Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Second Drone attack in Four Days Kills Nine

This is from wired.

The media simply does not discuss the legality of drone attacks under international law. Apparently it is neither here nor there that the US attacks in ways that are against international law. However one would think that a policy that kills people simply because they are suspected terrorists without benefit of trial and often accompanied by the killing of innocents might give people pause even on simple ethical considerations. There seems considerable discussion of the ethics of torture but little about this.
Even when torture is discussed it is often in the context of whether it works. If it works to save the lives of some Americans apparently that would settle the issue! Why golly gee euthanising old people would work to save huge amounts in the health care system. Lets adopt that as a policy.
The slaughter caused by drone attacks pales compared to the slaughter caused by the Pakistani armed forces using air power and artillery to attack Taliban held areas in the Swat Valley not to mention the humanitarian disaster caused by the internal displacement of citizens as they flee the fighting.

Second Drone Attack in Four Days Kills Nine
By Noah Shachtman
May 12, 2009
According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration last month cut back on the CIA’s drone attacks inside Pakistan, because of the political problems the unmanned strikes were causing the government of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Some cutback. For the second time in four days, U.S. killer drones have struck in Pakistan. The latest attack — the 18th reported just this year — killed nine people and wounded four others, Pakistani intelligence officials tell CNN.
The strike took place not far from the town of Wana, in the tribal region of South Waziristan. It’s a “known Taliban and al-Qaeda hub,” according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. And it’s “the main stomping ground of Maulvi Nazir, a key Taliban commander accused by the United States of recruiting and sending fighters to Afghanistan to attack US and NATO forces.” (You may recall Nazir from his April broadcast, dissiminated by Al-Qaeda’s media arm, in which he called President Barack Obama a “black ass.” Since then, his crew has been visited by the CIA’s friendly Predator outreach team at least twice.)
Meanwhile, Pakistani military officials claim to have killed more than 750 militants during intense ground combat against the Taliban. (U.S. officials say that figure is “wildly exaggerated.”)
The Paksitani public is also showing signs of becoming fed up with the extremists. According to a March poll taken by the International Republican Institute, 69% now agree with “the Taliban and Al Qaeda operating in Pakistan is a serious problem” — up from 45% in June. Still, only 10% think terrorism is the most important issues facing the country; 46% said “inflation.” And only 24% support “the U.S. military making incursions in the tribal areas” to take out the militants. And 61% still do not believe that Pakistan should cooperate with the U.S. “on its war against terror.”
One wonders how the American approach to Pakistan might change, with a new military commander for the region. Gen David McKiernan, the outgoing top general, was always very clear that “as a NATO commander, my mandate stops at the [Afghan] border. So unless there is a clear case of self-protection to fire across the border, we don’t consider any operations across the border in the tribal areas.” But incoming chief Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal has a long history in special operations. Which means secretive raids, cooperation with three-letter agencies — and, perhaps, a different view of how sacrosanct borders really are.
[Photo: USAF]

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