Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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You Might Have Missed: Drone Strikes, Malaria, and Defense Contractors

by Micah Zenko
December 13, 2013

Foreign contractors arrive at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 17, 2012. (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters) Foreign contractors arrive at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 17, 2012. (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters)

Hakim Almasmari, “Yemen says U.S. drone struck a wedding convoy, killing 14,” CNN, December 13, 2013.

A U.S. drone mistakenly targeted a wedding convoy in Yemen’s al-Baitha province after intelligence reports identified the vehicles as carrying al Qaeda militants, two Yemeni national security officials told CNN on Thursday.

The officials said that 14 people were killed and 22 others injured, nine in critical condition. The vehicles were traveling near the town of Radda when they were attacked.

“This was a tragic mistake and comes at a very critical time. None of the killed was a wanted suspect by the Yemeni government,” said a top Yemeni national security official who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to talk to media. U.S. officials declined to comment on the report.

(3PA: It should not matter whether an individual is wanted by the Yemeni government, but rather they are lawfully targeted under the White House guidelines for lethal targeting. If this is not the case, then the real question is—why is the United States using armed drones to enforce Yemeni arrest warrants?)


The Iran Nuclear Deal: Does it Further U.S. National Security?” House Committee on Foreign Affairs, December 10, 2013.

Rep. Eliot Engel: Mr. Secretary, as you continue to engage with the Iranians, and I know you know this but I really need to mention it, I would urge you to remain cognizant of the fact that Iran remains the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world

(3PA: It is hard to make the case that the top ten terror groups (by number of attacks in 2012) are connected to Iran. In fact, if you look at the State Department’s own data, the top sponsors of terrorism in rough order would be Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, India, Somalia.)

Top Terror Perp 2012


Leon Panetta Revealed ‘Top Secret’ Information to Hollywood Filmmaker at bin Laden Assault Awards Ceremony,” Judicial Watch, December 10, 2013.

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained more than 200 pages of documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including a previously unreleased CIA internal report confirming that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed classified information at a June 24, 2011, bin Laden assault awards ceremony attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal.

(3PA: As expected, no one has been punished for this unauthorized release of the classified information.)


Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in the USCENTOM Area of Responsibility to Include Iraq and Afghanistan,” U.S. Department of Defense, October 2013.

DoD Contractor Personnel

(3PA: In Afghanistan, there are 65,000 U.S. troops and 85,528 contractors (27,188 of which are Americans.)


World Malaria Report 2013,” World Health Organization, 2013.

WHO Malaria Data

Modelling suggests that an estimated 3.3 million malaria deaths were averted between 2001 and 2012, and that 69% of these lives saved were in 10 countries with the highest malaria burden in 2000; thus progress is being made where it matters most.

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  • Posted by Phillip Bolster

    You know…. a day will come when somebody at the CIA will be able to look back on the slaughter which is drone strikes, and he or she will have access to the detail of the stories of 600+ and be able to see exactly how many

    were wedding parties
    or schools
    or tribal meetings
    or families eating dinner
    or kids playing in a field
    or guns that turned out to be sticks
    or dogs that turned out to be 2 year olds
    or informant supplied HUMINT which turned out to be bogus for reasons of vengeance or greed
    or rushed Ops based on knowingly shaky Intel
    or broad strike signature strikes
    or were double taps on first responders
    or purposeful strikes on funerals of drone victims

    etc etc etc

    and it WILL amount to a big folder of war crimes…. prosecutable under war crimes logic but with the irony being there IS no war… but there sure as hell are crimes.

    The utter myopically misguided hubris which is Pre-Crime Drone Strikes… funded entirely by 9/11 grief and fear.

    To do something because you Can not because you SHOULD is the easiest option….but rarely the right choice.

    What precedent, is being so irresponsibly set for the next countries to use Drone Strikes on whomever they deem a future threat under this new astonishingly unethical preemptive theory? China, Russia, India, Pakistan ALL have weaponized drones coming ‘online’ in the next couple years.

    The seemingly unstoppable momentum of drone strikes and the media which follows it has created such a fog and normalcy to the concept that we now accept it as a meme so readily we forget that we are talking about the execution without trial of thousands of men, women and children.
    People that don’t know about it don’t understand it and simply hear the word drone and their brains gloss over from the daily banality of the ‘drone’ news item and those who report on it and study it are so used to the concept they begin to forget the stark moral and ethical injustice involved and begin to treat it as an accepted brick in the wall of the new world when they should be shouting bloody murder from the rooftops and facing up to the very nature of pre-crime execution theory and asking and debating the raw bones of the issue instead of getting caught in the bureaucracy and grey areas which can so often deflate any poignancy in the counter argument through attrition and over complication of the issue involved. The irony in this sentence is not lost on me : )

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