WORD ON GLOBAL POWER STRUGGLE: Reports have surfaced that US death drone aircraft and their radio-controlled systems have been infected by a mystery computer virus, which engineers say they can not get rid of and is tracking every move the pilots make.
News of the virus infecting the Predator and Reaper drones, mainly flown from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, surfaced around the same time as reports that at least three drones had crashed in Somalia; one of several countries where US military death drones are being used in unmanned air strikes, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan to target ‘militants’, yet are invariably killing many more innocent civilians than their intend targets.
About 230 strikes have reportedly been carried out by the death drones in Pakistan, and in war-torn Somalia, there are reports that drone strikes have killed about 40 civilians in the past week.
While US Air Force death drone pilots drop bombs on villages in Somalia from their comfy chairs in front of video-game-like screens in Nevada, millions of Somalians face the biggest humanitarian disaster in recent history as famine and cholera spread across the East African country, which has been embroiled in a civil war since the US and UN became involved in the country’s tribal politics in the 1990s.
The US government says it’s using the drones to target ‘militants’ in Somalia, where the founder of controversial security firm Blackwater reportedly set up a 2,000-strong private army earlier this year, The Independent reported.
According to Wired magazine, which first reported the drone virus last week, specialists said: “We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back”.
The specialists said they were not sure whether the virus and its so-called “keylogger” payload were introduced intentionally or by accident; neither do they know how far the virus has spread through the death drone control system.
The Wired report also highlighted other security issues with the death drones, including anti-American forces downloading hours of drone camera footage from the unsecured systems.
Death drones from various weapons manufacturers were one of the main features at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) arms exhibition held in London 13-16 September, which attracted dictators and military leaders from around the world — some of them former enemies — and large crowds of protesters, who demand a stop to the industry estimated to be worth about $100 billion in defence contracts over the next few years.