Monday, April 13, 2009

Busy Bees

I know, I know. I'm a big sissy leftist with a bleeding heart for people living in their homes who happen to get blown to bits and maimed by robotic drones firing missiles at those elusive "high value" targets. And so of course I just swallowed it hook, line and sinker when I saw the Pakistani News report that - according to Pakistani authorities - US drone attacks since January 2006 have killed 14 al-Qaeda leaders and 687 civilians. Dang! 687 to 14. Last time I did my maths that came to 49 civilians killed for every al-Qaeda operative killed.

Call me silly, but I could swear NPR never mentioned such a sloppy killing weapon. In fact I remember Mary Louise Kelly getting all gooey for The Reaper drone back in April of 2007 when she asserted that it would be just dandy "if you don’t want to level a whole building, but just take out - say - a single sniper sitting in a third story window." And in December 2008 Tom Bowman went weak in the knees for the glorious Reaper, going as far as having a real, live Air Force colonel tell us that the Reaper is so precise that from five miles away it can "pick out what color clothes you're wearing."

So given how much NPR just luvs them some drones, let's just see if we can find any coverage of this Pakistani report. I'll just search "687 civilians" on NPR's site. Well what do you know - NOTHING. I guess in NPRworld there's only good drones and better drones.


Anonymous said...

"...the Reaper is so precise that from five miles away it can "pick out what color clothes you're wearing."

of course, these drones are only as smart as the person controlling them ....and given the ratio of civilians killed to 'al Qaida" killed, I'd have to say that "ain't too smart" in most cases.

I remember back a few years ago, they reported a drone targeting a guy wearing a turban because they thought he was bin Laden.

let's see. A guy ...wearing a Afghanistan...or Pakistan.

Clearly, that's just gotta be bin Laden. Who else could it be?

it's really hard to say who the real drones are: the robotic planes or the nitwits doing the targeting.

but then again, you have to remember, these are the people who could not get a job in the real world because they lacked the intelligence and competence.

Anonymous said...

..oh, and I forgot to mention one "critical" item about that guy wearing the turban: he was "tall'

..and as we all know, there are no tall people with turbans in those countries. ONLY bin laden meets those criteria. "Obliterate him, Danno!"

The "funniest" part was that they actually reported the targeting rationale.

Anonymous said...

And then there's this gem:

There have been more than 35 suspected U.S. missile strikes against Islamist militant sites inside Pakistan since August. At least 130 civilians have been killed so far — and that's a conservative estimate.

The majority of those killed are believed to be militants, says Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution's Foreign Policy Studies program. Cohen says with good intelligence, the drones are accurate."What they do is allow any country that possesses them to pinpoint a target without much collateral damage to specific sites," he says.

gopol said...

I imagine it's possible all the rolls are compartmentalized to where no one person actually pulls the trigger. There trigger puller preparations analyst all the way to trigger approval auditor, all sworn to never, ever reveal anything of what actually happened, or what little part they know. It's a helpless killing machine approaching perpetual automation.

WarOnWarOff said...

Guess those high school dropouts they recruit because of their computer gaming skills ain't such hotshots after all, huh?

Anonymous said...

Though I'm sure they have a "chain of denial" that prevents any "outsider"'s knowing just who pulled the trigger, there IS almost certainly one person directing the drone and actually "pulling the trigger." (though I would expect that they probably have multiple people looking at the photographs transmitted by the plane and actually making the DECISION/COMMAND to "pull the trigger")

These planes are not automatons -- though one can make a pretty good argument that the people directing them are.

Anonymous said...

The purpose of these drones is NOt to take out members of al qaida.

If it were -- and it could be done reliably (ie, without the involvment of high school dropouts and other nitwits making the targeting decisions), I'd be all for it.

But the real purpose is to make the population feel that "no one is safe".
To "inspire" them to reveal the terrorists within their midst.

The drones appear to have succeeded in their purpose to instill fear in (ie, terrorize) the local populations.

See article below.

Published on Sunday, April 5, 2009 by The Sunday Times (UK)
Thousands Flee Bomb Attacks by US Drones

by Daud Khattakin and Christina Lamb

AMERICAN drone attacks on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are causing a massive humanitarian emergency, Pakistani officials claimed after a new attack yesterday killed 13 people.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the use of drones to terrorize local populations is entirely analogous to the use of cluster munitions in places like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lebanon, Falluja etc.

"Historical usage of cluster munitions: a weapon to terrorize civilian populations"It is a known fact that a fairly high percentage do not detonate until long after the initial drop.

That is no accident (or if it is, it is a rather convenient one)

Anonymous said...

Another (or several other) take on the drone attacks.

it looks like al qaida is not the primary reason behind the attacks, surprise.