Calls for government to ‘come clean’ on role in assassinations
by Steve Sweeney
BRITISH military bases are being used in a secret US drone war, according to a report from Reprieve published yesterday.
The human rights charity demanded that the government “come clean” on the role of the bases in drawing up “secretive US assassination lists,” saying that the latest documents “are the strongest evidence yet that the US may be conducting its illegal, secret drone war from bases on British soil.”
Jobs advertised at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire, which is leased to the US, have included a vacancy for a “MQ-9 Reaper ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] mission intelligence co-ordinator.”
A private contractor advertising for “full motion video intelligence analysis in support of US Africom … and Special Operations Command Africa” operating from the same base indicates that Molesworth may be being used to support illegal drone strikes in countries including Somalia, according to Reprieve.
British ministers have stated that the US does not operate drones from British soil. However, they refuse to answer questions on whether bases in this country play a role in choosing targets and “drawing up the ‘US kill list’.”
Reprieve staff lawyer Jennifer Gibson said the British government has questions to answer about its involvement in the secret war.
“Simply to say that drones are not flown from the UK is missing the point, if it is personnel on British soil that are at the top of the so-called ‘kill chain’ and British agencies who are feeding targets into those lists.
“The US drone programme, conducted in the shadows, has killed hundreds of civilians without any accountability.”
Documents released recently by news website the Intercept exposed the role played by joint British-US intelligence base Menwith Hill in drawing up drone targets.
One document purported to show that Yemeni targets were “tasked by several target offices at NSA and GCHQ.”
Stop the War Coalition deputy chair Chris Nineham said: “This appears to be further evidence of Britain’s undeclared war on the people of Yemen.
“British forces are currently involved in seven different theatres and only one of these has had any democratic scrutiny.”
Warning of “an escalating series of foreign interventions,” he said the Reprieve report “underlines the need for campaigning for a 180-degree turn in UK foreign policy.”