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Is USA’s drone weapons use legal?

drone-aircraftAmerica’s Use of Drones: The Legality Issue http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/opinion/americas-use-of-drones-the-legality-issue.html  November 30, 2012 SUZANNE NOSSEL Executive Director
Amnesty International USA “Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy” (front page,
Nov. 25) raises the issue of the legality of the United States’ ever-changing drone policy.

As his first term in office draws to a close, and with a vacancy to
fill at the top of the Central Intelligence Agency, President Obama
has an opportunity to press the reset button on American drone policy.

Over the last four years the use of drones has become ever more
permissive. Lethal strikes are no longer restricted to “high-value
targets,” Guilt, not innocence, is the apparent presumption.

Administration sources have told the media that in the tribal areas of
Pakistan, men of fighting age are assumed to be combatant targets in
the absence of intelligence to the contrary. If true, this is both
unconscionable and a violation of the laws of war.
This can’t go on. American drones have taken lives in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. Meaningful public review
of this most secretive of government programs is long overdue. We
don’t need a new rule book; we just need the existing rules —
international human rights and humanitarian law — to be applied.

COLEEN ROWLEY ( The writer is the retired F.B.I. agent who exposed intelligence
failures before the 9/11 attacks.)You report that President Obama is finally expressing some “wariness
of the powerful temptation drones pose to policy makers. ‘There’s a
remoteness to it that makes it tempting to think that somehow we can,
without any mess on our hands, solve vexing security problems,’ he
said.”

What an understatement of the “mess on our hands” given how 76
countries now possess drones, having discovered how cheap and easy
they are to develop and use! Whose hands will they fall into? More and
more people in foreign countries living under American drone strikes
have understandably become radicalized. Didn’t anyone consider how
they would make the perfect weapon of asymmetrical warfare?

Pandora’s box has opened wide, adding to our “vexing security
problems.” We should never have forgotten what Sir Peter Ustinov is
credited as saying: Terrorism is the poor man’s war, and war is
terrorism of the rich.

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December 3, 2012 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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