Home > Uncategorized > U.S. Warrior President’s Extrajudicial Killings Through Drones

U.S. Warrior President’s Extrajudicial Killings Through Drones

Stop NATO
February 26, 2013

Extrajudicial Killings through Drones
By Sajjad Shaukat

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U.S.-led coalition forces have failed to stop incursions of heavily-armed insurgents in Pakistan from the Afghan side who have killed more than 100 personnel of Pakistan’s security forces in the last two years, while targeting the infrastructure of the affected area. In fact, the U.S. seeks to make North Waziristan a scapegoat for NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan by continuing the illegal mass murder of innocent people through drones.

The CIA-operated strikes which have continued in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified under the Obama administration. In one of the major drone attacks, more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed on March 18, 2011 in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. In the past few months, these unmanned aircraft killed more than 150 people, especially in North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

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Predator drone firing Hellfire missile

Under the pretext of America’s so-called counterinsurgency programme, US President Barack Obama has broken all records of human rights by the extrajudicial killings of innocent people through CIA-operated drone attacks in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen in general and Pakistan in particular, while the United States claims to be the protector of human rights not only inside the country, but also all over the world.

Recently, the United Nations has opened a a probe regarding the Predator drone strikes. In this regard, Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said, “A UN investigation into targeted killings will examine the legality of drone strikes…will investigate 25 strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian territories. It will also focus on civilian killings by the strikes.”

For the first time a U.S. senator, Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the Predator attacks, openly admitted that 4,700 people have been killed by raids in America’s secretive drone war. The number exceeds some independent estimates of the death toll. According to the research of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between June 2004 and September 2012 these unmanned aerial vehicles killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children. In this respect, a report published by The Guardian pointed out on August 11, 2011: “The CIA claims that there has been not one non-combatant killed in the past year…it is a bleak view: more people killed than previously thought.”

Nevertheless, details collected by Pakistani journalists show that civilian casualties through unmanned aircraft are higher than indicated by U.S. officials. In the last four years, more than 900 innocent civilians and only 22 al-Qaeda commanders have been killed by these aerial attacks.

While justifying these air strikes by the spy planes, counterterrorism advisor to President Obama, John Brennan, who faces a Senate confirmation hearing for his nomination for CIA director, is the main player, advising Obama on which strikes he should approve.

During his first presidential campaign especially, Barack Obama had pledged to reverse the excesses of the Bush era in relation to the war on terrorism. He also promised to reformulate a counterterrorism policy in accordance with the legal and moral values of the U.S. Contrary to his assertions, Obama followed the Bush approach to counterterrorism in its worst form by expanding and accelerating the Predator strikes.

In this context, The New York Time on May 26, 2011, in an article which was written with the assistance of several counterterrorism advisers of the administration, revealed: “President Obama has become personally involved in the process” and “has normalised extrajudicial killings from the Oval Office, taking advantage of America’s temporary advantage in drone technology. Without the scrutiny of the legislature and the courts, and outside the public eye, Obama is authorising murder on a weekly basis.”

Notably, the American constitution explicitly grants the right to declare war to the Congress so as to restrain the president from chasing enemies around the world, based solely on his authority as commander-in-chief by waging secret wars. But instead of capturing militants alive and to avoid giving the right of due process of law to them in a court, President Obama has openly been acting upon a ruthless policy of targeting killings by supervising the CIA-controlled drone warfare.

Besides, a report by the New America Foundation disclosed that President Obama has “authorised 193 drone strikes in Pakistan, more than four times the number of attacks that President Bush authorised during his two terms.” The report explained: “When the U.S. drones attack Pakistan’s tribal areas, it is not just the 10, or 50, innocent civilians they kill; these killings provide reason to the young for joining terrorist groups waging war against U.S. and of course Pakistan…[W]hile killing 10 militants, the U.S. has murdered more than 1,400 Pakistanis not involved in any terrorist activities. Could it not imply that it gave birth to another 1,400 militants?”

Based on research, a report, “Living Under Drones,” prepared by experts from Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law disclosed that the U.S. campaign of drone “strikes in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt is terrorising civilians 24 hours a day and breeding bitter anti-American sentiment [T]have killed thousands of people…even stopping their children going to school for fear of being targeted.” The report urged Washington to rethink its drone strategy, arguing it was counterproductive and undermined international law.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, The Washington Post reported on January 21 of this year: “The Obama administration is completing a counterterrorism manual that will establish clear rules for targeted-killing operations…the guidebook would contain a major exemption for the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan to continue striking Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan.”

Recently retired defense secretary Leon Panetta has defended these attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas under the pretext of North Waziristan-based Haqqani network militants whom he blamed for several assaults on American and NATO bases in Afghanistan. On the other hand, U.S.-led coalition forces have failed to stop incursions of heavily-armed insurgents in Pakistan from the Afghan side who have killed more than 100 personnel of Pakistan’s security forces in the last two years, while targeting the infrastructure of the affected area. In fact, the U.S. seeks to make North Waziristan a scapegoat for NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan by continuing the illegal mass murder of innocent people through drones.

It is notable that Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam, who visited America in August, 2012, emphatically told then-CIA Director David Petraeus that Predator strikes which are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty must be stopped. He pointed out that these strikes were proving counterproductive, giving a greater incentive to fundamentalist and extremist elements in Pakistan, and are increasing anti-U.S. sentiment among the people.

However, setting aside the parliament resolution, rallies and processions by Pakistan’s political and religious parties, and ignoring the new Pakistan-U.S. rapprochement, without bothering about any internal backlash, these aerial attacks keep on going on in the Federally Administerd Tribal Areas (FATA).

In fact, such a duplicitous American practice contains a number of covert designs. The fresh wave of strikes by the pilotless aircraft has thwarted the offer of militants and the Pakistani government for peace talks. And, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has accelerated subversive activities in the country. Now, the U.S. wants to incite the Haqqani network as it has over the past 15 months, as most of the drone strikes have targeted North Waziristan. So, these aerial attacks are provoking the tribal people against Pakistan’s security forces, and increasing the recruitment of insurgents. Another aim is to create a rift between Pakistan’s armed forces on one side and the political and religious parties on the other. Besides, Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. Hence, the U.S., India and Israel are determined to destabilise it. The drone campaign is also part of this game.

The CIA-operated strikes which have continued in Pakistan’s tribal areas since 2004 have intensified under the Obama administration. In one of the major drone attacks, more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed on March 18, 2011 in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. In the past few months, these unmanned aircraft killed more than 150 people, especially in North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

On the one side, top U.S. officials have repeatedly said that America needs Pakistan’s help not only for the peace process with militants, but also for stability in Afghanistan in the post-2014 scenario, while NATO troops have started transporting their equipments via the Pakistani route as part of the exit strategy; but on the other, U.S. spy planes flying over Pakistani tribal regions are undermining international efforts of stability both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including a prospective peace dialogue with the Afghan militants.

Recently, ex-U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have opposed Obama’s faulty drone strategy. Even, new Secretary of State John Kerry has also criticised the unabated use of uniateral drones in Pakistan, saying, “The U.S. engagement with the world is not just about drones.”

Besides, there is widespread criticism from some U.S. allies and human rights groups which have remarked that these aerial attacks are illegal and unethical and a violation of the targeted countries’ sovereignty, the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law, but the U.S.’s warrior President Obama remains obstinate in continuing extrajudicial killings through drones.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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  1. February 26, 2013 at 10:56 pm | #1

    Good article! Just wondering about your statement that “only 22 al-Qaeda commanders have been killed by these aerial attacks”. How do you know that these 22 were “al-Qaeda commanders”? How do you know for sure that they are not simply insurgents opposing the US presence in their territory? Is it possible that by using that term you are unintentionally adding credibility to the propaganda that a world-wide Islamic organization is out to get US citizens? Is anyone who opposes the US corporate-military effort at “full spectrum dominance” of global peoples and resources to be considered part of that group called “The Base” or “The List”, as were the recruits to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan decades ago?

    • AR
      February 27, 2013 at 3:11 am | #2

      Good point. So-called “Al-Queda” is a propaganda label America and its allies throw on anybody who fights against the American occupation.

      What’s even more damning, however, is how tAmerica and its allies are covertly arming and sponsoring local Al-Queda branches against Syria as part of the USA’s dirty war there–just as the America and allies armed and supported Al-Queda offshoots (like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) for their dirty war against LIbya.

      Al-Queda, as some people have called it, is really Al-CIAda.

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