Tag Archives: US Military

US Army Developing Drones With AI Targeting

The U.S. Army recently announced that it is working on developing unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, that will be capable of identifying and subsequently firing upon targets they select using artificial intelligence (AI). Once complete, the drones— which are currently controlled by humans— would decide who to kill with little to no human involvement, opening the door to mass killings with minimal accountability and transparency.

The project, titled “Automatic Targeting Recognition of Personnel and Vehicles from an Unmanned Aerial System Using Learning Algorithms,” would form partnerships with both private and public research institutions which will help develop image-based AI targeting systems. The end result is expected to be drones that use neural networks combined with AI in order to create a deadly aerial weapon that is capable of acting as judge, jury and executioner without human input.

While the use of armed drones has been a fixture of both covert and overt U.S. military action abroad, the Army’s description of the project forebodes the use of the deadly and controversial technology within the United States. It states that “one of the desired characteristics of the system is to use the flexibility afforded by the learning algorithms to allow for the quick adjustment of the target set or the taxonomy of the target set DRCI categories or classes. This could allow for the expansion of the system into a Homeland Security environment.”

Another implication is that technology companies involved in maintaining or creating the AI systems for the drones could result in such companies, as well as engineers and scientists involved in creating aspects of these systems, to be labeled valid military targets for their role in helping to build the machines. As The Conversation notes:

Companies like Google, its employees or its systems, could become liable to attack from an enemy state. For example, if Google’s Project Maven image recognition AI software is incorporated into an American military autonomous drone, Google could find itself implicated in the drone “killing” business, as might every other civilian contributor to such lethal autonomous systems.

In addition, the Department of Defense has reportedly been working on developing an AI system for identifying targets automatically that is set to be populated by massive data sets that include blogs, websites, and public social media posts such as those found on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This AI system will employ such data in order to carry out predictive actions, such as the predictive-policing AI system already developed by major Pentagon contractor Palantir.

The reported system, which is planned to be used to control the Pentagon’s increasing investments in robotic soldiers and tanks will also seek to “predict human responses to our actions.” As journalist Nafeez Ahmed has noted, the ultimate idea – as revealed by the Department of Defense’s own documents — is to identify potential targets, i.e,. persons of interest and their social connections, in real-time by using social media as “intelligence.” The Army’s upcoming work on automated drones will be just a part of this larger system which has global and unprecedented implications for the future of the U.S. military and its actions both domestically and abroad.

US Military Accidentally Ships Live Anthrax Spores Via FedEx to 9 US States, South Korea

A Department of Defense effort to create a field test kit to identify environmental threats went awry last week when workers at a United States military lab in Dugway, Utah mistakenly shipped live anthrax samples via FedEx to labs in Tennessee, New York, Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, California, Virginia, and to Osan Air Base in South Korea. The samples were intended to be rendered inactive prior to being shipped. The above-embedded video by ABC News describes anthrax as a “potential biological weapon.”

Though Pentagon officials claim that the mishap does not present a threat to the public, 4 lab workers in the US and 22 stationed at the South Korean training lab are being treated with post-exposure prophylaxis. None of the individuals being treated are symptomatic at this point in time. Reuters cited comments by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Jason McDonald who said that the 4 US-based civilian lab workers receiving treatment were “doing procedures that sent the agent into the air.” The 22 individuals being treated at the South Korean base include 10 active duty members of the US Army, 5 active duty members of the US Air Force, 4 military contractors, and 3 civilian officials.

According to Reuters, Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno said that workers at the Dugway lab followed all of the proper procedures for de-activating the anthrax spores and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating whether those procedures need to be changed. “But we definitely believe no one is in danger,” said Odierno.

CNN notes that FedEx spokesperson Jim McCluskey said, “FedEx is committed to the safe transport of all customer shipments, and our priority is the safety of our employees. We will be working closely with the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control to gather information about these shipments.”

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren confirmed that the sample that was sent to South Korea has been destroyed and that the facility has been decontaminated.

CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said, “CDC is working in conjunction with state and federal partners to conduct an investigation with all the labs that received samples from the DOD. The ongoing investigation includes determining if the labs also received other live samples, epidemiologic consultation, worker safety review, laboratory analysis and handling of laboratory waste.”

A similar incident happened in June of last year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mistakenly exposed workers at a CDC lab to live anthrax, believing the spores had been de-activated.

War crimes in Afghanistan covered up by U.S. military, says report

A new report released by Amnesty International titled “Left in the Dark,” has found the U.S. military has systematically disregarded or hid evidence of war crimes, unlawful killings, and torture in the war torn country of Afghanistan.

The report uses ten case studies where violence has claimed the lives of civilians in the country, all of which “raise concerns about the unlawful use of force.”  However, according to the report, “Very few cases involving alleged unlawful killings of civilians in international military operations have led to prosecution.”

Even when a trial has been sought, what the Daily Beast is calling, the “compromised military justice system,” has failed to produce justice for the slain, injured, or maimed.

One victim talked with Stars and Stripes, telling of their experience at Camp Nerkh at the hands of military forces.  “First,” says the victim, “they took off my clothes… Then they tied a thin plastic cord around my penis so I couldn’t pee.  Then they forced me to lie down face down on the floor.  Four people beat me with cables.”

The Amnesty International report also claims two of the case studies offer “abundant and compelling” evidence of war crimes.  One case involves the shooting death of two pregnant women and a 17-year-old girl in a nighttime raid in the eastern Paktia province.

According to the Independent, a press release from the U.S. forces in the area about the incident stated the three women were found by U.S. troops “bound and gagged” within their home.  This same release stated the three were killed in a “traditional honour killing.”

What is important to note is not all civilian deaths in a combat or war zone are ruled as unlawful.  Under international law, in order for a civilian death to be classified as unlawful, the victim must be indiscriminately or deliberately targeted.  Even then, a proper and impartial investigation must be carried out in order to deem these two criteria are met.

The Pentagon has made several claims stating they would investigate various incidents which could be classified as war crimes, but according to a 70-year-old patriarch in Afghanistan named Haji Sharabuddin, he has yet to hear of any results from an investigation or if there was even investigations held .

President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, said, according to Stars and Stripes, “I believe that the civilian casualties must not happen at all… Our aim and yours must be stopping the civilian casualties.”

FDA Impedes Company with Medical Device Mostly Used By Recovering Veterans

Mineral Wells, TX – Last week, a publication in the Federal Register brought a glimmer of hope to a company that has been fighting for proper recognition and classification from the United States Food and Drug Administration for the last 33 years.

Electromedical Products International, Inc. or EPI, was founded by Dr. Daniel L. Kirsch in 1981. The premise of EPI revolved around the Alpha-Stim, a Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) Device. It was originally cleared by the US FDA to treat the conditions of anxiety, insomnia, and depression. However, EPI ran into problems with the FDA, when it came to classifying their device.

While the Alpha-Stim is sold over the counter in Europe and Canada, the FDA in the United States has limited it to only being available to patients, by or on the order of a licensed healthcare practitioner. Also, whereas the Alpha-Stim is classified as a Class II device, according to the regulatory authorities in Europe and Canada, it is classified it as a Class III device in the United States. The main difference is that at Class II, the Alpha-Stim is subject to special controls, while at Class III, it is subject to the Pre-Market Approval Process.

According to EPI’s President, Tracey B. Kirsch, “Arbitrary actions by FDA were first experienced by EPI in 1990 for its 510(k) submission for CES indications. This statutorily mandated 90-day review process took 22 months, and more than once during this lengthy process FDA would request more valid scientific evidence to support the application on the 89th day of review, thereby restarting the FDA’s 90-day clock.”

It wasn’t until May 12, 1992, that EPI received its substantial equivalence letter from the FDA. “Years of hard work and substantiation had finally been completed, or so we thought,” said Mrs. Kirsch.

In 1993, the FDA issued a proposed rule to reclassify CES devices, which was finalized in 1995. EPI complied, and submitted a Pre-Market Approval, or PMA, in November of 1995, for its Alpha-Stim CES technology. EPI received a refuse to file letter in the following month, in which the FDA claimed that EPI’s PMA did not contain the required information, therefore the application could not be filed and EPI would have to cease distribution of its CES technology.

In 1996, EPI filed suit against the FDA in Federal District Court, and in 1997 there was a Federal Register notice published which revoked the FDA 1995 regulation requiring PMA’s for CES devices. This allowed commercial distribution through 510(k) clearances. According to Mrs. Kirsch, “There was no reason given for this revocation.”

EPI was allowed to market and distribute its CES products in relative peace from 1998 until 2009, when FDA requested CES manufacturers again provide their research to FDA so that a proper final classification could be made,” said Mrs. Kirsch.

In 2012, representatives from EPI were called before with the Neurological Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee to the FDA. The FDA wanted to keep CES devices in Class III, but EPI presented their safety and effectiveness data in an attempt to reclassify the Alpha-Stim to a Class II device.

The FDA published a Proposed Rule in 2011, and then, after ignoring EPI’s compliance, they published a similar mandate in 2013, this time a “Proposed Order.” EPI responded with over 300 letters, filled with practitioner and patient testimonials. Sixteen of those letters were written by Dr. Kirsch, himself.

The subject matter in Dr. Kirsch’s letters ranged from wanting to know why the FDA was supporting studies that turned anonymous individuals into experts on the Alpha-Stim, to accusing the FDA of discarding 360 of the 392 studies on Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation that were presented to the Neurological Devices Panel.

Dr. Kirsch wrote that the FDA had left the Neurological Device Panel with “no useful data upon which to make their recommendation as to effectiveness of CES in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and depression.” He went on to write, “We ask that FDA review all of the valid scientific evidence and present it to the Neurological Devices Panel in a fair and unbiased manner so that the Petitions for Reclassification submitted on behalf of CES devices can be adequately considered.”

In the same Proposed Order where the FDA demanded that all Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation devices be classified as Class III devices, it also suggested reclassifying sorbent hemoperfusion devices for the treatment of poisoning and drug overdose, from Class III into Class II.

One of the largest things setting the two devices apart were the side-effects. While sorbent hemoperfusion devices had side effects such as blood loss, platelet loss, and Leukopenia, CES devices had a much smaller list, which included side effects such as headaches and skin irritation.

We feel it is appropriate to highlight the standards FDA has imposed on CES manufacturers in FDA’s review of their petitions to reclassify CES as a Class II device and compare that with the standards imposed by FDA in its review of sorbent hemoperfusion devices,” explained Dr. Kirsch. “A review of the standards imposed for each device shows a clearly arbitrary and inconsistent process of review which FDA is implementing in its determination of a device’s classification.”

In regards to the Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation Devices made by EPI, Dr. Suresh Kotagal, a member of the Neurological Devices Panel in 2012, said, “I just have a very simple comment, that the device is safe. There is really no convincing evidence of any potential adverse effects.”

The long, continuous battle has taken a toll on Dr. Kirsch. He told Benswann.com, “Every day for over 20 years when I woke up in the morning I worried what the FDA may do to us. Indeed they did a lot. I often thought I lived in a nightmare version of the movie Groundhog Day.

The recent publication in the Federal Register showed that the FDA was finally taking steps to accept the multiple reclassification petitions submitted by EPI to put CES devices into their proper category. Dr. Kirsch sees this as great news, which will lead to removing uncertainty from EPI’s future. “Now while they still will regulate us with a harsh hand, they can not just make our 33 year history go away ever again and force us to start over,” said Dr. Kirsch.

Currently, the largest customer of the Alpha-Stim is the United States Government. The US Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers accounts for over 60% of EPI’s sales, using the CES Devices primarily for treatment of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. “More than half our business is with the same government that has lied and ignored their own rules to try to run us out of business,” acknowledged Dr. Kirsch.

Army Reserve Psychology Consultant, Dr. Kathy Platoni, testified, “In my experience, without exception, there is no more powerful form of therapeutic intervention, either as an adjunct or a stand alone treatment than Alpha-Stim CES.”

Dr. Kirsch tells Benswann.com that he looks forward to the majority of EPI’s profits no longer going to staying in business, but rather to more productive uses such as helping our Service Members come all the way home. “The FDA finally doing the right thing means more Service Members and Veterans will regain their optimism for life and more insurance companies will pay for Alpha-Stim,” said Dr. Kirsch.

Dr. Kirsch believes that the spreading of Alpha-Stim technology will lead to America becoming a safer place, due to the fact that the Alpha-Stim is a safe alternative to using anti-depressant drugs, which, according to the International Coalition For Drug Awareness, not only have horrendous side effects, but are also the main cause of all the school, church and mall shootings we have seen since there drugs became popular.

Perhaps Alpha-Stim can now achieve my personal goal to make America a safer, kinder and happier place for all freedom-loving people,” said Dr. Kirsch.