Monday, 04 June 2012

Death by Remote Control Continues: Drones Kill 27 in Pakistan Since Sat.

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Reports out of Pakistan indicate that missiles fired from American drones killed over a dozen people in that country on Monday, bringing the three-day total of Pakistanis killed by lethal drone strikes to 27.

Monday’s attack was reportedly aimed at a “militant hideout” in Hesokhel, a village located in the North Waziristan region.

South Waziristan was abuzz with the unmanned aerial vehicles over the weekend as U.S.-controlled Predator drones are believed to have launched four Hellfire missiles that killed nine men branded as militants living in a village near Wacha Dana. A statement made to CNN by a local government official confirmed the body count.

Of course, these numbers of dead by drone, as harrowing to the conscience and humiliating to the Constitution as they are, are likely low given the President’s penchant for disregarding “civilians” or other bystanders murdered in the attacks “on terror” when tallying the day’s death toll from his beloved drone program.

Although Pakistan has demanded that the United States cease the drone attacks within its sovereign borders, the Obama administration has ignored this request; in fact the number of drones in the air, missiles fired by them, and the body count all continue increasing greatly under orders issued by Barack Obama.

While the government of Pakistan points its finger at the United States for the prosecution of the Predator program, calling it a violation of international law, credible reports from inside the government indicate that behind the scenes they have taken another tack — allowing drones to launch from Pakistani airbases and providing intelligence to help track targets.

Pakistan’s cooperative posture may have slouched a little recently, however, after the death of Pakistani soldiers deployed along that nation’s border with Afghanistan. Pakistan responded by shutting down the pipeline of NATO materiel that runs through the country, as well as booting the United States and its Predator drones off of an airbase in the southwest region of the country.

In all, 24 Pakistani soldiers have reportedly been killed by American airstrikes.

In the latest developments on the negotiations between NATO (read: the United States) and Pakistan regarding the movement of trucks and troops through that country, Pakistan says it will charge the alliance between $1,800-2,000 for every truck and tanker passing along supply routes bound for Afghanistan.

Previous demands by Pakistan for a $5,000 fee were rejected by the United States.

"Once the deal is finalized, it will end the standoff between the US and Pakistan over the NATO supply routes, which started in November over the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO air strike on Salala check post," a Pakistani government official told an Indian news agency.

At a recent summit aimed at addressing these issues between the two “allies” in the War on Terror, President Barack Obama and Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani "made important progress" in resolving the concerns of both sides regarding Pakistan’s continuing cooperation in the tracking, targeting, and eliminating of those accused by the United States of being members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

After the President’s meeting with the Prime Minister, American military commanders met with colleagues from the Pakistani armed forces to discuss the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers last November.

By now it is obvious to everyone that the United States will not reduce the use of drones in its campaign against suspected “militants.” The government of Pakistan refuses to allow the U.S. military to put boots on the ground in North Waziristan to combat the forces they accuse of using the region as a headquarters for attacks on American military units stationed across the border in Afghanistan so the drones take up the slack.

A recent piece published by the Associated Press describes the situation on the border:

The most important group is the Haqqani network, considered the most dangerous militant faction fighting the U.S. in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has argued that it can't conduct an offensive in North Waziristan because its troops are stretched too thin by operations against militants within the country who threaten its own government.

But many analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target the Haqqani network and its allies in the Afghan Taliban because they are seen as important allies in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.

Historically, Pakistan has maintained a close relationship with both these organizations. So intimately intertwined are Pakistan and these groups, in fact, that the United States has repeatedly accused the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, of providing crucial intelligence and other support of the groups’ assaults on American interests in the region.

Despite billions being spent by the United States in purchasing the good will and the assistance of Pakistan in its “War on Terror,” experts insist that nothing has really changed and that Pakistan persists in its surreptitious support of terrorists.

In reality, though, the American government sincerely believes it needs neither the permission nor the assistance of Pakistan. President Obama has been very successful in his use of unmanned drones to target, track, and kill those branded as enemies of the state, despite the outcry at home and abroad against the exercise of such dictatorial prerogatives.

Take, for example, the Obama administration’s use of drones in the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. Anwar al-Awlaki was an American and so was his 16-year-old son. Neither of these men was charged with any crime.

Awlaki was placed on the President’s infamous kill list after he was suspected of influencing the Ft. Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hassan, as well as the so-called Underwear Bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab. No official charges were ever filed against the American-born cleric. The government never attempted to apprehend him and try him for his alleged atrocities. He was placed on a proscription list and murdered.

The hit reportedly went down like this: On September 30, 2011, while Anwar al-Awlaki had stopped to eat breakfast, two unmanned Predator drones fired Hellfire missiles killing him. Two weeks later, his son Abdulrahaman was killed in similar manner. No charges. No trial. No due process. 

Citizens and foreigners alike must now recognize that the government of the United States has assumed all power over life and death and has passed law after law legalizing that usurpation. In America today, every man, woman, and child (including unborn children) is required by force of law to appeal to the ultimate arbiter of the right to life for their continuing existence. Should they at any time fail to adequately demonstrate the required level of obedience, then their life, liberty, and property may be confiscated without recourse and seemingly without remorse on the part of those carrying out the sentence.

The difference between this America and the America that existed before 9/11 and before the passage of the NDAA is that the government now believes it may begin to operate more in the open.

Earlier this year, for example, President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, admitted for the first time publicly to the extent of the use of drones in America’s War on Terror. Brennan said that the remote control killing of suspects on foreign soil who have been charged with no crime whatsoever, is “in full accordance with the law."

Then, without apparent awareness of the macabre irony of the statement, Brennan reminded the world that the United States “respects national sovereignty and international law.”

According to a report published by The New America Foundation, American drones have killed nearly 3,000 people in Pakistan since 2004.

How long until the number of American “militants” killed by drones operating within the United States reaches that number?

Photo: AP Images

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