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Death From Above: How American Drone Strikes Are Devastating Yemen

socialismartnature:

this is surely a crime against humanity that the u.s. government is engaged in.

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On the ground in a country where unmanned missile attacks are a terrifyingly regular occurrence.

Last year, London-based forensic psychologist Peter Schaapveld presented research he’d conducted on the psychological impact of drone strikes in Yemen to a British parliamentary sub-committee. He reported that 92 percent of the population sample he examined was found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – with children being the demographic most significantly affected. Women, he found, claimed to be miscarrying from their fear of drones. “This is a population that by any figure is hugely suffering,” Schaapveld said. The fear of drones, he added, “is traumatizing an entire generation.”

Are there any liberals left? | SocialistWorker.org

socialismartnature:

SINCE THE latter months of 2013, liberals have been feeling better about themselves and the prospects for progressive change at the ballot box.

Look at the evidence, they say: Objections from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other liberals kiboshed President Obama’s plan to appoint Wall Street’s man, ex-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, as chair of the Federal Reserve. Bill de Blasio, running a populist campaign against growing inequality and racist police abuse, won a landslide victory to become mayor of New York City. Even Obama is shifting, we’re told—he’s at least made talking about income inequality a centerpiece of his administration’s message.

The Daily Beast's Peter Beinart provided perhaps the most articulate statement for the case that DeBlasio’s election and Summers’ defeat represent “an omen of what may become the defining story of America’s next political era: the challenge, to both parties, from the left.” To Beinart, these recent political developments are harbingers of “the rise of the new new left,” as the Millennial Generation of young adults—the most multiracial and politically liberal age cohort in the U.S. population—comes to dominate the electorate.

But just as liberals were starting to feel good about their chances again, along comes Adolph Reed Jr. His lengthy cover story for the March issue of Harper’s magazine, "Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals," arrived as the proverbial downpour to rain on the liberal parade.

Reed’s message to liberals—especially those who invest their hopes in the Democratic Party—is stark.

Since the 1980s, he writes, liberals, activists and social movement organizations (the combination of which Reed labels “the left”) have been on the defensive. Instead of determining how to advance a broadly popular and egalitarian vision, this left has narrowed its “social vision” and its time horizon, keying actions to the next election cycle.

"Each election now becomes a moment of life-or-death urgency that precludes dissent or even reflection," Reed writes. "For liberals, there is only one option in an election year, and that is to elect, at whatever cost, whichever Democrat is running." According to Reed, this has increasingly locked the left into a downward spiral, hitching its wagon to a more and more conservative Democratic Party.

To counter the tendency of some liberals today to see the 1990s Clinton administration “as a halcyon time of progressive success,” Reed reminds us with a quick recap of his policies that the Clinton record “demonstrates, if anything, the extent of Reaganism’s victory in defining the terms of political debate and the limits of political practice.”

When he turns to the Obama administration, Reed is even more scathing. He portrays Obama as something of an empty suit, who managed to gull liberals and leftists into supporting him while faithfully carrying forward the neoliberal agenda. While Reed chides Obama for his “reflexive disposition to cater first to his right,” he also points out that “Obama could not have sold his signature ‘bipartisan’ transcendence” to leftists “if Clinton had not already moved the boundaries of liberalism far enough rightward.” As he concludes:

[I]f the left is tied to a Democratic strategy that, at least since the Clinton Administration, tries to win elections by absorbing much of the right’s social vision and agenda, before long, the notion of a political left will have no meaning. For all intents and purposes, that is what has occurred…Because only the right proceeds from a practical utopian vision, “left” has come to mean little more than “not right.”

New report suggests wedding procession drone strike may have violated laws of war

thepoliticalfreakshow:

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.

thinksquad:

U.S. Military Changes Drone Rules To Make Targeting Of Civilians Easier. Lethality of collateral damage ‘must not be excessive’

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.

Air strike kills 15 civilians in Yemen by mistake

thepeoplesrecord:

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…

thepeoplesrecord:

aljazeeraamerica:

Guantanamo inmateL ‘We will remain on hunger strike’

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.

Read more

Photo: Chantal Valery/Getty Images

On a hunger strike since February.

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)
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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)

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