Drone Deals Go International … With No Disclosure

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Joe Wright
Activist Post

If one ever needed a case of clear war profiteering with zero concern for the fallout, one need look no further than the international market in drone warfare.

Despite the endless parade of terrorist bogeymen who are ready to down planes (repeatedly) with firecrackers in their underpants, there is very little national concern for the fact that the U.S. is selling drone aircraft to “undisclosed countries.” Perhaps because it hasn’t exactly been broadcast by corporate media.

Michael Buscher is the CEO of Vanguard Defense Industries, a leading drone maker.  He sought clearance from the U.S. State Department to sell his company’s wares abroad to parts currently unknown and had this to say:

I thought it was going to be a brutal process.

(…)  

It was well orchestrated and extremely thorough. But when you follow their guidelines and provide copious details, the process is not as burdensome as I would have thought.

Feeling safe?

The average American is slowly becoming familiar with drones after having been told early on that such talk was conspiracy theory.  Now with 63 drone bases announced inside the United States; the FAA establishing guidelines for permitting drones to fly missions in American airspace; and corporate media spinning the topic toward fun and safety, the lightbulb of awareness is beginning to flicker.

However, as activist Medea Benjamin states:

We are at a very dangerous stage because the American people know so little about the use of drones by our government, much less about these sales overseas.

Understandably so: it is a program that is just now coming to light through large alternative news sources like RT, where I first learned the scope of this international drone sales program. As RT highlights:

More would be known about those international drone deals, of course, if the defense contractors were obliged to identify their customers. Since they are not, however, Vanguard’s roster of regimes that depend on their drones are unknown, calling some skeptics to question if the US is indirectly assisting in foreign governments that use unmanned crafts to spy on its citizens—or perhaps even more. Although Vanguard manufactures drone planes used in surveillance missions, they have also been linked to producing stealth crafts that are fitted with firearms and high-tech weaponry. (Source)

It is this last sentence that strikes an interesting chord.  It was just announced that poison drones could invade the London Olympics and wreak havoc. Never mind that the “good side” has sought to equip drones with ‘non-lethal’ weapons such as taser batons, grenade launchers and all manner of mini munitions that are available as part of the Shadowhawk drone package from … you guessed it, Vanguard.

With government funding for such delights, the defense contractors are lining up at the trough for their feed.  Companies like Vanguard are part of one of the fastest growing industries in the world with an aggressive lobby to ensure their expansion.  It is a competitive field with companies like AeroVironment, Textron and Innovative Automation Technologies seeking contracts alongside bellwethers such as Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.

Despite Vanguard’s mission statement on its website that, “We understand and are fully committed to the protection of our warfighters and law enforcement professional and remain focused on furthering their capabilities by fielding a superior product,” it appears that they are instead a consummate mercenary group, with the United States as complicit enabler.

According to the RT article, Vanguard company e-mails were exposed by the hactivist group LulzSec, and it is clear that while Vanguard is looking at a nice payday domestically, they are focused on the greater diverse market to be found abroad.

‘ShadowHawks are currently in use by law enforcement, military and private corporations deploying them in the US, the Horn of Africa, Panama, Colombia, and US-Mexico border patrol operations.’ 

Lulzsec described the emails as containing ‘contracts, schematics, non-disclosure agreements, and more’ and warned the defense industry that they would need to be on the offensive if they wish to prevent future hacks. Months later, however, Vanguard is still filling international orders and expected to do so for the unforeseeable future

While it is hard to say definitively that Vanguard is taking part in knowingly arming both (or many) sides of current and future conflicts, their willingness to be less than discriminating when looking at markets abroad perfectly defines the term “war profiteering.”

War profiteering has been historically regarded a despicable endeavor that sees every loss in any conflict as a company win. Some time ago, Alternet penned an article covering The 10 Most Brazen War Profiteers.  Vanguard seems to be doing everything it can to make a future list.

Those who would profit from death and enslavement are the lowest among us.  The very technologies that defense mercenaries like Vanguard sell to the highest bidder are the very threats that will be used against us in the latest terror warnings like those of biological backpack drones at the Olympic Games in London.  We need to keep exposing the real players behind the curtain, or this fraudulent show is bound to continue.

Read other articles by Joe Wright here.
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