On several occasions President Obama has insisted, along with members of his administration, that drone strikes are used to eliminate only known leaders of the global al-Qaeda network or their colleagues in “associated groups.”
Those statements are false, according to information gleaned by McClatchy newspapers from a leaked classified intelligence report.
The missiles fired from U.S. drones in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal region are killing, along with senior al-Qaeda operatives, “hundreds of suspected lower level Afghan, Pakistani, and unidentified ‘other’ militants,” the secret document reportedly reveals.
In the article announcing its receipt of the classified report, McClatchy reminds readers of an interview the president gave with CNN setting out the guidelines he claims to follow before ordering the assassination of a target by drone. This same interview was covered by The New American last year.
When asked by CNN what process he uses to make the life-or-death decisions to deploy the drones to kill a “militant,” President Obama listed five criteria:
• First, “It has to be a target that is authorized by our laws.”
• Second, “It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative.”
• Third, “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”
• Fourth, “We’ve got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties.”
• And fifth, “That while there is a legal justification for us to try and stop [American citizens] from carrying out plots ... they are subject to the protections of the Constitution and due process.”
McClatchy asserts that the report it has obtained provides evidence that the president routinely ignores his own rules, and is killing “alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; ... suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and ... unidentified individuals described as ‘other militants’ and ‘foreign fighters.’”
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