Panetta: U.S. has to maintain open-ended drone war to prevent a terror attack on America
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February 4th, 2013
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According to United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the U.S. must indefinitely extend the drone war against al Qaeda in Pakistan and elsewhere in order to prevent a terror attack on U.S. soil.
This comes with the¬†continued expansion of the drone war in Africa, the¬†opposition to U.S. drone strikes within Pakistan itself¬†continues and¬†the U.S. still doesn‚Äôt have a drone rulebook¬†which, even when completed,¬†will not be binding on the CIA.
Panetta claims the drone program has been effective even though it has¬†involved the killing of Americans¬†with a¬†supposed legal justification which never has to be revealed.
To make matters worse for drone advocates like Panetta, the¬†long-awaited investigation into the civilian deaths¬†caused by the drone program¬†has now begun. That being said, it‚Äôs a United Nations probe so not too much can be expected.
Panetta¬†told AFP¬†that there is still a need to continue the drone strikes with no indication of any intention to even slow down the so-called targeted killing program.
‚ÄúI think it depends on the nature of the threat that we‚Äôre confronting. We are in a war,‚ÄĚ Panetta said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre in a war on terrorism and we‚Äôve been in that war since 9/11.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe whole purpose of our operations were aimed at those who attacked this country and killed 3,000 innocent people in New York as well as 200 people here at the Pentagon,‚ÄĚ Panetta said.
Panetta went on to use a contrived justification similar to that presented in 2012 when Ryan Crocker, then U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, claimed that¬†al Qaeda could plan and carry out another September 11, 2001-style attack on U.S. soil¬†if America ended the occupation.
‚ÄúI think we had a responsibility to use whatever technology we could to be able to go after those who not only conducted that attack but were planning to continue to attack this country,‚ÄĚ Panetta said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been an important part of our operations against Al-Qaeda, not just in Pakistan, but also in Yemen, in Somalia and I think it ought to continue to be a tool we ought to use where necessary,‚ÄĚ he said.
It‚Äôs quite interesting that in situations like these individuals like Panetta speak freely about the drone program but when it gets challenged in court,¬†suddenly it becomes too secret to confirm or deny.
AFP notes, ‚ÄúThe CIA drone bombing raids, by Predator and Reaper aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles, have caused an unknown number of civilian casualties and prompted accusations that Washington is carrying out extrajudicial killings in the shadows with no genuine oversight by courts or lawmakers.‚ÄĚ
These are far from mere accusations. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder simply claims that¬†the government‚Äôs secret reviews of evidence count as due process¬†when authorizing these extrajudicial killings.
Even Panetta admitted to AFP that ‚Äúthe campaign still needed to be regularly reviewed‚ÄĚ although he ‚Äúdid not say he favored turning over the spy agency‚Äôs drone war to the military.‚ÄĚ
This is especially interesting given that much of the mainstream media chooses to ignore the fact that this means the drone rulebook will not apply at all since, as Panetta clearly is showing here, the drone war is mostly conducted by the CIA.
‚ÄúHaving said that, we always need to continue to look at it, to make sure we develop the right standards, that we‚Äôre abiding by the laws of this country, that we‚Äôre doing it in a way that hopefully can be a little more transparent with the American people,‚ÄĚ Panetta said.
It‚Äôs a wonderful platitude but entirely meaningless. The simple fact is that they are not abiding by the laws of the United States and they are doing it in the most patently non-transparent way imaginable.
Panetta went on to say, according to AFP, that ‚Äú‚Äôto protect this country‚Äô it was not enough to have operations carried out openly by the military.‚ÄĚ
Yet it is engendering a deep hatred towards the U.S. in the states constantly bombarded by drones which result in¬†massive numbers of civilian deaths, estimates of which¬†vary.
The¬†‚Äúdouble tap‚ÄĚ tactic, which results in first responders and civilian rescuers being killed by a second strike on the same target, also does nothing to paint the program in a positive light.
The ‚Äúdouble tap‚ÄĚ and other techniques are clearly doing nothing to stop terrorists but instead serve to encourage a future generation with a deep hatred for the U.S.
Press TV¬†points out that major protests have been held across Pakistan in recent months and ‚ÄúYemenis have held several anti-US rallies across the country over the past months and have called on their government to cut all ties with Washington over the deadly airstrikes.‚ÄĚ
Secret killings carried out by the CIA are, according to Panetta, necessary ‚Äúwhen you got those kind of operations where, because of the nature of the country you‚Äôre in or the nature of the situation you‚Äôre dealing with, it‚Äôs got to be covert.‚ÄĚ
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the perpetual drone war is¬†the use of military drones in the United States¬†(data from which¬†are shared with law enforcement).
The¬†domestic drone boom¬†has led to¬†colleges and universities offering degrees for drone piloting, the Department of Homeland Security¬†embracing small spy drones, the opening of¬†new drone training facilities¬†and even¬†the National Guard requesting the use of a public airport for drones.
Couple that with¬†groundbreaking drone technologies,¬†facial recognition,¬†perpetual flight,¬†EMP missiles,¬†automated tracking systems,¬†unbelievably powerful cameras,¬†miniature bombs, programs¬†aimed at producing silent drones,¬†solar-powered long-distance drones, just to mention a few developments, and you have a troubling picture.
Thankfully, some¬†lawmakers are introducing legislation in an attempt to curb the trend here in the U.S.¬†but one must remain realistic about the prospects of such legislation at the federal level.
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