“Deep within every one of us lies a natural understanding of good and evil. That is why one man can tell the truth convincingly, but it takes the entire apparatus of the state to peddle a lie, and propagate that lie to new generations.” – Gandhi
An old story becomes a new one this week with the addition of one key ingredient, a brave new whistleblower source that wants to stop an out of control monster that became a terrorist to fight terrorists, with the same callous attitude toward collateral damage. Unlike many, I am not against the use of drones, but only their misuse. And therein lies the main problem… how do you determine misuse and eliminate it?
That may seem a silly question, but it isn’t, because it has a lot of layers to it. Sure, you can have guidelines, and even rules, but in the real world, that is like a child writing out his Christmas list about what he wants. How will the rules be interpreted, and then even more problematic, the guidelines, which can be interpreted as needed to cover what you want to do?
And then how do you handle enforcement? Is it all after the fact, when the killing is done, or can the process be challenged, not only on a per case but in general? Who makes the final decision on what is correct? The answer to most of these questions has usually been “whoever is running the program”, and therein lays the age old problem.
Self-policing generally does not work. It is a recipe for abuse, and we see the results of it over and over. The current new leaker has put us in the box seats to watch the real drone show. I am not going to cover all of his disclosure details here, as a hundred other writers are doing that now. Let’s move on to why these unwarranted drone killings kept happening, and how we can stop these Frankenstein creations, born from a mother called Expedience.
There were two major revelations in the new leaker story… sort of. Yes, he confirmed that up to 90% of the drone “kills” were not the “targets”. That is not news, as we have been getting these reports for years now; the most memorable ones being the weddings blown up as mistaken terrorist gatherings. The Saudis, or I should say their US and Israeli hirelings running their targeting operations, just wiped out a huge wedding party in Yemen last week with 135 claimed dead. We have no leakers coming forward on that one yet.
But with the new story from The Intercept, their new leaker takes us deeper into the drone program’s targeting procedures and the many problems encountered. If you will all put your memory hats on and think back over the last five years, you might remember the commonly used response by Pentagon spokesmen regarding civilian drone kills, which generally would run, “We have no information confirming civilian casualties”. We heard this over and over, the same script.
Silly me, I got to thinking they might be lying. After all, they have to make mistakes, sometimes. Refusing to admit them makes one appear to be a serial liar, and a serial murderer at the same time. And there never seemed to be any outrage by the public that they were being off-handedly lied to, like children being told the tooth fairy story. As the years passed, the public grew numb to the numbers.
So we thank our new leaker for taking us into the belly of the beast to show us EXACTLY what happened — what the bastards really did, and I use that term for the first time at NEO for a good reason. To eliminate any future exposure for civilian killings, the drone teams simply converted the innocent dead to enemy combatant KIAs… and pouf… no civilian dead anymore. They can honestly say their records do not show any evidence of civilian deaths. Our leaker has brought us this silver bullet. Now what will we do with it?
What I have just described to you is a version of what is referred to in Special Ops black humor as a “double pop”. You not only murder an innocent person because he is “probably” a terrorist and it was convenient to do so, but you do even worse.
To hide your crime, you pull a version of the old street cop crime of leaving a planted weapon at the scene of an unarmed suspect you have just filled with bullet holes. You restage the murder scene to protect yourself from being charged. Welcome to the dark side of serving your country folks, or as Gordon Duff would say, “Welcome to the real world.”
The higher ups involved make it a “triple pop”, as they use the civilian innocents converted into enemy KIAs to make the program statistics look more successful to assure the funding keeps coming. There is a special place in Hell for people like this.
Why would so many people so casually go along with this horrendous continuing atrocity, not only upon the victims but on their oaths, their branch of service, their religion, and their country?
The answer is a simple and sad one… because they could. The system was set up so these dead could just be swept under the rug and that would be the end of it, which it has… up until now. Now the system has a problem. It has been exposed. It has two choices, reform and fix the problem, or hunt down and prosecute the leaker.
Our Nobel Peace Prize president has disgraced that award by prosecuting more leakers than his predecessors, including Bush (43), which is saying something. Once people get into high office, they impose on those below them an unacknowledged oath of offices which simply says that, “I will do all I can do within my power to protect my superiors from any adverse consequences, so help me God, and this oath supersedes all other previously taken (like to serve my country and defend the Constitution).”
No one admits to taking this other oath, and you know why. It’s an admission of conspiracy to obstruct justice, which is a serious federal felony, and worse, when you add up all the multiple counts. Do these people engaged in this live in fear? Not really, as I think they all have immunity due to the President signing off on each drone assassination. The lawyers knew that was the magic stay-out-of-jail card.
The fix for all of this… saving the innocent lives, stopping the conversion of normal people into cold-blooded mass killers on the public payroll, and prosecuting those brave enough to stand up to it, requires acknowledging what has to be done. My Jim Dean fix is an obvious one, but it would be fought tooth-and-nail by every institution to which it would apply.
End all internal investigations, and make outside “monitors” statutory for any program known to be prone to abuse. Any old timer in public service will tell you there is no “internal investigation” worth spit. They are a built in obstruction of justice tool, with taxpayer-funded lawyers to make sure it will fly.
Whether it is CIA, FBI, the Justice Dept. or the military, during anything but routine low end cases, they all have to be investigated by completely outside entities, insulated from the chain of command. Government can never be allowed to investigate itself. And we all know why. The little guys get burned and the big guys walk away, most all of the time.
For situations like the drone program, Gitmo, renditions, and any new rushed-through programs like the Patriot Act, War of Terror, (oh excuse me, that is supposed to be War ON Terror), etc., outside legal monitors must be present INSIDE all of these operations to ensure they are in compliance every step of the way.
This new drone leak case is a perfect vehicle for bringing this up now, with its tales of out-of-control procedures, people getting on watch lists based on “evidence” that would never be allowed anywhere under public review. The main problem reported was over-reliance on intercept Intel with no other confirmation. The Ethernet God ruled.
One example was tracking a “terror suspect” for a year, only to find out it was just his mother’s phone. A simple name misspelling or even a similarity could get you on a watch list, and then moving up the line to your appointment with death and maybe your family, too. And worst of all is a president having to make the drone kill call, not even knowing himself how many arbitrary decisions went into the process.
I get feedback that my idea is an “unrealistic approach”. And my reply is always the same… “compared to what?”… “the ongoing nightmare we have now”? That certainly is real. The body count numbers, the destroyed families, the relatives joining jihadi groups for revenge on the infidels, we know that all is real.
Or is it that we don’t have the courage to do what needs to be done? That is the challenge that this new leaker has put to us. He took the risk to give us this information to strip us of our “I never knew” defense. He is leading by example, and I hope to meet him one day to thank him personally. A strong public response is needed to protect him from those hunting him now. You know what to do.
Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.