The subject of the President’s drone strike policy in Pakistan came up during the final presidential debate on Monday. Both candidates were adamantly in favor of the policy. Drone strikes are maneuvered by military officials in Nevada. All those years invested in playing video games as a kid would certainly pay off if you became a drone operator. In addition to striking people who are on a kill list approved by the President, operators are able to see what the drone sees, and they can fire at will if anything “suspicious” pops up on the drone’s video feed. These are called “signature strikes.”
And “suspicious” can mean just about anything. Sometimes, drone operators spot a crowd of people they think might be terrorists only to find out after the attack that it was a wedding or funeral. Sometimes, the funeral is in honor of a family member or friend who died during a drone strike. (The irony here just kills me.) For this reason, Pakistani parents are scared to death to send their kids to school because the school building might be targeted for whatever reason or a group of school kids might look “suspicious” to the drone operator in Nevada.
Other “suspicions” might be more justified, but only slightly. It might seem more reasonable to assume people are up to no good if they are armed. They must be terrorists. But, then you find out that that everyone (at least every male) in certain regions of Pakistan is armed. They recognize that they live in a dangerous region where there are real terrorists, and they simply want to carry a weapon for self-defense.
In spite of our government’s labeling American gun owners as domestic terrorists, you and I know that we carry mostly for self-defense purposes to protect ourselves and our families from violent criminals. We have absolutely no connection to terrorism. It’s not a whole lot different in other places around the world such as Pakistan. Not every armed individual in Pakistan is a terrorist. Many armed civilians just want to protect themselves from real terrorists. Yet, again, our government assumes that they must be terrorists and sends Hellfire missiles in their direction. When they and those around them are killed, military officials call it a “bug splat.”
Since 2004, between 2,500 and 3,300 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan. Up to 881 of those were found to be civilians, and of those, 176 were children. Only 41 of those killed were found to be “high value” terrorist targets.
Now, two CIA agents might be facing murder charges for authorizing these drone strikes that have killed so many innocent civilians. A Pakistani human rights lawyer has taken up the case, and if the Pakistani judge grants him his petition, an international arrest warrant will be issued via Interpol for the two American agents. The Daily Mail reports:
“A damning dossier assembled from exhaustive research into the strikes’ targets sets out in heartbreaking detail the deaths of teachers, students and Pakistani policemen. It also describes how bereaved relatives are forced to gather their loved ones’ dismembered body parts in the aftermath of strikes. The dossier has been assembled by human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who works for Pakistan’s Foundation for Fundamental Rights and the British human rights charity Reprieve.”
The judge’s decision is expected soon. I doubt anything will come of it. Even if this judge grants the lawyer his petition, our government would likely just bribe some Pakistani officials to make the case fizzle, and the drone strikes would continue.