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Amnesty says US drone strikes are war crimes
#1
About time. But the US doesn't recognise the international court. It used to work towards the concept, but when it decided to break international law it changed it's mind and now completely opposed the protocols.

Quote:US drone strikes could be classed as war crimes, says Amnesty International

Joint report with Human Rights Watch judges US attacks in Yemen and Pakistan to have broken international human rights law

[Image: Pakistan-house-destroyed--009.jpg]A house in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan destroyed by a drone missile in 2008. Eighteen people including Islamist militants were killed. Photograph: Reuters


US officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed war crimes and should stand trial, a report by a leading human rights group warns.Amnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.
The report is issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch detailing missile attacks in Yemen which the group believes could contravene the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama's own guidelines on drones.
The reports are being published while Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister, is in Washington. Sharif has promised to tell Obama that the drone strikes which have caused outrage in Pakistan must end.
Getting to the bottom of individual strikes is exceptionally difficult in the restive areas bordering Afghanistan, where thousands of militants have settled. People are often terrified of speaking out, fearing retribution from both militants and the state, which is widely suspected of colluding with the CIA-led campaign.
There is also a risk of militants attempting to skew outside research by forcing interviewees into "providing false or inaccurate information", the report said.
But Amnesty mounted a major effort to investigate nine of the many attacks to have struck the region over the last 18 months, including one that killed 18 labourers in North Waziristan as they waited to eat dinner in an area of heavy Taliban influence in July 2012. All those interviewed by Amnesty strongly denied any of the men had been involved in militancy. Even if they were members of a banned group, that would not be enough to justify killing them, the report said.
"Amnesty International has serious concerns that this attack violated the prohibition of the arbitrary deprivation of life and may constitute war crimes or extrajudicial executions," the report said. It called for those responsible to stand trial.
The US has repeatedly claimed very few civilians have been killed by drones. It argues its campaign is conducted "consistent with all applicable domestic and international law".
The Amnesty report supports media accounts from October last year that a 68-year-old woman called Mamana Bibi was killed by a missile fired from a drone while she was picking okra outside her home in North Waziristan with her grandchildren nearby. A second strike minutes later injured family members tending her.
If true, the case is striking failure of a technology much vaunted for its accuracy. It is claimed the remote-controlled planes are able to observe their targets for hours or even days to verify them, and that the explosive force of the missiles is designed to limit collateral damage. As with other controversial drone strikes, the US has refused to acknowledge or explain what happened.
Amnesty said it accepts some US drone strikes may not violate the law, "but it is impossible to reach any firm assessment without a full disclosure of the facts surrounding individual attacks and their legal basis. The USA appears to be exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the region to evade accountability for its violations," it said.
In Yemen, another country where US drones are active, Human Rights Watch highlighted six incidents, two of which were a "clear violation of international humanitarian law". The remaining four may have broken the laws of armed conflict because the targets were illegitimate or because not enough was done to minimise civilian harm, the report said.
It also argued that some of the Yemen attacks breach the guidelines announced by Obama earlier this year in his first major speech on a programme that is officially top secret. For example, the pledge to kill suspects only when it is impossible to capture them appears to have been ignored on 17 April this year when an al-Qaida leader was blown up in a township in Dhamar province in central Yemen, Human Rights Watch said.
An attack on a truck driving 12 miles south of the capital Sana'a reportedly killed two al-Qaida suspects but also two civilians who had been hired by the other men. That means the attack could have been illegal because it "may have caused disproportionate harm to civilians".
The legal arguments over drones are extremely complex, with much controversy focusing on whether or not the places where they are used amount to war zones.
Amnesty said some of the strikes in Pakistan might be covered by that claim, but rejected a "global war doctrine" that allows the US to attack al-Qaida anywhere in the world.
"To accept such a policy would be to endorse state practices that fundamentally undermine crucial human rights protections that have been painstakingly developed over more than a century of international law-making," the report said.


The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
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#2

"How Do You Justify Killing a Grandmother?" Amnesty Says U.S. Drone Strikes May Be War Crimes




Amnesty International has released a major new report on how U.S. drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan, where it says some deaths may amount to war crimes. The group reviewed 45 drone strikes that have occurred in North Waziristan since January 2012. It found at least 19 civilians were killed in just two of those strikes, despite claims by the Obama administration it is accurately targeting militants. In a separate report, Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that have killed civilians. We are joined by Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International and author of the report, "'Will I be Next?' U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan." Qadri asks: "How do they justify killing a grandmother if these weapons are so precise, if their standards and their policies for using them are very rigorous?" He also clarifies, "It's not enough that a person is a militant to say that it's OK to kill them. They have to be taking active part in hostilities to be lawfully targeted, and some other requirements as well."


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: President Obama is scheduled to meet his Pakistani counterpart later today amidst rising tension around U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The meeting between Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif comes as Amnesty International has released a major new report on how U.S. drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan, where it says some drone killings may amount to war crimes. The group reviewed 45 drone strikes that have occurred in North Warizistan since January 2012. It found at least 19 civilians were killed in just two of those strikes, despite claims by the Obama administration it is accurately targeting militants.
In a separate report, Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that have killed civilians.
On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Jay Carney defended the legality of the U.S. drone program.
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: To the extent these reports claim that the U.S. has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree. The administration has repeatedly emphasized the extraordinary care that we take to make sure counterterrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable law.
AMY GOODMAN: On the eve of his meeting with President Obama, Prime Minister Sharif said the drone strikes violate international law and Pakistan's, quote, "territorial integrity."
PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF: There is, however, the matter of drone strikes, which have deeply disturbed and agitated our people. In my first statement to the Parliament, I had reiterated our strong commitment to ensuring an end to the drone attacks. More recently, our political parties in a national conference had declared that the use of drones is not only a continued violation of our territorial integrity, but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts at eliminating terrorism from our country. This issue has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship, as well. I would therefore stress the need for an end to drone attacks.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaking Tuesday in Washington. While Sharif has criticized the U.S. drone strikes, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted earlier this year his government secretly signed off on U.S. drone strikes.
In its report, Amnesty documented the case of a 68-year-old grandmother, Mamana Bibi, who was killed in a strike that appeared to be aimed directly at her. She was picking okra while surrounded by her grandchildren when she was blasted to pieces. Her son and granddaughter described the attack.
RAFIQ UR-REHMAN: [translated] The children were also with her. She was hit in the first attack, and her body parts were lying scattered.
NABEELA: [translated] First it whistled. Then I heard a "dhummm." The first hit us, and the second, my cousin. There was an explosion. We were scared, and I ran home. It was dark in front of our house. They brought me to the doctor in the village who gave me first aid. I was not scared before, but now, when the drone is flying, I am scared of it.
AMY GOODMAN: A clip from Amnesty International's report on drone strikes in Pakistan.
Well, to find out more, we go to Washington, D.C., to talk with Mustafa Qadri, the author of the Amnesty International report, "'Will I be Next?' US Drone Strikes in Pakistan." He is Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International.
Welcome to Democracy Now! You talk about these drone strikes in Pakistan as possible war crimes that the U.S. is engaged in. Lay out your case, Mustafa.
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yes, so we're not saying that the entire program constitutes war crimes. What we're saying is that particularly rescuer attacks may constitute war crimes. We're talking here, for example, some laborers in a very impoverished village near the Afghanistan border, they get targeted, eight die instantly in a tent; those who come to rescue or to look for survivors are themselves targeted. In great detail, eyewitnesses, victims who survive tell us about, you know, the terror, the panic, as drones hovered overhead. There are other cases, as well, in the report where we talk about people who have been targeted for coming to beto rescue people also killed. Those cases may constitute war crimes.
Now, that's a very big claim. There's a very high threshold for proving that. With the secrecy surrounding the program, the remoteness of this area, we can only get the truth once the U.S., as a start, comes clean and explains what is the justification for these killings.
But, you know, I should be really clear: We're not just talking about these cases of war crimes; we're talking about, as you mentioned before, you know, Mamana Bibi, a grandmother, killed in front of her grandchildren. You know, the U.S. has to explain these kind of killings. We think they're unlawful, too. You know, how does it explain making the U.S. safer by killing these sorts of people?
AMY GOODMAN: Can you just explain more about what happened to this grandmother?
MUSTAFA QADRI: So, basically, it's in the middle of the afternoon, quite a clear day in the sky. It's about 2:45. She's in the family fields in North Waziristan, a village near one of the main cities. She's picking okra. The next day is Eid al-Adha, so the holiest day in the year for Muslims. Her kids are doing their work in the field, as well. They noticed drones overhead. They were sort of used to that, because drones are ubiquitous in the skies over there. And then, literally, quite suddenly, she's attacked. There's ashe seems to be targeted deliberately. We can't tell, obviously, without more information. But a missile hits her directly, and she dies instantly.
Her kids, some of them, are injured in that initial strike from shrapnel. Their house is damaged from the reverberation of the strike. As some of them venture to see what has happened to their grandmother, a few minutes later another strike happens about nine feet away from where the grandmother was killed, and that injures more of her grandchildren. After that, there's incredible panic, you know, as we saw in the video clip. And up 'til thistoday, the family has not received even an acknowledgment from the U.S. authorities that she was killed by a drone.
You know, I should be very clear here that we researched this case, you know, very thoroughly. We even actually analyzed missile fragments from experts who said that this appears to be a Hellfire missile. You know, we fact-checked everything. You can see it in the report. We really just have a very simple message to the U.S.: How do you justify killing a grandmother? How does that make anyone safer?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Mustafa Qadri, could you talk about what people in Waziristan told you? The report suggests that people there expressed equal fear of the Taliban and of the U.S.?
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yeah, this is a really important point to make. We're not saying that drones should stop. We're not saying drones as a weapon are unlawful. What we're saying is this program the U.S. has, the U.S. has not provided a satisfactory legal basis, and these cases may be unlawful.
What we're also saying is that people living there face the threats from the Taliban, al-Qaeda. The Pakistani military often threatens and intimates people. When the Pakistan army gets attacked by the Taliban itself in that area, they will unleash indiscriminate bombings by mortar shells or helicopters. So people already there live a really harrowing life. It's a very undeveloped area. The indicators are very low in terms of literacy, maternal mortality, women's rights. For women, it's a very difficult environment to live. Girls' access to education is very low. So, the drones really are adding insult to the already many injuries that people face living there. What we're saying is that this has to be a key part of that step towards bringing law and order and protecting the rights of people living there.
AMY GOODMAN: In the case of Mamana Bibi, the grandmother, they may not havethe U.S.acknowledged to the family, but what about to Amnesty International?
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yeah, so, the
AMY GOODMAN: When you gathered all of this evidence?
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yeah, no, it's a good point. I mean, so, the only kind of acknowledgment we received was a letter from the CIA saying, you know, speak to the White House and look at theyou know, the policy guidelines released when President Obama made his speech in May this year about counterterrorism and the drone policy. So, in short, we have not received any information, really, from the U.S. authorities about this case.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to play another clip from the Amnesty report. This man describes what happened on July 6, 2012, in a village in North Waziristan when 18 male laborers, including at least one boy, were killed in a series of drone strikes. His identity has been concealed for his safety.
NORTH WAZIRISTAN VILLAGER: [translated] Would it not hurt you if they kill your brother for no reason? The drone struck in our area. It hit the chromite extractors who were gathered in a tent slaughtering a sheep for feast. All of them were killed. When the villagers arrived to rescue them, missiles were fired again. They were also killed. What other could it have been? Some of the corpses had been badly burned and were beyond recognition. We could only identify them because we knew who had come there to work and we knew their names and the names of their tribes. They were laborers extracting chromite in the mountains.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was another clip from the Amnesty report. Mustafa Qadri, could you talk about the significance of these so-called double strikes or second strikes?
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yeah, I mean, so there is a very significant legal ramification for this, but on the human side we're talking about targeting people who have come to assist, you know, victims of a strike. Now, no matter who those people might be, the human instinct to try to help someone isyou know, everyone has that. It's a universal thing. So the idea that those who are coming to assist injured people, it's really quite shocking. You know, we've documented cases where militants have been killed. We document a case where Abu Yahya al-Libi, the at the time number two of al-Qaeda, was killed. And in that episode, rescuers, people who had nothing, as far as we can tell, to do with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, or at the very least did not pose an imminent threat, an immediate threat, to the U.S. or its allies, were killed in a rescue attack.
When you look at people living there, already facing so many threats, curfew, living a very difficult life, the idea that in the skies, the skies are no longer safe, and then when these strikes happenyou know, it could be very close to you, could be your neighbors, could be your loved ones involvedobviously you want to help them, and now people are so scared even to do that, it's really quite shocking.
In terms of the law, thatwe see that as unlawful. We can't see a justification for that. We really call on the U.S., as we saw with Jay Carney claiming this is a legal programwell, fine, show us the legal justification for it and ensure those justifications and the facts are given to a genuinely independent, impartial investigator. That's the key thing. We are saying now to the U.S. government: Come clean, show us what is your evidence in law and fact for justifying rescuer attacks and the other unlawful killings we've documented in the report.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go back to Jay Carney, the White House spokesperson, who was asked a question about the Amnesty report and reiterated the precision of U.S. drone strikes.
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: By narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us, and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life. U.S. counterterrorism operations are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective. And the United States does not take lethal strikes when we or our partners have the ability to capture individual terroristterrorists. Our preference is always to detain, interrogate and prosecute. We take extraordinary care to make sure that our counterterrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable domestic and international law and that they are consistent with U.S. values and U.S. policy. Of particular note, before we take any counterterrorism strike outside areas of active hostilities, there must be near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured. And that is the highest standard we can set.
AMY GOODMAN: That was the White House spokesperson, Jay Carney. Mustafa Qadri, your response?
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yeah, look, I mean, if that is the case, how do they justify killing a grandmother? If these weapons are so precise, if their standards and their policies for using them are very rigorous and they use a high standard, as he has mentioned, you know, explain that to the family of Mamana Bibi. How and why was she killed? Was this a mistake? Was she mistaken for a militant? Was she deliberately targeted? This clearly shows that it's not correct. And, you know, the actual legal policy justifications given to us thus far have not been sufficient.
And let's be very clear about this. You know, most of the information we have received, all of us collectively, is through leaks to the media. It's through anonymous official sources talking to the media. It's not been directly from the government. At the moment, they're basically telling us, "Look, trust us. You know, we know what we're doing. We are very reliable, professional people." And, you know, the reality is, because these killings are happening in lawless areas like Pakistan's tribal areas, like remote Yemen or Somalia, the U.S. knows it, you know, can get away with murder, because it's very hard for people to verify claims. Now, how long will this administration merely just say, "Look, we do things lawfully"? We need to see the facts. We need to at least, at the very minimum, have an explanation for how you can justify killing a grandmother.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mustafa Qadri, you've also said that only some of the strikes could constitute war crimes. How is it that U.S. drone strikes could be brought under international law? In other words, how could drone strikes in a sovereign country be made legal?
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yeah, so there's two rough ways this could happen. The law is quite technical. But basically, it could be because of a spillover of the conflict in Afghanistan, so that, for example, if you have a military commander of the Afghan Taliban, he's in hot pursuit from Afghanistan, he slips into the border into North Waziristan, in the right conditionsthere's a whole range of requirementsthat might be lawful. Alternatively, Pakistan is itself fighting a non-international armed conflict in its own borders against the local insurgency; the U.S. has killed members of that insurgency, very senior members of that. Now, that might be lawful. But again, there are very strict requirements that have to be satisfied. One of the requirements is not that a person who is a militant is lawfullycan be lawfully killed. It's not enough that a person is militant to say that it's OK to kill them. They have to be taking active part in hostilities to be lawfully targeted. There's some other requirements, as well.
The point is that, you know, we're not talking about the whole program is impossible for it to be lawful. There is the capacity with the U.S. You know, theadministration officials have assured us there's a whole range of infrastructure experts, people involved in this program. So, really, the U.S.it's obligation on them to make sure the program abides by international law.
I think the other thing that's really keyand again, Jay Carney sort of hit on this, as wellis this idea of trying to arrest or incapacitate people wherever possible. Well, the U.S. has to work with its Pakistani counterparts to improve that capacity. It has to ensure that Pakistan does its job in actually trying to bring these perpetrators to justice before a court in a fair trial. You know, we've documented that, you know, the Pakistani authorities have a very poor record of bringing these perpetrators to justice in fair trials. The legal setup in these tribal areas is incredibly poor. Pakistan still applies these anachronistic laws from the British era, which allows it to collectively punish tribes that are considered, you know, pro-Taliban. That has to change. Now, these are big problems, but there are solutions. And we really say, again, to the U.S. that it needs to make sure its drones are lawful, rather than retrospectively, after doing a strike, saying, firstly, "We'll check to see if any civilians are killed," and, secondarily, when information comes out, just assuring us, "Look, don't worry, it's all legal; everything is fine. You can all go home now."
AMY GOODMAN: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, recently criticized U.S. drone strikes during a meeting with President Obama. The ObamasPresident Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and, as well, their daughter Maliainvited Malala to the White House earlier this month in order to honor her work on behalf of girls' education. But the White House statement did not mention another topic raised at the meeting. In her own statement, Malala wrote, quote, "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact." Your response to that, Mustafa Qadri?
MUSTAFA QADRI: Yeah, look, I mean, I largely reiterate what Malala has said, that, you knowand it's really disappointing that President Obama's official statement did not mention what she said, because that's a really important point. But I can tell you also, from the Pakistan side, that another key part of trying to promote education is trying to basically prevent the Taliban from targeting girls like Malala. And that is a key part of it.
You know, one of the problems of the drone debate up 'til now is that because it's been so polarized and because the issues are so complicated, there's been a tendency to sort of reduce things down to either drones are good or bad. What we're saying is that, you know, have to look at the local context. The current secrecy and the potential unlawfulness of the U.S. program, firstly, incenses Pakistanis, is used as a political football amongst those hard-liners in Pakistan who want to hide the abuses by the Taliban and other groups. And what Pakistan really needs to do is to move on. It needs to address the fact that even within Pakistan there's a huge problem with intolerance. There's a huge problem of a lack of quality education for most people. I mean, 2 percent, or less than that, of the GDP is spent on education. Women's access to education, you know, it's not universally bad, but it's very bad in the northwest, where Malala is from, where the Taliban are based. You know, these issues need to be addressed.
The fact that the U.S. carries out drones so secretively, ityou know, yes, it sparks anti-American sentiments, but also it creates all sorts of ideas about, you know, secret plots and this and that. What has to happen is more honesty in the discussion about, firstly, what is the problems in that region and the relation between the U.S. and Pakistan. When the U.S. government basically is secretive in the way that the Taliban is secretive or that al-Qaeda is secretive, when its drones are used in a way that causes fear in the hearts of people the way Taliban and al-Qaeda causes fear in people's hearts, that shows you what a big, serious problem we're dealing with.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#3
I see no one is demanding answers on who leaked this document because given it is a Woodward production it must be a sanctioned leak and there will be no inquiry allowed. And no one in the media or political punditry is connecting the dots, at least publicly, on the fact that the victims of US drones are being called to testify before congress in about a weeks time. The documents are clearly meant to deflect the blame of the drones and their victims from the US to Pakistan. And maybe more.
Quote:Pakistan's involvement in deadly drone campaign revealed: Government officials played direct role in selecting targets despite repeatedly denouncing the CIA strikes




Top-secret CIA papers show the US briefed Islamabad on attacks against al-Qa'ida targets



BOB WOODWARD , GREG MILLER


THURSDAY 24 OCTOBER 2013


Despite repeatedly denouncing the CIA's drone campaign, top officials in Pakistan's government have for years secretly endorsed the programme and routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts, according to top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos.
The files describe dozens of drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal region and include maps as well as before-and-after aerial photos of targeted compounds from late 2007 to late 2011, in which the campaign intensified.
Markings on the documents indicate that many of them were prepared by the CIA's Counterterrorism Centre specifically to be shared with Pakistan's government. They tout the success of strikes that killed dozens of alleged al-Qa'ida operatives and assert repeatedly that no civilians were harmed.
Pakistan's tacit approval of the drone programme has been one of the more poorly kept national security secrets in Washington and Islamabad. During the early years of the campaign, the CIA even used Pakistani airstrips for its Predator fleet.
But the files expose the explicit nature of a secret arrangement struck between the two countries at a time when neither was willing to publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone programme. The documents detailed at least 65 strikes in Pakistan. They are marked "top secret" but cleared for release to Pakistan.
A CIA spokesman declined to discuss the documents but did not dispute their authenticity.
Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, the spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry, would not comment, but he added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who took office in June, has been adamant that "the drone strikes must stop".
Mr Chaudhry said: "We regard such strikes as a violation of our sovereignty as well as international law. They are also counter-productive."
He said Pakistan's government is unified against US drone strikes, and has made its disapproval clear to senior US and United Nations officials.
[Image: pg-30-pakistan-2-epa.jpg]A protest in Karachi against drone strikes this month (EPA)
CIA strikes "have deeply disturbed and agitated our people", Mr Sharif said in a speech on Tuesday at the US Institute of Peace, in Washington. "This issue has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship as well. I will, therefore, stress the need for an end to drone attacks." He did not elaborate on how Pakistan would seek to halt a campaign that remains a core part of the Obama administration's counterterrorism strategy.
There was no immediate comment from Pakistan's military or intelligence service, but Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general, said the revelation that Pakistan's government was well-informed about the drone programme will likely "put cold water on the hype" within Pakistan over the issue. "I think people knew it already, but this makes it much more obvious, and the [Pakistani] media and others will have to cool off," said Mr Masood.
The files serve as a detailed timeline of the CIA drone programme, tracing its evolution from a campaign aimed at a relatively short list of senior al-Qa'ida operatives into a broader aerial assault against militant groups with no connection to the 9/11 attacks.
The records also expose the distrust and dysfunction that has afflicted US-Pakistani relations even amid collaboration on drone strikes.
Some files describe tense meetings in which senior US officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, confront their Pakistani counterparts with US intelligence purporting to show Pakistan's ties to militant groups involved in attacks on American forces, a charge that Islamabad has consistently denied.
In one case, Ms Clinton cited "cellphones and written material from dead bodies that point all fingers" at a militant group based in Pakistan, according to a Pakistani diplomatic cable dated 20 September, 2011. "The US had intelligence proving ISI was involved with these groups," she is cited as saying, referring to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
In a measure of the antagonism between the two sides, a 2010 memo sent by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to its embassy in Washington outlined a plan to undermine the CIA. "Kindly find enclosed a list of 36 US citizens who are [believed] to be CIA special agents and would be visiting Pakistan for some special task," said the memo, signed by an official listed as the country's Director General for the Americas. "Kindly do not, repeat not, issue visas to the same."
The earliest of the files describes 15 strikes from December 2007 to September 2008. All but two of the entries identify specific al-Qa'ida figures as targets. The campaign has since killed as many as 3,000 people, including thousands of militants and hundreds of civilians, according to independent estimates.
There have been 23 strikes in Pakistan this year, far below the peak in 2010, when 117 attacks were recorded. The latest strike occurred on 29 September, when three alleged fighters with ties to the militant Haqqani network were killed in North Waziristan, according to media reports.
Several documents refer to a direct Pakistani role in the selection of targets. A 2010 entry, for example, describes hitting a location "at the request of your government". Another from that year refers to a "network of locations associated with a joint CIA-ISI targeting effort".
The documents confirm the deaths of dozens of alleged al-Qa'ida operatives, including Rashid Rauf, a British citizen killed in 2008 who "helped co-ordinate al-Qa'ida's summer 2007 plot to blow up transatlantic flights originating from Great Britain", one memo said.
But the documents also reveal a major shift in the CIA's strategy in Pakistan as it broadened the campaign beyond "high-value" al-Qa'ida targets and began firing missiles at gatherings of low-level fighters.
The files trace the CIA's embrace of a controversial practice that came to be known as "signature strikes", approving targets based on patterns of suspicious behaviour detected from drone surveillance and ordering strikes even when the identities of those to be killed weren't known. At times, the evidence seemed circumstantial.
On 14 January 2010, a gathering of 17 people at a suspected Taliban training camp was struck after the men were observed conducting "assassination training, sparring, push-ups and running". The compound was linked "by vehicle" to an al-Qa'ida facility hit three years earlier.
Although often uncertain about the identities of its targets, the CIA expresses remarkable confidence in its accuracy, repeatedly ruling out the possibility that any civilians were killed.
Those assertions are at odds with research done by human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, which released a report this week based on investigations of nine drone strikes in Pakistan between May 2012 and July 2013. After interviewing survivors and assembling other evidence, the group concluded that at least 30 civilians had been killed in the attacks.
White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged on Tuesday that drone strikes "have resulted in civilian casualties" but defended the programme as highly precise and said there is a "wide gap" between US estimates and those of independent groups.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/...02432.html



"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply
#4
Maybe it was that former NSA guy, Michael Hayden who called Woodward on "background" as a "former senior admin official" from his train as discussed in post No. 355 in the Snowden thread?

Or does Woodward rely exclusively on ONI for his input?
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
Reply
#5
At least a few months ago a Peshawar High Court already ruled that US drone strikes in Pakistan are war crimes.
http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/05...y-illegal/

Generally, if you talk about war crimes, there are several different international and national laws that may be applicable. In the case of the US acting in Pakistan, the War Crimes Act of 1996 should be applicable, which references to "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions, to which the US are a party. That is the reason why the term "unlawful combatant" was invented to avoid applicability of the Geneva Conventions. Also the Military Comissions Act of 2006 attempts to legalize many acts of torture and rendition, but may be itself unconstitutional. But certainly even under the loosest interpretation, the intentional killing of civilians by drone or other means, has to be considered a war crime.
The fact that there are no court cases shows the deep corruption and disfunction of the US law system.
The most relevant literature regarding what happened since September 11, 2001 is George Orwell's "1984".
Reply
#6
War crimes and outright murder - based on the following report:

Quote:Pakistani family of drone strike victim gives harrowing testimony to Congress

Translator brought to tears by family's plea as Congress hears from civilian victims of alleged US drone strike for the first time

[Image: ddbd0c18-2c73-4691-86c5-816923a294f6-460x276.jpeg]Nabila Rehman, 9, holds up a picture she drew depicting the US drone strike on her Pakistan village which killed her grandmother. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The family of a 67-year-old midwife from a remote village in North Waziristan told lawmakers on Tuesday about her death and the "CIA drone" they say was responsible. Their harrowing accounts marked the first time Congress had ever heard from civilian victims of an alleged US drone strike.
Rafiq ur Rehman, a Pakistani primary school teacher who appeared on Capitol Hill with his children, Zubair, 13, and Nabila, 9, described his mother, Momina Bibi, as the "string that held our family together". His two children, who were gathering okra with their grandmother the day she was killed, on 24 October 2012, were injured in the attack.
"Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day," Rehman said, through a translator. "Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother's house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All of them reported that three, four, five militants were killed."
Instead, he said, only one person was killed that day: "Not a militant but my mother."
"In urdu we have a saying: aik lari main pro kay rakhna. Literally translated, it means the string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was. She was the string that held our family together. Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost."
An Amnesty International report, published last week, lists Bibi among 900 civilians they say have been killed by drone strikes, a far higher number than previously reported. The Amnesty report said the US may have committed war crimes and should stand trial for its actions.
The US has repeatedly claimed very few civilians have been killed by drones. It argues its campaign is conducted "consistent with all applicable domestic and international law". Unofficial reports, however, have suggested that hundreds have been killed in Pakistan alone, with up to 200 children killed.
In poignant testimony, Rehman's son, Zubair, described the day of the attack, the day before the Muslim holy day of Eid, as a "magical time filled with joy". He told lawmakers that the drone had appeared out of a bright blue sky, the colour of sky most beloved by his grandmother and himself, he said.
"As I helped my grandmother in the field, I could see and hear the drone hovering overhead, but I didn't worry" he said. "Why would I worry? Neither my grandmother nor I were militants."
"When the drone fired the first time, the whole ground shook and black smoke rose up. The air smelled poisonous. We ran, but several minutes later the drone fired again. "
"People from the village came to our aid and took us to hospital. We spent the night in great agony in at the hospital and the next morning I was operated on. That is how we spent Eid."
Zubair said that fear over the drone attacks on his community have stopped children playing outside, and stopped them attending the few schools that exist. An expensive operation, needed to take the shrapnel out of his leg, was delayed and he was sent back to the village until his father could raise the money, he said.
"Now I prefer cloudy days when the drones don't fly. When the sky brightens and becomes blue, the drones return and so does the fear. Children don't play so often now, and have stopped going to school. Education isn't possible as long as the drones circle overhead."
According to Zubair, the fundraising took months.
His sister, Nabila, told lawmakers that she had been gathering okra with her brother and grandmother when she saw a drone and "I heard the dum dum noise."
"Everything was dark and I couldn't see anything. I heard a scream. I think it was my grandmother but I couldn't see her.
"All I could think of was running."
Rehman told lawmakers that he is seeking answers to why his mother was targeted. The strike has affected his wider family, who no longer visit because they fear the drones might kill them too.
In testimony that caused the translator to stop and begin to weep, he said: "Congressman Grayson, as a teacher, my job is to educate. But how do I teach something like this? How do I explain what I myself do not understand? How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too, if I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children?"
He said that his mother was not the first innocent victim of drone strike, but that "dozens of people in my own tribe that I know are merely ordinary tribesman had been killed". He said that numerous families in his community and the surrounding area had lost loved ones, including women and children over the years.
"They have suffered just like I have. I wish they had such an opportunity as well to come tell you their story. Until they can, I speak on their behalf as well. Drones are not the answer."
Rehman said that although the Pakistani government accepted his claim and confirmed details, it said it was not responsible and he has had no compensation to help with the medical treatment for his children.
Rehman said: "In the end I would just like to ask the American public to treat us as equals. Make sure that your government gives us the same status of a human with basic rights as they do to their own citizens. We do not kill our cattle the way US is killing humans in Waziristan with drones. This indiscriminate killing has to end and justice must be delivered to those who have suffered at the hands of unjust."
Asked what he would say to President Barack Obama, Rehman called on the Pakistani and US government to work together to achieve peace.
"I would say to President Obama if I had the opportunity to meet with him is: 'What happened to me and my family was wrong'. I would ask him to find an end, a peaceful end, to what is happening."
"I think that's something that the American government and the Pakistani government can work together to achieve."
Missing from the briefing on Tuesday was the account of Shahzad Akbar, an international critic of US drone policy and the family lawyer, who spearheaded the idea of bringing civilian victims of drone strikes to Congress and who was refused a visa for the third time. Reprieve, the British rights group which together with Brave New Foundation, helped the Rehman family travel to Washington, said he had 6,000 letters supporting his visit.
The hearing was attended by only five members of Congress, and Grayson said such low numbers of lawmakers at hearings were not unusual. Those attending were all Democrats: Rush Holt of New Jersey, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, John Conyers of Michigan, Rick Nolan of Minnesota, and Grayson, the Florida Democrat responsible for inviting the family to Washington and for holding the hearing.
Each of the lawmakers spoke about the drone programme to call for more transparency or greater oversight. Schakowsky said she agreed with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and their call for more transparency and debate about the targeted killing programme. Holt and Conyers called for a congressional investigation into drone strikes.
Grayson, a fierce critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan told the hearing: "Invading from the skies is no different from invading on the grounds. We should never accept that children and loved ones are acceptable collateral damage." Was there any other human activity, he asked "where 10-30% of the dead are innocent?"
It began with a broadcast of Unmanned: America's Drone Wars, a film by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Foundation, which features the Rahman family.




The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
Reply
#7
Raytheon's Public Relations department at work. Putting shit on the survivors of attacks.

Quote:

Experts Criticize Amnesty International Report on Drone Strikes

Elements of case studies in the report unverifiable, contradicted

AP



BY: Alana Goodman Follow @alanagoodman
October 25, 2013 9:00 am

Experts and media figures are questioning the accuracy of Amnesty International's new report on the human rights impact of the U.S. drone program in Pakistan, saying the study is marred by discrepancies, unverified claims, and dubious witness statements.
The Amnesty report released this week offers several case studies of alleged Pakistani civilian victims of U.S. drone attacks, and suggests the program violates international law.
However, some are questioning elements of the report, particularly its featured case study of an alleged U.S. drone strike that killed Mamana Bibi, a 67-year-old grandmother, and injured several of her grandchildren while they were picking vegetables in a field. A key witness of the attack, Mamana Bibi's 8-year-old granddaughter Nabeela ur-Rehman, is pictured on the cover of the report.
"I don't buy much of it, if at all," said Christine Fair, an assistant professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies. "I'm skeptical that this woman was killed in the way in which they are reporting."
Fair said terrorists and the Pakistani military often launch attacks in the same region and there is no conclusive evidence that the woman was not killed by something other than a U.S. drone.
"It really beggars belief that a drone targeteer would have had in his site an elderly woman in a field surrounded by grandchildren," said Fair. "This is not how drone targeting takes place … for anyone who knows about the numerous layers of intelligence and legal clearances that a drone target needs to get, it is absolutely incredulous."
She also said some of Amnesty's claims are contradicted by outside sources, and was also skeptical that Nabeela, who was six years old at the time of the alleged attack, would be able to reliably recall the some of the details included in the report.
The Amnesty report says Nabeela was standing 92 feet away from her grandmother when the attack occurred. Fair noted that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, another organization that advocates against the U.S. drone program, said the distance was 65 feet (20 meters) in its own case study.
"No matter what Amnesty says, no matter what BIJ says, there's been no actual independent account of this event," said Fair.
Witnesses in the Mamana Bibi case also said the unmanned aerial vehicles in the area were flying in "pairs" or "three together." Military reporter and commentator David Axe argued that this is highly unlikely considering current drone technology.
"The inability of drone pilots to see all around their aircraftwhich are thousands of miles awaymeans drone formations are very dangerous," Axe told the Free Beacon. "So it's standard practice for drones to operate singly."
Axe, who recently published an article poking holes in the Amnesty report, said Amnesty's photos of the missile debris in the Mamana Bibi case also do not verify what type of missile was used or where it came from.
"A photo of missile debris does not prove what kind of missile it is, unless there are clearly identifiable markings that can be traced back to the operator or manufacturer," said Axe. "Amnesty's report rests on a chain of assumptions. It's not that drones don't kill lots of innocent peoplethey do. But the particulars matter if we're going to base policy on them."
Fair said there was "no chain of custody that shows those fragments in the Amnesty report, for example, have anything to do with a hellfire missile or any particular attack. Missile fragments are all over the tribal area."
Kenneth Anderson and Benjamin Wittes criticized the study for allegedly overreaching in its analysis in an essay for the New Republic.
"Even if we take all of the facts both groups allege at face value, neither report really changes our understanding of either the likelihood of civilian casualties, the number of them, or the utility of drones as a tool in overseas counterterrorism," wrote Anderson and Wittes.
President Barack Obama has acknowledged that civilians have been killed by U.S. drones, but the covert nature of the program has made it difficult to determine the frequency of these incidents.
The Pakistani government, which has stoked public anger against the program while reportedly supporting the strikes behind-the-scenes, has also been an obstacle to transparency.
"The Amnesty people want us to believe that the U.S. government lies about everything, while at the same time accepting at face value everything their interlocutors tell them," said Fair.
A spokesperson for Amnesty International did not respond to request for comment.

Nabeela ur-Rehman is expected to address congress about the drone program next week, the New Yorker reported on Tuesday.
http://freebeacon.com/experts-criticize-...e-strikes/
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply
#8

I Worked on the U.S. Drone Program'

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/i..._20131229/

Posted on Dec 29, 2013

Politicians defending the use of drones in Afghanistan have no idea what they're talking about, former U.S. Air Force analyst Heather Linebaugh, who has seen innocent women and children incinerated by Hellfire missiles and soldiers killed because of drone failures, writesat The Guardian on Sunday.
"How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" she wants to ask elected defenders of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program. "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"
To justify the program, the U.S. and British militaries "feel the need to deliver faulty information, few or no statistics about civilian deaths and twisted technology reports on the capabilities of our UAVs." What the public doesn't understand is that video provided by drones is rarely clear enough to distinguish a rifle from a shovel, "even on a crystal-clear day with limited clouds and perfect light."
"We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian's life all because of a bad image or angle," Linebaugh writes.
What's more, the human beings flying and analyzing data from the UAVs are often traumatized by what they see. "When you are exposed to [watching people die] over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were." Some soldiers, including two of Linebaugh's colleagues, kill themselves after what they do. But statistics about UAV operator suicides are kept secret, as is data about how heavily they are medicated for depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.
"The UAV's in the Middle East are used as a weapon, not as protection, and as long as our public remains ignorant to this, this serious threat to the sanctity of human lifeat home and abroadwill continue."
Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
[Image: 9459009620_c3079c3401.jpg]
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#9
I like the way that leaving dog turds are to be made illegal under the same draconian powers that tighten security at US drone intell bases in the UK.

Nice to know that the wallah's at the Ministry of War have their priorities so honed, eh.

From The Indy.

Quote:

Exclusive: MoD tightens security at American spy bases linked to drone strikes




[Image: 12-securitu-drones-ala.jpg]














'Draconian' laws would help the US cover up illegal activities


CAHAL MILMO [Image: plus.png]


Monday 30 December 2013



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The Ministry of Defence is set to introduce "draconian" new powers to tighten security and limit access to US airbases in Britain implicated in mass surveillance and drone strikes, The Independent can reveal.

The measures, which include powers to arrest for offences ranging from taking photographs to failing to clean up dog mess, would be put in place through a little-known project to overhaul the by-laws surrounding military facilities across the country.
Among the sites where the new rules are set to be imposed are two US Air Force bases used as key communication hubs for clandestine eavesdropping.
The Independent revealed earlier this year that RAF Croughton, near Milton Keynes, is used to funnel back to Washington data from a global network of spy bases in US embassies, including the secret Berlin facility alleged to have been used by the National Security Agency to listen in on the phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The base, which serves as a relay centre for CIA agent communications, is also at the centre of concerns that it may be used as a support site for US drone strikes operated from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti against Yemeni targets.
Along with RAF Menwith Hill listening station in North Yorkshire, the base is understood to be one of Washington's key intelligence facilities in Britain, although the MoD insists USAF staff at RAF Croughton "neither fly nor control any remotely piloted aircraft".
Until now neither RAF Croughton, nor its adjacent site, RAF Barford St John, which is also used as a signal relay station, have been subject to military land by-laws, despite being military bases for more than 60 years. During the Second World War, Barford St John was used as a top secret test facility for Britain's first generation of jet fighters. It currently hosts an array of transmitter masts maintained by US military personnel.
But the two bases now feature on a list of nearly 150 military facilities where by-laws are being introduced or revised amid criticism that the new rules are being used to impose unprecedented levels of secrecy around sensitive sites. Similar revised by-laws for RAF Menwith Hill and nearby RAF Fylingdales, a US radar station earmarked for use in Washington's missile defence system, are expected to be produced in the coming months.
Jennifer Gibson, of the human rights group Reprieve, said: "These by-laws have been designed to prevent any transparency about what activities take place at RAF Croughton and Barford St John. There is strong evidence that Croughton plays a role in the US drone campaign. But instead of coming clean with the public, the Ministry of Defence has decided to help the US further by drafting draconian by-laws that give the military the power to arrest dog walkers who stray in the general vicinity of the base. It must be asked what is going on at RAF Croughton and elsewhere and why is the UK helping the US cover it up?"
Proposals for new by-laws for RAF Croughton and Barford St John were published earlier this year by the MoD. It is understood that up to 38 other military sites where no by-laws currently exist are also being reviewed. The new regulations designate an outer "controlled area" around each facility, where a wide-ranging list of banned activities applies, and an inner "protected area" with more stringent restrictions.
Among the 20 activities to be banned within the controlled area are camping "in tents, caravans, trees or otherwise", digging, engaging in "any trade or business" or grazing any animal. Also among the offences, which can result in an individual being "taken into custody without warrant", is a failure to pick up dog waste or causing damage to "any crops, turfs, plants, roots or trees".
The list of 10 banned actions within the protected area includes a prohibition on taking "any visual image of any person or thing".
The MoD insisted it is merely bringing up to date a disparate set of by-laws which were first introduced in 1892, and seeking to bring about a "layered" set of legislation which will increase public access to some military land.
The German interior ministry has pledged to raise in talks with London and Washington the revelations concerning the alleged eavesdropping on Mrs Merkel's phone and the use of RAF Croughton.
Exemptions for breaking the rules which have applied previously have also been reviewed. The last set of laws drawn up for RAF Fylingdales in 1986 states that no offence is committed if it is "proved that an act or omission was unavoidable by the exercise of reasonable care". The proposed new rules contained no such exemption. An MoD spokesman said the clause would be restored to the by-laws.
Lindis Percy, a veteran peace protester and founder of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Airbases (CAAB), said: "Byelaws have not been used around other bases for years and yet they are now being brought in for these locations. Why? Does this mean an expansion of both bases? As usual there is a cloak of secrecy thrown around these US occupied and controlled bases as to what they are planning."
Many "critical" military bases are also already protected by measures in the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA), which introduced an offence of criminal trespass on bases, punishable by up to a year of imprisonment.
The MoD said it had ensured there was a "wide-ranging" public consultation in each location to be subject of the new byelaws. A spokesman said: "The Ministry of Defence is the second-largest public landowner in the UK and has a commitment to encouraging responsible safe public access across its land, where this is compatible with operational activities."



The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
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