded to serve scientific, industrial, consumer, educational, and entertainment purposes. Drones play an increasing role in industries as diverse as real estate and journalism, weather forecasting and agriculture. They identify forest fires and pipeline leaks, relay radio signals, and assist in archaeological and environmental research. They have also, of course, become popular with local, state, and federal law enforcement. Border agencies and police departments, emulating their military counterparts, have acquired unmanned vehicles not just for bomb disposal and other dangerous missions but also for intelligence collection and surveillance. Advances in information technology, nanotechnology, and even genetics, together with the continued miniaturization of nearly everything, are propelling an astonishing acceleration of drone capabilities. The future promises personal drones of amazing sophistication that weigh just a gram.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @GawkerPhasezero to reveal secrets large and small, as well as speculate on rumors that have echoed from the depths.
Here is a round-up of the intel we’ve published over the last week:
19 May, 2015
#PZintel: 37 Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) tethered aerostat surveillance balloons now over AF & Iraq
18 May, 2015
#PZintel: New NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3475 dealing with Regional War on Terrorism (RWOT) focuses on counter-narcoterrorism
Last week saw the launch of Phase Zero’s new Twitter-based, short-burst reporting about things of interest in the world of spying and killing. Using the hashtag #PZintel, @GawkerPhaseZero will be using the condensed platform to continue revealing secrets large and small, as well as speculate on rumors that have echoed from the depths.
Here is a round-up of the intel we’ve published so far:
11 May, 2015 #PZintel: New anti-money launder & CT-finance program aimed at Iranian-owned, Dubai-based Money Service Businesses (MSBs) dealing with #WMD
11 May, 2015 #PZintel: Admin has approved new counter-network threat finance action plan, including Pentagon and civil agencies. Where does $$ come from?
8 May, 2015 #PZintel Cyber Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace manual directs Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) who conduct cyber intelligence
8 May, 2015 #PZintel: RC-135 Rivert Joint, Combat Sent and Cobra Ball #NSA aircraft and systems have cost #3.2B since 1981 and still flying #RAF too
8 May, 2015 #PZintel: #FBI Special Flight Ops Unit flies #Gulfstream V’s on recon, #VIP and courier missions #gettingslizzard
7 May, 2015 #PZintel: FBI aviation flies 30+ recon arcft that have been involved in DC Sniper, #OKC, and police corruption cases.
6 May, 2015 #PZintel: Before #JadeHelm, Abraxas mngd $80M prgm teaching SOF personnel in SW US to conduct clandestine collection
6 May, 2015 #PZintel: Not just #FBI planes over Baltimore- #NationalGuard Joint Incident Awareness and Assessment (IAA) Team (JIT) brokered other recon
5 May, 2015 #PZintel: Super-secret #JSOC activates Task Force 9 to replace Task Force 27 as #counterterror force in the field. More info, anyone?
5 May, 2015 #PZintel: #Predator and #Reaper #drones currently flying 11,000 combat air patrols annually, 30 a day worldwide
4 May, 2015 #PZintel: The real #NCIS has a $450 million budget, 2300 personnel, over 194 offices, agents in over 40 countries.
4 May 2015: TIL #PACOM monitors 600+ infrared events/year, assessing #Chinese #Russian #DPRK launches to determine immediate threats- 2 a day! #pzintel
The following posts appeared on Phase Zero last week:
The following posts appeared on Phase Zero last week:
Drones Author Discusses Imprecision, Legal Blindess, and the CIA : An Interview with Andrew Cockburn