9 Myths About Obama’s Drone Killings Debunked [Video]
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/ TheBlackRhino
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The Obama administration has launched more drone strikes in recent weeks than any time since 2009, according to human rights lawyers and overseas media reports. Attacks in Yemen killed more than 37 people, Reuters reported. Nearly all of their identities remain unknown.
The killings are a bleak reminder that Syria is not the only war President Obama is pushing. Despite the president's recent pledges to make the drone program more transparent to the public, it remains not only secretive and unaccountable, but also at odds with U.S. and international law. What is known is that the White House appears to permit extrajudicial executions, in violation of international human rights law, virtually anywhere in the world, and the victims from these strikes include many innocent civilians, including children.
The administration’s refusal to discuss and debate the legality and morality of the drone program prompted Director Robert Greenwald and his team of filmmakers at Brave New Foundation to create an onscreen, virtual debate in which many of the country’s top human and civil rights lawyers respond to statements made by Obama administration spokespeople about the program.
The lawyers’ rebuttals to the government’s assertions make it clear the official rhetoric does not match the reality of the attacks. They show that the White House’s policies treat the world as a battlefield and disregard the human lives at stake.
A preview of the debate was released this week, and the full-length version will be available in October free of charge. The arguments question the legality of using deadly military drones to attack people in countries where no political violence has been directed against the U.S., America has not declared official war, and more moderate diplomatic efforts could still be employed were American lives or interests really at risk.
The filmmakers interviewed drone victims in Pakistan, and their personal stories are included in the documentary. The following are arguments excerpted from the documentary, featuring six legal experts as they break down the arguments of the president and his administration to reveal the way rampant logical fallacies are used to justify drone warfare.
Read the myths below the video preview:
Myth #1: Drone killings are few, focused and vetted.
In January 2012, President Obama confirmed and defended the use of drone strikes. He said the attacks were “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases … for the most part, they have been very precise.” The President added, “this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”
“Mr. President, the argument that this is a short list, and that it’s on a short leash, and that we can trust you to make the right decisions because these are threats to Americans, is a disingenuous argument,” countered Morris Davis, retired Air Force Colonel, Chief Prosecutor Guantanamo Bay. “In some cases, the targets you’ve hit have been Americans, where they have been denied due process, their day in court. If you want to evict Anwar al-Awlaki from his house, you have to give him notice and his day in court to contest it. But you’re saying that you have the right alone to put him on a list and designate him for assassination without trial. That’s a pretty broad leap for a president to make.”
Myth #2: Drones legally protect against imminent threats.
“First, the strikes are legal,” John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said in April 2012. “As a matter of domestic law the Constitution empowers the president to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack.”