Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins

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An essential and page-turning narrative on the history of drone warfare by the acclaimed author of Rumsfeld, exploring how this practice emerged, who made it happen, and the real consequences of targeted killing

Assassination by drone is a subject of deep and enduring fascination. Yet few understand how and why this has become our principal way of waging war. Kill Chain uncovers the real and extraordinary story; its origins in long-buried secret programs, the breakthroughs that made UAV operations possible, the ways in which the technology works and, despite official claims, does not work. Taking the reader inside the well-guarded world of national security, the book reveals the powerful interests - military, CIA and corporate - that have led the drive to kill individuals by remote control. Most importantly of all, the book describes what has really happened when the theories underpinning the strategy -- and the multi-billion dollar contracts they spawn -- have been put to the test. Drawing on sources deep in the military and intelligence establishments, Andrew Cockburn's Kill Chain unveils the true effects, as demonstrated by bloody experience, of assassination warfare, a revelation that readers will find surprising as well as shocking.

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About the author

Andrew Cockburn is the Washington Editor of Harper's magazine and the author of many articles and books on national security, including the New York Times Editor's Choice Rumsfeld and The Threat, which destroyed the myth of Soviet military superiority underpinning the Cold War. He is a regular opinion contributor to the Los Angeles Times and has written for, among others, the New York Times, National Geographic and the London Review of Books.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Henry Holt and Company
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Published on
Mar 10, 2015
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780805099270
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
Political Science / Intelligence & Espionage
Political Science / Terrorism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Donald Rumsfeld, who as secretary of defense oversaw the army, navy, air force, and marines from 2001 to December 2006, is widely blamed for the catastrophic state of America's involvement in Iraq. In his groundbreaking book Rumsfeld, Washington insider Andrew Cockburn details Rumsfeld's decisions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also shows how his political legacy stretches back decades and will reach far into the future.

Relying on sources that include high-ranking officials in the Pentagon and the White House, Rumsfeld goes far beyond previous accounts to reveal a man consumed with the urge to dominate each and every human encounter, and whose aggressive ambition has long been matched by his inability to display genuine leadership or accept responsibility for egregious error. Cockburn exposes Rumsfeld's early career as an Illinois congressman, his rise to prominence as an official in the Nixon White House, his careful maneuvering to avoid the fallout of the Watergate scandal, and his skillful infighting as secretary of defense under President Ford. Cockburn also chronicles for the very first time Rumsfeld's subsequent tenure as CEO of G. D. Searle (and his devoted efforts to get governmental approval for the controversial artificial sweetener aspartame) as well as his interesting behavior in secret high-level government nuclear war games in the years he was out of power.

President George W. Bush's hasty elevation of Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense proved historic, for it was the triumvirate of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Rumsfeld who plunged America into the disastrous quagmire of the war in Iraq. Cockburn reveals how Rumsfeld's habits of intimidation, indecision, ignoring awkward realities, destructive micromanagement, and bureaucratic manipulation all helped doom America's military adventure. The book challenges the notion that Rumsfeld was an effective manager driven to transform the American military, examines the reasons that Rumsfeld was removed from office, and shows how his second appointment as secretary of defense reflects a deep conflict between President Bush and his father, former president George H. W. Bush.

Brimming with powerful revelations, Rumsfeld is sure to emerge as the must-have piece of investigative journalism as America grapples with its difficult involvement in Iraq and the uncertain path the country faces today.
“A searing, facts-driven indictment of America’s drone wars and their implications for US democracy and foreign policy. A must-read for concerned citizens” (Library Journal, starred review) from bestselling author Jeremy Scahill and his colleagues at the investigative website The Intercept.

Drones are a tool, not a policy. The policy is assassination. But drone strikes often kill people other than the intended target. These deaths, which have included women and children, dwarf the number of actual combatants who have been assassinated by drones. They have generated anger toward the United States among foreign populations and have even become a recruiting tool for jihadists.

The first drone strike outside a declared war zone was conducted more than twelve years ago, but it was not until May 2013 that the White House released a set of standards and procedures for conducting such strikes. However, there was no explanation of the internal process used to determine whether a suspect should be killed without being indicted or tried, even if that suspect is an American citizen. The implicit message of the Obama administration has been: Trust, but don’t verify.

The Assassination Complex reveals stunning details of the government’s secretive drone warfare program based on documents supplied by a confidential source in the intelligence community. These documents make it possible to begin the long-overdue debate about the policy of drone warfare and how it is conducted. The Assassination Complex allows us to understand at last the circumstances under which the US government grants itself the right to sentence individuals to death without the established checks and balances of arrest, trial, and appeal—“readers will be left in no doubt that drone warfare affronts morality and the Constitution” (Kirkus Reviews).
Less than a month after the September 11th attacks, a tiny, CIA-controlled Predator drone flew over Kandahar, searching out the home of the Taliban supreme commander Mullah Mohammed Omar. A lack of understanding of the drone's capabilities combined with a messy chain of command allowed Omar to escape, but the strike on a nearby convoy vehicle became the Predator's first lethal action. Since then, the use of armed drones has become the dominant American way of war. In Sudden Justice, award-winning investigative journalist Chris Woods explores the secretive history of the United States' use of armed drones and their key role not only on today's battlefields, but also in a covert targeted killing project that has led to the deaths of thousands. The CIA nurtured and developed drones before the War on Terror ever began, seeking a platform from which it could monitor its targets and act lethally and instantly on the intelligence it gathered. Since then, remotely piloted aircraft have played a critical role in America's global counter-terrorism operations and have been deployed to devastating effect in conventional wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Drone crews, analysts, intelligence officials and military commanders all speak frankly to the author about how armed drones revolutionized warfare--and the unexpected costs to some of those involved. But there is another, secret war--one in which drones scour the skies of Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia in search of militant and terrorist targets. The American government insists that this hidden war is legal. The CIA even claims that its armed drones are "the most precise weapon ever invented," so perfect that civilians are no longer killed. Sudden Justice describes the reality of this secret drone war, one in which hundreds of civilians have died, and the wider strategic interests of the United States may have been jeopardized. The ability to target its enemies from the safety of headquarters thousands of miles from the battlefield has profound implications for how America conducts its foreign policy, and for how it is seen in the world. As the first book to comprehensively assemble and analyze the facts about the U.S. drone program, Sudden Justice is the essential guide for understanding its implications.
Two legal scholars explore the security and political implications of revolutionary new technologies from drones to 3-D printers, and explain how governments must adapt to our brave new world of dispersed threats.
From drone warfare in the Middle East to digital spying by the National Security Agency, the U.S. government has harnessed the power of cutting-edge technology to awesome effect. But what happens when ordinary people have the same tools at their fingertips? Advances in cybertechnology, biotechnology, and robotics mean that more people than ever before have access to potentially dangerous technologies-from drones to computer networks and biological agents-which could be used to attack states and private citizens alike.
In The Future of Violence, law and security experts Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum detail the myriad possibilities, challenges, and enormous risks present in the modern world, and argue that if our national governments can no longer adequately protect us from harm, they will lose their legitimacy. Consequently, governments, companies, and citizens must rethink their security efforts to protect lives and liberty. In this brave new world where many little brothers are as menacing as any Big Brother, safeguarding our liberty and privacy may require strong domestic and international surveillance and regulatory controls. Maintaining security in this world where anyone can attack anyone requires a global perspective, with more multinational forces and greater action to protect (and protect against) weaker states who do not yet have the capability to police their own people. Drawing on political thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to the Founders and beyond, Wittes and Blum show that, despite recent protestations to the contrary, security and liberty are mutually supportive, and that we must embrace one to ensure the other.

The Future of Violence is at once an introduction to our emerging world--one in which students can print guns with 3-D printers and scientists' manipulations of viruses can be recreated and unleashed by ordinary people--and an authoritative blueprint for how government must adapt in order to survive and protect us.

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