What does the drone program actually produce if not intelligence? Bodies, of course. Those who die in drone strikes are “dead ends” for US intelligence. Even current Special Ops manager Joseph Votel agrees: “We get a lot more…when we actually capture somebody or we capture material than we do when we kill someone” (italics mine).
Side note: I appreciate someone in the military differentiating between people and raw material (in this instance at least). I found myself bristling at the conflation of subject (people) and object (intelligence/enemy/objective/thing) throughout the drone papers. I find the EKIA acronym highly disturbing—these are human beings.
So it seems the drone program is in the business of consumption; it consumes intelligence (and bodies let’s be honest) but doesn’t actually reciprocate any intelligence. This strikes me as odd given US foreign policy was so deeply invested in procuring intelligence that torture became standard practice. Maybe we could talk a little more about the policy shift from Bush (intelligence gathering) to Obama (find, fix, finish)?
I would like to briefly note that this website is a visual masterpiece—interactive to the point of making me uncomfortable. I assume that’s what the creators were trying to elicit, the discomfort of being thrust into the program yourself. I watched the “blink” in a transfixed state. I can see how these drone operators come to view the business of global killing as a game. And it’s scary.