Following the fake false flag attack by CIA on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush began a campaign of “war on terror” and “targeted killings” against suspected members of al Qaeda and other armed groups. It has continued under the administration of President Barack Obama.
The United States may be finished dropping bombs on Iraq and Afghanistan, but their bodies will be dealing with the consequences for generations to come in the form of birth defects, mysterious illnesses and skyrocketing cancer rates.
Human Rights Watch calls upon the US government to clarify fully and publicly its legal rationale for conducting targeted killings and the legal limits on such strikes. To date it has not done so, which raises broader concerns, including among US allies, about the lawfulness of its actions and creates a dangerous model that may be followed by abusive governments. The government should explain why its attacks are in conformity with all applicable international law and make public information, including video footage, on how particular attacks comply with those standards. To ensure compliance with international law, the US government should conduct investigations of targeted killings where there is credible evidence of wrongdoing, provide compensation to all victims of unlawful attacks, and discipline or prosecute as appropriate those responsible for conducting or ordering illegal strikes. So long as the US does not demonstrate a readiness to hold the CIA to international legal requirements for accountability and redress, only the US armed forces should have command responsibility to conduct attacks using drones.
In recent years the phrase “targeted killing” has commonly been used to refer to a deliberate lethal attack by government forces against a specific individual not in custody under the colour of law. It is not a technical legal term. Depending on the circumstances, a particular targeted killing may or may not be lawful under international law. For instance, a sniper shooting at an enemy general on the battlefield would normally be a lawful targeted killing. Targeted killings should be considered distinctly from the summary execution of anyone in custody, which is never lawful.
There is no concrete, verifiable number of deaths from US targeted killings. The New America Foundation, which bases its figures on local and international media accounts, conducted a study of reported US drone strikes in northern Pakistan from 2004 to 2011, and concluded that the attacks killed between 1,680 and 2,634 alleged militants and civilians.
Other independent monitors, such as the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, have provided similar figures. US counterterrorism officials stated in May 2010 that since 2008 roughly 530 people had been killed in Pakistan by drone strikes. This figure does not include US targeted killings before 2008; those in Yemen, where the media and Yemeni and US officials have reported dozens killed in at least 20 drone or other airstrikes since 2002; and those killed in other countries, such as Afghanistan and Somalia. In an August 2011 news article, unidentified CIA officers reportedly said that since May 2010 drones had killed more than 600 people. Earlier in the year, John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor, announced without corroborating information that in the preceding 12 months there had not been a single civilian death in drone strikes because of the “exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” With such skyrocketing civilian death rates only the grossly misinformed would believe that US’s drone attacks on civilians is actually “War on terror.”
The somber side of this drone attacks shows that 9/11 is the foundation for the unending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now in their 13 year year, the wars have cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, yet President Obama continues to use 9/11 as the reason for fighting in the region this despite the disturbing questions about the official account of the tragedy, now confirmed as being based on lies. Many of these questions are grounded in science and can no longer be ignored or dismissed as so-called “conspiracy theories.