Our Announcements

Not Found

Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here.

Posts Tagged Civilian Deaths

Afghan Security Agencies Increased Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

Afghan Security Agencies Increased Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

Since the US-led NATO forces occupied Afghanistan in 2001, their air strikes on funerals, marriage-ceremonies and mosques, including special military operations killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan. Therefore, previously, Afghan Government, as well as the parliamentarians, used to criticize the US-led NATO for the Afghan civilian causalities.

 

But, from 2015, Afghan security forces and secret agencies are conducting most operations themselves. Involvement of Afghan forces in civilian causalities is a matter of grave concern, making them unpopular in the eyes of their own people.

 

 

In this regard, under the caption, “Parliament demands action as civilian deaths hit record high”, Afghanistan Times wrote on September 26, 2018, “As civilian casualties hit record high in Afghanistan, Parliament called the spike in deaths a matter of ‘grave concern’, urging security agencies to ratchet up efforts to rein in the menace. The concerns are voiced a day after the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Afghanistan raised concerns over a drastic rise in civilian casualty toll from this year. Speaker of the Lower House Abdul Rauf Ibraimi blamed most of the civilian deaths in military operations on Detachment 1 of the 1st Special Operations Group. Ibrahimi referred to recent protests of families of martyrs in front of the Parliament to urge the government and its security apparatus to follow a good pattern to protect civilians. Parliamentarians too turned the heat up on the 1st Detachment, saying the conduct of the unit with civilians during raids were lawless, which caused harm to people. Lawmaker Obaidullah Barekzai lashed out at coalition airstrikes in volatile regions and contended that the U.S. forces bombed areas in Nangarhar, Laghman, Kapisa and Maidan Wardak provinces in last two weeks, killing and hurting tens of civilians including women, children. Criticizing government silence regarding civilian casualties during an airstrike, he asked relevant organs to stop civilian casualties. Complaints came about casualties while recently…UNAMA expresses its concern about the rising number of civilian casualties from airstrikes this year in Afghanistan, with credible reports of the latest incident occurring in Kapisa province.”

 

Afghanistan Times added, “In a statement UNAMA said that it received multiple, credible allegations that on 22 September, aerial ordnance impacted the home of a teacher in the Budrab area of Tagab district, Kapisa province, killing nine civilians, including four children and three women, with several others injured. All the victims from the attack were from the same family, including grandparents and children aged between two and twelve. Five of the six other family members who were injured when their home was destroyed were women and young children. Also, UNAMA in its preliminary findings indicate that 12 civilians were killed Sunday in an airstrike in Maidan Wardak province during operations conducted by Pro-Government Forces in the area. Ten of those killed were children whose ages ranged from 6 to 15. Eight were girls. In the first six months of the year, UNAMA documented 353 civilian casualties (149 deaths and 204 injured) from aerial attacks, a 52 per cent increase from the same period in 2017. It is of particular concern that women and children made up more than half of all aerial attack civilian casualties. The Mission attributed 52 per cent of all civilian casualties from aerial attacks to the Afghan Air Force, 45 percent to international military forces, and the remaining three per cent to unidentified Pro-Government Forces. Around seven per cent of all civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict in the first half of the year were attributed to air operations. Since the release of UNAMA’s 2018 mid-year Protection of Civilians Report, the Mission has continued to record increasing numbers of civilian casualties caused by airstrikes.”

 

It is notable that campaign for Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections to be held in Afghanistan on October 20, this year, continues, despite a wave of deadly violence across the country and allegations of fraud.

 

In this respect, on October 2, 2018, “The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed its concern around the level of violence early in the campaigning period for the 20 October parliamentary elections, including intimidation and attacks against candidates, their agents and supporters. The Mission condemns today’s [October 2, 2018] most serious incident that killed at least 14 civilians and wounded a further 42 when a suicide attacker struck at a campaign rally in Nangarhar. Since campaigning formally commenced on 28 September, there have been several attacks resulting in the killing of a candidate and three security guards of another candidate, as well as the shooting of a further candidate’s agent and son.” UNAMA “urges all actors to halt all violence and intimidation against candidates and voters….I am outraged by attacks deliberately targeting civilians seeking to exercise their basic right to participate in elections, said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan…This violence, including today’s reprehensible attack in Nangarhar, is an assault on the constitutional rights of the people of Afghanistan…Today’s suicide attack appears to have deliberately targeted a crowd gathered at an electoral campaign event.”

 

The Islamic State group (Also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) which accepted responsibility for previous and recent terrorism-related attacks in Afghanistan also claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on an election-campaign rally of October 2, 2018, via its Amaq news agency.

 

It is mentionable that on August 10, this year, Taliban fighters attacked the Ghazni city of Afghanistan, killing at least 14 police officers and wounded dozens before the US-supported Afghan forces pushed them out of the city after a few days.

 

Afghan high officials revived the old blame game against Pakistan by accusing the security agencies of Pakistan regarding the Ghazni terror attack. Indian media also availed the opportunity and manipulated the Taliban attack against Pakistan.

 

In fact, prior to the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Islamabad, both India and Afghanistan wanted to spoil positive development between Pakistan and the United States.

 

However, regarding Ghazni terror attack, the spokesman of the Foreign Office (FO) of Pakistan, Dr Muhammad Faisal said: “We have not received any evidence to back up these spurious accusations and reject these baseless allegations made by Afghan officials and others.”

 

It is noteworthy that since the occupation of Afghanistan by the US-led NATO forces, the country has become center of the intelligence agencies such as CIA, RAW and Mossad which are in connivance to obtain the covert designs of their countries and some Western countries against Russia, China and Pakistan, including Iran. Under the cover of fighting terrorism, these foreign agencies which are also in collaboration with the Afghan Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS), support the militants of ISIS and Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), including their linked outfits which have been conducting terror-assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the secret strategy of the US-led countries. Besides, these terrorist outfits are weakening Tibetan regions of China and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan through subversive activities.

 

When any terror attack occurs in Afghanistan, the Afghan government revives old blame game against Pakistan.

 

On May 31, 2017, a massive truck bombing of the Afghan capital’s diplomatic section killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others, including foreigners. It was the deadliest terror attack in the 16-year-old conflict.

 

Taliban denied responsibility for the terror attack. But, Afghanistan’s intelligence service accused the Haqqani network by saying that a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan, carried out the attack. Addressing the conference-the “Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation”, held in Kabul on June 6, 2017, which was attended by representatives from 26 countries and international organizations, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani alleged that Taliban insurgents are using sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to wage the insurgency in Afghanistan.

 

In the same speech, President Ghani offered peace talks to the Afghan Taliban. But, a Taliban spokesman rejected Ghani’s offer of a peace dialogue by stating that it is another attempt to endorse and to prolong the foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

 

During the same conference, a powerful bomb went off at the main mosque in the western city of Herat, killing at least 10 people. Again, the Taliban spokesman denied its involvement in connection with the explosion.

 

On the other side, Pakistan’s special Corps Commander Conference took the stern notice of Afghanistan’s allegations and threats and vowed to defend the country with full forces.

 

According to the press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), issued on June 6, 2017, the “Special Corps Commanders Conference presided over by Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa called for Afghanistan to introspect and not allege Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism…the conference reviewed the security situation…Strongly condemning the Kabul blast…meeting has expressed complete solidarity with the Afghan government…instead of blaming Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to look forward and identify the real issues…Armed forces will defend the country from each challenge and will continue work to establish peace in the region.”

 

ISPR statement further reported that the meeting reaffirming continued support to regional peace and stability, the forum reiterated military’s resolve to defend the motherland against all types of threat.

It is worth mentioning that the armed forces of Pakistan have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.

 

Besides, since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of the reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and peace has been restored in Balochistan.

 

Peace has also been restored in Karachi and other provinces of Pakistan, including the tribal areas. But, in the recent past and during the election-campaign of 2019, blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country showed that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage especially to destabilize Pakistan and to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

 

Notably, there are many outfits of the Taliban. A majority of Taliban is fighting a war of liberation against the occupying forces. The US-led NATO has failed in their fight against the Afghan Taliban. Therefore, the main purpose, especially of America, is to accuse Pakistan of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan in order to pacify its public in connection with the endless war in that country. Now, particularly CIA is also behind various terror attacks in Afghanistan, conducted by the ISIS and similar terror groups.

 

As regards the terrorism-related incidents inside Afghanistan, by availing the continued lawlessness in that country, India, Israel and the Afghan Government want to prolong the stay of the US-led NATO forces there and are using the militant outfits like ISIS and TTP to create further unrest there, while shifting the blame game towards Islamabad. In this connection, especially RAW, Mossad and the NDS are in collaboration. They have also kidnapped and killed many civilians in Afghanistan.  

 

Undoubtedly, we can conclude that Afghan security agencies have increased civilian casualties in Afghanistan, while the above mentioned foreign intelligence agencies have also added to these casualties.

 

Note: I have updated my similar article.

About the Author

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

 

, , ,

No Comments

Cora Currier, ProPublica: How Does the U.S. Mark Unidentified Men in Pakistan and Yemen as Drone Targets?

 
.

Earlier this week, we wrote about a significant but often overlooked aspect of the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen: so-called signature strikes, in which the U.S. kills people whose identities aren’t confirmed. While President Obama and administration officials have framed the drone program as targeting particular members of Al Qaeda, attacks against unknown militants reportedly may accountfor the majority of strikes.

The government apparently calls such attacks signature strikes because the targets are identified based on intelligence “signatures” that suggest involvement in terror plots or militant activity. 

So what signatures does the U.S. look for and how much evidence is needed to justify a strike?

The Obama administration has never spoken publicly about signature strikes. Instead, generally anonymous officials have offered often vague examples of signatures. The resulting fragmentary picture leaves many questions unanswered.

In Pakistan, a signature might include:

Training camps…

  • Convoys of vehicles that bear the characteristics of Qaeda or Taliban leaders on the run. – Senior American and Pakistani officials, New York Times, February 2008.
  • “Terrorist training camps.” – U.S. Diplomatic Cable released by Wikileaks, October 2009.
  • Gatherings of militant groups or training complexes. – Current and former officials,Los Angeles Times, January 2010.
  • Bomb-making or fighters training for possible operations in Afghanistan…. a compound where unknown individuals were seen assembling a car bomb. – Officials,Los Angeles Times, May 2010.
  • Travel in or out of a known al-Qaeda compound or possession of explosives. – U.S. officials, Washington Post, February 2011.
  • Operating a training camp… consorting with known militants. – High-level American official, The New Yorker, September 2011.

A group of guys…

  • Large groups of armed men. – Senior U.S. intelligence official, Associated Press, March 2012.
  • Groups of armed militants traveling by truck toward the war in Afghanistan. – Administration officials, Washington Post, April 2012.
  • The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp. – Senior official, May 2012.
  • “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40.” – Former Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, Daily Beast, November 2012.
  • “Armed men who we see getting into pickup trucks and heading towards the Afghanistan border or who are in a training exercise.” – Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Council on Foreign Relations, January 2013.

Officials have characterized the intelligence that goes into these strikes as thorough, based on “days” of drone surveillance and other sources — and said that apparently low-level people may still be key to an organization’s functioning. In 2010, an official told the Los Angeles Times that the CIA makes sure “these are people whose actions over time have made it obvious that they are a threat.”

In Yemen, signature strikes are reportedly bound by stricter rules. Officials have often cited the necessity of a plot against Americans:

  • Clear indication of the presence of an al-Qaeda leader or of plotting against targets in the United States or Americans overseas. — Administration officials, Washington Post, April 2012.
  • “Individuals who are personally involved in trying to kill Americans… or intelligence that…[for example] a truck has been configured in order to go after our embassy in Sanaa.” — Senior administration official, Washington Post, January 2013

These strikes are not supposed to target “lower-level foot soldiers battling the Yemeni government,” U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal.  A White House spokesmansaid last summer that the U.S. “[has] not and will not get involved in a broader counterinsurgency effort” in Yemen.

But experts say some strikes in Yemen do appear to have been aimed at local militants. In Pakistan, in addition to low-level militants who might be involved in the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has sometimes hit those who posed a threat to the Pakistani government.

As we detailed, signature strikes have also been criticized by human rights groups and some legal observers because of the lack of transparency surrounding them, including on the number of civilians killed. 

, ,

No Comments

CHARLES PIERSON : Are Pakistanis People?

FEBRUARY 11, 2013 
 
POINTS TO PONDER IN MOMENTS OF SELF REFLECTION & IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WHEN THOUGHTS OF MORTALITY CLOUD THE MIND
 Chidl victims in North Waziristan, Pakistan, after a US drone attack 12 Oct 2012
 
 
 

There never was a good war or a bad peace. ~Ben Franklin

 

  • Can American people live with the collective guilt of killing innocent people every day?

  • Will there be accountability of people. who fire the drones one day?

  • Are victims of drone attacks images in a video game and can be dehumanized? 

  • Would Jesus approve of Drone Attacks?

  • Would any Faith on this Earth sanction Drone attacks as morally correct? 

 

Innocent Lives
 
images-72

 

Are Pakistanis People?

by CHARLES PIERSON

Do only American deaths matter?  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence thinks so.  During last Thursday’s confirmation hearing for John O. Brennan as CIA Director the Committee’s exclusive focus was on American deaths from drones.  Not one Committee member asked about the hundreds of innocent Pakistanis, Afghans, Yemenis, Libyans, and Somalis, many of them children, who have lost their lives as “collateral damage” in U.S. drone strikes.

U.S. execution of its own citizens is a serious matter.  Keep in mind, though, that only three Americans have been killed by drone strikes.  The best-known is the American-born radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, a member of
images-188Al-Qaeda who was killed in Yemen in September 2011.  Al-Awlaki was referred to repeatedly on Thursday.  (Al-Awlaki’s 16-year old son, also killed in a drone strike, went unmentioned.)

The most charitable explanation for the Committee’s failure to ask about foreign deaths is that the Committee members accept assurances by the President and Brennan that the U.S. has done its best to keep civilian casualties low.  The United States paints drones as surgically precise weapons which kill terrorists while taking few civilian lives.  Speaking publicly in June 2011, Brennan said that no civilians had been killed by drones for nearly a year.  When that claim raised eyebrows, Brennan backpedaled, telling the New York Times a few days later that there had been no “credible evidence” of civilian casualties for the past year.  (The independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism contends that at least 45 civilians were killed by drones during that period.)  What does Brennan think now?  All Brennan would say on Thursday, in answer to a question from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), is that Administration use of drones is “very judicious” and that drones are used only as a “last resort” to save lives when capture is impossible.

 

Drone strikes have killed a few high-ranking members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.  On August 5, 2009, a U.S. drone killed Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistan Taliban.  Mehsud is believed to have been behind the assassination of former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.  However, the drone which killed Mehsud and his wife also obliterated the entire building they were in, killing nine other people.  According to Medea Benjamin, this was the United States’ fifteenth attempt to kill Mehsud.  Along the way, U.S. drones killed between 204 and 321 people.  Were all of them terrorists?

The White House refuses to say how many civilians have been killed by drones.  Instead, the White House inflates kill figures by deeming every male of military age in a target area a militant.  Conflicting figures on civilian deaths abound.  The New American Foundation think tank which monitors drone attacks estimates that 16% of those killed by drones are noncombatants.  Many victims are children:  176 children in the period from 2004 to mid-September 2012 according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  Estimates from within Pakistan are considerably higher:  as high as 90%, according to the Pakistani government.  The independent Pakistani NGO Pakistan Body Count claims civilian casualties of from 75% to 80% since the drone strikes began.

High numbers of civilian casualties are to be expected given how U.S. drone strikes are conducted.  Hellfire missiles are fired into wedding parties and funerals.  “Secondary” strikes are launched on rescuers who rush to aid the injured following an initial drone strike.  The Senate Intelligence Committee asked about none of these practices.

tumblr_mdg7mkxT0T1rv24bmo1_500
Drones have killed so many Pakistanis that they have become the number one recruiting tool for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.  Anti-American feeling in Pakistan runs high.  Asked why, Pakistani Foreign Minister Rabbani Khar’d answered with one word:  “Drones.”

I know several Pakistanis and have learned this:  Pakistanis are human beings.  Earlier, I offered one explanation of why the Committee may not have asked about civilian deaths among Pakistanis (and among Yemenis, Afghans, and others):  the Committee believes the Administration when it says that civilian deaths have been kept low.  That’s the charitable explanation.  An alternative, ugly explanation, is that the Senate and the Administration don’t believe foreigners are human beings.  Or maybe they just don’t believe Muslims are.

There’s an exchange in Huckleberry Finn where Huck tells a woman a fabricated story about a boiler explosion on a riverboat.  “Was anyone hurt?” the lady asks.  “No, ma’am,” Huck says:  “Killed a nigger.”  “Well, I’m glad no one was hurt,” the lady says.  Twain’s point was that to White Southerners Blacks did not count as people.  The death of a Black isn’t the death of anyone:  it doesn’t even register.  The same psychopathology was at work in the Nazis’ extermination of Jewishuntermenschen—subhumans.  It was at work at My Lai.  And I am afraid that it is at work every time a drone hits.

Are Americans more important than non-Americans?  This is an odd position to take in a nation which can’t stop gassing about how Christian we are.  Philosopher Richard Rorty talks about a “circle of sympathy.”  At the lowest level of moral development we care only about our own family or tribe.  As conscience develops, we are able to extend our concern to also encompass our nation, race, or co-religionists.  That’s the stage Americans are stuck at now.  When Al-Qaeda and the Taliban take innocent lives we rightly condemn them.  Yet we ourselves have yet to move on to the highest moral stage where every human being receives our respect.  It’s well past time we made that leap.

Charles Pierson can be reached at: chapierson@yahoo.com

 

Reference

 

Assessing the Laws of the Drone Wars

February 10, 2013

President Obama’s defenders note he ended the Iraq War, is drawing down forces in Afghanistan and has resisted a new war in Syria. In other words, they say drone attacks on al-Qaeda suspects have ratcheted down the levels of violence left behind by President Bush. But critics say the drone attacks are still war crimes.

 

By Dennis J. Bernstein

New disclosures regarding President Barack Obama’s use of armed drones to hunt down and kill suspected al-Qaeda terrorists thousands of miles from the United States raise troubling questions about the U.S. Constitution and international law.

In the following interview with Dennis J. Bernstein of Pacifica’s “Flashpoint” program, Marjorie Cohn, professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former President of the National Lawyers Guild, assesses a White Paper from the Justice Department summarizing the legal arguments justifying the drone attacks.

DB: You say the White Paper runs afoul of international and U.S. law. Please explain.

MC: The White Paper allows the government to kill a U.S. citizen who is not on the battlefield, if some high government official who is supposedly informed about the situation thinks that the target is a senior Al Qaeda leader who poses an imminent threat of a violent attack against the United States. So how do they define “imminence”? Well, it doesn’t require any clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.

So it completely dilutes this whole idea of imminent threat. Under well-established principles of international law and the UN Charter, one country can use military force against another only in self-defense. But under the Caroline case, which is the gold standard here, the “necessity for self-defense must be instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” That means we are going to be attacked right away and we can use force.

But the very nebulous test that the White Paper lays out even allows the targeted killing of somebody who is considered to be a “continuing” threat, whatever that means. The most disturbing part of it says that U.S. citizens can be killed even when there is no “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

So we have a global battlefield, where if there is someone, anywhere, who might be associated with Al Qaeda, according to a high government official, then Obama can authorize (it’s not even clear Obama himself has to authorize these targeted killings, these drone attacks) on Terror Tuesday (thanks to the New York Times expose several months ago) who he is going to kill after consulting with John Brennan.

John Brennan, of course, is his counter-terrorism guru who is up for confirmation to be CIA Director. Very incestuous. John Brennan has said that targeted killings constitute lawful self-defense.

One of the most disturbing things here is the amassing of executive power with no review by the courts, no checks and balances. So the courts will have no opportunity to interpret what “imminence” means, or what “continuing” threat means. The White Paper cites John Yoo’s claim that courts have no role to play in what the President does in this so-called War on Terror where the whole world is a battlefield. I say so-called War on Terror because terrorism is a tactic. It’s not an enemy. You don’t declare war on a tactic.

And the White Paper refers to Yoo’s view that judicial review constitutes “judicial encroachment” on the judgments by the President and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force. The White Paper cites Hamdi v. Rumsfeld which says the President has the authority to hold US citizens caught on the battlefield in Afghanistan as enemy combatants. But in Hamdi, the Supreme Court stated that a U.S. citizen who is being detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to due process. Due process means an arrest and a fair trial. It doesn’t mean just taking him out with a drone.

Also, there’s another interesting passage in this White Paper. It says “judicial enforcement [a court reviewing these kill orders of the executive] of such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the President and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force.” Inherently predictive. Does that mean that the court can’t review decisions made with a crystal ball because it’s too mushy? I don’t know.

Certainly courts are competent to make emergency decisions under FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The FISA Court meets in secret and authorizes wiretaps requested by the Executive Branch. Courts can do this. Courts can act in emergencies to review and check and balance what the executive is doing. That’s what our Constitution is all about.

DB: Congress is looking for some original documents about what’s going on here. The White Paper is sort of a restatement of national security documents that we probably haven’t been able to see yet. What about the Geneva Conventions? It sort of throws that in the garbage.

MC: Well, it does because the Geneva Conventions define willful killing as a grave breach. And grave breaches are punishable as war crimes. So this also violates the Geneva Conventions. Although the White Paper says that they are going to follow the well-established principle of proportionality – proportionality means that an attack cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage – I don’t see how they can actually put that into practice because the force is going to be excessive. When you see how they are using drones, they are taking out convoys, and they are killing civilians, large numbers of civilians.

There’s another principle of international law called distinction, which requires that the attack be directed only at legitimate military targets. We know from the New York Times exposé that the kill list that Brennan brings to Obama to decide who he is going to take out without a trial – basically execute – can be used even if they don’t have a name, or if they are present in an area where there are suspicious “patterns of behavior.” These are known as signature strikes. That means that bombs are dropped on unidentified people who are in an area where suspicious activity is taking place.  That goes even beyond targeted killings.

Targeted killings are considered to be illegal. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, expressed grave concerns about these targeted killings, saying that they may constitute war crimes. He called on the Obama administration to explain how its drone strikes comport with international law and to specify the bases for the decisions to kill rather than capture particular individuals.

The White Paper says that one of the requirements before they can take someone out is that capture is “infeasible.” As you go on and read this memo, infeasible begins to look like inconvenient. We have these very mushy terms, with no clear standards that comply with international law. Yet there is no oversight by any court, and Congress has no role either. So we don’t have checks and balances.

Even the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that Congress passed a few days after 9/11 doesn’t authorize this. The AUMF allows the President to use force against groups and countries that had supported the 9/11 attacks. But when the Bush administration asked Congress for open-ended military authority “to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States,” Congress specifically rejected that open-ended military authority. Congress has not authorized this, and it’s not clear whether Congress would authorize it. …

DB:  When one looks at this Obama policy and compares it to Bush, essentially Obama has chosen, well, we’ll do a little less torture, or skip the torture, and we’ll just kill them.

MC: Obama has expanded these drone attacks far beyond what the Bush administration was doing. There are many thorny issues, such as indefinite detention, how detainees are treated, and under what circumstances they can be released. The Obama administration evidently feels that it’s cleaner and easier just to kill them. Then you don’t have to worry about bad publicity from housing them at Guantanamo, not giving them a fair trial, holding them indefinitely. This goes beyond the torture policy.

Now I don’t want to say that killing with drones is worse than the illegal and outrageous invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan that the Bush administration began, in which thousands and thousands and thousands of people have been killed or seriously maimed. So I wouldn’t say that Obama is worse than Bush. But certainly Obama is following in the tradition of the Bush administration and John Yoo’s expansive view of executive power where whatever the President does is unreviewable.

DB: I would say they continue the process of destroying the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the necessary checks and balances that restrain war, that the people depend on.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor of human rights at Thomas Jefferson School and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her most recent book is The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse. See www.marjoriecohn.com.

Dennis J. Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom.  You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net. He can be contacted at dennisjberstein@gmail.com.

Share this Article:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • NewsVine
  • Technorati
  • email

Tags: 

4 comments on “Assessing the Laws of the Drone Wars”

  1. I’ve been watching the comments section of this article, and I made a little bet with myself: “No matter how long I wait, I’ll be the first one to comment”. It’s because every “Progressive” who reads this article has to admit to him or herself that they have blindly supported, in the same sycophantic manner as reactionary Republicans do, a political platform that is in many ways far worse than that of the Presidency they railed against for eight years. The Bush years gave us war of aggression, indefinite detention, shredding of the Constitution, abandonment of the Geneva Conventions and torture. This one has given us most of that and more. State sanctioned assassination, codification of Constitutional breaches, indefinite detention and wars of aggression are waged without concern for Congressional oversight. The Republicans are delighted. First, because Democrats have granted them a bulletproof amnesty. Only hypocrisy could indict them now. The financial community has been absolved of the biggest financial scam in the history of the world. I could go on, but these are enough to make my point. The “progressive” community sold itself for the sake of a few “wedge issue” concessions, like sympathy for GLBT initiatives and lip service to reproductive freedom. In return, they took a “pass” on things like 1st, 4th and 5th Amendment rights. The Radical right, by the same token, is clamoring over 2nd Amendment rights, while the distraction is providing cover for the dismantling of protections which should be cherished by anyone who makes less than $250,000 a year (Most of us).

    Once forfeited, these protections are nearly impossible to reclaim. Disciples on the left approve of the Executive authorities wielded now, but just wait until they fall into the hands of another “Tricky” Dick Nixon, or a Joe McCarthy. If you think there’s an “Imperial” presidency now, just imagine the incentive to expand it in the future. Power over life and death is an intoxicating perquisite. Failure to prosecute these Constitutional transgressions has made them precedents. None of you seem to realize it yet, but the great “experiment” in Democracy is over. You’re all arguing over irrelevancies while the Titanic is sinking, and reassuring yourselves that, “Don’t worry, we have plenty of buckets and mops”.

    “Progressives” in America have been courting the lipstick and ignoring the pig. Now that you’re married, try to keep in mind: you brought it on yourselves. All of these transgressions have been fostered by entangling alliances and abrogation of the rules of law. International law, U.N. Resolutions, the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles have all been subverted in order to maintain a contrived schizophrenic foreign policy that has made us a target for terrorism. The ensuing vicious cycle insures further transgressions which will perpetuate the terrorism and validate the continued cycle of violence, not to mention the continued erosion of rights held sacred since the Magna Carta. Tyranny is a strange bedfellow. It knows no loyalty and keeps no friends. Before he was murdered, Albrecht Haushofer awoke from a similar honeymoon, warm and cozy next to the tyrant pig. He wrote this poem before he died at the hands of the Gestapo:
    I am guilty, But not in the way you think.
    I should have earlier recognized my duty;
    I should have more sharply called evil evil;
    I reined in my judgment too long.
    I did warn, But not enough, and clear;
    And today I know what I was guilty of.
    I won’t live long enough to see it, but I suspect that those who campaigned hardest to corrupt these protections in the name of misguided loyalty may, like Haushofer, find that it was themselves they betrayed. Sooner or later, there’s a morning after. Lipstick only lasts so long. For the time being, American “Progressives” are still warm and cozy. Eventually, they’ll roll over, and the denial will finally wear off. “Enemy of the State” after all, is a title the tyrants never define.

    • Members of a military force involved in combat under the “Laws of War” are “combatants”. Civilians engaged in hostilities on that same battlefield may be considered “unlawful combatants”. We prosecuted and imprisoned people for that. But, we want to have our cake and eat it too. When the CIA and contract civilians engage in these activities, they too could technically be…”unlawful combatants”…? Not to resort to John Brennan’s dodge, but I’m no legal scholar. During my long military career, I was thoroughly indoctrinated in things like the Geneva Conventions and Laws of War…but I guess the government expects us veterans to just pretend none of that matters anymore. The short answer is that we’re now witnessing “Victors’ Justice”. As Winston Churchill noted regarding the legality of some of his transgressions, “History shall be kind to me, for I intend to write it”.

      Pakistani War Criminals Gen.Pervez Musharraf, Pervez Kayani, Asif Zardari, who can be tried in Hague for culpability in Drone War

       

      reference:

      http://consortiumnews.com/2013/02/10/assessing-the-laws-of-the-drone-wars/

      http://upstatedroneaction.org/flyers/NamingThePakistaniDead.pdf

       

 

, , , , , , ,

No Comments


Skip to toolbar