While millions of Americans celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, agents of the federal government were delivering death by remote control overseas.
On Friday, December 28, for example, five people were killed and three others injured in a U.S. drone attack on a house in the Mana Gurbaz area of the remote and mountainous Shawal Valley in Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency.
According to a report filed by Pakistan’s The News International:
Official and tribal sources said the drone fired four missiles and pounded a house in the forest-covered Shawal Valley, sited 90 kilometres northwest of Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan.
Witnesses indicate that “it was for the first time that a drone carried out [a] missile attack in the cloudy and rainy weather in the volatile tribal region.” Chances are it won’t be the last.
One official reports that the death toll from the drone strike could increase if those victims wounded in the attack die as a result of their injuries. “There was heavy snowfall in Shawal [V]alley when the drone fired missiles and targeted a house,” the unnamed official told The News International.
Given the callous and indiscriminate approach of the Obama administration to the names and numbers of those assassinated in the name of “national security,” it is not surprising that “there was no immediate information about the identity of those killed in the drone attack.”
Naturally, the White House promises that those targeted by the Predators are militants determined to harm Americans. But given the disregard for discrimination in the drone strikes, how many of those killed were innocent bystanders? How many of the actual “targets” were themselves innocent or at least had no demonstrable ties to terrorist organizations? This question will never be known with certainty because the president alone serves as judge, jury, and executioner — and does not believe he is obliged to provide evidence to the American people.
In fact, it would be very naïve to believe the targeted assassination of an innocent person (such as American teenager Abdulrahman al-Awlaki) was an unfortunate miscalculation. When the judicial and executive powers of government are consolidated and restraints on the exercise of power are cast aside, it can be expected — based both on our knowledge of history and on the nature of man — that power will be abused and no one’s rights or life will be safe from elimination by despots.
On Christmas Eve, as many Americans prepared to open presents, some opened Foreign Policy and read the following harrowing story of a “botched drone strike” in Yemen carried out on September 2:
The villagers who rushed to the road, cutting through rocky fields in central Yemen, found the dead strewn around a burning sport utility vehicle. The bodies were dusted with white powder — flour and sugar, the witnesses said — that the victims were bringing home from market when the aircraft attacked. A torched woman clutched her daughter in a lifeless embrace. Four severed heads littered the pavement.
“The bodies were charred like coal. I could not recognize the faces,” said Ahmed al-Sabooli, 22, a farmer whose parents and 10-year-old sister were among the dead. “Then I recognized my mother because she was still holding my sister in her lap. That is when I cried.”
In a Christmas Eve Washington Post report, anonymous officials of the government of the United States admitted that the brutal mass murder of 12 innocent civilians (three of whom were children) was carried out by “a Defense Department aircraft, either a drone or a fixed-wing airplane.”
That’s it. The U.S.-dependent Yemeni regime remarked that the drone-delivered deaths were the result of an “accident.”
What isn’t an accident is the targeting by Yemenis, Pakistanis, and others weary of constant bombings of Americans and those perceived to be aiding them. It is a deadly development known as blowback.
“You want us to stay quiet while our wives and brothers are being killed for no reason. This attack is the real terrorism,” said Mansoor al-Maweri, whom CNN reports as being “near the scene of the strike” that “accidentally” killed 15 innocent men, women, and children in Yemen in September.