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Obama Questions Extrajudicial Killings

Politics / US Politics Dec 17, 2012 - 03:24 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


President Obama told the nation it faces "hard questions" in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre. He pledged to "seek answers" in the memory of the 20 children and six adults killed. He added the comment that any society is judged by how well it can keep its children safe and able to lead a normal life.

He summed up how millions of Americans, and millions more people outside America view this latest outrage: “Can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations?”  “I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”  This does not apply to Obama's drone war programme.

US drone. Source: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism 2012

Only in Pakistan - a country with which the US is not formally at war - the Bureau of Investigative Journalism lists more than 350 drone strikes since 2004, of which 302 were made since 2009 under president Obama's authority. The death tolls of these attacks, only in Pakistan, were estimated as 2 590-3 390 of which between 470 and 890 were civilians including about 175 children. Injured were about 1400 persons.

The Newtown killings by a single 20-year-old American male armed with two handguns and a semiautomatic assault rifle, carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition have reignited a politically divisive debate over restrictions on firearms. Without offering any specific course of action, Obama agreed there is no single solution to the problem of gun violence in US society, but declared "That can’t be an excuse for inaction".

Exactly the same applies to the USA's covert and illegal drone war, but in a breathtaking example of double standards and pure hypocrisy, Obama vowed to do everything in his power to start the process of searching for an answer to extrajudicial slayings inside the US, but remains at all times impassive and has curtly rejected any action to stop the USA's drone war.

Obama administration officials, sometimes at public press conferences, claim to be "proud" of this remote killing with no possibility of US military personnel being killed or injured. The US Defense department's most senior legal official has bluntly claimed that drone killings "are not assassination" and are "legal".

This opinion is not shared by Pakistan's Foreign affairs minister. Pakistan’s Foreign ministry has categorically rejected claims by the Obama administration that Pakistan "tacitly approves" of drone strikes on its territory. Speaking on September 28, foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar told an audience in New York: ’What the drones are trying to achieve, we may not disagree… If they’re going for terrorists — we do not disagree. But we have to find ways which are lawful, which are legal. The use of unilateral strikes on Pakistani territory is illegal".

He concluded: "Drone attacks are illegal, counterproductive, in contravention of international law and a violation of Pakistani sovereignty".

Pakistani officials regularly use almost the exact words which president Obama employed after the Newtown killings: "We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

Both inside and outside the US, the slaughter of children by a mentally-disturbed young male from a wealthy family, with no issues of poverty-caused stress inside the family, provides further and chilling evidence of the loss or abandon of moral standards in western society. Exactly the same applies to America's cowardly and evil drone war.

Ohio Congressional representative Dennis Kucinich has viewed America’s targeted drone killings programme of alleged terrorists and "regrettable" collateral victims with alarm for several years.  Kucinich, twice a Presidential primary contender, is trying to introduce a Bill that would outlaw the assassination of American citizens abroard by US agencies like the CIA cooperating, in some cases such as Pakistan with the local and ill-famed ISI secret service, and using drones.

In regularrly reported news media interviews and statements, Kuchinich has said he believes "it is only a matter of time" before international attention to what any normal person will call the "dirty drone war" makes it crystal clear that if these programmes of extrajudicial killing are not shut down, then we face an accelerated decline of moral standards. In Kuchinich's words: "What we are looking at is the potential of war of all against all, a pulverisation of national sovereignty and a rejection of the structure of international law". As he has said many times, even the concept of war crimes has no sense if nations refuse to respect the jurisdiction of a tribunal.

The Obama administration completely rejects even Congressional oversight of the drone war, of the decisions who to attack and kill, and when to attack, let alone international oversight and legal recourse for death and damages.

For Kuchinich and for many others, "targeted" extrajudicial mass killing and war are one and the same thing. While Obama administration officials and defenders of the drone war go through an Orwellian exercise of twisted semantics and double meanings, the further spread of the drone war is currently more likely than its curtailment

In a June interview, Kuchinich summarized this argument as follows: "What we have done here with the drone programme is to radically alter our (US) system of justice. Because, remember, if the whole idea is that we are exporting American values, those drones represent American values. And now we are telling the world that American values are summary executions, no rights to an accused, no arrest process, no reading of charges, no trial by jury, no judge, only an executioner".

To be sure, Obama cited the heroism of the school staff in Newmont and read out the names of the 20 slian childre, even shedding a couple of tears as he did it. To read out the names of persons already killed by the USA's dirty drone war, under his authority, would take Obama quite a while. It is time for Obama to stop this dirty war.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2012 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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