Sunday, November 11, 2007

Freedom to Assassinate

The British Ministry of Defence announced its mobilization of the Reaper, an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of gathering intelligence and unleashing quick, deadly strikes with its Hellfire missiles or laser guided bombs. The BBC reported the killer drone's use in Afghanistan.

The timing is interesting as an unclaimed missile strike occurred in Pakistan just as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's finger itched on pulling the trigger on martial law. Was it from a British Reaper? Consider elements from the news story:

Local people say the missile was launched from an unmanned drone aircraft and that the dead were believed to be militants.

The Pakistan military says it was not involved in the incident in the village of Danday Darpakhel.

In Washington the Pentagon has denied that a US drone plane from Afghanistan was involved. "Every indication was that there was no US military involvement in this activity that you've seen," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Correspondents say that US forces based in Afghanistan have used drones in the past to attack militants in Pakistan.

"A drone was flying very low and fired the missile. It destroyed three houses," a villager told the Reuters news agency.

Someone needs to tell those correspondents to update their fact books. The British now have the Reaper in Afghanistan. It's amazing the press has to ask the question in the exact right way to get an honest answer. The U.S. involvement is one of its companies made and sold the attack drone to the British. My guess is the Pakistani people don't draw such subtle distinctions. They might think "a democracy just destroyed my friend's family and house. Why would I want that?"