by Stephen Lendman
Perhaps one day they’ll arrive over a neighborhood near you. Drones are becoming America’s weapon of choice. Domestically so far, they’re used only for eyes in the sky spying.
Big Brother wants to watch everyone all the time. Don’t bet against eyes not being weaponized one day to punish as well as spy. That’s how rogue states operate.
America is by far the worst and most dangerous. Waging war on humanity is policy. Imagine living in a country run by officials who think war is good.
The more the better. Permanent ones. Wage them while pretending it’s done for peace. Few question why America is always at war somewhere. Scant attention is paid to the trillions of dollars spent at the expense of vital domestic needs gone begging.
Militarism is prioritized. Budgets are virtually open-ended. America’s duopoly assures it. Imagine policy makers deciding on which country they’ll ravage next.
It makes no difference whether Obama or Romney takes charge. Both major parties are in lockstep on all issues mattering most.
Corporate empowerment, serving America’s 1%, cracking down on resisters, and imperial dominance top their list. Hell hath no fury like an out-of-control hegemon. If analyzed on a couch, it would be called sociopathic or worse.
A Washington Post Special Report discussed America’s permanent war agenda. A previous article discussed Obama’s Disposition Matrix. It called it elevating Murder, Inc. to a higher level.
Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world for any reason or none at all. Obama has final kill list authority. John Brennan is his counterterrorism maestro of murder. His “playbook” makes up rules as he writes them.
He designates kill targets. He calls it a strategy to persist ’till the end of time. Last August he said:
“What we’re trying to do right now is to have a set of standards, a set of criteria, and have a decision-making process that will govern our counterterrorism actions - we’re talking about direct action, lethal action - so that irrespective of the venue where they’re taking place, we have a high confidence that they’re being done for the right reasons in the right way.”
In other words, kill because we say so. No further explanation. No mention of rule of law principles. Right, of course, is might, whether or not legal, moral and ethical.
In his journey into the “Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad wrote:
“one comes to hate those savages….hate them to the death….Exterminate all the brutes!” Kill orders target anyone challenging US hegemony. Targeted killing more than ever is US policy.
Washington Post writer Craig Whitlock explained more. On October 25, he headlined “Remote US base at core of secret operations,” saying:
“Around the clock, about 16 times a day, drones take off or land at” America’s Djibouti-based Camp Lemonnier. It’s “the combat hub for the Obama administration’s counterterrorism wars in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.”
France’s Foreign Legion established Lemonnier. Post-9/11 it became a US Naval Expeditionary Base. It’s located at Djibouti’s International Airport.
It’s home to the Pentagon’s Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF/HOA).
“Over the past two years, the U.S. military has clandestinely transformed it into the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone….”
Extraordinary efforts are made to conceal its lawless mission. Decisions on who lives or dies are made secretly. Lemonnier’s commander knows. His job is execute kill orders.
“Virtually the entire 500-acre camp is dedicated to counterterrorism” killing. It’s the Pentagon’s first “permanent drone war base.” It won’t be the last. Perhaps many more are planned globally.
Drones, of course, operate out of many other US facilities. Regional ones include Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Seychelles-based installations.
Lemonnier so far is the only Pentagon installation of its kind. Secrecy shrouds its operations. Post journalists were denied permission to visit. After one showed up unannounced, commanding General Ralph Baker agreed to an off-base interview.
He wouldn’t comment on drone missions or other issues mattering most. The Post, however, obtained numerous unclassified military documents. They cover construction blueprints, drone accident reports, and internal planning memos.
They show how Djibouti-based drone wars escalated exponentially since early 2011. They also reveal ambitious future plans.
The Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) plays a central role. It’s used for top-secret counterterrorism missions. Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force commandos, and other Special Ops forces are involved.
Operations known about include counterterrorism missions, surveillance, intelligence gathering, and hostage rescues.
About 300 Special Ops personnel plan, coordinate, and execute these and other missions. Others on base aren’t told what they do.
In September 2011, a Lemonnier-based drone killed Muslim cleric/US citizen Anwar Al Awlaki. He lived in Yemen. He committed no crime. He was assassinated for opposing US belligerency.
His murder and others put all anti-imperial opponents at risk. US citizenship protects no one. If outspoken enough, anyone may be next. Perhaps writers, authors, and media hosts will be targeted. Warrior states don’t tolerate truth-tellers.
Lemonnier is home to around 3,200 military, civilian and private contractor personnel. Most know little about highly classified counterterrorism work. The select 300 handle it. Their mandate also includes intelligence gathering. Killing, however, is prioritized.
Obama, Brennan, and other high-level officials decide on “disposition matrix” targets. They function as judge, jury and executioner. They hold the power of life and death in their hands.
Plans call for large-scale Lemonnier expansion. Operational forces will more than triple to around 1,100. Pentagon officials only say “a wide variety of regional security missions” are involved. “(S)ecurity considerations prevent us from commenting on specific(s).”
Lemonnier is America’s “centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen” African-based US drone and surveillance facilities. They’re also home to conventional attack aircraft. F-15E Strike Eagles fly regional combat missions.
Djibouti’s location is key. It’s situated between East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Somalia and Yemen can be reached in minutes. Djibouti’s port offers easy access to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa, Amanda Dory, said Lemonnier isn’t “an outpost in the middle of nowhere of marginal interest. This is a very important location in terms of US interest, in terms of navigation, when it comes to power projection.”
Three classified military operations include Copper Dune (CD), Jupiter Garret (JG) and Octave Shield (OS). CD conducts counterterrorism operations in Yemen. Africa command officials refused comment on JG and OS. Only their unclassified code names are known.
Air Force safety records provide information on aircraft accidents. In February, a Special Ops U-28 spy plane crashed. Four crew members died.
Since January 2011, information on five drone crashes is known. One involved a JSOC major identified only as “Frog.” He coordinated Predator missions. Nothing more is known.
Missions are so secret even ground crews aren’t told about destinations or targets. All they know is that drones depart. Most return hours later. Problems beset others. They likely crashed, split apart, or burned.
Lemonnier missions are controlled remotely from Creech and Cannon Air Force Bases in Nevada and New Mexico respectively. Operators use multiple keyboards and monitors.
Enemies are faceless and nameless. Killing can be controlled nearby or from half a world away. Each drone system includes multiple UAVs, a ground station, satellite link, and launch site maintenance crew.
Rotating ones are on standby 24-hours a day for missions on a moment’s notice. Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap. Disturbing questions are unanswered. Secrecy, unaccountability, and lawlessness matter most.
So is the huge number of civilian casualties. Investigative work determined that only 2% of victims are high-level combatants. Ordinary people suffer most.
Official reports lie. Hard truths reveal what policy makers want suppressed. Murder, Inc. is ugly business anywhere for any reason. More than ever it’s official US policy.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.