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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 10:35 AM
Original message
UNITED NATIONS- US Drone Strikes May Break International Law
US Drone Strikes May Break International Law: UN

UNITED NATIONS - US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN's top investigator of such crimes said.

"The problem with the United States is that it is making an increased use of drones/Predators (which are) particularly prominently used now in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan," UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston told a press conference.

"My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law,"
he said.

US strikes with remote-controlled aircraft against Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan have often resulted in civilian deaths
and drawn bitter criticism from local populations.

...

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iUaM...

Up to 320 Civilians Killed in Pakistan Drone War: Report



How many civilians have been killed in the U.S. drone war in Pakistan? The number could be as high as 320 innocents, according to an analysis released today by the New America Foundation. Thats about a third of the 1,000 or so people slain in the robotic aircraft attacks since 2006.

Reliable information from the drone strikes in Pakistans tribal areas is incredibly hard to come by. The government not only keeps news organizations out, it also blocks aid groups, like Doctors Without Borders. So analysts are forces to rely only press reports, which are themselves relying on second-hand accounts. The result: wildly different estimates of who has died in the attacks. In April, the News of Pakistan claimed that Predator and Reaper attacks had only killed 14 militants; the rest were bystanders. Last month, the Long War Journal estimated that about 10 percent of the casualties were civilian. The New America study, lead by long-time terrorism researcher Peter Bergen, comes down somewhere in between.

CIA director Leon Panetta told an audience last May that the drones were the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the Al Qaeda leadership. But the New America study contends that the terror groups chieftains make up just a tiny percentage of the unmanned aircrafts victims. Since 2006, our analysis indicates, 82 U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have killed between 750 and 1,000 people. Among them were about 20 leaders of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied groups, all of whom have been killed since January 2008. The rest have been footsoldiers in the militant organizations, or civilians.

...

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/10/up-to-320-civil...
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 10:36 AM
Response to Original message
1. War Pigs: killing is their business, and business is GOOD
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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Here's Philip Alston on this AM's Dem Now!
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/28/un_special_rappo...


UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Philip Alston: Record AfPak Drone Attacks Under Obama May Violate International Law


Investigative reporter Jane Mayer of The New Yorker magazine revealed last week that the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan has risen dramatically under President Obama. During his first nine-and-a-half months in office, Obama authorized at least forty-one CIA missile strikes in Pakistana rate of approximately one bombing a week. We speak to one of the most high-profile critics of the US drone program: Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Alston says the US governments use of Predator drones may violate international law.

In Pakistan, at least 80 people have been killed and scores hurt by a large car bomb in a crowded market in Peshawar. Similar attacks have killed more than 200 people in recent weeks, as the Pakistani army carries out an operation against Taliban militants in South Waziristan. The blast came as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Clinton told a news conference the US was standing to shoulder with Pakistan in its military offensive. And one of the most high-profile ways the US is doing that is the increased use of unmanned Predator drones.

Investigative reporter Jane Mayer of The New Yorker magazine revealed last week that the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan has risen dramatically under President Obama. During his first nine-and-a-half months in office, Obama authorized at least 41 CIA missile strikes in Pakistana rate of approximately one bombing a week. Thats as many drone attacks as President Bush sanctioned in his final three years in office. The attacks have killed between 326 and 538 people, Mayer says. She writes: there is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official US policy.

One of the most high-profile critics of the US drone program has been the United Nations human rights envoy, Philip Alston. On Tuesday, Alston said the US government"s use of Predator drones may violate international law. Alston is the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. He raised the issue in a report to the UN General Assemblys human rights committee on Tuesday and said the US should explain the legal basis for using unmanned drones for targeted killings. Alston also presented a critical report on the drone program in June to the U.N. Human Rights Council, but, he says, US representatives ignored his concerns.

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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks for that - I'm at work & need something to listen to later
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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. You are welcome- And here's an article from Chris Floyd on the immorality of it all
Depraved Indifference: Drone Wars, Whack Jobs and Imperial Terror

Written by Chris Floyd
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 00:03

I have often admired Jane Mayer's reportage. She has helped expose several elements of "the dark side" of America's worldwide Terror War. Her latest article in the New Yorker outlines the CIA's use of "Predator" drones to kill people by remote control in Pakistan. As the magazine notes, the Obama Administration is relying on these covert drone killers more and more, as it escalates America's military attacks in Pakistan -- ostensibly a sovereign nation allied to the United States.

Mayer's article relates a chilling story of suburban killers -- many of them stateside, firing their missiles from comfortable cubicles before heading home for dinner with the family -- operating in a secret program outside all traditional lines of legality and accountability. (Even the extremely low levels of legality and accountability that weakly adhere to the business of wholesale slaughter and destruction known as war.) For example, part of the program has been "outsourced" to private companies, who are killing people -- including hundreds of innocent civilians -- for profit, with American tax money.

The New Yorker's website has now published an interview with Mayer expanding on the original story. It too is chilling -- but not only for the further details of this state murder program. What is equally disturbing is the bloodless consideration of this bloody enterprise, based on the assumption that there is nothing essentially wrong with such an assassination program (with its inevitable "collateral damage"), as long it is more transparent, with the "legal, ethical and political boundaries" of the death squads clearly drawn.

...

http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-...

Here's the New Yorker interview with Jane Mayer:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2009/10/...
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inna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 11:57 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. KR, thanks for the links! nt
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The2ndWheel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 10:49 AM
Response to Original message
2. And the US Government will keep doing it if it chooses to
Who's going to stop the US Government from continuing to use drones? The UN? Europe? With what? Sanctions? Threat of military action? Will the American people stop it? How? Voting? Protests within the state sanctioned parameters? It really makes no difference if US drones do or don't break international law.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 11:06 AM
Response to Original message
6. "Badges? Badges? We don't need no steenking badges!!"
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Winterblues Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
7. It may be against US Law on assassinations of foreignors as well
This is a very slippery slope IMO. There is something basically wrong with the USA going any place in the world and killing whomever they please without any due process. It is nothing more than murder and there were Laws against such activities before Bush*..
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tekisui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
8. Kick for the unreccers wanting to ignore our complicity to
possible war crimes.
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
10. knr nt
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TomPaine76 Donating Member (33 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 12:52 PM
Response to Original message
11. We recruit and train teenage video game champs to fly these things.
That, alone, warrants more media coverage.
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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 06:53 PM
Response to Original message
12. Interesting exchange
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Philip Alston, back on the issue of the drone attacks that you have taken on, what kind of information has the Obama administration given to you? What have you asked for? Whats your dialogue with him?

PHILIP ALSTON: Well, Ive been having a dialogue both with the Bush and the Obama administrations. The biggest problem that I face, but its not one that is of great interest to you, is a technical legal one, where the administration continues to say that these are matters of armed conflict, therefore human rights investigators have no role. In other words, their suggestion is that the UN Human Rights Council should not be looking at what the US is doing in what used to be called the war on terror.

The problem with that is that that would take off the UN Human Rights Councils agenda about 90 percent of the cases that its dealing with. The Gaza report by Goldstone, whats going on in the Congo, what happened in Sri Lankaall these issues would be suddenly off the agenda if the US position was accepted. Fortunately, no one has accepted it, but the US continues to insist. And for that reason, they say, So were not going to give you any information.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have worked with the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Do you feel a difference?

PHILIP ALSTON: On this particular issue, no.


http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/28/un_special_rappo...
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maryf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. "On this particular issue, no. "
Not too many others either? K&R!
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-28-09 08:40 PM
Response to Original message
14. McChrystal ...
http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/11476

"...Note that the role of drone attacks in the larger story of targeted assassinations has been discussed in the context of Dick Cheneys rumored assassination squads. Marcy Wheeler has discussed those squads and their disclosure to Congress in multiple posts, including this one from July. A key point from those discussions, which address Sy Hershs initial disclosure of the squads, is that the squads were run by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) under the apparent supervision of Cheneys office.


Who ran JSOC from September, 2003 until August, 2008? That would be Stanley McChrystal. Who is in charge of military efforts in Afghanistan where Alston now says the drone strikes are becoming extrajudicial executions? Again, Stanley McChrystal. What a coincidence!


A bit further down in the BBC report we have this:


The US told the UN in June that it has a legal framework to respond to unlawful killings. It also said the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly have no role in relation to killings during an armed conflict.

But Mr Alston described that response as simply untenable.



Alston doesnt buy the US governments justifications for McChrystals actions. Alstons timing couldnt be better in making this announcement as Barack Obama is in the process of assessing US strategy in Afghanistan. Although the strategic reassessment now mainly centers on the number of troops to be assigned, Alstons report makes it essential that Obama also review the strategy and decision-making in the use of drones if the US wants to operate within international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Assuming, of course, that Obama does want to operate within those laws. Does he?"



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