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Unsatisifed with "grief payments" of a few thousand dollars per dead civilian, Pakistanis demand action

Could the U.S., who perennial accuses its enemies of war crimes soon face those accusations itself before the UN?  That possibility appears increasingly likely following a landmark Pakistani court ruling.

I. Embattled UAV Death Strike Program is Condemned by Court

In the name of fighting terrorism the U.S. has been carrying out a silent war of drone strikes in Pakistan, Qatar, and other Middle Eastern states, order death-strikes on what it say are "terrorists".  But recently released numbers reveal the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) warfare program, largely controlled by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, has a very low succes rate in terms of killing high-profile militants, while having large levels of civilian collateral damage with some strikes killing women and children.

In response four petitions by tribal leaders complaining that U.S. drone strikes were killing civilians, Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and the junior judge on Pakistan two-judge Peshawar High Court panel decided that the drone were war crimes as they killed innocent civilians.

The panel says that the drone strikes were inhumane and violated the UN Charter on Human Rights.  The court is asking the government of Pakistan to push a UN resolution to condemn the strikes and declare them a war crimes, writing [according to translation by The Press Trust of India, "The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future.  If the US vetoes the resolution, then the country should think about breaking diplomatic ties with the US."
Drone Killing
Pakistanis aren't satisifed with the U.S.'s "grief payments" of a few thousand dollars per dead civilian.  [Image Source: Reuters]
Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for victims in the case, is quoted as saying, "This is a landmark judgment. Drone victims in Waziristan will now get some justice after a long wait. This judgment will also prove to be a test for the new government: if drone strikes continue and the government fails to act, it will run the risk of contempt of court."

II. Shift in Pakistani Leadership May Give War Crimes Allegations New Life

So far the Pakistani government, which relies on the U.S. for billions in aid payoffs has been hesitant to declare the U.S. guilty of war crimes.  The U.S. federal government gave $17B USD [source] in 2009 to the governments of Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Pakistan.  Of these nations, Egypt has seen its government overthrown since on allegations of corruption, while Afghanistan has struggled under the weight of similar allegations of sweeping bribery and corruption.  And Pakistan has beenimplicated in sheltering Osama bin Laden, the world's most famous terrorist.

But some foreign observers say regardles of special interests the Pakistani government should not tolerate the civilian deaths.  Comments Clive Stafford Smith of the London-based human rights watchdog group Reprieve, "Today's momentous decision by the Peshawar High Court shines the first rays of accountability onto the CIA's secret drone war."

Some in the U.S. and Britain argue that the strikes are doing little to combat terrorism, and in fact are pushing locals towards terrorism.

In August 2012, a drone strike in Ye
men killed a 40-year-old moderate cleric Salem bin Ahmed bin Ali Jaber just two days after he delivered a speech denouncing al-Qaeda.  The irony is that the al-Qaeda officers who were targeted in the strike, reportedly came into town to threaten Mr. Jaber for his support of the U.S. and pacifistic leanings.

Predator missile
Some feel the President shouldn't have the power to order the warrantless killings of Americans on U.S. soil. [Image Source: Drone Wars UK]

To be fair, U.S. President Obama has claimed a similar authority to kill American "terrorists" without warrant on U.S. soil (although his adminstration tried to cover up that policy).  The administration also does have a policy of paying the family of civilians it kills in the Middle East "grief payments" of a few thousand dollars per body.

While the current administration may be hesistant to take action in the UN against the U.S. elections are fast approaching.  This Saturday's election sees the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party leading in current polls.  Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the party's leader, promises a zero-tolerance policy on drone strike civilian deaths.  He comments, "Drone attacks are against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country's autonomy and independence."

The U.S. has often accused hostile regimes like the governments of Syria, Sudan, Iran, and North Korea of war crimes in recent years.  However, it has seldom been on the receiving end of such accusations, despite an aggressive (and expensive) overseas military program.

Source: The Independent

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RE: What?
By JasonMick on 5/13/2013 2:38:20 PM , Rating: 2
If you're trying to assume that Jason Mick is playing partisan politics, and that he is a hard core republican, you haven't been following Dailytech long enough.

I would vote for any candidate I believed would best represent me, protect the Constitution, and promote domestic and international security in a responsible manner, regardless of their party affiliation. Hence I'm no more a Republican than I am a Democrat.
I started reading here because of Masher, and didn't like Jason's perspective at all back then (it seemed as though he were on a liberal global warming spree).
Correct, my writing career at DailyTech started as a counterpoint to Masher, but in time (and with many debates) I came to greatly respect and admire his perspective.

While I did not and still do not agree with everything he said or wrote, he taught me that "black and white" issues are often far more grey than the zealots and demagogues would have you believe.

He also taught me to keep a watchful eye out for the sweeping assaults by special interests on the Constitution, pseudoscience, and attacks on small entrepreneurship that are oft occurring in America today.

Even in the face of a deluge of glaring special interest debacles I write about in a daily basis, with both of America's parties (or sometimes both) being at times culpable, I strive to maintain optimism while informing my readers of these issues.

I have Michael Asher to thank for that, in part, as well as the mentorship of this site's original executive editor Kristopher Kubicki.
Jason has never struck me as a Reagan lover and I think you're trolling is in very poor taste.
Again, your comment rings true.

I think like most legacies in recent years, President Ronald Reagan's is mixed. Calling his Presidency better or worse is a matter of comparing lesser evils as federal power and corruption has been unchecked and growing throughout much of the last century, and his administration was by no means immune to such trends.

You can like and admire the good parts/actions of his administration. There are some actions that Reagan, Bush (Sr.), Clinton, Bush, and even Obama have done that I admire in that they seem to protect the Constitution and are in the best interest of Americans. However, each and any of those administrations also carried out a number of actions I could point to as being unethical and contributing to the troubled state our nation is in today.

I'm a fan of America and its founding principles, not so much of any particular recent administration in the modern era of bloated federal government.

RE: What?
By mcnabney on 5/13/2013 3:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
Yet neither of you addressed the not hidden at all message that every president has used the US military to attack nations outside of Congressional approval. Now we attack individuals in areas that the de facto nation has little control (Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan).

The only difference is that the tools are far more precise and the risk to US service members is almost completely gone.

In the 60's and 70's we carpet bombed neutral nations like Cambodia.
In the 80's and 90's we used laser guided 2,000 pound bombs that were directed by planes several miles up and we were only guessing who was actually in the building.
Now we use ROVs that can spot individual targets and we hit them with explosives that weigh less than 100 pounds.

What we have today is far far far far more accurate and much less likely to kill civilians. If you know some other way to engage a terrorist group that has no infrastructure to target without putting 100k boots on the ground to route them out, I would love to hear it. Or to use a Bushism - we fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here. I thought that was a pretty terrible excuse for a war, but to wage what is essentially a police action it makes a lot more sense.

RE: What?
By JasonMick on 5/13/2013 3:50:13 PM , Rating: 1
Yet neither of you addressed the not hidden at all message that every president has used the US military to attack nations outside of Congressional approval. Now we attack individuals in areas that the de facto nation has little control (Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan).
Your point is valid, but somewhat immaterial as Congress has control over the military and intelligence community's budget.

So why aren't they checking these unauthorized invasions? Plain and simple, invasions = war = payouts to defense contractors = one of the largest special interest lobbying groups who pay for Congresspeople to get elected:

Between 1998 and 2012 the defense industry spent over $130M USD in payments to presidential and Congressional candidates. Based on recent figures that $1 in special interest campaign contributions earns you $240 USD in kickbacks, on average, this means Congress (and the president) owe these contractors around $31B USD in kickbacks.

Suddenly the reason why Congress and the President support a lot of operations and invasions that are unpopular and at times nonsensical/counterproductive makes a lot more sense.

Feed the hand that feeds.

In the 1960-1980s military operations were at least partially motivated by the cultural fear of the spread of communism, real or imagined.

Of late, though, as lobbying money has increased (the cost of a House seat rose nearly 10x between 1998 and 2008) the demand for constant warfare outside of any useful context has increased and been answered by the President and Congress regardless of the particular party or administration.

RE: What?
By M'n'M on 5/13/2013 4:36:15 PM , Rating: 2
Suddenly the reason why Congress and the President support a lot of operations and invasions that are unpopular and at times nonsensical/counterproductive makes a lot more sense. Feed the hand that feeds.

While following the money is a good idea, I think you need to follow it a little deeper. Look at the specific contracts the top 5 US defense contractors make their profits on. Think about how much actual wars, with boots on the ground, cost and how those costs put pressure on the profit making contracts. Are the invasions helping or hurting the call to spend $$s on the JSF, F-22, GMD (or it's lesser but more mobile cousins) ? Can the Navy (and it's contractors) use those wars as somehow requiring new types of combat ships or upgrades to the existing vessels ?

Drones are used (where they are today) for a variety of reasons but let's not forget they are less costly that manned aircraft in this usage. The munitions they carry are less costly than cruise missiles and their ilk. Who do you think carries more lobbying weight, Lockheed-Martin or General Atomic ?

The threat of war, or war-like actions against the US, stirs a lot of profit making spending. The actual fighting of wars ... not so much (to the big dogs).

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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