Tags: Targeted Killings

U.S. Drone Strike Math – 41 Terrorists Targeted, 1,147 People Killed

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 10.38.14 AMWhile I haven’t covered the topic of drones very much as of late, it was a core topic at Liberty Blitzkrieg several years ago. The most recent, relevant piece I published on it was during the summer of 2013 and titled: The Truth About Drones.

Here’s an excerpt:

A lot of Americans have an impression that drone strikes are less damaging to civilian populations than conventional airstrikes. This would be false. In fact, earlier this month I highlighted an article from the Guardian that demonstrated how in reality drone strikes are 10x more likely to harm civilians per incident. Now, thanks to a recently leaked document we find that many more civilians including children have been killed in these strikes than many of us would like to admit. In fact, of the 746 people killed in drone strikes in Pakistan from 2006-2009, an incredible 20% were civilians and 94 (13% of the total) were children.

I strongly believe that the reason so many Americans blindly support the widespread use of drones is due to the mistaken belief that they are precise and result in few civilian casualties. It’s important to get some of the facts out to the public in order to have a more informed debate on the matter.

In the latest news, the Guardian reports that:

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The FBI Has Been Using Drones Domestically Since 2006

So about that whole drone debate in the USA…

It seems the feds decided to simply skip over such a quaint notion and deploy them without telling anyone. Back in December of last year, I highlighted a press release from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) about current drone flights in the U.S. They disclosed that:

Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States.

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These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

That story was big news to me at the time, and it was particularly disturbing in light of the fact that Congress has cleared the way for the Federal Aviation Administration to allow 30,000 drones in the nation’s skies by 2020. Well it appears that the whole drone debate was over before it even began, with the FBI having used drones domestically for at least seven years. From the LA Times:

WASHINGTON – Operating with almost no public notice, the FBI has spent more than $3 million to operate a fleet of small drone aircraft in domestic investigations, according to a report released Thursday by a federal watchdog agency.

The unmanned surveillance planes have helped FBI agents storm barricaded buildings, track criminal suspects and examine crime scenes since 2006, longer than previously known, according to the 35-page inspector general’s audit of drones used by the Justice Department.

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Three of the Four U.S. Citizens Killed with Drones were Killed by Accident

While most people reading this are well aware of Eric Holder’s letter to Senator Patrick J. Leahy that four U.S. citizens have been killed by drones strikes, the real story here is that it appears only one of them was killed intentionally.  The others were apparently collateral damage.  Interesting that “targeted” strikes only end up with a 25% success rate, and this is when we are talking about American citizens.  So how many innocent men, women and children have we really killed in these strikes.  Does anyone even care?  From Eric Holder’s letter:

Since 2009, the United States, in the conduct of U.S. counterterrorism operations against al Qa’ida and its associated forces outside of areas of active hostilities, has specifically targeted and killed one U.S. citizen, Anwar Al-Aulaqi.  The United States is further aware of three other U.S. citizens who have been killed in such U.S. counterterrorism operations over that same time period:  Samir Khan, ‘Abd al Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Kennan Mohammad.  These individuals were not specifically targeted by the United States.

Did you catch all of that?  That’s a lot of very scary twisted jargon that can basically justify anything.  I mean “associated forces,” “outside of areas of active hostilities,” and “not specifically targeted.”  We’re in big trouble and it’s not because of terrorists…

Here’s a link to the entire Holder letter.

In Liberty,
Mike

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McClatchy Study: Obama Administration Has No Idea Who They are Killing with Drones

McClatchy has released a very important study that demonstrates that not only is the Obama Administration being intentionally secretive about their entire drone program, but in reality they have no idea who they are killing or how many.  In many cases those killed are just classified as an “unknown extremist,” aka civilian.  We already know how insane the drone program is from many sources, including the confessions of drone operator Brandon Bryant, who quit after realizing his superiors told him the child he had incinerated was just a “dog.”  From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.

The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.” 

Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.

The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”

Micah Zenko, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank, who closely follows the target killing program, said McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is “misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”

You don’t say.

The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”

McClatchy’s review is the first independent evaluation of internal U.S. intelligence accounting of drone attacks since the Bush administration launched America’s secret aerial warfare on Oct. 7, 2001, the day a missile-carrying Predator took off for Afghanistan from an airfield in Pakistan on the first operational flight of an armed U.S. drone.

At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists.  Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.

“Unknown extremists,” just another euphemism for civilian.

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Rand Paul Filibuster Shockwaves Continue…Now the Democrats are at War

Dear Mr. President:

In response to partial release of the Department of Justice memos describing the underlying legal justifications for the targeted killings of American citizens and others in the course of counterterrorism operations, we are writing to emphasize Congress’ vital oversight role in these matters.  Every American has the right to know the underlying legal rationale that ensures due process.

Authorizing the killing of American citizens and others has profound implications for our Constitution, the core values of our nation, our national security and future international practice.  The executive branch’s claim of authority to deprive citizens of life, and to do so without explaining the legal basis for doing so, set a dangerous precedent and is a model of behavior the United States would not want other nations to emulate.

Therefore, we ask that you release, in an unclassified form, the full legal basis of executive branch claims in the areas which are the subject of this letter.  The Executive’s claims of authority need to be fully articulated to the whole of Congress and the American people.

– Excerpts from a letter by eight Democrat Representatives to Obama on March 11, 2013

Last Thursday, I took the time to write a lengthy article on the historic Rand Paul talking filibuster because I had a strong sense of its significance.  It was exactly the sort of event we needed as a nation to blow a hole right through the false “left-right” paradigm used by mainstream Democrats and Republicans to trick the public into thinking there is a difference between the two parties on the major issues.  The whole point of the article was that Rand had successfully united libertarian and progressive activists, and also sparked a long overdue civil war within the Republican party.  By forcing John McCain and Lindsey Graham to come out in defense of Obama’s assassinated killing program the day after dining with Obama (while Rand stood on his feet for 13 hours), he brilliantly exposed them for the dinosaur fraud RINOs that they are.

Well now the shockwaves have hit the Democratic Party, as eight members of the House of Representatives have sent Obama a letter demanding he release the details of his assassination program.  The biggest problem for the Obama Administration is that four of them are black, which essentially neutralizes his favorite defense, which is to just say that anyone that disagrees with him must be a racist.  Interesting times have finally come to American politics, and it’s long overdue.

Great job Representatives:  Barbara Lee, John Conyers, Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Donna Edwards, Mike Honda, Rush Holt and James McGovern

In Liberty,
Mike

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Eric Holder Responds: Claims Military Can Assassinate U.S. Citizens on U.S. Soil

Last week, I highlighted the fact that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul had still not received an answer to his question of whether the U.S. government believes it has the authority to assassinate a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.  Well we finally have an answer from Attorney General Eric Holder and it’s not good.  In a press release from Senator Paul we discover that:

Attorney General Holder stated in a letter to Sen. Paul dated March 4, 2013: “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

There you have it folks.  Any questions?

Full press release here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Rand Paul’s Third Letter to the CIA: Can You Kill with Drones in the USA?

This letter is a few days old, but is very important for every American to be aware of. Essentially, Rand Paul is threatening to filibuster Barack Obama’s nominee for the CIA, John Brennan, due to his refusal to answer a simple question:

Do you believe that the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial?

This should not be a complicated question to answer, yet it seems Obama, Brennan and pretty much every other little power consumed bureaucrat is incapable of doing so.  Below is Rand Paul’s letter reprinted in full (my emphasis added).

February 20, 2013

John O. Brennan

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. Brennan,

In consideration of your nomination to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), I have repeatedly requested that you provide answers to several questions clarifying your role in the approval of lethal force against terrorism suspects, particularly those who are U.S. citizens. Your past actions in this regard, as well as your view of the limitations to which you are subject, are of critical importance in assessing your qualifications to lead the CIA. If it is not clear that you will honor the limits placed upon the Executive Branch by the Constitution, then the Senate should not confirm you to lead the CIA.

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