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Thread: Drone Terrorism

  1. #21
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    Docs Show CIA's Mass Drone Death Strikes Killed Few al-Qaeda Leaders

    A broad range of militants were deemed to dangerous to be left alive in recent operations

    Under fire over its defense over potential drone killings of Americans deemed as "terrorists" on U.S. soil, the Obama administration's growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is being intensively scrutinized by both politicians and the media.

    I. Deadly, But Not Very Precise

    New documents obtained by McClatchy's reveal that of the 95 drone strikes in the Pakistan region between Oct. 2010 and Sept. 2011, many did not target al-Qaeda and those that did were not as accurate as thought.

    The drone campaign managed to kill 482 people, but only 6 were high-ranking members of al-Qaeda. Analyst Jonathan Landay reports, "At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were 'assessed' as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists."

    [Image Source: McClatchy's]

    In the past the Obama administration has claimed that the death strikes by armed Predator and Reaper drones, employed primarily by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, were used only on "specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces."

    Micah Zenko, an expert with the bipartisan foreign-relations think-tank Council on Foreign Relations, says that the administration is misleading Americans, commenting, "[The Obama administration is] misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted."

    Reaper drones have been used in numerous Pakistan and Yemen death strikes.
    [Image Source: The Real Revo]

    But White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says that the administration does not need to specify explicitly who it is targeting and to make no assumptions. She remarks, "You should not assume [CIA Chief John Brennan] is only talking about al-Qaeda just because he doesn’t say ’al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces’ at every reference."

    So who was the administration targeting in the 43 out of 95 drone strikes that did not target al-Qaeda? According to McClatchy's, the documents indicate that the strikes in question targeted "Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as 'foreign fighters' and 'other militants.'"

    The documents also reveal that U.S. efforts to kill terrorist leaders often accidentally instead killed friends or family members. Drone strikes were even used to target somber occasions, such as individuals leaving funerals.

    II. Is the U.S. Killing Civilians, Allies Accidentally?

    One major complaint of the administration's critics is lack of transparency in the deadly offensive. The administration has refused to release a list of "terrorist" organizations that it considers "associated forces" of al-Qaeda. So far only Afghanistan's Taliban has been officially acknowledged as an al-Qaeda ally. Also not revealed was whether the administration conducted so-called "signature killings" -- killings of locals who met with al-Qaeda or exhibited other behavior deemed suspicious.

    Survivors pick through the rubble looking for relatives after an Oct. 2012 drone strike in Yemen.
    [Image Source: Reuters]

    New CIA chief John Brennan in February acknowledged that the drone strikes sometimes miss the mark and kill innocent civilians, but he defended the program saying the U.S. paid the families of people it accidentally killed. He commented, "Where possible, we also work with local governments to gather facts, and, if appropriate, provide condolence payments to families of those killed."

    Condolence payments range from $1,000 to $7,500 according to various reports [1][2][3], depending on the circumstances.

    As CIA director (bottom right) escalated drone attacks in Yemen and Pakistan civilian casualties (top, left) have grown.
    [Image Source: BIJ (top); The Long War Journal (bottom left); Reuters (bottom right)]

    Four American citizens with ties to terrorism -- Kamal Derwish, Anwar al-Awlaki, 16-year-old Abdulahman al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan -- have been killed to date in drone strikes in Yemen. Family members of the dead American citizens have sued the Obama administration with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    In August 2012, a drone strike in Yemen killed a 40-year-old moderate cleric Salem bin Ahmed bin Ali Jaber just two days after he delivered a speech denouncing al-Qaeda. The irony is that the al-Qaeda officers who were targeted in the strike, reportedly came into town to threaten Mr. Jaber for his support of the U.S. and pacifistic leanings.

    Some feel the President shouldn't have the power to order the warrantless killings of Americans on U.S. soil. [Image Source: Drone Wars UK]

    It's clear more questions need to be asked about the program. But don't expect the answers to come easy from an administration who explicitly ordered its Press Secretary to dodge questions about drone strikes.

    Source: McClatchy's
    Attached Files

  2. #22
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    Three key lessons from the Obama administration's drone lies

    The axiom that political officials abuse their power and lie to the public when operating in the dark is proven yet again

    For years, senior Obama officials, including the president himself, have been making public claims about their drone program that have just been proven to be categorically false. The evidence of this falsity is so conclusive that even establishment sources are using unusually harsh language - including "lies" - to describe Obama's statements. McClatchy's national security reporter, Jonathan Landay, obtained top-secret intelligence documents showing that "contrary to assurances it has deployed US drones only against known senior leaders of al-Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified 'other' militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan's rugged tribal area." That article quotes drone expert Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations as saying that "McClatchy's findings indicate that the administration is 'misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.'"

    In his own must-read article at Foreign Policy about these disclosures, Zenko writes - under the headline: "Finally, proof that the United States has lied in the drone wars" - that "it turns out that the Obama administration has not been honest about who the CIA has been targeting with drones in Pakistan" and that the McClatchy article "plainly demonstrates that the claim repeatedly made by President Obama and his senior aides - that targeted killings are limited only to officials, members, and affiliates of al-Qaida who pose an imminent threat of attack on the US homeland - is false." Beyond the obvious harms of having the president and his administration continuously lie to the public about such a crucial matter, Zenko explains that these now-disproven claims may very well make the drone strikes illegal since assertions about who is being targeted were "essential to the legal foundations on which the strikes are ultimately based: the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and the UN Charter's right to self-defense." Marcy Wheeler uses the documents to show how claims about drones from other key officials, including Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, are also unquestionably false.

    Both Landay's article and Zenko's analysis should be read for the details, but I want to highlight the three key points from this:

    (1) The Obama administration often has no idea who they are killing.

    This has long been the most amazing aspect of the drone debate to me. Not even the CIA, let alone ordinary citizens, has any idea of the identity of many of the people they are targeting for death. Despite this central ignorance, huge numbers of people walk around in some sort of zombie-like state repeatedly spouting the mantra that "Drones are Good because We are Killing the Terrorists" - even though the CIA itself, let alone citizens defending its killings, have no clue who is even being targeted. It has long been known that Obama (like Bush before him) approved the use of so-called "signature strikes", where the identity of the target is not known but they are targeted for death anyway "based on a 'pattern of life' analysis – intelligence on their behavior suggesting that an individual is a militant" (the New York Times reported that "the joke [at the State Department] was that when the CIA sees 'three guys doing jumping jacks', the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp" and that "men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers - but they might also be farmers").

    But these McClatchy documents make clear just how extreme this ignorance often is, even after the fact:

    The documents also show that drone operators weren't always certain who they were killing despite the administration's guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA's targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been 'exceedingly rare.'"

    Zenko adds: "even the US intelligence community does not necessarily know who it has killed; it is forced to use fuzzy categories like 'other militants' and 'foreign fighters'." Targeting people without knowing their identity is as dubious morally as it is legally, which is why, Zenko explains, "No US government official has ever openly acknowledged the practice of such 'signature strikes' because it is so clearly at odds with the bedrock principle of distinction required for using force within the laws of armed conflict." How can any minimally rational person continue to walk around defending Obama's drone kills on the ground that they are killing The Terrorists or that civilian deaths are rare when even the government, let alone these defenders, often have no clue who is being targeted and then killed?

    (2) Whisteblowers are vital for transparency and accountability, which is precisely why the Obama administration is waging a war on them.

    Here is yet another example where we obtained proof of the falsity of the government's claims, and possibly illegal actions, for only one reason: a whistleblower leaked top secret documents to a journalist, who then published them. When you combine an impotent Congress, a supine media, and a subservient federal judiciary - the institutions ostensibly designed to check excessive executive branch secrecy - government leakers have really have become the only reliable means for learning about the lies and bad acts of political officials. And that's precisely why the Obama administration is waging an unprecedented war against them. Yesterday on Democracy Now, New York Times national security reporter Mark Mazzetti explained to Amy Goodman how this whistleblower war - by design - is impeding basic investigative journalism:

    "AMY GOODMAN: And you, as a reporter, Mark - we see the greatest crackdown on whistleblowers that we have ever seen under any president: President Obama's administration is going after more whistleblowers than all presidential administrations combined in the past. And the role of journalists, how do you feel, as you try to cover these issues? Do you feel the crackdown?

    "MARK MAZZETTI: It's harder. There's no question. It's harder and harder. People are - this crackdown has perhaps had its intended effect, which was maybe not to go prosecute the cases that have been brought, but also to scare others into not talking. And so, I find that in the last couple years covering national security issues, you just find people who were perhaps once more eager to talk or willing to talk, for reasons that- not just because they were whistleblowers, but because they thought it was important for reporters to have context and information about some of these operations -those people are increasingly less likely to talk.

    "AMY GOODMAN: And you, yourself, being prosecuted or put under a kind of spotlight from the administration?

    "MARK MAZZETTI: I mean, it's certainly worrisome for us and is worrisome that, you know, they go after - they go after sources, and it brings the reporters into it, as well. I think we're at a critical time here to - you know, hopefully this ends. But, you know, once there is a momentum in some of these cases, the Justice Department works in its own ways, and so people, once they make cases, they tend to try to make other cases. And so, that's what some -that's what's concerning for us."

    There is no doubt that this is not only the primary effect, but also the primary purpose, of Obama's vindictive though highly selective attacks on leakers: to create a climate of fear to deter whistleblowers and journalists who think about exposing the bad acts and lies of the government (leaking to glorify the President remains permissible and encouraged). As Mazzetti suggests, the traditional sources for national security investigative reporters have dried up and the journalists themselves are frightened about reporting on these matters. All of this from a President who vowed to have the Most Transparent Administration Ever and from a political movement that once professed such horror at the secrecy abuses of Nixon and Bush.

    (3) Secrecy ensures both government lies and abuses of power.

    That the Obama administrations' claims about its drone program have proven to be false should be viewed as anything but surprising. Aside from the potent impulse for governments to lie to their citizenry about what they do, secrecy in particular renders inevitable - not possible, not probable, but inevitable - both abuses of power and systematic lying. And secrecy has been the hallmark of the Obama administration generally and its drone killings in particular. A recent Washington Post article - headlined: "Drone use remains cloaked despite Obama's pledge for more transparency" - discussed Obama's repeatedly unfulfilled promises for more openness and explained:

    "But there is no indication that moves have been made in that direction, and the White House has not taken a public position on any legislative initiatives [for greater transparency]. The administration has continued to contest legal challenges to the program's secrecy. It has argued that national security concerns and the sensitivity of foreign partners who allow strikes on their territory preclude public explanations of how targets are selected and follow-up reports on who is killed."

    So extreme is this secrecy and the abuses that it is spawning that even former Obama officials, such as former Clinton State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter, are vehemently objecting. Slaughter told the Post:

    "The idea that this president would leave office having dramatically expanded the use of drones - including [against] American citizens - without any public standards and no checks and balances . . . that there are no checks, and there is no international agreement; I would find that to be both terrible and ultimately will undermine a great deal of what this president will have done for good . . . .I cannot believe this is what he wants to be his legacy."

    Just to get a sense for how inevitable government lies are when political officials can operate in secret, consider the McClatchy revelation that "the [secret CIA] reports estimated there was a single civilian casualty, an individual killed in an April 22, 2011, strike in North Waziristan". Aside from the fact that, as Zenko noted, this proves Brennan's public claim of no civilian casualties during this period to be a lie, and independently is a claim that can be made only by virtue of Obama's warped re-definition of "militant" to mean any military-age male in a strike zone, the demonstrated truth is that this exact drone strike killed "five women and four children". So here you have Brennan lying to the public about civilian deaths, and the CIA lying in its own documents - all enabled by the radical wall of secrecy behind which this all functions.

    That secrecy is the linchpin of abuses of government power is as central a political principle as exists. This week, WikiLeaks released a serachable catalog of millions of once-secret but now-declassified documents and highlighted an incredibly revealing transcript of a 1975 meeting between then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Turkish officials. The US Congress had just enacted an arms embargo on Turkey in response to its aggressive actions in Cyprus, and Kissinger, at this meeting, made clear that the Ford administration opposed the embargo and was committed to finding a way to get arms and other aid to Turkey. When a Turkish official suggested that Kissinger enter into a secret agreement for European countries to provide the arms, this is what was said:

    People who exercise power inevitably abuse it when they can wield it in secret. They inevitably lie about what they do when they can act in the dark. This is just basic human nature, and applies even to the most kind-hearted leaders, even ones who are charming and wonderful family men. This is what makes pervasive secrecy and a lack of oversight and accountability so dangerous. It's what makes it particularly dangerous when the powers in question are ones highly susceptible to abuse, such as the power to target people for execution.

    For that reason, it's entirely unsurprising that the Obama administration got caught making plainly false statements about its killing program. But for the same reason, it's very significant that it has been caught. In light of this evidence, any journalists that continue to rely on US government statements about its killing program are revealing themselves to be eager propagandists, willing to be lied to and help amplify those lies (the same was true of journalists who continued to rely on government statements about "militants" being killed even after they knew how Obama officials had broadened that term to the point of meaninglessness). How many times do we have to learn these same lessons before recognizing their universality?


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  4. #24
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    Muslims: the Biggest Terrorists, or the Biggest Victims?

    How many of us wonder about the openly racist rhetoric we hear these days? The news anchors constantly berating the rise of "islamic extremism". It seems the only thing one needs to do to make someone seem dangerous, is add the word "Islam".

    With the way things are presented, one might be led to believe that the only people who have died recently were those in Boston. That Muslims have nothing better to do, except cause terror and outrage! double sided nature of the media. It seems that some lives are more valuable than others. This is the unfortunate one sided nature of our media. Most of society take their information from these government and their allied media sources. So our society is made to believe subconsciously, that some lives are more valuable than others.

    Everyday civillians die in countries such as Burma, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Syria, Iraq and Chechnya. In fact, there are several other places around the world where Muslims are persecuted. We never get to hear about these places or their people unless we research via independent human rights groups. In the chance that we do hear about an atrocity committed against Muslims, it is often packaged in a way where it is "matter of fact." Something that just is meant to happen, "Sad", but routine. The world is desensitised to it.

    If, however, anything happens to a white Westerner, even if a fingernail is chipped, this is considered the most terrible of crimes, and an outrage that must have justice delivered. What often follows is a media barrage, highlighting people's "Reactions" and "stories" about how it makes them feel and the impact it has had on their lives. They are garnering empathy. The same human empathetic values that makes us side with people. Which make us care, respect, feel connection to and ultimately, love people.

    What we really see is selective empathy. Most Westerners are never given the chance to have empathy and compassion for the victims of US military aggression.

    By analysing the use of language, we can see we are all being constantly manipulated by the international media. An example of which can be seen through the use of the word "terror", "terrorism" and "terrorist". We can not even mention the name of the Muslims who die in Western backed conflicts, in the same sentence as the Boston bombings. Doing so, raises eyebrows and we are given looks of disgust. Why? Nobody is saying that what happened in Boston is justified! Nor are we saying it is not "terrorism". However, if we are to use the word terrorism, then it should be used for all such acts of killing and destruction, including when it happens to Muslims at the behest of the Western armies. That would be true justice.

    I wonder when any of this will be seen in context. Perhaps it will take another 50 years? or 100 years? A day will come when the truth will be taught to children in school history lessons. That the Muslims were the biggest victims, yet were treated as the biggest criminals. They were made fun of, victimised and often persecuted. They would realise that a few loose cannons, who were not always mentally stable, and might even have been egged along, encouraged or even aided by governmental agencies, were the ones responsible for any violence "in the name of Islam". That these individuals never represented Islam nor Muslims.

    I would hope such a day was closer at hand, but we as Muslims can do nothing except live our lives as Allah has commanded. By following the authentic teachings of Islam, we make our lives better, and also show the world the beauty of our beliefs.

  5. #25
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    U.S. Drones Kill More Than 30 in Yemen; School Targeted in One Attack

    In fewer than two weeks, Hellfire missiles launched by U.S. drones have killed at least 31 people in Yemen. At least 14 of the victims were believed by President Obama — the launcher-in-chief — to be al-Qaeda militants.

    On the heels of reports of the foiling of a plot purportedly hatched by the Yemeni-based branch of the alleged terrorist organization, the president has accelerated the frequency and ferocity of the drone strikes in the small Arab nation.

    The Associated Press reports that on August 7, “A suspected U.S. drone strike killed seven alleged Al Qaeda militants Wednesday in southern Yemen” according to security officials quoted by the AP.

    Later that same day, CNN reported that “in central Yemen's Mareb province, eight people were killed in an early morning drone strike, including four with links to al Qaeda,” again quoting Yemeni security officials.

    Then, for the third day in a row, the United States sent drones to summarily execute targets in Hadramout province, an area of Yemen identified by the Obama administration as “a bastion of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).

    According to the establishment party line, the purpose of the drone strikes is to prevent any further terrorist attacks on the United States or her allies and to eliminate the vestiges of al-Qaeda. There are those in Yemen, however, who see a paradoxical outcome.

    In a hearing before the Senate in April, Yemeni journalist Farea al-Muslimi testified, “The US thinks it understands Yemen but the drones have been one of the most effective tools for AQAP to succeed in Yemen. A big part of al-Qaeda power at the moment is convincing Yemenis that they are in a war with America, (that) America is attacking the sovereignty of Yemen and this government is non-legitimate.”

    Yalda Hakim, reporting for the BBC from Zinjibar in southern Yemen, echoes al-Muslimi’s criticism, asking, “Are U.S. drones creating more enemies than they kill?” According to locals interviewed by Hakim, the answer is yes.

    “The drones are killing our people, killing our children, and destroying our homes,” one man said, as he sat among the sheared rebar and crumbled concrete that was once his village. “The drones don’t differentiate between people,” he added, “they just kill.”

    Another man who spoke to Hakim related that he and two children “live in constant fear of drone strikes.” And, according to his story, it’s not without good reason.

    After he picked up his daughter from school to take her to a doctor’s appointment, Hellfire missiles fired from U.S. drones destroyed the clinic. He grabbed his daughter and ran back to the school to take cover. Before he got there, though, the school was obliterated by a second missile. His daughter was struck in the back of the head by debris and she bled to death in his arms.

    “What did my daughter ever do to them?” he cried. “She was eight years old.”

    That innocent little girl died in her father's arms despite promises by President Obama to scale back the use of drones and to confine their use to known terrorists and their associates.

    In a policy speech delivered in May, the president assured citizens that drones would be used more discriminately only to “dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us.”

    But given the apparent disregard for venue or victim, how many other parents have buried their babies after the drones returned to their secret bases?

    How many of the actual “targets” were themselves innocent or at least had no demonstrable ties to terrorist organizations? This question will never be known with certainty because the president alone serves as judge, jury, and executioner — and does not believe he is obliged to provide evidence to the American people.

    And what of the fomenting of hate for the United States?

    Facts reveal that the prosecution of the drone war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and North Africa is creating more enemies than it is destroying. Al-Qaeda couldn’t cook up a more effective recruitment program than the U.S. drone war that is allegedly aimed at eliminating the “terrorist” organization.

    In a Christmas Eve 2012 Washington Post report, anonymous officials of the government of the United States admitted that the brutal mass murder of 12 innocent civilians (three of whom were children) was carried out by “a Defense Department aircraft, either a drone or a fixed-wing airplane.”

    That’s it. The U.S.-dependent Yemeni regime remarked that the drone-delivered deaths were the result of an "accident.”

    What isn’t an accident is the targeting by Yemenis, Pakistanis, and others weary of constant bombings of Americans and those perceived to be aiding them. It is a deadly development known as blowback.

    "You want us to stay quiet while our wives and brothers are being killed for no reason. This attack is the real terrorism," said Mansoor al-Maweri, whom CNN reports as being “near the scene of the strike” that “accidentally” killed 15 innocent men, women, and children in Yemen in September.

    Then there was this from “an activist” who lives near the site of the massacre: "I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al-Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake," said Nasr Abdullah. "This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously."

    Reuters explains that “Western diplomats in Sanaa say al Qaeda is a threat to Yemen and the rest of the world.” An argument can be made that a bigger threat to the world is the United States’ daily drone attacks that destroy our own dedication to the rule of law and serve as an effective recruiting tool for those seeking revenge for the killing.

    The former CIA Pakistan station chief agrees. Speaking of the rapid expansion of the drone war in Yemen, Robert Grenier told the Guardian (U.K.):

    That brings you to a place where young men, who are typically armed, are in the same area and may hold these militants in a certain form of high regard. If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger. They have tribes and clans and large families. Now all of a sudden you have a big problem.... I am very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.

    We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are making more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regard to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    For President Obama and those pulling the triggers on the joysticks guiding the missiles toward their human targets, “suspected militant” means (presumably) “all military-age males in a strike zone.”

    For those of us more concerned with the Constitution, the rule of law, and the sanctity of human life than the president, “suspected militant” means nothing other than a person not charged with any crime, not afforded even the most perfunctory due process protections, but summarily executed upon order of the president anyway. What, then, are the practices or principles that separate the president from those he orders assassinated in the name of safety?

    And the death doesn’t stop. Reuters reports that “Yemeni authorities issued a statement early on Tuesday listing 25 "most wanted terrorists" it said were planning to carry out attacks in the country during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday which started Thursday.”


  6. #26
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    Former drone operator says he's haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths

    Video at: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/06/18787450-former-drone-operator-says-hes-haunted-by-his-part-in-more-than-1600-deaths

    A former Air Force drone operator who says he participated in missions that killed more than 1,600 people remembers watching one of the first victims bleed to death.

    Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.

    “The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.“I can see every little pixel,” said Bryant, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, “if I just close my eyes.”

    Bryant, now 27, served as a drone sensor operator from 2006 to 2011, at bases in Nevada, New Mexico and in Iraq, guiding unmanned drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. Though he didn't fire missiles himself he took part in missions that he was told led to the deaths of an estimated 1,626 individuals.

    In an interview with NBC News, he provided a rare first-person glimpse into what it’s like to control the controversial machines that have become central to the U.S. effort to kill terrorists.

    He says that as an operator he was troubled by the physical disconnect between his daily routine and the violence and power of the faraway drones. “You don't feel the aircraft turn,” he said. “You don't feel the hum of the engine. You hear the hum of the computers, but that's definitely not the same thing.”

    At the same time, the images coming back from the drones were very real and very graphic.

    “People say that drone strikes are like mortar attacks,” Bryant said. “Well, artillery doesn't see this. Artillery doesn't see the results of their actions. It's really more intimate for us, because we see everything.”

    A self-described “naïve” kid from a small Montana town, Bryant joined the Air Force in 2005 at age 19. After he scored well on tests, he said a recruiter told him that as a drone operator he would be like the smart guys in the control room in a James Bond movie, the ones who feed the agent the information he needs to complete his mission.

    He trained for three and a half months before participating in his first drone mission. Bryant operated the drone’s cameras from his perch at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada as the drone rose into the air just north of Baghdad.

    Bryant and the rest of his team were supposed to use their drone to provide support and protection to patrolling U.S. troops. But he recalls watching helplessly as insurgents buried an IED in a road and a U.S. Humvee drove over it.

    “We had no way to warn the troops,” he said. He later learned that three soldiers died.

    And once he had taken part in a kill, any remaining illusions about James Bond disappeared. “Like, this isn’t a videogame,” he said. “This isn’t some sort of fantasy. This is war. People die.”

    He says that as an operator he was troubled by the physical disconnect between his daily routine and the violence and power of the faraway drones.

    Bryant said that most of the time he was an operator, he and his team and his commanding officers made a concerted effort to avoid civilian casualties.

    But he began to wonder who the enemy targets on the ground were, and whether they really posed a threat. He’s still not certain whether the three men in Afghanistan were really Taliban insurgents or just men with guns in a country where many people carry guns. The men were five miles from American forces arguing with each other when the first missile hit them.

    “They (didn’t) seem to be in a hurry,” he recalled. “They (were) just doing their thing. ... They were probably carrying rifles, but I wasn't convinced that they were bad guys.“ But as a 21-year-old airman, said Bryant, he didn’t think he had the standing to ask questions.He also remembers being convinced that he had seen a child scurry onto his screen during one mission just before a missile struck, despite assurances from others that the figure he’d seen was really a dog.

    After participating in hundreds of missions over the years, Bryant said he “lost respect for life” and began to feel like a sociopath. He remembers coming into work in 2010, seeing pictures of targeted individuals on the wall – Anwar al-Awlaki and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders -- and musing, “Which one of these f_____s is going to die today?”

    In 2011, as Bryant’s career as a drone operator neared its end, he said his commander presented him with what amounted to a scorecard. It showed that he had participated in missions that contributed to the deaths of 1,626 people.

    “I would’ve been happy if they never even showed me the piece of paper,” he said. “I've seen American soldiers die, innocent people die, and insurgents die. And it's not pretty. It's not something that I want to have -- this diploma.”

    Now that he’s out of the Air Force and back home in Montana, Bryant said he doesn’t want to think about how many people on that list might’ve been innocent: “It’s too heartbreaking.”

    The Veterans Administration diagnosed him with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, for which he has undergone counseling. He says his PTSD has manifested itself as anger, sleeplessness and blackout drinking.

    “I don’t feel like I can really interact with that average, everyday person,” he said. “I get too frustrated, because A) they don't realize what's going on over there. And B) they don't care.”

    He’s also reluctant to tell the people in his personal life what he was doing for five years. When he told a woman he was seeing that he’d been a drone operator, and contributed to the deaths of a large number of people, she cut him off. “She looked at me like I was a monster,” he said. “And she never wanted to touch me again.”

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    Please tell me, Mr President, why a US drone assassinated my mother

    Momina Bibi was a 67-year-old grandmother and midwife from Waziristan. Yet President Obama tells us drones target terrorists

    by Rafiq ur Rehman - 25 October 2013

    The last time I saw my mother, Momina Bibi, was the evening before Eid al-Adha. She was preparing my children's clothing and showing them how to make sewaiyaan, a traditional sweet made of milk. She always used to say: the joy of Eid is the excitement it brings to the children.

    Last year, she never had that experience. The next day, 24 October 2012, she was dead, killed by a US drone that rained fire down upon her as she tended her garden.

    Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day. The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother's house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All reported that five militants were killed. Only one person was killed – a 67-year-old grandmother of nine.

    My three children – 13-year-old Zubair, nine-year-old Nabila and five-year-old Asma – were playing nearby when their grandmother was killed. All of them were injured and rushed to hospitals. Were these children the "militants" the news reports spoke of? Or perhaps, it was my brother's children? They, too, were there. They are aged three, seven, 12, 14, 15 and 17 years old. The eldest four had just returned from a day at school, not long before the missile struck.

    But the United States and its citizens probably do not know this. No one ever asked us who was killed or injured that day. Not the United States or my own government. Nobody has come to investigate nor has anyone been held accountable. Quite simply, nobody seems to care.

    I care, though. And so does my family and my community. We want to understand why a 67-year-old grandmother posed a threat to one of the most powerful countries in the world. We want to understand how nine children, some playing in the field, some just returned from school, could possibly have threatened the safety of those living a continent and an ocean away.

    Most importantly, we want to understand why President Obama, when asked whom drones are killing, says they are killing terrorists. My mother was not a terrorist. My children are not terrorists. Nobody in our family is a terrorist.

    My mother was a midwife, the only midwife in our village. She delivered hundreds of babies in our community. Now families have no one to help them.

    And my father? He is a retired school principal. He spent his life educating children, something that my community needs far more than bombs. Bombs create only hatred in the hearts of people. And that hatred and anger breeds more terrorism. But education – education can help a country prosper.

    I, too, am a teacher. I was teaching in my local primary school on the day my mother was killed. I came home to find not the joys of Eid, but my children in the hospital and a coffin containing only pieces of my mother.

    Our family has not been the same since that drone strike. Our home has turned into hell. The small children scream in the night and cannot sleep. They cry until dawn.

    Several of the children have had to have multiple surgeries. This has cost money we no longer have, since the missiles also killed our livestock. We have been forced to borrow from friends; money we cannot repay. We then use the money to pay a doctor, a doctor who removes from the children's bodies the metal gifts the US gave them that day.

    Drone strikes are not like other battles where innocent people are accidentally killed. Drone strikes target people before they kill them. The United States decides to kill someone, a person they only know from a video. A person who is not given a chance to say – I am not a terrorist. The US chose to kill my mother.

    Several US congressmen invited me to come to Washington, DC to share my story with members of Congress. I hope by telling my story, America may finally begin to understand the true impact of its drone program and who is on the other end of drone strikes.

    I want Americans to know about my mother. And I hope, maybe, I might get an answer to just one question: why?


  8. #28


    Drone and foreign funding to TTP and anti Pakistan Movement enhacing terror in Pakistan infact All muslim Umaah facing terror every corner in the world.

  9. #29

  10. #30
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    41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground

    New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes


    The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur.

    Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not.

    However many Americans know who Zawahiri is, far fewer are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010.

    Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm.

    A new analysis of the data available to the public about drone strikes, conducted by the human-rights group Reprieve, indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November.

    Reprieve, sifting through reports compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, examined cases in which specific people were targeted by drones multiple times. Their data, shared with the Guardian, raises questions about the accuracy of US intelligence guiding strikes that US officials describe using words like “clinical” and “precise.”

    The analysis is a partial estimate of the damage wrought by Obama’s favored weapon of war, a tool he and his administration describe as far more precise than more familiar instruments of land or air power.

    “Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” said Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson, who spearheaded the group’s study.

    Some 24 men specifically targeted in Pakistan resulted in the death of 874 people. All were reported in the press as “killed” on multiple occasions, meaning that numerous strikes were aimed at each of them. The vast majority of those strikes were unsuccessful. An estimated 142 children were killed in the course of pursuing those 24 men, only six of whom died in the course of drone strikes that killed their intended targets.

    In Yemen, 17 named men were targeted multiple times. Strikes on them killed 273 people, at least seven of them children. At least four of the targets are still alive.

    Available data for the 41 men targeted for drone strikes across both countries indicate that each of them was reported killed multiple times. Seven of them are believed to still be alive. The status of another, Haji Omar, is unknown. Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, whom drones targeted three times, later died from natural causes, believed to be hepatitis.

    The data cohort is only a fraction of those killed by US drones overall. Reprieve did not focus on named targets struck only once. Neither Reprieve nor the Guardian examined the subset of drone strikes that do not target specific people: the so-called “signature strikes” that attack people based on a pattern of behavior considered suspicious, rather than intelligence tying their targets to terrorist activity. An analytically conservative Council on Foreign Relations tally assesses that 500 drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people.

    As well, the data is agnostic on the validity of the named targets struck on multiple occasions being marked for death in the first place.

    Like all weapons, drones will inevitably miss their targets given enough chances. But the secrecy surrounding them obscures how often misses occur and the reasons for them. Even for the 33 named targets whom the drones eventually killed – successes, by the logic of the drone strikes – another 947 people died in the process.

    There are myriad problems with analyzing data from US drone strikes. Those strikes occur under a blanket of official secrecy, which means analysts must rely on local media reporting about their aftermath, with all the attendant problems besetting journalism in dangerous or denied places. Anonymous leaks to media organizations, typically citing an unnamed American, Yemeni or Pakistani official, are the only acknowledgements that the strikes actually occur, or target a particular individual.

    Without the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command declassifying more information on the strikes, unofficial and imprecise information is all that is available, complicating efforts to independently verify or refute administration assurances about the impact of the drones.

    What little US officials say about the strikes typically boils down to assurances that they apply “targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us,” as John Brennan, now the CIA director, said in a 2011 speech.

    “The only people that we fire a drone at [sic] are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level after a great deal of vetting that takes a long period of time. We don’t just fire a drone at somebody and think they’re a terrorist,” the secretary of state, John Kerry, said at a BBC forum in 2013.

    A Reprieve team investigating on the ground in Pakistan turned up what it believes to be a confirmed case of mistaken identity. Someone with the same name as a terror suspect on the Obama administration’s “kill list” was killed on the third attempt by US drones. His brother was captured, interrogated and encouraged to “tell the Americans what they want to hear”: that they had in fact killed the right person. Reprieve has withheld identifying details of the family in question, making the story impossible to independently verify.

    “President Obama needs to be straight with the American people about the human cost of this programme. If even his government doesn’t know who is filling the body bags every time a strike goes wrong, his claims that this is a precise programme look like nonsense, and the risk that it is in fact making us less safe looks all too real,” Gibson said.



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    Obama under fire for castigating Bush-era torture program and claiming moral high ground all while his administration kills 'thousands of innocents' during droning of terrorism suspects

    • The CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, used on 39 detainees, resulted in just one death, Obama's critics have pointed out
    • Drone strikes conducted by the current occupant of the White House have killed more than 2,400 people
    • 'This administration does not take any prisoners, they prefer to kill them from afar, using drones,' a former CIA official said
    • White House was asked directly today about 'killing thousands of people across the world, innocent civilians'
    • The White House was forced on Friday to state on record that it doesn't believe its drone policy erodes its self-proclaimed moral auth

    President Barack Obama is under fire this week for the way his White House has excoriated the previous administration for employing tactics it would categorize as torture all the while launching drone strikes on terrorism suspects abroad.

    The enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration on 39 detainees resulted in just one death, Obama's critics have pointed out. Drone strikes conducted by the current occupant of the White House have killed more than 2,400 people.

    After claiming all week that the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the brutal tactics employed by the Bush administration to elicit information from terrorists was necessary in order for the U.S. to reassert it's 'moral authority,' the White House was forced on Friday to state on record that it doesn't believe its drone policy erodes the moral high ground on which it thinks it stands when it comes to human rights.

    Charges of hypocrisy were levied at the Obama administration this week by a former director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez, on Tuesday evening after the Senate committee's published its review of the so-called torture program, operated from 2002 - 2007.

    Appearing on Sean Hannity's Fox News program that evening, Rodriguez and the conservative television host chastised the Obama administration for its own questionable anti-terrorism tactics.

    Hannity wondered how the Obama administration's drone program is 'not far more morally problematic than enhanced interrogation' to the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate's Intelligence Committee.

    'This administration does not take any prisoners, they prefer to kill them from afar, using drones,' Rodriguez chimed in.

    'And somehow, they feel that because they kill from a distance, somehow, it’s more ethical … more ethical than the difficult and messy and unpleasant task and mission of actually interrogating prisoners,' he continued, adding, 'I think it’s a distortion of what our values are.'

    Hannity went on to say that if he had to choose between being waterboarded, one of the approved interrogation tactics of the Bush administration's CIA, or being droned, he'd prefer to be waterboarded.

    'I think I’ll take the waterboarding, too,' Rodriguez replied.

    While waterboarding has been the most commonly cited enhanced interrogation technique since Obama banned the use of the harsh tactics during his first days in office, its one of 13 on the list that the CIA used at the time.

    Others include sleep deprivation, cramped confinement, nudity and stress positions. Unapproved tactics that the the Bush administration says the CIA used without authorization were rectal feeding and a process referred to in the report as 'rectal rehydration.'

    Taking the argument against the Obama administration drone policies a step further on Wednesday morning former Republican congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said present U.S. policy appears to be: 'Let’s just go ahead and just kill them all, and if we kill 5-year-old girls and 85-year-old grandmas, so be it; we feel better about ourselves because that seems cleaner.

    'That’s what liberals are saying today,' he charged. 'That’s what [Vice President] Joe Biden’s been saying, that’s what Barack Obama’s been saying.'

    Continuing, he claimed 'the drone program went into overdrive on January 21st, 2009' when Obama took office.

    On Friday Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest was confronted about the possibility that this White House's drone policies would be disparaged by a future administration with as much hostility as the current one is showing the Bush era program.

    Earnest told the inquiring reporter, SiriusXm radio's Jared Rizzi, he 'would not envision a scenario where that would occur.'

    After stating that '40x more' people 'are affected by drones than held in Guantanamo,' Rizzi then asked Earnest if 'the animating principle here' is 'if the president does it, it is not illegal?'

    Earlier this week Earnest faced a similar cross-examination of administration policy from Fox News' senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

    'You have repeatedly talked about moral authority,' Henry said. 'So can you explain how the president believes that it’s un-American to use these [enhanced interrogation] techniques, but it’s OK to ramp up the drone policy and basically thousands of people across the world, innocent civilians were killed?

    'What’s the moral equivalency there? How do you have moral authority when innocent civilians are killed by drones?' Henry asked.

    Earnest told him there's a 'stark difference in the way the United States conducts our policy, and the way that terrorists around the world conduct their policy,' stating the strict precautions taken.

    'I understand there are safeguards,' Henry said. 'But in the end, we’ve seen many cases around the world where U.S. drones have killed innocent civilians despite those safeguards. So how do you have moral authority?' he again asked.

    'What I’m saying is that is a stark difference from the tactics that are employed by our enemies, who seek to use car bombs to actually target innocent civilians,' Earnest said, adding that the U.S goes 'to great lengths to protect the lives of innocent civilians.'

    Asked on Wednesday whether the U.S. still has any moral high ground left in light of the Senate's damning report on the Bush era programs, released the day before, a top U.S. general that oversees the operations at terrorist-holding prison Guantanamo Bay made a similar argument.


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    People Against the NDAA

    I don't know if it's worse that our President would joke about such a thing or that the audience would laugh at such a joke that is worse.

  13. #33
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    Not to be outdone by ISIS, Obama burns a 13-year-old Yemeni boy alive

    In their eyes, we dont deserve to live like people in the rest of the world and we dont have feelings or emotions or cry or feel pain like all the other humans.

    by Chavala Madlena, Hannah Patchett & Adel Shamsan - 10 February 2015

    13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman burned to death by US drone, following similar fate of his father and brother.

    A 13-year-old boy killed in Yemen last month by a CIA drone strike had told the Guardian just months earlier that he lived in constant fear of the “death machines” in the sky that had already killed his father and brother.

    “I see them every day and we are scared of them,” said Mohammed Tuaiman, speaking from al-Zur village in Marib province, where he died two weeks ago.

    “A lot of the kids in this area wake up from sleeping because of nightmares from them and some now have mental problems. They turned our area into hell and continuous horror, day and night, we even dream of them in our sleep.”

    Much of Mohammed’s life was spent living in fear of drone strikes. In 2011 an unmanned combat drone killed his father and teenage brother as they were out herding the family’s camels.

    The drone that would kill Mohammed struck on 26 January in Hareeb, about an hour from his home. The drone hit the car carrying the teenager, his brother-in-law Abdullah Khalid al-Zindani and a third man.

    “I saw all the bodies completely burned, like charcoal,” Mohammed’s older brother Maqded said. “When we arrived we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t move the bodies so we just buried them there, near the car.”

    Several anonymous US government officials told Reuters that the strike had been carried out by the CIA and had killed “three men believed to be al-Qaida militants”.

    Maqdad said the family had been wrongly associated with al-Qaida, and family members strongly deny that Mohammed was involved in any al-Qaida or anti-Houthi fighting. “He wasn’t a member of al-Qaida. He was a kid.”

    Speaking from al-Zur the day after his brother’s death, Meqdad said: “After our father died, al-Qaida came to us to offer support. But we are not with them. Al-Qaida may have claimed Mohammed now but we will do anything – go to court, whatever – in order to prove that he was not with al-Qaida.”

    When the Guardian interviewed Mohammed last September, he spoke of his anger towards the US government for killing his father. “They tell us that these drones come from bases in Saudi Arabia and also from bases in the Yemeni seas and America sends them to kill terrorists, but they always kill innocent people. But we don’t know why they are killing us.

    “In their eyes, we don’t deserve to live like people in the rest of the world and we don’t have feelings or emotions or cry or feel pain like all the other humans around the world.”

    Mohammed’s father, Saleh Tuaiman, was killed in 2011 in a drone strike that also killed Mohammed’s teenage brother, Jalil. Saleh Tuaiman left behind three wives and 27 children.

    The CIA and Pentagon were both asked to comment on whether the teenager had been confirmed as an al-Qaida militant. Both declined to comment.

    Mohammed’s 27 siblings have now lost three family members in US drone strikes and may grow up with the same sense of confusion and injustice Mohammed expressed shortly before his death.

    “The elders told us that it’s criminal to kill the civilians without distinguishing between terrorists and innocents and they kill just on suspicion, without hesitation.”

    For Meqdad, Mohammed’s death has reignited his determination to seek out justice for his family. “We live in injustice and we want the United States to recognise these crimes against my father and my brothers. They were innocent people, we are weak, poor people, and we don’t have anything to do with this.”

    However, he added: “Don’t blame us because we sympathise with al-Qaida, because they were the only people who showed their faces to us, the government ignored us, the US ignored us and didn’t compensate us. And we will go to court to prove this is wrong.”


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    Trump's Yemen raid killed civilians including newborn baby: Report


    Human rights group Reprieve says as many as 23 civilians, including baby boy, died on Sunday raid in Yemen's Yakla

    An attack on a village in Yemen ordered by Donald Trump on Sunday caused the death of a newborn baby and up to 23 civilians, according to the human rights group Reprieve.

    The Trump administration oversaw a series of drone strikes and a ground raid on Sunday in the village of Yakla, in Yemen's al-Bayda province. On Wednesday, US officials conceded that civilians were "likely killed".

    Nawar al-Awlaki, the eight-year-old daughter of al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, was previously reported to be among the dead. Her father, a US citizen, was killed in a 2011 drone strike under the Obama administration.

    Reprieve said its evidence showed 23 civilian deaths in Yakla, including a newborn baby boy, and 10 children.

    A heavily pregnant woman was shot in the stomach during the raid and subsequently gave birth to an injured baby boy, according to local reports. The baby died on Tuesday.

    Middle East Eye cannot independently verify these reports.

    Reprieve also stated that an 80-year-old man, and a man who narrowly escaped death in 2013 when a US drone strike hit his wedding, were also killed.

    The US military has said that President Trump personally approved the raid, despite concerns over the quality of the intelligence behind it.

    A former US official told the Guardian that the intelligence for the raid had been reviewed before Trump came to power, but that it "was not judged strong enough to justify the risks".

    They added: "The case was left to the incoming Trump administration to make its own judgment."

    Separately, an anonymous US official has told NBC that "almost everything went wrong" on Sunday.

    A US commando was killed and three others were wounded during the raid. The US military also said that at least 14 suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed.

    Jennifer Gibson, Reprieve's drones and kill list project leader, said: "Americans should be appalled that President Trump’s excesses now include the death of a baby, and attacks on pregnant women and elderly people, in a country where the US is not at war.

    "Make no mistake – secret raids that kill small children will do nothing to make Americans safer.

    "Trump’s allies – both in the US and in countries like the UK – must urgently persuade him to scale back on this disastrous use of his executive powers."

    Abdul Malik al-Mekhlafi, the foreign minister of Yemen, said on Twitter soon after the raid: "The extrajudicial killings and killing civilians are condemned acts that support terrorism."


    Donald Trump on terrorists: 'Take out their families'

    Washington (CNN)Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would kill the families of terrorists in order to win the fight against ISIS.

    The billionaire businessman was asked by the hosts of Fox News' "Fox and Friends" how to fight ISIS but also minimize civilian causalities when terrorists often use human shields.

    "The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families," Trump said.

    Trump said he would "knock the hell out of" ISIS, and criticized the U.S. for "fighting a very politically correct war."


    First a pedophile child rapist now War criminal in the making

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    US drone strikes target rescuers in Pakistan – and the west stays silent

    Glenn Greenwald

    Attacking rescuers – a tactic long deemed by the US a hallmark of terrorism – is now routinely used by the Obama administration

    The US government has long maintained, reasonably enough, that a defining tactic of terrorism is to launch a follow-up attack aimed at those who go to the scene of the original attack to rescue the wounded and remove the dead. Morally, such methods have also been widely condemned by the west as a hallmark of savagery. Yet, as was demonstrated yet again this weekend in Pakistan, this has become one of the favorite tactics of the very same US government.

    A 2004 official alert from the FBI warned that "terrorists may use secondary explosive devices to kill and injure emergency personnel responding to an initial attack"; the bulletin advised that such terror devices "are generally detonated less than one hour after initial attack, targeting first responders as well as the general population". Security experts have long noted that the evil of this tactic lies in its exploitation of the natural human tendency to go to the scene of an attack to provide aid to those who are injured, and is specifically potent for sowing terror by instilling in the population an expectation that attacks can, and likely will, occur again at any time and place:

    "'The problem is that once the initial explosion goes off, many people will believe that's it, and will respond accordingly,' [the Heritage Foundation's Jack] Spencer said … The goal is to 'incite more terror. If there's an initial explosion and a second explosion, then we're thinking about a third explosion,' Spencer said."

    A 2007 report from the US department of homeland security christened the term "double tap" to refer to what it said was "a favorite tactic of Hamas: a device is set off, and when police and other first responders arrive, a second, larger device is set off to inflict more casualties and spread panic." Similarly, the US justice department has highlighted this tactic in its prosecutions of some of the nation's most notorious domestic terrorists. Eric Rudolph, convicted of bombing gay nightclubs and abortion clinics, was said to have "targeted federal agents by placing second bombs nearby set to detonate after police arrived to investigate the first explosion".

    In 2010, when WikiLeaks published a video of the incident in which an Apache helicopter in Baghdad killed two Reuters journalists, what sparked the greatest outrage was not the initial attack, which the US army claimed was aimed at armed insurgents, but rather the follow-up attack on those who arrived at the scene to rescue the wounded. From the Guardian's initial report on the WikiLeaks video:

    "A van draws up next to the wounded man and Iraqis climb out. They are unarmed and start to carry the victim to the vehicle in what would appear to be an attempt to get him to hospital. One of the helicopters opens fire with armour-piercing shells. 'Look at that. Right through the windshield,' says one of the crew. Another responds with a laugh.

    "Sitting behind the windscreen were two children who were wounded.

    "After ground forces arrive and the children are discovered, the American air crew blame the Iraqis. 'Well it's their fault for bringing kids in to a battle,' says one. 'That's right,' says another.

    "Initially the US military said that all the dead were insurgents."

    In the wake of that video's release, international condemnation focused on the shooting of the rescuers who subsequently arrived at the scene of the initial attack. The New Yorker's Raffi Khatchadourian explained:

    "On several occasions, the Apache gunner appears to fire rounds into people after there is evidence that they have either died or are suffering from debilitating wounds. The rules of engagement and the law of armed combat do not permit combatants to shoot at people who are surrendering or who no longer pose a threat because of their injuries. What about the people in the van who had come to assist the struggling man on the ground? The Geneva conventions state that protections must be afforded to people who 'collect and care for the wounded, whether friend or foe.'"

    He added that "A 'positively identified' combatant who provides medical aid to someone amid fighting does not automatically lose his status as a combatant, and may still be legally killed," but – as is true for drone attacks – there is, manifestly, no way to know who is showing up at the scene of the initial attack, certainly not with "positive identification" (by official policy, the US targets people in Pakistan and elsewhere for death even without knowing who they are). Even commentators who defended the initial round of shooting by the Apache helicopter by claiming there was evidence that one of the targets was armed typically noted, "the shooting of the rescuers, however, is highly disturbing."

    But attacking rescuers (and arguably worse, bombing funerals of America's drone victims) is now a tactic routinely used by the US in Pakistan. In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that "the CIA's drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals." Specifically: "at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims." That initial TBIJ report detailed numerous civilians killed by such follow-up strikes on rescuers, and established precisely the terror effect which the US government has long warned are sown by such attacks:

    "Yusufzai, who reported on the attack, says those killed in the follow-up strike 'were trying to pull out the bodies, to help clear the rubble, and take people to hospital.' The impact of drone attacks on rescuers has been to scare people off, he says: 'They've learnt that something will happen. No one wants to go close to these damaged building anymore.'"

    Since that first bureau report, there have been numerous other documented cases of the use by the US of this tactic: "On [4 June], US drones attacked rescuers in Waziristan in western Pakistan minutes after an initial strike, killing 16 people in total according to the BBC. On 28 May, drones were also reported to have returned to the attack in Khassokhel near Mir Ali." Moreover, "between May 2009 and June 2011, at least 15 attacks on rescuers were reported by credible news media, including the New York Times, CNN, ABC News and Al Jazeera."

    In June, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said that if "there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime." There is no doubt that there have been.

    (A different UN official, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, this weekend demanded that the US "must open itself to an independent investigation into its use of drone strikes or the United Nations will be forced to step in", and warned that the demand "will remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved". For many American progressives, caring about what the UN thinks is so very 2003.)

    The frequency with which the US uses this tactic is reflected by this December 2011 report from ABC News on the drone killing of 16-year-old Tariq Khan and his 12-year-old cousin Waheed, just days after the older boy attended a meeting to protest US drones:

    "Asked for documentation of Tariq and Waheed's deaths, Akbar did not provide pictures of the missile strike scene. Virtually none exist, since drones often target people who show up at the scene of an attack."

    Not only does that tactic intimidate rescuers from helping the wounded and removing the dead, but it also ensures that journalists will be unwilling to go to the scene of a drone attack out of fear of a follow-up attack.

    This has now happened yet again this weekend in Pakistan, which witnessed what Reuters calls "a flurry of drone attacks" that "pounded northern Pakistan over the weekend", "killing 13 people in three separate attacks". The attacks "came as Pakistanis celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan with the festival of Eid al-Fitr." At least one of these weekend strikes was the type of "double tap" explosion aimed at rescuers which, the US government says, is the hallmark of Hamas:

    "At least six militants were killed when US drones fired missiles twice on Sunday in North Waziristan Agency.
    "In the first strike, four missiles were fired on two vehicles in the Mana Gurbaz area of district Shawal in North Waziristan Agency, while two missiles were fired in the second strike at the same site where militants were removing the wreckage of their destroyed vehicles."

    An unnamed Pakistani official identically told Agence France-Presse that a second US drone "fired two missiles at the site of this morning's attack, where militants were removing the wreckage of their two destroyed vehicles". (Those killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan are more or less automatically deemed "militants" by unnamed "officials", and then uncritically called such by most of the western press – a practice that inexcusably continues despite revelations that the Obama administration has redefined "militants" to mean "all military-age males in a strike zone".)

    It is telling indeed that the Obama administration now routinely uses tactics in Pakistan long denounced as terrorism when used by others, and does so with so little controversy. Just in the past several months, attacks on funerals of victims have taken place in Yemen (purportedly by al-Qaida) and in Syria (purportedly, though without evidence, by the Assad regime), and such attacks – understandably – sparked outrage. Yet, in the west, the silence about the Obama administration's attacks on funerals and rescuers is deafening.

    But in the areas targeted by the US with these tactics, there is anything but silence. Pakistan's most popular politician, Imran Khan, has generated intense public support with his scathing denunciations of US drone attacks, and tweeted the following on Sunday:

    As usual, US policies justified in the name of fighting terrorism – aside from being rather terroristic themselves – are precisely those which fuel the anti-American hatred that causes those attacks.

    The reason for the silence about such matters, and the reason commentary of this sort sparks such anger and hostility, is two-fold: first, the US likes to think of terror as something only "others" engage in, not itself, and more so; second, supporters of Barack Obama, the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, simply do not want to think about him as someone who orders attacks on those rescuing his victims or funeral attendees gathered to mourn them.

    That, however, is precisely what he is, as this mountain of evidence conclusively establishes.


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    U.S. Drone Strikes Have Gone Up 432% Since Trump Took Office

    by Carey Wedler - March 7, 2017

    When he was in office, former President Barack Obama earned the ire of anti-war activists for his expansion of Bush’s drone wars. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning head of state ordered ten times more drone strikes than the previous president, and estimates late in Obama’s presidency showed 49 out of 50 victims were civilians. In 2015, it was reported that up to 90% of drone casualties were not the intended targets.

    Current President Donald Trump campaigned on a less interventionist foreign policy, claiming to be opposed to nation-building and misguided invasions. But less than two months into his presidency, Trump has expanded the drone strikes that plagued Obama’s “peaceful” presidency.

    According to an analysis from Micah Zenko, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, Trump has markedly increased U.S. drone strikes since taking office. Zenko, who reported earlier this year on the over 26,000 bombs Obama dropped in 2016, summarized the increase:

    During President Obama’s two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days—one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 36 drone strikes or raids in 45 days—one every 1.25 days.

    That’s an increase of 432 percent.

    He highlights some of the attacks:

    These include three drone strikes in Yemen on January 20, 21, and 22; the January 28 Navy SEAL raid in Yemen; one reported strike in Pakistan on March 1; more than thirty strikes in Yemen on March 2 and 3; and at least one more on March 6.

    The Trump administration has provided little acknowledgment of the human toll these strikes are taking. As journalist Glenn Greenwald noted in the Intercept, the Trump administration hastily brushed off recent civilian casualties in favor of honoring the life of a single U.S. soldier who died during one of the Yemen raids just days after Trump took office:

    The raid in Yemen that cost Owens his life also killed 30 other people, including ‘many civilians,’ at least nine of whom were children. None of them were mentioned by Trump in last night’s speech, let alone honored with applause and the presence of grieving relatives. That’s because they were Yemenis, not Americans; therefore, their deaths, and lives, must be ignored (the only exception was some fleeting media mention of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, but only because she was a U.S. citizen and because of the irony that Obama killed her 16-year-old American brother with a drone strike).

    Greenwald notes this is typical of not just Trump, but the American war machine in general:

    We fixate on the Americans killed, learning their names and life stories and the plight of their spouses and parents, but steadfastly ignore the innocent people the U.S. government kills, whose numbers are always far greater.”

    Though some Trump supporters sang his praises as a peace candidate before he took office, the president’s militarism was apparent on many occasions. He openly advocated increasing the size and scope of the military, a promise he is now moving to keep. And as Zenko highlights, Trump was disingenuous with his rhetoric against interventionism:

    He claimed to have opposed the 2003 Iraq War when he actually backed it, and to have opposed the 2011 Libya
    intervention when he actually strongly endorsed it, including with U.S. ground troops. Yet, Trump and his loyalists consistently implied that he would be less supportive of costly and bloody foreign wars, especially when compared to President Obama, and by extension, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    As Trump continues to dig his heels into decades-old policies he has criticized himself — reportedly mulling over sending ground troops into Syria —
    implementing policies that spawn the creation of more terrorists. As Zenko concludes:

    We are now on our third post-9/11 administration pursuing many of the same policies that have failed to meaningfully reduce the number of jihadist extremist fighters, or their attractiveness among potential recruits or self-directed terrorists. The Global War on Terrorism remains broadly unquestioned within Washington, no matter who is in the White House.”


  17. #37
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    Q&A: Drone Wars through the eyes of a US Sergeant


    Ex-drone technician who assisted to find 121,000 targets says “we can’t continue to fight a war on terror with more terror and expect to win”

    The United States drone warfare has claimed the lives of 9,469 people across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen according to the bureau of investigative journalism. The programme is shrouded in secrecy, but recent whistleblowing has enabled the world to view drones from an insider’s lens.

    Lisa Ling, an ex- US Air Force Technician Sergeant operated the most vital component of the US drone programme - without which a drone would be an empty shell. An intelligence collection system used to collate and disseminate intel in real time across multiple theatres for targeted killings. The system is known as the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) or otherwise the SENTINEL weapon system. After 14 years in the US military, first as a medic, then a nurse. Lisa’s last deployment was with Air National Guard (ANG) where she was assigned on the 234th Intelligence Squadron and then to the 48th Intelligence Squadron at Beale Air Force Base from October 2007 to September 2009 - she was honourably discharged in 2012.

    Lisa is one of three whistle-blowers featured in the National Bird documentary, critiquing the drone programme after a personal visit to Afghanistan.

    KD: Whilst operating the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), I noticed that you were given an award for assisting to find 121,000 targets that will eventually be put on a kill list or be killed. Can you tell me your thoughts on the accuracy of this data? And comment on the moral and ethical elements of targeting based on this data. Are you personally confident that the DCGS is capable of understanding who is a combatant and non-combatant?

    Lisa Ling: I have no way of knowing what happened to the 121,000 “targets”.

    I do not believe that technology can replace human intelligence. I do not believe it is moral, or ethical to use technology to be the arbiter of any life or death decisions. I do not believe anything short of boots on the ground can offer real situational awareness. Human beings are not that simple, neither is a culture that has been around thousands of years longer than my own. It is not public information on what defines an enemy combatant, it should be. People in these countries wear similar culturally appropriate clothing whether a law enforcement official, a government official, a father, mother, or perhaps a terrorist. That being said, I do not know how anyone can ever be certain whom we were striking. Many people in these countries do not know their birthday or other identifiers familiar to us in the west. How can we really know?

    KD: Have you had any interaction with British drones?

    Lisa Ling: No, not personally while I was in the drone program. As I understand it, both act autonomously. That is not to say they do not share data, it is public knowledge that 5 eyes shares data.

    KD: US legal advisers have argued that targeted drone strikes or personality strikes are highly accurate - can you comment on the accuracy of drone strikes from your experience?

    Lisa Ling: When firing a laser, the missile will accurately hit where the laser is pointing; that is not the important concept. The thing to pay attention to is the way “targets” are chosen. That specific information has not been made public and I believe it should be, at least in a general way. Without that information, oversight of this immense system of killing is not possible. Meaningful public discourse surrounding it is also not possible. So the weapons accuracy when hitting a target is irrelevant when what defines a target isn’t clear.

    KD: Do you think drone warfare is lowering the threshold for the use of force or the resort to war?

    Lisa Ling: I believe as General Hayden has said, this may make war too easy. At the political level it is an opportunity to do something and be seen as doing something without committing the political capital of putting Americans at risk. Americans working in all aspects of the program certainly are at risk, but the public is unaware of that risk.

    KD: From your experience, what are the moral and ethical implications of drone warfare?

    Lisa Ling: When kinetic strikes are a more palatable or politically expedient option than diplomacy, or capturing a suspected terrorist than that has obvious ethical and moral implications. In the United States the bar for assessing guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt. The bar for a strike is not as evident – it is shrouded in secrecy thereby making real oversight or public discourse impossible. In my view, this is a problem; it is especially a problem in places like Yemen where we are not officially at war. A stealth drone [autonomous drone] that requires no human intervention to acquire and kill targets is close to prime time. Stealth technology is for the developed world; places like the United States or Great Britain, not to be used in places like Afghanistan or Yemen. There are those of us who would think differently if this means of killing were to come here to the U.S. inevitably hunting and killing those we love. I think most Americans would not feel safe if those responsible for doing the hunting and killing were able to do so completely without any real oversight. I think that bearing this in mind, the ethical questions become abundantly more apparent to the general public. I personally think that this is a sad situation for the west; I believe compassion should extend to all people, not just those in what we call the “Global West”.

    I also want to make clear that for those living under drones, as it would be true if we were the ones living under drones, that it is terror plain and simple. To have an aircraft overhead for extended periods that could fire missiles or drop bombs at any time, on anyone, killing or maiming yourself or those you love is terrifying. Imagine being in that place where no one is immune, students, doctors, infants, mothers, grandmothers, fathers, brothers, children, soccer players and perhaps terrorists have all been victims of strikes. This living under armed drones will have an adverse impact for many generations. We can’t continue to fight a war on terror with more terror and expect to win. If there is no direct or immediate threat, proportionality is our legal obligation as I understand it.

    Oversight and governance globally and locally is necessary to keep this immense power in check. This will especially never happen in the hands of the CIA. It could take years for the public to find out about faults costing thousands of human lives, and the ability to correct any disparity could take decades. Keeping an eye on the proportionality legally required would be exceedingly difficult if it were even possible at all. The world is now our battlefield; this already violates the Nuremberg principles and other international laws. Real governance or oversight is not practical or achievable under the conditions we now find ourselves in.



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