President Obama, in a 2012 interview with CNN, said these were his criteria for deciding to order someone killed with flying drones:
1. ‘ It has to be a target that is authorized by our laws.’
2. ‘It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative.’
3. ‘It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.’
4. ‘We’ve got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties.’
5. ‘That while there is a legal justification for us to try and stop [American citizens] from carrying out plots… they are subject to the protections of the constitution and due process.’
This is not the reality.
In Afghanistan, U.S. forces have a policy of targeting unusually tall people, on the assumption that they probably are Arabs or other foreign fighters supporting the Taliban.
Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill said that they targeted one man who turned out to be an Afghan man of normal height standing among a group of children. The drone killed the man and all, or all but one, of the children.
Other targets are chosen through analysis of signals intelligence and meta-data or information from foreign intelligence services. Any male of military age killed in a drone strike is assumed to be a terrorist.
When U.S. forces first invaded Afghanistan, I accepted that they were there to liberate the Afghan people from the tyranny of the Taliban. But if any dead adult male is assumed to be an enemy unless proven otherwise, then the United States is waging war against the Afghan people as a whole. This is not right, and it does not make Americans safer.
Whistleblower: 90% of Drone Fatalities Are Civilians on Washington’s Blog.
THE DRONE PAPERS on The Intercept. A complete report on the whistleblower’s leaked documents.
Note. I made some minor additions and word changes after I posted this.