Archive for June, 2012

Praying at the Church of St. Drone: The President and His Apostles

June 9, 2012

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, June 5, 2012

Be assured of one thing: whichever candidate you choose at the polls in November, you aren’t just electing a president of the United States; you are also electing an assassin-in-chief.  The last two presidents may not have been emperors or kings, but they — and the vast national-security structure that continues to be built-up and institutionalized around the presidential self — are certainly one of the nightmares the founding fathers of this country warned us against.  They are one of the reasons those founders put significant war powers in the hands of Congress, which they knew would be a slow, recalcitrant, deliberative body.

Thanks to a long New York Times piece by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” we now know that the president has spent startling amounts of time overseeing the “nomination” of terrorist suspects for assassination via the remotely piloted drone program he inherited from President George W. Bush and which he has expanded exponentially.  Moreover, that article was based largely on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers.”  In other words, it was essentially an administration-inspired piece — columnist Robert Scheer calls it “planted” — on a “secret” program the president and those closest to him are quite proud of and want to brag about in an election year.

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UN Rights Chief Calls for Probe into US Drone War in Pakistan

June 8, 2012

Navi Pillay said the “indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians” raises legal questions and needs to be investigated

 

by John Glaser, Antiwar.com, June 07, 2012

The United Nation human rights chief on Thursday called for a UN investigation into U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, on the grounds that their legality is questionable and that they indiscriminately kill innocent civilians.

“Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law,” Navi Pillay told a news conference in Islamabad.

“I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human rights violations,” she said, adding that, “Because these attacks are indiscriminate it is very, very difficult to track the numbers of people who have been killed.”

“I suggested to the government [of Pakistan] that they invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Summary or Arbitrary Executions and he will be able to investigate some of the incidents.”

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Chris Woods: CIA ‘revives attacks on rescuers’ in Pakistan

June 8, 2012

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 by , The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, June 4, 2012

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A US military Reaper drone at Kandahar, Afghanistan

CIA drones are reportedly reviving the use of highly-controversial tactics that target rescuers and funeral-goers.

On Monday US drones attacked rescuers in Waziristan in western Pakistan minutes after an initial strike, killing 16 people in total according to the BBC. On May 28, drones were also reported to have returned to the attack in Khassokhel near Mir Ali.

And on Sunday, a CIA drone strike targeted people gathered for funeral prayers of militant victims killed in an earlier attack. The intended Taliban targets appear to have survived, although up to ten people died. A mosque was also struck last week – possibly accidentally – killing at least three civilian worshippers.

The tactics may not be confined to Pakistan. In the Yemeni city of Jaar on May 15, a possible return US drone strike killed between 8 and 26 civilians, according to a USA Today report.

The deliberate targeting of rescuers and mourners by CIA drones was first exposed by the Bureau in February 2012, in a major joint investigation with the Sunday Times. On more than a dozen occasions between 2009 and June 2011, the CIA attacked rescuers as they tried to retrieve the dead and injured. Although Taliban members were killed on almost every occasion, so too were civilians – many of whom the Bureau’s field investigators were able to name. The investigation also reported that on at least three occasions the CIA had struck funeral-goers.

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Eye of the drone

June 8, 2012

Harper’s Magazine, June 2012

From statements made in February by the families of victims and survivors of a March 17, 2011, drone attack in the village of Datta Khel in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. The statements were collected by the British human rights group Reprieve and were included in their lawsuit challenging the legal right of the British government to aid the United States in its drone campaign. More than half of all deaths from U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have occurred in North Waziristan. Translated from the Pashto.

I am approximately forty-six years old, though I do not know the exact date of my birth. I am a malice of my tribe, meaning that I am a man of responsibility among my people. One of my brother’s sons, Din Mohammed, whom I was very fond of, was killed by a drone missile on March 17, 2011. He was one of about forty people who died in this strike. Din Mohammed was twenty-five years old when he died. These men were gathered together for a jirga, a gathering of tribal elders to solve disputes. This particular jirga was to solve a disagreement over chromite, a mineral mined in Waziristan. My nephew was attending the jirga because he was involved in the transport and sale of this mineral. My brother, Din Mohammed’s father, arrived at the scene of the strike shortly following the attack. He saw death all around him, and then he found his own son. My brother had to bring his son back home in pieces. That was all that remained of Din Mohammed.

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From dreams to drones: who is the real Barack Obama?

June 7, 2012

As the latest US attacks kill 17 and threaten to destabilise Pakistan, the president could be the cruellest political hoax of our times

Barack Obama

According to Foreign Policy magazine, Barack Obama ‘has become George W Bush on steroids’. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP

Barack Obama, according to Foreign Policy magazine, “has become George W Bush on steroids”. Armed with a “kill list”, the Nobel peace laureate now hosts “Tuesday terror” meetings at the White House to discuss targets of drone attacks in Pakistan and at least five other countries. The latest of these killed 17 people near the border with Afghanistan today .

Unlike the slacker Bush, who famously disdained specifics, Obama routinely deploys his Ivy League training in law. Many among the dozens of “suspected militants” massacred by drones in the last three days in northwestern Pakistan are likely to be innocent. Reports gathered by NGOs and Pakistani media about previous attacks speak of a collateral damage running into hundreds, and deepening anger and hostility to the United States. No matter: in Obama’s legally watertight bureaucracy, drone attacks are not publicly acknowledged; or if they have to be, civilian deaths are flatly denied and all the adult dead categorised as “combatants”.

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So much for that Nobel Peace Prize! How anti-war Obama has become Lord High Executioner

June 6, 2012

By Toby Harnden, Mail online, 5 June 2012

They call them the ‘Terror Tuesday’ meetings. Held in the Situation Room in the bowels of the White House, they are chaired by President Barack Obama and include up to two dozen intelligence and counter-terrorism officials.

Their purpose is to consider which of America’s enemies should be placed on the White House’s ‘kill list’.

After viewing what officials jocularly call ‘baseball cards’, which contain terror suspects’ biographies, the pros and cons of their continued existence on earth are debated.

Long-distance killer: More and more drone missile attacks are being sanctioned by President Barack ObamaLong-distance killer: More and more drone missile attacks are being sanctioned by President Barack Obama

Like a latter-day Roman emperor sitting in life-or-death judgment on his gladiators, Obama then pronounces on the fate of each suspect.

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US Drone Strikes Kill 33 in Past 24 Hours in Pakistan

June 4, 2012

Attack Targeted ‘Associate’ of Maulvi Nazir

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  June 03, 2012

A pair of US drone strikes against Pakistan’s South Waziristan Agency have killed at least 33 people, 16 in South Waziristan and 17 in North Waziristan and wounded four others in the past 24 hours. The majority of the slain “suspects” were unidentified.

The one identified person was Malang Jan, killed in South Waziristan. Jan is identified as an “associate” of Maulvi Nazir, a warlord in South Waziristan who has remained on good terms with the Pakistani government, but who is frequently targeted by the US. Another attack targeted his funeral.

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A Killer In the White House

June 4, 2012
 

By , opednews.com, June 2, 2012

“No, Charlotte, I’m the jury now. I sentence you to death.”
The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step.
“How c-could you?” she gasped.
“It was easy.”
– Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury

The news that Barack Obama — a Constitutional scholar and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize — has taken personal charge of lethal US drone hits in Yemen and Pakistan is one of those stories that takes time to sink in.

The New York Times stresses how serious the issue has become. “With China and Russia watching, the United States has set an international precedent for sending drones over borders to kill enemies.” It’s no longer a cool video-game experiment; it’s the beginning of robot warfare, and, if history is a lesson, it will have unanticipated consequences and our enemies will learn to counter the weapon with imaginative weapons of their own, including drones. We should expect to be surprised and blindsided. Martin Luther King spoke of it as a futile rising cycle of violence.

Exactly how many non-combatants and innocent people are being killed is the big question. There’s no way to know. One, there’s a pathological level of secrecy in our militarized government and, two, we can’t believe a word the government says anyway.

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Syria: The Tragic Space Between The Unacceptable And The Impossible

June 3, 2012

By Richard Falk, ZNet, June 1, 2012
Source: Aljazeera

The Houla Massacre of a week ago in several small Muslim villages near the Syrian city of Homs underscores the tragic circumstances of a civilian vulnerability to brutal violence of a criminal government. Most of the 108 civilians who died in Houla were executed at close range in cold blood, over 50 of whom were children under the age of 10. It is no wonder that the Houla Massacre is being called ‘a tipping point’ in the global response to Syrian violence that started over 15 months ago.

The chilling nature of this vicious attack upon the most innocent among us, young children, seems like a point of no return. What happened in Houla, although still contested, seems confirmed as the mainly the work of the Shabiha, the notorious militia of thugs employed by Damascus to deal cruelly with opposition forces and their supposed supporters.

This massacre also represents a crude rebuff of UN diplomacy, and the ceasefire its 280 unarmed observers were monitoring since it was put into effect on April 12. In this regard the events in Houla reinforced the impression that the Assad regime was increasingly relying on tactics of depraved criminality and state terror to destroy the movement that has been mounted against it. Such defiance also challenged the UN and the international community to do more when confronted by such evil, or face being further discredited as inept and irrelevant.

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Hassan Gardezi: Let’s rename Pakistan

June 2, 2012

Editor’s Note: In this article Hassan Gardezi  describes  how Pakistan became known as the ‘Islamic republic’. The information he provides is of historical value and worthy of serious discussion. Any state system that is based on any revealed religion is basically a theocracy where the immutable laws of God have primacy and God is the ultimate authority in the affairs of humankind. But republican system is based on man-made laws, which the legislative bodies can repeal, change or create. Thus God-made laws and man-made laws have different sources and different points of reference. Obviously,  a theocracy can never be a republic and a republic cannot be a theocracy because they are fundamentally different entities. To claim that they are the same or supplement each other is  nonsensical confusion that goes against logic and common sense. Those  who make such flimsy  claims  misuse  the name of a world-religon,  Islam in this case,  and also distort the meaning of  republican democracy.

                                                   –Nasir Khan Editor

Hassan N. Gardezi, Viewpoint online, Online Issue No. 103

In 1956 when Pakistan finally got its first constitution Objective Resolution was used to name the country Islamic Republic of Pakistan. When the 1956 constitution was revoked and Gen. Ayub seized power, he dropped the word “Islamic” from the name of the country, only to reinstate it when mullahs protested

At the time of independence and partition in 1947, India took the secular route, enacted a constitution in November 1949 and embarked on its career as a republic. Pakistan’s Muslim League leaders on the other hand got bogged down in their attempt to give their new-found state a religious whitewash. By 1949 they were able to enact through the Constituent Assembly what is known as the “Objectives Resolution,” a controversial measure aimed at giving Pakistan an Islamic complexion. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan introduced the Objectives Resolution (O.R. from now on) in the Constituent Assembly, deemed to be the charter document for making Pakistan into an Islamic state, with a lengthy speech in English which was clearly defensive in its semantics and argument, although never viewed as such.

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