U.S. Military Drones and Terrorism

Mentioned in this RNRH podcast is how U.S. military drones in third world countries contribute to many of the people in those countries feeling terrorized. Also mentioned is that there are civilians in the militaristically-effected countries who aren’t even attending familial weddings anymore, such is the fear they have of dying from U.S. drone strikes, which indeed have a record of killing innocent people at weddings.

“Typically… raw recruits are kids straight out of high school… they’re often working in the Western United States… in bases in Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona… where they work twelve hour shifts.  And it’s their job to watch somebody on the other side of the world… One of the people whose story I tell is a young woman named Heather Linebaugh… and she said she often would tell the commanders and the pilots that they were making a mistake… and what she said was nobody paid attention to her, and here’s the reason:  because she was nineteen, because she was straight out of high school, because she was at the bottom of the chain, the pilots, who typically graduated from college, twenty-five and older, the commanders, who might be in their forties, didn’t really take her opinion seriously. But here’s the rub.  She was actually the person who saw what happened day in and day out.  So even though she was the lowest person on that chain of command… she was the one who knew the most… She described to me… how she would literally go away and cry because she had felt like she had really sent somebody to their death without giving them the opportunity to find out if they were really guilty.” — Investigative Journalist Pratap Chatterjee

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U.S.-Backed Saudi Airstrike Killed 8 Women and 2 Girls at a Wedding

These war crimes are acts of state terrorism that must be stopped before more innocent civilians are unnecessarily murdered. Imagine the fear and devastation that weddings being bombed causes people overseas.

Eight women and two children from the same Yemeni family were killed when an air strike by forces of the Saudi-led coalition involved in the country’s three-year-old war hit a wedding party, residents said on Monday.

The 10 people were returning on Sunday evening from a wedding in Marib province, an area east of the capital Sanaa held by the Iran-allied Houthi group, when their vehicle was struck, the sources said.

A spokesman for the coalition, which denies targeting civilians and says that every report of an attack is investigated, did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The residents said the victims, all female, were part of the same family, but gave no further details on their ages or if anyone else was traveling with them.

The coalition has been conducting regular air strikes in Houthi-held areas as part of a campaign to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have been killed or wounded in the conflict, which also displaced more than two million and triggered a cholera epidemic that has infected about one million people.

Is it any surprise when missiles are then launched at Saudi Arabia? That’s how state terrorism breeds more terrorism.

Obama Administration Officials Admit Some Flaws of the Violent Drone Programs

The officials don’t go far enough, as they fail to admit that the systematic U.S. killings of civilians via drone strikes are egregious war crimes, but I give them some amount of credit for admitting certain shortcomings of the drone programs. Once a lot of people are situated in those high-level governmental environments that direct institutionalized murder, they often internalize truly horrible values. The Obama administration notably had a day of the week referred to as Terror Tuesday, and I have to wonder what that did to the minds of those who sat through those gatherings.

“The Uncounted,”Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal’s groundbreaking piece about the civilians killed in the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State—and the considerable gap between their tally of such deaths and the numbers reported by the Pentagon—is one of them. We cannot speak to the precise data, but their New York Times Magazine piece, and the verified tragedy of the Razzo family at its center, are emblematic of a bigger story that unfortunately rings true.

Basim Razzo was a member of one of the oldest families in Mosul, and the article recounts the night he woke up to find his roof collapsed and home destroyed—the result of an American bomb. Though Razzo himself survived, the attack took from him his wife and daughter, and the story chronicles his investigation into why it occurred. He finds, to his horror, that his house was deliberately targeted; American drones had monitored it for three days before striking, apparently acting on outdated reports that it was an ISIS command center.  The drone footage failed to confirm those reports. It also failed to refute them. That, apparently, was sufficient for the U.S. military to proceed.

The Times story is one of faulty intelligence driving wrong-headed assumptions that decimate innocent lives and embitter survivors. It is a story about how a legal and bureaucratic fog can make it almost impossible for tragic mistakes to come to light, too often leaving instead a false sense of comfort that such mistakes never happened at all. And it is a story about a policy that warrants honest discussion, and change. We both worked with that policy up close. In the Obama White House, one of us was responsible for human rights, the other for coordinating the counter-ISIS campaign. In this respect, we were part of an administration that fell short.