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News and Opinion
New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama's drones
New research shows the terrorizing impact of drones in Pakistan, false statements from US officials, and how it increases the terror threat
A vitally important and thoroughly documented new report [PDF] on the impact of Obama's drone campaign has just been released by researchers at NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School. Entitled "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan", the report details the terrorizing effects of Obama's drone assaults as well as the numerous, highly misleading public statements from administration officials about that campaign. The study's purpose was to conduct an "independent investigations into whether, and to what extent, drone strikes in Pakistan conformed to international law and caused harm and/or injury to civilians".
The report is "based on over 130 detailed interviews with victims and witnesses of drone activity, their family members, current and former Pakistani government officials, representatives from five major Pakistani political parties, subject matter experts, lawyers, medical professionals, development and humanitarian workers, members of civil society, academics, and journalists." Witnesses "provided first-hand
accounts of drone strikes, and provided testimony about a range of issues, including the missile strikes themselves, the strike sites, the victims' bodies, or a family member or members killed or injured in the strike".
Life for Pakistanis in US Drone War Detailed in New Report
A new report featuring testimony from civilians, who’ve been victims of the US drone war in Pakistan, thoroughly examines what it is like for Pakistanis to live under drones. The International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic at the New York University School of Law spent nine months conducting research and spoke with individuals, like Waziris, who agreed to be interviewed for the report and traveled long distances to share firsthand accounts, despite significant risks.
The report, “Living Under Drones,” directly challenges the “dominant narrative” that United States drones in Pakistan are a “surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling ‘targeted killings’ of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.” It calls this “narrative” false and flatly states that, although civilian casualties are “rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.” It suggests publicly available evidence that strikes make the US safer is “ambiguous at best” and considers the legality of the strikes to be “doubtful.”
'US drone attacks are counter-productive and terrorise civilians'
CIA drone attacks are counter-productive as they kill civilians and rescue workers and increase recruitment by militant groups, a new report concludes.
It claims that follow-up strikes are also killing rescuers who set out to treat the injured.
The report, made up of interviews with victims, witnesses and experts, pins blame on US President Barack Obama for the recent increase in "signature strikes" which target groups selected through "pattern of life analysis" and which have resulted in large, innocent groups attending weddings and funerals being killed.
It states: "US drones hover 24 hours a day over communities in north-west Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.
Report: Pakistanis in drone-stricken areas live under cloud of fear
There's no way of knowing when the drones will strike. Sometimes they just pass overhead, observing. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, they'll attack; bombing markets, funerals, tribal gatherings. Two drone attacks may occur in the same place within minutes of one another, meaning that anyone who tries to help survivors of the first attack puts themselves at risk. The easier thing to do is run and hide—and stay hidden.
Drones: The West's New Terror Campaign
The CIA's Predator drones are bringing to Pakistan the same horror that Hitler's doodlebugs inflicted on London
Sixty-eight years on, my mother retains vivid memories of the gathering gloom. One night a week, she climbed the tower of a local church to spot for the fires that might spread from an explosion. When the doodlebugs (as V1s – Hitler's drones – were called) came over, she knew that she was safe so long as she could hear the engine. She knew, too, that the drones were indiscriminate killers, and that only when they fell silent did she have to worry where they might fall. Some of the engines apparently cut in and out, like the oscillating buzz of a chainsaw, heartstopping for the potential victims below.
In 1944, two doodlebugs hit the environs of Buckingham Palace, near where my mother learned shorthand. One landed on the palace wall, and blew out the secretarial school's windows. A second killed more than 100 people who had, until moments before, been singing hymns in the Guards Chapel on Birdcage Walk. It was a weekend, so my mother was back at her digs.
August ‘second deadliest month’ for Afghan civilians: UN
KABUL: A total of 374 civilians were killed and 581 injured in August as a result of the war in Afghanistan, making it the second deadliest month for civilians since 2007, the United Nations said Friday.
Insurgents kill two NATO troops in Afghanistan
KABUL – A suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives killed two foreign troops in eastern Afghanistan Wednesday, according to NATO and Afghan officials.
Din Mohammad Darwesh, the governor’s spokesperson in Logar province, said the bomber targeted a vehicle inside a NATO convoy that was on its way to a nearby district. Although the NATO-led international military coalition declined to give further details on the casualties, citing policy, Darwesh said both of those killed were Americans, one immediately and one who died of his wounds a short while later. A third soldier was injured, he added.
The TPP: A Quiet Coup for the Investor Class
The Obama administration's trade negotiators are quietly selling out workers and the environment in a massive Bush-style trade agreement.
The secrecy surrounding the negotiations is breathtaking. In July, 134 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk requesting that the appropriate congressional committees be consulted and that a draft of the text be released. The members reminded Kirk that draft texts were circulated and congressional committees consulted throughout the NAFTA negotiations in the early 1990s. Their letter received no response. A month later, House members petitioned Kirk to allow a congressional delegation to observe the negotiations—as in the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the launch of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization, and numerous NAFTA rounds. Despite its persistence, Congress has not been granted any significant oversight or insight regarding the negotiations.
While Congress, the press, and the public have had to make do with leaked chapters of negotiations, Just Foreign Policy reports that 600 corporate lobbyists were granted access to the negotiated text. American democracy is in a sorry state when corporations are granted more access to even the text of sweeping government agreements than the public and its elected officials. Although corporate influence on U.S. trade policy is hardly a new phenomenon, the simultaneous waning of congressional oversight is all the more unsettling.
Obama May Do Social Security Reform During Lame Duck Session, Senate Democrats Worry
Concern is mounting among some Senate Democrats that President Barack Obama will make a deal with Senate Republicans during the lame-duck session that would result in changes to the benefit structure of Social Security.
One of the most progressive voices in the caucus, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), said he was heartened to hear Obama tell the AARP last week that he'd be open to raising the cap on income that's taxed for purposes of paying into the Social Security trust fund. ... But the Vermont Independent worried that all of this could be posturing for the lame-duck session immediately after the election, when lawmakers are expected to rush to find another "grand bargain" on tax and entitlement reform to stave off the so-called fiscal cliff.
"That's exactly what's going to happen," Sanders said of Social Security being on the proverbial table, "Unless someone of us stops it -- and a number of us are working very hard on this -- that's exactly what will happen. Everything being equal, unless we stop it, what will happen is there will be a quote-unquote grand bargain after the election in which the White House, some Democrats will sit down with Republicans, they will move to a chained CPI."
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Transgender on Campus by rserven
St. Philip of Ochs by pholkiephred
Must read: Shocked by the NFL ref fiasco? Where've you been the last 30 years? by attytood
Obama, in interview with NBC, hits Romney for politicizing Chicago teacher strike. Isn't this issue inherently political?— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) September 25, 2012
So firing a bunch of refs who didn't have the training they needed is now the NFL's solution for the Scab Grab? Just like schools, then?— emptywheel (@emptywheel) September 25, 2012
Curtis Mayfield - We Got To Have Peace
We are ready for some serious change. We are ready to take up the tools of a free and analytic press to peacefully undermine the stranglehold of the kleptocrats on our battered democracy. We are ready to expose and publicize their greed, lies and illegal machinations and hold their enablers in government and the media to account. Are you in?
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."