Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International Say American Drone Strikes May Be War Crimes

00 US RQ-1 Predator drone. 22.10.13


On Tuesday, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released reports saying that the USA might’ve committed war crimes in its campaign of drone strikes on targets in Pakistan and Yemen over the past four years, killing civilians indiscriminately in its stated pursuit of terrorist targets. Mustafa Qadri, a Pakistani researcher for Amnesty International, said in a statement, “The secrecy surrounding the drone programme gives the US administration a license to kill beyond the reach of the courts or basic standards of international law. It’s time for the USA to come clean about the drone programme and hold those responsible for these violations to account”. In a report released Tuesday, Amnesty documents strikes by American drones in the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan in 2012 and 2013 that it said resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and “raise serious questions about violations of international law that could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions”.

Immediately, the USA disputed the affirmations made in the reports. US State Department spokesman Marie Harf told reporters, “We believe that we always operate in accordance with international law. We’d strongly disagree with the notion in some of these reports to the extent that they claim we’re acting contrary to international law”. Harf acknowledged that American drone strikes led to some civilian deaths, but she said that there was “a wide gap” between American estimates of those numbers and the numbers contained in NGO reports. She declined to provide the US government numbers, saying that to do so would compromise the sources and methods used obtain them. She said that groups like Amnesty International “don’t have a complete picture” and “we undertake every effort to limit” civilian deaths in drone strikes.

For example, Amnesty said that an American Hellfire missile strike killed a 68-year-old grandmother In October 2012 whilst she picked vegetables with her grandchildren nearby. Qadri said in a statement accompanying the release of the report, entitled ”Will I Be Next?” US Drone Strikes in Pakistan, “We can’t find any justification for these killings”. Amnesty released the report together with New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), which issued its own report on the American drone campaign in Yemen since 2009. The HRW report, with the title Between a Drone and al-Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen, alleged that two of the six attacks in Yemen examined in it led to indiscriminate deaths of civilians, clearly constituting war crimes.

Letta Tayler, a senior HRW terrorism and counterterrorism researcher and the author of the report, said in a statement, “The USA says that it’s taking all possible precautions during targeted killings, but it’s unlawfully killed civilians and struck questionable military targets in Yemen”. The six attacks killed 82 people, at least 57 of whom were civilians. The HRW report claimed that the civilian deaths included 12 people killed in a drone-assisted attack on a passenger van. Ahmad al-Sabooli, a 23-year-old farmer, whose father, mother, and 10-year-old sister died in the strike on the van, told HRW, “The bodies were charred like coal… I couldn’t recognise the faces”.

The use of drone strikes to target suspected terrorists is under intense criticism both inside the USA and overseas. Civilian deaths anger many of the countries where the USA supposedly is struggling to combat extremism, but US President Barack Obama and his administration defended the practise, saying that drone strikes have saved lives, striking in a manner that’s less deadly than sending in troops. In May, Obama said, “It’s a hard fact that US strikes resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. … For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we’re haunted by the civilian casualties that’ve occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq”. In May, for the first time, the Obama administration acknowledged that four US citizens had died in overseas drone strikes since 2009, including al-Qaeda imam Anwar al-Aulaqi, who was a target in 2011 in Yemen, and three others who weren’t deliberate American targets.

22 October 2013



Editor’s Note:

The West believes itself morally absolved of all guilt if it kills using high tech instruments. We hanged Nazi war criminals for killing thousands… but Bomber Harris and Curtis LeMay were “innocent”… they didn’t face their victims, so, that means that their culpability is lesser. That’s the justification, I find it crank and gross beyond all words. Not only is it evil, it’s overly expensive. The USA should do what the SVR and SIS do… hire a local plug-ugly who knows who’s who and what’s what to kill the intended target. As the said plug-ugly wants to live to collect their pay-cheque, they won’t muck about and kill the wrong people (for he knows that the SVR and SIS know those who know HIM, so, he knows that he’s “reachable”). The Old School method isn’t only cheaper, it minimises the risk of killing the wrong person.

Of course, there’s always the Sopranos option… “Hey, Paulie! Give Big Pussy a ring and have him get his darkie pals to whack this shit. Tell ‘em it’s five Gs apiece!” That’d be cheaper than the ordnance expended in a drone strike. Trust me, Big Pussy’s pals wouldn’t fuck up… they know what the cost of that would be… y’ know, you’d never find ‘em if they dumped ‘em in the marshes by the Meadowlands



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