An agency without agency

Paul Raven @ 11-02-2011

Yours truly, 28th January:

Egypt tweet, 28th January 2011 - Paul Graham Raven

Wired‘s Danger Room, 10th February (yesterday):

Twitter and the mainstream press are filled with rumors that Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak may be forced to step down as early as Thursday night. What does CIA Director Leon Panetta think? All he could tell a congressional panel on Thursday morning is that he, like them, is relying on the media for his info.

And how did that work out for you, folks?

Posted not for self-aggrandizement (well, maybe just a little bit), but to highlight the fact that professional intelligence gathering appears not to have caught up with the world it’s supposed to watch; another symptom of the declining reach of the nation-state in general, and the interventionist impulse in the US in particular.

You can’t control what you don’t understand; time to stop trying and start listening, maybe?


Military drone pilots could be prosecuted as war criminals

Paul Raven @ 29-04-2010

A while ago, we were wondering whether killing a drone or UAV pilot counted as a legitimate act of war. Still no word on that one, but there’s more bad news for the CIA drone pilots in the form of a professor of national security law who suggests that the drone pilots – and their superiors – could be prosecuted for war crimes in the countries where their attacks take place:

Loyola Law School professor David Glazier, a former Navy surface warfare officer, said the pilots operating the drones from afar could — in theory — be hauled into court in the countries where the attacks occur. That’s because the CIA’s drone pilots aren’t combatants in a legal sense. “It is my opinion, as well as that of most other law-of-war scholars I know, that those who participate in hostilities without the combatant’s privilege do not violate the law of war by doing so, they simply gain no immunity from domestic laws,” he said.

“Under this view CIA drone pilots are liable to prosecution under the law of any jurisdiction where attacks occur for any injuries, deaths or property damage they cause,” Glazier continued. “But under the legal theories adopted by our government in prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, these CIA officers as well as any higher-level government officials who have authorized or directed their attacks are committing war crimes.”

Somehow I can’t see that stopping the AfPak drone war any time soon, especially given how popular UAVs are with the US military nowadays – it’s gotta be easier to sign people up for battlefield wetwork when they can do it with no risk of being shot in return, I’m guessing. And hey, laws can always be superceded (or just plain ignored), especially if you end up winning.

Then again, they thought Nam would be a cakewalk, didn’t they?