Legal framework required to stop CIA drone carnage
The investigation is a follow-up to last summer’s report issued by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, says Chris Woods, the author of the report.
“We've uncovered evidence that the CIA has repeatedly been targeting civilian and Taliban rescuers at the site of previous drone strikes [in Pakistan],” Woods told RT. “We identify by name 48 civilians killed in such attacks. We also identify two funerals deliberately attacked by the CIA…The Bureau also names five civilian mourners killed in a separate strike.”
The journalist noted that the data refer to incidents that took place in the course of the past few years of Barack Obama’s presidency.
“Fifty-two civilian and 32 Taliban rescuers are reported killed in the strikes. The investigation is supported by eyewitness testimonies,” he added.
The use of drones outside a declared war zone by the United States is seen by many international legal experts as setting a dangerous precedent. They question the legality of such attacks and call for a global legal framework that would regulate the use of drones, provided that other nations, including Russia and China, as well as America’s allies, have similar technology.
Christof Heyns, the UN Special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, has already called for an inquiry into the findings.
“Our concern is how far does it go? Will the whole world be a theater of war?” he asked. “Drones in principle allow collateral damage to be minimized, but because they can be used without danger to a country’s own troops, they tend to be used more widely.”
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit with a federal court on Wednesday demanding to force the Obama administration release intelligence and other records pertaining to the drone attack in Yemen, in which three US citizens died last year.
“The government’s self-serving attitude toward transparency and disclosure is unacceptable,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Officials cannot be allowed to release bits of information about the targeted killing program when they think it will bolster their position, but refuse even to confirm the existence of a targeted killing program.”
A senior US counterterrorism official has accused the Bureau of supplying “misinformation.” He slammed the report saying that “targeting decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and observation.”
“Let’s be under no illusions — there are a number of elements who would like nothing more than to malign these efforts and help Al-Qaeda succeed,” the official told The New York Times, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Chris Woods noted that a number of senior US military officers said they were extremely uncomfortable that the presidential administration was performing such operations through the CIA. He is also worried the CIA hitting civilians is not merely chance.
“Our most recent report shows the CIA drones have been deliberately targeting rescuers and funerals,” he said. “If anyone is fair game simply due to their proximity to militants, that raises profound issues about the legality of modern warfare.”
The CIA is not bound by laws of war or the Geneva Convention and cannot be brought to account for its actions.