Monday, October 17, 2011

'US drone attacks wipe out families'


Three Muslim countries have been targeted within two days by US drones attacks, with one hundred people dying. US drone usage is secrecy shrouded, placing it outside the scope of international law.

Press TV talks with Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst from Washington about the inaccuracy of US intelligence combined with the deadly accuracy of drone missiles, the resulting increase in militancy in areas that are under attack and the growing hate of America by whole populations. Following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: The US president was actually elected being more like a dove than a hawk. When he came in it was on a slogan of change and opening dialogue instead of war. What has happened? We're having war and now have even more drone attacks under the Obama administration more than we had under George W. Bush!

Ray McGovern: Well, it's been a very depressing surprise to see how President Obama has let himself be ruled by the Pentagon and by the CIA. If you look at the drones - not considering the moral consideration or the legal considerations, both of which we should be considering - but let's just look at their accuracy…

These drones were first devised to take pictures and videos so we could know what was going on over a certain area over a protracted period of time. And some generals and some arms manufacturers said, you know, I think we can put missiles on these things - and sure enough a big industry grew up - Hellfire missiles.

Now, people say - Are they accurate missiles? And my friends tell me these are amazingly accurate missiles. The only problem is that the intelligence - the targeting information is amazingly 'inaccurate.' And so a lot of people get killed - people other than the so-called militants that are the targets.

If you look at Somalia just over the last three days, 85 people have been killed by drones. If you say that each of these had an extended family or coterie or friends of a dozen that makes one thousand people totally alienated from the United States and they could become militants as I dare say you or I might were our relatives taken out in that way.

So, in terms of accuracy the missiles are accurate, the targeting information is not accurate and efficacy or efficiency or effectiveness… well… they're only effective in terms of the arms supplier who builds the drones and builds the missiles. They're not effective in terms of US foreign policy because they are very simply creating more terrorists instead of less terrorists.

Press TV: The government in Washington for example are saying that they have to go into these failed states because of these militants. When did it become legal for any country just to go into another country with, let's say even if they're after somebody - How can they just make these strikes from the air with missiles because they're after someone. It sounds more like an Old West scenario than 2011.

Ray McGovern: It does sound that way. There has been a total disregard and I would say disrespect for the rule of law, not only international law and international conventions, but our own domestic law in the United States. We have a Constitution that forbids people killing one another even if it's the president doing the killing, or approving the killing, without due process. And so the legalities of this thing are indisputably violated.

The moral ones I would come back to. You don't kill a bunch of people for dubious purpose or simply because you have a fancy new weapon that can do that. When the Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan bragged in June of this year that not one civilian was killed in any of these drone attacks for the previous year, that was laughable.

A British study by an institute for accuracy in reporting pointed out that at least 45 were killed and demonstrably so. So there's an insular effect here. If you want to have credibility in the world you don't make outlandish claims saying zero collateral damage.

The other point is what does this have to do with insurgency or counter-insurgency. Those who have been around as much as I remember Vietnam when the US Air Force said Oh Mr. Johnson we have this fancy new weapon it's called a B52 it can drop all kinds of big bombs and we're going to make the North Vietnamese give up. Well, they asked us in CIA about that and we laughed - bombing has never won a war, it's always buttressed up the backbone of those being bombed, of course that's the way it was.

And so when our inexperienced President Obama probably not remembering or even having learned anything about Vietnam was told by these military types - Bobby Gates would be one of them - Hey we've got this new weapon and we're going to take out all the al-Qaeda operatives.

Well they could take out one or two or three - maybe a dozen, but what does that have to do with counter-insurgency? It doesn't even square with Petraeus' own manual.

I'm a little prejudiced because I was an infantry officer back in the 1960s. Air forces have never won wars. It's the infantry it takes to win a war because it has to be able to hold land. That is never going to happen - and so what we have as a result is a perpetual war in Afghanistan and now it looks like at least for a while in Somalia and Yemen.

And who does that suit? That only suits the arms manufacturers; the people who get promoted because they're generals; and other people in what Eisenhower called the military industrial complex.

Press TV: If the US was actually the recipient of these drones instead of being actually the ones implementing these attacks - What kind of a reaction would we be looking at from Washington and from the rest of world - What would be expected?

Ray McGovern: From Washington you would have a very violent reaction. The places from which these drones were flown would be obliterated - right quick - and we would expect some sympathy from other countries. And so it's very odd that we don't see that as we pursue this.

One answer is simply this and it's called inertia. There's no winning in Afghanistan for example with ground troops - we've tried that. We are now withdrawing them. What else is there? Well - maybe drones would do it! It's that simple - that there is no fall back strategy to keep us engaged there - to hold out some prospect of the United States 'prevailing' in some way or another. 

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