Outing the Reaper Drones

Dave Tobin’s Dec. 2 Syracuse Post-Standard article (“174th Fighter Wing’s drones play key role in Afghanistan war”) revealed that the Reaper drone is now being deployed out of Hancock Airbase on the outskirts of Syracuse.

That drone is a high-tech, high-flying robot. Via satellite it communicates with “pilots” on the ground. It can operate in radioactive environments. Its sensors can see in the night. It can hover for hours, invisibly, over a target. With uncanny accuracy, God-like, the Reaper’s missiles and bombs can obliterate that target.

There is nothing honorable about the Reaper. Its pilots take no risk. Operating from thousands of miles away, they need no courage. Robot-like themselves, they only need a highly cultivated indifference to human life.

Domestically, the drone, with its extraordinary surveillance capability, abets “Big Brother.” Drones now monitor the U.S./ Canadian and U.S./ Mexican borders. What keeps them from further spying on everything in between?

Internationally, Reapers are killing machines. The Pentagon calls them “hunter-killers.” Similar armed and airborne drones are named “Predator” and “Avenger.” What does that say about the mindset of those deploying them?

In Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Reaper’s job is to assassinate. Trouble is, often such assassination occurs far from combat and proceeds from dubious intelligence. There’s no due process. Condemned by the UN Human Rights rapporteur, the Reaper perpetrates extra-judicial executions.

The Reaper violates sovereignty. No representative body invites them over their airspace. CIA Reapers in Pakistan, supposedly a U.S. ally, have killed hundreds. (Maybe it’s only Pakistan’s notoriously venal government and not the Pakistani people who are U.S. allies?)

The Reaper violates international law. Like other aerial weapons in our arsenal, it kills mostly civilians. Even if it wanted to, the Pentagon could tell us little about the victims; often it doesn’t even know who they are…or how many the Reaper has maimed or massacred.

These war crimes – both those the US military perpetrates in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those the CIA perpetrates in Pakistan — are cloaked in secrecy. Like the mercenaries the CIA uses to launch its Reapers, with Reapers there is no accountability.

We wonder why people “hate us.” Suppose an alien military flew Reapers over the U.S. Suppose they killed our people, demolished our homes….Because it kills so many civilians, the Reaper generates hate. It spurs retaliation. It recruits terrorists. It is terrorist.

Such retaliation could strike areas – such as Syracuse – that host the Reaper. No PR campaign won our acquiescence. No public hearing demonstrated that Central New Yorkers want to become part of the global battleground.

The Reaper does nothing to foster peace. It does nothing to foster justice. It is an enemy of humanity. Its technology should not be developed. Like landmines, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and all other nuclear weapons, it should be abolished.

Imagine: a civilian government choosing to heed international law. Imagine it daring to cut the Pentagon budget; daring to outlaw war profiteering. Imagine further its commander-in-chief liquidating the oil empire, withdrawing U.S. military bases from the Middle East and west Asia.

Now imagine what a radar-evading, missile-bearing Reaper, invisible at 25,000 feet, might do to the White House….

Ed served 14 months in federal prisons for his civil resistance against the SOA. More recently he has been one of the “Hancock 2,” the “Hancock 15,” the “Hancock 33,” and the “Hancock 38.” Reach him at: edkinane@verizon.net. Read other articles by Ed.

2 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. kalidas said on December 6th, 2009 at 9:24am #

    Next up… “rods from God?”

  2. Jeff White said on December 6th, 2009 at 5:19pm #

    Here’s a link to the article in the Syracuse Post-Standard: