By World Can't Wait It would be hard to have missed Michelle Obama's photo with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, displaying sad eyes as she gave the pre-Mothers Day President's talk Saturday, assuring the public that the US would do everything it can to help rescue the hundreds of girls kidnapped by the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. We hope this turns out like the New York Police Department's Twitter campaign recently, which asked for photos of people with #MyNYPD, and got barraged with photos of police brutality from Occupy protests, stop & frisk arrests and unjust murders by the NYPD.
In fact, Buzzfeed has gathered some of the responsewhich either turns Michelle's sign into something truthful -- "My husband has killed more girls than Boko Haram ever could," or "BringBackYourDrones."
The civilian toll of US drone strikes has penetrated US alternative news media this week like never before.
Abu-Bakr al Shamahi writes 8 Stories of Civilians Killed by U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen about the need to tell the stories of people killed because they are invisible:
“That lack of humanity is part of the problem: Drone operators tucked away somewhere in Nevada or New Mexico are shielded from the casualties of their work, the human beings killed, the damage and destruction caused when a hellfire missile explodes into a car packed full of people....The following stories of eight people killed by drone strikes are important to tell because they show that behind every sanitized report of drone casualty figures, there are real people with goals, loves and dreams whose lives have been extinguished.”
Learn about these people who lived in Yemen:
Abdulaziz al-Huraydan, a child
Aref al-Shafi'i, a father
Salim Al-Taysi, a father of 6 children
Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a teenaged American citizen
Salim Ahmed Jaber, an imam who spoke against al-Qaida
Waleed Abdullah Jaber, a police officer
Jabir al-Shabwani, a deputy governor
Ali al-Qawli, a school teacher
Pratap Chatterjee writes on TomDispatch, in The Three Faces of Drone Warabout Rene Lopez, an Army intelligence specialist who says he “has been working in the dark arts of hunting and killing ‘high value targets’ using a National Security Agency (NSA) tool known as Gilgamesh.” Chatterjee explains:
“That tool is named after a ruthless Sumerian king who ruled over Uruk, an ancient city in what is now Iraq. With the help of the massive trove of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill recently explained that Gilgamesh is the code name for a special device mounted on a Predator drone that can track the mobile phones of individuals without their knowledge by pretending to be a cell phone tower.”
Brandon Bryant, a 28-year-old U.S. airman, whose squadron has been credited with 1,626 kills, and is “among the first to be openly critical of the impact of remote tracking and targeting, of, that is, robot war.”
Chatterjee says that in a new film on the US drone war, “Drone,” by Norwegian film maker Tonye Schei, “Bryant reveals that his former colleagues in the Air Force had not just been carrying out drone strikes on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq where the military was involved in open warfare. They were also conducting the strikes in the supposed CIA drone assassination campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen.”
Heather Linebaugh, a former drone intelligence analyst, who wrote in The Guardian in December 2013 about the effects of robotic killing on the targeters:
“‘How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile? How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?’ She added, ‘When you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience.’”