Not In My Name

Are the Obama administration-ordered drone strikes with Hellfire missiles along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier killing “terrorists”? As Glenn Greenwald points out, that depends a lot on who you label as a “terrorist”:

… As it turns out, it isn’t only the President’s drone-cheering supporters who have no idea who is being killed by the program they support; neither does the CIA itself. A Wall Street Journal article yesterday described internal dissension in the administration to Obama’s broad standards for when drone strikes are permitted, and noted that the “bulk” of the drone attacks — the bulk of them – “target groups of men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren’t always known.” As Spencer Ackerman put it: “The CIA is now killing people without knowing who they are, on suspicion of association with terrorist groups”; moreover, the administration refuses to describe what it even means by being “associated” with a Terrorist group (indeed, it steadfastly refuses to tell citizens anything about the legal principles governing its covert drone wars).

So: are the drone strikes killing terrorists? That would be a definite “maybe, but we can’t tell you any more about it.”

But one group is emphatically being killed in large numbers. From the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Pratap Chatterjee reporting:

Tariq and Waheed’s death brought the total number of children killed in drone strikes to 175, according to the Bureau’s own findings. As part of an ongoing investigation, the Bureau has documented 306 strikes from remotely piloted drones that have killed between 2,359 and 2,959 people. Over 85% of them have been launched by the administration of President Barack Obama.

That’s right: children are being killed by the drone attacks. And in the example Chatterjee cites, two youths, 16 and 12 years old, son and nephew of an Afghan tribal leader, appear to have been not collateral damage, but rather the intended targets. Never mind that their deaths have as one side effect the high probability that the U.S. will never succeed, as it is allegedly trying to do, in establishing friendly relations with tribal leaders. People are funny that way: when you kill their children, they lose all desire to help you with anything.

There’s not a lot I can say to convince Obama’s cheerleaders in the Democratic Party just how firmly I reject this drone war. I can’t stop them from doing it, but I utterly reject the notion that they are doing it in my name. As I believe Greenwald remarked, the only way you can be sure that drone attacks kill only terrorists is to define “terrorist” as “someone killed by an American drone attack.” And that is precisely what Obama’s administration appears to be doing.


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  • tsisageya  On Sunday November 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I saved this from 2009 because it exemplifies so much about Obama that makes me wretch. Bush used to make me wretch too, but even that was not like this.

    I was going to excerpt it for you but it might be too confusing. There are a couple different stories going on in Schwarz’s post. One is about Afghanistan and a father’s reaction to a bombing involving his daughter. The other has within it something Obama says in Israel about some rocket lobbings from Gaza into Israel, regarding his own daughters. The name of the post is Fathers, Daughters, And The Rules. I’ll give you that much:

    “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.”

    I do recommend reading (or re-reading) Jonathan’s post from 2009. I was ready to burst into flames then, reading it again now just adds fuel to the fire. Think about how THEY feel.

    • Steve  On Sunday November 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks for the link, tsisageya. I’ll read that post when I am a bit calmer than I am at the moment… I’m an old man, and I’ve had my allotment of stress for the day!

  • tsisageya  On Sunday November 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I understand, Steve. I, myself, am an old woman with no one to talk to about it.

    Forgive me, please.

    • Steve  On Sunday November 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      tsisageya, I read the 2009 Schwartz post. In my current frame of mind, it made me angry only in the abstract; in the concrete, it just made me overwhelmingly sad, the sadness one feels when confronted with a deeply sick inevitability.

      One commenter on that post remarked on a phenomenon all of us experienced which has elsewhere been called “outrage fatigue”; I fear I am very close to the edge of that fatigue.

      Thanks for your patience and your comments. Stop by again; you may find me with a better attitude!

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