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Multiple human rights agencies turn against Obama, accuse him of war crimes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Amnesty International has accused President Obama of a possible war crime in a report on the administration's drone policy. Saying they can find no justifications for the strikes, Amnesty International is calling for the administration to release more information about the strikes.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Obama administration is likely guilty of at least one war crime, and possibly several according to several reports issued by various watchdog agencies. Three reports have been released in rapid succession and they all point to the same troubling conclusions.

Reports have been released by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations.

The United Nations released its report last week and will present the final draft to the General Assembly on Oct. 25. That report will conclude by asking the Obama administration to be more transparent about its drone program.

Two days after the UN released its last week, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released theirs. Those reports also follow a New York Times report that revealed the Obama administration considers all military-age males in a strike zone to be combatants, "unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."

In other words, the administration appears to have a "kill them all and let God sort them out" approach.

That approach has killed hundreds of civilians in the tribal regions of Pakistan and in Yemen. According to reports, one strike simply killed 18 workers when they were sitting down to supper. None of the men were combatants, they were just laborers tired after a long day and congregating for a meal.

In another strike, an elderly, 68-year-old grandmother was murdered with a hellfire missile as she harvested vegetables.

In another shocking incident that took place on July 6, 2012, the administration repeated a drone strike  after a group of people responded to aid those injured in an attack just minutes before. According to the reports, the second strike killed rescuers and likely constitutes a war crime.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to know why the U.S. felt justified in striking that target twice, or why strikes were made against a grandmother and common laborers. The problem exists because the administration is refusing to release any details or information regarding the program other than the most basic acknowledgement of when a strike occurs and when it is noteworthy.

U.S. drones are operating constantly over various regions of the Middle East and large swathes of population live in constant fear of death from above. In the tribal regions of Pakistan, men typically carry rifles, such as AK-47's, when they work in the fields, owing to the lawless nature of the region. The rifles are not a sign they are enemy combatants, it's simply a cultural norm to carry your rifle into the field.

However, this norm could lead to misidentification to the eyes in the sky, which are hawkishly seeking their next victim. Civilians say they live in constant terror and are often afraid to congregate in large numbers for fear of attracting attention from the omnipresent drones.

The drone program has succeeded in terrorizing the terrorists. It has also brought some of them to justice. Unfortunately, it has also terrorized thousands of innocent civilians and killed at least several hundred to a thousand or more innocent victims.

Without better information and a disclosure on how and why these strikes were conducted, it is impossible to verify if the strikes which killed civilians had a legitimate target in sight, or if they are part of a campaign of general terror intended to intimidate the people.

Of course, the administration has no intention of talking, saying that the terrorists will study any information they release to avoid future strikes. Nor are they likely to incriminate themselves.

The best argument against drone strikes is probably that terror campaigns fail. For example, 9-11 did not cower the American people, but instead motivated them to rise in great fury. Likewise, it is absurd for us to assume that our drones will cause the people of these regions to bow in eternal submission. More than likely each strike is motivating them and feeding the ranks of the Taliban and Al Qaeda with fresh adherents.

If the Obama administration does not care about committing war crimes, then perhaps they should care about creating many terrorists where before there were only a few.

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