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 theÂ continued expansion of the drone war in Africa, theÂ opposition to U.S. drone strikes within Pakistan itselfÂ continues andÂ the U.S. still doesnât have a drone rulebookÂ which, even when completed,Â will not be binding on the CIA.
Panetta claims the drone program has been effective even though it hasÂ involved the killing of AmericansÂ with aÂ supposed legal justification which never has to be revealed.
To make matters worse for drone advocates like Panetta, theÂ long-awaited investigation into the civilian deathsÂ caused by the drone programÂ has now begun. That being said, itâs a United Nations probe so not too much can be expected.
PanettaÂ told AFPÂ 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.
âI think it depends on the nature of the threat that weâre confronting. We are in a war,â Panetta said. âWeâre in a war on terrorism and weâve been in that war since 9/11.â
âThe 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,â 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 thatÂ al Qaeda could plan and carry out another September 11, 2001-style attack on U.S. soilÂ if America ended the occupation.
âI 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,â Panetta said.
âItâs 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,â he said.
Itâs quite interesting that in situations like these individuals like Panetta speak freely about the drone program but when it gets challenged in court,Â suddenly it becomes too secret to confirm or deny.
AFP notes, âThe 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.â
These are far from mere accusations. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder simply claims thatÂ the governmentâs secret reviews of evidence count as due processÂ when authorizing these extrajudicial killings.
Even Panetta admitted to AFP that âthe campaign still needed to be regularly reviewedâ although he âdid not say he favored turning over the spy agencyâs drone war to the military.â
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.
âHaving said that, we always need to continue to look at it, to make sure we develop the right standards, that weâre abiding by the laws of this country, that weâre doing it in a way that hopefully can be a little more transparent with the American people,â Panetta said.
Itâs 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 ââto protect this countryâ it was not enough to have operations carried out openly by the military.â
Yet it is engendering a deep hatred towards the U.S. in the states constantly bombarded by drones which result inÂ massive numbers of civilian deaths, estimates of whichÂ vary.
TheÂ âdouble tapâ 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 âdouble tapâ 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 TVÂ points out that major protests have been held across Pakistan in recent months and âYemenis 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.â
Secret killings carried out by the CIA are, according to Panetta, necessary âwhen you got those kind of operations where, because of the nature of the country youâre in or the nature of the situation youâre dealing with, itâs got to be covert.â
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the perpetual drone war isÂ the use of military drones in the United StatesÂ (data from whichÂ are shared with law enforcement).
TheÂ domestic drone boomÂ has led toÂ colleges and universities offering degrees for drone piloting, the Department of Homeland SecurityÂ embracing small spy drones, the opening ofÂ new drone training facilitiesÂ and evenÂ the National Guard requesting the use of a public airport for drones.
Couple that withÂ groundbreaking drone technologies,Â facial recognition,Â perpetual flight,Â EMP missiles,Â automated tracking systems,Â unbelievably powerful cameras,Â miniature bombs, programsÂ aimed at producing silent drones,Â solar-powered long-distance drones, just to mention a few developments, and you have a troubling picture.
Thankfully, someÂ lawmakers are introducing legislation in an attempt to curb the trend here in the U.S.Â but one must remain realistic about the prospects of such legislation at the federal level.
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