Washington’s drone wars against countless countries receives far too little media scrutiny (is it because the White House says they’re killing “terrorists” and clueless reporters believe it?) and private companies are increasingly involved.
Joshua Foust writes in the Atlantic that the US should be worried:
The Intelligence Community (IC) as a whole has been reoriented to support the killing machine. While that isn’t of itself a bad thing, we should be asking very probing questions about whether it is necessary and if it is accomplishing the goals it should. The IC already struggles with making useful predictive analysis (i.e. understanding threats to the country and thinking of ways to respond to them). By focusing the IC so strongly on the identification of individuals to kill, the drones program is distorting the collection and analysis priorities of the IC, and in a very real way restricting the resources available to responding to larger economic, military, and nuclear threats. Bureaucracy becomes its own force after a while, and the possibility of ever reassigning these analysts and decision makers becomes less and less realistic the longer the program exists.
A final, important consequence of the dramatic expansion of the drone program is the continued degradation of the IC’s Human Intelligence capabilities and the increasing reliance on liaising with “local partners.” In both Pakistan and Yemen this has led to severe consequences both for our reputation and for our relations with each government. In Afghanistan, poor HUMINT tradecraft has led to a lot ofunnecessary deaths because we relied on sketchy local sources instead of doing the hard work to develop thorough human intelligence. The result, way too often, is firing blind based on “pattern of life” indicators without direct confirmation that the targets are, in fact, who we think they are — killing innocent people in the process. In Pakistan, the drones program has become so contentious that it’s inspired death squads that summarily execute people they suspect of participating in the targetting process. And in Yemen, we are nowslowly realizing that our “local partners” are really anything but, and we face the very uncomfortable possibility of being used as pawns to violently resolve conflicts that have nothing to do with us.
It’s hard to disagree with these points but the essential The Exiled website has an amazing take-down of Foust and his deep connections to the military-industrial complex. Read.