Extrajudicial Killings through Drone Attacks

President Obama has become personally involved in the extrajudicial killings of the innocent people through CIA-operated drone attacks Various forms of human rights violations such as physical torture, mass murder, elimination of people in fake encounters, targeted killings, burning the houses, use of chemical weapons, rape of women etc. have continued by some states in the modern world to obtain ethnic, sectarian and political goals. However, in his second term, it was predict that the US President Barack Obama would reassess American controversial foreign policy, especially by ceasing CIA-operated drone attacks on Pakistan. But these aerial strikes continue on Pak tribal areas. In this case employment of these inhuman tactics on the Muslims by the Israeli and Indian armed forces in the occupied territories of Palestine and Kashmir has kept on going unabated. In Burma…bloodshed of the Rohingya Muslim community at the hands of the Rakhine extremist Buddhists in Myanmar presents another example of religious cleansing.

Notably, the US President Barack Obama has broken all the record of human rights by extrajudicial killings of the innocent people through CIA-operated drone attacks which are part of his counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen in general and Pakistan in Particular. While, unlike the less developed countries, the United States claims to be protector of human rights not only inside the country, but all over the world.

Since 2004, the strikes by the unmanned aircraft which continued intermittently on Pakistan’s tribal areas, intensified under the Obama era. In one of such attacks, more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed on March 18, 2011 in North Waziristan.

As regards the civilian casualties by the predator strikes, on August 11, 2011, a report of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said, “The CIA claims that there has been not one non-combatant killed in the past year. Indeed, The Guardian published some of the pictures, we have obtained…as many as 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during the past seven years.” While rejecting CIA’s false claim, the report disclosed, “It is a bleak view: more people killed than previously thought.”

Besides, a report of the New America Foundation revealed, President Obama has “authorized 193 drone strikes in Pakistan, more than four times the number of attacks that President Bush authorized during his two terms.”

Regarding strikes by the spy planes, the former commander of the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal had rightly stated, “For every innocent person you kill, you create ten new enemies.”

A story published in the Washington Post recently, pointed out the deaths of more civilians than militants. For example, it disclosed that on June 3, 2012 the US unmanned aircraft killed one militant commander and 20 innocent people in North Waziristan.

But details collected by the Pakistani journalists show that civilian casualties through drone strikes are higher as indicated by the US officials. In the last four years, more than 800 innocent civilians and only 20 Al-Qaeda commanders have been killed by these strikes.

Particularly, during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama had pledged to reverse excesses of the Bush era in relation to terrorism such as denial of basic rights to prisoners in Guantanamo. He also promised to reformulate a counterterrorism policy in accordance with the legal and moral values of the US.

Quite contrary to his assertions, since Obama became president, he followed the Bush’s approach of counterterrorism in its worst form through its executive privilege, tolerance of indefinite detention in Guantanamo, and its refusal to grant prisoners in the US jails abroad habeas corpus rights, while expanding and accelerating the drone attacks.

In this connection, The New York Time on May 26, 2011, in an article which was written with assistance of several counterterrorism advisers of the administration revealed, “President Obama has become personally involved in the process” and “has normalised extrajudicial killings from the Oval Office, taking advantage of America’s temporary advantage in drone technology. Without the scrutiny of the legislature and the courts, and outside the public eye, Obama is authorizing murder on a weekly basis.”

Notably, American constitution explicitly grants the right to declare war to the Congress so as to restrain the president from chasing enemies around the world, based solely on his authority as commander-in-chief by waging a secret war.

Instead of capturing militants alive and to avoid giving the right of due process of law to them in a court, President Obama has openly been acting upon a ruthless policy of targeting killings by supervising the CIA-controlled drone warfare.

While justifying these strikes by the spy planes, counterterrorism advisor to Obama, John Brennan and Defense Minister Leon Panetta have defended the drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas under the pretext of North Waziristan-based Haqqani militants whom they blame for several assaults on American and NATO bases in Afghanistan. On the other hand, US-led coalition forces have failed in stopping incursions of heavily-armed insurgents in Pakistan from Afghanistan’s side, who have killed more than 100 personnel of the Pakistan’s security forces in the last two years. In fact, US seeks to make North Waziristan, a scapegoat of NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan by continuing illegal mass murder of the innocent people through predator strikes.

However, setting aside the resolution of the parliament, new rapprochement between Islamabad and Washington after the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan in wake of public protests—recent meeting of the DG of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam with CIA Director David Petraeus, and despite the protest of Pakistan’s civil and military leadership, without bothering for any internal backlash, drone attacks keep on going on FATA.

Meanwhile, Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism said on August 16, this year that it was time for “the US to open itself up to scrutiny as to the legality of such attacks…each strike is visually recorded and videos could be passed to independent assessors.”

No doubt, these aerial attacks are illegal, unethical, violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty as well the United Nations Charter, universal declaration of human rights and international law. But US warrior President Obama remains intransigent to continue extrajudicial killings through these drone attacks.

About Marc Brentwood

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