Powerful Americans are beginning to listen to Farea al-Muslimi, a 23-year-old, California-educated Yemeni who wants to stop the drone strikes in his country. Including some in the White House.
Danger Room has confirmed that before he leaves Washington D.C. on Friday, al-Muslimi will meet with White House officials to tell them what he told a Senate subcommittee yesterday: CIA and military drone strikes are strengthening al-Qaida’s Yemeni affiliate and making average Yemenis hate America.
“He will meet with a working-level expert on Yemen policy,” a White House official confirms, declining to provide the name of the official or the time of the meeting. In other words, he shouldn’t count on an Oval Office sit-down with the President — or even a quick meet with Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco. And the meeting isn’t a response to al-Muslimi’s testimony yesterday.
But there’s buzz now around al-Muslimi, a Sana’a-based freelance writer on public policy. …
A moment’s reflection is enough to understand why intellectually honest people should shun the loaded metaphor.
The Obama Administration deliberately uses the word “surgical” to describe its drone strikes. Official White House spokesman Jay Carney marshaled the medical metaphorhere, saying that “a hallmark of our counterterrorism efforts has been our ability to be exceptionally precise, exceptionally surgical and exceptionally targeted.” White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan attributed ”surgical precision” and “laser-like focus” to the drone program. He also spoke of “delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us.” And a “senior administration official” told The Washington Post that “there is still a very firm emphasis on being surgical and targeting only those who have a direct interest in attacking the United States.”
They’ve successfully transplanted the term into public discourse about drones. …
A trove of leaked classified reports has confirmed what many had suspected – US drone kills in Pakistan are not the precision strikes against top-level al-Qaeda terrorists they are portrayed as by the Obama administration.
Instead, many of the attacks are aimed at suspected low-level tribal militants, who may pose no direct danger to the United States – and for many there appears to be little evidence to justify the assassinations.
Top secret documents obtained by McClatchy newspapers in the US show the locations, identities and numbers of those attacked and killed in Pakistan in 2006-8 and 2010-11, as well as explanations for why the targets were picked.
The statistics illustrate the breadth of the US ‘drone doctrine’ – which has never been defined by consecutive US administrations. Between 1,990 and 3,308 people are reported to have been killed in the drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, the vast majority of them during the Obama terms. …
Today in his “On Security and Liberty” column at The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald demonstrates once again that he is one of the Left’s most tenacious and fearless voices.
In “Three Key Lessons From The Obama Administration’s Drone Lies,” Greenwald acknowledges the fact that “establishment sources” have finally begun to call out the Obama Administration for not telling the truth about who is being targeted for death-by-drone. Indeed, the word “lies” is now being employed. Greenwald cites a recent report by McClatchy as well as an article by Micah Zenko in Foreign Policy as evidence of this trend.
Greenwald believes that three lessons can be gleaned from these reports:
(1) The Obama administration often has no idea who they are killing.
(2) Whistleblowers are vital for transparency and accountability, which is precisely why the Obama administration is waging a war on them.
(3) Secrecy ensures both government lies and abuses of power.
With these lessons in mind, Greenwald closes with some strong words for the media:
In light of this evidence, any journalists that continue to rely on US government statements about its killing program are revealing themselves to be eager propagandists, willing to be lied to and help amplify those lies (the same was true of journalists who continued to rely on government statements about “militants” being killed even after they knew how Obama officials had broadened that term to the point of meaninglessness). How many times do we have to learn these same lessons before recognizing their universality?
End the illegitimate use of drones. The number of petition signers will empower people and organizations to have moral leverage when talking to others about ending drone violence. The Clear Skies Initiative. petition (hosted on change.org) is your tool for getting the the word out to family & friends, main stream & other media outlets, and elected officials, that drone programs are illegal, immoral and counter-productive. …
The use of drones by domestic US law enforcement agencies is growing rapidly, both in terms of numbers and types of usage. As a result, civil liberties and privacy groups led by the ACLU - while accepting that domestic drones are inevitable - have been devoting increasing effortsto publicizing their unique dangers and agitating for statutory limits. These efforts are being impeded by those who mock the idea that domestic drones pose unique dangers (often the same people who mock concern over their usage on foreign soil). This dismissive posture is grounded not only in soft authoritarianism (a religious-type faith in the Goodness of US political leaders and state power generally) but also ignorance over current drone capabilities, the ways drones are now being developed and marketed for domestic use, and the activities of the increasingly powerful domestic drone lobby. So it’s quite worthwhile to lay out the key under-discussed facts shaping this issue. …
A new Gallup poll finds a majority of Americans oppose the drone-executions of US citizens on foreign soil. Then why do they support the Awlaki killing?
Governmental use of unmanned surveillance drones has inspired a lot of concern about privacy, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks the battle’s already over. In a radio interview this week, Bloomberg said essentially that drones are an inevitable part of our future (and maybe our present), comparing them to the thousands of cameras already located around Manhattan. “What’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building?” he asked. “We’re going into a different world, uncharted… you can’t keep the tide from coming in.” …