UN Investigator Says US Drone Strikes May Be War Crimes


Let me be clear: I mostly support Obama’s use of drone strikes against Islamist terrorists around the world. It’s one of the few things on which I agree with him. Actually, it’s more like agreeing with Joe Biden, who recommended using more strikes and less troops in regards to the surge in Afghanistan. The United Nations and ACLU, though, disagree

(Guardian) The US policy of using aerial drones to carry out targeted killings presents a major challenge to the system of international law that has endured since the second world war, a United Nations investigator has said.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama’s attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human rights standards.

In his strongest critique so far of drone strikes, Heyns suggested some may even constitute “war crimes”. His comments come amid rising international unease over the surge in killings by remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

When will the left leaning anti-war groups call for Obama to be arrested and charged with war crimes? Lots of civilians and bystanders have been killed as “collateral damage” to the strikes, including the follow up strikes when people come to see what just happened. The program itself might need to be reigned in a bit, especially as Obama seems to enjoy the process of personally picking the targets on the kill list.

Addressing the conference, which was organised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a second UN rapporteur, Ben Emmerson QC, who monitors counter-terrorism, announced he would be prioritising inquiries into drone strikes.

So far, all the ACLU has done is ask for information from the Obama admin. under Freedom of information requests, and has been rebuffed. If Bush was president, one can certainly think that the ACLU would be suing. And the UN will investigate more. With Obama in the White House, does anyone think anything will come of it?

One of the latest UAV developments that concerns human rights groups is the way in which attacks, they allege, have moved towards targeting groups based on perceived patterns of behaviour that look suspicious from aerial surveillance, rather than relying on intelligence about specific al-Qaida activists.

There is that. Does the Obama admin have specific information before it launches a drone strike that warrants the strike? Or is it fishing?

Interestingly, many progressives who would ramp up the barking moonbat syndrome to level 10 if Bush was using drone strikes in the manner can’t find it in themselves to even simply chastise Obama over this program. Consider Firedoglake: what are they upset with?

However, members of the Obama administration do not care what effect their actions have on the ability of citizens to access information. They think it is entirely reasonable to have officials interviewed by news correspondents like Daniel Klaidman, who recently published the book Kill or Capture that highlights the CIA role in drone strikes, while at the same time arguing to a judge that they should not have to confirm or deny the existence of a CIA program.

They’re worried about FOIA requests, rather than targeted drone strikes.

BTW, Obama should be happy that Bush refused to sign on to the International Criminal Court.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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