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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Mimics Terror Tactics in Killing Rescuers

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Posted on Aug 21, 2012
The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

U.S. Apache helicopters land in Iraq.

Attacking the rescuers of those wounded in attacks—“a tactic long deemed by the U.S. as a hallmark of terrorism”—is now a routine practice by the U.S. in Pakistan, and the Obama administration has nothing to say about it, writes Glenn Greenwald in his first piece as a regular contributor to The Guardian.

Greenwald says the Bureau of Investigative Journalism earlier this year recorded a minimum of 50 civilians killed in follow-up strikes, nicknamed “double tap” attacks, where people went to help victims of CIA drone attacks in Pakistan. One of the most infamous examples of such an assault was publicized in 2010 when WikiLeaks released footage of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and their civilian rescuers from an Apache helicopter in Baghdad.

More recently, 16 people were killed in similar attacks in Pakistan’s Waziristan region in early June, the bureau reports. Between May 2009 and June 2011, at least 15 attacks on rescuers were counted by news sources such as The New York Times, CNN, ABC News and Al-Jazeera.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian:

Not only does that tactic intimidate rescuers from helping the wounded and removing the dead, but it also ensures that journalists will be unwilling to go to the scene of a drone attack out of fear of a follow-up attack.

This has now happened yet again this weekend in Pakistan, which witnessed what Reuters calls “a flurry of drone attacks” that “pounded northern Pakistan over the weekend”, “killing 13 people in three separate attacks”. The attacks “came as Pakistanis celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan with the festival of Eid al-Fitr.” At least one of these weekend strikes was the type of “double tap” explosion aimed at rescuers which, the US government says, is the hallmark of Hamas.

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