The U.S. government on December 12 “mistakenly” murdered 15 people attending a wedding in Yemen.
Citing “local security authorities,” Reuters reports that the families celebrating the wedding “were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al-Qaida convoy.”
Another unnamed official told Reuters that 10 people were killed immediately by the missiles, while five died later of injuries they sustained in the attack. Five more members of the wedding party were wounded, but survived the strike.
Although the United States certainly would not confirm the story, witnesses report that the missiles were fired from a drone.
On Monday, a similar strike executed by a U.S. drone killed at least three people traveling in a car in Yemen. The remotely controlled aircraft launched several missiles at a vehicle as it passed through the Al Qutn area of Hadramout. LongWarJournal cites a Yemeni intelligence official who claimed that it was impossible to identify the victims of the attack as the bodies were “burned beyond recognition.”
While the people at the wedding were accidentally killed by the United States, the trio assassinated in Monday’s strike were “suspected militants” associated with al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), according to stories reporting on the airstrike.
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.
The drone war began in Yemen in 2002. There have reportedly been 84 such strikes since that year. The number of dead is not verifiable, but LongWarJournal reports that 395 “al-Qaeda commanders” and 99 “civilians” have been killed during the duration of the program.
Regardless of the body count, however, Americans can expect the growth of anti-American sentiment to increase proportionally to the number of missiles fired from the powerful Predator and Reaper drones used to carry out the culling of the president’s kill list.
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