terror & wartrusted media & news

The AP uses high quality journalism to prove that you needn’t worry about drones

No Gravatar

The United States of America, the world’s greatest force for good, has lately been using drones to bomb the crap out of Muslims in the Middle East. Drones are especially convenient tools because they are light, maneuverable, and unmanned. The government — the government that works for me, and you (if you’re an American), and does what it does for your benefit — has only increased the number of drones it’s used in those areas in which it is fighting kinetic military actions.

Some people have expressed concern that these drones that we’re using to bomb the crap out of Muslims aren’t only hitting those that our government has deemed to be the *bad* ones. Official numbers are difficult to come by, because they don’t exist, but some have estimated that, well, a significant number of innocent, non-terrorist Muslims, have been killed in drone strikes.

Well, the Associated Press has used some impressive journalism to discover that those people are full of beans. They have convincingly shown that drone bombing the crap out of Muslims is actually a pretty efficient way to conduct a war, so you can stop worrying about that and concentrate on presumably more important issues, like, you know, contraception. And yesterday they helpfully released the fruits of that journalism:

“[A]n AP reporter who spoke to about 80 villagers at the sites of the 10 attacks in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for militants in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region along the Afghan border, was told that a significant majority of the dead were combatants.
Indeed, the AP was told by the villagers that of at least 194 people killed in the attacks, about 70 percent — at least 138 — were militants. The remaining 56 were either civilians or tribal police, and 38 of them were killed in a single attack on March 17, 2011.”

See? Nothing to worry about. Only about 30% of the people who are being drone bombed aren’t militants. Of course, we have no way of knowing how many of that 30% had it coming for whatever reason. Maybe some of them had meth on them at the time.

I really want to congratulate this intrepid AP reporter. This person spoke to “about 80 villagers.” That is 80 more than none at all, so you know that he got some amazing insights. I mean, those 80 “villagers” are right there on the front lines, so to speak. They have the full view of what’s going on. They should know.

Also, kudos for showing more than one side to this complicated story:

But the civilian deaths in the covert CIA-run program raise legal and ethical concerns, especially given Washington’s reluctance to speak openly about the strikes or compensate the families of innocent victims.

It’s kinda quaint to still have qualms over a program that’s efficient enough that a full 80% of its hits (probably) strike our “enemies.” I mean, war isn’t exactly an exact science. Neither is journalism for that matter. You work with what you got. I think it was George Orwell who said, “Don’t let the enemy of the perfect get in the way of doing what you know is good,” or something like that. I might be misquoting it and I might have gotten the wrong attribution but I’m fairly confident that I got it 80% correct, so I’ll just leave it.

Anyway, if you’re one of those people with “legal and ethical concerns,” let no less an authority than the president of the United States himself put you at ease:

The drone program is so secretive that only last month did Obama publicly acknowledge its existence. He said the strikes “have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties,” but gave no details.

Who needs “details” when you’ve got reassurances like that? So the next time some worrywart tries to guilt you over civilian drone bomb deaths, you just give them the response of your mathematically sensitive leader. After all, this is the same sensitive president who apologized for that whole Koran burning thing.

And, by the way, on the very same day that the Associated Press released its in-depth report on our drone bombing the crap out of Muslims policy, they also released an insightful story on the “mainstreaming” of drones.

They’re coming to America!

Those things that don’t cause “a huge number of civilian casualties” will soon be flying over your head. And you might not even be a Muslim.

“Civilian cousins of the unmanned military aircraft that have tracked and killed terrorists in the Middle East and Asia are in demand by police departments, border patrols, power companies, news organizations and others wanting a bird’s-eye view that’s too impractical or dangerous for conventional planes or helicopters to get.”

It’s kinda fun to think about these new drones as “cousins” of the “military aircraft that have tracked and killed terrorists.” Can you imagine what that family reunion is like? “Oh, Droney, why can’t you be more like your cousin Milly? He’s out killing terrorists with 80% efficiency, while you’re out just flying around, looking for cows in the middle of nowhere!”

Cowsearchers are only one use for these new drone cousins:

“Potential civilian users are as varied as the drones themselves.
Power companies want them to monitor transmission lines. Farmers want to fly them over fields to detect which crops need water. Ranchers want them to count cows.”

Doesn’t that sound awesome? But what’s even more awesome is that your new drone cousins will be working hard to help keep you safe:

The hungriest market is the nation’s 19,000 law enforcement agencies.
Customs and Border Patrol has nine Predator drones mostly in use on the U.S.-Mexico border, and plans to expand to 24 by 2016. Officials say the unmanned aircraft have helped in the seizure of more than 20 tons of illegal drugs and the arrest of 7,500 people since border patrols began six years ago.

It’s hard to believe that anyone might be opposed to this, especially after learning of military cousin drone’s 80% accuracy rate. And yet, the AP gives space to the concerns about this amazing technology:

A recent ACLU report said allowing drones greater access takes the country “a large step closer to a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the authorities.”

Ooh, that does sound scary. “Surveillance society.” Should someone who’s not doing anything wrong be concerned? Only as concerned as you are about the Muslims we’re drone bombing out in the Middle East.

“Today anybody— the paparazzi, anybody — can hire a helicopter or a (small plane) to circle around something that they’re interested in and shoot away with high-powered cameras all they want,” said [Dan] Elwell, the [Aerospace Industries Association’s vice president for civil aviation]. “I don’t understand all the comments about the Big Brother thing.”

See? A paparazzi hiring a helicopter to fly him around so he can shoot photos of Kim Kardashian’s wedding is exactly the same as each of the 19,000 law enforcement agencies using one of those little hummingbird-sized cousin drones to peek in the window of someone that they just got a tip might be running a meth lab in his bathroom.

What? Are you all of a sudden worried about Kim Kardashian’s privacy?

Ricky Sprague occasionally writes and/or draws things. He sometimes animates things. He has a Twitter account and he has a blog. He scripted this graphic novel about Kolchak The Night Stalker. He is really, really good at putting links in bios.
Print This Post Print This Post

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment