As many of us know, drones have become a signature weapon here in the US, so much so there are now a pair of Predators crossed over the mantle in the White House. You may also know that even given the advanced technological nature of these weapons, we’ve been shooting from the hip for the past twelve years they’ve been in use. Not only do we the public, nor the government know how many people we’ve killed with drones around the world, we regularly don’t know who we’re killing either. Matched with the fact that Obama can authorize any strike at will and does so often, eight times more often than George W. Bush, our level of precision is about as good as the girl who killed a firing range instructor with an Uzi. In fact, Obama has recently been complaining of shoulder pain as the red phone in the Oval Office does have some real kickback to it.
Just this week, HBO’s John Oliver reported on the Obama policy, declared last year, that drone strikes could only be authorized if there was near certainty of the target, outlining just how much bullshit the administration has fit into the world “near”.
Given the deplorable accountability of our widespread use of drones, it is a bit disconcerting that this week the White House confirmed that the recent campaign of strikes in Iraq and Syria do not adhere to last year’s “near certainty” policy because the strikes are occurring in “areas of active hostilities”, meaning “Don’t worry, if we bomb Disney World, we’ll probably get our guy.”
Not only has the White House declared that, during one of the most volatile moments its history, the administration can do whatever the fuck it wants, they also admitted that a policy is pretty much just a false assumption to get the public to shut up. “It was just one time baby, I promise, those other condom wrappers are from someone else in the coalition!”
This departure from the short lived policy came under scrutiny after reports that civilians, including women and children, were killed when a US Tomohawk missile destroyed a home for civilians displaced in the Syrian civil war in the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province. The attack on Kafr Daryan was launched in order to target a group known as Khorason, an alleged militant group so dangerous, possibly more dangerous than ISIS, that the White House has never once mentioned them before.
The attack, according to the White House was an apparent success, reportedly foiling attacks on foreign airlines aimed at the West. According to Al-Qaeda, the group's key leader was also killed. The group is allegedly a faction of Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. However, the terrorist plot the US was counter offensively averting has since been downgraded from imminent to aspirational. Which means, according to the White House, Kate Upton is about to have sex with everyone on the GQ comments page.
Responding to the reports of civilian casualties, a spokesperson for the US Central Command said the US military, “did target a Khorasan group compound near this location. However, we have seen no evidence at this time to corroborate claims of civilian casualties.”
And there lies the fundamental problem with our widespread use of drones. We have such little disregard for solid intelligence to perform these strikes that our naivety has become a source for excuse. Our leaders have become so arrogant by virtue of years of secrecy and lack of accountability that controversy is extinguished with a simple, “You can’t prove it.” And by and large, that’s enough. Perhaps our national apathy for killing without concern for identity or sovereignty, relying on laws designed for war while describing our actions as covert operations with no need for congressional authorization is best summed up by congressman Adam Kinzinger (R- IL) stating, “Nothing’s perfect.”