This Selfie Is A Major Embarrassment To U.S. Military

In what is a major embarrassment for the U.S. military, the Pentagon has been forced to admit that one of its surveillance drones crashed in Iraq, after a selfie of an Iraqi man standing with the debilitated aircraft went viral on social media.

Twitter user Steven Nabil tweeted the images of himself and Iraqi police investigating the grounded drone on Tuesday and the images have since been verified by media investigations and the Pentagon.

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The Airforce Times reports:

An MQ-1 Predator crashed Monday morning local time in Southeastern Iraq, according to U.S. Air Forces, Central Command.

The drone was flying a combat mission when it went down, AFCENT announced in a brief news release on Monday. There are no reports so far that civilians were injured or property damaged at the crash site.

AFCENT maintains that the Predator was not brought down by enemy fire.

The $40 million piece of equipment landed in the provincial capital of As Samawah, 170 miles south of Iraq – site of 2003’s vicious Battle of Samawah and Shiite-on-Shiite violence during 2006. The region is currently the site of battles between Iraqi forces and the insurgent Islamic State, with a series of explosions across the country killing 32 people in one day this week.

As The Verge reports, the news comes after another military drone crashed in southern Iraq in May due to technical problems, and two months after Syria shot down another.

The U.S. drone program has a profoundly negative history across Iraq and the Middle East, best captured by Jeremy Scahill’s powerful documentary “Dirty Wars.” The extrajudicial killing of, predominantly, non-combatants of sovereign states by U.S. soldiers nestled safely at the Pentagon has served to alienate the U.S. from potential allies within and beyond Iraq.

Pro-drone Republican Senator Lindsey Graham revealed in February 2013 that at least 4,700 people had been killed by these attacks in recent years.

Worse, a 165-page report on a 2012 study by the Stanford and New York University Law Schools revealed that there have been 49 civilian deaths for every ‘known terrorist’ killed by drone attacks in Pakistan – that means just 2 percent of more than 3,000 Pakistani people killed by drone attacks have any evidence or suspicion against them.  But nevertheless, the drone has become the Pentagon’s weapon of choice. In June 2011, the U.S. launched a drone attack, a day on Yemen.

That’s all pretty terrifying.  Yet, a Gallup poll taken in March 2013 revealed that while the majority of U.S. citizens opposed the domestic use of drones, even if aiming for suspected terrorists, 65 percent approved the use of drones on foreign soil.

This huge death toll means that regular people like you and me, living in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere are terrified to attend family weddings, funerals and other community events in case the drones strike again:

  • Up to 92 civilians, mostly children, were killed in the Azizabad airstrike – where large parts of a village were destroyed in efforts to kill one Taliban commander.
  • 47 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the Deh Balla wedding party airstrike in July 2008.
  • 37 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the Wech Bagtu wedding party airstrike in November 2008
  • Up to 147 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the Granai airstrike in May 2009

As Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC, wrote for Guardian US Foreign Policy in 2013:

“The drone strikes are particularly outrageous for a number of reasons. There are “signature strikes”, in which the US government doesn’t even know exactly whom it is killing, but bombs people that it thinks might have some association with terrorism. Then, there are the “double-tap” strikes where – in a move similar to the double-blasts of terrorist bombers in Iraq – the drones hit their target and then bomb the first responders who come to help the wounded. And there is growing evidence that the drone strikes have terrorized civilians and made more people in the target areas want to kill Americans – not surprisingly.”

So it is little surprise that the downed drone was met with such relish across the Middle East. While no one underestimates the pressure that asymmetrical warfare places on the U.S military command – it is hard to find a non-American anywhere in the world who endorses the drone program and there is significant internal dissent too. While the GOP continues to strongly back the program, Democratic lawmakers are demanding increased democratic controls over the murky and secretive operations of the C.I.A. and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command.

For the rest of the world, the drones are a physical manifestation of the Pentagon’s unwillingness to conform to International Law – and severely undermine the reputation of America. This is a program and a chapter in American history, that cannot be ended soon enough.

Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info

 

 

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