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Visualizing The Illegal Drone Bombardment: Tweeting Every Known US Strike Takes Student Over 12 Hours

White House Won’t Acknowledge Program Even Exists

Steve Watson
Dec 12, 2012

A student compiled information and links to news reports and documents on every known US drone strike within the last ten years and decided to tweet about every one. Initially he believed the task would take ten minutes to complete. However, over 12 HOURS later he was still tweeting.

As part of his graduate project, NYU student Josh Begley opened the Twitter account @dronestream, and began tweeting his research Tuesday.

“At first, I wanted to visualize frequency ” to see if I could tweet 10 years in 10 minutes,” Begley told the London Guardian. “Clearly that didn’t work out. After tweeting for 12 hours I’ve only reached 2010, and as many folks will tell you, the strikes only pick up from there.”

The first officially recorded CIA drone strikes took place in 2002 under the Bush administration, since then they have escalated dramatically, particularly since Barak Obama entered the White House in 2008. In his first four years in office, Obama authorized six times more drone strikes in Pakistan than under all eight years of the Bush Administration.

Begley compiled the information by scouring records from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The organisation has documented US drone strikes throughout Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Begley noted that he was unable to include all of the strikes in his tweets because the federal government still refuses to admit the program even exists, and many remain unreported. The number of attacks that have been carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya may simply never be known.

Begley originally attempted to compile the drone strikes into an app for iphones. However, Apple refused to allow the app to go live on THREE separate occasions, saying that it contained “objectionable or crude content”.

Begley’s intent for the app was to raise awareness of the secretive drone policy by having an alert sound on users’ phones every time a drone strike was carried out, much like other more banal notifications.

A bureaucratic chain of command deciding to execute [people] outside any law is a very interesting concept intellectually, Begley has noted.

“I suspect a fair amount of Americans don’t know where our drone missiles land ” or on who. I certainly didn’t,” Begley told The Guardian.

“I’m interested in a simple question: even if we have access to the data about drone attacks, do we really want to be interrupted by it?” he added.

While most of Washington remains silent on illegal drone warfare, some are speaking out. Today will see a vote on the Hill for a resolution that could pave the way for the release of administration documents with information about the drone programs.

Sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich and the inimitable Congressman Ron Paul, the legislation could force the Obama administration to release the documents, that it has claimed exist to provide legal justification for using drones to target suspected terrorist leaders. The legislation will be the last to be sponsored by Paul and Kucinich as both are stepping down from their congressional duties in the new year.

Ron Paul has long opposed the use of drone strikes and most recently denounced the increase of covert warfare, saying it will promote more terrorism and make the world and the US less safe.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that there have been approximately 399 to 495 strikes to-date. Nearly three thousand individuals have been killed by these drones, many of them innocent civilians. The so called “transparent” Obama administration has refused to release a single document on any drone strike to date.


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

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