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Killing Civilians: Obama’s Drone War in Pakistan

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Killing Civilians: Obama’s Drone War in Pakistan

Illegal, Unethical, Violating Sovereignty and the UN Charter

By Sajjad Shaukat

Global Research, December 14, 2012

obama-drones.jpg

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

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fail. Never liked American foreign polices. Never really agreed with these guys. The new axis of evil is the United States of America. Anyways, what they are doing, is their own undoing in the end. Karma will hit this country, just like how bad they are in debt.

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Can't deny the drones effectiveness though.

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Messages recovered from Osama bin Laden's home after his death in 2011, including one from then al Qaeda No. 3, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman reportedly, according to the Agence France-Presse and the Washington Post, expressed frustration with the drone strikes in Pakistan. According to an unnamed U.S. Government official, in his message al-Rahman complained that drone-launched missiles were killing al Qaeda operatives faster than they could be replaced.[86][87][88]

In June and July 2011, law enforcement authorities found messages on al Qaeda-linked websites calling for attacks against executives of drone aircraft manufacturer AeroVironment. Law enforcement believed that the messages were in response to calls for action against Americans by Adam Yahiye Gadahn.[89]

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Personally I would have to know more details before I pass judgement. I have read that Pakistan secretly supports the strikes. I feel for any innocent civilians, but some of these civilians get caught up when their family member comes home after committing bombings and was tracked by intelligence.

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An excerpt from the , living under drones report from the stanford law school

The number of “high-level” targets

killed as a percentage of total

casualties is extremely low—estimated

at just 2%.

You have a different definition of the word effective than i do Ed

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An excerpt from the , living under drones report from the stanford law school

The number of “high-level” targets

killed as a percentage of total

casualties is extremely low—estimated

at just 2%.

You have a different definition of the word effective than i do Ed

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So this is Obama's war now?

Or is the title indicating that if someone else was in charge, they wouldn't use Drones... and instead would have more American troops on the ground fighting... and those troops would never kill civilians?

The biggest LoL of this article was these strikes are prevent militants and the government from making deals. Not likely - if anything the americans have helped in this regard.

Less of two evils right here.

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When the leaders of Al-Qaeda complain about their jihadists being killed 'faster than they can recruit', that says a lot to me.

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An excerpt from the , living under drones report from the stanford law school

The number of “high-level” targets

killed as a percentage of total

casualties is extremely low—estimated

at just 2%.

You have a different definition of the word effective than i do Ed

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You validate and rationalise murder any way you want Ed ,murdering 98 innocent people for every 2 "guilty" people you kill is not "effective".

In fact it is considered a crime against humanity to kill innocent women and children .

As i have stated on these forums before , PLEASE STOP THESE DRONE STRIKES PRESIDENT OBAMA .

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1 in 50 killed are high lvl targets? Hmmm, I wonder if napalm or nukes have this kind of success rate?

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You validate and rationalise murder any way you want Ed ,murdering 98 innocent people for every 2 "guilty" people you kill is not "effective".

In fact it is considered a crime against humanity to kill innocent women and children .

As i have stated on these forums before , PLEASE STOP THESE DRONE STRIKES PRESIDENT OBAMA .

Ed if you really want to know more here is a link to the stanford law school report , living under drones

livingunderdrones.org

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I wonder how you would feel seeing your loved one's killed for no resason , would you still be comparing drones to napalm and nukes?

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I'm pretty sure drones have a lower civilian casaulty rate then napalm and nukes.... and thats my point. I'm also pretty sure they are better then using 19 year old high-school drop outs as soldiers.

1 in 50 killed being HIGH VALUE TARGETS (different from "not innocent civilian") is pretty good, Like I said before, I don't think other methods have that kind of success rate.

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So you would be ok with your family being murdered as long as a terrorist is killed ?

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What kind of rediculous question is that? Of course not.

Is your suggestion then, that the US should do nothing? Simply ignore the middle east until the next 9/11? If I thought it likely that the Islamic extremists would put down their guns and bombs and stop fighting the west if the US said "Truce?" then absolutely, 100% the US would be the bad guys here.

Unfortunately, thats not the case. And when the US gets information that at a certain location is a Taliban training camp, or a bomb maker, or a leader of a terrorist training cell, or any high valued target, I am not going to begrudge them sending in a drone strike. And lets be honest, a drone strike is very small, and very very precise in terms of the destruction it does compared to i) Napalm, ii) Nukes (which opens up a whole other can of worms) and iii) Full on invasion with ground troops.

My point is... 1 - out of all the possible options... drones are actually the most humane, economical and feasible reaction to whats going on now. and 2 - are we really trying to blame Obama on this situation?

I would rather my family doesn't get killed by anyone. I would rather the entire world decide to stop killing anyone, and doing anything bad what-so-ever. Unfortunately, I don't decide how the rest of the world will act. And considering the actions of the rest of the world, I don't think complaining Obama is using drones in the middle east is a very productive solution to anything but exercising our rhetoric skills.

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When the leaders of Al-Qaeda complain about their jihadists being killed 'faster than they can recruit', that says a lot to me.

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What I believe is that the end does not justify the means, the US has a criminal justice system , where a person is brought to trial and proven innocent or guilty , not summarily executed because he is thought to be guilty , and at the same time innocent people are killed in that process.

When Terrorists 'Killed' In Drone Strikes Aren't Really Dead

Dec 11, 2012

2012-12-05T203728Z_1_CBRE8B41LAI00_RTROPTP_3_MALI-CRISIS-MEDIATION.JPG

PARIS -- Is "killed by a drone strike" the new "alive and well"? If you pay close enough attention, it makes you wonder what's really going on.

Here's how this charade usually goes: One or more major news organizations runs a story about some Middle Eastern terrorist being killed in a drone strike, usually in Pakistan. The reports, typically generated by some murky Pakistani intelligence source -- are neither confirmed nor denied by U.S. intelligence. The boilerplate response is instead something like, "We can only confirm they were in the area." It's kind of like asking, "Did you sleep with my wife?" and getting back, "I cannot confirm or deny except to say that we were in the same bed."

This week, senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti was reported to have been killed by a drone in northern Pakistan. American intelligence officials have yet to confirm or deny, but that hasn't stopped this from becoming worldwide news and accepted as fact. After all, in the event that the story isn't actually true, will anyone remember the retraction -- or even demand one? Al-Kuwaiti sure won't. He'll probably be grateful to finally get some peace and quiet.

Throughout history, people have paid big bucks for the privilege of dropping off the face of the earth, often unsuccessfully. Little did they know that all they had to do was turn to terrorism and end up on America's radar as a major target.

There is no question that these stories are becoming part of an interesting, if not suspicious, pattern.

In September 2010, U.S.S. Cole bombing suspect Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso was reported to have been killed by a drone. U.S. intelligence wouldn't confirm or deny the report of his death beyond saying that he was in the drone-flooded area of Northern Pakistan. You'd think it would be their job to find these things out. He met his second "death" by drone on May 6, 2012. Any chances of a third? Is this man a cat?

In October 2010, an Osama bin Laden "ambassador," Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, was reported to have "killed" by a drone. But again, U.S. intelligence wouldn't confirm or deny anything beyond saying that he was hanging out in northern Pakistan. It was later reported that he was killed yet again by a drone on August 22, 2011.

There must be a stellar vacation-package deal for members of Middle Eastern terrorist groups to vacation in northern Pakistan if they're willing to risk all the drones and repeated deaths.

High-ranking al-Qaeda member Saeed al-Shehri is yet another terrorist who has been "killed" at least twice to date in separate air raids: once as reported by ABC News in December 2009, and yet again this past September, as reported by the Associated Press.

So do these guys really end up dead at some point? Or does the mere announcement of their questionable deaths serve to conveniently remove them from the radar? In at least one other case, it turns out that a supposedly "dead" terrorist is still at large enough to still be included on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi is the Hezbollah terrorist responsible for the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 during which Navy diver Robert Stethem was tortured, killed and tossed out onto the tarmac. Hamadi still remains on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list despite having been reported killed by a drone in northern Pakistan in 2010.

Does the FBI really care to apprehend this fugitive? Because there have been sightings of him recently reported here in the North of France. And why isn't the agency's sophisticated high-tech composite photograph included on the FBI website? Or better yet, his latest-available photo from 2008, which is markedly different from those the FBI has posted?

A private investigation suggests that Hamadi was operating a vehicle import/export business between Belgium and Lebanon until his "death." His cell phone number from that period is available, should the FBI wish to actually investigate.

What's preventing the FBI from doing its job? Certainly not the extradition treaty between the U.S. and France, which allows for extradition upon executive approval. And apparently, being an FBI Most Wanted fugitive doesn't mean inclusion in the Interpol database. How about fixing that?

And if the FBI no longer cares that Hamadi remains at large, then why keep him on the Most Wanted list? Pick a lane.

When U.S. intelligence isn't busy fake-killing terrorists, it may want to try apprehending them and bringing them to justice. Just a thought.

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"If he runs, he's VC. If he doesn't run, he's a well-disciplined VC. Hahaha. War is hell." - Full Metal Jacket

Using drones to kill terrorists strategically is brilliant, imo. It eliminates home team casualties, doesn't let 'feelings' and second-guessing get in the way, and makes the overall sensation of the kill be as it would be in a video game.

The downside is that in the future, terrorists aren't going away anytime soon and they may be using drones on us. Meh. That's just a reason to exterminate as many of those ???? as we can now.

Referring to my Full Metal Jacket quote, the difference between civillian and terrorist in that region during a time of war is almost nil. The reason no accurate count of civillians killed can be obtained is because a civilian is just another terrorist, current or future. At least according to those doing all the killing with drones.

In any case, the drones strikes are supported by Pakistan. So why should we have a problem with them if they don't?

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