Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake has redeemed himself. FOG called him out in this story wherein he acted as a mouthpiece for a US general on IEDs hitting US shores. Now he's written a story about a leaked international report that accuses the US of secretly breaking its own arms embargo on Somalia, providing the local government with training and intelligence gear, and of embedding US Special Forces with Somali troops.
We honor Mr. Lake's work on this report - read his story here. For background, read Jeremy Scahill's excellent scoop on CIA black sites in Somalia, lending the lie to US government assurances that Somalia is hands-off for US military and intelligence agencies.
The US shadow war in Africa is slowly being dragged out of the darkness. Stories like this one help. Of course there are far too few reporters exposing this undeclared, and little understood war-by-any-other-name. FOG will continue to document the mission-creep code-named Africa.
Ok, it is Foreign Policy magazine, generally testosteroned to the gills, eager beaver cheerleader for any foreign policy adventure involving military intervention. That salt lick accepted, FPs latest story is written by a drone (not the usual FP human drone, but an actual UAV, unmanned aerial vehicle). With a drinking problem.
You will want to be sitting down when reading these court documents from a lawsuit filed by families of drone strike victims against CIA, SecDef, JSOC, et al.
NY Times reporter Scott Shane was recently tasked with writing a News Analysis of the morality of assassination by drone, and he careens wide, way wide, of the mark. His analysis focuses on the moral calculus of drones, specifically the killing of civilians. He rolls out former military men to support the idea that drones aren't ethically dicey, but "ethically obligatory, because of their advantages in identifying targets and striking with precision." So, you see, under this wide, leaky umbrella civilian deaths are just one small minus sign in a very long equation, ending with = 'darned good, necessary, ethical.'
In short, Shane solicits a few sharp minds to his dull purpose. Civilian deaths via drones are better than the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden? The Pakistani Army kills more civilians than we do? Israelis kill more innocents in its Hamas assassination program? These are his expert's benchmarks for US conduct in the War on Terror.
His analysis offers its own critique, "Few imagined such debates in 2000, when American security officials first began to think about arming the Predator surveillance drone." Isn't that their fucking job as intelligence officials? To consider the consequences of their actions? Perhaps they need a CIA Department of Historical Clusterfuckery. Item 1 - a little skirmish in the same country we're currently occupying wherein the US armed, trained and funded Afghan warlords, Islamic fundamentalists and jihadis, our proxy army against the Soviet Union. They didn't imagine such debates when they started arming the mujahideen. Even 911 didn't teach these motherfuckers anything.
Shane never mentions the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report that US military resumed the deplorable tactic of targeting funeral-goers and first responders to a drone strike with follow-up drone strikes. How much mental contortion is required to justify that?
Mainly though, Shane has chosen the lesser debate. The real debate we should be having, and which no political commentator will even whisper in this election season (Romney won't touch it for obvious reasons), is the consolidation of power in the executive, transformed under Obama into the imperial executive.
Without presenting evidence of any kind, without public acknowledgement or discussion, without publicly disclosing who makes the decision to assassinate, without any oversight, without officially admitting the program even exists, the President can point his finger to a name on a list, wait a few days while the drone does its business, then cross that name off the list like a carton of milk on a grocery list.
The irony of administration officials leaking that Obama himself makes the decisions on who to assassinate while officially no-commenting on the existence of the drone program speaks volumes about this President, his neocon buyin on executive power and the dangerous and radical national security team he's surrounded himself with.
These assassinations occur in countries with whom we aren't at war, against many victims who haven't committed a single crime against the US. No matter the classified legal memos, the official cover given by lackey lawyers with hard-ons for this or that political party, the sell-out of the Constitution is complete, from the lack of citizen outrage, to congressional shoulder shrugging, to lawyerly distortions of clear constitutional principles, to the abdication of the judicial branch, which has the power to halt this fiasco, to Obama himself, who has too much blood on his hands to be a Nobel anything.
Shane has previously reported on these controversies, so its strange that he parses the debate so narrowly. This story reads more like a thought experiment than analysis. Any debate of morality and drones has to include more than arithmetic, the number of civilian casualties, it need also include why US society has allowed this to happen in its name. That unanswered question will surely come back to haunt.
According to a new report by the Global Policy Forum, the UN, like the US government, has relied more and more on hired mercenaries who "have committed serious human rights abuses, killed or injured innocent civilians, engaged in financial malfeasance and committed many other breaches of the law." The report singles out the most notorious companies, including the prostitute and rendition loving mercs at DynCorp, racist Afghan warlord loving thugs at G4S, the party animals at ArmorGroup, and the resource exploiting Saracen Uganda. When the report's authors asked UN officials why they hire these human rights abusing, innocent civilian killing, financial swindling mercenaries, they basically boiled it down to they're cheap, they're available and we're desperate.
A recently declassified DoD IG Report is a masterpiece. It clears the US military of any involvement in drugging Gitmo prisoners, "We found no evidence that DoD authorized the use of mind altering drugs to facilitate interrogation," and "We did not substantiate allegations... that [detainees] had been administered mind-altering drugs for interrogation purposes while at DoD interrogation facilities." That seems so... carefully parsed.
Psychos on the other hand, and remember these are the worst of the worst and it's well known that Muslims are a little whack anyway, were treated, often against their will, forcibly, with psychoactive and psychotropic drugs. For their own protection, for their safety.
Were any prisoners given drugs for purposes of humiliation, degradation, dehumanization or because they're a step above dogs and who gives a fuck about them? Beyond the scope of this IG report. The investigation and hence the conclusions are so finely delineated that abuse, which the report does document, isn't relevant.
Prisoners were given mind-altering drugs, but not for purposes of interrogation (page 3), "certain detainees diagnosed as having serious mental health conditions and being treated with psychoactive medications on a continuing basis were interrogated while under the effects of the medication."
Some were forcibly administered IV's just before interrogations, but weren't told what it was they were getting. Medical records say it was saline, for hydration.
Page 4 - At least one prisoner was given Haldol, a very strong antipsychotic with serious side effects. It was administered forcibly.
The report goes on in its Orwellian fashion, unintentionally contradicting itself. But, DoD no doubt believes it will go a long way towards squelching pesky rumors such as this.
If you're wondering why an Inspector General report is so amateurish, so sloppy, so carefully calibrated to exonerate DoD, the Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence DoD, this woman, has zero training as an investigator. She's an accountant. Good choice.
The US is feeding the heart of darkness. When a US-trained, funded and equipped Malian army Captain staged a successful coup against the country's elected President, major US and world media ignored the elephant in the room. This despite reports that US Special Forces were in the country at the time, providing additional training and support.
The Malian army is a US proxy, trained by and funded by the US. It's all part of US military build-up in Africa generally, a plan called AFRICOM (see our previous story about AFRICOM and this excellent mini-history of US build-up).
After the coup, US military announced it was pulling out its forces; the State Department blithely signaled its disappointment and said US aid to Mali was in jeopardy. Not withheld, in jeopardy.
Now comes the kicker, a story in WaPo about the death of three US Special Forces soldiers in Mali. The official announcement was terse militarese. It seems the US did not pull out its forces after the coup, as indicated by this juicy elephant steak, "The U.S. military members were in Mali as part of an on-going engagement prior to the unrest that occurred in Mali on March 21." Note: 'the unrest,' not coup; 'on-going engagement,' not permanent military presence.
Unfortunately, the three soldiers were traveling with three Moroccan women at the time, who also died in the crash. They were, according to reports, prostitutes. The sexual mathematics, three prostitutes, three red, white and blue-blooded US soldiers, reveals a sordid vein feeding the heart of darkness.
It boils down to whether one believes in coincidence. To recap: the Malian army, funded, trained and equipped by the US, pulls off a coup, while the US military is in the country providing further training and equipment. US military announces withdrawal of forces. Three US soldiers die in a freak accident, giving the official story a blackeye and nosebleed, killing three civilians as well. I guess the US military considers them collateral damage.
Occam's Razor - How could the US military have NOT been involved in the coup?
The US expects to spend $92 million on a new Afghan Pentagon building, complete with high-tech command center. As up to 20% of US taxpayer dollars are lost in Afghanistan to waste, and up to 9% is squandered in fraud, that number should be revised sharply upward. And 86% of Afghan soldiers, soon to assume control of their country's security, are illiterate, so one wonders why a high-tech control center is necessary (hint: it's really for the US). Perhaps a new electric grid run by the Afghans themselves would make more sense in a country where one-third of the population don't have regular access to power.
US military contractors are
bribing lobbying congress to loosen export restrictions on drones. Listen to Northrop Grumman's CEO poormouthing about how silly export regulations are killing American jobs, and Grumman's bottom line is collateral damage, "Export restrictions are hurting this industry in America without making us any safer."
Obama and his advisors claim drone strikes are a "targeted, focused effort." Here are the stats, courtesy of the fine folks at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Recently, The Bureau reported that the CIA has revived its attacks on rescuers and mourners.
Here's Obama's counterterror advisor, "Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including among the civilian population... Sometimes you have to take life to save lives." We are not, technically speaking (which means a congressional declaration, or just by
imperial presidential fiat) at war with those countries our drones are bombing (Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Philippines). How is it that dropping bombs in another country isn't warfare?
Obama's newest strategy is guilt by association. Anyone in the immediate vicinity of someone targeted as a terrorist is fair game for death by Hellfire, hence not a civilian casualty. Nobel Peace prize winner.
Drones have arrived in the Philippines. And they're there to stay. US military officials say they will be increasing the size of their Philippines based drone fleet by 30 percent. The first drone strike by the US on Philippine soil killed 15 people, some civilians. The strike provoked anger throughout Philippine society, with one lawmaker calling it a violation of national sovereignty. The US called it another strike on terrorists.