Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Drones Used to be Fairly Useless Bees

Some whistleblower in the US military has done it again  and this time it's about drone strikes.

The Intercept:the Drone Papers

Jeremy Scahill tried kiting the topic a few years back with his story called "Dirty Wars" and how America was 'droning' the hell out of an undeclared - let alone unannounced or even unremarked war in Yemen. A war that has since taken-off,  whether the western media cover it or nor. Back then it was about cruise missiles taking out and obscure tribal encampment - which led to the the subject of AlAlwaki and the 'droning' of first him, and a week later his teen-aged son.  At the time it was all 'poo-pooed' as the necessary removal of a 'dire' threat to America. Someone who, as a 'turncoat', for at one point he backed the USA, was accused of dispatching a series of incompetent bombers to drop airliners. Rather than sending incompetent bombers to screw up a water supply or take out a power corridor - something that might allow more time and leg room,  as opposed to 'flicking that bic' on a non-smoking flight to set fire to a shoe bomb or some sexy briefs.  Given that track record - and a 100 percent interception rate,  one might think AlAwaki might still have been working for the good guys.  All our 'dire threats' ought to be of such a magnitude.

 But a couple of  things that seem obvious are that the Drones aren't 'solving' anything and they aren't making the situation any better. The number of drone strikes has continued to multiply in response to the increasing numbers who find themselves on a ''targeted killing" list.  Apparently this is a thoroughly vetted and fool-proof way of taking the war to those who most want it.  If that was a believable statement,  a similar 'accident' at a Hospital in Kunduz might lead one to believe that the 'vetting process' may not be all it's cracked-up to be. It seems that the vetting, like some of our wars, is based more on creative writing and creative plagiarism than it may be related to much fact. It's a bad situation but, running afoul any security service , for whatever reason they might 'be concerned' about you, and under no particularly unfortunate or accidental circumstances, can get you very dead.

I am reminded of a warning I received, a few years back, from a friend that my blogs were being read by an 'agency' in New York . This only because I had received an email he sent to a number of people. They were concerned enough, about him, that they were checking his friends and weren't happy with what I was writing.  The 'agency' in question - which at that time was busily hiring speakers of Arabic and mid-eastern languages -  went on to garner a significant contract from the US military to 'find good news' about Iraq, in middle eastern sources. They went on to manufacture 'good news' to be planted in middle eastern sources  Eventually they 'morphed' their business into the interception and evaluation of  'electronic' messages from 'foreign sources' routed through the USA and moved from New York to the mid-west. Maybe they'll be reading this.

It's a sure bet that, once you're noticed, you won't be forgotten and all it takes is somebody 'creative' who wants a promotion to make you a target.

The Case if Bilal Al-Berjawi

Case in point - the  British, Lebanese-born "commander of AQ" who  was 'droned', last spring, in Somalia.  This guy's 'story' reads like that of a number of young Brits who originated in the middle east or Arabic/Muslim parts of the world.  Generally it is traveling that brings them to the attention of somebody and gets them on a list. Once they are there, it seems that they only require some 'proof' - usually in the form of somebody else's reported suspicions, to be placed in the category of physical jeopardy. It's a virtual certainty that, should your 'baseball card' (the description of you and your 'rap sheet') ever wind up on the President's desk, as we are told they ALL do, he's going to pore carefully over your story and ask salient questions to clarify his thinking on your guilt, innocence or whether somebody isn't feeding him the kind of intel that made him think surging into Afghanistan was going to change anything.  He's a busy man and, after a cursory glance, your ass might be grass - he gives 60 days for 'concrete action' to be taken. After that you'd be, what? Home free?  Or a target for some private security firm?

What is disturbing is that these 'cases' are built-up by  'intel' services reflecting back to each other information that they have already traded. It is often cases of what we already 'know' or surmise being turned into 'truth' by receiving it back from somebody who didn't, or doesn't, know.  Al-Berjawi was a 'problem'  for MI5 that was 'shared' with US national security who developed his credentials as a high level AQ commander in Somalia and a risk to US lives  to the point that the US President ordered him assassinated. No one would need to wonder if he wasn't in Somalia because he could no longer go anywhere else?  He certainly couldn't go back to Britain and be arrested tried in a court and convicted - of what?  It was easier for British authorities to let the Americans 'waste him'.

9 out of 10 'problem muslims' or 'potential terrorists' come to the attention of British authorities by traveling to the middle east, and become antagonistic toward British Authorities usually due to 'something' that happens to throw a wrench into their travel plans - an arrest or airport detention.

Given the rapid and increasing use of drone technology in all aspects of government and  civil authority.   The use and abuse of such technology should be studied and if necessary (duh!)  curtailed.  It has all the makings of another Geneva Convention because drone survellance, and drone warfare, can affect everyone.

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