The Predator drone pilot’s cockpit is a safe, air-conditioned trailer. They do not breathe the air of the foreign lands their bombs destroy. Yet they are able to snuff out lives on the ground with the push of a button.
The scrutiny directed towards drone pilots continues to increase as more open their eyes to discover the number of innocent women and children killed by drones. The use of the “double tap” drone strike tactic has elicited outrage. This disturbing tactic, which was explained in an article published by The Atlantic, targets first responders and mourners attending the funerals of those killed during the first strike.
The last thing drone pilots needed was more bad press, but this week news broke that paints the profession in a criminal light.
Earlier this week, AZ Central reported that Twenty-one National Guard Airmen will face felony charges for allegedly bilking $1.4 million tax payer dollars through an expense scam. All of those listed in the indictment belonged to the Guard’s 214th Reconnaissance Group, which operated top-secret Predator drone flights over Iraq and Afghanistan.
This was not a minor racketeering scam. Most of the defendants collected more than $100,000 by falsifying expenses between 2007 and 2010.
It is unclear how these charges relate to misconduct uncovered in 2009. In that investigation, Air Force auditors discovered more than twenty airmen had submitted false expense claims. As a result of the 2009 revelations airmen were disciplined and ordered to reimburse what they had illegally acquired. Criminal conduct was to be forward to the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigation.
The charges brought this week were filed by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and not by federal prosecutors. The reason for this was not supplied.
These charges are disturbing, but they should not be surprising. Drone pilots are routinely given the opportunity to play God when they are handed the controls to a Predator drone.
This type of scandal is not unique to drone pilots. In fact, it is common to all centralized governments. The modus operandi for the State squandering tax payer dollars is normally discrete and cloaked in compassion.
Governments never heed market signals and the only stakeholders they aim to please are the special interests that keep them in power. There is no incentive for government to work more efficiently in order to finish a project ahead of schedule and under budget.
In the world of government there is no such thing as going out of business. Wasting more simply means there will be a bigger budget the next year.
The National Guard Airmen being charged with felonies acted too brazenly in their theft of taxpayer dollars. If they were not made an example of, then the rest of the State apparatus could possibly be exposed as a complicated racketeering scam that survives off the production of the tax paying citizens.