Farea al-Muslimi is the Yemeni who testified in front of a Senate subcommittee today about the impact of drones. That had to be the most awkward handshake in history.
This ominous, discomfiting, illegal, and immoral use of weaponized drones against defenseless strangers is done for our sakes. But more and more we are seeing a gap between the intention behind the President’s clandestine brand of justice and the real-world effect of those killings. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words against the Vietnam War in 1967 remain resonant today: “What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them?” We do know what they think: many of them have the normal human reaction to grief and injustice, and some of them take that reaction to a vengeful and murderous extreme. In the Arabian peninsula, East Africa, and Pakistan, thanks to the policies of Obama and Biden, we are acquiring more of the angriest young enemies money can buy. As a New York Times report put it last year, “Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.”
Assassinations should never have happened in our name. But now we see that they endanger us physically, endanger our democracy, and endanger our Constitution. I believe that when President Obama personally selects the next name to add to his “kill list,” he does it in the belief that he is protecting the country. I trust that he makes the selections with great seriousness, bringing his rich sense of history, literature, and the lives of others to bear on his decisions. And yet we have been drawn into a war without end, and into cruelties that persist in the psychic atmosphere like ritual pollution.
“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which has sued unsuccessfully in court to obtain administration memos about the targeted killing of Americans. “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. … It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”
In particular, Jaffer said, the memo “redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.”
This is an amazing report. The US has long resisted justifying how it can murder its own citizens, and it appears for good reason, as this document basically boils down to “We can do what we want where we want to whomever we want.”
The “Mother died today. The program saves American lives.” tweet is always the one that gets me.
Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States.
These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Robert Gibbs on the murder of Anwar al-Awlaki’s son.
Nice to know our country is run by sociopaths.
The United States carried out 75 drone attacks inside Pakistani territory during 2011 killing 609 people, among them only three were Arab commanders of Al-Qaeda; one was UK’s most wanted and just four were senior commanders of different factions of Pakistani militants, says Conflict Monitoring Centre’s annual report on drone attacks. It says that no drone attack was conducted in December last year.
The report is based on the data collected from mainstream national and international media. “The CIA failed to eliminate more than four Al-Qaeda leaders in its highly costly and controversial ‘assassination by drones’ campaign inside Pakistan during the year 2011”, the report says.
The report says a total of 303 drone attacks were carried out since 2004 in which 2661 people were killed. The report notes 43 percent decline in drone attacks in 2011 compared to the previous year 2010. The CIA had conducted 132 drone attacks in 2010. The number of fatalities in drone attacks has also dropped by 35 percent.
“Mounting protest and public backlash against drone attacks as well as tension between US and Pakistan during the year led to the decline in drone attacks. The US has suspended drone attacks after an attack by NATO helicopters on a Pakistani military check post on November 26, 2011”, the report says.
Really good article. He also mentions how contractors have a financial incentive to review as many people for killing as possible. We’ve incentivized death. He also raises the possibility that the drone program is so destabilizing Yemen it may end up going like Iran, as in the president is kicked out and a hostile to the US government takes its place.
This is one of the most important points about how America functions. Certain knowledge and debate is kept out of the mainstream discourse. Hence, you get stupid questions like “Why do they hate us?”