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Killing Kids for Freedom

by BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

“I want to make sure that people understand: actually, drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties [in Pakistan]. For the most part they have been very precise precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

President Obama,  January 31, 2012

The bureau counted 260 strikes [in Pakistan] by Predator and Reaper drones since President Obama took office, and it said that 282 to 535 civilians had been “credibly reported” killed in those attacks, including more than 60 children. American officials said that the number was much too high, though they acknowledged that at least several dozen civilians had been killed inadvertently in strikes aimed at militant suspects.

New York Times, February 5, 2012

I can say that the types of operations . . .  that the US has been involved in, in the counter-terrorism realm, that nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.

President Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, June 29, 2011

Although US officials declare that the number of civilians reported by independent sources as having been killed in Pakistan by Obama’s drone missiles is “much too high”, they don’t say what their own assessed figure might be.  They claim that only “several dozen” have died.  And the President of the United States says that several dozen is not a ‘huge number’ of dead innocents. Either these people don’t know the figures or they don’t care about them. What’s five dozen dead kids, after all?  Are they important?   Of course not.   So tap the mouse, flick the switch, hit the keys, because it’s all in the best interests of  “compressing the kill chain” that the soaring drones roam and reap their harvest in blood.  And get this, and get it good — all these missile strikes that kill people are against “militant suspects.”

Got it?  —   “I suspect you are a militant, therefore I am going to kill you.”

There is no requirement to legally identify a suspected enemy of the United States before firing a missile at him.  Whether people in the sights of drone cameras live or die is determined by a nimble-fingered mafia of robo-cowboys playing assassination video games. To use a cliché, they embody police, judge, jury and executioner in a court of no appeal. They can grant life or decide to deny its continuance.  They are the ultimate Terminators, accountable to the laws of neither gods nor man when they deal out death.   In modern civilization, the United States of America, a proudly democratic country, employs professional exterminators who need not heed rules that have been developed over centuries to try to make our planet a better place.

Most drone killings are inflicted by ‘Hellfire’ missiles whose new versions have warheads “designed to inflict greater damage in multi-room structures, compared to the Hellfire’s standard or blast-fragmentation warheads . . .  When the explosive detonates, the aluminum mixture is dispersed and rapidly burns. The resultant sustained high pressure is extremely effective against enemy personnel and structures.”  It also kills kids, of course, and lots of other people who don’t deserve to be exterminated by Hellfire missiles.

There is no doubt that the death of some, even many, people at the finger-prod of the techno-dweebs has rid the world of some evil characters. The very first person killed by a drone in Pakistan was a man called Nek Mohammad Wazir in June 2004.  He was an evil person, no doubt about that, because he had killed without remorse, and deserved to die.  But in the following eight years of the missile blitz, lots of other people have died, hundreds of whom had not committed any crime.

It has been difficult for independent observers to identify beyond doubt the number of women, children and other innocents who have been killed by the cold-eyed controllers in the US Air Force Base in Creech, Nevada. These divine dealers of death can see exactly who they are about to exterminate because the imagery of the drones’ systems is superb.  They can see the crinkle of a cheek, the thrust of a lip, the furrow of a brow,  such is their amazing technology.  And after they’ve killed their victims, the cameras linger on the scene to do what we used to call a BDA — a bomb damage assessment — an armchair reckoning of exactly how much carnage was wreaked by their high pressure blast fragmentation.

And their slaughter for freedom results in this sort of thing:

Twenty one people were killed, including three women and six children including Syed Wali Shah [aged seven] in an attack on a madrassa linked to Siraj Haqqani. Five houses were destroyed, and no rescue was attempted because of the continuing presence of drones. The father of dead child Syed Wali Shah later told photographer Noor Bekhram: “We had no idea of what was happening or why. We heard a blast at around 2.30 in the morning, and then part of a missile hit our house in the courtyard where the whole family was sleeping.”

“No rescue was attempted because of the continuing presence of drones” because the control cowboys keep looking at the scene of their butchery through the cameras that stay circling above the scene of their attack, and if anyone attempts to enter the area to try to help kids who are bleeding to death, then they get zapped to shreds, too.

Seven year-old Syed was one of sixty kids killed, so far, by the CIA’s Air Force executioners from Nevada, and his murder can be shrugged off by Obama’s comfortable claim that “drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.”  Sure:  there hasn’t been a “huge number”.  How nice for you, Mr President, to be able to sleep well at night, knowing your orders have resulted in the death of only a few dozen innocent kids.

When an innocent American boy, Trayvon Martin was killed by a gun-happy vigilante in Florida in March, Obama said

When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this . . . Obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. All of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how something like this has happened.

What about some soul searching and figuring concerning the USAF/CIA killing of seven year-old Syed Shah in Pakistan? That was a tragedy, too. Trayvon Martin was suspected of being up to no good, carrying candies in a menacing manner, and he was shot dead. But Syed Shah wasn’t suspected of doing anything at all when he was killed by one of Obama’s drones:  he was only seven years old and was asleep when the drone-meisters made sure he would never wake up.

Mr Obama declared “My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. All of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves.”  Certainly it’s important to take killing kids seriously.  So why doesn’t Obama send a message to the parents of Syed Shah?  Of course he couldn’t send a message to Syed’s mom because his drone killed her, too.  But Syed’s dad survived, and maybe he’d like to hear from the President who has such compassion for kids.

But he won’t hear a word, because his son  died in one of Obama’s  “precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates.” The drones will continue to deal out hellfire, and kids will continue to die.

Brian Cloughley’s website is www.beecluff.com

 

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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