A predator, yesterdayWhilst all media try to portray themselves as neutral, dispassionate and disinterested observers in news stories, sometimes the language they use shows up laziness or bias in reporting.

One story catching my eye this afternoon is the wonderful propaganda piece in the BBC website:

US confirms first Predator strike in Libya

It contains the quote:

Drones can hit military targets more easily in urban areas, minimising the risk of civilian casualties.

What fantastic drivel, straight from the Army Press Liaison Officer’s press release, not in quotations, simply placed in the story as neutral fact.

The reason for drone aircraft is a reduction in aircrew and a reduction in risk to aircrew, along with an often reduced reliance on functioning airfields. There may well be some systematic rationale for describing them as more accurate than piloted aircraft, but one has never been publicly posited to the best of my knowledge.

Thinking about the use of language, why would it be easier to hit military targets in urban areas with the drone rather than a piloted aircraft? As we have seen in Iraq, the really rock solid platform for precision attacks in urban areas is the Longbow Apache helicopter. As we’ve seen in Pakistan and Afghanistan, if you really absolutely positively must blow up a wedding, the Predator is the weapon system to use.

Sending air to surface missiles to targets will always be risky business, but we know that it’s getting better. We also know that the NATO forces are taking solid and serious steps to avoid civilian casualties. But to suggest that the use of Drones is making this work easier and more precise is utterly fanciful, and to have the BBC parrot these lines without caution and without modulation is a thundering disgrace.