The Hostages Killed by US Drones are the Casualties of an Inhumane Policy

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The Hostages Killed by US Drones are the Casualties of an Inhumane Policy

Secrecy, misdirection and lies have shielded much of the public from the realization that US drone strikes have killed countless civilians in the past decade

Drone strikes have killed thousands, but it is rare for the White House to acknowledge deaths. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Mark Wilson)

President Obama’s admission on Thursday that the CIA killed two innocent hostages in a US drone strike in Pakistan should definitively prove to the American public what the White House has been trying to hide from them for a while: the US government’s secretive use of drone strikes is a transparency nightmare and human rights catastrophe. It requires a full-scale, independent investigation.

The only thing surprising about the news that US drone strikes killed one American and one Italian civilian al-Qaida hostage - along with two alleged American members of al-Qaida who were supposedly not targeted - is that the US actually admitted it.

Secrecy, misdirection and lies have shielded much of the public from the realization that US drone strikes have killed countless civilians in the past decade. There is literally no public accountability - not in the courts nor in Congress - for the CIA and the military’s killings outside official war zones. It doesn’t matter who they kill, where, or under what circumstances.

What we have learned from news reports and human rights investigations over the years has been disturbing. Consider, for example, that the the government counts “all military-age males in a [drone] strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”, as the New York Times reported in 2012. For many years, the US government also regularly carried out drone strikes on people they openly admitted they could not identify. The CIA referred to these as “signature strikes”, which targeted people who seemed to be up to no good from the sky, but could have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Read the full article at The Guardian.

Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and legal analyst who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian and has also contributed to The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Harvard Law and Policy Review, PBS MediaShift, and Politico. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorTimm

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