Forecasting a future of robotic warfare in which perverted science is put at the service of its Empire, the U.S. has built 60 bases around the world for its unmanned, remotely controlled killer drone warplanes. And more bases are under construction.
“Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases…are the backbone of a new robotic way of war,” writes Nick Turse, an investigative journalist for AlterNet and TomDispatch.
The bases “are also the latest development in a long-evolving saga of American power projection abroad—in this case, remote-controlled strikes anywhere on the planet with a minimal foreign ‘footprint’ and little accountability,” Turse points out.
He notes that there may be even more than 60 bases since the Pentagon has dropped a “cloak of secrecy” over its operations. With the recent murder of American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen, the drones are now assassinating suspects in no fewer than six countries, Turse says.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post also reports the Obama Pentagon is building a constellation of secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen.
A number of the drone bases are located in the U.S., centered at Creech Air Force base outside Las Vegas, Nev., where “pilots” seated in front of computer screens can direct the unmanned drones and command them to launch a Hellfire missile on a suspect in Afghanistan, 7,500 miles away.
At Ft. Benning, Ga., a new, advanced drone is being tested that the Washington Post reports is the next step toward a future in which drones will “hunt, identify, and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans.”
In the first 10 months of his administration, President Obama vastly increased the number of drone attacks in the Middle East, assigning the CIA the role of launching them in Pakistan. It should be noted that Obama is a former CIA employee and approved an Agency drone strike during his first week in office.
The New Yorker magazine reported in its edition of October 25, 2009, that since taking office up to that time President Obama sanctioned at least 41 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan that killed between 326 and 538 people, many of them, critics say, “innocent bystanders, including children.”
In fact, the first two strikes took place on Jan. 23, the President’s third day in office and the second of these hit the wrong house, that of a pro-government tribal leader that killed his entire family, including three children, one just five years of age.
The magazine noted that when another suspect was attacked while sunning himself on his roof, the missile also demolished his house wiping out his entire family.
The killing of 25 Pakistan soldiers last week by American aircraft only reinforces the belief that U.S. intelligence agencies are not to be trusted in deciding who is the enemy any more than they could provide reliable information on whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
The drone planes, particularly those named Predator and Reaper, have become so popular in the Pentagon defense contractors can’t keep up keep up with the demand. In fact, the Pentagon plans to buy 700 new medium and large unmanned aircraft systems over the next decade, reliable sources say. What’s more, the government plans “new generations of tiny ‘nano’ drones, which can fly after their prey like a killer bee through an open window,” The New Yorker says.
Suspects targeted for killing by drones are first identified by the CIA and military intelligence agencies. Who knows what legal standards, if any, are used? Is a man a terrorist who takes up arms against troops who occupy his country? None of the suspects ever get to retain a lawyer. None of them ever see a judge or get a chance to plead to a jury.
In short, President Obama’s enemies are being assassinated with absolutely no pretense of a legal proceeding. Webster’s dictionary defines assassination as “to kill suddenly or secretively, especially to murder a politically prominent person” and also “to destroy or harm treacherously and viciously,” which describes the Pentagon-CIA attacks perfectly.
This is just one more aspect of the American empire’s mass arrests of innocent individuals who are never brought to trial. At Guantanamo, for example, some 800 prisoners have been arrested and tortured and over a ten-year period only seven have been brought to trial. That’s not a judicial system. It’s a non-judicial system. And the drone warfare campaign is also non-judicial.
At least in the Terror spawned by the French Revolution, the accused came before a sort of mob called the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal, which is more that can be said for the drone strike victims.In Paris, the accused could not hire a defense lawyer or call witnesses and the only sentence that could be passed was death. This same despicable standard is being applied in today’s drone attacks with the approval of President Obama, who has turned back the clock of international jurisprudence by 200 years.Why should future historians not refer to him as the American Robespierre?
Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based writer who formerly worked for the Chicago Daily News and wire services. Reach him at [email protected])