23 April 2015

Well, it was Only a Matter of Time Until we Killed a White Guy………

And now the Obama administration has been forced to admit that they killed two white hostages in drone strikes:
An American aid worker and another man held hostage by Al Qaeda were killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan in January, government officials disclosed on Thursday, underscoring the perils of a largely invisible, long-distance war waged through video screens, joysticks and sometimes incomplete intelligence.

Intending to wipe out a compound linked to the terrorist group, the Central Intelligence Agency authorized the attack with no idea that the hostages were being held there despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, the officials said. Even afterward, they said, the agency did not realize at first that it had killed an American it had long sought to rescue, with the wrenching news becoming clear over time.

The violent death of an American at the hands of his own government proved a searing moment in a drone war that has come to define the nation’s battle with Al Qaeda, especially since President Obama took office. Visibly upset, Mr. Obama came to the White House briefing room shortly after his staff issued a written statement announcing the deaths to make a rare personal apology.
But no one gave a sh%$ when a 16 year old American kid, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed by drones "accidentally", former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don't think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business."

His dad was a jihadi, so it was all cool.

One of the important thing to note is that the White House had no idea who was in the al-Qaeda compound:
The targets of the deadly drone strikes that killed two hostages and two suspected American members of al-Qaida were “al-Qaida compounds” rather than specific terrorist suspects, the White House disclosed on Thursday.

The lack of specificity suggests that despite a much-publicized 2013 policy change by Barack Obama restricting drone killings by, among other things, requiring “near certainty that the terrorist target is present”, the US continues to launch lethal operations without the necessity of knowing who specifically it seeks to kill, a practice that has come to be known as a “signature strike”.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, acknowledged that the January deaths of hostages Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto might prompt the tightening of targeting standards ahead of lethal drone and other counter-terrorism strikes. A White House review is under way.

“In the aftermath of a situation like this, it raises legitimate questions about whether additional changes need to be made to these protocols,” Earnest said.


Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the accidental killings revealed on Thursday raise “questions about the reliability and the depth of the intelligence that the government is relying on to conduct drone strikes”.

“In neither of these two cases did the government actually know beforehand who it was killing. It does raise questions about how much the government knows – or how little the government knows – before it pulls the trigger,” Jaffer said.

“Perhaps that doesn’t in itself suggest that the strikes were unlawful, but it certainly raises some questions.”
It appears that the CIA thought that something might be wrong when there were two extra bodies found at the strike sites.


I will note two things, said by the inimitable Charlie Pierce:
Am I being unpatriotic if I mention that, at this point, I wouldn't trust the CIA to give me directions to the mall?
There has been a lot of "collateral damage" (Dead innocents) from drone strikes, but it is clear that the CIA is FAR more reckless than the Pentagon over this, though it has improved from the excesses of Petraeus' disastrous stint as DCIA.

His second point is more important:
I've always thought of the drone war in terms of the melon vendor and the guy in the goat cart on the other side of the road. There's an al Qaeda operative buying a melon from a vendor. Meanwhile, a guy with a goat cart comes up the other side of the road. Suddenly, here comes death from above. The terrorist is dead. So is the melon vendor. So is the guy in the goat cart on the other side of the road. They're all blown into equally tiny bits. How do we think the families of the melon vendor and the guy with the goat cart are going to take this? We create a desire for retribution with which our grandchildren may have to cope. And we may never know the names of the melon dealer or the guy with the goat cart, the way we now know the names of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto. We may never know the name of the melon dealer until his grandchild blows up an airplane. And none of that should be surprising because that's also what happens when you make war, any kind of war, in a place.
The drone campaign is clearly excessive, and as a result, we are destabilizing the region, and creating a generation of people who want to make war on America.

Anyone who thinks that our drone campaign makes us safer is insane.


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