Thursday, November 01, 2012

A quick overview of Obama's Drone War

Updated Below

With the election one week away, the bases of both major parties are fired up, lambasting the "other team's" candidate while ignoring the gross flaws in their own preferred candidate. In this environment, mentioning civilian deaths from Obama's drone wars to an enthusiastic Democratic voter is often met with shrug, "war is ugly".

These voters don't quite understand just how horrendous Obama's drone strike policy is. If people imagined the government bombing U.S. malls at random, killing LOTS of innocents, because they *think* a criminal might be in the mall, they'd have a better appreciation of what's happening.

Not only is the U.S. not verifying their intelligence before they target an area for a drone strike, often they simply attack "patterns of movement"; movement by individuals that they think might be terrorist related, without knowing who they're actually bombing. The Obama administration has also adopted the terrorist technique dubbed "double tap" bombings, where they target rescue workers that show up to a scene of a bombing. This has forced humanitarian organizations, like the Red Cross, to prohibit their staff from attending to the victims of a bombing until several hours have passed. They have also targeted the funerals of victims of these bombings, killing even more civilians in the process. These strikes are resulting in massive amounts of civilian casualties, all  for the sake of trying to get "mid-level" terrorists. The United Nations is currently investigating these strikes, and have suggested they might amount to war-crimes. Official U.S. accounts of civilian casualties have grossly under-counted civilian deaths, because of the Administration's shocking definition of "militant": any male adult. The dead most be proven to have been civilians after their deaths. Stephen Colbert has highlighted this on his show:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Two Birds With One Drone
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The civilian population in Pakistan and Yemen, that hear these drones constantly overhead, are absolutely terrified, and it's crippled their ability to live their day to day lives. Between the fear, and the constant news of family and neighbors being killed in these strikes, anti-American sentiment has spiked in these regions, and terrorist recruitment is way up. Obama is likely creating more terrorists than he's killing with this policy.

More about civilian terror over the drones can be found in this Democracy Now segment:
Study Finds U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Miss Militant Targets and "Terrorize" Civilians

and also this New York Times editorial from a Yemeni activist:
How Drones Help Al Qaeda

In Yemen, President Obama is responsible for a bombing that killed 26 innocent women and children in a single strike, and convinced the Yemeni government to take the blame for it. This was exposed by a Yemeni reporter, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who was subsequently imprisoned for his reporting. When public pressure forced the Yemeni  Government to set him free,  President Obama personally intervened and demanded to that reporter remain behind bars for exposing the U.S's role in those killings. Details about this can be found in this Democracy Now segment: Why is President Obama Keeping Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in Prison?

Even worse, from a domestic rule of law standpoint, President Obama has declared the ability to assassinate American citizens without so much as a trial, (never mind a conviction and sentencing).  His drone strikes have also killed a 16 year old American teen whom no one suggests was ever involved in terrorism, and the administration refuses to answer for the killing. See this Young Turks segment on the killing:

See how President Obama's campaign adviser has justified this teen's death:

Obama Adviser Robert Gibbs Blames Denver Teen’s ‘Terrorist’ Father for His Drone Death

The secret "kill list", which determines the targets of these strikes, has been made a permanent feature of the Presidency by Obama. Who ever wins the White House will inherit the kill list and the infrastructure around it. President Obama has given future Republican Presidents both the infrastructure and the legal and political precedent to continue the slaughter.

In short, President Obama has been terrorizing and slaughtering civilians in Yemen and Pakistan, increasing anti-American sentiment and terrorist recruitment, while also claiming the power to play "judge, jury, and executioner" by ordering American citizens to be assassinated without bothering to so much as name the crimes they've committed, let alone prove their guilt to the courts. This isn't an issue that should be shrugged off. Obama voters need to be aware of what, exactly, they're supporting when they vote for him next week.

Update 02/07/2013

This week NBC news uncovered a White House legal document that details, what it believes to be, it's "legal" justification for assassinating American citizens, anywhere, without so much as charging them with a crime. Today, President Obama is attempting to have one of the main architects of this program, John Brennan, confirmed as the new head of the C.I.A. I've posted an excellent segment by Rachel Maddow that details Brennan's role in President Bush's illegal torture program, and how he has since been braced by President Obama to lead his assassination program.

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