Niger reportedly approves placement of new U.S. drone base, armed missions are likely
By End the Lie
According to reports emerging today, Niger has given permission the United States permission to place yet another drone base, in this case aimed at conducting surveillance (and, most likely, deadly attacks in the near future) on Islamists in northern Mali and the wider Sahara in general.
This is just more proof that the drone was has become perpetual, even though it is still not actually guided by any formal rules and even when a so-called “playbook” is established, the CIA won’t have to follow it.
Perhaps even more troubling is the secrecy surrounding drones and the fact that the Obama administration does not have to explain why they claim to be able to legally assassinate Americans. Couple that with the rapid development of drone technology including perpetual flight, incredibly powerful cameras, facial recognition, automated tracking systems and in the near future fully autonomous systems referred to as “killer robots,” just to name a few developments, and you have a troubling picture.
Now Niger is reportedly going to join the other African countries who play host to American drones, although officially speaking, the only permanent U.S. military base is in Djibouti.
“Niger has given the green light to accepting American surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection of intelligence on Islamist movements,” said an unnamed senior government source in Niger, according to Reuters.
While many reports choose to focus on the surveillance aspect of the drone mission, one must remember that the types of long distance drones used for these missions are quite easily equipped with weapons.
Yet even if they stuck to only using the small surveillance drones – which is highly doubtful, given the large areas which would be monitored – they too could be equipped with missiles.
Indeed, as Homeland Security News Wire points out, while the drones flying from the base will initially be conducting surveillance missions, “there is little doubt that if targets present themselves, these drones will be equipped with missiles and go on hunting-killing missions.”
This is confirmed in a New York Times report which says, “For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.”
If the past is any indicator, which it usually is, it would be quite smart to bet that armed missions will occur. That is precisely what happened in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan – all places where there is no official war declared and official statements about which dubious at best.
According to the unnamed source, the drones could be stationed in the northern desert region of Niger, a highly strategic placement since it borders Mali, Algeria and Libya.
Unsurprisingly, the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) declined to comment on the issue, although it’s worth noting that General Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM, visited Niger last month.
When asked about the base, General Ham declined to comment on it in an e-mail to the New York Times, saying it was “too operational for me to confirm or deny.”
The New York Times cited unnamed officials who said that AFRICOM “is also discussing options for the base with other countries in the region, including Burkina Faso.”
While the U.S. presence in Africa is highly secretive, even Reuters points out that the U.S. “has drones and surveillance aircraft stationed at several points around Africa.”
Unsurprisingly, this is being twisted into a U.S. security issue, which is nothing short of absurd.
Last March, Ham made some typical claims in statements before the House Armed Services Committee.
“Without operating locations on the continent, I.S.R. [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] capabilities would be curtailed, potentially endangering U.S. security,” Ham said. “Given the vast geographic space and diversity in threats, the command requires increased I.S.R. assets to adequately address the security challenges on the continent.”
In other words, the military needs to continue expanding around the world and continue the growth of the deadly, secretive and highly questionable drone program or else the U.S. will be at risk.
I would truly be amazed if anyone still buys that type of fear mongering at this point after seeing what that same type of reasoning has done over the past two decades alone.
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