Protesters hold signs and chant slogans outside the White House in Washington on April 13, 2013 during a demonstration against the use of dones against Islamic militants and other perceived enemies of the US around the world. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
As Washington pushes to expand its drone warfare in Africa, hundreds have gathered in front of the White House to protest the “robotic killing machines” slaughtering thousands across the globe.
Organized by the ANSWER coalition, the movement is calling on the administration to stop the use of drones on foreign soil. The coalition urges its members to stop the US government as it “functions as a death squad government, permitting the president and military leaders to create secret ‘kill lists’ of people who have been selected for assassination.”
On the organization’s website people have voiced their reasons behind their protest.
“No one should sit passively and allow our government to wage a ‘quiet war’ – an undeclared war but a real war in our name!” Rev. Graylan Hagler, a senior minister wrote.
“It’s time we Americans join the rest of the world in condemning President Obama’s barbaric drone killing spree, a policy that benefits the war profiteers but makes us hated around the world,” Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of CODEPINK said in her post. Read More
Nic Robertson | CNN
The Sabaoon School for boys in northern Pakistan is anything but average.
Nestled amid the bucolic charm of the Swat Valley’s fertile terraced fields and steeply rising crags it looks idyllic. But if you get up close, a harsher reality becomes clear.
Two army check-posts scrutinize visitors entering the sprawling site. Once inside, the high razor wire-topped walls around the classroom compounds create a feeling reminiscent of a prison.
The boys here, aged 8 to 18, were all militants at some point. Some are killers, some helped build and plant improvised explosive devices, and others were destined to be suicide bombers until they were captured or turned over to the Pakistani army. All of them are at the school to be de-radicalized.
Ninety-nine percent of the boys, I am told, have never heard of Osama bin Laden, despite the fact he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in the next valley over from here. What has radicalized these boys instead, the school’s director says, is what turns teenagers the world over to crime: poverty, poor education, limited prospects and often lack of parental control.
It is in this setting that the boys have made ready recruits for Taliban scouts who wean them on tales of the U.S. drone strikes that have killed scores of Pakistani women and children over the past few years. Read More
Jon Boone and Peter Beaumont | The Guardian
Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after more than four years of self-imposed exile. Photograph: Fareed Khan/AP
Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf has admitted giving permission for the CIA to launch drone attacks inside his country, directly contradicting repeated claims by the Pakistani government that it has never authorised drone strikes.
His comments in a CNN interview screened on Thursday night follow US media claims this week that Pakistani officials were for years intimately involved in the US drone campaign in the country. The unexpected admission breaks Pakistan’s policy of blanket denial of involvement. Last month following a visit to Islamabad Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said he had been given assurances that there was no “tacit consent by Pakistan to the use of drones on its territory”.
For its part the Obama administration has defended the legality of its drone activities and said strikes are conducted only with consent from the states involved.
Musharraf said Pakistan gave permission “only on a few occasions, when a target was absolutely isolated and [there was] no chance of collateral damage”.
He said the strikes were discussed “at the military [and] intelligence level” and cleared only if “there was no time for our own [special operations task force] and military to act. That was … maybe two or three times only”. Read More
Micah Zenko | Foreign Policy
Finally, proof that the United States has lied in the drone wars.
It turns out that the Obama administration has not been honest about who the CIA has been targeting with drones in Pakistan. Jonathan Landay, national security reporter at McClatchy Newspapers, has provided the first analysis of drone-strike victims that is based upon internal, top-secret U.S. intelligence reports. It is the most important reporting on U.S. drone strikes to date because Landay, using U.S. government assessments, plainly demonstrates that the claim repeatedly made by President Obama and his senior aides — that targeted killings are limited only to officials, members, and affiliates of al Qaeda who pose an imminent threat of attack on the U.S. homeland — is false.
Senior officials and agencies have emphasized this point over and over because it is essential to the legal foundations on which the strikes are ultimately based: the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and the U.N. Charter’s right to self-defense. A Department of Justice white paper said that the United States can target a “senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force” who “poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.” Attorney General Eric Holdersaid the administration targets “specific senior operational leaders of al-Qaeda and associated forces,” and Harold Koh, the senior State Department legal adviser dubbed them “high-level al-Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks.” Obama said during a Google+ Hangout in January 2012: “These strikes have been in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and going after al-Qaeda suspects.” Finally, Obama claimed in September: “Our goal has been to focus on al Qaeda and to focus narrowly on those who would pose an imminent threat to the United States of America.”
As the Obama administration unveils its promised and overdue targeted-killing reforms over the next few months, citizens, policymakers, and the media should keep in mind this disconnect between who the United States claimed it was killing and who it was actually killing.
Landay’s reporting primarily covers the most intensive period of CIA drone strikes, from September 2010 to September 2011. “[T]he documents reveal estimates of deaths and injuries; locations of militant bases and compounds; the identities of some of those targeted or killed; the movements of targets from village to village or compound to compound; and, to a limited degree, the rationale for unleashing missiles,” he writes. Read more
When Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was taken into American custody at an airport stopover in Jordan last month, he joined one of the most select groups of the Obama era: high-level terrorist suspects who have been located by the American counterterrorism juggernaut, and who have not been killed.
Mr. Abu Ghaith’s case — he awaits a federal criminal trial in New York — is a rare illustration of what Obama administration officials have often said is their strong preference for capturing terrorists rather than killing them.
“I have heard it suggested that the Obama administration somehow prefers killing Al Qaeda members rather than capturing them,” said John O. Brennan, in a speech last year when he was the president’s counterterrorism adviser; he is now theC.I.A. director. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
In fact, he said, “Our unqualified preference is to only undertake lethal force when we believe that capturing the individual is not feasible.”
Despite Mr. Brennan’s protestations, an overwhelming reliance on killing terrorism suspects, which began in the administration of George W. Bush, has defined the Obama years. Since Mr. Obama took office, the C.I.A. and military have killed about 3,000 people in counterterrorist strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, mostly using drones. Only a handful have been caught and brought to this country; an unknown number have been imprisoned by other countries with intelligence and other support from the United States. Read more