President Obama, who is putatively a civil libertarian—or, at the very least, the preferred candidate of most civil libertarians—has achieved something remarkable over the course of his term. He has led an expansive war against America’s enemies using lethal flying robots that not infrequently incinerate innocent civilians, and he’s been rewarded for it. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted earlier this year, 83 percent of Americans support Obama’s drone policy.
This is especially noteworthy because those who support the policy don’t actually know what it is. It’s discussed by the administration in only the most cursory and circumspect manner. Obama has provided the public with very little information about its revolutionary consequences.
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One reason the people of North Waziristan—the innocent as well as the guilty—find drones so frightening is the matter of “signature strikes,” or “atmospheric strikes.” The U.S. national security infrastructure allows the targeting in certain benighted places of clusters of young men whose identities are not known but whose behavior is deemed suspicious. This policy is as remarkable as the president’s decision to use drones to assassinate American citizens on foreign soil, as he did with the al-Qaeda strategist Anwar al-Awlaki, based in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was a despicable figure, but isn’t it just a bit strange that the federal government can’t eavesdrop on a U.S. citizen’s phone conversation without a court order but can assassinate him without one?
The Mail on Sunday today reveals shocking new evidence of the full horrific impact of US drone attacks in Pakistan.
A damning dossier assembled from exhaustive research into the strikes’ targets sets out in heartbreaking detail the deaths of teachers, students and Pakistani policemen. It also describes how bereaved relatives are forced to gather their loved ones’ dismembered body parts in the aftermath of strikes.
The dossier has been assembled by human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who works for Pakistan’s Foundation for Fundamental Rights and the British human rights charity Reprieve.
Filed in two separate court cases, it is set to trigger a formal murder investigation by police into the roles of two US officials said to have ordered the strikes. They are Jonathan Banks, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Islamabad station, and John A. Rizzo, the CIA’s former chief lawyer. Mr Akbar and his staff have already gathered further testimony which has yet to be filed.
Israel-Drone: Update. Forty-eight hours into the investigation of an unmanned aircraft flying into Israeli airspace there is no confirmation who flew the drone.
Saturday morning, Israeli radar tracked the drone flying toward the coast from the Mediterranean, then over the Gaza strip and into Israel. Twenty minutes after it crossed into southern Israel, scrambled fighter jets from the Israeli Air Force shot it down.
Comment: Israelis judge that Lebanese Hezbollah operated the drone with Iranian technical assistance. This remains a hypothesis.
What is important for Readers to note is that the US has no monopoly on drones and that every enemy of the US has observed US drone operations in the past decade. In any future war, US drones will not be alone in the airspace and they will be vulnerable to countermeasures that US enemies have had more than ten years to develop.
If Hezbollah can fly drones, imagine what China can do. As for the Israeli success in shooting down a drone, compare the cost of a drone loss to that of the Israeli missile that shot it down and the cost of just scrambling a pair of Israeli fighters to shoot it down.
The point is that US and Allied forces will never again have total control of the airspace as they have had in Afghanistan and Iraq. Everybody has drones and drone counter-measures now.