published Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Drones don’t mirror U.S. values, laws

As the United States’ use of predator drones for assassinations of suspected terrorists has risen, so has the global harm of an American policy that appears to make extra-judicial executions the hallmark of constitutional and democratic hypocrisy. Indeed, it’s hard to argue with the statistics cited the past two days in a New York Times report. Building on a foundation established in the post 9/11 era by the former Bush administration, President Obama has clearly raised the ante on the use of predator drones. In his own tenure, The Times reported, U.S. counter-terrorism strikes, delivered mainly by 400 unmanned drones, have killed roughly 3,000 people.

Most deaths were in Pakistan, where 365 drone attacks have taken place. Another 45 attacks were in Yemen, and a few were in Somalia. In a couple of cases, two Americans have been essentially executed without trial. The death toll includes not just the targeted suspects and their cohorts, but apparently many innocent civilians and families.

Most of the killings have been in the remote and mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan, where al-Qaida supporters of the Taliban along the border of Afghanistan have also helped Pashtun-fueled war against Pakistan’s central government and military.

The drumbeat of drone attacks in Pakistan, according to The Times, reflects a secret deal that has long seemed transparent. The CIA made a pact with Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI, which tacitly allowed the U.S. to go after suspected al-Qaida-related terrorists.

That deal surely reflected Pakistan’s desire for retribution against al-Qaida operatives for their aid to Pashtun tribes (roughly 30 million Pashtuns live on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border) who have long aspired to an independent land of Baluchistan. The Times’ disclosure of the secret deal with the ISI further clouds the rationale for so many drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas: Were some assassinations made purely to help the ISI?

Because remote-control drone attacks are usually directed from posts thousands of miles away, they rarely entail deadly risk to U.S. troops and CIA agents, who might otherwise be called into high-risk operations to capture leaders guarded by heavily armed loyalists. But that apparently has become the rationale for wider use of predator drones versus hazardous military operations.

Regardless, the nation is paying a high price in moral standing around the world and to our own values. Heavy use of drones not only has killed or harmed innocent civilians, it also has made it easier to discount moral and legal issues surrounding both collateral damage and de-facto executions without trials.

Such issues are apparently behind the Obama administration’s recent proposal to shift responsibility for predator drones from the CIA and its Counter-Terrorism Center to the Pentagon. That’s an essential first step toward a more transparent operational and oversight structure for drones — at least if drones are not assigned to the special operations arena that runs black ops.

In any case, bringing predator drone use under a broader legal framework cannot occur too soon. The default use of drones — spawned in 2004 in a time of intense criticism about the CIA’s use of secret prisons in foreign countries to detain, interrogate and essentially torture suspected terrorists — has effectively transformed the CIA from a spy and intelligence service to a paramilitary force that uses assassination more than interrogation.

The abrupt change of its culture has not only reversed the ban on secret CIA assassinations that brought the agency to a low-point in 1975. It also has made it the symbol of America’s brutal legal hypocrisy toward due process and responsibility for legal rights. If shifted to the Pentagon, at least oversight of predator drone attacks would be under a more appropriate umbrella of bona fide military action.

That would get the nation’s spy agency off the hook of international disdain and allow some rehabilitation. And it should produce a better-defined legal infrastructure for the use of drones. Given the rising prospects of spreading drone use by the nation’s law enforcement agencies, that can’t happen too soon.

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AndrewLohr said...

Thank you, Times, for endorsing Rand Paul for President.

April 9, 2013 at 12:06 a.m.
librul said...

Thanks, Harry.

As America descends into moral darkness, even at the behest of a majority of "christian leaders" for whom indescrminate drone warfare against Muslims is a veritable orgasmic high, those few voices which called for adherence to higher standards of behavior, but for reasons other than cheap political theatre, will be held in high esteem. It is unbelievable to me that a country could offer military medals to video-gaming drone pilots whose activities lead to this:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/07-0

... and it is equally unbelievable to me that our president could be doing this in Afghanistan while tugging at American heartstrings over domestic murder of schoolchildren to support gun control.

April 9, 2013 at 1:31 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

It is about time! The outrage over acts of war against sovereign nations and innocents has been conspicuously absent since Bush left office. Just because "your guy" is in the Whitehouse does not make these actions legal or moral.

Just use common sense. You cannot conduct military strikes in a nation you are not a war with. DUGH! The feds don't think they can trust the US citizen with our weapons?

April 9, 2013 at 8:28 a.m.
shen said...

Britains BBC and The Guardian has released a documentary on America's use and training of U.S. led-backed death squads in Central America during the 1980s under Reagan (Central American) to Bush's Iraq. Not that I or anyone should condone the use of Drones, as they don't discriminate between innocent or guilty. Drones have basically wiped out entire areas, killing and maiming innocent men, women and children. However, when the president stated to the effect using Drones are more humane he was likely alluding to the alternative of America's past use of U.S. led-trained death squads.

search title: Reagan's Death Squad Tactics Used In Iraq BBC-Guardian documentary

I also agree that President Obama shouldn't be allowed a free pass. Although, he was placed in power like for that reason, and also to become the scapegoat and blame for all past failures under Bush and those like like him before him.

April 9, 2013 at 9:21 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

shen said... "I also agree that President Obama shouldn't be allowed a free pass. Although, he was placed in power like for that reason, and also to become the scapegoat and blame for all past failures under Bush and those like like him before him. "

Obama was put in power because the majority of those who voted with him were fed up with Bush and his preemptive war and expected Obama to change direction. I do not see any changes for the better.

Now we conduct military strikes everywhere we see a threat and feel we can "get away with it". I.e. the country in question is not strong enough to coordinate a credible response. Obama is setting a horrible precedent and I am afraid war mongers of the future will be happy to carry on his legacy.

April 9, 2013 at 10:45 a.m.
shen said...

BRP said... Obama was put in power because the majority of those who voted with him were fed up with Bush and his preemptive war and expected Obama to change direction. I do not see any changes for the better.

Weren't you even remotely listening to what was being said?: i.e. "He (Obama) was the right man for the right time.

Obama would have won the electionregardless, even if only 2% of the population had voted from him. He's just an extension of the policies of who set the stage before him.

Leaders of any nation are just figureheads. The real power takes place behind the scenes. Follow the money and you know who's in charge.

BRP said: Now we conduct military strikes everywhere we see a threat and feel we can "get away with it". I.e. the country in question is not strong enough to coordinate a credible response. Obama is setting a horrible precedent and I am afraid war mongers of the future will be happy to carry on his legacy*.

I absolutely AGREE!! Not only will future war mongers be happy to carry on his legacy, they will use America's first black president as justification. That of an example of a once cruelly oppressed people in America turned theoppressor? Unfortunately, no one will take time to peek behind the curtains to see who's really in charge.

April 9, 2013 at 1:01 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

I have never given Obama a "free pass" on his use of drones or his hawkish military stance in general. Nor do I know of any liberals who have. I hate the fact that he didn't get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately after taking office. I hate that Gitmo is still in existence and nothing at all has changed about it. I hate that he has carried on Bush's legacy of perpetuating this "war on terror" that serves only to provide an excuse for maintaining our war machine and enriching those in the MIC. I also hate that Obama has done nothing to reign in the banks. To this day there is still no regulation that will prevent the same sort of casino-type speculating that brought on the debacle of 2008. And now he's even going so far as to put Social Security cuts on the table as part of his budget deal. I almost laugh out loud to hear conservatives refer to Obama as a socialist or communist. He's not even a liberal! He's much more conservative than Eisenhower ever was. Would you conservatives today think of Eisenhower as a communist too? I have actually come to dislike Obama very much. Not for the same reasons as you teabaggers but because he's not nearly liberal enough. I've never once heard him even mention the name of FDR but he often speaks glowingly of Reagan.

April 9, 2013 at 2:50 p.m.
shen said...

See: The Black Pharoahs Of Egypt to better understand why it was the right time for a black president and what Obama is expected to accomplish.

*Piye was one of a first black pharoahs (Nubian Kings, likely from present day Southern Sudan) in a series of Egyptian pharoahs that would rule Egypt for a quarter of a century--in a series of Pharoahs that ruled Egypt for three-quarters of a century. The black pharoahs reunified an Egypt that had been shattered and torn to shreds by petty warlords and filled the landscape with glorius monuments, creating an empire that stretched from the southern border at present-day Khartoum all the way north to the Mediterranean Sea. They stood up to the Assyrians, perhaps saving Jerusalem in the process.

The black pharoahs didn't just suddenly appear out of nowhere. They were from a once thriving African civilization that had flourished on the southern banks of the Nile for 2,500 years, going back at least as far as the first Egyptian dynasty. Today in the Sudan, far removed from the genocide and civil wars, there are pyramids alluding to this once great African Empire that far outnumber all of the pyramids of Egypt.

April 9, 2013 at 4:39 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

See Rickaroo? We do have a great deal in common!

April 9, 2013 at 7:55 p.m.
shen said...

It wasn't my intention to post that history about the black pharoahs of Egypt as a good or positive thing. Just to show the eerily comparison, that Obama is being used as a modern day pharoah perhaps expected to once again save a modern day Jerusalem (U.S.) because the Bush administration really really screwed things up. If he fails? Well, not sure what will come of that. This was all alluded to in a 2008 article before Obama was elected.

April 9, 2013 at 9:16 p.m.
shen said...

Anybody know why Austin is retiring? Or is he being forced out? Some from the right seem to have been on a mission to get rid of him. Just wondering if that may have played a role in his decision to retire.

April 9, 2013 at 9:19 p.m.
acerigger said...

Why would anyone think that Harry is being forced out?

It's not like he's ever been a "leftist", a "flaming liberal",or a "dirty f#ckin' hippie",right?

If the common sense views he has promoted through the years gets him dubbed with any of those accuasations, then we are WAY down the rabbit hole!

April 9, 2013 at 11:55 p.m.
jesse said...

How short are our memories? I remember watching the news on 9/12/01 of folks jumping from 100 floors up to keep from burning to death! The intire Afghanistan war was to get Osama!O.K. we got his arz!WHY are we still there?TO make sure it doesn't happen again!I like drones and the patriot act! About the ONLY thing Obama is doin right is the war on terror!

April 10, 2013 at 7:08 a.m.
shen said...

The intire Afghanistan war was to get Osama!O.K. we got his arz!WHY are we still there&&?

Why are we still there? O.I.L and have a P then perhaps a W and who knows what else with that.

The invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and all the mini-conflicts was never about going after some bearded dude sending messages from some old bat cave to terrorize the world.

Iraq=Oil

Afghanistan= Poppy

Horn of African=Water

South Sudan=precious minerals & metals

And the list for why fires are being set all over and everywhere can go on and on, like, __4evA dude.

April 10, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.
limric said...

Good editorial by the Times Free Press. Nice job. Obama’s use of them would make Henry Kissinger proud.

librul said,

”It is unbelievable to me that our president could be doing this in Afghanistan while tugging at American heartstrings over domestic murder of schoolchildren to support gun control.”

PRECISELY

BRP said,

”Obama was put in power because the majority of those who voted with him were fed up with Bush and his preemptive war and expected Obama to change direction. I do not see any changes for the better.”

PRECISELY

Rickaroo said,

”I almost laugh out loud to hear conservatives refer to Obama as a socialist or communist. He's not even a liberal!”

PRECISELY

Shen said,

”The invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and all the mini-conflicts was never about going after some bearded dude sending messages from some old bat cave to terrorize the world.” Ie. oil or natural resources.

You’re close Shen, but that’s not quite the real reason we’re mucking about in the Middle East. THE PRIMARY REASON is to prevent (or stop) countries threatening to, or trading, their oil in exchange for gold instead of US dollars. The best example I can give is; in an act of desperation and resistance, Iraq began selling its oil exclusively in Euros in 2000. We all know what happened after that, and is why we have the demonization of Iran today. Not its nuclear weapons programs.

Below is a link to one of the best caricatures of the elected Orwellian operative you’ll ever see. It’ll no doubt make some really really mad though. Oh well.

http://www.clowncrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Billions-and-Billions-Served.jpg

April 10, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
librul said...

Apparently Jesse's programming is complete. But data mining reveals: garbage in, garbage out.

April 10, 2013 at 11:40 a.m.
jesse said...

Librul,I think for myself!Dogma is NOT a factor!

I will leave the button pushin to the mental midgets that follow Rote doctrine! (IE: knee jerk reactions!)

April 11, 2013 at 4:15 a.m.
chet123 said...

BIGRIDGE HAVE DONE A 180DEGREE TURN AROUND.......HE IS AGAINST DRONE KILLING THE ENEMY HA HA HA HA HA

OBAMA CAN HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOZO....OBAMA ONLY HAVE TO SAY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT HE REALLY WANT AND THIS FOOL WILL GIVE IT TO HIM NOT KNOWING SO HA HA HA

May 27, 2013 at 7:06 p.m.
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