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Drones Have Come Out Of The Shadows


mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>, mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>This has started to change, with new films, reports and media coverage finally giving the American public a taste of the personal tragedies involved. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Watching the beautiful 9-year-old Nabila relate how her grandmother was blown to bits while outside picking okra softened the hearts of even the most hardened DC politicos. From the Congressmen to the translator to the media, tears flowed. Even the satirical journalist Dana Milbank, who normally pokes fun at everything and everyone in his Washington Post column, covered mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>The visit by the Rehman family was timed for the release of the groundbreaking new documentary Unmanned: America’s Drone WarsWounds of Waziristan, a well-crafted, 20-minute piece by Pakistani filmmaker Madiha Tahir that explains how drone attacks rip apart communities and terrorize entire populations. Just as the visit and the films have put real faces on drone victims, a plethora of new reports by prestigious institutions—five in total—have exposed new dimensions of the drone wars. 

Human Rights Watch issued a report on drone strikes in Yemen and Amnesty International issued another on drone strikes in Pakistan. While not calling for an end to all drone strikes, the reports detail cases of civilian casualties and criticize the US government for considering itself above the rule of law and accountability. A third report, License to Kill, released by the Geneva-based group Al Karama, is much more damning of US policy. While Amnesty and Human Rights Watch say drones are lawful under certain circumstances and mainly push for transparency, Al Karama asserts that the US drone war is a clear violation of international law. It calls for an end to extrajudicial executions and targeted killings; complete reparations to victims; and a resolution by the UN Human Rights Council opposing the US practice of extrajudicial executions. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Emmerson said states have the obligation to capture terrorist suspects, when feasible, and should only use force as a last resort. He blasted the US lack of transparency, calling it the single greatest obstacle to an evaluation of the civilian impact of drone strikes. He said states must be transparent about the acquisition and use of drones, the legal basis and criteria for targeting, and their impact. “National security does not justify keeping secret the statistical and methodological data about the use of drones,” he claimed. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>The representative of Pakistan tried to put to rest press reports that the Pakistani government secretly approved of the strikes. He stated that drones put all Pakistanis at risk and radicalize more people, and called for “an immediate cessation of drone strikes within the territorial boundaries of Pakistan.” This was the same sentiment expressed by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his October 23 meeting with President Obama. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>While the reduction in the number of strikes is a partial victory, it cannot erase the hundreds of innocent lives lost over the years. Also, with the global proliferation of drones (thanks to the easing of restrictions on overseas sales and the introduction of domestic drones into US skies by September 2015), their usage will inevitably increase. A mobilized global community is the only force that can serve as a restraining factor. 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Responding to this call is the Global Drone Summit November 16-17 in Washington DC, where hundreds of people from around the world will gather to strategize and to organize a global network. They will also announce campaigns to pressure the US government to release the legal memos justifying drone strikes, and create a compensation fund for civilian victims. Check here mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINKGlobal Exchange mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>. 

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