Boeing is competing for a $1.4 billion Navy contract to make the next combat drone
Drone Wars: No Real Change in the Obama Doctrine
Spurred by mounting controversy over the U.S. drone wars, President Obama gave a speech on May 23rd claiming that “the use of drones is heavily constrained. America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists; our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute.” However, in April, Yemeni activist Farea al-Muslimi testified before Congress about the drone strike which hit his village: the suspected terrorist was well known and could have been easily arrested.
President Obama insisted the only people targeted are “terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people.” This wasn’t true either:
– The sixteen year old American citizen, the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed by a drone strike as he sat having lunch with his cousins two weeks after his father’s assassination, ordered by President Obama.
– NBC reviewed classified intelligence reports on drone strikes in Pakistan over 14 months, and found the CIA did not know the identity of about a quarter of the casualties.
Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin bravely challenged Obama during his speech, asking if he can “stop the signature strikes killing people on the basis of suspicious activities?” The CIA doesn’t know exactly who it kills with signature strikes, which target people based on patterns of behavior without positive identification. A former CIA official revealed that at the height of the drone war in Pakistan, over half of the strikes were classified as signature strikes.
Pentagon Plan: Increased Role of Drones
Obama emphasized the phasing out of drone warfare with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but the projected $89 billion market for drones over the next decade says otherwise. The budget for manned aircraft is declining in the Pentagon’s new strategy, but the money for drone warfare is increasing. Boeing, the number two arms manufacturer, wants to keep the profits it makes from producing weapons, so the key element in its plans for capturing war spending is to build the Phantom Ray, its design for the upcoming contract with the U.S. Navy.
It’s time to end the drone wars, not prepare to build another generation of deadly weapons.