Thursday, May 9, 2013

If It Moves, Shoot It

Trey Smith

Can anyone read the McClatchy Newspapers summary of top-secret intelligence reports and continue to deny it? Set aside the morality and effectiveness of the CIA's targeted-killing program. Isn't it important for Congress and the people to know the truth about the War on Terrorism? Many Americans remain furious that the Bush Administration gave Iraq War speeches that elided inconvenient truths and implied facts that turned out to be fictions. Is the objection merely that the Iraq War turned out badly? Or is misleading Congress and the public itself problematic, especially when the subject is as serious as killing people in foreign countries?

To justify frequent drone strikes that regularly kill innocent people, risk serving as a terrorist recruiting tool, and terrorize whole communities understandably averse to drones buzzing above their homes, Obama Administration officials give the impression that al-Qaeda terrorists are the main targets. As it turns out, they haven't just helped hide the fact that the Bush Administration kicked off America's drone campaign in Pakistan by killing someone at the request of Pakistan's government -- as Jonathan S. Landay explains, Obama officials have misled us about their own behavior. "Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified 'other' militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan's rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show," he reports.

The misleading rhetoric includes words spoken by President Obama himself:
The administration has said that strikes by the CIA's missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against "specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces" involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting "imminent" violent attacks on Americans. "It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative," President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. "It has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States." Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn't adhere to those standards.
In fact, the documents "show that drone operators weren't always certain who they were killing." Under what legal theory does the Obama Administration justify that behavior? It won't tell us.
~ from New Evidence That Team Obama Misled Us About the Drone War by Conor Friedersdorf ~
I don't know about you, but this revelation doesn't shock me at all. As soon as I learned that Team Obama defined a "terrorist" as ANY male above a certain age, it became apparent that our drones fire on people randomly. You don't craft such a broad and nebulous definition if you genuinely are targeting specific individuals.

It reminds me of hunters who accidentally shoot other people, domestic animals or cows. They tromp out into the woods all ginned up for a trophy kill and, with their adrenalin pumping like mad, they look for something to shoot. Without actually eyeballing and scrutinizing a specific target, they fire at the first thing that moves. Afterward, they fall all over themselves trying to explain how they somehow mistook a 5 foot tall woman for a deer or a golden retriever for a bear! In too many of these cases, I bet the sad truth is that they had no idea what they fired at. Something moved, so they pulled the trigger.

When people chastise me for refusing to vote for the supposed lesser evil -- in the last two presidential elections, that has been Barack Obama -- I wonder how these same people can look themselves in the mirror! By supporting Obama, you are supporting the trivialization of lives in faraway places. You are saying that, while it may make you a bit squeamish, you support a hunter who shoots blindly. You are okay with a hunter who shoots random people as long as he tells you that he was convinced that these folks were deer or bears.

Not me. I don't abide by that. Not. One. Bit.

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