From CT4CT: Creative Tools for Critical Times
Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and experimental geographer working out of the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. His work involves deliberately blurring the lines between social science, contemporary art, and a host of even more obscure disciplines to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to interpret the world around us.
Bechtel Predator Drones
The Center for Tactical Magic and Trevor Paglen's Bechtel Predator Drones are remote controlled vehicles designed to distribute educational materials pertaining to the Bechtel Corporation's activities as a military contractor. The Center for Tactical Magic claims that Bechtel was responsible for building chemical production facilities in Iraq prior to the second U.S. invasion of Iraq and has been listed among 24 U.S. companies that supplied Iraq with weapons and/or weapon-making capabilities during the 1980's.
According to the Center for Tactical Magic:
"Bechtel Predator Drones" successfully targeted the Bechtel* corporate headquarters in San Francisco where employees and pedestrians alike experienced first-hand the effects of leafletting and unmanned predator drones. The combined forces of Trevor Paglen and the Center for Tactical Magic led to the development and deployment of two remote-controlled drones, each of which distributed three payloads: 1) short pamphlets detailing Bechtel's history of unsavory activities; 2) CD-ROMs designed to assist workers in installing viruses on their workstations; and 3) copies of the CIA Sabotage Manual - a small, government-authored comic book containing a series of useful sabotage techniques, the majority of which can be done in the workplace with simple objects. Over the course of the operation, the drones' pilots met resistance both by Bechtel security forces and by an undercover, camera-toting cop. Despite these minor imperial entanglements, the mission was successful.
Trevor Paglen and the Institute for Applied Autonomy's Terminal Air (2007) is a faux travel agency inspired by the CIA's secret extraordinary rendition flights that are used to transport suspected terrorists out of the United States for interrogation (and torture) in foreign countries.
According to the Institute for Applied Autonomy:
Terminal Air is a project that explores complex interconnections between government agencies and private contractors involved with the United States Central Intelligence Agency's extraordinary rendition program. Since the mid-90’s, the CIA has operated the extraordinary rendition program, in which suspected terrorists captured in Western nations are transported to secret locations for torture and interrogation. A thoroughly modern enterprise, the extraordinary rendition program is largely carried out using leased equipment and private contractors. These private charter planes often use civilian airports for refueling, making their movements subject to public record and visible to anyone who knows which tail numbers to look for. However, while these missions are carried out under the guise of protecting the American people, the nature of the program has thus far remained out of reach to both American and International law. With only the knowledge of what these planes have been used for in the past, human rights activists are left to view their movements as a vast “black box” and can only speculate whether any specific plane is currently carrying human cargo en-route to being tortured in a so-called CIA “dark prison”.
- Art Threat: Follow spies in the skies with Terminal Air
- Institute for Applied Autonomy: Terminal Air