Targeted Hype

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We are so kind to ourselves. John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, repeats the Obama narrative that touts the “surgical” precision and minimization of collateral damage of “targeted killing” using drones. Minimal collateral damage would be zero, however, a study by NYU School of Law and Stanford Law School puts the number of civilians killed between 474 and 881, including 176 children.

The study calls Obama’s narrative “false.”

The NYU/Stanford study also reports on Obama’s despicable use of the “double tap”:

The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur and Professor of Human Rights Law, has said that if first responders “are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.”

Reaper drones carry the Hellfire II laser guided missile with a 20 pound warhead of high explosive, and two 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. The GBU-12 has a blast radius of 200 meters, hardly surgical. These are the same weapons that are dropped from other platforms such as manned aircraft. Their precision is not enhanced when launched from drones.

The Hellfire missile has a Circular Error Probability (CEP), the distance from the aiming point that the missile will land 50% of the time, from 9 to 24 feet. he NYU/Stanford study cites a claim that the “double tap” may be a second strike required because the first one missed the target, although that is hardly a mitigating circumstance.

The NYU/Stanford study also notes that “the vast majority of the ‘militants’ targeted have been low-level insurgents.” The number of “high-level” targets is estimated at only 2%.

The Obama administration is using Bush-style tactics to cover up the killing of women and children. This includes over-hyping the accuracy of the weapons and redefining the term “militant” to include anyone who’s killed.

While drones can play an effective role as intelligence gathers and fire support on the battlefield, their inaccuracy makes them unsuitable for “targeted killing.” The probability of a drone strike killing women and children is so high that the drone can be reasonably considered a terror weapon and its use an act of terrorism. The media’s collusion on the Obama narrative enables the terrorism.

H/T: Glenn Greenwald, Kevin Drum, Daniel L. Byman (Brookings), TBIJ, Aviation International News, openDemocracy.

121 thoughts on “Targeted Hype”

  1. lottakatz 1, September 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Congress totally ceded its authority to the Executive long ago; that side into the abyss started with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. These days the Executive acts and Congress just nods “OK” with or without any grandstanding. The lobby’s that own Congress like war, it’s a moneymaker.
    Indeed. LBJ didn’t have what it takes to conclude the situation himself. Nixon had to finish it, then Nixon resigned.

    Wait until the Chinese stop buying our bonds. What do you think they’re preparing for? This country better stop destroying its manufacturing base.

  2. C.M.,

    UAV’s have already been put to use domestically (see info about TX, the various political conventions etc.) There have not been any unintended victims of drone strikes. Strikes are approved by Obama on Terror Tuesdays. He knows the victims are guilty because whomever he kills is defined as a terrorist, even babies. “Innocence” has no meaning when everyone who dies is made guilty by their having died.

  3. UAVs (drones) are not being used in US airspace yet, however the Obama administration has directed the FAA to prepare the management of our skies so that they can be. Law enforcement will be the biggest user (including Coast Guard and ICE), which of courses raises 4th Amendment concerns.

    I wouldn’t be too concerned at this point about UAVs being used to engage a domestic criminal gunman; they are always very easily eliminated by a trained shooter after other means of coaxing them to a peaceful end fail.

    My biggest fear is the operator of the UAV sucking on his Coca Cola when the FAA calls for him to change his heading just as he spills his sticky drink onto the joystick and keyboard. This is also almost certainly the reason for all the unintended victims of previous drone strikes.

  4. It is true that these drones are in US airspace. I suspect armed drones will be flying all over the place soon enough. We need to take a stand against all USGinc, wars of empire, both domestic and international.

    At a certain point, the majority of this population must honestly face what USGinc. is doing. We are the only ones who can stop it. Even if it is painful, we must look at the truth. Then we must take actions based on a principles of peace and justice. USAinc. will not stop these highly profitable wars (drones are great business) unless we the people say, “No, you may not do this way any longer”.

    I think it is interesting that Catholic nuns and atheists have been two groups in the forefront of the campaign against drones and other wars.

  5. “I remember cuing up a US Predator strike before deciding the computer screen wasn’t depicting a Taliban insurgent burying an improvised explosive device in the road; rather, a child playing in the dirt.”

    scroll down for pictures of drone victims, and more information both about drone murder and people who will actually stand up and say this is wrong, even though it’s not Mitt Romney, it’s Barack Obama who’s doing this killing.

  6. “This past Thursday was a beautiful day for a protest, both in London, England, and in San Diego, California. Fortunately for those of us who still care about peace and justice in the world — even to the point of opposing cold-blooded murder no matter who does the murdering or how far away the victim is — Veterans For Peace has become an international organization.

    General Atomics is the manufacturer of the Predator and Reaper UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) in service with the U.S. and U.K. militaries. These drones have been used in numerous attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. People targeted by these weapons are killed from above without warning and without due legal process. Numerous entirely innocent people including women and children have been killed by these weapon systems. Here’s a former British drone pilot who just admitted that he was minutes away from murdering “an insurgent” when he realized it was a little kid playing in the dirt.”

  7. SWM, thanks for the clip. Mitt seems to be happy to threaten war whenever and wherever, I guess that is what he considers ‘diplomacy’

  8. ElaineM,

    Thank you for your kindness.
    I see my error. Apparently I must read dates of publication of the items linked. Most of your links are “the latest news” so assumed this was also.
    My bad….!

    “Jeremy Scahill Says Obama Strikes In Yemen Constitute ‘Murder’
    By Benjamin Hart
    Posted: 06/03/2012

    Weighing in on President Obama’s targeted drone strikes in the Middle East, journalist Jeremy Scahill did not mince words.

    During his appearance on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” Saturday morning, Scahill repeatedly said that such attacks, when they killed innocent civilians, amounted to “murder.””

  9. The IDF conscripts go to India and hashish to recuperate.
    Of course, their experiences are not quite as horrendous as our soldiers are. Can you imagine facing a fourth tour there?

    Where’s the hashish guys? Fix me up, I’m done for now.

  10. ElaineM,

    Fixed it. It is available on HuffPost media. Link given previously. I had not gone there for verbal rehashes and/or interpretations ars less interesting than direct recordings.

    Hoping to learn more of how it all works on the media net.

  11. ElaineM,

    I went to “up with chris hayes” and scanned the “recent videos” banner portraits at the top of the page.
    No Scahill given for September 29. No mention in the text either for 29 September.

    Any tips, please?

  12. The Drone Summit and Why the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner Wasn’t Funny
    Loren Fogel
    May 7, 2012

    As Washington and Hollywood celebrities were busy getting ready for an evening of glamour and amusement at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, across town human rights and peace advocates, along with the family members of individuals who have been killed in US drone attacks, gathered to discuss the Obama Administration’s policies of targeted killing at the first International Drone Summit.

    The event was organized by CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Reprieve, and facilitated by Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of CODEPINK and the author of a new book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

    Panelists and audience members alike spoke of the need for transparency and official acknowledgement of what the CIA is and has been doing in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

    One never sees any images of drone victims in the American mainstream media—but Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of Reprieve, which co-organized the Summit, showed the audience pictures of children who had been killed alongside images of missile parts from the weapons that took their lives. He asked, “How can we get people to pay attention?”

    Chris Woods, a senior reporter with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and a leader of the Bureau’s covert war investigation team, offered a PowerPoint presentation challenging the Obama Administration and CIA’s unwillingness to acknowledge that there have been civilian casualties. According to TBIJ’s reporting, between 2004 and 2012, the CIA launched 321 drone strikes in Pakistan, 269 of which were carried out under President Obama’s command. Between 2,429 and 3,097 people have been killed in these drone strikes, including 479 to 811 civilians and 174 children.

    The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill had audience members riveted by his passion, depth of knowledge, and understanding of shadowy covert affairs. He said, “We need to disavow ourselves of any notion that this [targeted killing] policy is markedly different than that of Bush and Cheney.” He explained how the U.S. killed American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, and said, “This is lawless activity that the United States is engaged in around the world. It goes up against every fiber that the Constitution is supposed to embody. Every single fiber of that document is violated in the preemptive assassination policy that this Administration is unleashing around the world.”

    Scahill also talked about Congress’ failure to carry out its oversight responsibilities, and how this allowed the CIA to wreak havoc under the cloak and dagger of covert warfare. He explained the significance of the word “persons” in the 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” (AUMF) as a clear indicator that Congress was specifically authorizing assassination policy. The AUMF says: “That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

    Scahill explained how the CIA recently asked President Obama for an “expanded mandate” to carry out “signature strikes” in Yemen and Somalia.

    He said:

    “The idea of the signature strikes is that you can develop a pattern of life, and you can study a pattern of life being engaged in by certain people in Yemen, and you can determine without knowing their identity, or knowing that they’ve had any connection to terrorism whatsoever that they are a terrorist because of how they act, because of who they associate with, and that once you develop that pattern of life, you then develop a very efficient pattern of death for those people. Which is to bring in the drones and take them out. And this is what has been going on in Pakistan, of course, for many many years now, and it’s expanding into Yemen, and Somalia has been hit multiple times with drones, but also with cruise missiles launched from the sea, and also US covert forces going into Somalia, landing and capturing people or snatching them.”

  13. Peace conference puts face to drone victims
    Anwar Iqbal | 30th April, 2012

    WASHINGTON: Drone victims are not just figures on a piece of paper, they are real people and that’s why it is important to see what happens on the ground when a missile hits a target, argues Pakistani attorney Shahzad Akbar.

    “We have to see what exactly is happening on the ground, what is happening to the people,” he told a Washington conference on drones.

    “We apologise to the people of Pakistan for the strikes that have killed so many civilians,” said Nancy Maneiar, a peace activist associated with the US-based, anti-war Code Pink Group.

    “The CIA needs to be held accountable for their strikes.”

    “Those who order a drone strike act at once “as prosecutors, judges, jury and executioners,” said journalist Jeremy Scahill who recently travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to observe the consequences of the drone war.

    “This is lawless activity that the US is indulging in around the world,” he said.

    “War on terror is an oxymoron. How can you end terrorism by spreading terror via horrific remote control killing machines,” said Dr Amna Buttar, a PPP MPA from Punjab.

    “All 190 million people are the victims of this remote-controlled war.”

    They were among two dozen peace activists, lawyers, journalists and retired military officials attending a two-day conference, which began in Washington on Saturday.

    International peace groups had to lobby hard for Akbar to attend the conference as the US government delayed his visa application for 14 months because he has sued the CIA over drone strikes in Pakistan.

    Akbar told an audience of about 300 people from across the United States that it was important to put faces on the drone victims; otherwise people will not understand their plight.

    “They feel this imminent threat of being attacked from the sky. And they feel helpless because they have no other place to relocate. Many have no skills, no education, so they cannot relocate to other parts of Pakistan,” he said. Advocate Akbar showed a photo of a teenager named Saadullah, who was helping his mother in the kitchen when a drone hit their home in Fata in 2009. He woke up in a hospital three days later without his legs.

    Sanaullah, a 17-year-old pre-engineering student, burned alive in his car during another strike in 2010.

    Akbar also showed photos of the Bismillah family: mother, father, a daughter and a son, all killed in a drone strike.

    Other speakers noted that US drone strikes in Pakistan had also killed 168 children. They quoted from recent surveys suggesting the number of ordinary people killed could be 40 per cent higher than previously reported.

    US officials, however, have rejected such studies as “exaggerated”, and said the “the claims of extensive non-combatant casualties are uncorroborated”.

    The “Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control,” organised by American human rights groups, noted that there had been a lethal rise in the number of drone strikes under the Obama administration.

    President Obama argues that drone strikes are focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists and have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.

    Supporters of drone warfare say the drone technology is an accurate and less expensive weapon that minimises risks to US troops and protects America by killing terrorists.

    Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director of Reprieve, an organisation that helped secure the release of 65 prisoners from notorious Guantanamo Bay, also highlighted this point.

    “We can kill people without any risk to ourselves and that’s why the politicians like it,” said Smith while addressing the drone conference.

  14. Nal,

    You’re welcome.


    Jeremy Scahill: US Has Become ‘Nation of Assassins’
    US Peace conference puts face to drone victims
    – Common Dreams staff
    April 30, 2012

    International law experts, peace activists, journalists and human rights advocates from around the world gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to inform the American public about US drone policy and the impact it is having on human populations throughout the world.

    Peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights hosted the first International Drone Summit as a way to build an organizing strategy against the growing use of drones, call an end to airstrikes that kill innocent civilians, and to prevent the potentially widespread misuse both overseas and in the United States.

    “Drone victims are not just figures on a piece of paper, they are real people and that’s why it is important to see what happens on the ground when a missile hits a target,” said Pakistani attorney Shahzad Akbar, according to the Pakistani newspaper DAWN. “We have to see what exactly is happening on the ground, what is happening to the people,” he told the Washington conference.

    During his speech, journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has done in-depth reporting on the US drone program in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, questioned the Obama Administration’s policy of assassination. “What is happening to this country right now?” asked Scahill after noting that recent legislation in the US Congress opposing the assassination of US citizens abroad without due process received only six votes in the House of Representatives. “We have become a nation of assassins. We have become a nation that is somehow silent in the face of — or embraces, as polls indicate — the idea that assassination should be one of the centerpieces of US foreign policy. How dangerous is this? It’s a throwback to another era — an era that I think many Americans thought was behind them. And the most dangerous part of this is the complicity of ordinary people in it.”

    Scahill was emphatic in his talk that the drone and assassination programs have received wide bi-partisan support and lamented those in the US who ceased to voice their concern over such policies as soon as President Bush left office. “President Obama has shown us in a very clear way that when it comes to the premiere national security policy of this nation, there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.”

  15. The censorship on this blog needs to be addressed. Why employ the word “moderation”? What is profane about b, i , t , c, h? or b, a , s, t, a, r, d? One is a female dog and one is a dog without a father or a father to be named later? Better to censor really crude words like Cheney. There is a dog here on this blog from my dogpack who had to change the pellingSpay of her name to pig latin in order to get her name printed. Free speech my ssaY

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