Reports from the Economic Front

a blog by Marty Hart-Landsberg

Drone Warfare

So, what government believes that it has the right to kill anyone, regardless of where they are, if the head of state believes that the person is a threat to the country’s national security?  No, the answer is not the government of North Korea.  It is the government of the United States.

And how does the government of the United States justify its policy of targeted assassinations?  According to a recent New York Times article:

On Page 4 of the unclassified 16-page “white paper,” Justice Department lawyers tried to refute the argument that international law does not support extending armed conflict outside a battlefield. They cited as historical authority a speech given May 28, 1970, by John R. Stevenson, then the top lawyer for the State Department, following the United States’ invasion of Cambodia.

Since 1965, “the territory of Cambodia has been used by North Vietnam as a base of military operations,” he told the New York City Bar Association. “It long ago reached a level that would have justified us in taking appropriate measures of self-defense on the territory of Cambodia. However, except for scattered instances of returning fire across the border, we refrained until April from taking such action in Cambodia.”

In fact, Nixon had begun his secret bombing of Cambodia more than a year earlier. (It is not clear whether Mr. Stevenson knew this.) So the Obama administration’s lawyers have cited a statement that was patently false.

To be sure, the administration may have additional arguments in support of its use of drones in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and other countries. To secure the confirmation of John O. Brennan as the C.I.A. director, it recently showed members of the Congressional intelligence committees some of the highly classified legal memos that were the basis for the white paper. But Mr. Obama has asked us to trust him, and Cambodia offers us no reason to do so.

The following link illustrates the escalation of drone warfare under President Obama by highlighting every known drone attack in Pakistan since 2004 and the estimated casualties: http://drones.pitchinteractive.com/

After watching the graphic take a few moments to explore the site, especially the victims and news links.

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