John Bellinger, the lawyer who drafted the legal justification for the Bush administration’s use of drones, recently stated that the Obama administration prefers killing suspected terrorists with drone strikes to capturing them and caging them at Guantanamo Bay. Though Obama often pontificates about fairness and freedom, it is evident that rather than closing the prison as he promised in 2008, he prefers to administer American justice not with indefinite detention but assassination. As inmates remain on hunger strike at Gitmo, protesting indefinite detention and disrespect for their religion, the government continues to promote its war of drones. Using carefully crafted talking points and the revolving door of Washington, the Obama administration flaunts its flagrant indifference to the human suffering it inflicts.
Bellinger’s becomes more disturbing when considering Obama’s public sentiments that prosecution of suspected terrorists should be “wiser” than the procedures at Guantanamo. Evidently, this means that instead of detaining prisoners (many innocent) without trial or charges , draining resources and the credibility of the government, it is wiser (more efficient) to simply drone murder future suspects. The “precision” made possible with this new trend in warfare allegedly ensures more accuracy and success in the war on terror, since one of the justifications of the government for using this weapon is to impede “imminent attacks against US interests.” Of course, the term “imminent attack” is as intentionally vague as Obama’s use of “wise” and “precise.” Further, it is by now old news that the definition of an enemy combatant has been expanded to include any male over the age of eighteen (and apparently wedding goers and mourners at funerals). The propaganda favors drones.
Aside from the manipulation of language, however, there is yet another component in the push for drones. William Lynn, the man who until 2011 ran day-to-day operations at the Pentagon, was previously the top lobbyist for Raytheon, a top producer of drones. He was nominated by Barack Obama in direct violation of his campaign promises to seal the revolving door in Washington. Further, in March of this year, the president presented a special award of honor and recognition to the company, championing all the technological advances Raytheon has made to “improve lives.” Needless to say, the suffering children in Pakistan and Yemen may disagree. So might the innocent prisoners who have waited hopelessly for a trial at Guantanamo and anyone who sees the satire in Obama’s possession of a Nobel Peace Prize.
The UN has declared the force feeding of hunger strikers at Gitmo to be torture and for years, the prison has been regarded as a disgrace to American justice. However, such cruelty is not enough destruction for the military industrial complex. Heartless bombings of civilians in the Middle East continue and are now preferred to a faux legal system in Guantanamo. While hunger strikers protest their denial of a fair trial, future terrorism suspects will never even be taken to prison.