Ignoring the possibility that emergency responders rushing to the aid of Middle East drone-strike victims may be medical personnel, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operators have also marked them for death.
The CIA has also been targeting the funeral services of the alleged suspects it murders, also killing mourners who often may not be suspects but family and/or friends of the deceased, perhaps including children.
Although President Obama claims the drone strikes in Pakistan have not caused a "huge number" of civilian casualties, reliable estimates say the figure has already topped 500, including 60 children. It is a tragic fact that secondary strikes raining down on funerals have killed dozens of mourners.
Denying the wounded on the battlefield aid or targeting them and/or their rescuers with fresh attacks goes against a policy General George Washington established during the Revolutionary War. In that struggle Hessian and British troops were known to follow up their victories by bayoneting any wounded left alive on the battlefield. When Colonial troops were tempted to respond in kind, Washington would say, "No, we will not do it to them."
President Obama's policy authorizing targeting relief workers with second strikes has all the hallmarks of violating the Geneva Convention against caring for the battlefield wounded, which, after all, was the primary reason for the establishment of the International Red Cross.
Plus, the drone strikes at the least have violated the Fourth Geneva Convention that calls for the protection of civilians. That so many hundreds of civilian non-combatants have been killed, and presumably a sizable number wounded, is testimony to the inherently flawed manner by which the CIA selects targets---targets who, by the way, are also being denied an opportunity to surrender as well as their fundamental legal right to trial by jury.
“The Obama administration's use of drone strikes to commit war crimes around the world is both widespread and systematic,” says Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois professor of international law and author of “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions”(Clarity). “It therefore qualifies as a Crime against Humanity under the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.”
“Their (Obama Administration’s) recent authorization of the widespread deployment of drones in United States airspace could be a harbinger of their using armed drones to murder U.S. citizens in America as they now do abroad,” he added.
Boyle said further: “According to former University of Chicago Law School Constitutional Law Professor President Barack Obama's perverted interpretation of the United States Constitution, there is nothing to prevent them from doing that.”
If any policy will inspire anti-American bitterness in the Middle East, it is liable to be the drone attacks on the funerals of the suspects. Not allowing for the burial of the dead has been regarded as an outrage for thousands of years in many cultures.
In “Antigone,” the Greek playwright Sophocles describes how that heroine was put to death for attempting to give her slain warrior brother Polynices a decent burial. This burial ritual was commonplace when Sophocles wrote about it 2500 years ago and the act of desecrating funerals goes widely against centuries of human custom.
Drones may be designed, as John Sifton writes in the Feb. 27th "The Nation," to "target individual humans," but their impact is to kill "with all the distance and alienation of ICBMs." Not only can drone-launched Hellfire missiles spread a curtain of death over a wide area, killing many not intended to be put to death, but there is ample evidence that many of the victims selected for drone attacks do not even qualify as suspects in the first place and are being slaughtered in error.
Sifton notes the first drone attack in Paktia province of Afghanistan in February, 2002, was aimed at a suspect the CIA thought to be a "tall man" who might have been Osama bin Laden.
Instead, those slain, including the tall man, turned out to be three innocent civilians collecting scrap metal. Not surprisingly, much of the besieged Afghan population reportedly regards the unmanned drone attacks as a cowardly and unmanly method of waging war.
"CIA drone strikes have become an almost daily occurrence around the world, but little is known about who is killed and under what circumstances," said James Ross, (no relation) legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch. "So long as the US resists public accountability for CIA drone strikes, the agency should not be conducting targeted killings."
In the decade since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Bush and Obama administrations have engaged in a campaign of "targeted killings" --- deliberate, lethal attacks aimed at specific individuals under the color of law, Human Rights Watch says.
Estimates of the number of deaths of alleged al Qaeda members, other armed group members, and civilians from US targeted killings range from several hundred to more than two thousand, it adds.
Most of these attacks are believed to have occurred in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen using unmanned aerial vehicles armed with missiles and laser-guided bombs.
"The lawfulness of a targeted killing hinges in part on the applicable international law, which is determined by the context in which the attack takes place," Human Rights Watch said." The laws of war permit attacks during situations of armed conflict only against valid military targets. Attacks causing disproportionate loss of civilian life or property are prohibited."
During law enforcement situations, international human rights law permits the use of lethal force only when absolutely necessary to save human life, Human Rights watch explains. Individuals cannot be targeted with lethal force merely because of past unlawful behavior, but only for imminent or other grave threats to life when arrest is not reasonably possible.
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|Allen L. Jasson|