The Strategist

Another Leakage on US Activities: How America Uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

10/19/2015 - 15:44

US online edition “The Intercept” has published secret documents related to the use of US military drones in hot spots. It follows from the file, transferred to the portal by an anonymous US intelligence officer, that a significant part of “objects”, liquidated with use of drones, were not originally “intended targets”. The leak occurred just two months after the Pentagon has decided to sharply increase the number of drone missions.

The Intercept published secret data on the operations of the United States with the use of drones. The site states that the informant motivated the transmission of the classified information to journalists by "the abhorrent practice of drawing up ... endless lists to watch people... and sentencing them to die."

The Intercept published materials relating to the use of combat drones in the US between 2011 and 2013 against alleged terrorists in Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan. By this time, the model matching strokes had already been debugged. Joint Special Operations Command US first selects a target and makes up a "baseball card" containing a photo, biography, and "track record" of the potential victim. The information is then sent to military department responsible for the region, and then - in the Unified Command Staff and the Minister of Defense. At the end of the chain, the application is to be signed by the president. If he approves the elimination of the object, the task should be carried out within 60 days. At that, only US court has the right to declare a person a terrorist and pass the death sentence.

- In fact, the drones now serve exclusively for the killings," - said a former head of the US Defense Intelligence Michael Flynn to The Intercept. This is contrary to the White House’s Guidelines for conducting anti-terrorist operations published in May 2013. It prohibits "use force, if it is possible to capture a suspect." The Intercept’s materials provide an example of a British citizen Bilal el-Berjawi, drone-killed in Somalia in 2012. He flew from Africa to the UK several times, but despite the suspicion of terrorism, the United States did nothing to detain him and interrogate.

According to the leak, the White House authorizes strikes using drones in the probability of a small “collateral damage”. This term refers to the death of people, including civilians who were not originally target of the attack. Military-age males, killed during the attack, are automatically considered “EKIA” - enemy killed in action. To recognize them as civilians, relatives of the victims need to prove it after their death. According to the source The Intercept, «there is no guarantee that these people deserved their fate." At the same time, according to the publication, the choice of US goals is often guided only by fragmentary information that leads to the death of innocent people.

The leak’s author criticizes the US President Barack Obama as drones have been "favorite tool" of the US military and intelligence agencies during his reign. The Intercept’s publication of disclosures occurred two months after the Pentagon has announced plans to expand the use of these machines. The average number of daily flights will increase to 90 in 2019 compared with 60 in 2015 and 5 in 2004. It is necessary to collect intelligence in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, the South China Sea and North Africa - quoted by The Wall Street Journal from the words of an official of the US military.

The use of drones has repeatedly provoked protests from human rights activists and the public. In June, 45 former US military issued a joint appeal to the operators of drones, calling on them to stop this activity as "it deeply violate US and international law."

After The Intercept published the information, the international human rights organization Amnesty International called on the US Congress to immediately start an independent investigation into drone strikes, ongoing at the command of President Barack Obama’s administration in other countries. "These documents raise serious concerns about the United States’ systematic violation of international law, including the determination of unknown persons as “combatants” to justify their murder - said Noreen Shah, director of the program on Security and Human Rights, the American representative at Amnesty International. - This is the basis for the immediate start of an investigation by Congress on why the Obama administration keep this important information secret, including the real data on the identity of all those killed in the framework of the global program of targeted killings."

According to a representative of Amnesty International, the latest revelations "also suggests that the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration policy and considers the whole world as a global battlefield while dodging full reports on its activities."