State Department Cancels Billion Dollar Drone Competition

ShadowHawkThe Department of Defense has made the vast majority of purchases of unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones, more than any other government agency. However, in September of 2011 the State Department solicited bids from defense contractors for drones that could be used “achieve and maintain situational awareness, automatically generate and disseminate high quality video imaging, respond to a security incident at locations remote from the core of operations, disseminate threat information for use in route planning, receive, view, and analyze in route activity.” Apparently none of the bids could meet the State Department’s standards:

The U.S. State Department canceled its $1 billion surveillance drone competition, saying none of the proposals met its requirements, according to the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website.

The competition had called for companies to operate small-scale unmanned aircraft that would supply real-time video of convoy routes and buildings. It was an opportunity for companies such as Aerovironment Inc. (AVAV) and Vanguard Defense Industries LLC to boost sales outside the Department of Defense, the biggest U.S. buyer of unmanned aircraft.

The State Department “plans to examine closely the requirements stipulated in the solicitation with the intent of developing and releasing a new” request for drone proposals, according to the notice.

Photo: Vanguard Defense Industries Shadowhawk drone.

Did Obama violate his own rules on drone strikes?

A high ranking member of the Taliban was killed in Pakistan this week by a US drone strike only days after President Obama announced a shift in the country’s counterterrorism operations. Wali ur-Rehman was among those killed and his death is being lauded as a blow to the Taliban. But what does the event say about Obama’s remarks regarding the drone program? Marcy Wheeler of EmptyWheel.net joins Meghan Lopez to discuss what this means for Obama’s promise of respecting state sovereignty and his proposed changes in the war against terror.

Inside Story Americas – Obama’s Speech and the Question of Drones

US President Barack Obama gave a speech that was meant to contextualise the global drone war that has escalated under his presidency, outline the framework for future targeted killing, and address concerns about the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay. But did he succeed? To discuss this, Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, is joined by guests: Carlos Warner, a lawyer for Guantanamo detainees; and Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project.

Chomsky Talks “Dirty Wars” with Scahill and Goodman

Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Scahill, and Amy Goodman discuss the book “Dirty Wars”

The Implications of the Expanding US Drone Program

Spencer Ackerman, Senior Writer, WIRED Magazine.

As the United States continues its use of drone technology overseas, the potential for increased domestic drone use has also begun to raise serious concerns. Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) recent filibuster on the topic brought widespread public attention to the issue and lawmakers are now beginning to ask important questions; namely, is use of this technology for surveillance appropriate and, if so, what risks will a drone program pose to civil liberties and individual privacy? What are the appropriate legal limits on overseas use, and are those limits being followed? Please join Cato Institute scholars Ben Friedman and Julian Sanchez, and journalist Spencer Ackerman, as they examine the current state of U.S. drone policy at home and overseas, whether this technology is good for the country, and what the future looks like for drone use.