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Obama Administration Quietly Strips Senate Bill Of Provision Requiring Disclosure Of Annual Drone Kills

Death From Above

There is yet another victory for the national security state under President Obama. The Obama Administration has succeeded, with the help of Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, in quietly removing a provision that would seem unobjectionable to a President who pledged “the most transparent Administration in history.”

The provision simply required disclosure of the number of people killed each year by U.S. drone attacks. Not the details mind you. Just the figure. That sent the intelligence community into outrage over having to tell the public how many people have been killed in just this one area. The result was that it was simply stripped out of the Senate bill without a vote or debate.

The person demanding the change was James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence. You recall Clapper’s last notable appearance before Congress was to lie about surveillance programs — an act viewed widely as perjury but Clapper has not been even investigated let alone prosecuted by the Obama Administration. Instead, he is now working to strip out provisions requiring the most basic form of disclosure. That must certainly be a comfort to an official who admitted to previously giving false information to Congress. If no disclosure is required, there could be no new charges of perjury.
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Obama’s Drone Wars Undermine American Values

Earlier this month, CIA-operated drones killed as many as 55 people in Yemen in several separate strikes. Although it was claimed that those killed were “militants,” according to press reports at least three civilians were killed and at least five others wounded. That makes at least 92 US drone attacks against Yemen during the Obama administration, which have killed nearly 1,000 people including many civilians.
 
The latest strikes seem to contradict President Obama’s revised guidelines for targeted killings, which he announced last May. At the time he claimed that drones would only be used against those who posed a “continuing and imminent threat to the American people,” that there must be a “near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” and that safeguards to prevent civilian casualties were at “the highest standard we can set.”
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Judge Andrew Napolitano: Targeted Killings of Americans are Illegal and Unconstitutional

Judge Andrew Napolitano, speaking on Fox News this morning, explains that it is both illegal and unconstitutional for President Barack Obama to use drones or other means to “targeted kill” United States citizens. Napolitano, an RPI Advisory Board member, elaborates that “only the Congress can enact a law”  not a president on his own  and that the US Constitution guarantees a jury trial to Americans, including Americans accused of treason, before the government can deprive them of life, liberty, and property.
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I Worked On the US Drone Program. Here's What Really Goes On

Manning Collateral Murder Image

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "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?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.
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Why Are We At War in Yemen?

Most Americans are probably unaware that over the past two weeks the US has launched at least eight drone attacks in Yemen, in which dozens have been killed. It is the largest US escalation of attacks on Yemen in more than a decade. The US claims that everyone killed was a “suspected militant,” but Yemeni citizens have for a long time been outraged over the number of civilians killed in such strikes. The media has reported that of all those killed in these recent US strikes, only one of the dead was on the terrorist “most wanted” list.

This significant escalation of US attacks on Yemen coincides with Yemeni President Hadi’s meeting with President Obama in Washington earlier this month. Hadi was installed into power with the help of the US government after a 2011 coup against its long-time ruler, President Saleh. It is in his interest to have the US behind him, as his popularity is very low in Yemen and he faces the constant threat of another coup.
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Dealing remote-control drone death, the US has lost its moral compass

The armed drone is being heralded as the next generation of American military technology. It can fly overheard with its unblinking eye, almost invisible to its targets below. Without warning, its missiles will strike, bringing certain death and destruction on the ground. All the while, the military pilot, sitting in a cushioned recliner in an air-conditioned room halfway across the world, is immune from the violence wrought from his or her single keystroke.

While the debate about drones in this country swirls around the precision of the weapon, the sometimes faulty intelligence behind its unleashing of a missile, the ability to keep American boots off the ground, or the legality of the strikes, few take into consideration the morality of the weapon and the damaging effects of its use on both the people targeted and the individuals operating it. The ripples of the drone strikes are felt far beyond those killed or wounded in the actual strike.

The drone is destabilizing the small tribal communities of the Pukhtun, Somali, and Yemeni with their ancient codes of honor, making it difficult to implement any long-term peace initiatives in the volatile regions already being pounded by their own militaries. Too many stories have filtered into the media of innocent men, women, and children being killed.


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