Welcome to the 21st century: Men operate
Israeli-built unmanned aerial
vehicle Hermes 900. Rebuffed by the U.S.-
at least for now – Colombian
authorities have reportedly turned to an Israeli firm to supply
the devices, which raise a multitude of questions
involving civil liberties,
human rights and international law.
Colombia Government Must Come Clean on Battle Drones (El Tiempo, Colombia)
“Before they overwhelm us
with killer aircraft, should we not be demanding some clarity? Who will pilot the combat ‘drones?’ Colombians in
uniform?Foreign consultants? Who will they be?
Where will they be? Will they do this from within our national territory? Or
from some foreign refuge, like CIA headquarters in Langley (Virginia)? To whom
will they answer if they commit a crime?”
Before they were
used for surveillance; now they roam for combat. Illusions are all well and
good, if they permit us to believe that this war can be won. But what price
does this chimera impose on us?
“Drones” - unmanned
aerial vehicles - already fly over the skies of Colombia. In March of 2009, FARC rebels announced that they had downed one of the
devices. Later, Hugo Chávez protested the overflight of a “drone” that had penetrated Venezuelan
airspace from Colombia.
The-then Defense Minister
Gabriel Silva had no problem trivializing the incident, saying that surely it
must have been “Santa’s sleigh.” Colombia, he added, does not have that
capability. Nothing could be further from the truth. Public opinion found out,
soon enough, that “drones” were being used to patrol the Caño-Limón-Coveñas oil pipeline [graphic, right]. But not much else
came to light
Last March, a cable
from U.S. Ambassador William Wood, revealed by WikiLeaks,
confirmed that in 2006, the government of the United States used ScanEagle “drones” to locate U.S. hostages. Since that time
they have also been used to gather information in real time from the FARC and drug traffickers. The use of surveillance
“drones,” both civilian and military, is common.
In the U.S., everyone
from municipal police forces to universities are
considering their use. And what about the use of “drone”
aircraft by the military? Even the United Nations hopes to integrate
them into its peace-keeping missions. But taking the step from surveillance “drones”
to combat “drones” is no small matter. That is what the Colombian government
wants to do.
This topic is being
aired in the U.S. political debate. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has asked the
White House to send combat “drones” to Colombia. Leon Panetta, the secretary of
defense, isn’t sure he wants to share this technology. Congress has also
imposed restrictions on it.
The truth is that Colombia hasn’t been
standing by with its arms crossed. It has already turned its gaze toward
Israel. Israeli firm Elbint has announced the sale of
a $50 million armed Hermes
900 to a Latin American nation [photo, left]. Although Bogotá hasn’t confirmed
the transaction, international defense circles take it for granted that this
sale went to Colombia. Or perhaps the strengthening of military relations with
Israel doesn’t go through normal business channels?
Posted by Worldmeets.US
Before they overwhelm us
with killer aircraft, should we not be demanding some clarity? According to an
investigation by the Brookings Institution, for every militant eliminated in
Pakistan by a “drone,” about 10 civilians are killed. Even so, on Monday the
White House defended their use. The Obama Administration refuses to answer the
questions posed by Philip Alston, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur
on Extrajudicial Executions. It goes without saying that the use of combat
“drones” should follow the same laws of war imposed by international human
Who will pilot the
combat “drones?” Colombians in uniform?Foreign consultants? Who will they be? Where will they be?
Will they do this from within our national territory? Or from some foreign
refuge, like CIA headquarters in Langley (Virginia)? To whom will they answer
if they commit a crime? Colombian authorities haven’t even confirmed if the
surveillance “drones” are operated by Colombian personnel.
The defense company
Vanguard has announced on its Web site its next job opening: “Position number
VTG-1206 - Unmanned Aerial Service Operator (UAS
Operator) - Colombia.” There are reasons for concern.
Worldmeets.US is a non-partisan, volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization that operates solely in the public interest. The opinions expressed in articles posted by Worldmeets.US are not necessarily those of Worldmeets.US, its sponsors, or its volunteers.