Being "probably up to no good" now carries a death sentence sometimes.
We all cringe when we hear of the innocent lives lost at war and civilians caught in the crossfire. These civilian deaths are always sad and tragic reminders of the cost of war. The Military/Industrial Complex doesn't like that. Reports of civilian deaths make the wars unpopular, and that's not the right way to continue to justify an ever growing military budget full of expensive drone missiles and the longest war in American history, is it? Nope. So what do they do? Re-define the dead civilians.
Glenn Greenwald has more at Salon.com that you should really read, but here is a short excerpt . . .
This morning, the New York Times has a very lengthy and detailed article about President Obama’s counter-Terrorism policies based on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers.” I’m writing separately about the numerous revelations contained in that article, but want specifically to highlight this one vital passage about how the Obama administration determines who is a “militant.” The article explains that Obama’s rhetorical emphasis on avoiding civilian deaths “did not significantly change” the drone program, because Obama himself simply expanded the definition of a “militant” to ensure that it includes virtually everyone killed by his drone strikes. Just read this remarkable passage:It's easy to have a year of unmanned drone missile strikes where you don't kill a single noncombatant when you declare that everyone you did kill was a militant because why else would a drone missile kill him?
Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.
This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes.
Wow. I wonder what other glaring problems we could make go away simply by redefining the victims and results of these glaring problems?
More below the fold
Who needs to aim when everyone you hit is automatically a "militant"? Who needs to deal with the consequences of drone missiles that hit a little more than their intended target?
Who needs to deal with a runaway military/industrial complex that dominates our budget and transfers huge sums of money away from working class families into the hands of huge multinational contractors? As long as there is a militant somewhere we will have an excuse to fire a never ending barrage of drone missiles at them, and whoever we hit must have been a militant, which proves that we need to pay for and fire even more drone missiles. Rebuild America's infrastructure? Nah, can't afford it, but we can blow the hell out of some third world countries till the end of time. We just need to redefine war as peace.
It used to be when the military fucked up and killed a bunch of civilians it would create a stir in the media and some of us would question the wars we are fighting and the methods we are using. Not anymore. Now whistleblowers face more legal repercussions for their actions than the people they were blowing the whistle on. Now if we hit the wrong target we just declare that what we hit was the target, obviously, why else would we hit it?
This is Catch-22 kind of stuff. Re-defining "Militant" to mean anyone who is male and of age that might get killed by a drone missile takes away all of the disincentives that keep our military from killing indiscriminately and it whitewashes away any criticism and reforms that might result from the discovery of civilian deaths. But that is the whole point, isn't it?
An ever growing military budget and a never ending war. We send millions of tax payer dollars overseas everyday in the form of expensive drone missiles so we can blow up people in the poorest places on earth. This is why we can't have nice things anymore. And if those drones sometimes kill the wrong people we can just re-define the people we killed. If the wars become unpopular we can just re-define the wars too. It's not the problem that is the problem, it is the name of the problem that is the real problem. That wasn't a wedding party we bombed, it was a militant unification ceremony.
Just because I caught a dolphin in my fish net doesn't mean I get to call it a fish because it is in a fish net. But we need results, people! And that is why we had to re-define "Militant" to include any of age males in the blast radius, because no one wants to read in the headlines "1 confirmed militant and 3 Soldiers Dead along with 2 possibly suspicious looking locals who were probably up to no good anyway". NO! The headline is supposed to say "3 Militants and 3 soldiers killed in Afghanistan." If the headline says "22 civilians transformed into dead militants by off target drone missile" it just looks bad and we can't have that.
Drone Missile warfare. Your accuracy rate will always been 100% from now on, dear drone missiles. It's like Too Big To Fail status in its' level of double-think. You are innocent until proven exploded by a drone missile. No wonder they are claiming that they never miss. At this point, we are exploding away our future one million dollar drone missile at a time. The fact that we have to re-define some of the people we are killing to justify why they have been killed undermines every notion we could ever claim to be fighting for.
You can follow me on Twitter @JesseLaGreca
Be sure to read Glenn Greenwald's piece at Salon.com and the NYTimes piece he references for more detail on this subject . . .