Announcing the publication of my new book Unmanned

Unmanned R1-5

UNMANNED is an in-depth examination of why seemingly successful wars never seem to end. The problem centers on drones, now accumulated in the thousands, the front end of a spying and killing machine that is disconnected from either security or safety.

Drones, however, are only part of the problem. William Arkin shows that security is actually undermined by an impulse to gather as much data as possible, the appetite and the theory both skewed towards the notion that no amount is too much. And yet the very endeavor of putting fewer human in potential danger places everyone in greater danger. Wars officially end, but the Data Machine lives on forever.

#PZintel: NRO Monitored the Deepwater Horizon Spill

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 william.arkin@gawker.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.
CH4iOUEUEAATrxw

Loitering With Intent: An Excerpt From Unmanned in Harper’s Magazine June 2015 Issue

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.

#PZintel: Aerostat balloons over Afghanistan and DIA HUMINT at 70+ Embassies!

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 : 37 Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) tethered aerostat surveillance balloons now over AF & Iraq

19 May, 2015 : (DIA) nows has at more than 70 Embassy and non-Embassy locations worldwide, including 12 African countries

18 May, 2015 : New NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3475 dealing with Regional War on Terrorism (RWOT) focuses on counter-narcoterrorism

18 May, 2015 : Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command has grown to 12k soldiers in 30 states & PR

13 May, 2015 : New acronym Persistent (PG) means more than it seems – EVERYTHING feeding into automated picture

12 May, 2015 : Flying from 2 Middle East locs Global Hawk conduct near 24/7 coverage in 5 different mission sets

11 May, 2015 : Underground Facilities Analysis Center (UFAC) working on analysis of UG facilities in .

#PZintel: National Security’s Newest 140-Character News Source

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

Phase Zero: Week in Review 5.8.15

The following posts appeared on Phase Zero last week:

The Army Is Developing Killer Robots

Cancel Your Summer Vacation Plans to Afghanistan

We Don’t Know Jack About Joe – and for Good Reason

Targeted Killing is Just Good Business

Behold the Stupidest Government Report Ever

Why Is Jordan so Eager to Suck up to the Pentagon?

Phase Zero: Week in Review 5.1.15

The following posts appeared on Phase Zero last week:

The Secret Mountain Our Spies Will Hide In When Washington Is Destroyed

Drones Author Discusses Imprecision, Legal Blindess, and the CIA : An Interview with Andrew Cockburn

We’ll All Be Thugs Soon

Americans All! (Please Ignore the Mexican Colonels)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,996 other followers