Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No One Hears the Poor | Kathy Kelly in Kabul

Mostly men from an extended family that fled to a Kabul displacement camp after a bombardment. They are originally from Helmand.

No One Hears the Poor

"One hospital in Kabul, the Emergency Surgical Center for Civilian War Victims, serves people free of charge. Emanuele Nannini, the chief logistician for the hospital, reminded us, the previous day, that the U.S. spends one million dollars, per year, for each soldier it deploys in Afghanistan. “Just let six of them go home,” he said, “and with that six million we could meet our total annual operating budget for the 33 existing clinics and hospitals we have in Afghanistan. With 60 less soldiers, the money saved could mean running 330 clinics.”

Just before leaving Chicago, while the NATO summit was convening, Amnesty International announced its intention to campaign for NATO to protect the rights of Afghan women and children. Amnesty International should talk with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and the Emergency hospital network about caring, practically and wisely, for women and children in Afghanistan.

Surrounded by fierce warlords, cunning war profiteers, and foreign armies with menacing arsenals and wild spending habits, it’s hard for the mothers who visited us today to imagine that the situation can ever change. And yet, before leaving us, they smiled broadly. “For us,” said Nuria, “the possibility of a bright future is over, but at least for our children there is a chance.”"
- Kathy Kelly writing from Kabul

Drone Strikes and Kill Lists | NYT Investigation

With remarkable access to participants, reporters Jo Becker and Scott Shane document the increasing use of drone warfare and targeted killings. This is the third in a series of article about President Obama called the shadow war.

It's a revealing look into the bureaucracy that sustains the drone policy and the decision by President Obama to sign off on targeted strikes outside of Pakistan where the CIA is in charge.
“In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.

They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”"
How the kill list is developed
“It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.

This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.”
New guidelines for strikes in Yemen.
“Today, the Defense Department can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know. Officials say the criteria are tighter than those for signature strikes, requiring evidence of a threat to the United States, and they have even given them a new name — TADS, for Terrorist Attack Disruption Strikes. But the details are a closely guarded secret — part of a pattern for a president who came into office promising transparency.”

Article link here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What the Taliban Want

Former Taliban fighters hand over their weapons to Afghan police as part of a reconciliation process in Herat, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 13, 2012. Taliban leaders including one of the most senior members of the organization, Agha Jan Motasim told The AP that most Taliban supported a negotiated end to the protracted war in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)(Credit: AP)

Kathy Gannon has a revealing article on what the Taliban want.
“One of the most powerful men on the Taliban council, Agha Jan Motasim, nearly lost his life in a hail of bullets for advocating a negotiated settlement that would bring a broad-based government to his beleaguered homeland of Afghanistan.

In an exclusive and rare interview by a member of the so-called Quetta Shura, Motasim told The Associated Press Sunday that a majority of Taliban wants a peace settlement and that there are only "a few" hard-liners in the movement.”


“Looking ahead to next week's NATO summit in Chicago, Motasim said he had a message for participants.

"The decisions of NATO should be for the good of Afghanistan and should not call for more violence. It should call for an end to the fighting, an end to the raids and killings," he said. "Afghanistan is destroyed, the people are displaced, refugees, poor people are dying in their homes and also foreigners are dying here. It should end."”

M K Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, adds this.

“Kathy Gannon of Associated Press goes back a long way to almost where it all began in the 1980s in the Afghan civil war, and she began reporting from the rim of the volcano. Trust her to have got through to the Taliban’s Quetta Shura to someone who is “one of the most powerful men” within that council — Agha Jan Motasim. The AP interview with Motasim gives a rare insight into the wheels within wheels of what passes for the Taliban movement — or rather, what it has become through the tumult of these 2 decades behind us.

The Taliban have 3 demands: release of all Afghan prisoners languishing for years in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram; removal of their names from the United Nations “blacklist”; and, recognition as a political party. Pray, is it too much to ask for in a lifetime?

Of course, there are “hardliners” within the Taliban family. But then, they are there everywhere — be it in our life at home, or away from home. It’s a human trait. Why be obsessive about it and give it a centrality it doesn’t deserve? Isolate it; we could tell the Haqqanis some day, as Dante wrote, “Consume within thyself with thine own rage.”

The overpowering sense of Motasim’s remarks is a sense of exhaustion, like in the Uncle Tupelo song “Looking For A Way Out” — when you find you can’t somehow / make it like all the rest / you won’t need to scrounge around for someone else / torn between the unknown / and the place that you call home / and the life that you want but have never known…”

Read the Gannon article here.

U.S. Veterans Returning War Medals at NATO Summit

“I’m giving back my medals for the children of Iraq and Afghanistan. May they be able to forgive us for what we’ve done to them. May we begin to heal, and may we live in peace from here until eternity.” - STEVE ACHESON

Click on the image for a link.

The Statements -

IRIS FELICIANO: My name is Iris Feliciano. I served in the Marine Corps. And in January of 2002, I deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. And I want to tell the folks behind us, in these enclosed walls, where they build more policies based on lies and fear, that we no longer stand for them. We no longer stand for their lies, their failed policies and these unjust wars. Bring our troops home and end the war now. They can have these back.

GREG MILLER: My name is Greg Miller. I’m a veteran of the United States Army infantry with service in Iraq 2009. The military hands out cheap tokens like this to soldiers, servicemembers, in an attempt to fill the void where their conscience used to be once they indoctrinate it out of you. But that didn’t work on me, so I’m here to return my Global War on Terrorism Medal and my National Defense Medal, because they’re both lies.

SCOTT KIMBALL: My name is Scott Kimball. I’m an Iraq war vet. And I’m turning in these medals today for the people of Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine, and all victims of occupation across the world. And also, for all the servicemembers and veterans who are against these wars, you are not alone!

CHRISTOPHER MAY: My name is Christopher May. I left the Army as a conscientious objector. We were told that these medals represented, you know, democracy and justice and hope and change for the world. These medals represent a failure on behalf of the leaders of NATO to accurately represent the will of their own people. It represents a failure on the leaders of NATO to do what’s right by the disenfranchised people of this world. Instead of helping them, they take advantage of them, and they’re making things worse. I will not be a part of that anymore. These medals don’t mean anything to me, and they can have them back.

ASH WOOLSON: My name is Ash Woolson. I was a sergeant. I was in Iraq in '03, and what I saw there crushed me. I don't want us to suffer this again, and I don’t want our children to suffer this again, and so I’m giving these back!

MAGGIE MARTIN: My name is Maggie Martin. I was a sergeant in the Army. I did two tours in Iraq. No amount of medals, ribbons or flags can cover the amount of human suffering caused by these wars. We don’t want this garbage. We want our human rights. We want our right to heal.

JACOB CRAWFORD: I’m Jacob Crawford. I went to Iraq and Afghanistan. And when they gave me these medals, I knew they were meaningless. I only regret not starting to speak up about how silly the war is sooner. I’m giving these back. Free Bradley Manning!

JASON HURD: My name is Jason Hurd. I spent 10 years in the United States Army as a combat medic. I deployed to Baghdad in 2004. I’m here to return my Global War on Terrorism Service Medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan. I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe. I am proud to stand on this stage with my fellow veterans and my Afghan sisters. These were lies. I’m giving them back.

STEVEN LUNN: My name is Steven Lunn [phon.]. I’m a two-time Iraq combat veteran. This medal I’m dedicating to the children of Iraq that no longer have fathers and mothers.

SHAWNA FOSTER: My name is Shawna, and I was a nuclear biological chemical specialist for a war that didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. So I deserted. I’m one of 40,000 people that left the United States Armed Forces because this is a lie!

STEVE ACHESON: My name is Steve Acheson. I’m from Campbellsport, Wisconsin. I was a forward observer in the United States Army for just under five years. I deployed to Sadr City, Iraq, in 2005. And I’m giving back my medals for the children of Iraq and Afghanistan. May they be able to forgive us for what we’ve done to them. May we begin to heal, and may we live in peace from here until eternity.

MICHAEL THURMAN: Hello. My name is Michael Thurman. I was a conscientious objector from the United States Air Force. I’m returning my Global War on Terrorism Medal and my military coins on behalf of Private First Class Bradley Manning, who sacrificed everything to show us the truth about these wars.

MATT HOWARD: My name is Matt Howard. I served in the United States Marine Corps from 2001 to 2006 and in Iraq twice. I’m turning in my campaign service—Iraq Campaign Service Medal and Global War on Terror Service and Expeditionary Medals for all my brothers and sisters affected with traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

ZACH LAPORTE: My name is Zach LaPorte, and I’m an Iraq war veteran from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thank you. I’m giving back my medals today because I feel like I was duped into an illegal war that was sold to me on the guise that I was going to be liberating the Iraqi people, when instead of liberating the people, I was liberating their oil fields.

SCOTT OLSEN: My name is Scott Olsen. I have with me today—today I have with me my Global War on Terror Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal, National Defense Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. These medals, once upon a time, made me feel good about what I was doing. They made me feel like I was doing the right thing. And I came back to reality, and I don’t want these anymore.

TODD DENNIS: My name is Todd Dennis. I served in the United States Navy. I have PTSD. I’m returning my Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal because it was given to me, according to my letter, because of hard work and dedication and setting the example. I was a hard worker because I buried my PTSD and overworked myself in the military. And I’m throwing this back and invoking my right to heal.

MICHAEL APPLEGATE: My name is Michael Applegate. I was in the United States Navy from 1998 to 2006. And I’m returning my medal today because I want to live by my conscience rather than being a prisoner of it.
DAVE: My name’s Dave. I served in the U.S. Navy from ’99 to 2003 and participated in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. I was wrong to sign myself up for that. I apologize to the Iraqi and Afghani people for destroying your countries.

BROCK McINTOSH: My name is Brock McIntosh. I was in the Army National Guard and served in Afghanistan from November '08 to August ’09. Two months ago, I visited the monument at Ground Zero for my first time with two Afghans. A tragic monument. I'm going to toss this medal today for the 33,000 civilians who have died in Afghanistan that won’t have a monument built for them. And this is for the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.

VINCE EMANUELE: My name is Vince Emanuele, and I served with the United States Marine Corps. First and foremost, this is for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Second of all, this is for our real forefathers. I’m talking about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. I’m talking about the Black Panthers. I’m talking about the civil rights movement. I’m talking about unions. I’m talking about our socialist brothers and sisters, our communist brothers and sisters, our anarchist brothers and sisters, and our ecology brothers and sisters. That’s who our real forefathers are. And lastly—and lastly and most importantly, our enemies are not 7,000 miles from home. They sit in boardrooms. They are CEOs. They are bankers. They are hedge fund managers. They do not live 7,000 miles from home. Our enemies are right here, and we look at them every day. They are not the men and women who are standing on this police line. They are the millionaires and billionaires who control this planet, and we’ve had enough of it. So they can take their medals back.

CHUCK WINANT: My name is Chuck Winant. I’m here on behalf of six good Americans who really wanted to be here but they couldn’t be. They couldn’t be, because when they came to the U.S. border, they’d be immediately arrested. And the crime they’d be arrested for was refusing to continue to participate in the crimes against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. And these good Americans, who are exiled now from this country, who deserve amnesty, are Private Christian Kjar of the U.S. Marine Corps; Private Kim Rivera, Army, Combat Action Badge, refused redeployment to Iraq; Corporal Jeremy Brockway, U.S. Marine Corps, Combat Action Badge, refused redeployment to Iraq; Specialist Jules Tindungan, Combat Infantry Badge, paratrooper, refused redeployment to Afghanistan; Sergeant Corey Glass, Army, refused redeployment to Iraq; and Sergeant Chris Vassey, paratrooper, CIB, refused redeployment to Afghanistan. I have their awards in my pocket, and I’m throwing them back, mad as hell!

AARON HUGHES: My name is Aaron Hughes. I served in the Illinois Army National Guard from 2000 and 2006. This medal right here is for Anthony Wagner. He died last year. This medal right here is for the one-third of the women in the military that are sexually assaulted by their peers. We talk about standing up for our sisters—we talk about standing up for our sisters in Afghanistan, and we can’t even take care of our sisters here. And this medal right here is because I’m sorry. I’m sorry to all of you. I’m sorry.

Drone Strikes Kill 15 | Aid Cuts for Pakistan

The dialogue to open NATO supply routes through Pakistan has hit another big stick moment.

For the second time in 24 hours CIA drone strikes targeted people in Pakistan’s frontier zone. Pakistani intelligence report that ten people were killed in an early morning attack on Thursday. Five had been killed on Wednesday.

Halting drone strikes has been a key demand by the government of Pakistan before the transit routes are re-opened.

The US congress has also voted to slash economic aid to Pakistan following the sentence of a Pakistani doctor to 33 years in prison for his role in helping US forces to locate Osama bin Laden.

Shakil Afrid was found guilty under the justice system in Khyber district, part of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal belt.

Details from the Wall Street Journal:
“A Senate panel expressed its outrage over Pakistan's conviction of a doctor who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, voting to cut aid to Islamabad by $33 million -- $1 million for every year of the physician's 33-year sentence for high treason.

The punitive move came on top of deep reductions the Appropriations Committee already had made to President Barack Obama's budget request for Pakistan, a reflection of the growing congressional anger over its cooperation in combating terrorism. The overall foreign aid budget for next year had slashed more than half of the proposed assistance and threatened further reductions if Islamabad failed to open overland supply routes to U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.”

In addition,

“The congressional anger over the conviction and the supply routes extended to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which completed a $631.4 billion defense budget Thursday. The panel added a provision stipulating that before Pakistan can be reimbursed with coalition funds, the secretary of defense must certify that Pakistan is opening and maintaining the supply routes, is not supporting the Haqqani network, and not detaining or imprisoning Pakistani citizens, according to Sen. John McCain, a Republican.”
US Special Forces went into Pakistan and killed bin Laden last May without notifying the government. Seven months later US forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross border attack into Pakistan.

Following the attack, Pakistan closed the airbase that the US used for its drone strikes, kicked out all CIA operatives and closed the borders to Afghanistan preventing the movement of NATO ground supplies to the war.

A Parliamentary review issued the following guidelines.

In March at a regional summit held in the Tajik capital Dushanbe , Pakistan earned a sanctions threat after reassuring Iran and other regional countries that proposed gas pipeline projects will go ahead as planned.
“… President Asif Ali Zardari told his counterparts from Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan that his country was committed to completing the Iran-Pakistan (IP) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline projects. “I look forward to working with you on all issues of mutual interest,” he added.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned earlier this month that Pakistan could face US sanctions if it pressed ahead with the gas pipeline project with Iran. “[This] would be particularly damaging to Pakistan because their economy is already quite shaky,” Clinton had told a Congressional hearing.”
Additional Reading: Why Pakistan Matters | Zia Mian & Sharon K. Weiner

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Other Guantanamo: Afghanistan begins Internment

In March, the United States and Afghanistan completed negotiations to begin turning over control of Afghan prisoners to the government of Afghanistan. On Monday, Afghan institutions could start ruling on the internment of its own citizens. The image above is from a Taliban prisoner release in 2010.

The fact that the government appears to be embracing the United States policy of detaining people without trial is a cruel legacy.
“The use of the US system of detention without trial by the Afghan government is probably the most important consequence of the handover of Bagram. Yet it has been introduced with virtually no discussion, whether in parliament or the media. The Afghan government has appeared reluctant to discuss the issue: even as the new Afghan institutions were being established to detain Afghans without trial at Bagram, President Karzai’s spokesman told AAN they were against the practice. Kate Clark details what is now happening at Bagram, reveals unpublished documentation and questions whether the Afghan state has actually gained sovereignty over its detained citizens and whether the US has really relinquished any control.”

“The US was concerned about the possible release of some of those it deems the most dangerous people in custody, particularly as the 3000 odd people currently held by the US without trial might be considered illegally incarcerated under Afghan law. Hence the Afghan and US negotiators took recourse to the Laws of Armed Conflict. Both the Bagram MoU and the MoU on Special Operations, which was signed a month later (text and analysis are here), cite the 1977 Second Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (APII) as the legal basis for detention without trial. APII acknowledges that when a state is fighting a war, it may deprive its citizens of ‘their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict.’”

“If the Board recommends release, the case file is passed back to the Committee. However, the decision to release any detainee is made by the Bagram Transfer Commission, which is comprised of five ministers, under the chairmanship of the minister of defence. But even they cannot act independently. They must consult the US before releasing anyone, including those being sent for trial. The Bagram MoU says that if the US believes a particular individual remains a security threat, ‘Afghanistan is to consider favourably such assessment.’ This may be diplomatic language for a veto.”
Click here to read the full article.

Tags: bagram,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Strategic Partnership | Documents, Analysis, Action

President Barack Obama and President Hamid Karzai emerge from their meeting before signing a strategic partnership agreement at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Linked below are some of the documents released by the White House.

The Agreement covers a ten-year period with a comprehensive commitment to aid, economy, education, justice and war. However, because it is a framework, there is a lack of detail on all these matters.

One thing is clear.

The commitment to military aid and building-up the security forces is guaranteed. The commitment to aid, education and justice is a pledge to ask Congress to appropriate the funds.

Kate Clark, Afghanistan Analysts Network offers this
“4) This is not a status of forces agreement - or ‘Bilateral Security Agreement’ as it is termed in the Strategic Partnership Agreement. That should come, the Agreement says, in a year’s time. This is by far the more important issue, as the US needs its forces to continue to enjoy immunity from the Afghan justice system for any crimes they commit on Afghan soil. Sorting out this issue has been made more urgent after many Afghans, including parliamentarians, demanded that those responsible for the Panjway killing spree and the Quran burning at Bagram had to be tried in Afghan courts. Whether or not a status of forces agreement is signed will ultimately decide whether US forces can stay or, as in Iraq, go.

5) However, as it stands, Afghanistan agrees to provide US forces with continued access to and use of Afghan facilities to the end of 2014 and beyond (as it may be agreed in the ‘Bilateral Security Agreement’) for the purposes of, ‘combating al-Qaeda and its affiliates, training the ANSF and other mutually determined missions to advance shared security interests.’ Or as Obama put it in his speech: there will be ‘two narrow security missions beyond 2014: counter-terrorism and continued training.’ The aim, he says, is to destroy al-Qaida, not to build a country in America’s image. It seems then that the mission is not about nation building. Yet this is completely at odds with most of the Strategic Partnership Agreement which does very much focus on nation building and with an agenda which looks, despite its repeated commitments to internationally accepted norms, not much as that of the Afghan government in practice.”

Official Documents:

Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement | Public Version

White House Fact Sheet on the Agreement

President’s Address to the Nation from Afghanistan

AFSC Response:

Newsletter: What will lead to a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan?

Our strategy is to challenge the media message with a public letter campaign, please help us. Click on the link to be directed to the action center.

Letter to the Editor
“After the President's speech Tuesday night, some might be under the impression that the war in Afghanistan is ending. On the contrary.

The plan that Mr. Obama announced just relies upon different military solutions, rather than peaceful alternatives for the Afghan people.

Under this plan Afghanistan will become a major non-NATO ally, subjecting the people of Afghanistan to yet another military alliance and continuing the last three decades of war and instability. The peace building necessary for a sovereign and stable Afghanistan cannot be carried out by the generals meeting later this month in Chicago for the NATO Summit.

Instead, we need to support a regional solution that doesn’t rely on force. Afghans don't want more wars and bigger armies. They want a settlement that heals a nation, instead of arming it. And so do many Americans.”

Daughter of War | A Poem by Zahra

Mural Image: Hidden Children from Windows and Mirrors
Artists: Guilford College Community and Hannah Swenson, Courtney Mandeville and Layth Awartani

Daughter of War

I am a daughter of war.
When I was born,

The war was going on.
The sky was dark.
The houses were broken.
The weather was dusty.
The trees were seared.

There was no plant,
No awake human,
No tears in the eyes left.

The streets were covered
By dead human bodies;
The blood was like a river
In the street, house and everywhere.

I didn’t consider failure.
I was full of hope;
I could see

Green places, a blue sky,
Smiles on everyone’s face, tall buildings,
A book in my hand,

Sitting under the tree,
Studying with my parents and siblings,
In my dreams.


War never gave this chance.
War took my parents from us.
War took my book

And gave me burqa;
They put me in the jail of burqa.
War forbade me from going outside.

War changed my beautiful land
To the worst place in the world.
War changed our smiles to tears.

War made our dreams
Of going to school,
Freedom of speech,
To be just a dream.


I will try.
I will stand for my right.
I will break the silence.
I will show my power.
And I will bring peace
In my country once again.

I promised.

There will be no more war;
I will make my dreams come true.

Once again,
My homeland will be like heaven
And my people will be happy.

By Zahra

Zahra lives in a Taliban-controlled province in Afghanistan. She is the daughter of uneducated farmers who place great value on education for their children in the face of community and extended family disapproval. She is one of nine children able to pursue an education due to the ongoing support of her parents.

This poem is from the Afghan Women's Writing Project. To tell one's story is a human right.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

There is no way to peace – peace is the way

This was A.J. Muste’s simple statement of his convictions.

A.J. Muste was a pacifist, anti-war activist and a leader of the labor and civil rights movements whose personal integrity won him a rare universal respect.

The image below, created by the artist Kalil Bendid on 26 May 2009, speaks to me about the extension of war in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Targeted Killings Follow ‘Rigorous Standards’ | US Official

Yesterday, the Obama administration offered its first extensive explanation of how American officials decide when to use drones to kill people — a tactic that the government often treats as a classified secret even though it is widely known around the world.

What is must disturbing is the idea that international law progresses through violations.

“Yes, in full accordance with the law — and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives — the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific Al Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones,”
- John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser

If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries… International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal moulds. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”
-Colonel Daniel Reisner, former head Israeli Defense Force Legal Dept

“We’re not in Kindergarten on this anymore: we’ve been doing this [targeted killings] since 2001, and there’ a well-established protocol.”
- Bruce Riedel, former CIA official

"John Brennan’s speech yesterday was important for at least three reasons: (1) it marked the first official White House acknowledgment that “the United States Government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qa’ida terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones”; (2) it provided a robust defense not only of the legality of targeted killing, but also of the morality, wisdom, and humanity of the practice; and (3) it provided significant detail about the government’s processes and standards for deciding whom to kill – including a general discussion of the “very high bar” the government imposes on itself in analyzing intelligence to avoid mistakes and the loss of innocent life. (The speech did not state which agencies are involved in targeted killing, and most notably did not say a word about the CIA.)"
Drone Necessary – Not Vengence
“President Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser used the anniversary of the Osama bin Laden’s killing to mount a broad public defense of the ethics and efficacy of military drones.

The drone programs, which have been widely reported but rarely discussed by administration officials, were acknowledged by Obama during a Google chat in January in what many national security observers believe was an accidental moment of candor.

But John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism, expanded at great length in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, calling the drones an integral part of prevention”

Additional Resources:

US Targeted Killings and International Law (Human Right Watch)

Special Shout-Out:

The international drone summit last weekend was a truly inspiring meeting of activists sharing information, analysis and strategies to stop the proliferation of drones and targeted killing as US policy. Look for details in upcoming posts.
Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
215-241-7000 · web@afsc.org