Snowden for drones: The Intercept publishes an expose on US drone attacks, revealed by a new leaker


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Fyi, got a typo on your title. It’s spelled Exposé not Expose.


One thing I would like to find out is how many of the people who were not the target were combatants and how many were truly innocent. The article tries to fudge on the opposite side of the EKIA stats by trying to imply that the people who weren’t the direct targets were all innocent. I would guess that the actual numbers are a lot greyer than either side is trying to make out


The documentation makes a pretty convincing case that use of drones for the assassination program does not produce great results. Assuming that this documentation is available to the people making the decisions, the obvious question is: Why continue with this program? My cynical guess is that a large number of foreign collateral deaths are preferable to putting any Americans at risk since there’s a lower chance of being held accountable domestically, but that’s just a guess and I’d like to be wrong.


The book Kill Chain does a great job of exploring and explaining the roots and systemic failure of the drone program. As it details, the US infatuation with war-at-a-distance goes back quite a ways. And despite remote warfare’s repeated failures (from Vietnam carpet-bombing to today’s drones) it is largely driven forward by ego and department power-struggles over budgets.


There was that bloke they blew up in a car with his family in the middle of a traffic jam, and some other dude was killed while using an ATM on a busy street. Both were killed with anti-tank missiles and point to a rather lax approach to avoiding “collateral damage” (citations needed).


There is a rock-solid principle of international justice that you are innocent until proven guilty. In many cases, the CIA and USG don’t know who they killed. In other cases, they know they killed women with small children.

If a state executes someone – even with the veneer of judicial legitimacy, let alone with a drone – it is incumbent upon the state to demonstrate that person’s guilt. It isn’t the victim’s family’s job to prove they didn’t deserve to die.


Maybe this new tech will help improve their numbers!
Let’s hope not, though. It’s really scary.


I dunno, in the current US judicial system things have been set up against people that you pretty much have to prove your innocence because its easy to stack the odds against you, even if there’s evidence that you’re not guilty. That can be buried. Think they care an ounce over innocent women and children? They’re numbers to be spun, not people.


Are we talking about the CIA or US Law Enforcement?


They might argue that this is not an execution, it’s a combat operation carried out in a war, so traditional legal process does not apply.

“But the military is supposed to attack enemy soldiers on the battlefield!”, one might object.

And they would probably say that in fourth generation warfare civilians can easily be combatants, so there’s no clear distinction. And furthermore in a densely networked world, almost anywhere can be considered an extension of the battlefield - even domestic territory.

“But wouldn’t that mean that in effect the military can kill anyone, anywhere, simply because they decided that the target was a combatant?”

And they would probably say yeah, pretty much.



My cynical guess: target practice.


Mostly because sending in a robot to kill targets is convenient. There is little chance of having the robot captured and tried for invading a country. There is little chance the robot will be killed and dragged through the streets for the press to use (and later make a movie about. There isn’t a risk that the pilot will have to eject and require an expensive rescue operation.

The list of ‘pluses’ is legion if you look at it from a military and political standpoint.

The only downside is the fact that it’s morally disgusting and ethically beyond the pale only matters if you have a conscience.


You left out profits from weapons sales. Other than that:


Good luck with that. Between Dubbya [shiver] and Obama’s Drone All The Things!, American standing in the world is steadily, and hopefully not dramatically, being degraded. An investigation by the US isn’t what it used to be, sadly. Pentagon investigations into the recent hospital strike, CIA’s fucking with MSF vaccination clinics*, hell, Iran-godfuckendamn-Contra…Whether seen as tainted by the political, corporate, or state security apparatus, that star don’t shine like it used to.
Some other NGO is likely to do better work in that regard, but I wouldn’t want to be the guy sending investigators anywhere near Afghanistan or the Middle East in general. Besides, they’re brown and cold and dead, and America probably lost interest at the first item on that list.

*See (thanks) @renke’s post on that little clusterfuck.


Not MSF but the worldwide effort to fight polio organised by the WHO. Polio vaccinations are mostly performed by local groups (NGOs and public organisations), financed and supported by international groups.


Yeah, I remember all that insidious shenanigans when they were trying to find bin Laden in Pakistan. Fucking fuckers.


Or it could also be that the drone makers are getting paid, and that’s far more critical than collateral deaths.


I believe I got you covered in my comment to @WTF_Pancakes