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“Coming soon, to an RAF base near you... "FLY SWATTING"!

"Recently, I spoke to a military official with extensive and wide-ranging experience in the special operations world, and who has had direct exposure to the targeted killing program. To emphasize how easy targeted killings by special operations forces or drones has become, this official flicked his hand back over and over, stating: “It really is like swatting flies. We can do it forever easily and you feel nothing. But how often do you really think about killing a fly?”'

By Joe_Sucksmith Posted: October 30, 2012

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  • Derp_Lincoln  |  October 31 2012, 9:20AM

    It's on the internet so it must be true! Hurrrrrr!

  • Lincoln_Biker  |  October 31 2012, 10:31AM

    Coming soon to an internet forum near you.... Gibberish spouting morons. Recently, I read some gibberish spouted by a crackpot campaigner, who had direct access to the internet. To emphasize how silly he is, he made spurious claims regarding personal access to high ranking military officials, and believes that they released information regarding the use of active military hardware. Should this type of person be banned from the internet?

  • M_C_Donald  |  October 31 2012, 12:59PM

    Methinks 'the author' should be renamed Suckersmith

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  October 31 2012, 10:59PM

    "Methinks 'the author' should be renamed Suckersmith" (M_C_Donald) What - for posting credibly sourced info (sorry about that, Lincoln_Biker) that makes the heavily indoctrinated a little *****ly? Sheesh... tough crowd.

  • TomWhimpole  |  November 01 2012, 12:07AM

    Giggle to yourself for getting on a website. Poor deluded fool.

  • Lincoln_Biker  |  November 01 2012, 9:28AM

    "for posting credibly sourced info (sorry about that, Lincoln_Biker)" Apology accepted. However, I'd like to refer you to the headline to this thread in which you state that you've personally spoken to some military official, then you post quotes from some chappy's blog like it's fact. Do you know that "blog" is short for web log, in other words it's no more credible than Facebook or Twitter.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 01 2012, 12:22PM

    "However, I'd like to refer you to the headline to this thread in which you state that you've personally spoken to some military official, then you post quotes from some chappy's blog like it's fact." (Lincoln_Biker) Ok, to clarify... The paragraph is a quote from the blog of Micah Zenko, of the Council on Foreign Relations - hence the inverted commas. I posted a URL beneaththe quote, but this was - seemingly - automatically removed. "Do you know that "blog" is short for web log, in other words it's no more credible than Facebook or Twitter." The medium of publication is a red-herring. What matters is the credibility of the person making the statements, their track record, the depth of their analysis, and so on. In this instance, the writer is an academic and publisher at the Council on Foreign Relations, with a track record of publishing on security matters, so it fits that he would have extensive connections and, specifically, access to military officials... who, from time to time, DO speak off the record - history is replete with examples. I would go further than this though, and say that the best journalism is generally published independently... via blogs, websites etc. And there are obvious reasons why this might be the case - go read Chomsky and Herman's Manufacturing Consent for an elucidation of the constraints that apply to the "reputable" press.

  • M_C_Donald  |  November 01 2012, 12:59PM

    Joe The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher. It concentrates on US foreign policy and affairs. The quote is from a comment written by Zenko (one man's view) in an evaluation of an article written in the Washington Post which was commenting on Obama's administration and its targeting programme. In that respect the quote is totally irrelevant to Waddington, the RAF and UK Government policy. In your presenting an out of context quote as a conversation you had with (an implied) UK military official you have done nothing to support you point of view (which you have not stated). As for accussing me of being heavily indoctrinated (which is wrong as I tend to take a considered view point), the same accusation can be made of those taking the opposite view.

  • Bolshie  |  November 01 2012, 1:25PM

    The quote is from an article Micah Zenko published in the Washington Post a few days ago and the quoted miltary source was possibly actually discussing something (in context) President Obama said recently about drones being 'impersonal' and too easy to 'wash your hands of the consequences' - unlike the use of Special Forces, which 'retained the human contact aspect so you thought harder before deploying htem than you might a drone'. Mr Zenko has a long-standing antipathy with both the use of unmanned aircraft to kill and the American Targeted Killing Programme aimed at eradicating Al Qaida - thus you might sensibly treat what he says with caution as it could be biased. Having read the background articles I thought it strange that a 'high ranking military source' with 'close links to the Targeted Killing Programme' would say anything so damaging to his own role and the government he serves - until you read the same paragraph as comment on Obama's published words and then cut it into an article where it has far greater impact supporting the authors anti-drone viewpoint. Even if I knew enough to hold firm views on the use of drones I'm not sure I would have trivialised the issue by presenting my case under a 'fly swatting' headline, nor do I see it as particularly relevant to the RAF given the source of the article is wholly American and none of Mr Zenko's work suggests any RAF link to the CIA Targeted Killing Programme.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 01 2012, 9:47PM

    I know. It IS all a bit of a mystery isn't it, M_C_Donald. Just WHAT is the relevance of the quote to "Waddington, the RAF and UK Government policy"? Hmmm. Well, I'll throw a few random thoughts out there... - The RAF and USAF currently operate drones from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. - The UK has just purchased a further 5 Reaper Drones, which are to be operated remotely from RAF Waddington. - The UK and USA have a "special relationship", which in practice sees them pursuing "joint" (= US) foreign policy goals, e.g. invasions of other coutries to "remove the threat of WMD", the targeting of "terrorists" bent on "destroying our freedom". - Evidence, and common sense, suggests that, as part of the broader intelligence sharing arrangements, the UK (GCHQ) is already sharing intelligence with the US (NSA, CIA) that helps faciliate drone strikes. I tell you: this one really has me stumped. It's like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. I wonder... are there any rocket scientists out there willing to lend their two cents?

  • Sir_Chasm  |  November 02 2012, 9:38AM

    I really must buy some shares in Bacofoil.

  • Bolshie  |  November 02 2012, 10:50PM

    @Joe_Sucksmith - you claim: "Evidence, and common sense, suggests that, as part of the broader intelligence sharing arrangements, the UK (GCHQ) is already sharing intelligence with the US (NSA, CIA) that helps faciliate drone strikes." I ask - what evidence you have that UK and US intelligence co-operate in any sense? - what evidence you have that intelligence shared by GCHQ with the US speciffically faciilitates drone strikes? Additionally: - what is the source of the 'joint' foreign policy goals you quote - I can't recall having seen any form of joint foreign policy statement made by teh UK with anyone, and none at all that includes phrases such as 'invade other countries' or 'target terrorists destroying our freedom' Please do enlighten me.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 03 2012, 12:52AM

    "what evidence you have that UK and US intelligence co-operate in any sense?" (Bolshie) Is this a serious request? I can't think so, given the abundance of freely available evidence, but... Google "UKUSA Agreement" and let the truth set you free! Government documents confirming the existence of this agreement were, finally, declassified in 2010 – you can find them on the web, if you have the inclination. There's also abundant evidence of other forms. My personal favourite is the "Koza memo", which – you might recall – was a memo issued by NSA employee, Frank Koza, to counterparts in GCHQ in the run up to the Iraq invasion, and which was leaked to the press by GCHQ translator Katharine Gun. The memo read: "As you've likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to [sic] membership is reacting to the ongoing debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/dependencies, etc—the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises." Patrick Radden-Keefe has written lots of good analysis on this (I recommend his book "Chatter"), and it's worth quoting him at length: "The informal language of the [Koza] memo illustrated the extraordinarily close and secret cooperation on communications intelligence between the United States and the United Kingdom. Gun was particularly goaded by the offhand manner in which Koza suggested that the eavesdropping would not include "US and GBR of course." But this has been standard protocol since the Second World War, when the US and Great Britain became symbio-tic partners in the interception and decryption of communications. The document governing this relationship, known as the UKUSA agreement, dates from the postwar period, and binds the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand on matters of communications intelligence. Today an extensive global in- frastructure for the interception of communications, born of that agreement, spans the planet. The communications intelligence agencies of these five countries operate listening bases on remote islands, in secluded val-leys, and in barren deserts the world over. They run a fleet of sophisticated eavesdropping satellites that hover miles above the earth's surface, intercepting signals. And "the take"—the millions of conversations, faxes, telexes, and e-mails that are intercepted by this apparatus every day—is distributed by automated methods among the allies." Source: http://tinyurl.com/bde7sx4 Then I have my own, admittedly anecdotal evidence, gleaned from friends and acquaintances who work, or have worked, at GCHQ. For instance, I have it on good authority (from an Intel ****ayst) that "if you take the US infrastructure out of the equation, the lights at GCHQ go out". Which of course suggests a relationship more akin to dependency than "sharing", and opens up the possibility of the US exercising effective "veto power" over UK policy (how often have we heard a UK politician say that such and such a course of action might damage our relationship with the US = withdrawal of intelligence sharing/support?). I could go on... ;-)

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 03 2012, 1:08AM

    "what evidence you have that intelligence shared by GCHQ with the US speciffically faciilitates drone strikes?" (Bolshie) Ok, first things first. Against the backdrop described above, it is - as stated already - simply "common sense" that the UK would be providing intel in support of military/drone operations; operations it is itself participating in! The "evidence" bit relates to the case currently going through the UK courts concerning the father of Noor Khan, who was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. From the "Bureau of Investigative Journalism": "Press reports indicate the UK government shares intelligence, including the location of suspected militant commanders, with the CIA. In 2010 the Sunday Times quoted 'insiders' claiming that GCHQ has better interception networks than the CIA in south Asia, and had shared information about the locations of al Qaeda and Taliban commanders in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. GCHQ told the Sunday Times all intelligence sharing was in 'strict accordance' with the law." Source: http://tinyurl.com/bhwdj3e "what is the source of the 'joint' foreign policy goals you quote." (Bolshie) Historical experience is sufficient to confirm to any reasonable observer that UK foreign policy is structurally linked to US foreign policy. Take, for example, the Iraq invasion of 2003, which was carried out by a "coalition" consisting of the US and the UK... along with the international heavyweights Australia and Poland. Or - and I'm dreadfully sorry to harp on about it - take the fact that the UK operates drones out of the US. Is this simply incidental to global proceedings, or does it suggest exceptionally close co-operation between the US and UK regards the "war on terror"? Perhaps it wasn't clear, but I used inverted commas, as in "joint", to signify that, in reality, the co-operative action between the two states dances to a US tune, something openly acknowledged by Chatham House back in 2003: "...the UK government has been conducting counter-terrorism policy 'shoulder to shoulder' with the US, not in the sense of being an equal decision-maker, but rather as pillion passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat." Source: http://tinyurl.com/b5w9ows Again, I could go on... ;-)

  • Bolshie  |  November 03 2012, 8:17PM

    Thanks Joe-Sucksmith, I think your anecdotal evidence represents a huge leap from a cold war co-operation agreement between a few english speaking nations within NATO and providing target aquisition support to the US Targeted Killing Programme today. Of course there will be co-operation between governments when their aims are similar and most of the contemporary threats we must defend against are not exclusively ours so it makes sense to ally yourself to a trusted partner(s). In our case we've generally done well through our ties to the US & NATO - improving national security through a 'mustered' response rather than one we can mount alone. I'm pretty sure your 'freinds' at GCHQ will understand the Official Secrets Act' and would not engage in any act of communicating information to people not entitled to access it so I guess you must be reading between the lines and turning innocent comments into something they're not. As far as I'm aware the UK UAV fleet is in the USA to capitalise on shared training and support opportunities. We are not alone in operating from Creech - Germany, Italy, France and several other countries also have detachments there for training - that doesn't mean we are bought in to the USA Targeted Killing Programme. I believe our UAV operate solely in support of troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Whilst we had only 5 it made sense to share resources with the USA and to learn from them - now the fleet is being expanded and we have sufficient expertise and suitable infrastructure to operate from closer to home we will do so - hence the move to Waddington; again that is not a sinister extension of the Targeted Killing Programme but the development in line with advances in technology of our own security screen and in line with our own defence policy, which remains allied to NATO and recognises our special relationship with the USA but is exclusively ours - not shared with or dependant on anyone else. I suspect you'll see sinister undertones and conspiracies in everything so we could argue the same points endlessly - I guess the truth will out in 50 or 60 years time so I for one will never know if what I believe now is correct. I therefore place my faith in our elected government and trust they will always do what is right for us, keeping secrets as neccessary to ensure the safety of those people entrusted with our national security. On which note I'm checking out of this discussion - thanks for your time.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 05 2012, 8:30AM

    Hi Bolshie, Thanks for the comments. A few brief rejoinders if I may, just to round off our interaction... "I think your anecdotal evidence represents a huge leap from a cold war co-operation agreement between a few english speaking nations within NATO and providing target acquisition support to the US Targeted Killing Programme today." (Bolshie) It's only a "huge leap" for people who haven't read up on UKUSA (and Echelon) and who believe, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, that our government "will always do what is right for us". To be clear: it is a mistake to believe that the UK gathers (signals) intelligence independently of the US. GCHQ, the UK's largest and most important intelligence agency, is merely a hub within a broader network ostensibly run by the US. The network's priorities are essentially the US's priorities (acceptance of this is the price of membership), and all data and analysis is SYSTEMATICALLY shared with the US. The case currently going through the courts concerning the killing of Noor Khan's father is thus proceeding on a somewhat flawed prospectus, to the extent that it assumes GCHQ is an independent actor, capable of withholding intelligence from the US. "I'm pretty sure your 'freinds' at GCHQ will understand the Official Secrets Act' and would not engage in any act of communicating information to people not entitled to access it so I guess you must be reading between the lines and turning innocent comments into something they're not." (Bolshie) No. The quote was verbatim. "...hence the move to Waddington; again that is not a sinister extension of the Targeted Killing Programme but the development in line with advances in technology of our own security screen and in line with our own defence policy, which remains allied to NATO and recognises our special relationship with the USA but is exclusively ours - not shared with or dependant on anyone else." (Bolshie) NATO has long been overtly dominated by the US – this is why de Gaulle took the French out of the organisation back in the 60s. Ever since the "communist threat" receded, NATO has been the vehicle to secure US interests, member states having bought into "pax Americana". So, to suggest that UK policy "remains allied to NATO" is to say nothing more than we are aligned with the boss man, the US. Regards the Waddington drones, what we CAN say with absolute certainty is that the acquisition of 5 new Reapers amounts to an "extension" of Reaper operations. Now, what is a Reaper? A Reaper is known in the trade as a "hunter killer", a ground attack aircraft that can spend considerable time in the air "hunting", before delivering a payload to a target. This is "targeted killing". What we have, by corollary, is an extension of targeted killing. So, the only question is whether "our" extended targeted killing programme will be closely co-ordinated with the US targeted killing programme. Which, for anyone who understands the extent to which US and UK operations are integrated, is a no-brainer. "I suspect you'll see sinister undertones and conspiracies in everything so we could argue the same points endlessly..." (Bolshie) I am not seeing "conspiracy" here. I'm simply drawing logical conclusions based on the available evidence regards UKUSA and the "special relationship". I would just add, by way of closing, that, above context in mind, the decision to operate "hunter killer" drones from Waddington radically increases the INSECURITY of everyone in the UK (but particularly those in and around Waddington) and demonstrates, beyond any reasonable doubt, that our elected leaders cannot in fact be trusted to "always do what is right for us". Appreciate your engagement.

  • Numb_Chumpy  |  November 05 2012, 9:32AM

    "Then I have my own, admittedly anecdotal evidence, gleaned from friends and acquaintances who work, or have worked, at GCHQ." Yes, I have some of those too and having sent them a link to this meisterwerk I have it on good authority that you're currently the subject of much amusement down there. Well, on one level, at least...

  • ckb911x  |  November 05 2012, 11:13AM

    Joe_Sucksmith - "Then I have my own, admittedly anecdotal evidence, gleaned from friends and acquaintances who work, or have worked, at GCHQ." Really???? A very good friend of mine worked there but it took him many years to tell me that - nothing of what he did, saw or heard was ever discussed. Maybe thinks have changed and security is not as tight now? I am struggling to figure out what your objections are to the stationing of the Reaper drones to Waddington though Joe_Sucksmith. Surely it is better that insurgents are engaged by remote units rather than putting the men and women of our armed services in the firing line? Using a Reaper drone is actually better than using a bomber or artillery.

  • Bolshie  |  November 05 2012, 7:30PM

    Joe_Sucksmith, one last rejoinder - I must take issue with your definition of 'targeted' because you use it in a single sense. There is a succinct difference between what you describe as the hunter/killer relationship - which is what I'd describe as target 'aqcuisition' as part of ongoing combat operations, and the definition applying to the USA's Targeted Killing Programme which is essentially a list of people considered enough of a threat to warrant their killing if the target can be 'acquired' - which is where intelligence including satellite surveillance imagry, imagery from both manned and unmanned 'spy' aircraft, and electronic communication interception comes in. At this stage the means to be selected to undertake the kill is broadly irrelevant. I believe we do use the Reaper to hunt and kill in context of furthering progress against aims on current operations but I'm equally convinced that we are not bought into the USA hit-list and would withhold intelligence regarding people they are targeting unless it suits us to do so - ie the target is a legitimate threat to UK security. I know that is at odds with your belief we cannot withold intelligence from the US and that we only employ our weapons when told to do so by the 'boss' and I can present no evidence to counter your claims and were I to do so you conspiracy theorists will twist it to suit today's purpose anyway. I also counter your reasoning France left the NATO military command because it was dominated by the USA. As I see it De Gaulle felt it was influenced to too great an extent by both the USA and the UK - he wanted a greater say and when he made no sense we weren't about to give it to him so he took his toys and left in typical schoolboy fashion. You neglect to mention this is now viewed as a mistake and France has rejoined the NATO military command. I believe the UK is a force for good in the world, I also believe we no longer have the firepower to stand alone in that world so need allies to ensure our collective security. That doesn't mean we will blindly follow our Allies or that we are anyone's puppet and we are quite capable of integrity even if it upsets our allies.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 05 2012, 7:37PM

    ckb911x, Yes, things have changed. The business of GCHQ is no longer a secret, so employees are encouraged to be a little more open these days... up to a point. I'm at a loss as to why you'd be "struggling to figure out what [my] objections are to the stationing of the Reaper drones to Waddington", but perhaps the following discussion might help clarify matters... http://tinyurl.com/czjshfx

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 06 2012, 8:36AM

    "I believe we do use the Reaper to hunt and kill in context of furthering progress against aims on current operations but I'm equally convinced that we are not bought into the USA hit-list and would withhold intelligence regarding people they are targeting unless it suits us to do so - ie the target is a legitimate threat to UK security." (Bolshie) You're not getting it, Bolshie. The "special relationship" means that threats to the US are, by definition, threats to the UK. Meanwhile, the infrastructure (both military and civilian) that has developed around this "relationship" ensures that, even if some rogue politcian or civil servant wanted to rock the boat (e.g. withhold intelligence), there would be a structural impediment to doing so... which ultimately brings us back to the "veto power" I mentioned earlier. Regards the Waddigton drones, what you seem to be saying is that they will be operating solely in support of UK troops, i.e against Taliban or "insurgents", with the "terrorists" on the US "kill list" exclusively targeted by US drones? Given the "special relationship" and all the above context, I think it's fairly clear that this distinction is specious. And, even if the remits of the US and UK drones WERE tightly defined, there would be huge cross over in practice due to the blurring of "insurgents" and "terrorists". As an illustration, whose remit do you suppose Mullah Omar, spiritual leader of the Taliban, falls within? Nope, for me, this is all hair splitting. The US is prosecuting a "war on terror". The UK is structurally compelled to follow the US in this endeavour, and its decision-makers, for the most part, DESIRE to follow due to the role conditioning effect of institutional structures. The UK drones are thus an instrument of the "war on terror".

  • Cloth_Ears  |  November 06 2012, 9:47AM

    After following your link to the discussion you started, it appears the people of Gloucestershire have embraced your views with the same verve the people of Lincolnshire have. Although, if you are after a more receptive audience, i do know of a dotty old bat, who just happens to be camped outside of the new home to these Reaper drones, who would more than happily buy into your sensationalist garb.

  • TB78WHlNE  |  November 06 2012, 10:05AM

    "perhaps the following discussion might help clarify matters..." It certainly has. I was wondering if it was just us you were spamming with the same old asinine, discredited and utterly worthless conspiracy theorist drivel.

  • eatmygoal  |  November 06 2012, 11:30AM

    I am against the use of drones, but it is when you see people from the same side putting on this load of nonsense that you begin to question your stance.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 06 2012, 6:14PM

    Cloth_Ears, That's the spirit! Although I'm not sure why you describe my argument as "sensationalist". Would you care to explain? TB78WHINE, "spamming"? My apologies, I had not realised someone was FORCING you to visit This is Lincoln and click on this discussion. ;-) Some questions for you: "asinine" - in what way? "discredited" – how so, and by whom? "conspiracy theorist drivel" - in what sense is my "drivel" conspiracist? eatmygoal, Crikey, I MUST be doing something wrong if I'm alienating people on the "SAME SIDE"… :-( Perhaps, comrade, you could help me out by explaining: WHY you are "against the use of drones"? WHY you feel my argument is a "load of nonsense"? Many thanks.

  • Bill_Door  |  November 06 2012, 8:27PM

    I don't always agree with Whine and he doesn't always agree with me. This is a good thing, it would be quite boring if we did. But I think he's absolutely right with the phrase "conspiracy theorist drivel". You ask why your drivel is conspiracist? It's a prirori, which in English means it's self-evident.

  • Bolshie  |  November 06 2012, 8:50PM

    Joe_Sucksmith, I think it is you who 'isn't getting it'. We've been round the buoy a few times on infrastructure dependance and I can find no way to sharing your belief we cannot stop another nation, friendly or not, from helping themselves to our intelligence. I've been part of the British military machine for the past 35 years and in my experience it is really hard to deliberately co-operate and share information with other countries so I can't imagine a situation whereby it is not only automatic but unstoppable. On that point we must agree to differ. On the targeting matter - how do you know Mullah Omar is on the USA hit list? How do I know he isn't? We can't be sure either way so drawing random hypothetical targets into the equation is unlikely to be helpful other than to create the fog that potty conspiracy theorists depend on to obfuscate clear issues and create the doubt they depend on for their ideas to flourish.

  • ckb911x  |  November 06 2012, 10:35PM

    Joe_Sucksmith - I have read the link you asked me to look at and to be honest half way through I got bored with what seems to be a number of people that know each other in some way simply ****ging each other off - there seemed to be nothing particularly constructive in any of the discussion thread. Exactly the same seems to be happening here, so I am again getting bored. Reaper Drones stationed at Waddington - basically the subject is irrelevant. It is an air base and Reapers are aircraft. Reapers are being used to target hostiles in Afghanistan - Yeah and?....... Tornado and Typhoon aircraft are being used for the same purpose and to no greater or lesser effect. British soldiers are on the ground being shot at, blown up, maimed and killed every day - I know which system I would prefer to be used to deal with the hostiles if it was my bloody head in the sniper sights. You argue that the Reapers are not in direct, full control of the British Military and are being used to conduct covert assassinations at the direct beckoning of the CIA - Surely this is a little paranoid? Why not say that any British Military operation as part of a UN force that also includes the USA has done the same. Let's be honest - the only sure thing about the whole Afghanistan saga is that so much of it is to do with the enormous untapped mineral reserves and the money that will be made by those that can get control of them - It's all to do with politics, control, money and power. And I'm not just talking about the West - the Taliban and the feudal lords of Afghanistan want to control the civilians for their own gains. Whether that be the poppy fields, the opium or the gas and oil. And, as with any conflict through history the innocent are caught in the cross-fire and pay the ultimate price. Personally I think that we, Britain, should never have been involved in the Iraq invasion and we should also have never set foot in Afghanistan. But not because of some liberal, anti-war view. It is an unwinnable conflict and British service personnel have died at the behest of politicians who are trying to line their own nests. Both countries are historically feudal, civil waring nations and cannot be controlled in the way we in the West see as the norm. History teaches us this - The British Empire invaded both of these countries in the past and could not enforce 'Control' then. If the Reaper drones save one British service man's / woman's life then that is good enough for me. I will let the rest of you get back to your petty squabbling and character assassinations. Good night all

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 07 2012, 1:31PM

    I think you mean "a priori", Bill_Door. From your usage, it's far from clear that you understand what this phrase means, but since I'm in a generous mood, I'll assume you were *attempting* to suggest that my argument was based more on assertion than evidence. Needless to say, I disagree.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 07 2012, 1:32PM

    Bolshie, GCHQ is a CIVILIAN agency that acts as regional hub within a global eavesdropping network, so we're talking a completely different scale and scope to the intelligence architecture within the military. The "dependence" thesis, meanwhile, is derived from my research on this network, a highly credible admission from an analyst at the agency, and – most importantly – the "fit" of the thesis with US-UK relations. Btw, I've also spent time in the military. Does this make my perspective more "credible"? "On the targeting matter - how do you know Mullah Omar is on the USA hit list? How do I know he isn't? We can't be sure either way so drawing random hypothetical targets into the equation is unlikely to be helpful..." (Bolshie) Imagine FIFA had come up with an official dream team, but the players' names were still under wraps. If I suggested Lionel Messi might just feature, would this be a reasonable assumption or a "random hypothetical"? "...other than to create the fog that potty conspiracy theorists depend on to obfuscate clear issues and create the doubt they depend on for their ideas to flourish." (Bolshie) I know... Messi in the dream team!? I'm telling you: this guy can see conspiracy ANYWHERE. ;-)

  • TB78WHlNE  |  November 07 2012, 1:47PM

    ""spamming"? My apologies, I had not realised someone was FORCING you to visit This is Lincoln and click on this discussion. ;-)" I'm not forced to read the spam in my junk mail folder. That doesn't stop it from being spam.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 07 2012, 2:33PM

    ckb911x Not much time, so I'll drill down if I may... "...there seemed to be nothing particularly constructive in any of the discussion thread." (ckb911x) That's not entirely fair, but you're right about the sniping. I endeavour to steer clear where I can, but I DO have this uncanny knack of attracting smears, and – from time to time – lose a bit of patience. Particularly with those who advocate genocide, as happened on the other thread. "You argue that the Reapers are not in direct, full control of the British Military and are being used to conduct covert assassinations at the direct beckoning of the CIA." (ckb911x) Not quite what I've been arguing, no. I've argued that the drones will be used in a programme of targeted killing within the context of the "war on terror", which is of course, first and foremost, a US policy... to which we are structurally and institutionally wed. Why not say that any British Military operation as part of a UN force that also includes the USA has done the same." (ckb911x) I don't really disagree. The UK military is indeed a spear-carrier for the US. They go wherever the US wants them to go – Iraq, Afghanistan, the tribal areas of Pakistan... a bit like mercenaries, I suppose. The US says "jump". The UK says "how high"? ;-) "Let's be honest - the only sure thing about the whole Afghanistan saga is that so much of it is to do with the enormous untapped mineral reserves and the money that will be made by those that can get control of them - It's all to do with politics, control, money and power." (ckb911x) I COMPLETELY agree with this. But I'd keep it under your hat if I were you, as the folk here will start labelling you a "conspiracy theorist"… "If the Reaper drones save one British service man's / woman's life then that is good enough for me." (ckb911x) Right. Now we're back to the imperial discourse that was the subject of the other thread, and which you didn't find "particularly constructive"… All for now.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 07 2012, 2:52PM

    "I'm not forced to read the spam in my junk mail folder. That doesn't stop it from being spam." (TB78WHlNE) The difference being that your mail folders are your own personal space, whereas this is a public forum that you are CHOOSING to visit. And not only are you visiting, you're also CHOOSING to click on the discussion, then CHOOSING to submit comments that, insofar as they are nothing whatsoever to do with the matter at hand, constitute spam. Oh, the irony.

  • ckb911x  |  November 07 2012, 3:03PM

    "...there seemed to be nothing particularly constructive in any of the discussion thread." (ckb911x) In hind sight I should have said 'in most' rather than 'in any' - it was late and I was tired. I think that some of you guys on these threads are on a slightly different interlectual level to myself - this is not meant as a disparaging remark. A number of you have a much better command of the English language and I tend to phase out when presented with numerous words and descriptions that I don't really understand what they mean - Yes, I could try and look them up to fully understand the meaning and context but I'm lazy and have a short attention span with the written word. I don't quite get all of what is being said here but I shall wear my poppy proudly and continue to support our lads and lasses that are in places they would prefer not to be all because of politicians even if this means I am in favour of the Reaper Drones.

  • eatmygoal  |  November 07 2012, 3:26PM

    Joe. I am against the use of Drones for the initial reason you posted, that there is a relative detachement from what is being done. Also because they are so easy and clinical in their action they might be used when lethal action other wise would be given more thought. They also cut out the whole trial process and there are questions over what and who are legitimate targets. They are all things that have been debated. But then all this blather about GCHQ and collusion etc makes me think I am on the wrong side. The other side seem to be far more rational.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 07 2012, 5:48PM

    eatmygoal, "I am against the use of Drones for the initial reason you posted, that there is a relative detachement from what is being done. Also because they are so easy and clinical in their action they might be used when lethal action other wise would be given more thought. They also cut out the whole trial process and there are questions over what and who are legitimate targets." ... is sort of anti-drone-lite. But, better anti-drone-lite than pro-drone, I suppose. ;-) "...But then all this blather about GCHQ and collusion etc makes me think I am on the wrong side. The other side seem to be far more rational." ...is smear, not argument. Which SPECIFIC aspects of the argument presented are "blather"? Come on, old cheese, let rip and break into a paragraph! Fwiw, I think the problem here is that there is genuine, and understandable, ignorance regards the extent to which US and UK foreign policy is integrated. There can be legitimate debate about the EXTENT of this integration (and with regard to signals interception I'm presenting a "dependency" thesis, which fits the available evidence, and - I note - is yet to be seriously rebutted), but it's no longer a tenable position to argue that the UK operates independently of the US. The mode and character of mass communications interception is an especially relevant sub-topic given that GCHQ is charged, by solicitors Leigh Day & Co (acting on behalf of Noor Khan), with "serious criminal offences" through its provision of "locational intelligence" to the US for use in drone strikes (see here: http://tinyurl.com/a2nw5fm).

  • Numb_Chumpy  |  November 08 2012, 9:33AM

    "Fwiw, I think the problem here is that there is genuine, and understandable, ignorance regards the extent to which US and UK foreign policy is integrated." Yes. On your part.

  • eatmygoal  |  November 08 2012, 11:30AM

    "... is sort of anti-drone-lite. But, better anti-drone-lite than pro-drone, I suppose. ;-)" Yes I suppose having an ethical opposition to drones and their use is not as good as using it as a starting point to some ramblings about GCHQ. You have asked me to elaborate on this and to be honest I see little point as this has already been done by others. Saying you have mates in there etc doesn't really stand up for me. What you would call anti drone full fat, in my opinion gets in the way of a decent debate about their use. Lumping in all your other allegations and assumptions undermines a case against drones from the ethical stance. In the same way when I talk about prison reform I am a flip flop wearing lefty, when I talk about anti drones I would be a tin foil hat wearing, anti moon landing chap

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 08 2012, 5:41PM

    "Yes I suppose having an ethical opposition to drones and their use is not as good as using it as a starting point to some ramblings about GCHQ." (eatmygoal) With respect, your considerations were PRAGMATIC rather than "ethical" – drones are too "detached", too "clinical", can't differentiate between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" targets, and so on. Has it crossed your mind that there could be ZERO legitimate targets in the "war on terror"? That the "war on terror" might itself be illegitimate and immoral? This is why I described your perspective as anti-drone-lite. My apologies if it offended. "You have asked me to elaborate on this and to be honest I see little point as this has already been done by others." (eatmygoal) …is evasion. "Saying you have mates in there etc doesn't really stand up for me." (eatmygoal) This is merely one strand of a larger evidence base that supports a thesis of structural linkage and "dependence". Now, I would suggest that if you wish to seriously refute this thesis, a good starting point would be to consider the alternative thesis – that the UK acts independently to the US – then see how the evidence stacks up. "What you would call anti drone full fat, in my opinion gets in the way of a decent debate about their use." (eatmygoal) I disagree. A "debate about their use", within the parameters you outline above, simply obscures the root problem, namely the UK's structural relationship with the US, and the foreign policy (e.g. "war on terror") that flows from this. "Lumping in all your other allegations and assumptions undermines a case against drones from the ethical stance." (eatmygoal) My interest is in ascertaining the extent of the structural impediments to the UK charting a genuinely independent, and hopefully moral, foreign policy… as opposed to becoming mired in superficial, abstract debate about "which targets are legitimate". "In the same way when I talk about prison reform I am a flip flop wearing lefty, when I talk about anti drones I would be a tin foil hat wearing, anti moon landing chap" (eatmygoal) I've read this sentence a few times and am fairly certain it doesn't make grammatical sense. But it's another "conspiracist" smear, right? At the risk of sounding a bit of a bore, could I request that you flesh out, perhaps over a few paragraphs, exactly which aspect of my argument you feel is conspiracist? Is it my references to a "global eavesdropping network", perhaps? If so, please do some research before commenting again. You could start here: http://tinyurl.com/5taxl53

  • eatmygoal  |  November 08 2012, 6:23PM

    "Has it crossed your mind that there could be ZERO legitimate targets in the "war on terror"? " From my second post on here. "They also cut out the whole trial process and there are questions over what and who are legitimate targets" ""You have asked me to elaborate on this and to be honest I see little point as this has already been done by others." (eatmygoal) …is evasion" Is saving time. "I've read this sentence a few times and am fairly certain it doesn't make grammatical sense" Oop, stooped to that level? Reads perfectly well, if not perfect English. When I debate liberal issues I am tree hugger due to more extreme views of others. When I debate drones I am a tin foil hat wearer because other on hear post conspiracy links. Clearer or is my English that poor and you no be able to work out what it mean? What you say does get in the way of a decent debate. Coming on giving links to unproven conspiracies don't help. While you may think my stance is not really a great one, it at least deals with what can be seen and what is a certainty. We can debate whether the use causes greater collateral than other methods, we can talk about which targets are legitimate etc. Then we can say whether we think it is reasonable to kill suspects not actually those who are proven guilty. However what you want to debate is things that are denied by governments and largely unproven. This detracts from a decent debate.

  • Bolshie  |  November 08 2012, 7:50PM

    @Eatmygoal - thanks, some sense on the page; though I suspect no amount of sense will divert Joe_Sucksmith from believing his view is the right one. Interesting point (to me anyway) is that Joe_Sucksmith seems to believe that the availabilty of drones has given rise to then enabled the Targeted Killing Programme and that we (the UK) provide them (the USA) with intelligence regarding the location of people they are targeting because we're powerless to stop them. I think those beliefs are flawed - nations have targeted individuals for assassination in order to further their military or political aims for centuries, drones simply makes it easier to operate across international borders for both surveillance and killing. Secondly - the USA 'hit-list' is top secret and shared with no-one outside the USA Defence Council so how can we possibly help them with intelligence support? - That is why Joe_Sucksmith creates the smoke around GCHQ to hide his illusion that we can't stop them helping themselves to whatever they want of ours. Having tried to unpick his ramblings I've begun to conclude his issue actually isn't with drones but with the USA, and that his waffle is more about Joe (and perpetuating his moment in the spotlight) than the issue he raises.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 10 2012, 1:56PM

    "Interesting point (to me anyway) is that Joe_Sucksmith seems to believe that the availabilty of drones has given rise to then enabled the Targeted Killing Programme and that we (the UK) provide them (the USA) with intelligence regarding the location of people they are targeting BECAUSE WE'RE POWERLESS TO STOP THEM" (Bolshie, but my capitalisation). I think you've misunderstood (or perhaps I've not explained clearly) what I mean by "structural linkages", at least as far as the intelligence sharing aspect of US-UK relations is concerned. I'm not really referring to automation, although there is some evidence for this. I'm referring more to the AGREEMENTS that bind the states lower down in the hierarchy, coupled with institutional structures and bureaucracies that act to condition the individuals within them... the net effect of which is that intelligence WILL be shared with those higher in the hierarchy, whether those lower down like it or not. "Secondly - the USA 'hit-list' is top secret and shared with no-one outside the USA Defence Council so how can we possibly help them with intelligence support?" (Bolshie) How do you know that the "hit-list" is "shared with no-one outside the USA Defence Council"? Do I take it from this that you think there's nothing to the case brought by Leigh Day & Co? Do you think a debate that takes the US's right to formulate a "kill list" as a given is an objective way to proceed? "That is why Joe_Sucksmith creates the smoke around GCHQ to hide his illusion that we can't stop them helping themselves to whatever they want of ours." (Bolshie) No, I'm suggesting something a bit more nuanced than this. "Having tried to unpick his ramblings I've begun to conclude his issue actually isn't with drones but with the USA..." (Bolshie) To be honest, this isn't far from the truth. My "issue" is the "war on terror", which – as already stated – is, to all intents and purposes, a US policy platform, to which the UK would appear structurally and institutionally attached. The drones are a particularly ugly, modern manifestation of the "war on terror", but they're not "the issue" per se. "...and that his waffle is more about Joe (and perpetuating his moment in the spotlight) than the issue he raises." A little below the belt, Bolshie, but Ill let it ride. Thanks for the further comments.

  • Joe_Sucksmith  |  November 10 2012, 2:03PM

    "From my second post on here. "They also cut out the whole trial process and there are questions over what and who are legitimate targets"" (eatmygoal) These and the other issues you cite are all pragmatic considerations within a framework that reflexively assumes "they" are the terrorists and "we" are the victims. Have you stopped to consider that the reverse might be nearer the truth? That a debate proceeding on the basis of UNIVERSALITY might be rather more illuminating than a debate about which targets "we" can legitimately hit? "...What you say does get in the way of a decent debate. Coming on giving links to unproven conspiracies don't help. While you may think my stance is not really a great one, it at least deals with what can be seen and what is a certainty. We can debate whether the use causes greater collateral than other methods, we can talk about which targets are legitimate etc. Then we can say whether we think it is reasonable to kill suspects not actually those who are proven guilty. However what you want to debate is things that are denied by governments and largely unproven. This detracts from a decent debate." (eatmygoal) Ok, I get it now. A bit like having a really constructive debate about the US response to 9-11, only for the "truthers" to reveal themselves half way through and screw the whole thing up, right? Yes, I admit this can be frustrating. I don't recognise that dynamic going on here though. What I DO sense is that contributors: (a) are not familiar with the now mainstream body of literature that exists on "echelon", the network that was the subject of a year-long study by the European Parliament over 10 years ago, the conclusion of which was that the network did indeed exist; (b) have misunderstood the "dependency" thesis I presented earlier, which doesn't, as far as I can see, extrapolate beyond what is already generally accepted, namely that the network exists AND is hierarchical; (c) have not grasped the centrality of physical and institutional/bureaucratic structures, some of which cross borders, to the formulation of a state's foreign policy (pick up an International Relations textbook and there'll likely be a number of chapters devoted to these matters). Thanks for the further comments.

  • ckb911x  |  November 10 2012, 7:59PM

    Can I ask you a few direct questions Joe_Sucksmith? Do you currently or have you previously worked in or for the UK military services or any of the intelligence services? Do you actually have any accredited citations for the theory / thesis that you are trying to put forward in your posts? The reason that I am asking such blunt questions is to try and get to the truth and unless I am being dense, which to be honest is quite possible, all of your claimed evidence of what you say is happening seems to be hearsay and anecdotal. It has been stated more than once that the use of drones is not acceptable because "there is a relative detachement from what is being done. Also because they are so easy and clinical in their action they might be used when lethal action other wise would be given more thought. They also cut out the whole trial process and there are questions over what and who are legitimate targets." Can I please ask how the use of a drone over an artillery barrage or a Typhoon aircraft is any different? All methods have "eyes on target" for acquisition purposes. To me there is only one real question that needs to be asked - "Are legitimate hostile targets being acquired and destroyed?" The method of how a legitimate hostile target is being destroyed is totally irrelevant. However, the level of casualties inflicted by the hostile target while being destroyed is very relevant. Let's not be naive here, accidents do happen. I would hate to try and collate the number of British service personnel that have been injured or died due to a "Blue on Blue" contact. This is nothing new - Thousands of soldiers have died in the last one hundred years because of being targeted by their own side. But also let us not forget the fact - and this is the part of armed conflict that I do have problem with - that innocent civilians do accidentally get caught in the crossfire. From our side I would like to believe that our troops do their very best to try and stop it from happening - but I am sure that we are all very aware of the fact that the hostiles in Afghanistan do not share the same philosophy and see civilians as either an inconvenience or a shield to hide behind. The initial and irrelevant shock title used by Joe_Sucksmith is just that - Totally irrelevant and pure sensationalism. This said, it has produced a very lengthy discussion thread - all be it that most of the text has been produced by Joe. I believe that Joe_Sucksmith is totally opposed to any form armed conflict regardless of the legitimacy of it. I'm sure if I am wrong you will set the record straight Joe. So to all of you that are reading and also posting - I think the question that needs to be posed is "Are legitimate hostile targets being acquired and destroyed and is it really relevant how this is being accomplished so long as innocent civilian and UN personnel casualties kept as low as possible?" I have stated that I do not personally believe that our troops should be in Afghanistan - I do not - but courtesy of Tony Blair and all his yes men they are there now and I will support them. I do not believe all the reasons that we are told as to why they are there. But I do believe that there are a great number of people in Afghanistan that would wish to harm me, my family and a great number of other people that live in Britain because of some twisted viewpoint. Who can truly say that we would be better off out of Afghanistan? For all we know without the UN out there we could be in a position in this country that makes the IRA bombings of the 70's and 80's look like a picnic. - Mind you, that was all to do with money, power and control and nothing at all to do with religion as claimed also.

  • ckb911x  |  November 10 2012, 8:28PM

    Oh, Joe_Sucksmith - I have had a quick look at the ECHELON thing and the first link that pops up is bl**dy Wikipedia !!!!! And even in that article it states that the European Parliament investigation concluded "evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system" Now, correct me if I'm wrong but "indicate" does not mean "proof of" It is ambiguous. A sulphurous smell indicates that someone may have farted - it doesn't prove it. It could be someone has cracked open a rotten egg or bad drains. Referring back to the article about ECHELON - there are repeated requests for citations to verify the statements - I cannot accept it as anything more than hearsay.

  • Bolshie  |  November 10 2012, 10:48PM

    Joe - I thought I'd resist throwing more fuel on this fire but feel I must have another say in response to your latest post: To quote you - "I have stated that I do not personally believe that our troops should be in Afghanistan - I do not - but courtesy of Tony Blair and all his yes men they are there now and I will support them. I do not believe all the reasons that we are told as to why they are there. But I do believe that there are a great number of people in Afghanistan that would wish to harm me, my family and a great number of other people that live in Britain because of some twisted viewpoint." A few questions fall out of that: What reasons for British Troops being in Afghanistan have you been given that you don't believe? Who are these people that you feel wish to harm you your family and the rest of Britain becuase of the actions of British Troops in Afghanistan? Do you know of any of the population of Afghanistan that wouldn't wish you harm because of the actions of British troops? Do you know how the numbers of both groups arising from your answers to the 2 questions above stand as a percentage of Afghanistan's population? Do the people you think wish you harm as a result of British military activity in Afghanistan live there or in other countries? Do you know of anything good the British military has done in Afghanistan and for which local populations are grateful? Would you consider those that seek to perpetuate instability in Afghanistan in order to use it as a terrorist safe haven and to generate the income they need (from the narci=otics trade) are a legitimate target of the war regardless of where they are currently resident? "Who can truly say that we would be better off out of Afghanistan? For all we know without the UN out there we could be in a position in this country that makes the IRA bombings of the 70's and 80's look like a picnic. - Mind you, that was all to do with money, power and control and nothing at all to do with religion as claimed also." Do you have any evidence the UN have been useful in Afghanistan? or anywhere? Are you saying the UN are effective in conflict prevention and it is they that are keeping this war from our shores? My experience is that our own DFiD is better! In your military service have you ever worked with the UN or under one of their 'mandates''? If yes was it a pleasant or frustrating experience? (Think about the years the Balkans conflict lasted longer than it should have because of their dithering). Do you not consider that keeping the leadership of Al Quaida and the Taliban's head down (wherever they are today and not limited to the current 'battlefield' range parameters) - with the threat of being zapped by a drone launched missile is at least as effective in keeping the conflict where it is and is more effective in preventing it spreading than all the hot air the UN can generate in discussion of the same issues? Why do you believe the IRA 'war' with Britain was about religion? As I recall religion was a factor but certainly not the raison-de-etre.

  • ckb911x  |  November 11 2012, 1:22PM

    Hi Bolshie - Sorry but you have directed your last message at the wrong person. It was me, ckb911x, that needs to reply to you not Joe_Sucksmith.

  • ckb911x  |  November 11 2012, 3:59PM

    Hi again Bolshie - ckb911x here to try and answer the questions that you have posed. Having read your post I feel a little embarrassed as I think you have pointed out a number of contradicting points in my own post. But I will do my best to argue my point and if necessary concede where I have made a bit of an **** of myself. I have just read through my whole reply to the questions that Bolshie asked me and I cannot post it. I am out wordsmithed and I realise that if I try to justify a specific comment then my answer appears to be conspiracy theorist and I will not be drawn into this very hazy form of argument. To keep it simple Bolshie - No, I do not have any evidence to corroborate any of my statements. I do not have any accredited citations to back up what I have written. They are my own personal views that, right or wrong, I have decided to put up for public scrutiny. I am not asking anyone to accept this as the ultimate truth. If you read it and think I'm wrong then that's fine by me.

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