Ending a nearly six-month break on drone strikes conducted in Pakistan, at least 16 people were killed in two separate attacks carried out on June 11. LongWarJournal reports:
In the first strike, the unmanned Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired several missiles at a compound and a vehicle in the village of Darga Mandi in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, Dawn [dawn.com] reported. The village is just outside of Miramshah, the home of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is closely tied to al Qaeda.
Four "Uzbeks," likely from the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and two members of the Movement of the Taliban in Punjab were reported to have been killed in today's strike.
The Pakistan theatre of the president’s deadly drone war has seen a ceasefire since the first of the year after the Washington Post on February 4 quoted an unnamed administration official saying that in order to give the government of Pakistan time to negotiate peace with the Pakistani Taliban, the Obama administration would dial down the drone strikes in the country.
The Post added, however, that the administration would continue to conduct strikes “against senior al-Qaeda targets, if they become available, and move to thwart any direct, imminent threat to U.S. persons.”
Apparently, then, those 16 people killed this week must have posed just that level of veritable threat to the United States or to Americans.
As is its habit, the establishment-owned media reported that the 16 people killed by the president this week were suspected “militants.”
For President Obama and those pulling the triggers on the joysticks guiding the missiles toward their human targets, “suspected militants” are officially defined as “all military-age males in a strike zone.”
For those of us concerned with the Constitution, due process, and the rule of law, however, “suspected militant” is just a euphemism for a person not charged with any crime, not afforded even the most perfunctory due process protections, but executed by presidential decree anyway. In this way, we are no better than those we kill in the name of safety.
One of the many constitutional problems with the execution of the drone war is that there is no way for a drone pilot sitting in Nevada to look at the video feed beamed from the drone camera to tell who is a “militant” and who isn’t.
More to the point, when did militancy become a crime? If it is a crime, where is it defined? How can anyone know if he is guilty of militancy if such a crime is not defined? Could one hypothetically be a militant without knowing it, given that the crime is nowhere defined?
Incidentally, it is this very vagueness that dilates the grey area and makes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) such a fearsome weapon in the arsenal of the seemingly all-powerful president.
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Photo of MQ-9 Reaper drone: AP Images