Thursday, 14 June 2012

Pakistan Drone Strike Kills 7 More; DHS Reveals Loan-a-Drone Program

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It seems that not a day passes without reports of “militants” being killed by remote control. Drones patrol Pakistan using high-powered optics to find and fire on those considered enemies by the men with the joysticks.

Early Thursday morning, for example, an American drone attack killed at least three of these suspected belligerents in northwest Pakistan, a region described by American intelligence and military officers as a “hotbed” of Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives.

Hissing through the pre-dawn silence, two missiles were fired from the drone into a market in Miranshah, the administrative headquarters of the North Waziristan agency of the tribal region of Pakistan. Miranshah is located along the banks of the Tochi River in a wide valley between the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains. It is just a few miles from the border with Afghanistan.

In an article chronicling the bombing, AFP quoted a local official of the Pakistani government: "A US drone fired two missiles on the first floor of a shop in the main market and at least three militants were killed.”

On Wednesday, sources in Peshawar confirmed the death of four “insurgents” within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA). That brings the two-day total of known dead by drone in Pakistan to seven.

As The New American has reported, the number of American drone strikes in Pakistan has increased significantly in the last 30 days and is likely to continue that crescendo in light of the failure of the two allies to reach an agreement on the end to Islamabad’s blockade of crucial mountain passes that could choke the removal of NATO forces and materiel from Afghanistan scheduled to be completed by December 2014.

Readers may recall a similar fatal drone attack earlier this month when Hellfire missiles fired from American drones killed over a dozen people at a “militant hideout” in Hesokhel, a village located in the North Waziristan region near Miranshah.

South Waziristan was abuzz with the unmanned aerial vehicles earlier this month, as well, as U.S.-controlled Predator drones launched four Hellfire missiles that killed nine men branded as militants living in a village near Wacha Dana. A statement made to CNN by a local government official confirmed the body count.

That brings the total number of suspected terrorists confirmed killed by American drones in June to about 30.

Of course, these numbers of dead by drone, as harrowing to the conscience and humiliating to the Constitution as they are, likely do not include the women, children, or other non-militants, as President Obama is known to prefer disregarding such collateral murders when counting up the bodies left behind by his beloved drone program.

"When the first missile hit the building, I heard cries for help and ran towards it, but militants stopped me at a distance. When they started rescue work, another missile hit," a local tribesman recounted to AFP after Thursday’s raid on the Miranshah marketplace.

"I eventually saw them removing three burnt bodies in a really bad shape. They were put in wooden boxes and taken away," he continued, reporting that a building near the center of the area was completely destroyed.

Citizens and foreigners alike must now recognize that the U.S. government has assumed all power over life and death and has passed law after law legalizing that usurpation. In America today, every man, woman, and child (including unborn children) is required by force of law to appeal to the ultimate arbiter of the right to life for their continuing existence. Should they at any time fail to adequately demonstrate the required level of obedience, then their life, liberty, and property may be confiscated without recourse and seemingly without remorse on the part of those carrying out the sentence.

The difference between this America and the America that existed before 9/11 and before the passage of the NDAA is that the government now believes it may begin to operate more in the open.

Earlier this year, for example, President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, admitted for the first time publicly to the extent of the use of drones in America’s War on Terror. Brennan said that the remote-control killing of suspects on foreign soil who have been charged with no crime whatsoever, is “in full accordance with the law."

Then, without apparent awareness of the macabre irony of the statement, Brennan reminded the world that the United States “respects national sovereignty and international law.”

According to a report published by The New America Foundation, American drones have killed nearly 3,000 people in Pakistan since 2004.

How long until the number of American “militants” killed by drones operating within the United States reaches that number? Given the following information from a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that sad day may not be far off.

Beginning in 2006, the U.S. Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) began purchasing (as yet) unarmed Predator drones to purportedly aid in securing America’s southern border. According to a report written by the DHS Inspector General, as of the end of 2012, CBP will have 12 of these aircraft in its arsenal with a total cost to taxpayers of nearly $200 million.

Inexplicably, the CBP took delivery of two drones in 2011 and 2012 despite the Inspector General’s statement that “CBP had not adequately planned resources needed to support its current unmanned aircraft inventory.” So, since they weren’t using the drones they already bought, why not buy more? Although that spendthrift attitude is typical of government agency budgeting, perhaps the purchase of Predators is motivated by a goal a bit more sinister than either DHS or the Obama administration is willing to admit.

These other purposes are even hinted at in the DHS report. The tasks being performed by the CBP drones extend well beyond the patrolling of the border and into many other areas, a situation described by one reporter as “mission creep.” Here is a brief catalog of some of the ways CBP is farming out its drone fleet.

CBP Predators have been used to conduct missions for the following federal and state government agencies:

U.S. Secret Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Bureau of Land Management; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Department of Defense; Texas Rangers; U.S. Forest Service; and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

With regard to ICE’s use of the CBP drone, the Inspector General’s report indicates that the aircraft “provided surveillance over a suspected smuggler’s tunnel, which yielded information that, according to an ICE representative, would have required many cars and agents to obtain.” Yes, without the loan-a-drone program, the ICE surveillance mission would have required “many cars and agents,” as well as a warrant. With a drone, the government doesn’t need no stinkin' warrant.

In a separate report issued in April by the Department of Defense, the Pentagon revealed the locations of over 100 new domestic sites that could soon serve as launch sites for military drones. 

The list of present and proposed drone bases includes 39 of the 50 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico.

It seems that despite surging international opposition to President Obama’s remote control warfare and death-by-drone program, one of the high-altitude, high-tech, snoop-and-snipe aircraft may be coming to a town near you.