Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Some feel..."

A few days ago, Daily Tech published a must-read article, in which Jason Blick offers the latest on Obama's drone killing program. Of course, you already know this stuff if you've been reading Marcy Wheeler, but there's a special amusement to be found in Blick's attempt to present the outrageous new revelations in a value-neutral, he-said-she-said fashion.

The bottom line, of course, is that only a tiny, tiny portion of those killed were members of al-Qaeda.
One major complaint of the administration's critics is lack of transparency in the deadly offensive. The administration has refused to release a list of "terrorist" organizations that it considers "associated forces" of al-Qaeda. So far only Afghanistan's Taliban has been officially acknowledged as an al-Qaeda ally. Also not revealed was whether the administration conducted so-called "signature killings" -- killings of locals who met with al-Qaeda or exhibited other behavior deemed suspicious.
New CIA chief John Brennan in February acknowledged that the drone strikes sometimes miss the mark and kill innocent civilians, but he defended the program saying the U.S. paid the families of people it accidentally killed. He commented, "Where possible, we also work with local governments to gather facts, and, if appropriate, provide condolence payments to families of those killed."

Condolence payments range from $1,000 to $7,500 according to various reports [1][2][3], depending on the circumstances.
I'm trying to think of a film director who could accurately capture the mixture of horror and absurdity on display here. We need a combination of Jodorowsky and Kubrick.
In August 2012, a drone strike in Yemen killed a 40-year-old moderate cleric Salem bin Ahmed bin Ali Jaber just two days after he delivered a speech denouncing al-Qaeda. The irony is that the al-Qaeda officers who were targeted in the strike, reportedly came into town to threaten Mr. Jaber for his support of the U.S. and pacifistic leanings.
But for true surrealism, run your eyes over the following combination of image and text (and I honestly have no idea as to whether the humor was deliberate):

"Some feel..."

Some feel...?

Yes. And some feel that the President should not be allowed to rape your teenaged daughter and then send pictures of the crime to all of his friends. Also, some feel that the administration should not deliberately expose major population centers to the bubonic plague. Finally, some feel that Kim Jong-Un ought not start a nuclear war with the United States.

Yes, these points are controversial. But that's the way at least some feel.
My comment below was about the probability a nuclear detonation in the US being the work of Paki dissidents, not NK.

They have way more ability than that Kim guy.

Tin foil time:

The 911 conspiracy that makes some sense is Bush and Cheney knew about the attacks and allowed them to happen. That deer in the headlights look Bush had in that Florida elementary school class room was because he didn't think it would be that devastating.

What does Obama have up his sleeve and hopes to gain when somebody retaliates against the drone strikes with a small nuke?

Rhetorical question, he'll confiscate all our guns and jail Wayne Lapierre :)
The scammy part about drones is they would be much more lethal if they simply followed someone around and only shot to kill if attacked.

People being followed by drones would become pariah's so quickly the effect would be far more lethal than trying to blow up buildings or people.
North Korea: I got the feeling I was reading local tabloid rags when I saw headlines and body text reporting that the US and China have "vowed" to do this, and "pledged" to do that.

It seems to me that the US-Chinese talks about Korea may have failed.

The small print says that John Kerry says a very quick decision is needed on how to proceed. Is that the sound of fear?

The US aim was probably to get China to stay out of a conflict if either the US or North Korea starts one. Since nobody divulges their fallback position at the outset (well, apart from one person I know, anyway), this was probably wrapped in a request that China order North Korea not to do any more nuclear tests; to start getting rid of its nuclear weapons; to rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty; to allow IAEA (i.e. US military) inspections; to invite the Pentagon to set up a couple of bases on the Chinese border; and to make the Day of the Sun a movable festival and merge it with Easter. OK, I made those last two up.

I would say that a test or other action on 15 April is likely, my droogies.
I don't see how we can presume that US-Chinese talks have failed, b. China says it wants no nukes in either Korea. The Chinese are, I think genuinely pressing Kim not to conduct any missile tests. Is there a pressing reason to read stuff between the lines here?

And it's pretty clear that the Chinese don't really like Kim Jong-Un. They're in a hard position. If NK starts a war with the US, the US will win it quickly (and, in all likelihood, radioactively). The Chinese, to save face, should come to the military aid of their ally, as they did during the Korean war. But I don't think China feels that the doltish Kim Jong Un justifies a wider Chinese/US nuke-fest.

So the fallback Chinese position is probably making sure that no further US bases are built on the peninsula. I see no reason why the Americans wouldn't agree to that.
Everything's al-Qaeda these days. Last week Colbert, or Stewart, I forget which, had someone on who'd done a documentary ("Vice"?) about the defeat of the "Taleban" in the North West Frontier Province. Seemingly the Pakistani military noticed that they only controlled the area in machine-gun range of their fort, so they put machine guns on every building in town. But these are the same people who were causing trouble for the British Empire a hundred years ago, and for Alexander the Great slightly earlier. Just independent-minded fellows with kalashnikovs being attributed with a well-known brand name of villainy.

@Mr. Mike:
That Kim guy bought his nukes from AQ Khan's nuclear supermarket. The Islamic bomb needed a bit of outside funding. Damn cheapskate Saudis.

I've often wondered if Bush is stupid. Al Franken says he's very bright and sinister. I suppose it doesn't matter if he's an idiot controlled by evildoers or an evildoer himself pretending to be stupid. Well, I suppose an idiot could go rogue once in a position of nominal power. Like Joffrey in Game of Thrones.

Kerry's statement that a decision is needed very quickly wasn't between the lines. I think he went to ask China to stop North Korea conducting any tests, but that North Korea won't listen to China. Mainland Chinese interests might like eventually to take over the Kaesong industrial region, but could they really offer more than Seoul have been paying, and could they offer so much more that Pyongyang agrees to begin nuclear disarmament? I doubt it. North Korea would want a guarantee of Chinese military protection against any aggressor (US, Japan, South Korea), but may prefer the position they're in now...while insanely ignoring its dynamic. China could cut the oil supply, but won't. I think I would prefer it if both the US and China did nothing or very little, let North Korea conduct a test, and said how scary it was. Meanwhile the MI6 house journal is accusing China of sanctions-busting...
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