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'Pedal to the Metal': Obama's Drone Program Escalates as Second Term Begins

Jon Queally, staff writer

Three US drone attacks in Yemen in as many days—which have left as many as fifteen people dead— gives further proof that the CIA, according to recent comments made to the Washington Post by a former government official familiar with Obama's assassination program, has "put the pedal to the metal" when it comes to administering the controversial tactic.

And, as Obama was sworn in to his second term in Washington Monday, critics of the 'kill list' took the opportunity to once again warn against the insidious consequences of his ongoing program.

On Saturday, two separate attacks saw US missiles destroy a house and its occupants in the province of al-Bayda and later a car and those it carried was targeted in the city of Maarib.

In the early hours Monday, reports say a vehicle carrying perhaps five men was fired on by a US drone in an area northeast of the nation's capital city of Sanaa.

These latest strikes in Yemen continue a noted escalation of US attacks that began near the end of 2012.

As Agence France-Presse reports, "Monday's raid brings to at least 25 the number of people killed in US drone strikes since such assaults were intensified on December 24."

As experts and human rights organizations continue to warn the Obama administration that such attacks are counterproductive—increasing, not lessening, al Qaeda's position in Yemen or elsewhere—the Washington Post's weekend report that the White House was "institutionalizing" the practice of assassination by drone with a new "playbook" was met with deep criticism.

According to Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s National Security Project, the 'playbook'—which seeks to codify some of the administrative procedures that will guide the program going forward— is “a step in exactly the wrong direction, a further bureaucratization of the CIA’s paramilitary killing program.”

On the day of his inauguration, as crowds lined the National Mall in Washington to see Obama sworn in for a second term, Glenn Greenwald observed the deep irony of the president being sworn in on the same day that the country celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who spoke out eloquently and forcefully against the kind of militarism that Obama—with much of the nation cheering along—has now so fully embraced.

Greenwald writes:

Arguing that "we must drone-bomb people in order to stop terrorism" is the equivalent of arguing that "we must continue to smoke cigarettes in order to stop lung cancer". As ample evidence proves, the so-called "solution" to Terrorism - endless violence and killing - is actually its primary cause. As the Yemeni blogger Noon Arabia put it this weekend after a series of multiple drones strikes on her country: "For those arguing effectiveness of drones, let me explain: civilians killed => animosity towards US = Qaeda members increase = Vicious [circle]!"


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