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Posts Tagged Obama

If US Betrays Pakistan’s Trust Again, Redress May Not Be Possible

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army of questionable loyalty.

The search for “good” Taliban is on in Afghanistan; the U.S. has announced that no action is to be taken against those who are not a threat to the U.S., including Mullah Omar.

The United States has said that after Jan. 2, 2015, the U.S. Army will not take any action against Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Afghanistan if they pose no direct threat to the United States. Addressing a press conference in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that the U.S. will not operate against anyone simply on the basis of their being Taliban members. Nevertheless, he used the occasion to clarify that those who fight will not be spared by any means. Kirby emphasized that any Taliban who operate against the U.S. or against its Afghan partners will automatically fall within the scope of the U.S. military operation.

Addressing the final news conference for the year last Friday, President Barack Obama reassured the American public that he is committed to his promise to end the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Obama said that in less than even two weeks, the U.S. mission that has continued in Afghanistan for more than 13 years will come to an end. However, Obama gave full permission to his troops to combat extremists in the event of their becoming direct threats to the U.S. or to Afghan forces.

After 9/11, America’s enemies in this region were al-Qaida and the Taliban. The U.S. and its allies needed Pakistan’s cooperation in confronting these enemies, cooperation which Pakistan provided. With this cooperation, and with the use of modern arms and trained armies, the U.S. and its allies totally crushed Afghanistan. Ammunition and iron rained down on the land of Afghanistan, and land forces also employed their talents and weaponry to the full extent. Thousands of al-Qaida members and Taliban were killed, and at the same time, hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were also killed, including children, old people and women. In the words of America, it broke the back of al-Qaida.

The Taliban were removed from power but could not be eliminated. They still exist as a force in Afghanistan and some other countries, and the U.S. has even carried out direct, as well as indirect and secret, negotiations with them at times. Although the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan for 13 years with full pomp and power, it could not realize its desire to completely eliminate the Taliban; nor could it persuade the Taliban to cooperate with the Afghan government. Now that a big part of the U.S. Army will be leaving Afghanistan in about a week and a half, without coffins, the Americans are hoping that the Taliban who continued to confront them for 13 years will start behaving like good children and pledge allegiance to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. This is not simply an illusion or a misconception on the part of the U.S., but inane thinking. The Taliban maintain a hold in many areas of Afghanistan and influence in several others; they are simply lying in wait for the U.S. and its allies to leave Afghanistan — when they can implement their plan to occupy Kabul.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of military experts and their operations, the governments of the previous Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and current President Ashraf Ghani have remained weak in most areas other than in cities such as Kabul. At the beginning of the coming year, following evacuation of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the government of Ashraf Ghani will have to face severe problems despite having full or partial authority in different regions. Perhaps the U.S. and the Afghan administrations are relying on the 150,000 members of the [Afghan] National Guard. But these are the very U.S.-trained soldiers who carried out dozens of attacks on their American teachers. It is possible that tomorrow these U.S.-trained soldiers will be seen standing in support of the Taliban in the same way that the army of President Hafizullah Amin joined the Taliban following the Russian evacuation.

The U.S. defeated Russia with help from Pakistan; it then took the route home, leaving Afghanistan in a state of anarchy and leaving Pakistan suffering to this day from the ill effects of its actions. Had the U.S. restored peace in Afghanistan by establishing a strong government there, the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees would not still be a weight on Pakistan after 35 years. As it did in the past, the U.S. is once again leaving Afghanistan without any planning. Pakistan today is in the grip of terrorism and lawlessness that is stronger than any it experienced in the past. Pakistani Taliban — products of the Afghan[istan] War — have turned the whole country into an ammunition pile.

On Dec. 16 these terrorists, carrying out the worst example of brutality and barbarity in human history, bathed hundreds of children in dust and blood at the Military Public School in Peshawar. According to the brutal terrorists, this was retaliation for operation Zarb-e-Azb, being conducted by the Pakistani army to eliminate the terrorists. Following this incident, the whole country united under the Nawaz Sharif government for the elimination of terrorists. The prime minister lifted restrictions on the death penalty to be effective immediately. So far there have been six executions, while gallows have been constructed in prisons for more.

After the Peshawar incident, the government immediately called a conference of parliamentary parties in an effort to form a working group that would reach a consensus regarding a strategy. Yesterday, this group agreed on eight recommendations including the establishment of military courts and repatriation of Afghan refugees. The prime minister was briefed about these recommendations and, in this context, has called a meeting of parliamentary parties to approve an action plan based on the working group’s recommendations. The meeting will be attended by political leaders, including Imran Khan.

Along with execution of terrorists, the Pakistani army is conducting rapid operations in which 200 terrorists were killed within a week and twice the number arrested. In the most recent action in Karachi, 13 terrorists belonging to al-Qaida and the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban were killed in confrontations; arms and suicide jackets were recovered from them. About 300 suspected terrorists were arrested in operations carried out in Mansehra and Islamabad.

Pakistan helped the U.S. with its heart and soul in the war against terrorism, as a result of which, the flames of warfare that were extinguished in Afghanistan have started flaring up in Pakistan. Until yesterday, the U.S. was placing pressure on Pakistan to take evenhanded action against those who posed a danger to Pakistan as well as those who did not pose a danger to Pakistan, without discrimination. Now the U.S. is in search of “good” Taliban in Afghanistan.

Whether the matter relates to Pakistan or to Afghanistan, “good” Taliban are those who give up arms. Taking the position that we will not confront those who are not confronting us is equivalent to deceiving oneself. This thinking is no different from saying that “you cannot use your weapons; but if your reservations lead you to wield arms, then we will also retaliate.” Prior to the U.S. invasion, the nature of the Taliban position in Afghanistan was no different from this; they had not hurt U.S. interests and even bin Laden had not stood up with his gun in Afghanistan. Still, the U.S. placed a price of $10 million on Mullah Omar’s head. In light of the U.S. statement today, how would the U.S. treat him if he makes an appearance at the beginning of next year, decorate him with garlands?

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army (the [Afghan] National Guard) of questionable loyalty. Further, the fire of terrorism is blazing in Pakistan. Should the U.S. once again leave Pakistan without its friendship and support — as it has done in the past — then Pakistan will eventually emerge from the morass after it faces difficulty. However, its trust in the U.S. will be finished and it will not wish to cooperate with the U.S. ever again. It is possible that in only a few months following evacuation, the U.S. will be in need of Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan.

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‘Drone strikes killed more civilians than publicly acknowledged’ – UN investigator

‘Drone strikes killed more civilians than publicly acknowledged’ – UN investigator

Published time: October 18, 2013 12:50 
Edited time: October 20, 2013 19:35

 
 
Pakistani protesters belonging to United Citizen Action march behind a burning US flag during a protest in Multan on September 30, 2013, against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas (AFP Photo / S.S Mirza)

Pakistani protesters belonging to United Citizen Action march behind a burning US flag during a protest in Multan on September 30, 2013, against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas (AFP Photo / S.S Mirza)

A UN report accuses the United States of downplaying the number of civilians killed in anti-terrorist drone operations, while failing to assist in the investigation by releasing its own figures.

With the increased use of remotely piloted aircraft in military operations in a number of countries, the nagging question of civilian “collateral damage” as a consequence of these deadly technologies is a growing concern for the United Nations and human right groups.

In Afghanistan, for example, the number of aerial drone strikes surged from 294 in 2011 to 447 during the first 11 months of 2012, according to data released by the US Air Force in November 2012, UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson noted in his interim report.

Pakistan officials confirmed that out of 2,200 deaths “at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of remotely piloted aircraft strikes and a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants.”

Although the first missile test-fired from a drone occurred in February 2001, it wasn’t until the end of 2012 that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released data showing that 16 civilians had been killed and 5 injured due to drone strikes during the course of the year.

In its latest published figures, covering the first six months of 2013, UNAMA documented 15 civilian deaths and 7 injuries in seven separate attacks by drone aircraft.

Emmerson’s 24-page document, which is due to be presented to the UN General Assembly next Friday, mentions a report by a US military advisor that contradicted official US claims that drone attacks were responsible for fewer civilian deaths compared with other aerial platforms, for example, fighter jets.

He pointed to research by Larry Lewis, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses, who examined aerial strikes in Afghanistan from mid-2010 to mid-2011. With the help of classified military data, Lewis found that the missile strikes conducted by drones were “10 times more deadly to Afghan civilians” than those performed by fighter jets, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper.

 

Northrop Grumman / Chad Slattery / Handout via Reuters

Northrop Grumman / Chad Slattery / Handout via Reuters

 

Lots of targets, little transparency 

The United States and the United Kingdom have been reluctant to hand over information regarding drone strikes of any sort, including those that result in civilian deaths. For example, on February 21, 2010, 23 civilians were killed and 12 wounded in a Predator strike in southern Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province.

The US military released partially declassified information on the incident, suggesting “administrative and disciplinary sanctions” against the crew for providing misleading “situational information” as well as “a predisposition to engage in kinetic activity (the release of a missile).”

Emmerson said the US, which has attracted a lot of scorn in Afghanistan over the drone attacks, had created “an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency.”

“The Special Rapporteur does not accept that considerations of national security justify withholding statistical and basic methodological data of this kind,” Emmerson wrote in the report.

The United Kingdom, which also figured into the report, has officially admitted to one civilian casualty incident, in which four civilians were killed and two civilians injured in a remotely piloted aircraft strike by the Royal Air Force in Afghanistan on March 25, 2011.

However, that figure remains open to speculation given that the United Kingdom’s ‘Reaper’ drone has flown more than 46,000 hours in Afghanistan, averaging three sorties per day, with a total of 405 weapons discharged. 

Pakistan hunting ground 

Emmerson also reported that Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided him with statistics on drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, where the US military has targeted members of Al-Qaeda since 2004.

The government noted the difficulties in determining the exact number of civilian deaths due to particular“topographical and institutional obstacles” of the Tribal Areas, including the tradition of immediately burying the bodies of the dead. So the figures are likely to be an underestimate.

The highest amount of civilian casualties, Emmerson noted, came when the CIA dramatically increased drone attacks in Pakistan between 2008 and 2010. Following intense criticism from Islamabad, however, drone strikes in Pakistan have steadily declined and “the number of civilian deaths has dropped dramatically.”

 

Pakistani schoolgirls walk along a path after school in Mingora, a town in Swat valley (AFP Photo / A Majeed)

Pakistani schoolgirls walk along a path after school in Mingora, a town in Swat valley (AFP Photo / A Majeed)

 

In September, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), a non-profit organization launched a project,“Naming the Dead,” to record properly the names and numbers of people who are killed by US drone airstrikes in Pakistan. 

Civilian fatalities attributed to US drone strikes have occurred beyond the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, including in Yemen, where the figure is 12-58, according to Emmerson. Statistics are not yet available from Iraq or the Nato operation in Libya in 2011. 

Who’s a target? 

Meanwhile, with America’s arch-enemy Al-Qaeda looking increasingly fractured, especially with the death of its terror mastermind, Osama bin Laden, the question as to who now qualifies as a legitimate target of US strikes is becoming more pertinent. More importantly, perhaps, are the limitations that the United States and other countries must recognize as the battle against ‘terrorism’ goes global.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has noted the absence of a clear international consensus on the issue, Emmerson noted. But one thing that is generally accepted, however, is that“international humanitarian law does not permit the targeting of persons directly participating in hostilities who are located in non-belligerent States, given that, otherwise, the whole world is potentially a battlefield,” the report emphasized.

In Washington, the report got a lukewarm reception with White House spokesperson Laura Magnuson saying, “We are aware that this report has been released and are reviewing it carefully.”

She noted that at the National Defense University on May 23, “[T]he President spoke at length about the policy and legal rationale for how the United States takes action against Al-Qaeda and its associated forces. As the President emphasized, the use of lethal force, including from remotely piloted aircraft, commands the highest level of attention and care.”

The Special Rapporteur intends to submit a final report on the subject of robotic aircraft in counter-terrorism operations to the Human Rights Council in 2014. 

 Reference

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WHO WILL BRING JUSTICE FOR SYED WALI SHAH AGE 7 KILLED IN DRONE STRIKE ON AUGUST 21,2009?

Asif Zardari allowed US to boost drone strikes.

 

WHO SPEAKS  FOR SYED WALI SHAH AGE 7 KILLED IN DRONE STRIKE ON 21-08-2009 ?

Only Allah Knows

الرقيب The Watchful One Ar-Raqib

 

and When Allah’s Revenge Comes. It will come without any warning to perpetrators. So Zardari and Pakistan Army Officers, who collaborated in drone strikes, you will face the Ultimate Judge (Al-Adl) for this War Crime

المنتقم The Avenger Al-Muntaqim is a name of Allah. He avenges crimes against humanity. A genocidal act cannot escape punishment from the Creator, both in this life and for eternity.  But, those who commit such acts, have blinders on. They cannot connect the dots, when Allah’s punishment comes. It comes without warning and is absolute. So nations and people have to act responsibly, otherwise, they will be held accountable by Al-Adl, the Ultimate Judge. 
 

 

Asif Zardari can be brought in front of International Court of Justice at Hague for committing crimes against humanity. He has no sovereign immunity against such crimes. He stands guilty and can be tried by a future Pakistani government. Pakistanis will never forget that this butcher sacrificed his own people to keep his hold on to power and ill-gotten wealth. Zardari has committed crimes against humanity and broken International Law. PAKISTAN ARMY officers who have directed drone strikes, have been part of planning, execution, or implementation of drone strikes are culpable under International Law, also. Pakistani Army Officers who were involved in the drone attacks are vulnerable to indictment under International Law. “I was only following orders,” does not absolve any Pakistan Army Officer, who had any thing to do with this genocide.

October 24th, 2012
08:03 AM ET
 
 

3 killed, kids hurt as fury grows over U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan- October 24th, 2012-CNN

[Updated 9:56 a.m.] An official with the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not authorized to speak on the record, condemned today’s attack.  Previously, the ministry has said it lodged a complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad about drone strikes in Pakistani territory on October 10 and 11.  The ministry called those “a clear violation of international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

[Posted 8:03 a.m.] Missiles blew up part of a compound Wednesday in northwest Pakistan, killing three people – including one woman – a government official said.

The latest suspected U.S. drone strike also injured two children, military officers said.

Militants lived in the compound, but so did civilians, the officers said.

There’s growing fury over the U.S. pounding of areas known to be home to al Qaeda operatives, mainly in tribal zones along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.  A recent independent study said hundreds of civilians, including 176 children, have been killed in the attacks over the last eight years.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney seem to largely see eye-to-eye on the issue.  CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen notes that most Americans “are comfortable with the muscular use of CIA drones against al Qaeda in Pakistan.”

The United States rarely comments on the strikes.

The New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy group, used Google Maps to pinpoint many of the drone attacks.

 
 

drone-strikes-map

INTERNATIONAL LAW: GENOCIDE AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

 

Only in recent history has international law evolved to define and punish mass violence against civilians. Now well-established as the legal foundation for civilian protection against mass atrocities, two categories of international law that seek to criminalize genocide and crimes against humanity were developed in response to World War II and the Holocaust.

 

Below you will find a series of approachable articles and resources, including podcasts and eyewitness testimonies, that describe the evolving international framework for preventing and punishing genocide and crimes against humanity.

Background

 At the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg (1945-1946), legal teams from Allied nations prosecuted Nazi German leaders for attacks on civilians under the rubric of crimes against humanity, a formerly undefined general principle that became codified into enforceable law for the very first time. The IMT limited it in scope, however, to crimes committed in the context of international armed conflict.

Due in large parts to the efforts of Holocaust survivor Raphael Lemkin, the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was unanimously adopted on December 9, 1948. The Convention established genocide as an international crime in times of both war and peace. The Convention’s definition ofgenocide is, however, strictly limited by the perpetrator’s “intent to destroy in whole or in part;” the characterization of the victim group; and the acts committed.

 Although mass atrocities occurred in the decades following ratification, the Genocide Convention went unused and therefore untested. Not until the 1990s did the obligations of the Convention gain potency, spurred on by several international developments: the growth of professional human rights organizations with experience utilizing international legal tools to combat human rights abuses; the end of the Cold War, which enabled greater consensus in UN Security Council; and the persistence of extreme violence targeted against entire civilian groups, most notably in the cases of Bosnia-Herzegovinaand Rwanda.

 In response, new mechanisms were created to hold individuals criminally responsible for violations of international laws of war, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The United Nations created the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1993 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1994. On July 17, 1998, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was permanently established through treaty, which no longer limited crimes against humanity to the context of armed conflict. And, for the first time, an established forum for disputes between states, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), addressed countries’ obligations to prevent genocide.

Law grows through the setting of precedents. In other words, how judges apply the law helps determine what the law means. Through the judgments of these tribunals and courts, international law on genocide and crimes against humanity evolves, deepening our understanding of the crimes and our capacity to respond.

An Introduction to the Definition of Genocide

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to create the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. But how has the definition of genocide — crafted through diplomatic negotiation — become meaningful against real threats to civilian groups?

An Introduction to the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent judicial body set up to try individuals for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Eyewitness Testimony

Watch testimony from some of the individuals who played significant roles in helping to develop international law on genocide and crimes against humanity. Alongside the testimony, view pieces of related evidence from our Museum’s collection and beyond.

Raphael Lemkin: A Polish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin fled Poland in 1939 and arrived in the U.S. where he introduced the word genocide and worked tirelessly on lobbying for the creation of a convention against genocide at the United Nations.

Senator William Proxmire: Between 1967 and 1986, Senator William Proxmire delivered 3,211 speeches on the floor of the U.S. Senate arguing for the U.S. to sign the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Stephen Rapp: Appointed by President Obama in 2009 as the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp served as prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 2001 to 2006.

 

Voices on Genocide Prevention Podcast Interviews

Diane Orentlicher, Deputy in the Office of War Crimes Issues in the U.S. Department of State: Orentlicher discusses how the Obama Administration is reengaging with the International Criminal Court.

International law expert William Schabas: Schabas discusses the decision of the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court to request an arrest warrant for President Bashir of Sudan.

Respected historian, author, and politican Michael Ignatieff: Ignatieff describes the history behind Raphael Lemkin’s important work naming the crime of genocide.

What is Genocide? View or download a timeline exploring the concept and law of genocide

 

The War Criminal Asif Zardari allowed US to boost drone strikes in Pakistan.

 

 

 

 

The American Viewpoint:

RAWALPINDI: Observing that the CIA does not trust the ISI because it has repeatedly demonstrated its untrustworthiness, The Wall Street Journal in an opinion piece said on Friday that Pakistan needs to be a given an ultimatum of the kind it was given immediately after 9/11.

“In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration famously sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to Islamabad to explain that the US was going to act forcefully to protect itself, and that Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again,” the newspaper said in an opinion piece entitled ‘The Pakistan Ultimatum.’ Importantly, the piece comes within days of a high-profile meeting between the spy chiefs of the United States and Pakistan.

 “The government of President Asif Ali Zardari allowed the US to increase the number of drone strikes. Yet it has made a point of complaining about them publicly, playing a particularly cheap form of politics to shore up its waning popularity with a domestic constituency smart enough to see through the hypocrisy,” the paper said.

 

Noting that relations between Washington and Islamabad have historically never been easy, and seem to have reached something of a watershed now, the Journal said Pakistan’s behaviour has not exactly been exemplary.

“So Pakistan now demands that the United States withdraw hundreds of American intelligence operatives and special-ops trainers from its soil and stop the CIA drone strikes on al-Qaeda, Taliban and affiliated terrorists. Maybe the Obama administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the US will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan’s cooperation,” the daily said.

Keeping track: A still of an interactive map at NewAmerica.net shows drone attacks by location and year. For more details see the link to the interactive map below or go to www.newamerica.net. Source: Peter Bergen / Katherine Tiedemann / New America Foundation

With recent news of ISAF helicopters swooping over the border into Pakistan, and as US drones strikes continue unabated, 2010 is becoming known in north-west Pakistan as ‘The Year of the Drone.’

The New America Foundation has used the moniker for a section on their website detailing with “an analysis of US drone strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010.” In fact, more than an analysis, it is a very comprehensive database (not customisable, or easily mined, but still very useful) of every drone attack since 2004. It contains maps, charts and tables with estimates of deaths (civilian and militant) and locations of attacks. The sources for information on each attack are listed.

Everyone is well aware of the huge surge in drone attacks in 2009 and 2010 under the Obama administration, but the cold figures show the shocking rise in civilian deaths too.

For the period 2004-2007, according to the website, the high estimate for non-militant deaths from drone strikes is nine out of 109 people killed, around 8%. For 2009, the high-side estimate for non-militant deaths is 304 out of 709, a maddening 43%. The low estimate is 120 out of 413 killed in drone attacks, or 29%. So far in 2010 there have been reports of as many as 59 non-militants killed (59 out of 654, or 9%; while the low estimate shows 26 non-militants killed out of 387 drone-strike deaths, 7%) as of September 27, 2010).

These numbers show an increase in ‘accuracy’ for US drone strikes for 2010, but of course, this is cold comfort for those who have lost family members. Hundreds of Pakistanis not engaged in any fighting have been killed in targeted strikes. And while these raw numbers are revealing, they only scratch the surface. The real numbers that matter are:

  • How many children will grow up without fathers and mothers because of these attacks?
  • How many families have lost their bread-winner in these attacks?
  • How many people will fall further into poverty because of these attacks?
  • How many militants are born from the death of one innocent civilian?


You can see all the statistics gathered in Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann’s drones database at the New America Foundation here.

View an interactive map of US drone strikes in Pakistan in a large format.

 

What if Drone Strikes are War Crimes?

opednews.com

 

DRONE WARS, PERHAPS FUTILE AND CRIMINAL. Drone strikes never became a US campaign issue.

      By William Boardman  When it comes to pilotless drones armed with air-to-ground missiles, the United States acknowledges that its counterterrorism strategy includes using terrorist techniques as part of the “war” on terror.   Some of these attacks on civilians are widely understood to be war crimes, but the Obama administration refuses to reveal White House lawyers’ memosdefending the legality of executive execution.

Currently and controversially, the United States is the only country in the world known to be actively waging drone warfare — the remote aerial killing of people who may or may not be identified, who may or may not be hostile, and who have no way to appeal for a stay of the execution they don’t even know is coming their way.  

Some call the drone war a “moral black box” that reflects badly on American ethics. 

Protests against this form of summary execution are happening with increasing frequency not only in Pakistan, where the U.S. has killed hundreds of non-combatants, but in Britain, Australia, IllinoisNew York, and now Vermont.

 

     FROM DRONE-PLAGUED PAKISTAN DIRECT TO VERMONT

Already concerned by the increasingmilitarization of their state and country, Vermont activists are calling for their congressional representatives to oppose further drone use on defenseless countries.   None of the delegation, not Sen. Patrick Leahy, not Sen. Bernie Sanders, not Rep. Peter Welch, has raised much of a fuss about drone killings, not even when the President chose to kill anAmerican citizen

Vermonters with Veterans for Peace, the Peace and Justice Center, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom also oppose basing a drone control center in Vermont, a possibility floated by National Guard Major General Michael Dubie as early as 2011. 

To heighten consciousness of drone attacks on law and the Constitution, activists have arranged to hear directly from Leah Bolger, one of 30 Americans in the Code Pink delegation who went to Pakistan for the mass protest against drones led by political leader Imran Khan in early October.  Ms Bolger, president of Veterans for Peace, came directly from Pakistan to hold a press conference at the National Guard base gate and to speak to a college audience at St. Michael’s College. 

     U.S. IS EXCEPTIONAL IN DRONE WARFARE

While other countries, certainly Israel and perhaps Iran, may be dabbling in drone warfare, only the U.S. is engaged in remote control killing of citizens in at least five theoretically sovereign nations, including Pakistan, AfghanistanYemen, Ethiopia, and Somalia, as well as suspected strikes in Libya, Iraq, Mali, Colombia, Mexico, and others.   Israeli drones havereportedly killed 825 people in Gaza since mid-2006.   

The legal problems created by drone warfare are similar to the problems the U.S. created for itself by deciding to torture prisoners without legal restraint.  As explained by Richard Falk, international lawyer and retired Princeton professor, “The U.S. reliance on attack drones to engage in targeted killing, especially in third countries (Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Pakistan) has raised controversial international law issues of sovereign rights in interaction with lethal acts of war, especially those far removed from the zone of live combat.”

More bluntly, the U.S. is committing acts of war, killing the citizens of other countries in their own countries, without a shred of due process of law, whether international, American, or local, and the acts are not confronted even by international authorities such as the United Nations or the International Criminal Court (which the U.S. refuses to recognize). 

    SOUTH AFRICAN JURIST QUESTIONS “WAR CRIMES”

In June 2012, Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, issued a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council calling attention to the dubious legality of drone warfare.  The South African Jurist said that: “Reference should be made to a study earlier this year by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism” If civilian “rescuers’ are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.” 

The impact and effectiveness of drone strikes is intensely debated and the Obama administration does what it can to keep relevant information secret.  But Pakistan counts more than 1,000 innocent civilian killed, and other observers, both military and civilian, say the drone strikes create far more angry people bent on revenge than it kills terrorist plotters. 

The numbing effect of killing people by remote control is another cost of this kind of war, made vivid in the video of a former British drone operator who found it “too easy to kill” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

America’s drone warfare began in earnest in 2004 under President Bush, but President Obamahas increased the rate of drone attacks six-fold since he took office in 2009. 

     IN THE FUTURE, WILL EVERYONE HAVE DRONES?  

Thomas Powers, who has written extensively about the CIA and other secret agencies, describes the problem this way:  “Drones are an unreliable and conspicuous way of killing individuals.  With drones we have no way to tell who we are killing. It’s abrogating a right to ourselves that no organization should have. It’s arbitrary and driven by politics. What seems inevitable today is going to cause you trouble tomorrow. Ask yourself if the United States would accept the right of another country to decide who among Americans they would kill. There are probably people in Arizona allied with drug cartels. Would we allow Mexican forces to use drones against them? Hell, no.”

In April, the first international Drone Summit held in Washington, D.C., raised issues of legality, constitutionality, efficacy, cost, justice, and security.  But Drone warfare had not been a significant issue in any presidential campaign.  Meanwhile the international drone market is booming.     

 

 

Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, “The Panther Program” —
 

In his second term, it was expected that the U.S. President Barack Obama would reassess America’s controversial foreign policy, especially by ceasing CIA-operated drone attacks on Pakistan. But these aerial strikes continue on Pak tribal areas.

It is worth mentioning that Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam, who visited America in August, 2012, emphatically told the then-CIA Director David Petraeus that predator strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty that must be stopped. He pointed out that these strikes are proving counterproductive, giving a greater incentive to fundamentalist and extremist elements in Pakistan and are increasing anti-U.S. sentiments among the people.

While addressing the UN General Assembly on September 25, President Asif Ali Zardari said, “Drone strikes and civilian casualties on our territory add to the complexity of our battle for hearts and minds through this epic struggle” against terrorism.

Besides, after her meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on September 21 in Washington, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar stated that they had discussions on drones, saying, “These are illegal and counterproductive.” She explained that when “a U.S. drone carries out a strike, Pakistani officials have to hear remarks that this is a U.S. war.” Khar elaborated that in 352 terrorist attacks in Pakistan, many of those killed were Pakistanis as opposed to foreigners.

While justifying these air strikes by spy planes, the counterterrorism advisor to Obama, John Brennan, and Defense Minister Leon Panetta have defended these attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas under the pretext of North Waziristan-based Haqqani militants whom they have blamed for several assaults on American and NATO bases in Afghanistan. On the other hand, U.S.-led coalition forces have failed in stopping incursions of heavily-armed insurgents in Pakistan from thye Afghan side who have killed more than 100 personnel of Pakistan’s security forces in the last two years while targeting the infrastructure of the area. In fact, the U.S. seeks to make North Waziristan a scapegoat for NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan by continuing the illegal mass murder of innocent people through Predator strikes.

However, setting aside parliamentary resolutions, rallies and processions of Pakistan’s political and religious parties against drone attacks, and ignoring the new rapprochement between Islamabad and Washington, without bothering about any internal backlash, these strikes keep on going on in the FATA.

In fact, such American duplicity contains a number of covert designs. The fresh wave of strikes by pilotless aircraft has thwarted the offer of militants and the Pakistani government for peace talks. And the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has as a result accelerated subversive activities in the country. Now, the U.S. seeks to incite the Haqqani network as over the past 14 months, as most of these strikes have targeted North Waziristan. So, these aerial attacks are provoking the tribal people against Pakistan’s security forces and increasing the recruitment of insurgents. Another aim of these strikes is to create a rift between Pakistan’s armed forces on one side and the political and religious parties including the general masses on the other. Besides, Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. Hence, the U.S., India and Israel are determined to weaken it. The drone campaign is also part of this game.

The strikes by the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which have continued in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified during the Obama era. In one of the major drone attacks more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed on March 18, 2011 in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. In the past few months, these unmanned aircraft killed more than 100 people in North Waziristan.

As regards civilian casualties, on August 11, 2011 a report of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said, “The Guardian published some of the pictures, we have obtained…as many as 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during the past seven years.” While rejecting the CIA’s false claim, the report disclosed, “It is a bleak view: more people killed than previously thought.”

Besides, a report of the New America Foundation revealed that President Obama has “authorised 193 drone strikes in Pakistan, more than four times the number of attacks that President Bush authorised during his two terms.” The report explained, “When the U.S. drones attack Pakistan’s tribal areas, it is not just the 10, or 50, innocent civilians they kill, these killings provide reason to youth for joining terrorist groups waging war against the U.S. and of course Pakistan…while killing 10 militants, the U.S. has murdered more than 1,400 Pakistanis not involved in any terrorist activities. Could it not be inferred that it gave birth to another 1,400 militants?”

The latest report, “Living Under Drones,” prepared by experts from the Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law, disclosed that the U.S. campaign of drone “strikes in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt is terrorising civilians 24 hours a day and breeding bitter anti-American sentiment. [They] have killed thousands of people…even stopping their children going to school for fear of being targeted.” Based on research, the report urged Washington to rethink its drone strategy, arguing it was counterproductive and undermined international law.

Nevertheless, details collected by Pakistani journalists show that civilian casualties through drone strikes are higher as indicated [even] by U.S. officials. In the last four years, more than 800 innocent civilians and only 22 Al-Qaeda commanders have been killed by these aerial attacks.

Particularly during his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged to reverse the excesses of the Bush era in relation to terrorism. He also promised to reformulate a counterterrorism policy in accordance with the legal and moral values of the U.S. Contrary to his assertions, Obama followed Bush’s approach to counterterrorism in its worst form by expanding and accelerating the Predator strikes.

In this respect, The New York Time on May 26, 2011, in an article which was written with the assistance of several counterterrorism advisers of the administration, revealed, “President Obama has become personally involved in the process” and “has normalised extrajudicial killings from the Oval Office, taking advantage of America’s temporary advantage in drone technology. Without the scrutiny of the legislature and the courts, and outside the public eye, Obama is authorising murder on a weekly basis.”

Notably, the American constitution explicitly grants the right to declare war to the Congress so as to restrain the president from chasing enemies around the world, based solely on his authority as commander-in-chief, by waging a secret war.

Instead of capturing militants alive and to avoid giving the right of due process of law to them in a court, President Obama has openly been acting upon a ruthless policy of targeted killings by supervising the CIA-controlled drone warfare.

Notably, President Obama has broken all the records for human rights violations by extrajudicial killings of innocent people through CIA-operated unmanned aircraft, which are part of his so-called counterterrorism operations in Somalia, Yemen, etc. in general and Pakistan in particular, while the U.S. claims to be the protector of human rights not only inside the country but all over the world.

On the one hand, top U.S. officials, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have repeatedly said that America needs Pakistan’s help not only for the peace process with the militants, but also for stability in Afghanistan in the post-2014 scenario; but on the other, U.S. spy planes in Pakistan’s tribal regions are undermining international efforts for stability both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including a peace dialogue with the Afghan militants.

Meanwhile, Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said on August 16 of this year that it was time for “the U.S. to open itself up to scrutiny as to the legality of such attacks…each strike is visually recorded and videos could be passed to independent assessors.” Recently, former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have also opposed Obama’s faulty strategy of drone strikes.

Nonetheless, these strikes are illegal, unethical and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty as well as the UN Charter. But U.S. warrior President Obama remains intransigent in continuing his secret war through drone attacks.

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

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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