Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drone Wars - The Insanity of the CIA

A truly revealing article in the Washington Post today told us that the CIA is seeking authority to expand its drone campaign in Yemen. It is worth highlighting some of the paragraphs from this report:

The CIA is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who will be killed, U.S. officials said.

We are off to a great start here. As the world debates the sanity or lack thereof of Anders Breivik, we realize that we're focusing on the wrong entity. Is any further evidence required that the CIA needs to be reined in irrevocably?

Securing permission to use “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.

Indeed. Because 'terrorists' always follow the behavior patterns they learned in their terrorist textbooks. There is no chance whatsoever that any ordinary people or children could be killed by accident.

The practice has been a core element of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan for several years. But Director David H. Petraeus has requested permission to employ the tactic against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has emerged as the most pressing terrorism threat to the United States, officials said.

Yes. It has worked so well in Pakistan that we need to expand on our success.

For President Obama, an endorsement of signature strikes would mean a significant, and potentially risky, policy shift. Until now, the administration has placed tight limits on drone operations in Yemen to avoid being drawn into an often murky regional conflict and risk turning militants with local agendas into potential al-Qaeda recruits.

As opposed to Pakistan, which is of course, completely different.

A senior Obama administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations, declined to discuss what he described as U.S. “tactics” in Yemen but said that “there is still a very firm emphasis on being surgical and targeting only those who have a direct interest in attacking the United States.”

If a high-up anonymous source says something is true, well...I don't know about you, but I'm convinced.

U.S. officials acknowledge that standard has not always been upheld. Last year, a U.S. drone strike inadvertently killed the American son of Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda leader. The teenager had never been accused of terrorist activity and was killed in a strike aimed at other militants. Some U.S. officials have voiced concern that such incidents could become more frequent if the CIA is given the authority to use signature strikes.

Elementary, my dear Watson. Incidentally: Inadvertent (adjective, not comparable) - not intentional; not on purpose; not conscious. Imagine me scratching my chin.

“How discriminating can they be?” asked a senior U.S. official familiar with the proposal. Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen “is joined at the hip” with a local insurgency whose main objective is to oust the country’s government, the official said. “I think there is the potential that we would be perceived as taking sides in a civil war.”

Yes, and that would be terrible! Note how no mention is made by the official of the tragedy of innocents dying, just how it would look. That's the mindset of people who should not be anywhere near executive power right there.

Proponents of the plan said improvements in U.S. intelligence collection in Yemen have made it possible to expand the drone campaign — and use signature strikes — while minimizing the risk of civilian casualties. They also pointed to the CIA’s experience in Pakistan. U.S. officials said the agency killed more senior al-Qaeda operatives there with signature strikes than with those in which the agency had identified and located someone on its kill list.

If you shoot at every single 'suspicious' gathering you see, you are going to hit a few targets by chance. Is this the future of due process? Yes, it is...until we do something about it. See below.

In Pakistan, the CIA “killed most of their ‘list people’ when they didn’t know they were there,” said a former senior U.S. military official familiar with drone operations.

See above comment. It is striking, is it not, how casually extrajudicial assassination is spoken of, as if this is the way it has always been done.

The agency’s strategy in Pakistan was centered on mounting a drone campaign so relentless that it allowed no time between attacks for al-Qaeda operatives to regroup. The use of signature strikes came to be seen as critical to achieving that pace. The approach involved assembling threads of intelligence from multiple sources to develop telltale “signatures” of al-Qaeda activity based on operatives’ vehicles, facilities, communications equipment and patterns of behavior.

What could go wrong?

Sarcasm aside, this is wrong on multiple levels. If this operational authority is expanded into Yemen, it follows that it will eventually be expanded to any theater. If the United States does it, you can be certain that other nations will follow such a precedent. And ordinary people, men, women, kids and babies, are going to get killed. But they're just Arabs, right?? They're probably terrorists at heart! Quite a few Americans seem very much OK with their tax dollars going toward the killing of children, as long as they're secure in the knowledge that 'terrorists' are being wiped out.

From a democracy point of view, this is an utter disaster. Democracy implies freedom of choice, but where is the choice for the sane Americans who are against their government's policy of mass murder? Obama has drastically expanded the drone program while, until very recently, not even admitting its existence (until Evan from Brooklyn saved the day). What would Romney do? I think you know the answer. Ron Paul might run as a third candidate, but the media will ridicule his campaign down to a nub because nothing elicits establishment media scorn more than a candidate suggesting policies outside the traditional US orthodoxy of preemptive interventionalism and imperial militarism in general.

Under a functioning direct democracy, where children are taught at school to be active members of their communities and to value life and the rule of law; where the media is absolutely prohibited from lying, misleading or omitting vital information under the threat of devastating fines and other punitive measures; and where every single citizen has a voice, this murderous campaign would simply not be possible. The huge support for the drone program can be explained by the total ignorance of most US citizens of how their tax dollars are spent. If their media did its job and actually showed non-sanitized images of war, if people could actually see six-year-old kids dead as a result of their tacit support, does anyone honestly think that 83% would support the campaign? Ordinary Americans prove their kindness and generosity every time a disaster occurs around the world, and they dip into their wallets to donate. If they knew what was really going on here, how many would react with outrage and disgust?

My FREE book details a way of implementing direct democracy via an online grassroots movement. We desperately need to do something to remove the sociopaths who rule us, and trust me: this is the only way. For that, we need mass support from all right-minded people. Please read the text under the book cover on my home page for details of how you can help.

'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
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