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: