Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War

Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War:

Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia….

Despite the lack of progress, the last 15 years of war have come at a horrific cost.

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How Extrajudicial Executions Became Policy in Washington

How Extrajudicial Executions Became Policy in Washington:

However it is achieved… the United States has now embraced extrajudicial executions on foreign soil. Successive administrations have implemented this momentous change with little public discussion….

The Bush administration launched the assassination program in October 2001 in Afghanistan, expanded it in 2002 to Yemen and went from there. Under Obama, with an actual White House “kill list,” the use of drones has again expanded, this time nine-fold, with growing numbers of attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, as well as in the Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian war zones….

Such killings – at least when they take place outside a declared war zone – are almost certainly illegal. That is, they are murders, plain and simple.

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Numbers in Obama’s Drone Deaths Report Just Don’t Add Up

Numbers in Obama’s Drone Deaths Report Just Don’t Add Up:

More than three years after President Barack Obama pledged to be transparent about the United States’ lethal drone program, his administration has finally come forward with an accounting of the numbers of civilian deaths that resulted from drone strikes between Jan. 20, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2015. But they only cover airstrikes “outside areas of active hostilities,” which encompasses Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are not included in the report.

As expected, the administration’s numbers are significantly lower than tallies documented by leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, New America and The Long War Journal….

The DNI report omits significant details that would enable the public to fully assess its claims, including the locations, dates, numbers and names of both civilians and combatants killed in each airstrike. Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Washington Post that releasing raw numbers without explanation “leaves reason to remain skeptical of the government’s claims. You can’t grade your own homework.”

There is good reason to distrust the DNI’s claimed numbers of civilian casualties. “Every previous (rare) public, on-record statement made by the Obama administration on the program has been shown to be false or deeply misleading,” the international human rights organization Reprieve noted in a recent report.

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Obama Drone Casualty Numbers a Fraction of Those Recorded by the Bureau

Obama Drone Casualty Numbers a Fraction of Those Recorded by the Bureau:

The US government today claimed it has killed between 64 and 116 “non-combatants” in 473 counter-terrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya between January 2009 and the end of 2015.

This is a fraction of the 380 to 801 civilian casualty range recorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from reports by local and international journalists, NGO investigators, leaked government documents, court papers and the result of field investigations.

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White House Releases Drone Casualty Numbers For People Who Defer to Authority Over Evidence

White House Releases Drone Casualty Numbers For People Who Defer to Authority Over Evidence:

In making the case for why their casualty estimate of between 64 and 116 civilians killed was the best available – compared with independent organizations with far higher numbers, administration officials said… outsiders did not have access to the government’s wide-ranging intelligence….

But officials acknowledged that acceptance of what was sharply limited information about what it said were 473 total strikes, conducted by the CIA and the U.S. military’s elite Joint Special Operations over a seven-year period, was largely a matter of trust.

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Obama Administration Whitewashes Drone Killings

Obama Administration Whitewashes Drone Killings:

“For three years now, President Obama has been promising to shed light on the CIA’s covert drone program. Today, he had a golden opportunity to do just that. Instead, he chose to do the opposite.”

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