Human Rights Watch calls for a transparent investigation by the US
A new report from Human Rights Watch outlines conflicting accounts surrounding a drone strike on a Yemeni wedding convoy that killed 12 people and injured at least 15 others.
While the US government has not officially acknowledged any role in the December 12, 2013 attack, anonymous officials later told the AP that the operation targeted Shawqi Ali Ahmad al-Badani, an Al Qaeda leader, and maintained that the dead were militants.
But after interviewing witnesses and relatives of the dead and wounded, Human Rights Watch determined that the 11 cars were in a wedding procession. Although the organization concedes the convoy may have included members of Al Qaeda, the report concluded that there is evidence suggesting “that some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians.”
The report, titled “A Wedding That Became a Funeral,” has renewed calls for the Obama administration to carry out a transparent, impartial investigation into the incident—and to explain how such a strike is consistent with both international laws of war and Obama’s own rules governing drone strikes. Announced last May, the procedures limit the use of drones to targeting those who pose a continuing, imminent threat to the United States, where capture is not feasible, and there is a “near certainty” of no civilian casualties.
The report suggests the strike may have violated the laws of war by “failing to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or by causing civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage.”
Read the full investigation here.
Yemen bombs yet another American wedding in America: For freedom reasons though by Matt Bors
The Pentagon has loosened its guidelines on avoiding civilian casualties during drone strikes, modifying instructions from requiring military personnel to “ensure” civilians are not targeted to encouraging service members to “avoid targeting” civilians.
In addition, instructions now tell commanders that collateral damage “must not be excessive” in relation to mission goals, according to Public Intelligence, a nonprofit research group that analyzed the military’s directives on drone strikes.
December 12, 2013
Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.
The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal…
Editor’s Note: The following is by Moath al-Alwi, a Yemeni national who has been in U.S. custody since 2002. He was one of the very first prisoners moved to Guantánamo Bay detention camp, where the U.S. military assigned him Internment Serial Number (ISN 028). The article was translated from the Arabic by his attorney, Ramzi Kassem.
I write this after my return from the morning’s force-feeding session here at Guantanamo Bay. I write in between bouts of violent vomiting and the sharp pains in my stomach and intestines caused by the force-feeding.
The U.S. government now claims that, among the 164 prisoners at Guantanamo, there are fewer than two dozen hunger strikers, down from well over 100 back in August. I am one of those remaining hunger strikers. I have been on hunger strike for almost nine months, since February.
Photo: Chantal Valery/Getty Images
On a hunger strike since February.
The New Yorker puts the fight over Keystone XL front and center this week. That’s because it looks like this fight might be approaching an endgame. Canada is putting on the pressure, and the President’s decision is approaching.
That’s why on Sept. 21st, we will Draw the Line on Keystone XL.
The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals…
The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet…
Although the memorandum is explicit in saying the material had to be handled in accordance with US law, and that the Israelis agreed not to deliberately target Americans identified in the data, these rules are not backed up by legal obligations…
Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government”. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.
It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications. In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on “the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip”…
—”NSA Shares Raw Intelligence Including Americans’ Data with Israel" by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill in theGuardian.com (Sep. 11, 2013)
In Catch-22, there is a character whose constant desire to go AWOL results in a series of demotions. The reader is introduced to him as Ex-PFC Wintergreen, a lowly mail clerk. But it turns out that his job affords him extraordinary access to information. By manipulating its flow, he quietly becomes one of the most influential men in the military, wielding more power than generals. I thought of Ex-PFC Wintergreen almost immediately after the Edward Snowden leaks made headlines, and again when General Keith Alexander revealed one of the ways the NSA was responding to it: using automation to cut the number of systems administrators by 90 percent, a reduction so extreme that it’s an implicit admission of a serious flaw in current arrangements.
The latest NBC reporting on the system administrator role makes me think I haven’t emphasized their power, or its implications for the NSA debate, nearly enough. Put simply, if NBC’s reporting is right, then a number of prominent defenses of NSA surveillance and oversight are obviously wrong.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]