Amnesty International Says Drone Strikes in Pakistan Could Constitute War Crimes

Credit: United States Air Force/wikimediaCredit: United States Air Force/wikimediaToday it was reported that Amnesty International believes that the U.S. drone program in Pakistan has resulted in unlawful killings, some of which could constitute war crimes.

In a separate report, Human Rights Watch said that two drone attacks in Yemen violated international law because civilians were killed at random.

The American use of drones has been criticized not only by human rights groups but also by Pakistan’s government, Pakistani citizens, Yemeni officials, and a former CIA official, who warned that the program could lead to the creation of terrorist havens.

A Pew Research poll released last summer shows that the use of drones to target extremists is unpopular across much of the world:

In 31 nations, at least half disapprove of the U.S. conducting drone missile strikes targeting extremists in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. At least three-in-four hold this view in 15 countries from all corners of the world, including nations from the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

The only three countries where majorities support the drone campaign are Israel (64% approve), Kenya (56%), and the U.S. itself (61%). 

Although American drone strikes against targets abroad were carried out during the Bush administration, they exploded in number after Obama was sworn into office in early 2009. A graph from the New America Foundation below illustrates the increase in the number of drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004:

Credit: The New America FoundationCredit: The New America Foundation

Below is another chart form The New America Foundation illustrating the number of air and drone strikes in Yemen since 2002:

Credit: The New America FoundationCredit: The New America Foundation

There was some speculation and reporting suggesting that the recent U.S Special Forces missions conducted in Somalia and Libya could indicate a shift in the Obama administration’s thinking regarding the War on Terror. Instead of using drones to kill the targets, the Obama administration opted for targeted raids with American boots on the ground.

The operations in Somalia and Libya happened too recently in order to indicate the beginning of a trend or a definite shift in policy. However, it is unlikely that even if the Obama administration decides to increasingly use Special Forces in anti-terrorism missions that this will mean that drones will not continue to be used. As Tom Sanderson of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies has pointed out to The Economist, Obama will want to keep a “full quiver” of options at hand as the War on Terror continues.

Watch Reason TV's video on three reasons why the U.S. drone policy is really freakin' scary below:

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  • The Late P Brooks||

    This looks like a job for Seal Team Six!

  • Swiss Servator, O Luzern!||

    Joe Biden would be happy to fill you in on their schedule...

  • Pro Libertate||

    "It is with great reluctance and sadness that I return this Peace Prize, which I never earned in the first place, to the Nobel Committee. I urge them in the future to use this award for good rather than politics."

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    yeah not gonna happen

  • Pro Libertate||

    "Also, I must announce my resignation as president, due to my incompetence, corruption, and my secret life as a Maoist subversive."

  • Almanian!||

    Dude - Arafat's been dead for years. Stop dreaming...

  • Pro Libertate||

    If Arafat were president, at least the media might consider criticizing him when he lies, steals, cheats, and kills.

  • CE||

    Let's not sugarcoat it -- handing out a Peace Prize to a ruler who later killed thousands could be construed by some as setting a bad precedent.

  • BakedPenguin||

    At least Le Duc Tho had the honesty to not accept his.

  • ||

    Obama is the antithesis of Martin Luther King Jr -- MLK had a dream that one day everyone would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

    Obama was elected on the color of his skin and the content of his promises. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize solely on the color of his skin. And then he proceeded to break every promise he ever made during his campaign. Which leaves us with the color of his skin, because the content of his character is vile.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    But Nobel Peace prize.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I bet our drones have a picture of the prize on the side.

  • Almanian!||

    That would pretty much kick ass. Like the WWII airplanes. And with a name like "L'il Peacekeeper" stenciled on.

  • Pro Libertate||

    "The Mahatma of Destructa."

  • Bobarian||

    That should go on Air Force 1.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Indeed.

  • R C Dean||

    "Dr. One"

  • Pro Libertate||

    "Hope in Range" or "Hope Enraged" or "Hope and Maim."

  • Swiss Servator, O Luzern!||

    "Hope in Range"

    WIN.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • CE||

    Can we trick Obama and Bush into visiting Belgium so they can be arrested?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, how about we do a really brief left-libertarian alliance where we have both Bush and Obama arrested and tried for their sins?

  • Swiss Servator, O Luzern!||

    "tried for their sins?"

    Ecclesiastical court?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Works for me. Send them to the Vatican. When convicted, they can be thrown from the Tarpeian Rock (not in the Vatican, but close enough).

  • ||

    For a constitutional scholar, Obama sure doesn't know the law very well. Constitutionally, private citizens have greater freedom to act than public officials do. Nowhere in the constitution does the constitution say that the restrictions it imposes only protect citizens, because that's not how those restrictions work -- they are absolute prohibitions on certain actions by the government, no matter who the victim is.

    By killing a non-citizen civilian, just one, in a way he is forbidden by the constitution to do, he has arguably committed a crime punishable by life without parole or execution. By killing even one US citizen that way, he absolutely has without question committed that crime.

    But it's not just him that is in legal jeopardy here. The law also has magnified penalties for conspiracy against rights. Everyone who carried out his orders that led to the extra-judicial murder of anyone, especially a US citizen, is also guilty of a crime for which they could be executed.

    Don't believe me? Would the US Department of Justice be a credible source?

    http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/crm/242fin.php

    http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/crm/241fin.php

  • Edwin||

    For once the liberals are actually right in this case, since the governments of those countries do abide by having standing armies that have specific uniforms.
    All the hullabaloo about how we treat terrorists was complete crap from the beginning. I mean, you don't even need to read the Geneva Convention thoroughly, at the very beginning it states that it applies to uniformed soldiers

  • tarran||

    BBBBZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTTTT

    First, convention I allows fighters out of uniform to be protected as if they were members of regular units:

    Wrong batman

    The present Convention shall apply to the wounded and sick belonging to the following categories:

    (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces

    (2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

    (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

    (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) that of carrying arms openly;

    (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    ...

    (6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
  • tarran||

    I fucking hate the squirrels.

  • tarran||

    BBBBZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTTTT

    First, convention I allows fighters out of uniform to be protected as if they were members of regular units:

    Wrong batman

    The present Convention shall apply to the wounded and sick belonging to the following categories:

    (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces

    (2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

    (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

    (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) that of carrying arms openly;

    (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    ...

    (6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
  • tarran||

    More importantly from convention IV

    In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

    (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
    To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

    (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

    (b) taking of hostages;

    (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

    (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
  • tarran||

    So, very much a war-crime.

  • CE||

    And that's just for the people who might actually be guilty. Murdering the bystanders and families of the suspects is even worse.

  • Rrabbit||

    I'm all for arresting half the Oba,a administration and half the Bush administration for various war crimes. Anything that gets these criminals their well-deserved long time unpaid vacation in Camp Fed is welcome.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    They probably deserve something closer to New Jersey's Cement Shoe club.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

    "Obama will want to keep a “full quiver” of options at hand as the War on Terror continues"... AND continues, and continues, and continues.
    The endless war against eurasia is getting a little old guys.

  • ||

    We have always been at war with Eurasia.

  • kinnath||

    . . some of which could constitute war crimes.

    No shit.

    The left is finally starting to wake up.

  • ||

    I can't wait for the rah-rah TEAM AMERICA dipshits to rally around Obama and drone strikes because they hate Amnesty International. WAR BONERS make strange bedfellows.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    please don't summon Cyto.

  • ||

    Just so people realize, there is a commenter here named "Cyto" who is not the Canadian Randian virgin sociopath chickenhawk known as "Cytotoxic".

  • tarran||

    Cytotoxic is an objectivist jihadi, actually.

    His argument that any time American bombs kill someone it's a good thing (enemies deserve death, allies should welcome martyrdom, there are no neutrals (non allies = enemies)) could have come straight from a fatwa from some scabby wahabist preacher in the pay of the Saudi monarch.

    His loyalty is to Rand (PBUH) rather than Mohammed (PBUH): that's all.

  • ||

    I know, I just wanted to point out that Cyto and Cytotoxic are two completely different people.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I can't wait for the anti-war Left to rise up and demand an immediate halt to these brutal and criminal attacks.

  • Pro Libertate||

    See, they bought an indulgence for our sins by voting for Obama. No action, however egregious, outweighs the value of this indulgence.

  • ||

    What anti-war left? There is only an anti-war-waged-by-TEAM-RED left.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Anti-war has, indeed, left.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Jesus, you're right. This is fucking pathetic. Code Pink's "news" is that they are still protesting CHENEY and REPUBLICANS.

  • ||

    The Left is getting so radicalized these days, they're making most Republicans look like moderate centrists.

    Did you know there's a petition going around to have the Republican leadership in the Senate arrested and tried for sedition...because they exercised their constitutional authority?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Look, once the IRS deploys drones to enforce the ObamaCare mandate, everyone will see that they really are an effective and humane technology that pose virtually no risk to Our Sacred Troops and the political class who command them.

  • Bobarian||

    Lets not sugarcoat it; Automated Death Panels for everyone.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Apparently, now those are good things. Warty revealed to me in a dream the new justification for the Canadian version.

  • mr simple||

    They're certainly efficient.

    "You are now dead. Thank you for using Stop-N-Drop, America's favorite suicide booth since 2008."

  • Pro Libertate||

    In Canada, I wonder if they're called Death Flannels?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Plus all of the wanton destruction and opened up jobs will be great for the economy!

  • ||

    BOOOOOOOSH!

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    'Arrest Obama When He Visits'

    "The Muslim Lawyers Association in Johannesburg wants US President Barack Obama arrested and tried for war crimes when he arrives in South Africa on June 29. It submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecution on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama's involvement in the Middle East.
    Group spokesman Yasha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians. In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its own territory, said Tayob."
  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    'Arrest Obama When He Visits'

    "The Muslim Lawyers Association in Johannesburg wants US President Barack Obama arrested and tried for war crimes when he arrives in South Africa on June 29. It submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecution on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama's involvement in the Middle East.
    Group spokesman Yasha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians. In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its own territory, said Tayob."
  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    'Arrest Obama When He Visits'

    "The Muslim Lawyers Association in Johannesburg wants US President Barack Obama arrested and tried for war crimes when he arrives in South Africa on June 29. It submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecution on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama's involvement in the Middle East.
    Group spokesman Yasha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians. In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its own territory, said Tayob."
  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    'Arrest Obama When He Visits'

    "The Muslim Lawyers Association in Johannesburg wants US President Barack Obama arrested and tried for war crimes when he arrives in South Africa on June 29. It submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecution on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama's involvement in the Middle East.
    Group spokesman Yasha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians. In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its own territory, said Tayob."
  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    'Arrest Obama When He Visits'

    "The Muslim Lawyers Association in Johannesburg wants US President Barack Obama arrested and tried for war crimes when he arrives in South Africa on June 29. It submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecution on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama's involvement in the Middle East.
    Group spokesman Yasha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians. In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its own territory, said Tayob."
  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    'Arrest Obama When He Visits'

    "The Muslim Lawyers Association in Johannesburg wants US President Barack Obama arrested and tried for war crimes when he arrives in South Africa on June 29. It submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecution on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama's involvement in the Middle East.
    Group spokesman Yasha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians. In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its own territory, said Tayob."
  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    'Arrest Obama When He Visits'

    "The Muslim Lawyers Association in Johannesburg wants US President Barack Obama arrested and tried for war crimes when he arrives in South Africa on June 29. It submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecution on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama's involvement in the Middle East.
    Group spokesman Yasha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians. In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its own territory, said Tayob."
  • Pro Libertate||

    Is there a fund for this?

  • Jordan||

    Are you using an assault mouse?

  • Protagoronus||

    +1 shoulder thing that goes up

  • ||

    His mouth is an automatic weapon! =P

  • ||

    You want who to be arrested?

  • Lord Humungus||

    I dropped off after the 4th time

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    yikes.
    apologies.

  • sarcasmic||

    PWND by the 3 o'clock squirrels!

  • Zeb||

    7. I think that might be a new record for the squirrels.

  • Swiss Servator, O Luzern!||

    But just you remember that there is no such thing as Peak Squirrel.

  • #||

    You blew away my 4 post squirreling from last week.

  • CE||

    Who would have guessed? Murdering people who are suspected of crimes, and anyone else who happens to be in the area, might cross a few legal boundaries.

    Actually, reversing the situation makes it much clearer. Would the US government be okay with China dropping bombs on individuals they said were terrorists, and anyone associating with them, if those individuals were in the US?

  • R C Dean||

    Depends. If the ChiComs take the SPLC designation of "terrorists" for their target list, I suspect Washington would be just fine with that.

  • tarran||

    HEy, nation states have to band together against the plebs... ;)

  • Pro Libertate||

    What if you did it? Why is government homicide just default "OKAY"?

  • ||

    Because statists like to kill and having individuals in the employ of the government do it for them is a way to shirk the moral implications of such killings?

    Government: the ultimate excuse to do anything that would be considered heinous if an individual did it, and to have everyone give you a pass because GOVERNMENT!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Want to kill without justification or consequence?
    Want to lie and get away with it?
    Want to steal money on a Biblical scale for yourself, your friends, your family, and people you don't even know, without going to jail?
    Want to make people do stuff just to get your rocks off?

    Join the government!

  • ||

    Now you're getting it! Government is the greatest scam of all time.

  • ||

    If someone were to create a business that operated in exactly the same way following the same rules and procedures as social security, but on a voluntary basis that people had to opt-in to....

    The business owner would be swiftly imprisoned for many, many years for operating a Ponzi scheme.

    But because it's done by government, our existing Ponzi scheme that you cannot opt OUT of is perfectly okay.

    Social security as originally envisioned was an awesome thing -- like a very long term government bond, a fund that the government was forbidden (with good reason) to raid for spending money. But Congress gave themselves the ability to do just that, thereby creating the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world.

  • sarcasmic||

    They won't let just anyone join though.

    You first must prove that you will blindly obey authority and never question the rules.
    Libertarians, and anyone else with principles and morals outside what has been given by the lawgivers, need not apply.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We need double-secret libertarians who pronounce statist bullshit while voting and acting completely libertarian.

  • sarcasmic||

    Problem is that too many people don't become libertarians until they have had their faith in government shattered, often by an event that gets them blacklisted from joining the government club.

  • Swiss Servator, O Luzern!||

    Or we slowly realize that wielding power flowing from force/government is not really a good thing, no matter how competent and good and moral and smart anyone may think they are.

    Went into a TEAM RED chrysalis and came out a power suspicious libertarian after 28 years.

  • sarcasmic||

    Or voting for that matter.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Okay, my next solution is shock collars for everyone. Any person can shock another person once a day. For any reason or no reason. Being a public figure, of course, means much more likelihood of receiving a shock.

  • sarcasmic||

    Because there is no justice for those whose duty is to provide justice.

  • ||

    It's actually MORE illegal for the government to do it than it is for a private citizen. But since it's the government that employs the police, operates the court system and controls the prisons, only a private cotizen would ever be prosecuted for doing such a thing.

    In addition to all the charges that could be layered onto that hypothetical private citizen's head (first degree murder, terrorism, etc) the government actor could also face civil rights violation charges.

    http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/crm/242fin.php

  • Paul.||

    I thought only Bush was a war crime.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

  • ||

    When someone flew two aircraft into our buildings in pursuit of a political agenda, killing lots of civilians itwas called an act of terrorism. When we fly aircraft into other people's buildings in pursuit of a political agenda killing lots of civilians it's called a drone strike. Collateral damage is only unfortunate but excusable when it happens to someone else.

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