A cartoon today brought  the issues surrounding the US use of drones to the front page of DailyKos.

One commenter asked if this cartoon should be posted because it was an election year.  Good question.

War Crimes?

This summer Juan Cole blogged about the charge

UN Official: CIA Drone Strikes on Rescuers a War Crime (Serle)

The UN’s expert on extrajudicial killings has described a tactic used by the CIA and first exposed by a Bureau investigation as ‘a war crime’.

Earlier this year the Bureau and the Sunday Times revealed the CIA was deliberately targeting rescuers and funeral-goers in its Pakistan drone strikes. Those controversial tactics have reportedly been revived.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur, told a meeting in Geneva on June 21: ’Reference should be made to a study earlier this year by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism… If civilian ‘rescuers’ are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.’

US Drone attacks cause mass trauma among civilians, says two ...
Asian Tribune-Sep 27, 2012
... rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Professor Christof Heyns, recently described the deliberate targeting of civilian rescuers as 'a war crime.' ...
The Election and The Drone Issue

A poll earlier this year found that many then approved of the Administration's use of drones against terrorists and its claims of little collateral damage .  

With drone use secret and with the Administration publicly claiming that few civilians were being harmed, the poll results were no surprise.

Now that these two studies have been released, wonder if this will this become a bigger campaign issue, one that might crop up in the debates this week, or later this month, one that will affect the election outcome?

Discussing Drones Now

 In my view, we Democrats have a moral imperative to deal with issues of such gravity as this in the here and now, and if we agree that this is wrong headed policy, collaborate to oppose it.  Others, like Meteor Blades, think  it best to wait on some controversial issues until after the election.  I respect that.

It is my view that we should discuss it now.  Children are dying. Women are dying. First responders are being targeted.  Administration claims to the contrary are not supported by what we know from these studies.   HT to joanneleon for linking these new studies on use of drones:

Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Center for Civilians in Conflict.  
The Civilian Impact of Drone Strikes: Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions


Report released last week by NYU and Stanford.  PDF is here.

    Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan
    Executive Summary and Recommendations

Administration Policy of Secrecy and Impact on Public Opinion

Adam Server at Mother Jones says the Adminstration, given polling earlier this year probably sees little pressure for change.

The ongoing popularity of drones as a method of fighting terrorism without putting American lives at risk, however, gives the administration little political incentive to publicly reevaluate its drone policy, despite the fact that its being shrouded in secrecy denies Americans the ability to make informed value judgements about whether it does more harm than good—or even how much harm or good they actually do.
But I wonder, hould the two studies listed above gain wider readership and the public finds out  that in fact civilians are dying in far   greater numbers than those claimed by the Administration, I doubt that the poll results on Obama Administration's use of drones will remain the same.  

Political Campaign '08 and '12

Here are two thought provoking videos on the subject for those who are interested.

One is a new video which actually 'goes there' on war crimes, by some annonymous youtube poster named SkepticalLibertarian  .  

Obama's War Crimes: The U.S. Drone War


 Published on Sep 28, 2012 by SkepticalLibertarian

"Some actions are so ruinous to human rights, so destructive of the Constitution, and so contrary to basic morals that they are disqualifying," wrote the Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf. This is what he was talking about. http://bit.ly/...

Read the report, "Living Under Drones." http://livingunderdrones.org/

 See  http://livingunderdrones.org/ for info of what is in the video. Sorry, no transcripts..


Is there a way forward, given these new studies,  for Democrats to pressure the Administration to change its approach?   Adam Server on the Columbia report:

The report recommends that the Obama administration empanel an "interagency task force" to "evaluate covert drone operations" with regard to civilian harm, oversight, and accountability.
Perhaps those of us Democrats who want the administration's policy to change can lobby for this action.

Others who want change can check out this petition at Roots Action

Ban Weaponized Drones from the World

Meticulous researchers have documented that U.S. drones are killing many innocent civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.  Drones are making the world less stable and creating new enemies. Their remoteness provides those responsible with a sense of immunity.

Weaponized drones are no more acceptable than land mines, cluster bombs, or chemical weapons.  The world must renounce and forbid their manufacture, possession, or use. Violators must be held accountable.

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, urge

    the United Nations Secretary General to investigate the concerns of Navi Pillay, the U.N.'s top human rights official, that drone attacks violate international law -- and to ultimately pursue sanctions against nations using, possessing, or manufacturing weaponized drones;
    the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate grounds for the criminal prosecution of those responsible for drone attacks;
    the U.S. Secretary of State, and the ambassadors to the United States from the nations of the world, to ratify a treaty forbidding the possession or use of weaponized drones;
    President Barack Obama, to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his "kill list" program regardless of the technology employed;
    the Majority and Minority Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, to ban the use or sale of weaponized drones.


Will this be a become a BFD in the election?  I doubt it.

So, should we wait until after the election to discuss it?  I think not.


Thanks for your consideration and comments.


3:22 PM PT: Clarification: I did not mean to imply that drones have not been covered on the front page before.  From the comments :    Please note that I have excerpted on the... (3+ / 0-)

...Front Page a number of commentaries regarding drone war policy.

Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

by Meteor Blades on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:04:23 PM FNT  http://www.dailykos.com/...

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