New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti, author of a book on drones, writes that a number of bungled drone strikes carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in Yemen led the Yemeni government to issue a temporary ban on drones launched from an American base in Djibouti. JSOC is said to “execute special operations missions worldwide”. It often recruits from the CIA’s Special Activities Division (SAD).
- In Pakistan, the C.I.A. remains in charge of drone operations, and may continue to be long after American troops have left Afghanistan.
- In Jordan, it is the C.I.A. rather than the Pentagon that is running a program to arm and train Syrian rebels.
- Despite Yemen’s JSOC ban, the C.I.A. feels free to wage its own drone war in Yemen, launching unmanned planes from Saudi Arabia.
A series of air strikes hit Yemen at the end of April. Country and military officials, security sources and eyewitnesses described how a US drone attacked a truck carrying alleged members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula but also hit a vehicle carrying civilians described as construction workers or ‘labourers’ in some reports.
Arrogant and unaccountable: the Pentagon declined to discuss the operations
A New York Times article reports: “American officials said the airstrikes had been carried out by drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, but an agency spokesman declined to comment. Other officials said American Special Operations military personnel had supported the Yemeni operations on the ground with intelligence and possibly logistical assistance. The Pentagon declined to discuss the operations”.
The words of Saad Rasool, a Lahore lawyer with a masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard, who heard the testimony of a man whose wife and two children were killed in a drone strike last year:
“There is no law that could have prevented the murder of his family, and there is none that can now bring the perpetrators to account. Innocent victims of drone strikes wait in vain for humanity to choose justice over lawlessness
“Being a superpower affords US the privilege to stretch the law whenever suitable, or ignore it altogether when needed, without any real consequence, except muted criticism from distant corners of an irrelevant world. And the feeble State of Pakistan can do nothing more than stretch out its bloodstained hand for more aid dollars.
“The US drone strikes are nothing more than a superpower violating another nation’s sovereignty and killing its people… simply because it can”.
A BOI overview of US/Yemeni operations carried out between April 19-21 operations can be seen here.