Obama policy on assassination drone strikes amounts to war crimes: Lawyer
Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:11PM
The only way that the drone attacks could be legal is if this would be invoked in the inherent right of self defense, that is, to protect the country from an imminent threat of violent attack."Yemen is not an imminent threat to the US; however, over 300 Yemenis have been illegally murdered in US drone attacks this year that includes women and children. Press TV has interviewed Alfred Lambremont Webre, war crimes lawyer, Vancouver about the illegality, under the United Nations Charter, of US assassination drone strikes on the civilian population of several Middle Eastern countries. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview. Press TV: US assassination drone strikes are becoming quite a concern as it is no longer just one country that’s bearing the brunt of it. The US claims they’re necessary despite the civilian death toll. Can the US continue to violate humanitarian and international law in the name of national security? Webre: Well, no. More and more it’s becoming clear even by their own words of US officials and by leaks now by the Arab Times that the US laws are violations of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which is the only article that permits the inherent right of self defense. The only way that the drone attacks could be legal is if this would be invoked in the inherent right of self defense, that is, to protect the country from an imminent threat of violent attack. Now… It is very, very difficult to argue that drone attacks in Yemen or in any other country in that region are protecting the United States from imminent threat of violent attack even though Obama himself argues that, oh, if the United States can target someone who is ‘planning an attack’ against the United States, then it is legal.
But the problem with that is that the way the US is carrying it out violates the four principles that are contained in Article 51and that is necessity, distinction, proportionality and humanity because these drone attacks are carried out by secret legal standards by the CIA.Now… these standards have become public because of a leak through the New York Times and they are as follows and I want to quote: all military-aged males in a strike zone are considered targets unless explicit intelligence ‘posthumously’ proves them innocent. I.e. the US orders - and these are secret legal orders - assumes that any military-aged male, which I assume goes from 18 years old to 65 years old in a strike zone, which may be any zone in any of the countries in the region are considered targets unless explicit intelligence posthumously proves them innocent - meaning that they’re justified unless after they’re dead there’s a report that comes back that says, oh, they weren’t planning any imminent physical attack against the US. This is beyond the pale, legally. Only a power that considers itself above international law… Press TV: Speaking to CNN on drones, Obama talks about a due process, but then still says that these “targets” are eliminated because it is not possible to capture them and then try them etc etc. Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Webre: Yeah. No, no you see that is what we call legal sophistry because those aren’t the true standards because the true standards and I’m quoting, “Anyone who is an area of known terrorist activity found with an al-Qaeda operative in an al-Qaeda operative zone is, quote, probably up to no good”.
And they don’t have precision targeting. So that by the very, very act of the drone attack say for the 300 civilians that have been killed in Yemen perhaps, perhaps they say, that one legitimate strike that would fall within that zone… But I’m not even willing to concede that - that falls within a zone that’s sanctioned by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which is based on self defense.Self defense means an imminent attack upon the United states. That falls under crimes against humanity and genocide and aggressive war. So in that case, it is the United States, which is the aggressor. SC/JR