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Documents reveal US drone policy is scandalously indiscriminate

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Obama administration is now acknowledging the deaths of four American citizens since 2009 in drone strikes. A letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to key Congressional leaders provided the information.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - A letter sent by Attorney General Eric Holder confirms the deaths of four Americans from drone strikes since 2009. Those Americans are identified as Anwar Al-Awlaki, his son, Abd al-Rahmn Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan, and Jude Kenan Mohammed.

All four men were American citizens living abroad and working with al-Qaeda.

Jude Kenan Mohammed was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in November, 2011.

Holder's letter also claimed that Awlaki was the only U.S. citizen deliberately targeted in a drone strike. The others were collateral casualties.

The letter detailed the explicit guidelines the administration is now using for the targeted killings of Americans. Much of this us detailed in a white paper, initially shared by NBC News.

Meanwhile, the death of Mohammed wasn't widely announced. Even the FBI still had him on their "most wanted" list pointing out that he was indicted on July 22, 2009 for conspiracy to commit "murder, kidnap, maim, and injure persons in a foreign country."

The FBI says he will remain wanted until they receive official confirmation of his death. This should be immediately forthcoming.

Obama administration officials have long insisted their policy for targeting Americans who could be participating in terrorist operations overseas has been strict and narrow and that the strikes themselves are "very precise."

However, documents recently obtained by NBC and other media sources, such as McClatchy Newspapers, suggest that low-level terrorists have been hit with strikes, even when the identities and nationalities of those individuals remained unknown.

In other words, recently obtained documents suggest that drones are being used to strike any gatherings of terrorists without much knowledge or regard for who is being hit.

Some of the targets are simply regarded as hostile, and not specifically al-Qaeda. A CIA list of 53 drone strikes conducted in the fall of 2010 lists only 22 of those strikes against known al-Qaeda operatives. Others were presumably al-Qaeda friendly targets, but not al-Qaeda. Fourteen of the strikes listed the targets as "other militants." This represents an abject lack of clarity and caution.

While few Americans will shed tears over this policy, it must be understood that all American citizens have certain rights that protect them from harsh government action, no matter how heinous their crimes or the accusations against them may be.

Faced with increasing criticism, the U.S. government does appear to be reducing the intensity of the drone program, and striking fewer targets.

There is no indication that the strikes that are still conducted are in any way more careful or discriminatory than before. Americans with an eye towards terror should take warning. Despite controversy, the current administration does not hesitate, and few tears will be shed for you.

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