Posts Tagged ‘Drone Killings’

The passing scene – October 16, 2015

October 16, 2015

THE DRONE PAPERS  an eight-part series by The Intercept about the U.S. military’s assassination program, based on a whistle-blower’s secret document.  (Hat tips to Bill Harvey, my expatriate friend Jack, etc.)

droneattackobamaEach week the President of the United States approves a list of death warrants, which are sometimes executed by trained assassins but more usually by flying killer robots.

The United States is at war, we are told, and the targets are our enemies.  But the war has no defined enemy, the battlefield is the whole world, and there is no expectation it will ever end.

Hardly anybody I know thinks this is strange or abnormal.

Snowden: NSA, GCHQ Using Your Phone to Spy on Others (and You) by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

The Fog of Intelligence by Tom Englehardt for TomDispatch.

The size and power of intelligence agencies is huge and growing.  Actual intelligence, not so much.

Hillary Clinton’s Take on Banks Won’t Hold Up by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone (Hat tip to Jack, etc.)

Bernie Won All the Focus Groups and Online Polls, So Why Is the Media Saying Hillary Won the Debate? by Adam Johnson for Alternet.

The Final Leaked TPP Text Is All That We Feared by Jeremy Malcolm for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Reality Check: What We Know About TPP Makes It the Worst Trade Deal Ever by Ben Swann for Truth in Media.

Slave Trafficking, the TPP & the 2016 Presidential Contest by Gaius Publius for Down With Tyranny!

U.S. Mideast policy: Links & comments 12/5/14

December 5, 2014

Malarkey on the Potomac: Five bedrock Washington assumptions that are hot air by Andrew J. Bacevich for TomDispatch (via the Unz Review).

The five false assumptions are:

  • The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.
  • The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.
  • Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.
  • The interests of the United States and Israel align.
  • Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

I strongly recommend reading Bacevich’s whole article.

41 men targeted for U.S. drone strikes, but 1,147 killed by Spencer Ackerman for The Guardian.

A sixth false assumption is that flying killer drones are a safe, precise and effective way to wage war.  In fact, the U.S. government is making enemies at a faster rate than it is killing them off.

Iraq’s 50,000 ‘Ghost Soldiers’ by Patrick Cockburn for The Independent (via the Unz Review)

A seventh false assumption is that the U.S. government can use foreign fighters as proxies for American troops.  Either the foreign fighters have their own aims, which may not be identical with U.S. interests, or they are more interested in collecting pay than fighting.  In Iraq, certain military officers and contractors collect pay for troops that don’t even exist.

U.S. to Use Psych Tests to Vet Syrian Rebels for Moderateness by Peter Van Buren.

This may seem like satire, but it isn’t.

 

Unmanned: America’s drone war (the full film)

November 1, 2013

[Update 12/27/13]  The video below no longer works.  Click on Unmanned: America’s Drone War to view the full film.

The documentary, Unmanned: America’s drone war, was released this week.  You can download a copy from the Internet or view it here.  It was powerful and disturbing on an emotional level, and at the same time made a case that the drone strikes benefit nobody except avowed enemies of the United States, and certain corporations who get billion-dollar drone contracts.

The movie highlights two drone victims.  One is 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, who was selected by his village community to accompany tribal elders to a Grand Jirga, a meeting of village leaders, politicians, lawyers and journalists from all over Pakistan to discuss what to do about the drone strikes.  He was killed while driving a car with another teenage a couple of weeks after the meeting.

The other is 67-year-old Momina Bibi, a 67-year-old grandmother and midwife who was killed while working in her vegetable garden.  Her family testified about the drone strikes before Congress this week.

It has long been known that the killer drones often strike people who are not the intended targets.  But it is also important to note that intended targets are not necessarily terrorists or militants.  The film’s narrator said Tariq Aziz may have been fingered by an informant.

We Americans know little or nothing about the people of Afghanistan or northwest Pakistan.  So our government relies on informants, who by definition are morally doubtful individuals, because what person would spy on his own people for the benefit of a foreign government?

Many prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are there because they were identified as Taliban by bounty-hunters.   The American authorities evidently took the word of the bounty-hunters, without considering the possibility that they were random individuals, or personal enemies of the bounty-hunters, or people to whom the bounty-hunters owed money.

Why does the U.S. government continue a drone killing policy that has been shown to immoral, illegal and counterproductive?  I think it is because the alternative to continuing the policy is for the people responsible for the policy to face the reality of what they have done.  Confession and repentance are good for the soul, and until we Americans are able to do this, we are likely to continue on our bad path.

(more…)

Shifting the issue from killing to secrecy

March 8, 2013

It is unfortunate, and at the same time a typical instance of the Obama administration’s political adroitness, is that the issue has been shifted from the President issuing death warrants based on his individual judgement, to the President’s refusal to reveal the memos on which he claims lawful authority to issue death warrants.

I predict that at some point he will reveal the legal memos, and then half the opposition to death warrants will melt away.

Obama-and-DronesThe memos ought to be made public.  But the public doesn’t need to suspend judgment until the memos are released.  I for one know all I need to know to come to a conclusion about the President’s authority.

The military has authority to use lethal force on battlefields in war.  The police have authority to use lethal force to protect human life or as a last resort to bring suspects into custody.  What no American President has the right to do is to order assassinations for “reasons of state,” as the old absolute monarchs and modern totalitarian dictators did.   Nor does he have the right to order killings based on “patterns of behavior” of people in countries with which the United States is not at war.

And, no, I don’t consider the whole world a battlefield, nor everybody who is anti-American as an “enemy combatant.”

Click on Obama must release legal memos on his administration’s drone killing program for an example of how the emphasis has been subtly shifted—but a good article, nevertheless.

Click on Objections to the White House Drone Killing Memo for a discussion of the real issue.  (Note: It isn’t drones.)

Click on Why It Matters Than Rand Paul Got His Answer for more by Conor Friedersdorf.  [Added later]