In October 2009, Philip Alston, then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, stated that the [Obama] drones program would be illegal if the U.S. was failing to take “all of the relevant precautions to make sure that civilians are not killed, in accordance with the relevant international rules.” Alston continued, “The problem is that we have no real information on this program.”
In May we learned that the President personally maintains a “Kill List” and holds weekly meetings during which, as judge, jury and executioner, he determines who lives and who dies. It was also revealed that the President counts all military-age males killed in drone strikes as militants. ….Such brazen counting and book cooking would make the sneakiest Wall Street accountants blush. ….There is also the president’s personal authorization of the use of “signature strikes” in Pakistan and Yemen. Signature strikes target unidentified and unconfirmed individuals based in behavioral characteristics that are perceived to be those of militants or terrorists. Of course, it doesn’t actually matter whether an individual killed by a signature strike is a militant because he will be counted as one regardless.
President Obama’s method of distinguishing militants from civilians inherently violates the principle of distinction precisely because it fails to distinguish civilians from militants. It also potentially violates the principle of proportionality. ….. In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Sunday Times published the results of a joint investigation into the practice of targeting rescuers who converge on the scene of an initial drone strike. They concluded that between 2009 and 2011, more than a dozen such attacks occurred, resulting in the deaths of at least 50 civilians….. The most recent “double tap” occurred last month in Pakistan. Intentionally targeting rescuers and the wounded are clear violations of international humanitarian law and US rules of warfare. Of course, the president attempts to evade accountability by presuming all those killed in both the initial strike and the follow-up to be militants. Fire and medical personnel are terrorists?
Not everyone agrees. There is a growing international movement against the impunity with which President Obama runs his drones program…. we need an investigation into the legality of the Obama Administration’s favored means of making war.
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