Drone On

January 8, 2013

drone-artworkOvercast and a bit on the warm side this morning along California’s northern coast, but that’s gotten to be fairly normal lately.
A lot of shit has become ‘normal‘ most recently.

President Obama nominated a couple of guys yesterday for some important government posts — one was a good choice, the other right out of an Orwellian/Strangelove pot-roast.

(Illustration found here).

Obama selected former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, and terror-boy, John Brennan, for director of the CIA — Hagel is a great tap, the only sane GOPer I’ve spotted in the last decade. He’s been out of the spotlight the last couple of election cycles, which in itself reveals a deep intelligence (vs Bachmann-Romney-Cain crowd) and despite shit flack from some circles, would be an excellent defense honcho.
Brennan, however, is a roach out of the woodwork.

Glenn Greenwald at the UK’s Guardian describes the bullshit, especially after Obama sought to name Brennan CIA head in 2009, then withdrew the nomination:

This “victory” of forcing Brennan’s withdrawal proved somewhat Pyrrhic, as Obama then appointed him as his top counter-terrorism adviser, where he exerted at least as much influence as he would have had as CIA Director, if not more.
In that position, Brennan last year got caught outright lying when he claimed Obama’s drone program caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year.
He also spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with Navy SEALS and had “used his wife as a human shield.”
Brennan has also been in charge of many of Obama’s most controversial and radical policies, including “signature strikes” in Yemen – targeting people without even knowing who they are – and generally seizing the power to determine who will be marked for execution without any due process, oversight or transparency.

In an update, Greenwald adds: There’s one more point worth noting: the reason Obama needs a new CIA chief is because David Petraeus was forced to resign. Here we see the ethos and morality of imperial Washington: past support for torture and rendition does not disqualify one for a top national security position; only an extramarital affair can do that.
At Wired, a former intelligence officer on the Brennan pick: “Remember Col. Tigh from Battlestar Galactica? That’s who Brennan was. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way,” the officer says. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed bastard. He scared the shit out of people. I really liked him.”

This an odd view from a war-crazed individual, General Stanley McChrystal, though, he does understand PR more than most:

“What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world,” he said in an interview.
“The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates.
They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”
McChrystal said the use of drones exacerbates a “perception of American arrogance that says, ‘Well we can fly where we want, we can shoot where we want, because we can.'”

And the backlash, despite people hating the US in enormous numbers, Obama deems them overly-necessary.
Just in time, too.
Jason Ditz at antiwar.com does the numbers: The number of US drone attacks in Pakistan declined somewhat in 2012, with fewer attacks than in 2010 or 2011, and a lower overall death toll. The US seems to be looking to get back to the old levels, however, as multiple attacks have killed 38 people the first week of 2013 already.
Upward as 25 killed in the last 48 hours.

And the little machines are everywhere — on Monday, a fisherman found an US drone floating off the coast of the Philippines.

However, why worry about Pakistan, or Yemen, think northern California coast, or the Chicago south-side:

Earlier this year, the military-industrial-banking complex’s intense lobbying efforts paid off after President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which compels the Federal Aviation Administration to modify U.S. airspace rules and allow for widespread deployment of UAVs by 2015.
Since this legislation was passed, applications have been pouring in from law enforcement agencies and private corporations seeking permission to place their own eyes in the sky.
“In places like California, Texas and Washington State, police officers in recent weeks have intensified their demands for surveillance drones, a necessary addition they say to their arsenal of tools to help thwart crime,” news website RT recently reported.
“The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to finalize plans to put drones in U.S. airspace, but by the end of the decade as many as 30,000 UAVs are expected to be soaring through the sky.”

Better watch better.

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