US Targeted Killings 2002-2013 Est. – 461 Drone Strikes, 3,520 Killed, 457 Civilians



In January 2013, we released a report that called on President Obama to reform U.S. targeted killing policies in non-battlefield settings. Included in that report was a chart that estimated the number of strikes, total fatalities, and civilian fatalities through the end of 2012. The data was based on averages within the ranges provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism,Long War Journal, and New America Foundation.  We have updated our chart to display all known U.S. targeted killings in non-battlefield settings from the first one on November 3, 2002, through the end of 2013.

Bush/Obama Comparison: Bush: 50 strikes, killing approx. 300 people – Obama: 411 strikes, killing approx. 3,200 people


Related Link: Amnesty & HRW Reports on US Drone Strikes in Pakistan/Yemen: Violate Int’l Law, Officials Should Be Charged with War Crimes



Filed under CFR, Drones

Defense Industry Ties to Media Commentators and Think Tanks That Participated in Syria Debate



The following report documents the industry ties of 22 media commentators, and seven think tanks that participated in the media debate around Syria. These individuals and organizations have strong ties to defense contractors and other defense- and foreign policy-focused firms with a vested interest in the Syria debate, but they were presented to their audiences with a veneer of expertise and independence, as former military officials, retired diplomats, and independent think tanks.

This report details these ties, in addition to documenting the industry backing of think tanks that played a prominent role in the Syria debate. It reveals the extent to which the public discourse around Syria was corrupted by the pervasive influence of the defense industry, to the point where many of the so-called experts appearing on American television screens were actually representatives of companies that profit from heightened US military activity abroad. The threat of war with Syria may or may not have passed, but the threat that these conflicts of interest pose to our public discourse – and our democracy – is still very real.

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Freedom on the Net 2013: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media



Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition’s findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.

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RAND – Airpower Options for Syria: Accessing Objectives and Missions for Aerial Intervention

RAND-Syria Mission Assessments

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Guccifer Leaks INSA’s Homeland Security Intelligence Council Terror Attack “Scenario Proposal”

INSA Homeland Security Intelligence Council (HSIC)

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Filed under Guccifer, HSIC, INSA

Egypt General El-Sisi’s Radical Thesis from Army War College in 2006


For years the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) has been sitting on a 2006 thesis authored by Egypt’s General Abdel Fatah El-Sisi while he studied at the Pennsylvania school, the Army’s most senior military educational institution. The 17-page thesis  reveals El-Sisi’s radical vision for democracy in the Middle East by combining Islamism with militarism.

Related Link: Egypt’s Military Strongman Gen. El-Sisi Will Run for President – DEBKAfile


Filed under Army War College, Egypt


Aspen Ideas Festival 2013  –  June 26 – Sept 2

Ours is the era of pervasive data: we are surrounded by signals and sensors that chronicle everything about our world and our lives. Web and mobile phone usage patterns reveal much about our behavior. Soon practically every device will be a connected device: our cars, fitness monitors, streetlights, and buildings will all participate in the data production economy. This represents a shift in the human condition, a shift in what it means to be human when everything about us can be quantified, measured, analyzed, and nearly permanently stored. All this creates unprecedented economic opportunity, but also new anxieties about privacy, identity and the nature of hyper-quantified humanity. Enter the artist, who has always helped us see the world in new and different ways. New technologies have also reliably led to disruptive advances in art: think what perspective did for the renaissance or how the portable oil tube enabled the impressionists to move outdoors and paint in natural light. So consider what a moment this is for artists as they embrace a new medium: the world of data.

The artists in this show are pioneers in developing the visual language that makes data captivating, expressive and meaningful. They follow in the tradition of filmmakers, photographers and pop artists who embraced new technology throughout the 20th century, and explored the intersection of commercialism and art. These works take us beyond literal data visualization (a staple of science, business and journalism) to help us see the unexpected in data, gain a sense for its cultural meaning, and make the otherwise abstract into an emotional experience. They don’t provide ready answers, but rather ask questions about how data is represented, interpreted and used in society.

R. Luke Dubois uses pervasive data the way pop artists like Andy Warhol or James Rosenquist obsessively manipulated the mass consumer imagery of their era. Coming from the world of commercial illustration they adapted the language of advertising and pop culture to fine art. Today, DuBois uses contemporary software techniques to change the context in which we see data, presenting it in a fresh, sometimes jarring perspective. He asks how data can be emotionally impactful at a time when we are surrounded by so much of it we are practically numbed out.

Dubois’ work plays a context flipping game with data. Hindsight is Always 20/20 (2008) uses the familiar context of a Snellen eye chart to present something unexpected: a statistical analysis of the Presidential State of the Union Addresses. The result is the ability to see all-at-once the rhetoric and priorities of every American Presidency.

A More Perfect Union (2011) downloaded 16.7 million profiles from dating sites to analyze the words single Americans use to identify themselves. By transposing the language of personal ads for cities on the familiar form of a map, we are presented with a voyeuristic geography of our desires.

Hard Data (2011) is Dubois’ experiment in using the emotional power of music to experience data. It’s a string quartet composed from Iraq war causality statistics in the style of composers who wrote for war. The project is also an act of data journalism: the artist spent a year gathering information from multiple sources to create a comprehensive casualty data set not available from any government.

These artists express their ideas in computer code and algorithms, which then execute the work. This approach predates computer art. In the 1960s conceptual artist Sol Lewitt wrote out detailed instructions for his Wall Drawings, which others then (painstakingly) executed. His phrase “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art,” is now the basis for a new generation of art. There is a direct line from Lewitt to early computer drawing languages like Logo to Processing, a popular open source language co-developed by Artist Casey Reas.

In Signal to Noise (2012) Reas has constructed a machine that worries about the evolution of television. Every second a frame of analog TV is deconstructed and used to seed a unique abstract digital response. It plays out the tension between old and new media relentlessly on screen.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Zero Noon (2013) is an examination of the time dimension in data. At what rate do species go extinct, do we consume oil, or do girl scouts sell cookies? Each of these is rendered as a 24-hour clock giving us a visceral feel for the pace of these phenomena as well as an exotic new measure of time.

Siebren Versteeg applies the concept of collage to the Internet: In Light; of Everything uses custom software to collect images from everywhere and assembles them into a composition daily. Like Zero Noon, it starts fresh each day.

Fifty Years ago Aspen Institute founder Walter Paepcke turned to artists and design- ers of the day like László Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer to interpret the Great Ideas of Western Man at a time of cold war ideological tensions. Today, with big data and its implications so important to citizenship and society, artists are at the forefront of helping us see and understand data in altogether new ways. And the questions they ask help us process our collective anxiety and fascination with the phenomena of a pervasively instrumented world.

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