Daily Archives: March 27, 2009

Pentagon exploring robot killers that can fire on their own


Sleepwalking into a brave new world where robots decide who, where and when to kill

McClatchy Newspapers | Mar 25, 2009

By Robert S. Boyd

WASHINGTON — The unmanned bombers that frequently cause unintended civilian casualties in Pakistan are a step toward an even more lethal generation of robotic hunters-killers that operate with limited, if any, human control.

The Defense Department is financing studies of autonomous, or self-governing, armed robots that could find and destroy targets on their own. On-board computer programs, not flesh-and-blood people, would decide whether to fire their weapons.

“The trend is clear: Warfare will continue and autonomous robots will ultimately be deployed in its conduct,” Ronald Arkin, a robotics expert at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, wrote in a study commissioned by the Army.

“The pressure of an increasing battlefield tempo is forcing autonomy further and further toward the point of robots making that final, lethal decision,” he predicted. “The time available to make the decision to shoot or not to shoot is becoming too short for remote humans to make intelligent informed decisions.”

Autonomous armed robotic systems probably will be operating by 2020, according to John Pike, an expert on defense and intelligence matters and the director of the security Web site GlobalSecurity.org in Washington.

This prospect alarms experts, who fear that machines will be unable to distinguish between legitimate targets and civilians in a war zone.

“We are sleepwalking into a brave new world where robots decide who, where and when to kill,” said Noel Sharkey, an expert on robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield, England.

Human operators thousands of miles away in Nevada, using satellite communications, control the current generation of missile-firing robotic aircraft, known as Predators and Reapers. Armed ground robots, such as the Army’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, also require a human decision-maker before they shoot.

As of now, about 5,000 lethal and nonlethal robots are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides targeting Taliban and al Qaida leaders, they perform surveillance, disarm roadside bombs, ferry supplies and carry out other military tasks. So far, none of these machines is autonomous; all are under human control.

The Pentagon’s plans for its Future Combat System envision increasing levels of independence for its robots.

“Fully autonomous engagement without human intervention should also be considered, under user-defined conditions,” said a 2007 Army request for proposals to design future robots.

For example, the Pentagon says that air-to-air combat may happen too fast to allow a remote controller to fire an unmanned aircraft’s weapons.

“There is really no way that a system that is remotely controlled can effectively operate in an offensive or defensive air-combat environment,” Dyke Weatherington, the deputy director of the Pentagon’s unmanned aerial systems task force, told a news conference on Dec. 18, 2007. “The requirement for that is a fully autonomous system,” he said. “That will take many years to get to.”

Many Navy warships carry the autonomous, rapid-fire Phalanx system, which is designed to shoot down enemy missiles or aircraft that have penetrated outer defenses without waiting for a human decision-maker.

At Georgia Tech, Arkin is finishing a three-year Army contract to find ways to ensure that robots are used in appropriate ways. His idea is an “ethical governor” computer system that would require robots to obey the internationally recognized laws of war and the U.S. military’s rules of engagement.

“Robots must be constrained to adhere to the same laws as humans or they should not be permitted on the battlefield,” Arkin wrote.

For example, a robot’s computer “brain” would block it from aiming a missile at a hospital, church, cemetery or cultural landmark, even if enemy forces were clustered nearby. The presence of women or children also would spark a robotic no-no.

Arkin contends that a properly designed robot could behave with greater restraint than human soldiers in the heat of battle and cause fewer casualties.

“Robots can be built that do not exhibit fear, anger, frustration or revenge, and that ultimately behave in a more humane manner than even human beings in these harsh circumstances,” he wrote.

Sharkey, the British critic of autonomous armed robots, said that Arkin’s ethical governor was “a good idea in principle. Unfortunately, it’s doomed to failure at present because no robots or AI (artificial intelligence) systems could discriminate between a combatant and an innocent. That sensing ability just does not exist.”

Selmer Bringsjord, an artificial intelligence expert at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., is worried, too.

“I’m concerned. The stakes are very high,” Bringsjord said. “If we give robots the power to do nasty things, we have to use logic to teach them not to do unethical things. If we can’t figure this out, we shouldn’t build any of these robots.”

Knights of Guernsey County: Residents alarmed by new Templar urban warfare training camp for police, military and mercenaries


The facility is named after the Knights Templar, a Christian military order that existed during the crusades. Bill Janson, Templar’s chief executive officer, said he got the idea for the company while working for a private defense contractor in Iraq.

Gun range plans alarm rural neighbors

“The commissioners say they have to think of the good of the county, but they didn’t even let the rest of the county know what was going on.”

Center in Guernsey County would serve police, military, private defense companies


By Josh Jarman

templar_gun_rangeWhen Robert Heinton retired in 2007, he built his dream house in a quiet subdivision in the rolling hills of Guernsey County.

He wanted to live somewhere a little out of the way, surrounded by the sounds of birds and the occasional mooing cow. Now, Heinton and his neighbors can get used to the idea of living with another sound: gunfire.

Residents of the Willow Springs subdivision outside Lore City learned this month that they would soon be living next to a police and military training facility billing itself as the largest of its kind in the state.

Templar Tactical, a company based outside Cleveland, is planning to build a first-responder training ground on 200 acres of county property that abuts the subdivision.

According to the company’s Web site, the facility will be open for business on June 15 and will feature multiple live-fire shooting ranges, a shooting house, an apartment building with movable floor-plan and breakable windows and doors, and a helicopter landing pad, among other amenities.

Heinton said the project will devastate home values in the area and ruin residents’ quality of life in the subdivision about 80 miles east of Columbus. He said he first found out about the company’s plans after several thousand feet of erosion-control fence and survey stakes appeared behind his house.

He said it was only after he and several neighbors began questioning public officials that any hint of the project came to light.

“The commissioners say they have to think of the good of the county, but they didn’t even let the rest of the county know what was going on,” Heinton said. “I feel there was a serious violation of the public’s trust in the way they proceeded to handle this issue.”

Heinton is circulating petitions asking county commissioners not to sell land to the developers. He said he had 826 signatures as of Monday.

Guernsey County Commissioner Steve Allen said someone always complains when new development is proposed. He said the commissioners had to look at the project from the possibility of job creation.

The company has pledged to hire 10 to 20 people for the facility and said that training exercises could bring in more than 4,000 participants a year. Allen said the spinoff employment of that many people using county hotels and restaurants couldn’t be ignored.

“We have to think about the impact on the entire county, not just one group of individuals,” Allen said. “I think eventually residents are going to be proud that this is located in Guernsey County.”

Lt. Brian Charles of the State Highway Patrol said there is a need for this type of facility, especially in southeastern Ohio. The patrol offers eight SWAT-style training sessions a year for police agencies across the state.

Charles said those classes fill up fast, and it can be hard for law-enforcement agencies to send officers to the two in-state shooting houses at Hocking College in Nelsonville and Camp Perry near Port Clinton.

Bill Janson, Templar’s chief executive officer, said the safety of trainees and the nearby residents would be the center’s top priority. He said the rifle ranges would be surrounded by 20-foot-tall berms and sound barriers to muffle the noise.

Janson said the facility would not be open to the public and would be guarded by 24-hour security. The only groups allowed to train at the facility, besides police and military reservists, would be private defense companies that contract with the U.S. military.

Janson said he got the idea for the company while working for a private defense contractor in Iraq. The facility is named after the Knights Templar, a Christian military order that existed during the crusades.

“The name was selected because of the dual role of the Knights Templar during their time,” Janson said. “First off, they were fierce warriors, which speaks to our military market, and later they assumed the role of protectors, which is indicative of our law-enforcement officers.”

Janson said training would be limited to regular business hours, except for the occasional after-dark session. Despite the company’s plan to be open year-around, he said nearby residents would not hear gunfire 24 hours a day.

“We’re trying to be good neighbors,” Janson said.




Templar Tactical

The Templar Tactical training facility has everything you’re looking for to conduct the most ultra-realistic training possible, and all in one location. You’ll be training in truly reconfigurable houses where you can breach windows and doors and hit the target multiple times without learning the floor plan. Our instructors are drawn from the ranks of the finest SWAT and Special Operations units in the country, and will push you and your team to the limits…

Residents, Farmers Fight Opening Of Police Training Facility

Safety and noise concerns addressed, developers say

Officials from Templar Tactical and KLM Global visited the proposed site for a first responder training center slated to be constructed on Range Road in Wills Township Monday to address what they believe are misconceptions about the facility.

The training and facilities provided at Templar Tactical would attract elements from state, local and federal law enforcement, fire and emergency teams, National Guard and Reserve units, and federal agencies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

Is Blackwater At It Again?

In the earliest published articles, Bill Jansen and Dennis Dechant were identified only as “former Marines.” Yet in a follow up article, the picture began to get a little clearer.

“Attending the meeting Monday from Templar Tactical were Bill Janson and Dennis Dechant, former U.S. Marines who came up with the concept while working as private contractors in Iraq.”

Oh, private contractors. As in Blackwater USA? That kind of private contractor?

Then there’s another ingredient in the soup – KLM Global.

KLM Global

Templar Tactical Retains KLM Global

Templar Tactical, a full service training and security services firm has retained KLM Global to assist them in the development of a First Responder Training Facility which will serve Local and Federal Law Enforcement, as well as various Department of Defense units. Templar Tactical will combine a state of the art facility with the finest instructors in the country.

Blackwater: Knights of Malta in Iraq

Secret Societies and The Military

Military-Type Training Complex Eyed For Area

Gangs of Iraq: military quietly enlisting thousands of active gang members

The militarization of the domestic police

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America

Our Militarized Police Departments


UN panel touts new global currency reserve system

Breitbart | Mar 26, 2009

A UN panel of expert economists pressed Thursday for a new global currency reserve scheme to replace the volatile, dollar-based system and for coordinated steps by rich countries to stimulate their economies.

“A new Global Reserve System — what may be viewed as a greatly expanded SDR (Special Drawing Rights), with regular or cyclically adjusted emissions calibrated to the size of reserve accumulations, could contribute to global stability, economic strength and global equity,” the panel said.

As part of several recommendations to tackle the global financial crisis, the panel also noted recovery would require all developed countries, in the short term, to take “strong, coordinated and effective actions to stimulate their economies.”

And it stressed the need to “lay the basis for the long-run reforms that will be necessary if we are to have a more stable and more prosperous global economy and avoid future global crises.”

The commission, led by US economist Joseph Stiglitz, a frequent critic of globalization and unbridled free markets, is primarily aimed at finding solutions for developing countries.

On the monetary front, Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel economics laureate, told a press conference here there was “a growing consensus that there are problems with the dollar reserve system.

He noted that such a system was “relatively volatile, deflationary, unstable and (had) inequity associated with it.”

“Developing countries are lending the United States trillions dollars at almost zero interest rates when they have huge needs themselves,” Stiglitz noted. “It’s indicative of the nature of the problem. It’s a net transfer, in a sense, to the United States, a form of foreign aid.”

This week, China’s central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan suggested the dollar could be replaced as a reserve currency by an International Monetary Fund (IMF) basket comprising dollars, euros, sterling and yen, saying it would not be easily influenced by individual countries.

But the UN panel warned that a two (or three) country reserve system “may be equally unstable.”

It said a new Global Reserve “is feasible, non-inflationary and could be easily implemented, including in ways which mitigate the difficulties caused by asymmetric adjustment between surplus and deficit countries.”

Stiglitz said his panel’s experts were currently trying “to lay out the conceptual framework of how this might be done.”

The issue of the world currency reserve is expected to be raised at the April 2 summit of the G20 club of developed and emerging economies.

On Wednesday IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that talks on a new global reserve currency to replace the US dollar were “legitimate” and could take place “in the coming months.”

But US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner earlier defended the dollar as a key global reserve currency.

“I think the dollar remains the world’s standard reserve currency, I think that’s likely to continue for a long period of time,” he said.

Among other recommendations, the Stiglitz panel proposed western aid to help developing nations out of the crisis, better market regulation, a reform of central bank practices and of international financial institutions, as well as the creation of a new structure such as a United Nations economic council.

It specifically called for immediate, additional funding for developing countries “just to offset the imbalances and inequities created by the massive stimulus and bail-out measures introduced by advanced industrialized countries.”

It said the funds could come through the issuance of SDRs approved by the IMF board in 1997.

SDRs are an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries and support the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system.

They are allocated to member countries in proportion to their IMF quotas.

Religious war in Gaza? Israeli soldier says rabbis said ‘get rid of the gentiles’

Soldiers also testified about excessive force against Palestinians

McClatchy/Tribune News | Mar 21, 2009

By Cliff Churgin

JERUSALEM — Rabbis affiliated with the Israeli army urged troops heading into Gaza to reclaim what they said was God-given land and “get rid of the gentiles”—effectively turning the 22-day Israeli intervention into a religious war, according to the testimony of a soldier who fought in Gaza.

Literature passed out to soldiers by the army’s rabbinate “had a clear message — we are the people of Israel, we came by a miracle to the land of Israel, God returned us to the land, now we need to struggle to get rid of the gentiles that are interfering with our conquest of the land,” the soldier told a forum of Gaza veterans in February, weeks after the conflict ended.

A transcript of the testimony given Feb. 13 at an Israeli military academy at Oranim Academic College was obtained Friday by McClatchy Newspapers and also published in Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading dailies. The soldier, identified as Ram, a pseudonym to protect his identity, gave a scathing description of the atmosphere as the Israeli army went to war.

“The atmosphere in general [was] the lives of Palestinians, let’s say, are something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers,” Ram said. The religious literature gave “the feeling of almost a religious mission.”

About 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the operation, more than half of them civilians, Palestinian human-rights groups say.

A soldier identified as Gilad said his battalion commander made clear that the army was going to use its overwhelming firepower as its protection in entering densely populated Gaza City.

“He made clear to everyone that one of the most important lessons and one of the big differences with the second Lebanon war [in 2006] is the way in which we, the army … went in with a lot of fire. The surprise wouldn’t be the time, or the way or the place, nothing but a lot of firepower.”

McClatchy reported that scores of Palestinians were treated at Gaza hospitals for burns that may have come from shells containing white phosphorus, which is illegal to use in heavily populated areas. The issue came up only briefly at the Oranim conference, when a sergeant in the paratroops, identified as Yossi, said, “There was a lot of use of white phosphorus.”

Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem thinks the public release of the testimony helped spur the investigation. “There have been many cases where we have asked the advocate general to look into cases, and they drag their feet until it gets into the media.”

Michaeli said the testimony showed the need for an independent investigation into Israel’s action in Gaza.

“The army and [Atty. Gen. Menachem] Mazuz has claimed all along that the internal investigations and debriefings are the correct way. This clearly demonstrates that the soldiers didn’t reveal what they did or that they didn’t consider it a problem,” Michaeli said.

China Calls For Global Currency


Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, speaks to a journalist during the 5th U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing December 4, 2008. Zhou told the opening session of the cabinet-level Sino-American “Strategic Economic Dialogue” to prepare for the worst scenario. Reuters

Beijing Central Bank Urges Reform Of World Finance System, Bigger Role For Developing World

CBS | Mar 25, 2009

BEIJING China is calling for a new global currency to replace the dominant dollar, showing a growing assertiveness on revamping the world economy ahead of next week’s London summit on the financial crisis.

The surprise proposal by Beijing’s central bank governor reflects unease about its vast holdings of U.S. government bonds and adds to Chinese pressure to overhaul a global financial system dominated by the dollar and Western governments. Both the United States and the European Union brushed off the idea.

The world economic crisis shows the “inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system,” Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan said in an essay released Monday by the bank. He recommended creating a currency made up of a basket of global currencies and controlled by the International Monetary Fund and said it would help “to achieve the objective of safeguarding global economic and financial stability.”

Zhou did not mention the dollar by name. But in an unusual step, the essay was published in both Chinese and English, making clear it was meant for a foreign audience.

China has long been uneasy about relying on the dollar for the bulk of its trade and to store foreign reserves. Premier Wen Jiabao publicly appealed to Washington this month to avoid any response to the crisis that might weaken the dollar and the value of Beijing’s estimated $1 trillion in Treasuries and other U.S. government debt.

Wen said he was “a little bit worried” about China’s holdings of U.S. government debt, but the country’s central bank affirmed on Monday that it would continue buying up American debt.

Investing in U.S. Treasury bills is “an important component part of China’s foreign currency reserve investments,” People’s Bank of China Vice Governor Hu Xiaolian said at a news conference.

For decades, the dollar has been the world’s most widely used currency. Many governments hold a large portion of their reserves in dollars. Crude oil and many commodities are priced in dollars. Business deals around the world are done in dollars.

But the financial crisis has highlighted how America’s economic problems – and by extension the dollar – can wreak havoc on nations around the world. China is in a bind. To keep the value of its currency steady – some say undervalued – the Chinese government has to recycle its huge trade surpluses, and the biggest, most liquid option for investing them is U.S. government debt.

To better insulate countries from the ills of one country or one currency, Zhou said the IMF should create a “reserve currency” based on shares in the body held by its 185 member nations, known as special drawing rights, or SDRs.

He said it also should be used for trade, pricing commodities and accounting, not just government finance.

President Obama described China’s proposal as unnecessary during a prime-time news conference Tuesday.

“I don’t believe that there’s a need for a global currency,” Mr. Obama said.

The president also pointed to the current strength of American money. “The reason the dollar is strong right now is because investors consider the United States the strongest economy in the world with the most stable political system in the world.”

Earlier in the day, both U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took similar positions at a congressional hearing. They were asked by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., if they would “categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar and going to a global currency,” and both said they would.

And the European Union’s top economy official said the dollar’s role as the international reserve currency is secure despite China’s proposal.

“Everybody agrees also that the present world reserve currency, the dollar, is there and will continue to be there for a long period of time,” EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday after a meeting of the European Commission.

Zhou also called for changing how SDRs are valued. Currently, they are based on the value of four currencies – the dollar, euro, yen and British pound. “The basket of currencies forming the basis for SDR valuation should be expanded to include currencies of all major economies,” he wrote.

Beijing has been unusually bold in recent months in expressing concern about Washington’s financial management and pushing for global economic changes. That reflects both its relative financial health and growing concern that increased globalization means missteps abroad could harm its own economy.

Zhou’s comments are also part of China’s longstanding push to reform the IMF, World Bank and global financial system to give greater voice to China and other developing economies – another theme that will be heard from China, Brazil, Russia and India at the summit of Group of 20 major economies next week.

“Overdue reforms should give proper representation to and increase the say of the emerging and developing economies,” Yi Xianrong, a researcher with the Institute of Economics and Finances at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank, wrote in the government newspaper China Daily.

“Proper representation and a bigger voice for the developing countries are the need of the hour. For instance, being the world’s third-largest economy and the largest foreign reserves holder, China should get its due place in the monetary body.”

Another idea Yi raised was that the U.S. and Europe should give up their traditional privileges of appointing the heads of the World Bank and the IMF.

The idea of a creating a new global reserve currency isn’t new. But analysts say the proposal isn’t likely to gain much traction because it faces major obstacles. It would require acceptance from nations that have long used the dollar and hold huge stockpiles of the U.S. currency.

“There has been for decades talk about creating an international reserve currency and it has never really progressed,” said Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.

Managing such a currency would require balancing the contradictory needs of countries with high and low growth or with trade surpluses or deficits, Pettis said. He said the 16 European nations that use the euro have faced “huge difficulties” in managing monetary policy even though their economies are similar.

“It’s hard for me to imagine how it’s going to be easier for the world to have a common currency for trade,” he said.

Anti-terror laws used to net minor offenders

Portsmouth News | Mar 26, 2009

Fareham Borough Council has used anti-terror laws more than 200 times to spy on people and catch them committing minor offences.

The authority came fourth highest for the number of times it has used the powers in a national poll.

The council admitted using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 240 times in the last five years to tackle anti-social behaviour and other minor crime.

Across the country the powers have been used 10,000 times in the past five years, according to figures released to the Liberal Democrats under the Freedom of Information Act.

The party is demanding stricter rules on when the act can be used.

Julia Goldsworthy, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: ‘When RIPA was passed, only nine organisations, including the police and security services, were allowed to use it.

‘Now a total of 795 bodies, including all 475 local authorities, can use powers that were originally designed to prevent terrorism.

‘Unless RIPA is reformed it risks becoming a snoopers’ charter. Surveillance powers should only be used to investigate serious crimes and must require a magistrate’s warrant.’

Fareham council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘Only senior managers can authorise the use of the laws.

‘We have zero tolerance to benefit fraud, which accounts for the vast majority of times we have used it.

‘I don’t think anyone would say benefit fraud is not a serious crime.’

Gosport Borough Council revealed it had used the act, which was designed to tackle terror suspects and serious crime,nine times to catch dog foulers, flytippers, noisy neighbours – and to crackdown on the illegal sale of shell fish.

Portsmouth has used the act 22 times, while East Hampshire has used it 34 times.

Figures are not available for Havant, Hampshire and West Sussex.

Family terrified by anti-terror police who strip-searched man in street

South Wales Echo | Mar 26 2009

by Martin Shipton

victor-frederick_anti_terrorA TRAUMATISED South Wales family are asking why they were wrongly targeted in a major anti-terror operation.

Jazz musician Victor Frederick, 63, was arrested and strip-searched by police officers armed with machine guns yards from his Cardiff home.

Just moments before, his partner Andrea Heath and, briefly, the couple’s 12-year-old daughter, had up to five infra-red sights trained at them and were told: “Stay where you are or you will be shot”.

No charges were ever brought against Mr Frederick.

Yesterday, in a press conference at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, Plaid Cymru AM Leanne said the incident could easily have become a Welsh version of the Jean Charles de Menezes tragedy. The innocent Brazilian was shot dead by police who wrongly thought he was a terrorist on a London Tube train in 2005.

South Wales Police last night insisted its officers had acted “in good faith” based on genuine concerns”.

But the press conference heard how:

-police confiscated apparently suspicious items, including a video of boxer Muhammad Ali;

-officers interpreted soundproofing equipment and wiring from his musical studio as a potential sign of illicit activity;

-the couple feared their daughter could have been targeted by armed police in her upstairs window.

Mr Frederick, who has lived in the city for 35 years and is originally from St Kitts in the West Indies, said: “This was a really terrifying experience. I can only think that the police received a malicious call suggesting there was some kind of a bomb factory in the recording studio in Grangetown I use with my band, the Cougars.

“I’d had a sense that I was under surveillance three days before I was arrested. On the Saturday, I drove up to Radyr to do a workshop and I was aware of a car following me.

“Then there was a strange incident where on the Sunday one of the other guys who uses the studio thought there had been a break-in, but found a note from the police saying they had been in the building.

“I was stopped by armed police officers as I was very close to my home. They had automatic weapons and were very jumpy. I was worried they were going to shoot. I didn’t know what was happening – they just grabbed me and strip-searched me in the street. They told me I was being arrested on suspicion of making explosives and took me off to Rumney Police Station, where they held me.

“Later, when I was being questioned, I was told they had found nothing and they would be letting me go.”

Ms Heath, 49, who works as a youth and community worker in Cardiff, said: “I heard a key in the front door our home and thought it was Victor returning. But he didn’t come in. I then heard some scuffling sound and shouting. When I opened the door there were four police officers armed with machine guns which had infra-red sights. The whole street had been cordoned off. I could see Victor in his underpants outside with police training guns on him. Other officers trained guns on me. I was told I would be shot if I moved. It was absolutely terrifying.

“Our 12-year-old daughter was upstairs. She told me later that she had a camera and thought about taking pictures of the police activity and commotion. It’s awful to think what might have happened if the police had seen a camera flash from the upstairs window and assumed it was a gun.”

Mr Frederick, who sings and plays bass guitar with the Cougars, said: “I’ve always had a good relationship with the police and have never been in trouble. In fact, a couple of years ago the band played at a police ball in Bridgend.

“Of course I accept that the police have to check out tip-offs about terrorist activity, but this was totally over the top. You’d think they would need something pretty substantial before they mounted a big operation like this. There were loads of officers involved, many of them armed, and a helicopter overhead.

“This must have been ordered from very high up in the force and we think South Wales Police should give a full explanation about why they decided it was necessary to mount an operation of this scale.”

Ms Heath said: “We have decided to make a big fuss about this, firstly because we want everyone to know that we are entirely innocent. Obviously when an operation like this happens, many people will believe the police had a reason to do what they did. In fact, there were no grounds for them to take this action at all.

“We also want there to be no question of anything like this happening again.”

The couple, whose home in Holmesdale Road, Grangetown, was targeted as part of last month’s operation, believe there may have been a racial element to the matter. White musicians who also use the studio were not subjected to such an operation.

And the list of supposedly suspicious items found by the police at the studio included a reference to an “ethnic” container holding a “colourless, odourless liquid found in the fridge”. In fact, the liquid was a West Indian drink called Mauby, sold in many shops in Cardiff.

And Mr Frederick said that, while the police list referred to a “video tape relating to Pakistan”, the only tape in the studio was about Muhammad Ali.

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