Drones

A New Whistleblower Exposes America's Drone Assassinations

Unintended targets listed as 'enemies killed in action' without any actual evidence.

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Serial killer
Credit: gvgoebel / photo on flickr

We have another Edward Snowden on our hands, and this one has had enough of the way America operates its system of killing people with drones. The source has come forward with a new load of classified information that highlights how risky drone strikes actually are and makes it clear that American officials know full well that they are killing hundreds of people that aren't their actual targets.

Jeremy Scahill and the journalists at The Intercept have been the recipient of all this data from the anonymous person they're referring to as their "source." In a series of stories titled "The Drone Papers," The Intercept describes the massive bureaucracy, technical flaws, and inner workings of America's deadly drone strikes.

The series of stories is huge and I recommend busy folks read at least the first section, "The Assassination Complex," which does an excellent job summarizing all the issues with the program. The other chapters delve further into each component:

The source underscored the unreliability of metadata, most often from phone and computer communications intercepts. These sources of information, identified by so-called selectors such as a phone number or email address, are the primary tools used by the military to find, fix, and finish its targets. "It requires an enormous amount of faith in the technology that you're using," the source said. "There's countless instances where I've come across intelligence that was faulty." This, he said, is a primary factor in the killing of civilians. "It's stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people. And it isn't until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot target, you wind up realizing it was his mother's phone the whole time."

Within the special operations community, the source said, the internal view of the people being hunted by the U.S. for possible death by drone strike is: "They have no rights. They have no dignity. They have no humanity to themselves. They're just a 'selector' to an analyst. You eventually get to a point in the target's life cycle that you are following them, you don't even refer to them by their actual name." This practice, he said, contributes to "dehumanizing the people before you've even encountered the moral question of 'is this a legitimate kill or not?'"

By the ISR study's own admission, killing suspected terrorists, even if they are "legitimate" targets, further hampers intelligence gathering. The secret study states bluntly: "Kill operations significantly reduce the intelligence available." A chart shows that special operations actions in the Horn of Africa resulted in captures just 25 percent of the time, indicating a heavy tilt toward lethal strikes. …

The White House and Pentagon boast that the targeting killing program is precise and that civilian deaths are minimal. However, documents detailing a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker, show that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. In Yemen and Somalia, where the U.S. has far more limited intelligence capabilities to confirm the people killed are the intended targets, the equivalent ratios may well be much worse.

"Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association," the source said. When "a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate. … So it's a phenomenal gamble."

There will undoubtedly be more to come. Below, a ReasonTV interview with Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield:

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  1. This practice, he said, contributes to “dehumanizing the people before you’ve even encountered the moral question of ‘is this a legitimate kill or not?'”

    This seems to me like a fundamental principle necessary to the operation of any national military.

    1. Not that I disagree with your point, but it is interesting that the “diversity” candidate is the one stepping up the dehumanization.

      1. It is especially important that we dehumanize the “whistle-blower” traitors themselves, before they succeed in eroding public confidence in our governmental authorities and institutions?a value that easily trumps the life of a terrorist here or a terrorist there (and let us be clear that all of those killed were terrorists, whether or not they were specifically listed as the direct targets of the hits). Heck, here in New York, when one of these traitors posted satirical “NYPD drone” ads around the city, we had the police hunt him down and we taught him a lesson or two until he agreed to behave more appropriately. See:

        http://www.theverge.com/2012/1…..rveillance

        1. P.s. academic “whistle-blowers” are even worse, and must be dealt with rigorously until they are entirely silenced. Again, law enforcement authorities in New York are at the forefront of the battle for civic responsibility and appropriate exercise of “free speech rights” that liberals like to invoke as an excuse for criminality. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        2. We revile ISIS, among other Muslim entities, for killing children. How many children get killed by our drone strikes? Would those children have grown up to hate America and become terrorists? Who knows? Quite probably. However, in another forum, I’ve had a conversation with a Muslim who claims that the American military has killed more “innocent” Muslims, women and children included, than all the Americans killed by Muslim terrorists. I don’t know the facts and figures, but I tend to believe he is right.

          Now, before you jump all over me with sarcastic comments, know this. I hate the Islamic religion. I truly and deeply believe it is a cancer in the body of humanity. But as is becoming common knowledge now, chemotherapy and radiation therapy really doesn’t kill cancer, it spreads it. There are less drastic ways to kill cancer. There must be less drastic ways to, if not kill, then at least contain Islam to the predominately Islamic nations. After that, they will kill each other, because the Islamic religion survives on hatred and death.

          1. Far from me to jump on anyone with a sarcastic remark! I was most interested to learn that you “hate the Islamic religion” and I certainly hope you keep an appropriate distance from any Muslim you happen to have a conversation with in another forum. You never know who you’re dealing with these days in them there online forums.

    2. Just because you’re not man enough to decide whether the kill is legitimate before dehumanizing someone doesn’t mean no one is.

      1. I’ll be honest nicole, I have no idea what you mean by that. You’ve been butt-chugging too much Theraflu. Or not enough. I forget how it works with you. But clearly you haven’t butt-chugged exactly the right amount.

        1. I’LL CONSUME EXACTLY AS MUCH THERAFLU AS I DON’T WANT TO, HUGH, YOU’RE NOT MY DOCTOR!

  2. “They have no rights. They have no dignity. They have no humanity to themselves. They’re just a ‘selector’ to an analyst.

    The banality of evil.

    Stepped up by the “pacifist” candidate no less.

    1. When did Obama ever claim to be a pacifist? When did anyone ever claim that he was one?

      1. Thus the quotes, Hugh. He ran on de-militarization: closing Guantanamo, reducing troop counts overseas, etc. The perception by his base was that he was the most peace-loving of the candidates and that perception by his base hasn’t changed despite his delivering the exact opposite.

        1. Witness the recent Washington Post article arguing that Obama really wants to bring the troops home. It includes whoppers like: “This is Obama’s mind-set as he weighs a decision on whether to leave troops in Afghanistan past his presidency. It is a choice that would contravene a long-held personal desire and central tenet of his election campaigns ? a definitive end to the wars he had inherited.”

          He’s the friggin’ president. If he wants to bring the troops home, it’s within his sole power to do so. The single, sole, solitary reason that they aren’t coming home is that Obama doesn’t want them to!!!!!!!!!!!

        2. Well, in 2008, next to Hillary Clinton and John McCain, he looked like Gandhi.

          1. You probably think they all look alike. Racist.

      2. When did anyone ever claim that he was one?

        December 10, 2009 in Oslo?

      3. The Nobel Peace Prize committee?

        Hooray for at least two more years of Afghanistan!

    2. The banality of evil.

      Obama’s words: “Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured — the highest standard we can set.”

      Obama’s actions – Over 90% of those killed by drones were civilians.

      1. The government may be so used to failing that 90% actually seems pretty good.

        1. **nods head in agreement**

      2. And besides, they had near certainty when the strike was called in. You can’t honestly expect them to go back and check whether their predictions were correct. That’s just an unfair standard.

        1. …check whether their predictions were correct

          +97% climate scientists agree that is an unfair standard

          1. 9 out 10 Dentist agree.

    3. That’s Nobel Peace Laureate, pacifist candidate to you , sir!

  3. We need to fight the war there so that we do not have to fight it here. Forever.

    1. +1 William Mandella

  4. So what’s the substantive difference between this country’s drone program and what we call “terrorism”? Serious question.

    1. Some people deserve to be terrified. Duh.

    2. WE’RE doing the one, and THEY’RE doing the other.

    3. So what’s the substantive difference between this country’s drone program and what we call “terrorism”? Serious question.

      To win a war you must be willing to kill the enemy, regardless of the ramifications. That often means you become your enemy (match his will).

      Clausewitz said, and I’m paraphrasing, you will not be successful fighting a limited war against an enemy who is willing to wage total war. Based upon the last 60+ years of waging limited wars, I’d say he’s, by and large, correct in that assessment.

      This is why you don’t go to war unless it’s an absolute last resort, your way of life is on the line, you have an achievable objective, you have a “workable” plan to kill the enemy and you have an exit strategy.

      If you don’t have the will to fight a total war, you probably shouldn’t be fighting. This was a take away from Vietnam, and we are right back to violating that tenet.

      War is immoral. ALWAYS. You are killing without due process of law. If you don’t have the will to do that, don’t go to war. War is sometimes, however, the only option. Americans and their politicians need to think that through and make that call BEFORE pulling the trigger. As of late, war has been placed in the top of the tool box instead of the bottom, and little thought has been given to the repercussions of doing so.

      My $0.02

      1. Clausewitz said, and I’m paraphrasing, you will not be successful fighting a limited war against an enemy who is willing to wage total war.

        I think you may mean van Creveld in his commentary on Clausewitz.

        1. I was reading some this morning about Freeman Dyson. There was a bit about him agreeing with the bombing of Nagasaki due to the belief that if you’re going to commit to bombing cities then you might as well be about it effectively so that you can be done with it. I just can’t for the life of me remember who he was agreeing with.

          1. Hiroshima, not Nagasaki. And it was Henry Stimson he was agreeing with.

        2. I don’t claim to be a military historian. Just remembering my PME from 10-20 years ago.

          I did find this, however, which goes to my point:

          Clausewitz states that “…it follows that he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to bloodshed involved, must obtain a superiority if his adversary uses less vigour in [the] application [of force]”

          1. The Creveld/Clausewitz difference does exist primarily as a definition of warring parties. Clausewitz was wedded to the idea of nation-state as the primary actors. One of Creveld’s main points was that low intensity conflicts (as have existed since WW2) have almost always involved non-nation state actors. As such, the rules of war have changed and Western nations have to resolve the resulting ethical/political quandaries when fighting a native insurgent force. It usually results in failure.

            I’m winging it here since it’s been a while since I read it, so don’t berate me too hard if I misrepresent his argument by a little.

            1. As such, the rules of war have changed and Western nations have to resolve the resulting ethical/political quandaries when fighting a native insurgent force. It usually results in failure.

              Which is why terrorism is such an effective warfighting tool. It has no rules.

              A poorly armed foe can achieve its political ends against a heavily armed force simply because the heavily armed force chooses to constrain itself.

              It’s a hard problem.

      2. As of late, war has been placed in the top of the tool box instead of the bottom, and little thought has been given to the repercussions of doing so.

        Because the repurcussions for the average American have been next to none. How many Americans actually no one someone that suffered because of the U.S.’s recent war adventures? And the financial burden is hidden through debt financing.

        1. I should think that number would be pretty high. I personally know like, five people who went to the sandbox.

          1. I know a few people that were deployed but none that were injured or killed. I’m not even aware of anyone that those people know who were injured or killed (though one would think there are at least some).

            It depends on what circles you run in to be sure, but I don’t think I’m that much of an outlier.

            1. Guy I hunt with lost his son.

              But the point is valid.

          2. My older brother earned a Purple Heart in Afghainstan last year. It does put a different gloss on war when it comes home like that.

        2. We’re certainly not in rationing mode like it we were during WW2.

          We’re conducting wars on multiple fronts while stocking up on flat panel TVs and iPhones.

        3. Because the repurcussions for the average American have been next to none.

          Oddly, technology is probably somewhat to blame. The precision munitions credited with allowing you to kill the enemy without putting your guys in harm’s way have created the unintended consequence of making the citizenry apathetic to the carnage.

          Americans coming home in body bags was a strong motivator for quickly finishing/ending wars. Nobody’s dying and nobody’s paying (except our kids). Why not let it drone (pun intended) on?

          1. More than just apathetic, the war has created jobs and will continue to create jobs until the money runs out.

          2. I’d say it’s the technological disparity. A war with China would probably be far more costly.

            Also the lack of conscription. That’s a good thing but it does have the consequence of distancing a lot of people from the war.

        4. You have a higher percentage of the adult, working-age population, out of the workforce than at any time in memory.

          The overall economy, notwithstanding Leviathan’s lies, faux optimism, new shiny technologies, and the idiotic notion that everything is better today than it was yesterday, is in the crapper.

          You have hundreds of trillions of dollars in unfunded social welfare programs.

          You have trillions of dollars in unfunded public sector retirement obligations.

          You have twenty trillion dollars in public, above the table, debt.

          You have god know how many trillions in off-budget debt.

          You live in an electronic police state.

          You live in a papers please society.

          You live in a licensed, regulated society.

          The vast majority of Americans have saved little, if anything, for their golden years.

          Look at all of the wealth that has been, and continues to be, confiscated and squandered upon unproductive types, particularly all the losers in the military-industrial-prison building and administration sectors.

          More people are incarcerated in the US than anywhere else.

          You don’t think people are feeling it?

          1. No, I don’t think most people are feeling it.

            The bill hasn’t yet come due on those debts. The police *could* ask for papers, they *could* spy on people and blackmail them or label them enemies of the state. But for the average American that all remains an abstract possibility, if they are even aware of it in the first place. And when stories get out about these abuses of power, most people can write them off as isolated incidents, a few bad apples, having the wrong people in place, etc.

            It’s not so much that people are sheep or just don’t care. They just have lives to live and they aren’t being directly impacted by this, so their attention goes elsewhere. It’s understandable, but it also opens the door for disaster.

            1. Not only “could” but do.

              It is not an abstract possibility because it happens every single day to hundreds, if not thousands, of “average” Americans.

              The it to which I refer include, but are not limited to, the following:

              (1) Being pulled over by a cop;

              (2) Being assaulted by a cop;

              (3) The 300 to 400 SWAT raids conducted each and every day;

              (4) The botched (wrong house, wrong person, wrong town, etc.) SWAT raids that occur every day;

              (5) The thousands of drug arrests that occur each and every day;

              (6) The increasing amount of time people must spend to negotiate through the day in order to comply with government edicts and regulations.

              Don’t be so na?ve.

              1. Did you read my comment? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m saying that most people don’t experience them directly and are unaware of how often they occur. So it is an abstract possibility to most people.

        5. Myself, husband & two son-in-laws with multiple deployments with friends killed or injured. There is a price to pay for the Commander-in-Chief adventures.

      3. Francisco, that is spot on.

        One inevitable quibble:

        War is not always immoral. The side that was attacked, and fights the war defensively, is acting morally in fighting. There are probably tactics that should not be used on moral grounds (and we can debate that), but saying that war is always immoral means that it is immoral to resist an invader at all, because war requires both an invader and a defender.

        If you say that it is immoral to resist aggression, you have to be a pacifist, and frankly, I find that level of pacificism to be pretty immoral, itself.

        1. War is not always immoral.

          I beg to differ. At least when you drill down to the individual level (the libertarian level?). In the case of two nation states, they guy you are killing on the front lines has likely done nothing (personally) to infringe on the rights of others and I am most certainly going to kill him (and likely some innocents around him) without any due process whatsoever. I think that’s immoral. It’s also, sometimes necessary to defend yourself, others, property…

          You might call that self defense at the personal level, but I’m also perfectly justified in killing the guy who feeds him, the guy who pays him, the guy who builds his rifle and even they guy who makes the ball bearings for his truck. None of these people are aggressing against me directly.

          War is the most horrible thing humans do and it should be an absolute last resort because of that.

          I don’t disagree that under certain circumstances, pacifism is also immoral.

          1. Yes, pacifism is immoral insofar as it applies to those who will not assist in the eviction of statists from this earth.

          2. The collective nature of war creates some real philosophical problems for individuality-based morality, no doubt.

            War is the most horrible thing humans do

            Actually, I’m not sure I agree with this, if we are defining “war” as armed conflict between nation-states. I think greater crimes are/can be committed by nation-states against their own citizens.

            And, again, I do not believe that those fighting a defensive war are necessarily acting immorally. So to say that war (including fighting a defensive war) is the the most horrible thing, etc. is being too simplistic.

      4. So, based on your point, would you have killed Bin Laden or arrested him? I mean, I get your point, I think, but sometimes, a precision strike is an effective tool. I largely agree with your main point, if you’re going to go to war, then go all in and kick ass, then exit when your enemy is destroyed. At some point though, it would be useful to exit with terms both sides can move ahead with. Whacking Saddam, or Mad Moe Qaddafi might be satisfying, but the end result isn’t much better. Doing the same to Syria’s current despot would likely have the same result. The end result seems to also almost never match up with our idea of how it was going to work out. People having free will is a really tough variable to predict outcomes with. As an observer, it seems to me that watching the Middle East from the bleachers is the best strategy in general. They seem to prefer killing each other to most other activities. Or at least a significant portion of them do.

        1. As far as I can tell, there’s not much of an enemy army to destroy. It’s a cultural movement, and destroying cultural movements is nigh impossible without extreme totalitarian measures that modern Western nations are not willing to take.

          1. Western nations already impose extreme totalitarian measures upon their own peoples.

            1. Yes, but that is their own people, NOT the glorified “Other.”

        2. So, based on your point, would you have killed Bin Laden or arrested him?

          Oh, I’d have killed the fucker. We were absolutely justified, after 911, in killing every single mutherfucker that had anything to do with it.

          Where we went wrong (as usual) was attempting to do that which is impossible, i.e. rid the world of terrorism. It’s an impossible task, and killing bad guys as well as the innocents standing beside them just creates more bad guys. It’s a self licking ice cream cone.

          The only way the military can end terrorism in the ME is to take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. But who has that kind of political will?

          1. I agree, and I think the “tough decision” to kill Bin Laden wasn’t tough at all. And I have also from time to time considered the “nuke them from orbit” idea as a solution. When my more pragmatic side comes back, I see that would be similar to nuking Chicago because they have a gang problem. Sounds good until you really think about it. But still, I get the emotion. So, my stance remains, watch from the sidelines as they kill each other, and smoke anyone who messes with the USA. Middle Eastern politics is not a problem for America to solve. It’s a problem for those in the Middle East.

            1. What about smoking the USA for all of its war crimes and its totalitarian practices?

    4. The cost of drone-bomber terrorism is many orders of magnitude more than suicide-bomber terrorism.

      The former creates numerous opportunities for crony crapitalists, is conducted in secret, and requires no ideological commitment.

      The latter satisfies the short-term need for revenge and advances a long-term strategy of bankrupting one’s enemies. However, it must be publicized to be effective and requires the ultimate in ideological or religious commitment.

    5. So what’s the substantive difference between this country’s drone program and what we call “terrorism”? Serious question.

      Terrorists are usually accused of intentionally targeting civilians. The accusation here is that the U.S. is trying to target militants and just doesn’t care about the collateral damage or fuck ups.

      So I guess the difference is in intentions and appearances.

      1. One would be taking serious leave of his senses to buy the American propaganda that it does not deliberately target civilians.

        There is a reason why we gringos are so hated around the world and it is not “because of our freedoms.”

        1. Yes, they actually hate us because of our haircuts.

          The American Haircut
          In summary, anything that requires a touch of elegance is not for the American, even haircuts! For there was not one instance in which I had a haircut there when I did not return home to even with my own hands what the barber had wrought, and fix what the barber had ruined with his awful taste.

          Sayyid Qutb, Amrika allati Ra’aytu (The America I Have Seen), 1951

        2. One would be taking serious leave of his senses to buy the American propaganda that it does not deliberately target civilians.

          You really are an ignorant moron.

          1. I don’t see how you can argue against that unless you have evidence that Anwar al-Awlaki, at any time in his life, took up arms. He may have been a treasonous propagandist, but we just didn’t cap Tokyo Rose in the head either.

            1. Fair enough. That was an individual (and in my estimation, completely wrong) policy decision. I don’t think that’s what shithead was driving at, however.

              The US military does NOT, as a matter of course, deliberately target civilians (noncombatants).

              1. Yes, they do. Stop being an ignorant flag waving slave.

                1. Do you have any, I don’t know, actual evidence of that?

                  Cause I’m inclined to go with Francisco on this one.

                  1. Why are you inclined to go with Frank?

                    Well, let’s start with what happened a couple of weeks ago. The death toll continues to climb. There is no evidence that has been adduced exonerating the US government for perpetrating the war crime. Pentagon dismissals do not count as evidence.

                    How about the February 13, 1991 purposeful targeting of an air raid shelter which was located close to the Baghdad airport? The feds hit the shelter with 2,000 pound laser guided bombs with over 400 deaths of Iraqi civilians resulting.

                    How about the January 21, 1991 bombing of the Abu Ghraib Infant Formula Production Plant? Of course, US officials, including that career parasite, Colin Powell, claimed that it was a chemical weapons facility and it was later proven that such rubbish was pure propaganda.

                    How about the August 20, 1998 cruise missile hit on the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan? President Clinton and military scum claimed that the factory was linked to Bin Laden and Al Quaeda. Neither the Clinton administration nor any other US government agency was able to produce any evidence to support the their claims.

                    Don’t be so blind.

                    1. There’s his incontrovertible PROOF that the US DELIBERATELY targets civilians.

                      What are you, 15?

                      MIIIIKE…

                      Mom says to take off your tinfoil hat and come upstairs to dinner.

                    2. Why are you so blind?

                      Do you want more?

                      How about the April 12, 1999 targeting of a train in Grdelica, Serbia?

                      How about the April 23, 1999 NATO bombing of a Serbian television station that resulted in the deaths of 16 people? President Clinton said that the military peeps advised him that the station was tied to Milosevic – which neither the US nor NATO ever proved. Richard Holbrooke said that the bombing was a positive development. Amnesty International later concluded that it was a deliberate attack on civilians and therefore constituted a war crime.

                      How about the October 16, 2001 US attack on the complex housing the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Kabul? The US claimed it was a mistake. The Red Cross and the US military subsequently engaged in discussions wherein the Red Cross gave the military scum regarding the exact locations of all Red Cross camps and facilities. Not two weeks later the US bombs the same complex.

                      Frank, stop being such a slaver.

                    3. Those are all incidents. They say nothing about intent. They could stem from bad intelligence, operational errors, a decision that the risk of collateral damage were low enough to justify the decision to go after a target. And yes, a deliberate decision to attack civilians out of pure malice.

                      You have provided no evidence to support the latter possibility.

                    4. There are literally thousands of such incidents that have occurred throughout the history of the United States military.

                      The incidents that I have listed do say something about intent. If you fire the weapon, you intended to kill. Bad intelligence, operational errors, and decisions that the risk of collateral damage was low enough to justify the firing of the weapon do not thereby take relieve the actor of intent.

                      And it happens over and over and over.

                      The burden is upon the US to prove that it did not deliberately kill civilians. If the civilians were killed, that is enough to carry the day as there is no grant of power given to the united states government to wage war in foreign lands against civilians.

                    5. Lynchpin, don’t be such a blind slaver.

                      Aren’t you aware of the history of the mass murdering ways of the united states military?

                    6. don’t be such a blind slaver

                      Hey Libertymike.

                    7. No one is questioning the intent to kill. We are questioning whether the intended targets were civilians. Do you really not get that or see a distinction?

                      I’m all for greater accountability. Practically speaking, that’s going to be damn difficult, but it would be great to actually hold some feet to fire.

                      But you still have not provided one shred of evidence that these attacks were launched with the goal of killing civilians.

                      Why do you even think that would be a goal? Do you honestly think that military leadership is so depraved that they just bomb hospitals for shits and giggles? Because that seems to be what you’re accusing them of.

                    8. One of the reasons one can cite in support of the proposition that the strikes were launched with the goal of killing civilians is the propensity with which such incidents have occurred.

                      If the strike was made with civilian deaths resulting, that is ample evidence that the strikes were deliberately made with the goal of killing civilians. Res ipsa loquitur.

                      Moreover, there have been many people and organizations that have concluded that the strikes were designed to kill civilians.

                      The goal of killing civilians has been a hallmark of total war and there has been no better or bigger exemplar of that than the US since Lincoln.

                      Yes, US military leadership is, by definition, morally depraved.

              2. Sure, that’s what the CIA’s parallel murderbot program is for.

          2. Hey, this place is for friends of liberty, not slaves, slaver.

            1. My post is not directed at you, HM, but at Frank who would appear to get weepy at fly-overs.

    6. We wear uniforms.

  5. I have not read The Intercept stories yet, but I hope they start to bring more focus on JSOC, which has grown immensely since 9/11, and has little to no oversight because of the secrecy of its missions. From an interview with an author who recently wrote a book about the organization:

    “Now that it is the lead element in the campaign against Islamist terrorism, I think it’s unreasonable to ask for the same level of secrecy that special mission units may have enjoyed in the early 1980s. I think it’s unreasonable and impractical given the information age in which we’re now living,” Naylor says.

    “You don’t get to have your cake and eat it. You can’t say, ‘we’re going to be the most secret organization in the military but we’re going to be the lead effort in the war.’ Those two things don’t go together.”

    “JSOC is waging a war with the American people’s money, with the American people’s sons and daughters, in the American people’s name. I think the American people have a right to know about that.”

    1. I’ve read about half and it does highlight JSOC fairly well.

      1. Good. The CIA and JSOC working together to fight John Brennan’s secret war should be receiving a lot of attention.

  6. The whole drone effort seems rather pointless to me. How has it actually improved the situation?

    I think it does more damage to the idea of war being a necessary evil in the public mind than anything else. It’s right in there with using military troops for humanitarian efforts.

    1. The whole drone effort seems rather pointless to me. How has it actually improved the situation?

      It has increased funding for the military.

      To coin a phrase, mission accomplished.

      1. It has increased funding for the military.

        No it hasn’t.

        The whole point of drones is that they’re cheap.

        1. Money is fungible. Yes, drones are cheaper than a jet. If a drone can bomb X for 500gp, and a jet can do it for 1,000gp, than using a drone increases funds by the difference. It is, essentially, an increase in funding.

          1. In the short term. In the long term, drones will replace the jets, and the existing jets will last longer than they otherwise would if used for similar purposes.

            (But no, the spending never goes down.)

  7. Uh, he’s not a whistleblower unless he reports any transgressions to his supervisor who already knew about them or his representative in Congress who doesn’t want to know about them.

  8. Sounds like whistleblowers have learned their lesson from Snowden. Do not put your name to the story. It doesn’t matter how big or bad the information you release is, you will either spend the rest of your life in jail or you will never set foot on American soil again.

    1. Snowden allowed his name in the story because understood that, once it broke, there was no way that the US intelligence services would not identify him as the source.

  9. This should be a big story, but it won’t be.

    It also highlights the need for someone like Rand Paul and the tragedy (strong word, but I’ll use it) of his ineffectiveness as a candidate thus far.

    1. Trump took his niche as the NON business as usual candidate and he can only wait for Trump to implode.

      1. No, Rand simply began presenting himself as statist establishmentarian and then lost all support.

        1. Maybe.

          I think the plan was to give a little toward the Republican base to soften the onslaught he’d give the establishment candidates for their complete and utter failures over the last 30 years. But he tripped on Trump. If he went with plan A he’d look like he was copying the Donald.

          Trump is correct in his disdain for the establishment. Unfortunately, he’s wrong on almost every issue he espouses.

          Just a theory.

  10. Well. That’s pretty goddamn horrible.

  11. Meh – can’t even come up with any snark for this. Just terrible.

    I’m not sure how the “anti-war” left (people like my mother) can reconcile their support for Obama with information like this. But I’m sure they will find a way.

    1. They already have: First. Black. President.

      It brings me no joy to say this, but this narrative has been inevitable. They cannot criticize him for about ANYTHING withou (demonstrably justifiable) fear of being called racist. That is the problem

      We wait this out for the remaining months of his presidency and try to pick up the pieces afterwards. And we have to be careful to criticize the policy, not the person. Ugh.

      1. We wait this out for the remaining months of his presidency and try to pick up the pieces afterwards.

        At which point we’ll all be sexists for trying to smear the First. Female. President.

        I can already picture word-for-word the articles about how the people trying to make an issue out of President Hillary’s drone campaigns are just covering for their inability to accept a woman as commander-in-chief, etc, etc.

        Obama’s administration–on many issues but especially on this one–has so thoroughly and egregiously betrayed the principles their party claims to stand for, that Democrats, whether they were conscious of it or not, had to choose between liberalism and identity politics as their highest ideal. We all know what they chose.

      2. Yes in the sense that there are such people who think as you describe.

        No in the sense that just because you are black, you are not thereby immune from criticism.

        No in the sense that if you have been a beneficiary because of your blackness, you are not thereby immune from being called out as a racist piece of shit.

        No in the sense that you are not special because you are black.

        No in the sense that black is not necessarily beautiful.

      3. How do they get away with criticizing (and saying pretty outrageously racist things about) Ben Carson, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, or Condoleezza Rice?

        Something must trump racism in the hierarchy..

  12. “anti-war” left

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  13. The most disturbing part is the government is able to find Americans willing to do this kind of stuff. I hate to admit it because he’s a total douche himself but Ward Churchill was right with his ” little Eichmanns” comment.

    1. If Ward Churchill is a total douche, what was FBI snitch, deficit building, commie loving Ronnie Ray-gun?

      1. A convincing liar?

      2. Why would you think my comment was an endorsement of Reagan? That’s a really weird leap of logic to make.

    2. The government has been easily able to find Americans willing to kill other Americans for victimless crimes. Finding Americans to kill foreigners is somehow less disturbing to me.

      1. It may be less disturbing to you but such thinking only serves to reinforce and support the thinking that makes it easy to find Americans to kill other Americans.

        Its not like it is unrelated.

        Ultimately, where is your loyalty? To American or to liberty? It is a binary question. That is reality and to the extent one tries to fudge it by claiming it is not an either / or proposition, one is just deluding oneself.

    3. Ward Churchill was right with his ” little Eichmanns” comment.

      Oh, the one where he compared the people killed in the Twin Towers with Nazi officials?

      Fuck you, then. And fuck Ward Churchill.

      1. R C, where is your outrage with respect to the millions of civilians that the United States government has bombed, burned, caged, expatriated, murdered, and raped?

        Do you have any incontrovertible proof that 9-11 was just as the government claims it to be? Show me.

        1. You should shut the fuck up. War is not a clean business. We ALL get dirty from it. OUR government has been engaged for 14 years in protecting OUR interests. It is OUR responsibility to have the government respond to OUR will.

          1. Okay slaver.

        2. I’m not arguing about whether the US is a murderous regime on the same moral plane as the Nazis.

          I’m saying that, to defend the Churchill quote, you’re going to need to show me how the people working in the Twin Towers were directly and intentionally supporting the murderous regime, on the same footing as Eichmann supported his murderous regime. Show me that the Twin Towers workers were major architects of the US holocaust, and we can talk.

      2. Fuck you, fascist.

        1. Show me how the people working in the Twin Towers were directly and intentionally supporting the murderous US regime, on the same footing as Eichmann supported his murderous regime.

          Otto Adolf Eichmann was a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannf?hrer (lieutenant colonel) and one of the major organisers of the Holocaust. Eichmann was charged by SS-Obergruppenf?hrer (general/lieutenant general) Reinhard Heydrich with facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Eichmann

        2. IceTrey:

          I was out of bounds with the “Fuck you.” I stand by my “Fuck Churchill”, though, and I think drawing a moral equivalence between an active, powerful, and involved Nazi, and the waiters at Windows on the World restaurant, is morally repellent.

  14. I read the article and didn’t see anything that surprised me. Intelligence has not ever been nor will it ever be 100% accurate. And even if the intelligence was 100% accurate, it is next to impossible to kill (and confirm the kill) of just one person.

    That is a different question whether it is wise to try and do what we are doing. Once we made that decision, then this is what happens.

  15. Not that I’d EVER defend anything Obama did, BUT, one thing I would point out to keep it all in perspective: how many “innocent bystanders” would they be taking out if they were using B-52’s and JDAM’s to target the houses of suspected terrorists or just areas they are supposedly operating out of … I suspect the body count would be WAYYYYY higher than 200 – maybe higher on every bombing run.

    We’ve forgotten how wars were fought up until just recently – wars fought rightly or wrongly – the slaughter was orders of magnitude higher.

  16. Sgt. Chip had to deal with drones…

    http://will.tip.dhappy.org/blog/Compression Trees/…/book/by/Bradley Denton/Sergeant Chip/Bradley Denton – Sergeant Chip.html

  17. Two points:

    First, a “whistleblower” under the law follows specific procedures that offer specific legal protections. Anonymously delivering classified documents to reporters does not fit the legal requirements, and exposes the person who does so to prosecution under various laws.

    Second, the “revelations” probably reveal essentially nothing that was not already known widely, if not publicly. Certainly everything mentioned in this article is at least three months old. The fact is that drones almost certainly are more accurate, and kill fewer innocents, than other available alternatives like high altitude bombing or firing rockets from fighter-bombers, both of which may well be cheaper than the drone system.

    The real issue is whether to conduct war at all, not the specific methods by which it is conducted.

  18. Hamstringing our soldiers with all these laws is why we will not win anything in the middle east, and why the Russians will be more successful in Syria because they just don’t give a shit. We’d be better off using the drones to target lawyers.

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