Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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You Might Have Missed: Drone Surveillance and Technology, and U-2 Wreckage

by Micah Zenko
December 9, 2011

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev examines the wreckage of the downed U.S. U-2 spy plane in 1960.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev examines the wreckage of the downed U.S. U-2 spy plane in 1960.

- Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach, “The CIA and U-2 Program, 1954-1974” (PDF), Central Intelligence Agency, 1998.

(3PA: For a similar event that took place fifty-one years ago, compare the downing of the top-secret U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union with the recent RQ-170 incident, complete with similar media reports and propaganda pictures.)

- Adam Entous, Evan Perez, Siobhan Gorman, “Drone Program Attacked by Human Rights Groups,” The Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2011.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s drone program has come under attack by human-rights groups who say they are preparing a broad-based campaign that will include legal challenges in courts in Pakistan, Europe and the U.S.

The nascent effort is being modeled after the challenges brought by some of the same groups against the administration of President George W. Bush over detentions at the Guantanamo Bay military prison and in secret CIA “black sites,” say lawyers involved in the planning.

- Kelly McEvers, “On The Run, Under The Radar, With Syria’s Rebels,” National Public Radio, December 7, 2011.

Captain “Al Ali” says the group is hoping for international intervention. Ideally, they want a no-fly zone over Syria. Even though Syrian troops don’t usually attack protesters from the air, he says, a no-fly zone would encourage more soldiers to defect.

“If we have a no-fly zone,” he says, “the regime will fall within days.”

(3PA: Note the similarities to Abdel Hafeez Goga of the Libyan Transitional National Council, who stated unequivocally on March 14: “We are capable of controlling all of Libya, but only after the no-fly zone is imposed.”)

- David A. Fulgham and Bill Sweetman, “Downed UAV Technology Already Dated,” Aviation Week, December 5, 2011.

Even if Iran has, as it claims, shot down a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 unmanned aerial system (UAS), the single-channel, full-motion video capability that made the stealthy flying wing so invaluable when it debuted in Afghanistan about two years ago is considered outdated, potentially limiting the intelligence fallout.

- Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), December 2011.

In OECD countries today, the average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% – a ratio of 9 to 1. However, the ratio varies widely from one country to another. It is much lower than the OECD average in the Nordic and many continental European countries, but reaches 10 to 1 in Italy, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom; around 14 to 1 in Israel, Turkey, and the United States; and 27 to 1 in Mexico and Chile.

- Global HIV/AIDS Response: Progress Report 2011 (PDF), UNAIDS, November 30, 2011

Globally, the annual number of people newly infected with HIV continues to decline, although this varies strongly between regions.

Between 2001 and 2009, the incidence of HIV infection has declined in 33 countries, 22 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In that region, which continues to have the majority of the people newly infected with HIV, an estimated 1.9 million people became infected in 2010. This was 16% fewer than the estimated 2.2 million people newly infected with HIV in 2001 and 26% fewer than the annual number of people newly infected in 1997 (when the overall HIV incidence in sub-Saharan Africa peaked).

- Dafna Linzer, “U.S. Uses Drones to Probe Iran For Arms,” Washington Post, February 13, 2005.

The Bush administration has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs and detect weaknesses in air defenses, according to three U.S. officials with detailed knowledge of the secret effort.

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