Monday, June 04, 2012

Innocent Civilians Killed In US Drone or other attacks Are Classed as "Militants" Just Because They Are Males of Military Age

What can we expect from a president who has done nothing to stop Police Brutality in his own country or the police attacks on journalists and others documenting the #OWS protests.
Obama is not on the side of a free press or the right to protests and the right of the people to air their grievances to the government in a public manner.

Unfortunately a large proportion of self-described liberals ignore Obama's lack of interests in the Occupy Movement or his ignoring the police brutality exhibited in cities across the USA as if as President he couldn't get involved. His government could get involved using his own powers or by directing full scale investigations of these police departments and municipal governments by the Department of Justice. This is odd since Obama has insisted that as president he is within his rights to declare war on other nations and to torture enemy combatants and even American citizens who are dissidents or whistleblowers.
And he also claims the right to assassinate American and non-Americans without any Congressional oversight.

When US troops or drones kill civilians in their attacks they list all military aged males as enemy combatants or militants . This has become official policy by the Obama administration and the Pentagon and is slavishly followed by the US mainstream Media.
Meanwhile when civilians are killed in Syria by government forces even if by accident or in reality many are in fact militants the US government and its quisling media insist that the Syrians committed an atrocity.
In Syria for instance the US government and media refuse to cover atrocities committed by rebel forces who aremed and backed by the USA and or NATO.

So the US it is argued is in the midst of an international Global war and so has the right to defend itself and its allies by any and all means including mass murdering civilians in order to kill the supposed terrorists or militants in their midst. So if the USa kills hundreds of civilians at a wedding party or funeral they claim they did so to kill one or two supposedly known terrorists or supporters of the Taliban or AlQaeda. So we are told that those innocents who are killed are of little consequence since they allowed known terrorists to attend the wedding or funeral.

As Glenn Greenwald points out the US under President Obama now defines "Militants" as any male of military age. So these so called "militants" may in fact be innocent by standers and yet are characterized as possible militants or terrorists or maybe would if they lived become terrorists. In other word these killings by US forces and drones are not just targeting known terrorists but also pre-emptively killing "would be terrorists"

Of course given these unwarranted drone attacks some of those who survive were not "militants" before the attack some of them we can expect will join the resistance movements in their locale.

Deliberate media propaganda
The media now knows that "militant" is a term of official propaganda, yet still use it for America's drone victims BY GLENN GREENWALD at, June 2, 2012

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration, in order to conceal civilian deaths caused by their drone attacks, “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.” Although I wrote at length about the NYT‘s various revelations, I wrote separately about that specific disclosure, in order to emphasize the implications for media outlets reporting on American drone attacks:

What kind of self-respecting media outlet would be party to this practice? Here’s the New York Times documenting that this is what the term “militant” means when used by government officials. Any media outlet that continues using it while knowing this is explicitly choosing to be an instrument for state propaganda.

Early this morning, the U.S. fired a missile from a drone in northwest Pakistan — its first since the NYT story – and killed two people. Here’s how The Washington Post is now touting the article about this attack on its online front page:

There is, as usual, no indication that these media outlets have any idea whatsoever about who was killed in these strikes. All they know is that “officials” (whether American or Pakistani) told them that they were “militants,” so they blindly repeat that as fact. They “report” this not only without having the slightest idea whether it’s true, but worse, with the full knowledge that the word “militant” is being aggressively distorted by deceitful U.S. government propaganda that defines the term to mean: any “military-age males” whom we kill (the use of the phrase “suspected militants” in the body of the article suffers the same infirmity).

How is it possible to have any informed democratic debate over a policy about which the U.S. media relentlessly propagandizes this way? If drone strikes kill nobody other than “militants,” then very few people will even think about opposing them (and that’s independent of the fact that the word “militant” is a wildly ambiguous term — militant about what? — though it is clearly designed (when combined with “Pakistan”) to evoke images of those who attacked the World Trade Center). Debate-suppression is not just the effect but the intent of this propaganda: like all propaganda, it is designed to deceive the citizenry in order to compel acquiescence to government conduct.

In light of this week’s revelation about what “militant” actually means when used by “officials,” there really needs to be some concerted, organized campaign to target media outlets every time they use the term this way. Because this particular article lacks a byline, one way to start here would be to complain to the Washington Post Ombudsman (whose contact information is in the last line here) and to Associated Press (at the email listed here). In the meantime, I’ve contacted AP requesting a response, and will work on a more organized effort to target media outlets every time they do this. This is nothing short of a deliberate government/media misinformation campaign about an obviously consequential policy.

UPDATE: Chris Woods, Senior Reporter with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has done sterling work in documenting drone attacks in Pakistan, emails today to say this:

Today’s strike is far from clear right now: maybe one – or two events. May also involve civilian deaths (Dawn reports that the motorbike was accidentally hit). . . .

There’s also an obverse to this coin. As well as reporting all those killed as “militants”, the mainstream US media is consistently failing to report when civilians are credibly reported killed, even as media internationally do so.

Excepting today, civilians have only been reported killed twice in Pakistan in 2012, from 17 attacks (February 9 and May 24). On both occasions civilian deaths were reported by major international agencies (Reuters, AP etc), and picked up worldwide (eg BBC, Jerusalem Post…) But not within the US. I can find no reference to civilian casualties in any mainstream US publication on either occasion (for the May 24 attack most also censored out the fact that a mosque was hit.)
So the US mainstream media is not only classing all victims – regardless of known status – as “militants.” It is actively censoring out actual reports of civilian deaths.

This is the same American media that loves to mock Pakistanis for being so very propagandized.

Also check out:

Law-Abiding Murder: How the Obama Administration Uses 'Just War' Theory to Rationalize 'Kill Lists' by Ray McGovern via, May 30 2012

It is a moral and legal impossibility to square “kill lists” for extrajudicial murders with traditional legal and moral American values.

At the outset, Becker and Shane note that, although Obama vowed to “align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values,” he has now ordered the obedient Brennan to prepare a top secret “nominations” list of people whom the President may decide to order killed, without charge or trial, including American citizens.

The authors understate this as “a moral and legal conundrum.” It is, in fact, a moral and legal impossibility to square “kill lists” for extrajudicial murders with traditional legal and moral American values.

The Trembling Voices of Those Terrorized by America’s Drone Campaign via,May 31, 2012

Cross-posted from Tikkun David Harris-Gershon

The voices you are about to hear belong to individuals the United States may soon kill or maim – whether with clear-eyed intention as pinpoint targets or by mistake.

They belong to those who have – for years – been terrorized by our country, those who continue to be terrorized by our country, those who are bereaved and fearful and paralyzed because of our country.

They are voices belonging to drone attack survivors from the village of Datta Khel in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan, voices collected by the U.K. human rights group Reprieve and included in a lawsuit filed against the British government for aiding America’s unaccountable and illegal drone campaign.

And here's journalist Norman Finkelstein commenting on Obama's Unconditional Support of Israel
Obama's unconditional support for Israel

Norman Finkelstein on the Role of BDS & Why Obama Doesn’t Believe His Own Words on Israel-Palestine by Democracy Now, June 4, 2012

Norman Finkelstein, author of the new book, "Knowing Too much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End," argues that President Obama’s hawkish support for Israel is belied by his liberal background as a law professor and community organizer. Responding to Obama’s speech this year before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Finkelstein says, "President Obama clearly doesn’t believe a word he’s saying [on Israel-Palestine]. And that’s probably the most troubling or the most disconcerting thing about listening to him. ... He says we have Israel’s back. Well, what he actually means is, rich American Jews have me, meaning Obama, in their pocket, and I have my hands in their pocket." Known as one of Israel’s most prominent critics, Finkelstein says the goal of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign and the broader movement for Middle East peace should be to mobilize public opinion on what most already support: a two-state solution rooted in international law. "Politics is not about personal opinions," Finkelsten says. "It’s about trying to reach a public and getting them to act on their own sense of right and wrong."

Israel is a police state which enforces its version of Apartheid to keep the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims in a state of bondage and terror. The Israeli government and its forces the IDF make it known to the Palestinians that it is the Israeli forces who have the power to kill or not to kill or at least make the lives of Non-Jewish Israelis harsh and brutal.

No freedom of the press or of human rights organizations in Israel.
And yet Obama and therefore the West and NATO supports Israel unconditionally.
The Israeli troops and armed settlers have complete impunity for their use of violence against unarmed Palestiians and those who attempt to document the actions of Israeli troops or the actions of Israeli settlers.
The Israeli government is actively engaged in Ethnic-Cleansing by terrorizing the Arab population insisting that these Arabs and Palestinians have no right to occupy territory which Israel and America and the West believe belong to the ancient state of Judea prior to the diaspora which began 60AD/CE.

IDF Israeli Soldiers defend Jewish Settlers who commit crimes against their Palestinian neighbors.
The settlers burn Palestinian crops and harass Palestinians with full impunity .
Meanwhile the USA, President Obama and the US mainstream Media NATO defend Israel Unconditionally

Ta’ayush video: Settler attacks B’Tselem field researcher while soldiers watch, 2012

Settler breaks B'Tselem camera

Video documentation: Yitzhar settlers burn crops, shoot and injure a Palestinian in the presence of Israeli soldiers who fail to stop them B'TSELEM .org , 27 May 2012

Beginning mid-day on Saturday (26.5.12) dozens of Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement, some of them masked and armed, invaded lands of the nearby Palestinian village, ‘Urif in the northern West Bank. According to video documentation and field observations, the settlers threw stones and set fire to wheat fields and olive groves in a number of locations, causing large fires that burned wheat and olive groves. Youths from the Palestinian village came to put out the fires, and some of them also threw stones at the settlers. In one particularly serious incident, some twenty settlers accompanied by about five armed members of the Yitzhar settlement security squad charged a group of Palestinian youths who had confronted them. The settlers fired live ammunition injuring a Palestinian man. This incident took place just a week after a Palestinian from the village of Asira a-Qibliya was shot and injured by gunfire from this same settlement security squad. The violent incidents in ‘Urif continued until evening.

B’Tselem was in contact with the Israeli military throughout these events and reported on the settlers’ incursion into ‘Urif village lands. The organization demanded that the military stop the settler assault, remove them from the site and enable Palestinians to put out the fires. Despite the military’s statements that they are studying last week’s events, the military failed in its obligation to protect the residents of ‘Urif and to prevent the settlers’ rampage: they allowed the settlers to reach ‘Urif village lands and did not prevent arson attempts on the farmland. In addition, they did not detain the attackers and hand them over to the police, as they are obligated to do. B’Tselem will provide all its video documentation to Israeli law enforcement authorities and demands that the military fulfill its obligation to protect Palestinians from violence by Yitzhar settlers.

Published on 26 May 2012 by btselem
Settlers from Yitzhar caught red-handed setting fire to olive groves belonging to residents of the village 'Urif.

More from B'Tselem:

Settlers attempting to torch Palestinian wheat field near soldiers, 'Urif, 26.5.2012, Raw footage

Published on 27 May 2012 by btselem
This video shot by a B'Tselem volunteer depicts a group of four masked settlers from Yitzhar as they attempt to set fire to a Palestinian wheat field. Go to 01:20.

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