Tuesday, June 11, 2013

See Something Say Something.

           Like an abandoned backpack in an airport, the disparity of consequence I see for government action and civilian action is disconcerting. Great journalists show you exactly what they are looking at, and then let you draw your own conclusions. This is not something I excel at. Handing you my conclusions, however, does not get you anywhere. Since I do believe this abandoned backpack is more frightening than anyone I would actually see in an airport, I will try to show you what I’ve seen, and let you decide whether or not it is dangerous. 
This map is from The Guardian article on NSA's
Global Surveillance.
            It has recently been confirmed by the Brits, via the Guardian, that our government is spying on us. They are collecting “metadata,” which they want us to feel better about than them actually listening in on our phone calls, and surveillance on our nation more than they are on Russia, Turkey, Mexico, and North Korea. While a secret court granted the government access to our phone records because of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patriot Act, I still consider it a violation of our civil rights – a violation of the law. I’m sure the foreign surveillance violates international law as well – that’s why spies try not to get caught. The executive branch of our government has broken the law, lied to Congress about it, and violated our trust. Will they be held accountable? Will anyone lose his job? Will anyone go to jail?
            At least 27 people have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen since Obama’s speech on reigning in the drone strikes on May 231. These people are described as most victims of drone strikes are: “alleged,” “suspected,” “believed to be militants.” Sometimes names are given, as in the cases of Pakistani civilians 16 year old Tariq Aziz and his cousin 12 year old Waheed Khan 2. Sometimes identities are unknown. Often bodies are too disfigured post-missile for identities to be confirmed 3. When a sniper shoots, one bullet kills one person. Missiles and explosions don’t target individuals. Governments don’t discuss collateral damage because they don’t want you to think about it. In the Boston Marathon Bombing three people died; more than 100 people were injured 4. Car bombs on the border of Syria and Turkey on May 11 killed 40 and wounded about 100 5. For some reason, when you’re supposed to not be upset about the victim of an explosion, the number of wounded is not reported. It’s also not mentioned that other things may have been destroyed such as the alleged militant’s wife’s only picture of her mother, or his son’s favorite toy or entire bedroom. It’s not mentioned that the missile may have blown out the windows of the alleged militant’s home, but also the windows of the neighbor’s home – sending shards of glass at their innocent child.
What crimes have these alleged militants committed? Hating Americans? Being religious fundamentalists? Thinking about blowing things up? I don’t think any of those things are crimes on American soil. And even if they were, you would need to be charged with the crime and taken to trial before you would be sentenced (or killed). These suspected cohorts and members of terrorist organizations spend time in compounds (that’s what they call houses to dehumanize who they want you to think might be criminals someday) on another continent. The Westboro Baptist Church terrorizes people in America every day. They probably think about committing crimes against gay people. Are we given the right to preemptively kill them? Many of the alleged militants are farmers. Most of them are poor. Lots of them are parents. They live in sovereign nations. Pakistan DOES have its own judicial system to deal with crime, if its citizens were to actually commit a crime by their laws. (They’ve recently found the US guilty of war crimes against Pakistan, FYI 6).
President Obama said “we are safer because of our efforts…. Simply put, these strikes have saved lives. 7” Who is safer? Whose lives have been saved? WHO DECIDES that an American’s life is more valuable than the life of a Pakistani, Afghani, Yemeni, or Somali? And will the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces look THEIR CHILDREN in the eye and explain to them WHY that decision has been made? He also believes that he is not violating other nation’s sovereignty or international law: “Moreover, America’s actions are legal. We were attacked on 9/11. Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force. Under domestic law and international law, the United States is at war with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and their associated forces.”
Like it or not, what the US government does now is setting the standards for a new era in international warfare. It will only be a matter of time before the likes of Russia, China, and N Korea (God AND Allah forbid) have and are using their own killer drones. Who will hold them accountable? Who will hold our government accountable? Who is the terrorist here?

For a complete listing of every reported US drone strike since 2002 visit Dronestream on Twitter.

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