09.25.12

Terror weapons

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 3:16 pm by George Smith

American human right researchers on both coasts — at Stanford out here, and NYU, have published a collaborative study on the drone campaigns in Pakistan. And it isn’t pretty. For practical purpose, drones are conducting a campaign of terror despite official blandishments to the contrary.

The drone campaign is also free of democratic control.

Wrote the LA Times today:

Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged, a new study by human rights researchers at Stanford University and New York University contends.

The report, “Living Under Drones,” also concludes that the classified CIA program has not made America any safer and instead has turned the Pakistani public against U.S. policy in the volatile region.

Notably, this story was not written by the newspaper’s drone flack, W. J. Hennigan, who over the space of the last couple years has been something of a p.r. office for the armed drone industry.

From the executive summary of Living Under Drones:

[US drone strike policies] cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.

The Living Under Drones researchers recommend the US government institute a new set of procedure, all of which will presumably be found quite unpalatable by the Obama administration.

They include: “[ensuring] independent investigations into drone strike deaths.” conducting “robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions [while establishing] compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes,” and fulfilling “its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups …”

Journalists, it advises, “should cease the common practice of referring simply to ‘militant’ deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of ‘militant’ deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as ‘militants’ …”

Naturally, there has been a loud cry against the incessant escalating use of drones abroad. In a slew of cartoons, editorials and even some news pieces, the drone campaign has been heavily criticized.

All without effect, demonstrating how the drone program has gone completely beyond democratic control. Indeed, the use of drones to kill people in the poorest and most desperate places of the world has not even been a momentary topic for discussion in the current presidential race.

Osama bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda has been rendered virtually non-operational, except for moments of opportunity in places wracked by civil war and total societal breakdown.

Yet, eleven years after 9/11, the eye barely blinks when news stories come across the wire on the thrumming of General Atomics’ Reaper drones in the air above the blighted areas of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. And the subsequent technological vengeance brought down on those in the targeted areas.

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