Another day, another BS U.S. drone strike story

July 29, 2012 | By | 6 Replies More

Yesterday I spotted another one the many U.S. drone strike stories–the story I read was published by MSNBC. These stories are incredibly predictable: U.S. drones launched an attack that killed a group of people from the Middle East who are presumed to be bad people despite the fact that we have no idea who these victims were. The witnesses and the victims are unnamed. The source of the entire story could well be the U.S. military, which has no idea who the dead people are and, in fact, has been repeatedly caught claiming that the dead people were threats to America (through the use of the word “militant”) when many, if not all of them turned out to be innocent people, including children.

And, of course, there is no information about how the local people acted.  They should be outraged, because, according to the story, unknown people were killed from the sky by the U.S., which has repeatedly outraged the government of Pakistan for such conduct in the past.   For all we know, this attack, like so many other attacks, has angered the people, causing them to swear revenge against the United States.  But you’d have no idea of whether this attack advanced the interests of the U.S. or hurt U.S. interests.  This is a prototypical sterile story about the U.S. using its high tech weaponry to preserve freedom, or so this immensely obeisant and gappy story suggests. The U.S. doesn’t know who was killed, even long after the fact, because the U.S. doesn’t care. If they cared, they would quickly announce who the dead people were and tell U.S. citizens the “bad” things these people did to deserve to die such a fiery death, often in the presence of their children.

I’d like to give a lot of credit for what follows to Glenn Greenwald, who has repeatedly pointed out that these drone strikes are usually nothing but propaganda, and that the word “militant” is used as follows: Any person killed by a U.S. weapon. With Greenwald’s guidance, I decided to mark up the opening lines of the MSNBC story as if I were an editor reacting to the reporter’s first draft:




Category: Propaganda, War, Warmongering

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. Jason says:

    The details are likely missing because there wasn’t any given by the gov’t. It seems that the standard witness account now a’ days has drones seen (unlikely) or heard (unlikely) before or after the event. So right away I’m taking the story with a grain of salt. By the way, I think Greenwald tends to fill in the gaps himself with the imagined worst, evil motives by our own agencies. The people in charge of these programs are more like you and me than most give credit for. However you would conduct these missions, if you had to and had the same information, is likely very close to how it’s run. I appreciate Greenwald’s skepticism about his gov’t, I really do, but I am skeptical myself of his pursuit of the truth as opposed to his narrative. (I tried correcting his citing of the horrible Jennifer Robinson story with no response)

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jason: Perhaps the story should have been written up as follows:

      The U.S. military claims that it killed insurgents with a drone attack yesterday. Much of this story is sourced through the U.S. military, and there is no independent verification. No witnesses and no victims have been identified.
      The U.S. military uses the term “insurgent” to include anyone killed by U.S. weapons.
      Of the five people killed, we don’t know whether any of them has ever done anything to threaten the United States.
      This drone attack is illegal in that it is an undeclared war, never approved by Congress, and Pakistan is livid that we are encroaching their airspace to take out groups of unidentified people.
      The U.S. government claims that these people are “insurgents,” even though they have not identified the people and even though “insurgent” is defined circularly.
      On multiple occasions in the Middle East, the U.S. has denied that it killed civilians and children, even though it has killed civilians and children.
      The people killed yesterday might have included children.
      There is no evidence that yesterday’s drone attack has made America safer.
      The actions of the U.S. yesterday have likely outraged many people, and made it more likely that one or more people will take revenge against the U.S.

      Are you speaking of this Jennifer Robinson story?

  2. Jason says:

    Actually he referenced different story
    4th paragraph from the bottom (a subject we’ve already cleared up)
    Anyway, your write up might be more accurate but I think it would be a bit much for MSNBC’s generic, internet news blurb 🙂
    The secrecy involved in all of this is unfortunate, if everyone could see the machinations involved it would answer alot of questions. Those plotting against us would also see them as well…so it stays secret. Never stop pressing those in charge and asking the questions, keep it up…But don’t assume the worst either.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Thanks for your encouragement and advice. As you probably suspect, if only I trusted the government, I wouldn’t be pushing so hard. Just because I’m suspicious doesn’t mean the government isn’t hiding something (to paraphrase the saying: “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”)

  3. NIklaus Pfirsig says:

    This reminds me of the stories from “Desert Storm” about the “Smart” bombs that only killed enemy combatants.

    Were we expected to believe a cruise missile was smart enough to only explode after it had hunted down and identified an Iraqi soldier?

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    “The secrecy surrounding the U.S. use of drone attacks must end, and each drone strike carried out by the U.S. should be independently investigated, London barrister and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Ben Emmerson said Sunday.”

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