“[Obama is] just too tied to Wall Street. And at this point he is a war criminal. You can't meet every Tuesday with a killer list and continually have drones drop bombs. You can do that once or twice and say: 'I shouldn't have done that, I've got to stop.' But when you do it month in, month out, year in, year out – that's a pattern of behaviour. I think there is a chance of a snowball in hell that he will ever be tried, but I think he should be tried and I said the same about George Bush. These are war crimes. We suffer in this age from an indifference toward criminality and a callousness to catastrophe when it comes to poor and working people.”—Professor Cornel West, speaking to The Guardian.
Pakistani court declares US drone strikes in the country's tribal belt illegal
May 13, 2013
A Pakistani court has declared that US drone strikes in the country’s tribal belt are illegal and has directed the government to move a resolution against the attacks in the United Nations.
In what activists said was an historic decision, the Peshawar High Court issued the verdict against the strikes by CIA-operated spy planes in response to four petitions that contended the attacks killed civilians and caused “collateral damage”.
Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, who headed a two-judge bench that heard the petitions, ruled the drone strikes were illegal, inhumane and a violation of the UN charter onhuman rights. The court said the strikes must be declared a war crime as they killed innocent people.
“The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future,” the court said, according to the Press Trust of India. It asked Pakistan’s foreign ministry to table a resolution against the American attacks in the UN.
“If the US vetoes the resolution, then the country should think about breaking diplomatic ties with the US,” the judgment said.
US officials have said the drones target al-Qa’ida and Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s tribal regions who are blamed for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan and say the operations are done with the complicity of Pakistan’s military. Activists say hundreds of civilians are killed as “collateral damage” and that there is no transparency about the operation of the drones.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party is considered frontrunner in this Saturday’s election, this week vowed that he would not tolerate drone attacks on Pakistani soil.
“Drone attacks are against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country’s autonomy and independence,” he said.
The case was filed last year by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a legal charity based in Islamabad, on behalf of the families of victims killed in a 17 March 2011 strike on a tribal jirga.
The jirga, a traditional community dispute resolution mechanism, had been called to settle a chromite mining dispute in Datta Khel, North Waziristan. This strike killed more than 50 tribal elders, including a number of government officials. There was strong condemnation of this attack by all quarters in Pakistan including the federal government and Pakistan military.
Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for victims in the case, said: “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.”?
Clive Stafford Smith of the London-based group Reprieve, which has supported the case, said: “Today’s momentous decision by the Peshawar High Court shines the first rays of accountability onto the CIA’s secret drone war.”
He added: “For the innocent people killed by U.S. drone strikes, it marks the first time they have been officially acknowledged for who they truly are - civilian victims of American war crimes.”
The US will surely veto any resolution that goes through the UN, just as it has before in the past (ahem, 41 vetoes to defend Israel)… but this case is monumental in examining the US drone war as a war crime because of the innocent civilians who have been killed, not just in Pakistan (between411-884) but in Yemen (between 99-184) & Somalia (up to 15) as well. (Note: These stats don’t include “militants,” which was redefined to include all males of military age in a strike zone, which often includes innocent civilians.)
“It's strange how "scandal" gets defined these days in Washington. At the moment, everyone is screaming about the "scandal" of the Internal Revenue Service scrutinizing conservative nonprofits before granting them tax-exempt status.”—
This should be the last word in the so-called “IRS scandal” which is getting smaller with each detail I hear about it. It won’t be, because Benghazi is revealing itself to be an old fashioned failure of intelligence and not an Iran-Contra style liefest, so certain segments of the population devote a lot of time to bringing a president down. And I get that, I spent the 8 years of Bush 2 mired in what the Onion called outrage fatigue. I was concerned about spending, defense, America’s place in the world. But that’s also because Bush 2 increased spending, got us caught in our nations longest war, saw 13 American embassy attacks occur (in Yemen! Greece! Pakistan! Countries far more stable than Libya!). If you’re all of a sudden concerned with spending and safety of our troops, you need to ask yourself what’s different about this President.
Some big points that need to be made:
- eventually, after the ‘tea party’ classification was deemed unfair, groups that were interested in “limiting/expanding government” were targeted (italics mine). Doesn’t sound like they’re JUST going after conservative groups.
- Congress’ bi-partisan complicity: “The IRS was swamped by the wave. The number of groups seeking C4 status from the agency rose from 1,500 in 2010 to 3,400 last year. Meanwhile, the agency was being pulled in two directions. In February last year, seven Democratic senators complained that the IRS was too “permissive” with its rules, which judged a C4 not to be engaged “primarily” in electioneering as long as no more than 49% of its spending went to such activities. In August, 10 GOP senators warned the agency to deep-six any efforts to tighten the rules on C4s.” Nice to see those guys agreeing on something.
- The Koch brothers backed Citizens United, the court decision that makes such organizations viable. And the Koch brothers are bidding for the LA Times, so enjoy this kind of journalism while it lasts.