A well-kept secret was revealed this week. The attacks on 9/11 could have been avoided. A drone operated by the United States Air Force had Osama bin Laden in its sights one year before the cowardly acts by terrorists were carried out inside our borders. This revelation guarantees that drones for military use and more will be with us forever.
Scott Swanson was an Air Force predator pilot in September of 2000. The camera on the drone he operated had Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden directly in his sights. There was a problem; the drone was unarmed. A man who would become the most wanted person in the world escaped his demise.
This incident did expedite the arming of drones with hellfire missiles. Thirteen months later the first armed drone strike occurred in Afghanistan, but not targeted for bin Laden.
Swanson wrote that he knew it was Osama bin Laden whom he had in his sights in Kandahar in 2000 because of his height and the way those around him demonstrated their respect; but he was unable to eliminate the man who was already wanted for attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, and was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.
Swanson’s report is directly responsible for the acceleration of the drone program. In 2004 CIA Director George Tenant referenced the incident in a report to the 9/11 Commission.
Osama bin Laden was finally disposed of on May 2, 2011. Navy Seal Team 6 killed him at a compound in Abbottabad, Afghanistan. His body was buried at sea to deny supporters a celebratory funeral.
Recent revelations inform us that the intelligence directed at finding bin Laden was primarily performed by female members of the CIA. The movie made about the elimination of the most wanted man in the world, ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ was very accurate depicting the details of the information regarding this significant event.
Since bin Laden was killed other terrorist leaders have been targeted, but not by forces on the ground. As of October 2013 an estimated 2,400 enemies of the United States have been killed by drone attacks.
Since 2004 nearly 600 U.S. drone strikes have taken place throughout the world. The majority occurred in Pakistan, followed by Yemen. Currently the focus is directed at terrorist leaders in Syria and Iraq.
The future of warfare is airborne. Terrorist groups use guerilla warfare tactics. Attempting to use ground forces to defeat them has proven futile in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of those in Washington claim that collateral damage resulting from drone strikes is immoral. These same legislators had no qualms about ‘shock and awe’ which killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. They cheered as ‘Agent Orange’ was used in Vietnam to kill vegetation which allowed us to eliminate more of the enemy. Agent Orange continues to be the cause of death for thousands of our former military who served in Southeast Asia. (Thank you Monsanto).
The United States has more drones than any other nation in the world. They range in size and military ability. Many are used for surveillance, but an increasing number are armed with missiles with various destructive capability. Sitting in San Diego a drone operator can see his target thousands of miles away and launch a far more effective attack than ground troops.
The nations of the world are cognoscente regarding the future of drones. The United States and China are continuing to develop laser weapons capable of destroying these small aerial weapons in flight, and before they can reach their targets.
By James Turnage