Drone Memo Concentrates What's Not Legit about US Targeted Killing

Debra Sweet | July 8, 2014

Since 2009, when Obama began the targeted killing rampage in Pakistan & Yemen, killing uncounted thousands, World Can't Wait has demanded an end to it.  Others have demanded "transparency" in knowing how the targeting decisions were made.

Last month, they got their wish, to a point.  Because The New York Times and the ACLU filed a lawsuit to get it, parts of a redacted Office of Legal Counsel memo on targeted killing were released.

Even in its Office of Legal Counsel to the White House jargon, the memo amounts to "savage brute force in minimal disguise" says David Swanson in So That's Why They Kept the Drone Kill Memo Secret.  He calls for everyone to be "willing to drop the pretense that ANY memo could possibly legalize murder."

A reader's letter to Revolution uses the term "assassination", saying the Obama administration designed the memo to justify an illegal action, in that
"the Justice Department memo had to break new (il)legal ground because it is explicitly illegal for a U.S. citizen to kill another U.S. citizen outside the United States under the Murder of United States Nationals Act of 1991." The Assassination Memo: Ominous Implications and an Embattled Empire.

The writer characterizes the memo as representing and reflecting "the outlook, and morality of the rulers of an empire who look out at a world they dominate—a world of vicious exploitation, ruthless oppression, and cutthroat contention with rivals of all kinds—and declare their “right” to kill anyone, anywhere, perceived to be a potential threat."

And now, drones have been deployed by the U.S. in Iraq, as part of what Foreign Policy magazine warns of as "mission creep." Going over ten years of the Pakistan campaign, it points out that the drone strikes were at first said to be only used on "senior level al Qaeda" who posed an immediate threat to the U.S. homeland.  But,  "the CIA's estimated 372 drone strikes in Pakistan, which killed some 2,800 people, a vast majority were not an effort to eliminate senior al Qaeda members who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland -- which was the very reason armed drones were sent there in the first place."

It warns that in Iraq, "in addition to the 300 U.S. military and intelligence advisors that President Obama sent in June, there are roughly 1,000-1,700 additional private security contractors in Iraq, according to advisors to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Thus, U.S. armed drones could be providing force protection for up to 2,000 people over an area of hundreds of square miles," and that there is "sustained confusion" over what mission these drones could be deployed in.

A recipe for wholesale murder, neither legal nor legitimate, irregardless of what the Obama administration comes up with in retroactive justification.

in another twist to this story, Guantanamo attorneys are using the logical inconsistencies in the memo to call for freedom from Omar Khadr, the child "soldier" apprehended in Afghanistan and kept in Guantanamo for 10 years, before being forced into a plea deal and sent to prison in Canada, where he has residency.  RT: Drone memo should reverse Gitmo convictions, attorneys claim:

“The Americans made up serious charges that they knew were false,” Dennis Edney, a Canadian based lawyer for Khadr, told the Toronto Star this week. “It’s a complete violation of everything we understand about justice.”

Are US government actors protected by the "laws of war" while others are not?

On June 30, Khadr's attorneys filed a motion in Guantanamo’s appeals court asking that the conviction against their client be vacated.

Debra Sweet is the Director of World Can't Wait.

Main Covert Drone War Drone Memo Concentrates What's Not Legit about US Targeted Killing


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