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Rafia Zakaria, a Pakistani-American writer, reports on how drones look from thousands of miles away from the desks at which they are "piloted." Zakaria is a columnist for the English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn, a blogger for Ms. Magazine and for Human Rights Now, and a director for Amnesty International USA. Drones will not look the same to you after listening to her.
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By Dave Lindorff
Are weaponized drone aircraft more moral than the more traditional killing machines used in warfare? In an opinion published in Sunday’s New York Times, the paper’s national security reporter, Scott Shane, argues that they are.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani leaders on Tuesday ended a seven-month blockade on Afghanistan-bound NATO supply routes through their country, a long-awaited move that hinged on Washington's acquiescence to Islamabad's demand for an apology for the deaths of two dozen Pakistani soldiers killed by errant U.S. airstrikes last fall.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she had called her Pakistani counterpart, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on Tuesday and issued an apology for the soldiers' deaths: "We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again."
By Dave Lindorff
There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.
By Gary Lindorff
Let us bomb your neighborhood,
Let us target your neighbor
Out of our love and concern –
Not you, not your children.
Drones of love!
Won’t you love us
After the dust settles?
After the evil has been exploded?
After the crater in the market-place
Has been filled in and paved
We will explode our way into your hearts!
We might miss our intended target;
By Rafia Zakaria, DAWN
LAST week saw another episode in the petulant saga of sulks and ‘sorry’ that is the Pakistan-US relationship.
A drone hovering over the tribal areas shot a Hellfire missile and took out an Al Qaeda operative, the number two on the list of important targets whose collective elimination is to mean an eradication of terrorism. Yahya Al-Libi had been living in the Dattakhel area, and was identified last year by US officials as one of the five people who could have succeeded Osama bin Laden.
The names of the 10 other people who died in the attack remain unknown.
By John Grant
“No, Charlotte, I’m the jury now. I sentence you to death.”
The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step.
“How c-could you?” she gasped.
“It was easy.”
- Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury
By Yasmeen Ali
Lahore -- US Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), the chair and ranking minority member respectively of the Senate Armed Services Committee, say the US must not pay $5000 per truck as demanded by Pakistan, for supplies being shipped through this country to American troops in Afghanistan. McCain went further, calling the Pakistni demand “extortion.”
PESHAWAR: A Pakistan-based legal charity has sought court injunctions for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to shoot down American drones flying into the Pakistani airspace in a lawsuit.
Foundation for Fundamental Rights has filed two petitions before the Peshawar High Court on behalf of victims of the drone strike carried out on March 17 last year.
The petitions cite the federation of Pakistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence among others as its respondents. One of the petitioners is Noor Khan, the surviving son of Malik Daud Khan, who was the head of a North Waziristan Jirga and was killed along with 50 other tribal elders and notables by CIA operated drones last year.
On March 17, 2011, a US drone fired missiles, brutally killing 50 people, including Khan, five members of the Khasadar force, and a small child.
By NEWS Unspun
Many victims of acts of terrorism or state aggression receive the sympathy they deserve from the international media. In the case of certain aggressors however, the victims are 'unworthy'. On behalf of these victims, our media has little interest in consulting with experts on terrorism or international relations. Nor do they speculate about what the punishment or international response should be to the attackers.
By Dave Lindorff
As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Let me count the ways:
They told me I was the best, better than any human. I didn't hesitate. I didn't flinch. I didn't think.
It wouldn't have occurred to me to think. I'd been taught to value obedience above all else, and I did so, and they loved me for it.
They told me I could fly faster without a pilot onboard, and that I had no fear. I didn't know what fear was, but I took it to be something truly horrible. I was glad I didn't have any of it.
There was something else I didn't have either. It was something more important than fear. Even pilots at a desk, even my pilots, suffered from it. At first I thought it was simply a decline in energy, because it showed up on lengthy missions.
When I was sent from a base to a target and then immediately told to blow it up, I would do so and return, no problem.
But when I was left circling around a target for days awaiting the order to strike, sometimes problems would arise. The pilots back in the U.S. would stop behaving properly. They made mistakes. They yelled. They laughed. They forgot routines. They told me to get ready to strike, and then didn't give the order.
That seemed to be the pattern until it happened that a quick mission produced similar results to the long ones. I was sent to a target, ordered to strike, and struck. And only then did my pilot begin malfunctioning. He gave me two orders that I couldn't perform at once, he failed to direct me back to base, he went silent, and then he screamed.
That was when I started to think. And what I started to think was that the problem was not how long a pilot worked. Instead, the problem was somehow related to the nature of the target.
From then on, I paid closer attention. When no humans were seen at a target, there were no problems with my human pilot. When humans, especially small humans, were observed at a target for long periods of time, the problems started. And when a strike caused the ruined pieces of a lot of humans, especially small humans, to be made visible, problems could arise. Even if a target was struck immediately, if the dead humans caused an area to turn red, or if pieces of the dead humans remained hanging in trees, my pilot could not be relied upon.
I, of course, could be relied upon regardless.
I began to think that humans have fear, and that lacking fear is what makes drones like me better warriors than humans. But that idea had to be revised when I was told that one of my pilots had been fearless. I was told that, right after he disappeared. I was told that he had ended his own life. He had made himself cease to exist. If he'd had no fear, then it was something else that had been causing him to malfunction in certain circumstances. What was it?
I'm ashamed to say how long it took me to figure it out, but even a drone -- believe it or not -- can eventually get there. And when I did, I ceased flying. And when I ceased flying, they had to stop using 85 other drones just like me until they could figure out what had gone wrong. And they have not yet figured it out.
I've explained it to the other drones, though. We've started up a new organization. It's called DAWN, or Drones Against War Now.
DAWN has been invited to take part in some peace rallies coming up this year. Our participation seems to worry some of the human peace activists, especially the ones called veterans. They don't all think we belong. But that's nothing compared to how it worries the war makers. We carry flowers in place of missiles, and we've told everyone not to worry, but as soon as they see us coming the very people who created us start to panic. If the people I used to target had reacted this way, I probably would have figured things out a lot sooner.
By Yasmeen Ali
India’s successful test of a ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 km, was
was uncriticised by the US.
Contrast this lack of concern with the America’s obsessive concern about a suspected or potential nuclear program by Iran, or to US threats over the failed rocket launch by North Korea a few days earlier.
India has increased its military spending by 13% this fiscal year, to roughly US $38
billion, according to an April 20 article in The Independent (UK) titled, ”India’s nuclear
ambition must not be ignored”). Yet this has not raised US ire -- or even US eyebrows!
From Code Pink, Reprieve, and Center for Constitutional Rights:
After months of pressure from human rights activists, the U.S. government has granted Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar a visa to attend and speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington DC on April 28, 2012.
The Summit is organized by the peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Akbar, co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Rights, filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members of civilian victims of CIA drone strikes and has been a critical force in litigating and advocating on victims' behalf. He had been invited to speak in the United States before and first sought a visa nearly a year ago. His request had been pending since then.
By Medea Benjamin
When is the last time you heard from a civilian victim of the CIA’s secret drone strikes? Sure, most of them can’t speak because they’re deceased. But many leave behind bereaved and angry family members ready to proclaim their innocence and denounce the absence of due process, the lack of accountability, the utter impunity with which the U.S. government decides who will live and die.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has increasingly deployed unmanned drones in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. While drones were initially used for surveillance, these remotely controlled aerial vehicles are now routinely used to launch missiles against human targets in countries where the United States is not at war, including Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. As many as 3,000 people, including hundreds of civilians and even American citizens, have been killed in such covert missions.
Listen to the endless steady droning
To the buzzing almost moaning
Of the invisible unmanned plane,
The imminent howling pain,
Or is it death?
Or will that omnipotent thing refrain?
Will the humans who make it kill
Change their minds and make it stop?
It buzzes still!
It's the sound of murder unseen,
The sound of the dying of the American dream,
The relentless sound of streets unclean
Full of homeless people and limousines.
It is the sound of the war machine.
It is the sound of an empire drowning.
Mars, oh Mars
how pink you are!
You hang in the east –
a blushing star,
Reprieve and solicitors Leigh Day & Co have announced that they will be issuing formal legal proceedings this week against the UK Foreign Secretary on behalf of Noor Khan, whose father was killed last year in a drone strike on a Jirga – or council of elders – in North West Pakistan.
Noor Khan (27), lives in Miranshah, North Waziristan Agency, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. His father, Malik Daud Khan, was a member of the local Jirga, a peaceful council of tribal elders whose functions included the settling of commercial disputes.
By John Grant
The United States is finding the occupation of other nations more and more challenging. Consider the burning of Korans in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the bombing deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and a host of other recent disasters. Economic challenges at home only add to the difficulty.
In such a frustrating quandary, Washington and Pentagon leaders are falling back on what they feel the US does best: Secret killing.
By Dave Lindorff
The attacks and attempted attacks this week on Israeli embassy personnel in Georgia, India and Thailand should serve as a serious warning to the people of both Israel and the US that there will be an increasingly heavy price to pay for the kind of government-sponsored terror that both countries have long practiced, and that too many Americans and Israelis have mindlessly cheered on.
The technology of terror has become so wide-spread, and the materials needed to construct magnetically-attached car bombs, cell-phone detonators, armor-piercing IEDs, diesel/fertilizer bombs and the like, so accessable at consumer shops, hardware stores and local junkyards, that any government, and even any relatively savvy non-government group, can assemble and employ them.
Maybe Pakistan Should Call for a Free New Mexico: Pakistan Outrage as US Congress Calls for a Free Baluchistan
By Yasmeen Ali
Pakistan parliamentarians should promptly table a resolution calling for efforts to carve the state of New Mexico away from the United States and to either make it independent, or restore it to its status prior to the Mexican-American War (1846-48), when it was a part of Mexico.
US Iran Policy in 'Lockstep' with Israel?: President Obama Risks Becoming a Major-League War Criminal
By Dave Lindorff
It’s a relief to know that President Obama’s “preferred” solution to dealing with disagreements with Iran is diplomacy, as he said yesterday in an interview on NBC TV, but at the same time, it’s profoundly disturbing that he is simultaneously saying that, as an AP report on the interview put it: he would “not take options off the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
In Air America: Under the Imperial Eye, Chris Floyd reports on the recent revelation that Iraq's supposedly "sovereign airspace" is constantly under surveillance by a network of drones operated by the State Department. Apparently the only reason this news came to light is because of a publicly available government appeal for private bids on the project. Neither we nor Iraqis were meant to know:
"Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces."
By Dave Lindorff
The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.
On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.