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Kevin Gosztola | FireDogLake

Fully armed Reaper UAV takes to skies of southern Afghanistan (photo: Defence Images)

(update below)

Killing by remote control, the escalated use of drone warfare in countries, depends on people believing drones do not kill a large number of innocent civilians. It depends on people believing the program is indeed “precise” and rarely kills anybody other than members of al Qaeda and its affiliates or the Taliban. So, there is no incentive for countries to go to the trouble to count those killed by drones and verify that all killed were “terrorists,” “militants,” or a bad guy that needed to be eliminated.

Today, The Guardian reports on the United Kingdom’s increased reliance on drones to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. More than 280 laser-guided Hellfire missiles and bombs have been fired at “suspected insurgents.” Additionally, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) claims that only four Afghan civilians have been killed.

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Kevin Gosztola | FireDogLake

Activists, lawyers, human rights advocates, civil liberties defenders and others came together for a major international summit on drone warfare and the issues created by drone use yesterday. The summit was co-organized by CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve. An exceptional lineup of speakers addressed participants detailing salient and significant aspects around the Obama administration’s expansion of the covert drone wars in countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Part 1 of 4 videos (see below for others):

The day wrapped up with a speech from Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, who has been one of the few journalists to actually travel to these countries where the covert drone war is playing out. Scahill has produced reports on Yemen and Somalia that show how the US is carrying out its “war on terrorism” and using drones to target and kill people.

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Kevin Gosztola | FireDogLake

UPDATE – 3:35 PM Now have video interviews with Shahzad Akbar and Pakistan parliamentary member Amina Buttar that will go up some time over next day or two.

UPDATE – 12:23 PM Hina Shamsi of ACLU mentions how drone us is now part of bipartisan consensus. The US, she said, is destabilizing the international legal framework and creating a “new normal.” She outlined Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed to pry information on the covert drone program from the hands of the US government.

Maria LaHood of the CCR talked about bringing a case on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, to have Anwar removed from a JSOC kill list and a terrorist list. Some oddities: lawyers must get permission from the US government to legally challenge the inclusion of a person on a terror list. And, as she outlined what happened to three US citizens – Anwar, his son and Samir Khan – she closed by noting the judge’s decision on Anwar’s case because he said a judicial review would be needed to authorize spying on US citizens abroad but not for an executive order to kill a US citizen.

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