Faulty intel and drone wars

Reportedly, a massive information leak has led to the revealing of mass drone wars centered in portions of the Middle East and Africa. Coined as the “tyranny of distance,” the Obama administration has set up bases throughout Africa with the objective of eliminating the limiting effects that distance has on international security. This is interesting because it indicates that terrorist threats exist in Africa, and is one of the critical training grounds for Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Countries such as Cameroon, Ghana, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, South Sudan, Uganda, Sengal and Burkina Faso have all experienced beefed up security in the regions as of late. This has been part of the latest attempts to undercut terrorism in the region, and prevent it from stretching overseas into the United States or its allies. At Camp Lemonnier, one of the camps in Africa that is a U.S. military base, there can be 16 drones and four fighter jets spotted flying out of the base each day.

It is even more intriguing that whistleblowers have been persecuted in this great nation, despite their inherently valuable contributions to society. They are the equivalent of muckraking journalists, except they put even more on the line. Some whistleblowers, most notably Edward Snowden, have paid with their freedom. Others have had to stay in 4-by-4 cell, such as Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to a lengthy term in prison. I think that whistleblowers should be celebrated, but it’s a fine line to walk between heroism and espionage.

Is the Obama administration really justified in killing rather than capturing terrorists? Currently, there is a raging debate over this topic. There is a reasonable concern over the loss of intelligence as a result of killing terrorists instead of interrogating them.

This debate remains hotly contested to this day amongst the intelligence community, Joint Special Operations Command and a variety of other governmental bureaucracies. The Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Task Force argued for more advanced drones, increased naval weaponry and an overall increase in funding for state-based counterterrorist attacks.

Unsurprisingly, none of the intelligence community organizations commented on the leaks, since many documents were classified. This was very different to the reaction that the government had to Snowden’s leaks, however, which circulated throughout the world with an Orwellian-like choler and fear that clouded the globe. John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, was quick to criticize Snowden and demand that he come home and face American “justice,” or really just a 4-by-4 cell and 3 square meals a day. Obama defended the NSA, saying that they had found the right balance between invasion of privacy and protection of it. Here, however, they have largely remained quiet on the subject, and instead the Pentagon, White House and JSOC all declined to comment. The most controversial and mind-boggling part of the drone strikes leak is that sometimes intel can be faulty.

Faulty intel can lead to the death of innocent civilians—sometimes even U.S. citizens. Overall, this particular leak doesn’t seem to be gathering nearly as much wind and gravitas as the NSA leak by Snowden, or even the one conducted by Manning, which involved a number of top-secret military operations. Apparently, there is less than a 25 percent capture rate in operations that occur in the Horn of Africa, which means that less than a quarter of people are captured, and three quarters of the people are killed. There is a heavy leaning towards lethal striking, which is indicative of the caustic nature of the strikes.

There are many sound arguments made that indicate the loss of human life can be more detrimental to the intelligence community than it is necessarily helpful. This is something that the Obama administration is currently taking into account. Overall, this is another episode in the history of whistleblowers that has thoroughly shaped the nation’s history.