Applewhite admits UAVs have been used for “indiscriminate killings”
Paul Joseph Watson
February 25, 2013
Testifying against a bill that would put limits on the use of unmanned drones in Washington state, industry lobbyist Paul Applewhite shocked a House Committee hearing when he said that drones had been used for “indiscriminate killings,” while arguing that the technology should be approved for “lethal force” within the United States.
Applewhite is president of Seattle-based Applewhite Aero, a company “founded to provide unmanned systems and training to government and industry.”
When asked if restrictions should be placed on the use of drones until the direction of where the technology is going becomes clearer, Applewhite responded, “My opinion is that the way that we’re currently using drones in warfare, we’re moving away from indiscriminate killing to discriminate killing,” prompting gasps from the audience.
Applewhite said the decision about “who gets zapped on the other side of the planet” was a “legitimate concern,” but advocated that unmanned drones be used to hunt down murder suspects domestically, as some suggested during the recent Christopher Dorner manhunt.
The lobbyist argued that the necessity to “document” the use of drones was discouraging law enforcement officials from deploying them, and that every police officer, “has lethal force on their hip – we’re saying we give them the judgment to be able to pull this thing out and use it up to and including lethal force.”
“Why is this technology so much different to say you’ve got it in your trunk, pull it out, use it now,” he added.
Up until now, unmanned drones have only been used for lethal purposes abroad in countries like Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although the Obama administration claims the drone program has been used to carry out targeted killings of known terrorists and militants, almost 5,000 people have been killed in total, many of them innocent bystanders, including at least 176 children. On average, 50 innocent people are killed for every suspected “terrorist” who dies in a drone strike.
“Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al-Qaeda,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said last week.
Three American citizens, including 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, have been killed by drone strikes but none so far on U.S. soil.
By advocating that authorities be given the power to use drones to assassinate targets on domestic soil, Applewhite is pushing for a Judge Dredd style system of justice where cops – and potentially the military and government agencies – become judge, jury and executioner.
“I was stunned along with the rest of the people in the hearing when I heard the stunning admission from Mr. Applewhite that we had at one time practiced indiscriminate killing in this country. This is absolutely the reason why we cannot trust a government that condones at any time indiscriminate killing of any person, especially without due process,” State Senate hopeful Travis Couture responded.
During his testimony, Applewhite also advocated that drones be parked permanently above schools as well as being used to monitor highways for traffic accidents, asking, “Why are we denying ourselves this great technology?”
However, he did express the fact that he was “Worried about one of these parked over the top of my house and being used for surveillance by an overzealous government.”
Applewhite’s insistence that armed drones be used to hunt down suspects domestically is unsurprising given the financial windfall it would offer for the industry he represents. As we reported last year, following remarks by Charles Krauthammer that the first person to shoot down a surveillance drone on U.S. soil will be a “folk hero,” the drone industry launched a PR blitz aimed at “bombard(ing) the American public with positive images and messages about drones in an effort to reverse the growing perception of the aircraft as a threat to privacy and safety.”
Earlier this month, Federal Aviation Administration Jim Williams said that current rules prevent drones from being armed within the United Stated and that “we don’t have any plans of changing [those rules] for unmanned aircraft.”
The Department of Homeland Security recently reiterated its intention to use “public safety drones” to spy on American citizens. Experts predict that there will be 30,000 surveillance drones in American skies by 2020 following a bill passed last year by Congress that permits the use of unmanned aerial spy vehicles on domestic soil.
In a related story, former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted yesterday that he was told by officials to not even acknowledge the existence of the drone strike program when he got the job, labeling the order “inherently crazy.”
“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program,” Gibbs said on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” on Sunday. “You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”
H/T – Mikael Thalen.