Medea Benjamin, author of ‘Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control’

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of an international women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement – Code Pink – working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.

medea benjaminShe writes: “In October 2011, 16-year-old Tariq Aziz attended a gathering in Islamabad where he was taught how to use a video camera so he could document the drones that were constantly circling over his Pakistani village, terrorizing and killing his family and neighbors. Two days later, when Aziz was driving with his 12-year-old cousin to a village near his home in Waziristan to pick up his aunt, his car was struck by a Hellfire missile. With the push of a button by a pilot at a US base thousands of miles away, both boys were instantly vaporized (Pratap Chatterjee , Guardian) . . .”

Recording that the US government refused to acknowledge the boys’ deaths or explain why they were targeted, she asks, rhetorically, “Why should they? This is a covert program where no one is held accountable for their actions”.

Indicted by Medea as the main architect of this drone policy that has killed hundreds if not thousands, of innocents, including 176 children in Pakistan alone, is President Obama’s counterterrorism chief and the next director of the CIA: John Brennan.

She recently visited Pakistan and met people whose loved ones had been maimed or killed by drone attacks, many ‘aching for revenge’. For all of them, there has been no apology, no compensation, not even an acknowledgement of their losses. Nothing. As she said, later in the article: “[T]he blowback from Brennan’s drone attacks is creating enemies far faster than we can kill them”.

When John Brennan spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. last April and described US policies as ethical, wise and in compliance with international law, Medea spoke on behalf of Tariq Aziz and so many others and was dragged out of the room (video clip) ending:”I love the rule of law and I love my country. You are making us less safe by killing so many innocent people. Shame on you, John Brennan.”

The New York Ties reported John Brennan’s ‘extraordinary statement’ in 2011 that in 2010 there hadn’t been a single collateral death “because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” Later this was modified: adjusted his statement somewhat, saying that the U.S. government had not found credible evidence of collateral deaths.

It is alleged that these calculations had been achieved by ‘a semantic solution’: simply counting all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.

She ends by pointing to a 2011 New York Times exposé which showed John Brennan as President Obama’s top adviser in formulating a “kill list” for drone strikes. The people Brennan recommends for the hit list are given no chance to surrender, and certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law.

The kind of intelligence Brennan uses to put people on drone hit lists is the same kind of intelligence that put people in Guantanamo. Remember how the American public was assured that the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo were the “worst of the worst,” only to find out that hundreds were innocent people who had been sold to the U.S. military by bounty hunters?

President Obama says the US is ‘a nation of laws’. Medea’s verdict:

A nation of laws? Really? Going around the world killing anyone we want, whenever we want, based on secret information?

Ours:

A professedly Christian nation? Really? Yet repeatedly allowing its government to break the sixth commandment, ’Thou shalt not kill’.

Medea Benjamin is author of the book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control and can be followed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@medeabenjamin

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This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Armed drones, Civilian deaths, Drone strikes, International law, Pakistan, President Obama and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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