Obama’s Preferred Killing Machines: Drones, drones, and more drone attacks

Guest Blogged by Sibel Edmonds

President Obama and his hawks are planning to increase the number of drone attacks. Since the new administration has taken office, the campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan, which ironically began during the final months of the Bush administration, has intensified significantly. The US establishment media’s reporting on this issue has been limited to cursory and ultra-shallow pieces with a cosmetic line or two to give the effect of covering all sides; I’m sure all are vetted, approved, and dictated by the usual puppet masters. Absent in almost all these reports are the real number of civilian casualties and the implications, and the real assessment of the purpose and effectiveness of our new president’s preferred killing machines in our undeclared wars.

Let me give you a few examples and a bit of a context:

Here are a few excerpts from L.A. Times reporting on this:

“Senior U.S. officials are pushing to expand CIA drone strikes beyond Pakistan’s tribal region and into a major city in an attempt to pressure the Pakistani government to pursue Taliban leaders based in Quetta.”

Okay, so that’s the introduction. They sanitize the real purpose with key words: Taliban Leaders. They want the reader to take that as the purpose.  Next is this:

“The proposal has opened a contentious new front in the clandestine war. The prospect of Predator aircraft strikes in Quetta, a sprawling city, signals a new U.S. resolve to decapitate the Taliban. But it also risks rupturing Washington’s relationship with Islamabad.”

As you can see, it is indirectly, but not very subtly, justifying and cheering the drone attacks. Pay special attention to the following: ‘A new U.S. Resolve’- as in a strong, determined new administration, and ‘decapitate the Taliban’- as in wiping out the big bad evil shalvars-wearing curly-bearded cavemen who have been somehow declared, without technically being declared, as the terrorists and culprits in 9/11.

The side effect, the only tiny side effect, aka risk, cited is: oh, it may put a little dent in our relationship with Pakistan.

The propaganda piece published by the stenographers at LA Times first offers the mike to the proponents of upping the killing machines:

“The concern has created tension among Obama administration officials over whether unmanned aircraft strikes in a city of 850,000 are a realistic option. Proponents, including some military leaders, argue that attacking the Taliban in Quetta — or at least threatening to do so — is critical to the success of the revised war strategy President Obama unveiled last week.”

As for the opponents, they only site the possibility of some dents on our relationship with Pakistan:

“But others, including high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials, have been more skeptical of employing drone attacks in a place that Pakistanis see as part of their country’s core. Pakistani officials have warned that the fallout would be severe.

‘We are not a banana republic,’ said a senior Pakistani official involved in discussions of security issues with the Obama administration. If the United States follows through, the official said, ‘this might be the end of the road.’”

And finally, the stenographers continue with this glowing report on this now widely popular war machine strategy, albeit stating a false and unproven success record:

“The CIA has carried out dozens of Predator strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt over the last two years, relying extensively on information provided by informant networks run by Pakistan’s spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence.

“The campaign is credited with killing at least 10 senior Al Qaeda operatives since the pace of the strikes was accelerated in August 2008, but has enraged many Pakistanis because of civilian casualties.”

The so-called report conveniently omits the number of civilian casualties, the ratio between the actual targets hit and the innocents murdered, the real cost, and the implications when it comes to probable violation of sections 4 and 5 of Article 51, which prohibits attacks that treat military and civilian objects as one and the same. Yep, as always, the establishment media provides zip, zilch, nada on all the important facts and issues that really matter. Next, please read this propaganda trash that is being marketed by not only the L.A. Times stenographers, but almost all the other establishment propaganda machines collectively referred to as the US Media.

Now, let’s look at some facts and reality points involving these drone attacks our new president seems to be so enamored with:

The US Drone Attacks, its Casualties, and the Implications

How long have we been hearing and reading glowing reports by our establishment media on ‘allegedly killed Al Qaeda Leaders’ and the glowing success of our drone attacks? And, once in a while, in small print, back-page, after-the-fact, corrections saying ‘ooooppps, now they say it couldn’t be confirmed whether these top Al Qaeda targets were actually killed.’ You know exactly what I’m talking about. So, where are the balancing reports that are alleged, and in some cases supported and confirmed, from the other side?

For instance, there are reports that allege that between January 2006 and April 2009, U.S. drone attacks have killed 687 civilians and 14 al-Qaeda operatives, amounting to a ratio of 50 civilians killed per one al-Qaeda target killed. In other words, our drone attacks civilian death ratio has been around 95%. Or that of 60 drone strikes only 10 of them hit actual al-Qaeda targets, because of either faulty intelligence or reasons deemed top classified.

Here are some excerpts from a piece analyzing these alleged reports from the other side, the side our media fails to mention in almost every report:

“This report utilizes well-established principles of both treaty and customary international law as a measuring stick for attempting to determine the legal and moral legitimacy of the covert U.S. policy of using drones to attack targets in Pakistan. This analysis is unique in that it uses both broad assessments as well as pertinent individual case studies with the purpose of chronicling the details of several drone attacks over a period of 45 months in the interest of legal evaluation. Drawing from a vast collection of reliable press reports, independent human rights testimonies, and the most prominent, mainstream studies, this report is quite possibly the most comprehensive analysis on the topic to date and likely the first of its kind to appear in the wake of the US-Pakistan drone controversy.

“The most cited and controversial report to date on the casualty results of U.S. drone strikes is the April 2009 report published by Pakistan’s leading English daily, The News.[2] The report was authored by Amir Mir who is known by leading American strategic analysts as ‘a well-regarded Pakistani terrorism expert.’[3] The report, relying on internal Pakistani government sources, alleges that from January 14, 2006 to April 8, 2009, U.S. drone bombings killed 687 civilians and 14 al-Qaeda operatives, amounting to a ratio of nearly 50 civilians killed for every al-Qaeda operative killed, or a 94% civilian death rate. Out of 60 total strikes, only 10 hit any al-Qaeda targets. The sources attributed the failed drone attacks to ‘faulty intelligence information’ which resulted in the ‘killing [of] hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children.’ It goes on to detail the numbers of deaths, the statuses of the victims, and the dates of specific attacks, all within annual and monthly time frames.This report has since been cited and endorsed by several relevant and mainstream commentators, despite the fact that it has been largely ignored, or at best, marginalized and down-played, by the mainstream media in the United States. Most notably, in a meeting with Congress this past May, former senior counterinsurgency advisor to the U.S. Army, David Kilcullen, told the U.S. government to ‘call off the drones’ noting that ‘since 2006, we’ve killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we’ve killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area.'” 

I encourage you to take the time and read this important and interesting analysis, and especially the well-documented sources and links cited at the end of it.

Originally posted at Boiling Frogs

3 responses to “Obama’s Preferred Killing Machines: Drones, drones, and more drone attacks

  1. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Obama’s Preferred Killing Machines: Drones, drones, and more drone attacks « COTO Report

  2. Excellent article. The Obama campaign featured a seemingly out of character statement that the U.S. would conduct “hot pursuit” into Pakistan to get al Qaeda and bin Laden. Now we see the president threatening to hit urban areas (read Quetta) with predators. This is just ridiculous. First of all, Pakistan is actually fighting the Tehreek-e-Taliban and in a position to go after other Pakistan Taliban groups. They’re winning every battle. But that’s not good enough for the president. So he threatens to anonymously bomb some more. It verges on childishness but when weapons and lives are involved, it’s deadly behavior.

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