Monday, August 18, 2014

Human rights groups : United States of deliberately violating the laws of war.

The United States is facing increasingly harsh criticism over its use of lethal drone strikes to target suspected terrorists. American drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen may amount to war crimes, according to a pair of reports released by international human rights groups Tuesday.

The Obama administration has always maintained that its lethal operations are targeted at terrorists and “proportionate,” that is, designed to avoid civilian casualties. “Under domestic law, and international law, the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces,” President Barack Obama said in a speech at National Defense University in May. Nevertheless, the president said, the U.S. only acts against those that “pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people” and that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured–the highest standard we can set.”

Both reports say Obama isn’t following his own standard, accusing the United States of deliberately violating the laws of war. Examining nine drone strikes in Pakistan, the Amnesty International report concludes that the attacks killed large numbers of innocent civilians, and accuses the U.S. of targeting rescuers who arrive in the aftermath of the strikes to aid the wounded. A report from Human Rights Watch states that the majority of people killed by six drone strikes in Yemen were civilians (57 out of the 82 killed).

The reports describe civilians in both countries as being pinned between two equally frightening sources of violence: The extremist groups the U.S. is targeting and the lethal methods the US uses to target them. In at least one case where Amnesty International accuses the U.S. of deliberately targeting rescuers, Abu Yahya al-Libi, a high ranking member of al Qaeda, was killed. Amnesty International argues that al-Libi was among civilians and “overseeing” rescue efforts, and therefore shouldn’t have been targeted. In another case, one of those killed was a 68-year old grandmother with no connection to terror groups.
The groups’ findings that the United States has killed more civilians than it has admitted are bolstered by a UN report obtained by NBC

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