Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Obama's Dirty Wars The Drones Keep Flying And Innocent People Keep Dying

President Obama's speeches are usually stirring and stellar examples of oratory but are in the end are made up of empty promises and phony victories.

Democracy Now! Dirty Wars
Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill & Rick Rowley's New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare 1/2

Published on 22 Jan 2013 - Premiering this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the new documentary, "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield," follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill to Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen as he chases down the hidden truths behind America's expanding covert wars. We're joined by Scahill and the film's director, Rick Rowley, an independent journalist with Big Noise Films. "We're looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush," says Scahill, author of the bestseller "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," and a forthcoming book named after his film. "One of the things that humbles both of us is [when] you arrive at a village in Afghanistan and knock on someone's door, you're the first American they've seen since the Americans that kicked that door in and killed half their family," Rowley says. "We promised them that we would do everything we could to make their stories be heard in the U.S. -- finally, we're able to keep those promises."

Watch this interview uninterrupted:

President Obama following the path of George W. Bush believes there are no restrictions on the Presidency that whatever the president does by definition under American law is therefore legal. If the United nations were an international body with real integrity and not run by a handful of countries including the USA America could be chastised by a UN resolution or even making Americans face charges of war crimes and if the US refuses it should be deemed a rogue state and tossed out of the United nations. But the way the UN actually works the United States is considered untouchable and is given 'carte blanche' and as it were absolute legal immunity.

Obama to avoid criticism and charges of contravening American law besides breaking international law and being open to charges of war crimes has now given a more formal legal veneer for his use of Drones which result in large numbers of civilian casualties. Yes they are civilian casualties ie human beings and not merely 'Collateral Damage' as the US government and media refer to those ripped to shreds by cluster bombs dropped on them by American Drones.

Unfortunately most liberals who are pro-Obama refuse to take a hard look at the policies of president Obama. If Bush employed these policies liberals would be protesting in the media and on the streets but those same liberals think it is unseemly for liberals or progressives to fiercely and passionately oppose some of Obama's policies. Many liberals having been duped by Obama really believed that when he was pulling troops out of Iraq that he was doing so voluntarily.

In fact the Iraqi government told Obama if his troops stayed they would no longer enjoy immunity from Iraq's courts and so where and when necessary US soldiers and US mercenaries could be charged with crimes and then brought to trial in Iraq.

So Obama was upset but he put a new Public Relations Spin on US troops forced to leave and changed it into War Is Over America won and the Troops are coming home. Which was a lot of malarkey. And the wishywashy fence sitting liberals buy into it unable to face the truth. The truth is America had no right to be in Iraq in the first place and that America had no right to destroy most of Iraq's infrastructure and to make it unlivable and to have murdered over 1 million Iraqis . Most Americans and Western nations couldn't care less over the deaths of these foreigners who are different from Westerners in some undefined way and who have a different religion.

Obama's 'Playbook' for Targeted Strikes Has a Gaping Hole--CIA's Killer Drones in Pakistan Exempted by Alex Kane , at, January 23, 2013

The CIA's deadly campaign of drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan will be exempt from the Obama administration's attempt to codify rules for targeted killings.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) campaign of drone strikes in tribal areas in Pakistan will continue to run wild in the coming year. A “playbook” for how the U.S. conducts targeted killing operations by drone that is nearly completed will exempt the CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan, making the “playbook” essentially useless, considering that the vast majority of strikes occur in Pakistan.

The Washington Post, which reported the news over the weekend, noted that the exemption “would allow the CIA to continue pounding al-Qaeda and Taliban targets for a year or more before the agency is forced to comply with more stringent rules spelled out in a classified document that officials have described as a counterterrorism ‘playbook.’” The desire to codify the U.S.’s drone strike and targeted killing programs have accelerated in recent months, leading critics to say the Obama administration has prepared the ground for perpetual war by drone.

The codification of rules is “a step in exactly the wrong direction, a further bureaucratization of the CIA’s paramilitary killing program,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Hina Shamsi told the Post.

The subjects covered in the “playbook,” which would cover drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, include “the legal principles that govern when U.S. citizens can be targeted overseas and the sequence of approvals required when the CIA or U.S. military conducts drone strikes outside war zones.”

But the numbers of drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia pale in comparison to the CIA’s strikes in Pakistan. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which closely tracks the drone program, the Obama administration carried out 300 strikes in Pakistan during his first term. Given the fact that drone strikes in Yemen from 2002-2013 were carried out about 50 times, it’s clear that Pakistan is the epicenter of the campaign. The strikes in Pakistan carried out by the Obama administration have killed 2,152 people, including 290 civilians, leading to immense anger at the U.S. and the president. Islamists trying to carry out attacks on the United States have cited drone strikes as a core motivation.

Chris Hedges criticizes US foreign policy which is imperialistic and if anything anti-democracy which doesn't make America any safer and just leads to more military interventions more wars more killing and this leads to more 'blowback'.

America is not hated for its wealth or freedoms ; it is hated for its war mongering for its ruthless and brutal disregard for the lives of other people. America still hasn't managed to get beyond its history of gun boat diplomacy. Now the gun boats are replaced by helicopter gun-ships and armed drones and planes that bomb from 20,000 feet.

The War in the Shadows By Chris Hedges August 21, 2012 "TruthDig" via Information Clearing House

The killers and the paymasters, the spies and gangsters, the terrorists and jihadists, on all sides of the divide, have grown in numbers to carry out a vast war in the shadows. They are determined to perpetuate the senseless violence and mayhem that are the currency of their profession. And they make peace and diplomacy impossible. That is their goal. Sen. Frank Church in 1975, after chairing a Senate committee investigation into U.S. intelligence activities, defined “covert action” as a “semantic disguise for murder, coercion, blackmail, bribery, the spreading of lies, and consorting with known torturers and international terrorists.”

The multitudes of crimes these killers, torturers, kidnappers, propagandists, special operations units and spies have carried out in our name are well known to those outside our gates. There are hundreds of millions of people who have a tragic intimacy with the twisted and brutal soul of American imperialism. Okinawans. Guatemalans. Cubans. Congolese. Brazilians. Argentines. Indonesians. Iranians. Palestinians. Panamanians. Vietnamese. Cambodians. Filipinos. South Koreans. Taiwanese. Nicaraguans. Salvadorans. Afghans. Iraqis. Yemenis. Somalis. They can all tell us who we are, if we can listen. But we do not. We are as ignorant, gullible and naive as children. We celebrate fictitious red-white-and-blue virtues while our clandestine armies, which at times achieve short-term objectives but always finally plunge us deeper into violence, have steadily weakened and discredited the nation as well as the purported values for which it stands. These clandestine armies travel the globe, awash in hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, sowing dragon’s teeth that rise up later, like the warriors in the myth of the Golden Fleece, to become mirror images of our own monstrosities.

And Glenn Greenwald exposes President Obama's policy of 'double taps' by Drones to kill anyone who appears just after the first drone strike .

US Drone Strikes Target Rescuers in Pakistan – and the West Stays Silent by Glenn Greenwald,via Information Clearing House Aug. 20,2012

Attacking rescuers – a tactic long deemed by the US a hallmark of terrorism – is now routinely used by the Obama administration

But attacking rescuers (and arguably worse, bombing funerals of America's drone victims) is now a tactic routinely used by the US in Pakistan. In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that "the CIA's drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals." Specifically: "at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims." That initial TBIJ report detailed numerous civilians killed by such follow-up strikes on rescuers, and established precisely the terror effect which the US government has long warned are sown by such attacks:

"Yusufzai, who reported on the attack, says those killed in the follow-up strike 'were trying to pull out the bodies, to help clear the rubble, and take people to hospital.' The impact of drone attacks on rescuers has been to scare people off, he says: 'They've learnt that something will happen. No one wants to go close to these damaged building anymore.'"

Since that first bureau report, there have been numerous other documented cases of the use by the US of this tactic: "On [4 June], US drones attacked rescuers in Waziristan in western Pakistan minutes after an initial strike, killing 16 people in total according to the BBC. On 28 May, drones were also reported to have returned to the attack in Khassokhel near Mir Ali." Moreover, "between May 2009 and June 2011, at least 15 attacks on rescuers were reported by credible news media, including the New York Times, CNN, ABC News and Al Jazeera."

In June, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said that if "there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime." There is no doubt that there have been.

(A different UN official, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, this weekend demanded that the US "must open itself to an independent investigation into its use of drone strikes or the United Nations will be forced to step in", and warned that the demand "will remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved". For many American progressives, caring about what the UN thinks is so very 2003.)

The frequency with which the US uses this tactic is reflected by this December 2011 report from ABC News on the drone killing of 16-year-old Tariq Khan and his 12-year-old cousin Waheed, just days after the older boy attended a meeting to protest US drones:

"Asked for documentation of Tariq and Waheed's deaths, Akbar did not provide pictures of the missile strike scene. Virtually none exist, since drones often target people who show up at the scene of an attack."

Not only does that tactic intimidate rescuers from helping the wounded and removing the dead, but it also ensures that journalists will be unwilling to go to the scene of a drone attack out of fear of a follow-up attack.

This has now happened yet again this weekend in Pakistan, which witnessed what Reuters calls "a flurry of drone attacks" that "pounded northern Pakistan over the weekend", "killing 13 people in three separate attacks". The attacks "came as Pakistanis celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan with the festival of Eid al-Fitr." At least one of these weekend strikes was the type of "double tap" explosion aimed at rescuers which, the US government says, is the hallmark of Hamas:

"At least six militants were killed when US drones fired missiles twice on Sunday in North Waziristan Agency.

"In the first strike, four missiles were fired on two vehicles in the Mana Gurbaz area of district Shawal in North Waziristan Agency, while two missiles were fired in the second strike at the same site where militants were removing the wreckage of their destroyed vehicles."

An unnamed Pakistani official identically told Agence France-Presse that a second US drone "fired two missiles at the site of this morning's attack, where militants were removing the wreckage of their two destroyed vehicles". (Those killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan are more or less automatically deemed "militants" by unnamed "officials", and then uncritically called such by most of the western press – a practice that inexcusably continues despite revelations that the Obama administration has redefined "militants" to mean "all military-age males in a strike zone".)

and so it goes,

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