Unmanned British aerial drones armed with Hellfire missiles have been flying the skies over Syria for months in an effort to target British jihadis on a “kill list” written by senior ministers on the U.K. National Security Council.
The strangest part of the story is that a strategy that achieved the very opposite of its intended goal in the drug wars would later be applied full scale to the war on terror—with exactly the same results.
The Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Andrew Cockburn, tells Jon Stewart about the increasingly technologically dependent and hands-off process that American officials use to kill militants and, inadvertently, civilians in other countries.
U.S. drones killed 12 people in Yemen who the government claims are al-Qaida suspects. Thursday’s action was the eighth such attack in less than two weeks amid warnings of terrorist assaults on Western outposts.
A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan has reportedly killed senior Taliban militants, including the group’s second in command. Four people were said to be dead after the attack in the North Waziristan region.
Assassinations have long been regarded as a basic element of foreign relations that largely remained in the dark, unspoken of but widely practiced in response to perceived threats to national security.
We live at a time in the United States when the notion of political enemies has become a euphemism for dismantling prohibitions against targeted assassinations, torture, abductions and indefinite detention.
In 2009, the former head of the international law department of Israel’s military establishment, Daniel Reisner, said that “International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it.”
The Department of Justice memo released by NBC News on Monday, which asserts the right of U.S. officials to kill American citizens without due process, “equates government accusations with guilt,” writes Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian.
The U.S. Justice Department has abandoned evidenced-based reasoning in an undated memo obtained by NBC News that argues for the right of the government to target and kill American citizens it simply deems to be terrorists.