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Two News Items About Drones Requiring No Comment


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Two News Items About Drones Requiring No Comment

By Dennis Loo (2/16/13)

From PressTV, February 14, 2013:

“The Pentagon says it is creating the Distinguished Warfare Medal that can be awarded to those US troops who launch assassination drone strikes and direct cyber attacks.

“The outgoing US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, said on Wednesday that the US drone operators and those who direct cyber attacks would be eligible to receive the medal for their direct impact on a US military operation from afar.

“’I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought,’ Panetta said.”

From Reuters, February 13, 2013:

“A NATO airstrike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including five children, in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, local officials said, a toll that if confirmed is likely to raise tension between President Hamid Karzai's government and U.S.-led NATO forces.

“The strike, in the Shigal district of Kunar province, was confirmed by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), though a spokesman said it could not confirm civilian casualties.

"’Foreign forces carried out the attack by themselves without informing us,’ Kunar Governor Fazlullah Wahidi told Reuters.

“Four Taliban fighters were also killed in the strike and five civilians wounded, he said.

“The strike occurred in the village of Chawgam and the 10 dead civilians were from two local families, Wahidi said." (Emphasis added).


0 # RandyB 2013-02-17 17:56
What do you mean no comment? This requires a number of comments.

It is perfectly legal iaw IHL for the administration to target the Taliban.

Your Reuters link admits that there were Taliban killed. If they allow the presence of children (which, they do) then you needed to demand that they cease. The critics have friends (e.g. Worthington) sympathetic to the Taliban. Talk to them.

The link does not claim it would have been reasonable to expect drone operators to discern that these were kids. They could have been 17 year-old Taliban recruits for all we know.

After 11+ years, critics of the U.S. side of the war have still not demanded that insurgents wear distinguishing uniforms or badges. It's ridiculous to blame Obama for the critics' disinterest.

That's all beside the fact that, in this same post, with a straight face, you're linking to the Iranian state propaganda site. They care even less about human rights than Al Jazeera.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-17 19:34
Prefer to get your quotes from the Washington Post? Like it better?

"Among its most valued warriors, the Pentagon now counts U.S. troops whose operations entail the click of a mouse or the remote piloting of unmanned vehicles. But how does the government bestow honor upon those who do their work thousands of miles from the front lines?

"In what probably was his last move as defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta on Wednesday announced the creation of a new type of medal for troops engaged in cyber-operation s and drone strikes, saying the move “recognizes the changing face of warfare.”

“'I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber-systems, have changed the way wars are fought,' Panetta said during his swan-song news conference at the Pentagon.

“'They’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar.'”
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+1 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-17 19:39
Your comment abt the Taliban "allow[ing] the presence of children" reminds me of the laughing US pilots who shot at those coming to rescue the one survivor of their unprovoked & unjust attack on 2 Reuters' reporters & other civilians in an Iraqi neighborhood, recorded by the video "Collateral Murder" released by Wikileaks - after injuring two children the US pilots said that it was the Iraqis fault for bringing children to a war zone. What makes it a war zone instead of an Iraqi suburb, of course, was the US opening fire on people strolling through.

That you can endorse the notion that it's the fault of those who have their children around them while going about their lives when those children are killed is noxious.

By the way, Worthington's not a Taliban symp. He's an opponent of war crimes, however, which you unfortunately are not.
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-17 20:43
The battle had begun before those helos attacked the insurgents. The insurgents were led by al-Sadr. Insurgents started the shooting.

The battle didn't just start that day. The operation had been building for weeks. The public had been warned to stay inside. A frame grab of the video shows those particular men had weapons.

Sadr's minions also appeared here:

No one was willing to ask them to stop fighting and support elections.

Worthington is a senior member of Cageprisoners, whose other leaders are acknowledged to be sympathetic to the Taliban. Worthington himself takes no position, but declines to criticize the Taliban.

I oppose war crimes no matter who does them. I don't falsely accuse people of war crimes, and I strongly oppose the use of children as human shields.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-17 22:27
The "Collateral Murder" video is not about "insurgents" killed by the US but two Reuters reporters strolling with a camera with a group of other civilians thru the neighborhood. Watch the video rather than drawing conclusions based on deeply biased second-hand accounts. As you did before in a prior thread, you've falsely represented what's in the video.

As we went back & forth on a prior article of mine, you refuse to recognize what is obvious - the US is openly targeting children. See that quote I highlighted in

The claim that civilians are using their kids as human shields is absurd beyond belief. You've no sense of the relationship btw kids & parents: How long wd kids stay w/ parents who were using them as human shields?
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 04:15
You're confused by the fact that the pilots mistakenly thought the reporters' cameras were weapons. But the other men did have real weapons.

This site loops a close up of an RPG clipped from that same Wikileaks video:

That's an obvious RPG-7. There were also AK-47s.

Besides that, as I've said before, Ethan McCord was there. He doesn't believe the attack on the van was necessary, but acknowledges that weapons were found, including RPGs.

In other words, those other civilians you thought were out for a stroll were really insurgents.
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 04:17
In the sentence you highlighted (from your other post), he said "looking for children with potential hostile intent."

Looking for children is not the same thing as actually killing them. They need to look for threats of all kinds. They can never assume that anyone can be trusted.

You're taking a real war crime of the insurgents, acting like it's our fault, and not criticizing the insurgents at all.

And then you scoff that they wouldn't be using them as human shields. In fact, your source mentions their use as human shields.

BTW: It's not necessarily their parents who are using them that way, although that's happened, too. For suicide bombers and human shields, the insurgents generally use other kids, not their own.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-18 04:51
You seem unable to read and understand the very simple point that the US military spokesman is making: that they are targeting children in the drone war.

Drones attack people who are unaware that they are about to be attacked. The idea that any of them are using children as human shields therefore makes no sense. It's not like a drone is on the ground pointing its missiles at someone & that person then grabs the nearest child to shield themselves. Do you get that you are being misled, willingly or unwillingly, by the US gov't that is making up this story about human shields with regard to drones?
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 06:26
He didn't say they're targeting children. He said they're "looking for children with potential hostile intent." It's a clear difference.

In times past, soldiers could, to some extent, let their guard down when near children. Those rules don't apply here. That's all he's saying.

That is, unless it's really your position that the U.S. military should not defend itself against child soldiers. If you think that, then you need to say so.

Again, you're criticizing the U.S. for the insurgents' war crimes. It's absurd. You cannot support IHL if you do that.
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+1 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-18 15:24
Do you really believe what you've been saying about this? "looking for children with potential hostile intent" isn't an excuse to kill children?!

Again, and I'm not going to repeat this but if you continue to post comments like this I will either ignore you or say: "as I said before" - The US illegally, unjustly, and immorally invaded & continue to occupy Iraq. That is the "supreme war crime" as defined by the UN Charter & the Nuremberg Principles. You don't parry that argument by saying that the US invasion & occupation are a "different question."
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 18:31
I say it's a different question because both sides of a war are supposed to respect the LOAC regardless of how it started. And however it started, the video's events occurred in 2007, when the U.S. had U.N. authorization.

Re Juan Cole (diff event but same idea):

Had we been invaded by Iran, I would never try to make the case that the supposed illegality of their invasion somehow absolves the U.S. military from fighting iaw the LOAC. The GCs do accept that uniforms aren't possible right away, but not after years.

Furthermore, the Sadr militia was not fighting to restore the old gov't, and they were not fighting for the newly elected gov't. There is nothing legitimate about their insurgency.

It would be as if the U.S. was invaded, and the KKK chose to start an insurgency both against the legitimate U.S. military and against the invaders.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-18 04:46
If u actually watch the video (not just loops), you'll see the people attacked & killed by the US Apache r completely unaware of the helo's presence from start to finish (other than that they're being fired upon from somewhere). That's b/c the helo is too far away from them. The video is enlarged by the helo's telescopic lens. The people walking around & those coming upon them trying to rescue the sole survivor are similarly unaware that they are being watched & in mortal danger. When the US military says the Reuters team made no effort to display their media credentials that's like asking someone to show ID when they don't even know that they're being watched & about to be killed for not ID'ing themselves!

Note also the gunner's disgusting comments abt the reporter who's not dead yet, "asking" him to pick up a gun so he can shoot him again. That's your precious observance of the rules of engagement.
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 06:23
Reporters can and do identify themselves on their clothing:

They also have matching helmets. If you'll note, the two Reuters stringers were dressed just like insurgents.

Whether their words were disgusting or not, the Apache crewman did not fire until authorized. He respects the laws of war.

As bad as you think he is, he wore a uniform so that the enemy does not confuse him with a civilian. His helicopter had U.S. Army markings. The vehicles he rode in had Army markings so that they won't be confused with civilian vehicles. This is something that Worthington has not demanded of insurgents. It's quite obvious who really cares more about the lives of innocents, and who does not.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-18 15:20
Honestly, it's not worthwhile arguing with you. I'm going to repeat essentially what I said before because you don't notice facts that undermine your point & you don't see how different elements add up to a picture: the Apache was flying too far away from the people walking the streets for them to even know they were there - so what does it matter what markings either side had here? If someone invaded your home & continued to occupy it, feasting on your food, taking over your bedroom, raping your wife, killing your kids, what would you do? Would you don a uniform??!!
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 18:34
The markings matter if they want civilians, children and reporters recognized as separate from insurgents.

They certainly would have mattered a great deal to those children.

Don't you think whether or not I had donned a uniform would have depended upon whether or not I cared about the civilians around me?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-18 19:13
Ok, then when drones starting killing people within the US I will expect to receive a picture from you showing that you are at all times wearing the appropriate uniform along with pictures of your loved ones wearing appropriate uniforms so that the drone operators will know that when they launch that you are or are not the American insurgents they wanted to kill. Please note that whether you do or not doesn't matter to the drone operators. If you or your loved ones are killed, the drone operators will chalk it up as they do now to the fact that you were using children as human shields and you, by definition, along with them because you were killed must perforce be "militants."
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 20:51
You can do better than that.

If foreign drones ever start killing people in the U.S., they're going to prefer killing civilians anyway. That's the nature of all our enemies.

Even today, most civilian deaths in Afghanistan are caused by America's enemies fully intending to kill civilians, including children. They know that no one will insist that they observe the LOAC.

They're not going to be any different when here.
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+1 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-18 04:48
All this talk about the rules of engagement is overruled, by the way, by the fact that the US invaded and occupies a country, Iraq, that HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. Under Hussein, al-Qaeda agents if discovered were immediately killed. Hussein had a fatwa on his head issued by al-Qaeda because they were mortal enemies.

The US invasion and occupation BROUGHT al-Qaeda to Iraq.

The US is committing a war crime everyday by being in Iraq in the first place.
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-18 06:30
The invasion itself is a different topic.

I will note that, if you remember "mission accomplished" moment that Bush is often criticized for, it represented a day when the war could have ended.

It might have been better if we'd done that, but some critics said "you break it, you bought it." They insisted on an elected government.

The Iraqis had elections in 2005. The war could have ended then, too. The UNSC authorized the U.S. to remain until 2006 and then until the end of 2007. It was extended again until the end of 2008. The Iraqi gov't then extended it until the end of 2011.

The war could have ended at any time along the way. Somebody should have told the insurgents to the support elections from the beginning.
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+1 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-19 02:17
You don't get it: the war on Iraq was unjustified to begin with and has been unjustified and immoral since. The notion that you'd want people to assume combat clothes when it is their home and country that has been invaded makes absolutely no sense. Further, you haven't even noticed or spoken to the fact that terrorists came to Iraq because of the US invasion. Thus, the US is to blame. I'm done.
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-19 03:00
I was responding with regard to the laws of armed conflict, which is a basis for human rights law. In fact, you cannot use the term "war crime" without needing to reference the LOAC. These laws DO NOT change depending on who's the aggressor.

Even if a war was totally unjustified, it would not change the requirement that insurgents either respect the laws of war, or accept that *THEY* have made it far more dangerous for non-combatants.

Note, too, that we were not only talking about Iraq, but also Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. I could argue either one, but you'd have more trouble saying that the U.S. was the aggressor in Afghanistan. And even if you tried, it still wouldn't change the requirement that insurgents respect the LOAC.

You seem to be going out of your way to avoid saying that insurgents should respect the laws of war.

Best wishes.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2013-02-19 03:53
What you're saying is nonsense. Read the Nuremberg Verdict. I repeat: Read Nuremberg.
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0 # RandyB 2013-02-19 04:56
BTW: In Iraq, even if you want to call the U.S. an aggressor, almost all the insurgents are also aggressors -- including the group in the Wikileaks video.

Very few insurgents, if any, were supporting elements of Saddam Hussein's former government. Many of the locals fear the insurgents and prefer the elected gov't. That makes them aggressors.

Before stopping her blog, this Iraqi woman used to be on Juan Cole's blogroll:

She hated the invasion, and hated the Bush administration. She eventually fled Iraq because of the very insurgents that you're now defending.
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0 # RandyB 2013-03-02 18:25
Since you had previously said I "falsely represented what's in the video," and I backed that up with the statements of Ethan McCord to, I think it's appropriate to add one more source about McCord:

"For Bradley, Ethan, and the Collateral Murder Victims"

This is someone that WCW and Wikileaks both chose to regard as worthy of note. He was on the scene. He clearly says that some of those men had weapons, including RPGs.

The group included insurgents, and that makes their killing legal in accordance with the laws of war.
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0 # ยูนิฟอ 2014-04-08 04:42
Really when someone doesn't be aware of after that its up to other people that they will assist, so here it occurs.
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