On the ground in a country where unmanned missile attacks are a terrifyingly regular occurrence.
Last year, London-based forensic psychologist Peter Schaapveld presented research he’d conducted on the psychological impact of drone strikes in Yemen to a British parliamentary sub-committee. He reported that 92 percent of the population sample he examined was found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – with children being the demographic most significantly affected. Women, he found, claimed to be miscarrying from their fear of drones. “This is a population that by any figure is hugely suffering,” Schaapveld said. The fear of drones, he added, “is traumatizing an entire generation.”
Phyllis Bennis: “This report is the beginning of chipping away at US impunity.”
Increasing drone strikes are causing “disproportionate civilian casualties,” and the U.S. and other states must not be permitted to continue hiding this trail of death from the public, charged a UN official in a recently released report.
In a damning 21-page report, UN special rapporteur on human rights Ben Emmerson identifies 30 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Gaza in which civilians were killed, injured, or threatened by drone strikes.
This includes a December 2013 U.S. drone strike on a recent wedding procession in Yemen near the city of Rad’a that left 12 people dead and at least 15 wounded — an attack that the U.S. and Yemeni governments initially claimed had killed “militants.”
While the U.S. is leading the covert drone wars in all of these countries except for Gaza, and is backing that effort, the Obama administration has refused to acknowledge the full extent of the attacks, refused to publicly identify the people killed in drone attacks, and repeated the unverified claim that civilian deaths have been minimal.
Yet, data for 2013 shows that drone strikes in Afghanistan accounted for 40 percent of civilian deaths by pro-government forces, marking a three-fold increase since 2012, the report notes.
Isn’t it ironic how the architects and supporters of the illegal US invasion of Iraq are screaming the loudest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
One of the most laughable denunciations came from David Frum, the neoconservative Bush speechwriter who coined the phrase “Axis of Evil” and till this day remains confident in the rightness of the Iraq war.
But the hypocrisy isn’t limited to neocons.
Lecturing Russia about its invasion of Crimea on Sunday’s Meet the Press, US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “[Y]ou just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests.”
I agree. But where was this sentiment when Kerry, as a Senator in 2002, voted to authorize use of force against Iraq based on a “phony pretext”? Before you start pointing to his many criticisms of the Bush administration’s “shock and awe”, keep in mind that Kerry later admitted that in hindsight he would still vote yes.
So really, the only thing praiseworthy about Kerry’s condemnation of Russia is his ability to say it with a straight face.
In case we needed anymore proof that David Gregory, host of Meet the Press, is a hack rather than a journalist, it’s worth noting that he responded to Kerry’s brazen hypocrisy by demanding to know if the US was prepared to hit back at Russia with a “military option.”
It’s an embarrassment that no one in the mainstream media, which unquestioningly cheerled the Iraq war, has challenged Kerry on this.
At a news conference during his visit to Ukraine yesterday, Kerry proclaimed: “It is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve. That is not 21st-century, G-8, major-nation behavior.”
Again, what about Iraq? Unless I’m mistaken, the US invaded Iraq in the 21st century to do exactly that. Still, the New York Times said nothing about this blatant contradiction in its reporting.
Keep in mind that the Iraq war—which killed upwards of a million Iraqis, leaving in its wake 5 million orphans, 2 million widows and 4.5 million refugees—isn’t over, at least not for Iraqis.
As I write this, the US-installed Iraqi government is slaughtering civilians in Fallujah, a crime that has been largely ignored in the establishment press. But who cares about US-backed atrocities in Iraq when there is an anti-US superpower to vilify, right?
Meanwhile, President Obama—a man who extra judicially executes people abroad (including American citizens) based on secret evidence—has accused Russia of violating international law.
“When it comes to preserving the principle that no country has the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked, we should be able to come up with a unified position,” said Obama on Monday.
If only he would preserve that principle in his own foreign policy, which just this morning resulted in a US drone strike that killed three “suspected militants” as they rode in a car in Yemen. (Media outlets should be required to add a disclaimer next to that phrase to make it clear to their readers that Obama labels all military-age males in a strike zone “suspected militants”)
Drone strike supporters on twitter have been quick to criticize my comparison between Obama’s drone policy and Russia in Ukraine. But war crimes are war crimes, whether they take the form of an on-the-ground or sky invasion.
More importantly, the glaring contrast between the media’s obsession with Ukraine versus its collective apathy toward nations that have their sovereignty routinely violated by the US war machine (Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, etc.) reveals a colossal double standard.
On Monday, even the local evening news in my area was talking about Ukraine. But not a word was said about the US drone strike that killed three Yemenis, including a man sleeping near his car, that very morning.
That’s because outrage over Russia has nothing to do with genuine concern about violations of international law and everything to do with maintaining US hegemony.
Gary Younge: His ascent to power had meaning, but now his interventions are too rare and too piecemeal to constitute a narrative.
… Barack Obama has now been in power for longer than Johnson was, and the question remains: “What the hell’s his presidency for?” His second term has been characterised by a profound sense of drift in principle and policy. While posing as the ally of the immigrant he is deporting people at a faster clip than any of his predecessors; while claiming to be a supporter of labour he’s championing trade deals that will undercut American jobs and wages. In December, even as he pursued one whistleblower, Edward Snowden and kept another, Chelsea Manning, incarcerated, he told the crowd at Nelson Mandela’s funeral: “There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people."
If there was a plot, he’s lost it. If there was a point, few can remember it. If he had a big idea, he shrank it. If there’s a moral compass powerful enough to guide such contradictions to more consistent waters, it is in urgent need of being reset.
Given the barriers to democratic engagement and progressive change in America – gerrymandering, big money and Senate vetoes – we should always be wary of expecting too much from a system designed to deliver precious little to the poor. We should also challenge the illusion that any individual can single-handedly produce progressive change in the absence of a mass movement that can both drive and sustain it.
Nonetheless, it was Obama who set himself the task of becoming a transformational political figure in the mould of Ronald Reagan or JFK. “I think we are in one of those fundamentally different times right now where people think that things, the way they are going, just aren’t working,” he said. It was he who donned the mantles of “hope” and ”change”.
A suspected U.S. drone fired on an Islamic seminary in Pakistan’s northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early on Thursday, killing at least five people (two teachers and three students), police said.
The veteran actor who plays tyrannical president Coriolanus Snow in the blockbuster series talks about films as political activism — plus cinema villains and happy marriages.
Donald Sutherland wants to stir revolt. A real revolt. A youth-led uprising against injustice that will overturn the US as we know it and usher in a kinder, better way. “I hope that they will take action because it’s getting drastic in this country.” Drone strikes. Corporate tax dodging. Racism. The Keystone oil pipeline. Denying food stamps to “starving Americans”. It’s all going to pot. “It’s not right. It’s not right.”
… The Canadian actor has a venerable record of leftwing activism dating back to support for the Black Panthers and opposition to the Vietnam war, but this latest foray into subversion dovetails with promoting The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second instalment in a series of four films based on Suzanne Collins’s bestselling novels for young adults. It takes forward the story of Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who must fight other oppressed proles to the death as part of a tyrannical government’s strategy of rule through fear. The dystopia, called Panem, is built on the ashes of the US, and Sutherland wants young audiences to respond to the allegory. “Hopefully they will see this film and the next film and the next film and then maybe organise. Stand up.”
A senior U.S. military official has confirmed that a military drone attack Monday afternoon killed two top leaders of the al Qaeda-linked terror group that massacred civilians at a Nairobi, Kenya mall last month.
The official said that the attack on a single vehicle in southern Somalia had killed two leaders of al Shabaab, including its most important explosives expert, a man named Anta. The official did not identify the second man killed.
A car carrying the two leaders was struck by Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator, said the official, who contended that no one outside the vehicle was killed.
What Malala Yousafzai told Obama, and the reaction … As told by Matt Bors: http://truth-out.org/art/item/19621-malala
Related StoriesMalala Yousafzai Tells Obama Drones Are “Fueling Terrorism”
We look at how the United States uses drones in war, and their impact, through the eyes of one of the first U.S. drone operators to speak out. Former U.S. Air Force pilot Brandon Bryant served as a sensor operator for the Predator program from 2007 to 2011, manning the camera on the unmanned aerial vehicles that carried out attacks overseas. After he left the active duty in the Air Force, he was presented with a certificate that credited his squadron for 1,626 kills. In total, Bryant says he was involved in seven missions in which his Predator fired a missile at a human target, and about 13 people died in those strikes — actions he says left him traumatized. “The clinical definition of PTSD is an anxiety disorder associated with witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event,” Bryant says. “Think how you would feel if you were part of something that you felt violated the Constitution.”
Rights group catalogues many unaccounted casualties in North Waziristan.
… Amnesty International’s report on US drone strikes in Pakistan is duly titled “Will I Be Next?” The report, to be released today (Tuesday), does not claim to be a comprehensive report; but it is a qualitative assessment based on detailed field research into nine of the 45 reported strikes in North Waziristan between January 2012 and August 2013.
The report focuses on the arbitrary deprivation of life, categorically stating – and proving with its case studies, survey and fact-finding – that the “United States has carried out unlawful killing in Pakistan through drone attacks, some of which could even amount to war crimes.”
In other words, the US is practicing indiscriminate killing in Pakistan. Either the US simply does not even actually know the identities of the people it is killing, or it knows but is just withholding them from the public, including oversight, watchdog, and human rights groups. Regardless, this whole thing represents an enormous series of war crimes.
Just before noon on October 30 2011, a CIA drone attacked a vehicle near Datta Khel in Pakistan’s tribal northwest. At least four people were reported to have been killed and two injured. Pakistani intelligence officials said the dead men were militants. But local villagers disagreed. They said the dead men were ‘peaceful tribesmen’. They even named one of them: Saeedur Rahman, described as a local chromite dealer.
Five months later, in March 2012, journalists from the New York Times spoke with a 64-year-old farmer called Noor Magul. He said three of the men killed in the strike were relatives of his. He named them as Khastar Gul, Mamrud Khan and Noorzal Khan, and all three, he claimed, were not militants but worked in a local chromite mine.
This is just one of more than 370 drone strikes to hit Pakistan’s Afghan border region in the past nine years. More than 2,500 people have reportedly died in these strikes, including at least 400 civilians.
What makes Saeedur Rahman and his fellow passengers unusual is that they have been identified by name.
Although the US government claims drones are highly precise and target ‘high-value’ terrorists, including members of al Qaeda and affiliated organisations, it is only in exceptional circumstances that the administration will acknowledge responsibility for a particular strike – let alone admit to killing a specific person.
People have to be asking themselves: Why is it that the US is standing nearly alone in so aggressively pushing for the bombing of Syria, while so many countries which are far more democratic and “humanitarian” than the US are so resistant to turning the Syrian civil war into a global military theater?
Is it because the US is uniquely more concerned than every other country in the world about the loss of human life and oppression currently happening in Syria? Does the US government — including the likes of John Boehner and John McCain, in addition to Obama — particularly care more about the lives of Arab people than every other nation in the world?
Or is it because the US is actually unique amongst the world’s nations of today in being particularly militaristic and expansionist? Is it because the US is unique amongst the world’s nations for harboring an peerless behemoth of a military-industrial complex? [The U.S. currently accounts for three-quarters of the world’s weapons market].
Is it because the US is unique in the world in already being actively militarily engaged in a number of Middle Eastern countries [via either drone or human forces], such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and therefore feels compelled to dig its military heels even deeper into the regions various relations?
Why does the US prop up some despotic regimes in the Middle East [Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Mubarak] but call for the violent overthrow of others, more or less according to whether or not that nation happens to be an ally of the US at that moment?
If the US really cared about innocent people being victimized by the use of chemical weapons, why doesn’t it offer free health care and reparations to all the countless Iraqi people who were exposed to depleted uranium and white phosphorous during the US’s recent crime against humanity committed in that country?
Or even the people [and ecosystems] of Vietnam who were poisoned by the millions by the US’s widespread use of Agent Orange and Napalm, and who never received even a DIME in reparations from the US for the war crimes committed there?
(Above photo) “Napalm Girl,” taken in 1972 by AP photographer Nick Ut during the Vietnam War.
Utter Islamophobic hypocrisy in the USA, land of racist repression. An American imam sends $50,000 to a religious school he runs in Pakistan and faces four counts of terrorism charges.
Meanwhile, the US government sends billions of dollars to underwrite the brutal violence and repression behind the despotic governments in Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia … not to mention the widespread death of innocents as a result of US drone strikes in Pakistan …
Yet another case of the shark putting the salmon on trial for the crime of eating other fish.
Federal prosecutors in South Florida are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for an elderly Muslim cleric convicted of financially supporting the Pakistani Taliban.
The sentence was recommended in court papers filed Wednesday for 78-year-old Hafiz Khan, who was imam at a Miami mosque. Khan was convicted in March of four terrorism support charges. Trial evidence showed Khan funneled thousands of dollars to the Pakistani Taliban, which has carried out numerous violent attacks against U.S. and Pakistani targets.
Khan’s lawyers are seeking a more lenient sentence, in part because of his poor health. Khan also testified that the estimated $50,000 he sent overseas was for family, friends and charity, not terrorism. Khan operated a religious school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.
A Miami federal judge is scheduled to sentence Khan on Friday.