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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Obama defends U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan Tribal Areas



Perhaps now that Obama admits that the U.S. is carrying out drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan the news media will finally report them as actually U.S. attacks. Up to now many reports are phrased cautiously as suspected U.S. attacks as if perhaps U.S. alllies such as Israel or Saudi Arabia might be responsible!

The casualties in these attacks will no doubt continue to be classified as "suspected militants" even though the evidence is that there are many civilians killed as collateral damage.

Obama says that the targets are: "people who are on a list of active terrorists". Of course one does not know how correct those lists are. Probably, Pakistani intelligence sources co-operate in determining targets even though officially Pakistan has for long criticised the attacks.

Reporters are not allowed in to the tribal areas although some locals have taken photos purportedly showing damage and the dead as a result of the attacks. Rights groups such as Amnesty have been critical of the attacks and questioned their legality under International Law.

The Pakistani parliament has passed a motion demanding the attacks stop but to no avail. The drone attacks began in 2004 under George W Bush but have escalated considerably under Obama. Under Obama the attacks have more than doubled reaching 118 in 2010 and 70 in 2011. Although there was a pause of a couple of months attacks have resumed now. For more see this article. Obama is extending drone attacks to other areas as well such as Somalia and Yemen. Their use fits in with Obama's plan for a leaner but high tech military. Drone attacks involve no U.S. casualties and are thus not likely to be a political problem domestically.

While no doubt some militant leaders have been killed in drone attacks the reports are often too optimistic. Some militant leaders have about as many lives as cats. Civilian deaths are hardly ever cited in official reports and come only from locals.

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