Sunday, February 10, 2013

@SenAngusKing, Are Drones "Creepy" Or "Humane"?

Candidate Angus King already heard from CODEPINK associate Mark Roman last July 4th in Bath, Maine. Mark asked Angus, "If you are elected will you help to bring our war dollars home to fund human needs like education and health care?" and Angus answered, "It sounds like a good idea."
Our U.S. Senators have been coining some interesting terms this week as they consider whether to make torture apologist and drone czar John Brennan head of the "CIA death squad." That's what Medea Benjamin called our national intelligence gathering agency in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! citing the thousands killed or maimed and the multiple thousands terrorized by living with the possibility of death-by-robot hovering noisily overhead.

Medea was one of the eight "CODEPINK Associates" whom Senate Intelligence Committee chair Diane Feinstein called out and finally kicked out for staging a sequence of disruptions. They were arrested for loudly calling on the committee -- which allegedly represents the interests of U.S. citizens -- to reject Brennan on the basis that he has been responsible for the deaths of so many innocents, including numerous children in various parts of the world. They repeatedly interrupted Brennan's recitation of his own family members ("my 91 year-old mother" and so on) to present lists of children killed by drones under his regime. Feinstein finally stopped the proceedings and cleared the room.

You can call Feinstein's office and let her know you want her to ask Capitol police to drop the charges against these citizens for exercising their 1st Amendment right to free speech: 202-224-3841.

A network news correspondent covering the hearing tweeted:
Which term did one of the two Maine senators on the Intelligence committee coin? Angus got right on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show to parade a feeble understanding of U.S. imperial history and make that claim that drones are "a more humane weapon" and "a lot more civilized," though he didn't offer much support for this claim beyond positing that they are not like firebombing entire cities. Here's the entire quote:
To be honest, I believe that drones are a lot more civilized than what we used to do. You know, when Sherman shelled Atlanta or when the Allies firebombed Dresden in World War II, it was all collateral damage. It was virtually all civilians. And that's the way -- that was the way of war until very recently. 
The drone, although there is some collateral damage, basically is a very smart artillery shell. And we've been shooting artillery shells over miles and iles for many years and hoping they hit the right target. I think there's just something creepy about drones that they can be controlled and people are uneasy about it. But if you put it in a context of 1,000 years of war, I think it's actually a more humane weapon because it can be targeted to specific enemies and specific people. (Source where you can see the entire clip: The Daily Caller.)
I think the unspoken reasons he and other deluded imperialists think drones are humane is that they don't put the warriors for our side at risk. This retreat to remote control killing would have been seen as cowardly by most soldiers in times gone by. And in fact until the U.S. got into the show of deadly force game, warfare mostly resulted in the death of warriors. Angus apparently needs to do some homework. He might start by reading scholarly studies like the NYU and Stanford Law School report "Living Under Drones" which documents extensive civilian deaths and civilian terror in the border region of Pakistan near Afghanistan. He also might want to extend his understanding of the word "history" back to, say, 1,000 years ago -- rather than myopically limiting it to the relatively brief, very bloody few hundred years reign of the U.S.

I also think that Angus asked a few pointed questions (with no follow-up, causing Wired for War author Jeremy Scahill to coin yet another term when he dubbed this display "Kabuki oversight") and suggested a "secret court like the intelligence court that has already been set up" to review the president's kill list because Angus is a newbie in the Senate and hopes to make a name for himself at the national level. Also, he has a lot of progressive constituents in Maine and it's important to fool some of the people some of the time. He's counting on them caring as much as he does about the distinction between targeting a U.S. citizen under the Fifth Amendment, and about the check the Senate is supposed to exercise over a policy he described as "whatever the executive decides is ok" which he says he thinks is a problem.
Source: Excellent article by Nicola Abé "Dreams In Infrared: The Woes Of An American Drone Operator".                Photo credit: Gilles Mingasson / DER SPIEGEL
If a sniper can sell a lot of books bragging about all the people he has personally killed because "I'm not over there looking at these people as people" will a joystick operator soon be writing his memoir about how tough he is for sitting in an air conditioned trailer in the Nevada desert sending hellfire missiles down on little children and grandparents in Yemen?

All of this is progress in the sense that mainstream media have now discovered the killer drones story and the general public is now hearing dissenting voices. Unfortunately almost no one asked the questions Medea, who last year authored the book Drone Warfare: Killing By Remote Control, posed in her article on Common Dreams last week.

Here are the questions I am going to ask Angus as soon as we get to meet with him again:

What is the profit motive for Maine weapons manufacturers if the CIA and the Pentagon continue buying and using drones?
Source: Glenn Greenwald writing in The GuardianTariq Aziz (centre, second row) attending a meeting about drones strikes in Waziristan, held in Islamabad, Pakistan oin 28 October 2011. Three days later, the 16 year old was reported killed by a drone-launched missile. Photograph: Pratap Chatterjee/BIJ
Why are drones are only used to kill people with dark skin? People in countries with large Muslim populations?

What do you think of such inhumane practices as "double tap" which targets those who go to the rescue of the humans whose bodies are crushed and burnt by drone bombings?
Source: "Drones: Instruments of State Terror" by Steven Lendman on the blog Another World Is Possible.
How could terrorizing entire civilian populations with a death machine that makes a distinctive noise and is overhead 24/7 be called "humane"? What is your definition of "humane"?

What did you think that you swore to do when you took your oath of office?

Where do you think this kind of death-dealing by the CIA, which is supposed to be a civilian organization, will lead?

How much safer are you making your constituents in Maine by supporting a program that even Gen. Stanley McChrystal admitted stirs a "visceral hatred" among victims toward the U.S. and its people?
Source: The Guardian which ran this photo with the caption,  A protest against US drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal regions. Photograph: SS MirzaAFP/Getty Images


Pat Taub said...

Another strong column which is well thought out with morally sound arguments. King and all other elected officials need to search their consciences and take on your questions.

Mark Roman said...

Full video of Codepink associates at work inside and outside the Brennan confirmation hearing: