Bingen, WA – Insitu is a local Washington subsidiary of Boeing, whose main purpose is to produce ScanEagle drones, which provide intelligence to the U.S. Army in countries like Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan—specifically the province of Waziristan. Schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods have been attacked by the larger Boeing X-45, with targets being alleged terrorists, and actual victims ranging from schoolchildren to humanitarian aid workers, journalists, and local women. One set of statistics implies that 9/10 victims of drone strikes in the Middle East and Northern Africa are innocents, and another data set claims that only 41 of 1147 people killed in drone strikes were the intended targets. For President Obama to call these “targeted killings” is quite a stretch.
Put simply, it’s not morally right how the drone operators and the U.S. Army are forcing American taxpayers to become complicit in murder. Even with three sets of Insitu-Boeing drones laying the groundwork for surveillance of the area (ScanEagle, PhantomEye, then X-45 used to attack), these operations are just not accurate enough for the technology to be appropriately used. And by killing innocents in places like Waziristan among other locations, the Pentagon is in fact creating new threats and new radicals every day by painting itself as a monstrous manufacturer of remote war crimes, and thus more targets on their agenda. Perhaps this is the idea. Insitu-Boeing certainly isn’t complaining.
Imagine for a second that you live in one of the destabilized areas which the U.S. Army is bombing. You couldn’t go to school, go to work, or visit your family or friends in a neighboring town without feeling like your life was threatened. However, we believe that the majority of Americans truly will not take the time to protest companies like Insitu until the spy and weaponized drones are used domestically to cull activists and the poor.
What if drones were flying overhead while you were trying to run errands and feed your family? What if drones were even in your own yard? The U.S. Army has already tested domestic use against a farmer in North Dakota and protesters in Ferguson. How these products are used concerns us very much so. Drones will certainly affect the privacy and security of all American lives in the near future, but it will especially affect those of us who aspire to be activists, as well as the poor. Just as there are segregated bubbles of security in the Middle East (the kingdoms of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as Israel, come to mind), there will be bubbles of security in America’s future, likely protecting the rich.
Insitu did not start as a military intelligence company. It started out as a company dedicated to science, the pursuit of which was to better American lives, specifically to make it easier for commercial fishermen in the Pacific Northwest to track schools of fish. Our group is demanding that the Pentagon divest from Insitu-Boeing, and that Insitu-Boeing joins us in our fight to defund the Pentagon, whose budget is bursting at the seams. To repent for their sins, we propose that Insitu both stop producing drones for the Pentagon and start producing non-combative drones for children to learn about science at the New Iqra School in Wana, Pakistan, an area where Boeing’s drones have taken the lives of many young boys and girls. If we focused America’s budget on both domestic and international education; if we, as a country were really focused on the proactive, peaceful aspects of STEM learning (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), we would dedicate more than 10% of our budget towards education, and enlist our corporate alliances to build diplomatic bridges, not bombs. But until that happens, we need to replicate the protests from two to three years ago against Insitu, because they are still selling to the Pentagon intelligence that kills.
The Washington Youth Rainbow Coalition is a sister organization located in Seattle, Washington.