“Years of air strikes, drone-operated killings, and covert operations have brought neither peace nor safety to the region and its people. Estimates of the death toll from U.S. attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia alone range from 3,100 to 5,400, including 570-1,200 civilians. Precise figures are impossible to obtain since the strikes remain classified, and investigating drone attacks is difficult and dangerous work. Nor has the drone campaign halted the proliferation of groups seeking to link their — usually local — agendas to the idea of a global struggle represented by al-Qaeda. Indiscriminate killing — and the constant fear of death from above — has only destroyed communities and provided easy recruitment material for extremist groups.”
— An unwinnable war continues
11:10 pm • 18 September 2014 • 56 notes
“To recap: we are going to war with no clear exit plan; we are doing so before the regional allies have been forced to take a stand; Obama is shouldering all of the responsibility himself, based on a hysterical public mood that could evaporate in a month’s time. To argue that this is a reneging of everything Obama ran on is an understatement. Even Bush went to Congress for a vote before the Iraq War. And the legitimization of panic and fear and hysteria undoes so much of what Obama had previously achieved in amending US foreign policy.”
— The Nightmare Scenario
5:36 pm • 13 September 2014 • 22 notes
“The Arab Awakening of 2011 did not usher in an era of democracy, nor could it. The institutions of civil society were too weak; the political culture of winner-take-all too strong; sectarian differences too powerful; and a belief in pluralism too inchoate. Instead, the awakening produced political vacuums and a struggle over identity.”
— Dennis Ross
11:16 am • 12 September 2014 • 1 note
Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” That category—280,000 people—dwarfs the number of watchlisted people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined.
The documents, obtained from a source in the intelligence community, also reveal that the Obama Administration has presided over an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist screening system. Since taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no fly list more than ten-fold, to an all-time high of 47,000—surpassing the number of people barred from flying under George W. Bush.
“If everything is terrorism, then nothing is terrorism,” says David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent. The watchlisting system, he adds, is “revving out of control.”
12:20 pm • 6 August 2014
“With my current condition, I live in solitary confinement, but I am very happy in my cell because my spirit is free even while my body is being held captive. […] Perhaps a poor detainee may be happy while being water-boarded or tortured or even in solitary confinement where he can’t see the sun or the moon.”
— Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, says in his latest manifesto
11:12 am • 18 April 2014
“I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, 15 of them with The New York Times. I interviewed numerous individuals deemed by the U.S. government to be terrorists and traveled with armed groups, including units of al-Qaida, labeled as terrorist organizations. When I reported the statements and activities of these individuals and groups, U.S. officialdom often made little distinction between them and me. This was true during the wars in Central America. It was true in the Middle East. And it was true when I covered global terrorism. There was no law at the time that permitted the government, because of my work as a reporter, to order the military to seize and detain me. Now there is. This law, if it is not struck down, will essentially replace our civilian judiciary with a military one. Those targeted under this law will not be warned beforehand that they will be arrested. They will not have a chance to get a lawyer. They will not see the inside of a courtroom. They will simply vanish.”
— Chris Hedges
9:32 pm • 2 April 2014 • 132 notes
Drones strikes kill 18 in Yemen this week, more transparency is needed
The alleged US drone strike that reportedly killed up to 15 people on their way to a wedding in Yemen on Thursday is just one more reason why the Obama administration has to start talking more – and more honestly – about its drone war.
Local officials in Yemen say this is the second strike this week, which has now reportedly seen the deaths of 18 Yemenis at the hands of the U.S. government, without explanation. That is unacceptable.
On Monday, a U.S. drone reportedly killed three unidentified men driving on a main road in Hadramout province. The U.S. government said nothing.
Then on Thursday, news reports indicate a convoy of vehicles traveling to a wedding in central al-Bayda province was hit by a U.S. drone that killed ten passengers instantly; another five died after arriving at the hospital. There were conflicting reports about whether suspected al Qaida “militants” were traveling in the convoy.
This time, it’s imperative that the U.S. government respond. As human rights organizations argued (again) in a letter to President Obama last week, his administration’s so-called “targeted killing” program will never be seen as lawful and legitimate if U.S. officials don’t explain what right they have to kill the people they’re targeting. In this case, where the strike apparently either missed its target or misidentified it, acknowledging the error and doing everything possible to make amends is critical to U.S. interests.
As Yemeni activist Farea al-Muslimi told The Guardian, this latest U.S. strike “saved AQAP’s image” after the group was broadly condemned for killing more than 50 people in an attack on the Yemeni defense ministry. “Nothing could have made Yemenis forget the horrible images of the attack in Sanaa more than the images of this current drone strike that targeted a wedding party,” al-Muslimi said.
Even CIA Director John Brennan has said that the United States should publicly acknowledge mistaken killings and “make public the overall numbers of civilian deaths resulting from U.S. strikes targeting al-Qa’ida.”
With the US drone campaign evidently being stepped up in Yemen, now is the time to start that practice.
10:12 am • 13 December 2013
“My personal opinion is that they executed Bin Laden. If you strip it down, what you had is an unarmed elderly man, in his bedroom, shot in the face by the most elite force in the world. Almost everything that the White House officials told us that happened in the compound that night turned out to be a total fabrication. I would have loved to have seen Bin Laden put on trial for his crimes. He had been indicted, in the 1990s, and was a reprehensible criminal, but I don’t believe for one second they were given orders to capture him, I think the whole point was to kill him. I wasn’t like, boo hoo, Bin Laden’s dead, but I wasn’t jumping. America’s a very nationalistic country, and in episodes like that of his death, it becomes jingoism. People are drinking, dancing in the street, chanting USA like they’re at the World Cup, like they won it… It’s sick that we turned it into a sporting event.”
— Jeremy Scahill
8:48 pm • 12 December 2013 • 2 notes