Killer Barack's Drone War continues. Jon Boone (Guardian) reports the latest:
A top Taliban leader who quarrelled with other militant factions over his refusal to attack the Pakistani government was killed by an unmanned US drone , security officials have claimed.
Mullah Nazir was reportedly holding a meeting at the time of the missile strike with other senior leaders of his group in a building in Birmil in South Waziristan, one of the troubled tribal regions where the Taliban, al-Qaida and other militant groups have based themselves.
The first reported drone strike of 2013 was followed by another attack in North Waziristan at around 9am . That attack reportedly involved four separate missile strikes on a vehicle in Mubarakshahi, a village near Miran Shah. Because journalists are usually prevented by militants from visiting places hit by drones, the exact details of what happened and who was killed in such attacks are often extremely hard to verify.
Boone points out how unpopular the Drone Strikes are in Pakistan. If you don't get that, pretend you're somewhere. I'll go with my folks' home in Boston. So we're sitting around talking, we've had lunch and are shooting the breeze, it's a nice day, so we're in the backyard, my daughter and my brother's daughter are playing back there and this Drone flies over our yard, right over my best friend Tony's folks' yard to a third yard and blasts away. Not only are we bothered that our neighbors just got killed, we're bothered that we could have been killed in the strike and we're damn pissed off that two little girls who shouldn't have to know a damn thing about anything serious now are terrorized by what they just saw.
Yeah, you'd be pissed off if it was happening in your neighborhood.
Why would you think the people of Pakistan would feel any differently? They've got friends and family, just like you. They're trying to live their lives, just like us. And some foreign government has sent in Drones that are killing throughout their country?
Hell yeah, I'd be pissed off if lived there. I live in the US and I'm pissed off. I guess I'm not a big idiot like Medea Benjamin who can find 'joy' in 2012 when a Drone War's going on. (See Elaine's great post "A loser named Medea Benjamin" from last night.)
Michael Brenner has a really important piece entitled "Drone Denial Syndrome:"
Last week, as a case in point, we saw military authorities issuing a battery of statements designed to downplay the episode in Yemen where the killing of women and children in a drone strike enraged an entire community. The rage expressed itself in pledges to join the local al-Qaeda franchise Ansar al-Sharia as the best way to take revenge and to kill Americans. The botched drone strike in the central town of Rada that left 12 civilians dead evoked this official Washington proclamation : “We don’t go after people in dwellings where we don’t know who everyone is. We work very hard to minimize the collateral damage.” Cross my heart and hope to die. This in an outright mistruth – i.e., a lie. For that is precisely what we have been doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan for years as acknowledged in both official strategy and after the fact delayed admissions. Our baldy stated intention is to go after a high value target if believed in a compound or other residence whatever the risk of collateral damage to civilians. Further, we will attack locations where supposed enemies are known to assemble or groups of people engaged in certain predetermined patterns of behavior even where there is no sure knowledge that we have miscreants in our cross-hairs.
These last are called “signature” strikes by the White House and the Pentagon. In April of this year, the Washington Post (April 26, 2012) reported their authorization by President Obama. That allows the Central Intelligence Agency and the US military to launch drone attacks when the identity of those who could be killed is not known. The Wall Street Journal (April 26, 2012) quoted a senior official as explaining that the United States has gone yet a step further in the Pakistani tribal areas in targeting wider communities “if intelligence points to al-Qaeda related activity” in the vicinity. In other words, we declare some locations are “toxic’ – anyone observed at them is to be neutralized.
Was the spokesman who sought to explain away the Rada incident saying that we observe more discriminating rules of engagement in Yemen? No – no such assertion has been made. One can only assume that he believed that he could get away with this legerdemain before a complacent and deferential media.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"