Moral Outrage
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Extrajudicial killings by US military the new norm

World attention has been focused on questions of legality regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden, some questioning whether it would have been both possible and advantageous to bring bin Laden to trial rather than kill him. But, with the increasing use of Predator drones to kill suspected “high value targets” in Pakistan and Afghanistan, extrajudicial killings by U.S. military forces have become the new norm.

CNN reports that their Islamabad bureau has counted four drone strikes over the last month and a half since the March 17 drone attack which killed 44 people in Pakistan’s tribal region. This most recent suspected strike was the 21st this year. There were 111 strikes in 2010 and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated that 957 innocent civilians were killed.

I’m reminded of an encounter I had, in May, 2010 ,when a journalist and a social worker from North Waziristan met with a small Voices for Creative Nonviolence delegation in Pakistan and described, in gory and graphic detail, the scenes of drone attacks which they had personally witnessed: the carbonized bodies, burned so fully they could be identified by legs and hands alone, the bystanders sent flying like dolls through the air to break, with shattered bones and sometimes-fatal brain injuries, upon walls and stone.

The journalist asked me, “What I want to know is if average Americans know that their country is attacking Pakistan with drones that carry bombs. Do they know this?”

“Where is your democracy?” he asked me. Ideally, in a democracy, people are educated about important matters, and they can influence decisions about these issues by voting for people who represent their point of view.

Would we want unmanned aerial vehicles piloted by another country to fly over the U.S., targeting individuals deemed to be a threat to the safety of their people, firing Hellfire missiles or dropping 500 pound bombs over suspected “high value targets” on the hunch of a soldier or general without evidence and without any consideration of which innocent civilians will also be killed?

[Excerpt of article by Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence]

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