Why Michael Hayden, “The Case for drones” John Brennan and unfortunately, Obama and Clinton are guilty of war crimes

by Alan Gilbert

The letter to the Times from FAISAL BIN ALI JABER should break our hearts. His
brother-in law, an imam, who preached against hateful Al-Qaida was taken out by
a drone. This is a common experience he relates. It should have changed America, and yet he writes that the article by Michael Hayden, former head of national intelligence, published by the Times and representing Obama, is unbelievable.

“I have lived the reality of drone warfare. In 2012, drones attacked<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/world/middleeast/with-brennan-pick-a-light-on-drone-strikes-hazards.html> the wedding
celebration in Yemen of my eldest son.I survived; two of my relatives did
not. My brother-in-law Salem was an imam. Days before his death he preached
against Al Qaeda’s hateful ideology, as he had many times before. My nephew
Waleed was the village policeman, keeping our townspeople safe.

Michael V. Hayden, a former C.I.A. director, says deaths happen in war. That
deceives the American people about drone attacks, which usually take place miles
from any battlefield. Our village was no war zone.The Hellfire missiles that General
Hayden praises tore apart a peaceful wedding. I traveled 7,000 miles to the United
States hoping that someone would explain how this happened and would apologize.
White House officials met<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/world/middleeast/a-yemenis-long-trip-to-seek-answers-about-a-drone-strike.html> with me, but no one could explain why my relatives
needed to die.

In 2015, President Obama acknowledged and apologized<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/world/asia/2-qaeda-hostages-were-accidentally-killed-in-us-raid-white-house-says.html> for two deaths from drones.
The dead held American and Italian passports. The message the drone program sends
could not be clearer: Western lives are precious. Foreign Muslims’ lives are cheap.

The drones have ripped our communities apart. They have spread hatred and fanned
extremism. They have driven young men into the arms of militant groups, and so
make all of us less safe.

So when a former head of the C.I.A. expresses regret for innocent deaths, my ears
hear a lie. The blast of a Hellfire missile rings more truly. It is a truth our
communities will remember for years to come.
FAISAL BIN ALI JABER”

That should not be our America, the America all of us ordinary people strive to fight for and be part of.  For my analysis of the original Times report on this horror in 2012, See here<http://democratic-individuality.blogspot.com/2013/04/saskia-sassen-on-drones-over-there.html>, here<http://democratic-individuality.blogspot.com/2012/07/murder-by-drone-seductiveness-of-ring.html>,  here<http://democratic-individuality.blogspot.com/2014/02/heather-roff-on-drones-and-emerging.html>, here<http://democratic-individuality.blogspot.com/2013/04/talk-sunday-at-11-am-on-drones.html> andhere <http://democratic-individuality.blogspot.com/2014/04/aggression-by-drone-and-rule-of-law.html>  and for Hayden’s screed on the “Case for Drones” here<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/opinion/sunday/drone-warfare-precise-effective-imperfect.html?_r=0>.

***

Michael Hayden is a grotesque war criminal – like much of the Obama administration (I am sorry to say Hillary and even Barack).

***

The last letter is from  Ruth Siemion, a lawyer for Human Rights First.  It rightly
says that the Obama administration should repudiate counting any 5 year old boy
bringing water to his “suspected” father as “a terrorist kill.”  Unfortunately, John
Brennan, a worse monster than Hayden, who supported Barack early, alone among
the CIA (a strategy of enlisting Presidents to do their bidding/cover up this crime –
h/t Ray McGovern) and Barack’s National Security Advisor before being
made head of the CIA, initiated this policy as part of the Tuesday Matrix meetings –
choosing whom to target and kill – at the White House with Obama and his other key
advisers.

These letters underline the horror of this policy. But Hillary Clinton is all drones
and regime change, all the time, and even the Times reporting, not just the op-eds
just like MSNBC)  is in the bag for Hillary.  See, however, the one story critical ofher
bragging about Libya this past Monday morninghere<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/us/politics/libya-isis-hillary-clinton.html>.

I would again suggesting closely at Bernie who is opposed to American regime
change and would probably not be beguiled by murdering “suspects” in countries the
US is not at war with (every act of murder an act of aggression).

Republicans like Peter Boyles used to recoil at Obama for substituting murder by
drone for Bush’s secret prisons and torturing people (Obama has also protected the
Bush administration and CIA war criminals from prosecution).  Most of the
Republican hatred for Obama is fueled by an extraordinary racism, shown in part in
the rallying of the party around KKK Trump, the man who huffed vapidly about
Barack’s birth certificate, and other racist candidates (Cruz and Rubio compete for
who can be most racist to 11 million people who do the work in this country, have
children here and deserve citizenship).

But unfortunately, this one barb about Obama is just true.  Barack has a wiser
foreign policy than Hillary. Hillary would not have made the pathbreaking nuclear
deal with Iran and has sworn to undercut it, sworn that she will move even closer to
the apartheid Netanyahu government in Israel.

I am still fond of Barack as a person and like much of what he has fought for against
the sabotage of the authoritarian party of the ultra-rich.  Trump is just the open
expression of all the GOP’s false promises to ordinary white people since Nixon’s
“Southern Strategy.” (Romney’s message to “self-deport” to immigrants and bowing down
to Trump in the last election in light of today’s fulmination).  Trump’s use of Mussolini
quote in a tweet, his threatening of people with violence at his rallies, his inspiration
to racist groups (growing rapidly during this campaign and having been
mainstreamed now by Trump even more than standard Republican candidates) is a
precursor to open fascism in the United States and, as many now
rightly say determinedly, must be stopped (perhaps only mass nonviolence from
below  can do this, however).

In this election, there is but one candidate who can answer this – and it is not
Hillary Clinton. Bernie underlines that we are in this together, and gets racism, which
he is more fiercely opposed to – consider $15 for fast food workers, mainly black and
Latin, or his longstanding fight against incarceration and for jobs for which he
alone has program.

But his program of health care as a right or breaking the vampire hold
of banks on college students – debt-free public colleges – or opposing the TPP and
other trade deals which benefit corporations and harm American workers
immediately reaches out to ordinary whites.  In this election, he – and not the
foolish, censored MSNBC (Rachel Maddow hinted that “she is from Western Mass.
where Bernie is very popular” in the midst of banal. censored pro-Clinton
commentary/Times puffery about Hillary Clinton is an answer to Trump.

There is still much time to rally for Bernie – Reuters had him leading Hillary by 6
points nationally this week, not that you would learn that fact from the New York
Times or on MSNBC.

But more importantly, we need a movement against American government murder
and torture.  John Kiriakou who spoke in Denver and Ray McGovern are two heroes
of such a movement.  But there are many others – see, for example,  the movie
Silenced.

What is decent in America has come apart because of militarism and predation by the
.001%.  But lots of people, especially young people for Bernie and most especially
Black Lives Matter are leading a fight against this.  This is pretty good.  We all
should join.

***

“To the Editor:
Re “The Case for Drones<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/opinion/sunday/drone-warfare-precise-effective-imperfect.html>” (Sunday Review, Feb. 21):
Gen. Michael V. Hayden writes that the bottom line about
drone warfare is that “it works.” However, in reaching this
conclusion he fails to reckon with the very real concern
raised by a global targeted killing program carried out
according to secret rules and with no real accountability. Nor
does he deal with the long-term security risks and
consequences this poses to the United States and to the
global system.

If one nation claims for itself the power to eliminate people
considered a threat wherever they are, others will feel free to
take similar actions. General Hayden admits a few strike
errors, but does not address the repeated, well-documented
reports of numerous civilian casualties. In essence, he says
trust us, we are fixing the teething problems that such
programs always have, while he ignores the real problems of
having such a program in the first place.
CHRISTOF HEYNS
Pretoria, South Africa
The writer is the United Nations special rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and a law
professor at the University of Pretoria.

To the Editor:

I have lived the reality of drone warfare. In 2012, drones attacked<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/world/middleeast/with-brennan-pick-a-light-on-drone-strikes-hazards.html> the wedding celebration in
Yemen of my eldest son. I survived; two of my relatives did
not. My brother-in-law Salem was an imam. Days before his
death he preached against Al Qaeda’s hateful ideology, as he
had many times before. My nephew Waleed was the village
policeman, keeping our townspeople safe.

Michael V. Hayden, a former C.I.A. director, says deaths
happen in war. That deceives the American people about
drone attacks, which usually take place miles from any
battlefield. Our village was no war zone. The Hellfire missiles
that General Hayden praises tore apart a peaceful wedding.
I traveled 7,000 miles to the United States hoping that
someone would explain how this happened and would
apologize. White House officials met<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/world/middleeast/a-yemenis-long-trip-to-seek-answers-about-a-drone-strike.html> with me, but no one
could explain why my relatives needed to die.

In 2015, President Obama acknowledged and apologized for
two deaths from drones. The dead held American and Italian
passports. The message the drone program sends could not
be clearer: Western lives are precious. Foreign Muslims’ lives
are cheap.

The drones have ripped our communities apart. They have
spread hatred and fanned extremism. They have driven
young men into the arms of militant groups, and so make all
of us less safe.

So when a former head of the C.I.A. expresses regret for
innocent deaths, my ears hear a lie. The blast of a Hellfire
missile rings more truly. It is a truth our communities will
remember for years to come.
FAISAL BIN ALI JABER
Montreal

To the Editor:
Michael V. Hayden presents a false choice between the use of
targeted killing to prevent future terrorist attacks and the
failure to take action.

This obscures the real question: Is targeted killing as
effective as other counterterrorism strategies? The Obama
administration should engage in a strategic review of drone
strikes to evaluate their effectiveness. Hitting the right target
is one thing; actually making this country safer in the long
run is another.

The administration should also repudiate General Hayden’s
claim that intentionally targeting military-age males near a
target is “representative” of United States practice. Under the
laws of war, individuals participating in hostilities or serving
as soldiers in an organized armed group may be targeted in
certain circumstances; proportionate civilian deaths are
lawful as well. Intentionally using lethal force against an
individual for being near a target is a war crime.

RITA SIEMION
International Legal Counsel
Human Rights First

Washington”

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