Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:6AM
We want open transparency. Personally, I find the drone program completely illegal because it’s killing people off the battlefield. It’s becoming an institutionalized form of assassination that’s really against all international and national laws.”
The assassination drone attacks carried out by the United States worldwide are against all domestic and international laws and disregard the sovereignty of nations, an activist tells Press TV. Washington uses its assassination drones in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, claiming that they target the terrorists. The attacks, however, have mostly led to massive civilian casualties. Press TV has conducted an interview with Toby Blome, a CodePink peace activist, from Washington, to further discuss the issue. Blome is joined by Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow of American Progress, from Washington, and Mike Harris, a financial editor at Veterans Today, from Arizona. The following is a rough transcription of the interview. Press TV: Our other guest in Washington [Mr. Korb] says basically what has happened, the drone attacks and also the president’s kill list is totally legal, your take. Blome: First of all, I’d like to say that the administration and the military have been very non-transparent and secretive about what legal justification they have. And there’s been all kinds of attempts by many different people to try to have it open to the American public as to what they use to justify killing people with these robotic weapons. Second of all, the administration officials and military officials have been very dishonest to the American people saying these drone weapons kill people, that they’re very precise instruments targeting very specific individuals. I personally went to Pakistan. I met with a lot of the people from Waziristan who came to Islamabad to meet with us and share their personal stories of many innocent people that have been killed. The government should be doing their own investigation to find out when they have a drone strike, who really is killed? They really don’t. They fire the Hellfire missiles and they go on and do their next job. We want open transparency. Personally, I find the drone program completely illegal because it’s killing people off the battlefield. It’s becoming an institutionalized form of assassination that’s really against all international and national laws. Even our conservative presidents Reagan and Ford had executive orders calling for banning banning any US employee assassinating anyone in the world. So, we’re going against executive orders from way back when. It is completely illegal and people of conscience, Americans who are aware - and unfortunately most Americans don’t realize, that’s the other scary part is that most Americans are totally unaware of what we’re really doing with these drone weapons. Press TV: Actually, that was one of the next questions I wanted to ask you, Ms. Blome, staying with you. You talked about going to Pakistan and visiting some of the families, the victims. I want to know, when you were visiting some of these families, were there any cameras from the mainstream media? Was this covered when you got back to the United States to show the American people the effect of these drone attacks? Blome: We had a lot of press while we were in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the way most journalism is now, it’s not very thorough questioning, so we don’t get a chance to tell in depth our personal experience, talking to the people from there. But we did get quite a bit of press coverage, so it brought the issue out in the public in a way that it usually is not... Press TV: In the United States also? Blome: Well, in the United States, there in Pakistan when we were there, we got a lot of international including US press. There was a man from the Washington Post that travelled on the bus when we did the caravan toward Waziristan and did a story. We did get some coverage but again it’s always so brief. Press TV: With the drone attacks, they have been condemned by the United Nations, and last year a UN investigator said that US policy of targeted killings is a major challenge to international law. Why aren’t we seeing more pressure from the international community on the United States? Blome: That’s a really good question that I don’t know if I’m expert enough to answer. What I’m most concerned about is why we aren’t hearing our own Congress speak out about what our Executive Branch is doing. It says something about how little checks-and-balances there are in our own government. I have been recently starting to go to meet with my Congress members, getting a group of people from the region to come to the offices. As one young activist said, I don’t understand why we should even have to come to our representatives’ office and ask them to do the oversight on these illegal drone attacks. Our Congress should be looking it over. There is so much passivity about it and yet we’re creating so many crimes. We’re just making more and more enemies as we continue these drone strikes. There are American citizens that are aware and are very concerned, and are trying to stop it. I’ve been involved in regular protests at military bases because I’ve given up in a lot of ways that Congress is really going to do anything about it. We need to work with the military at the bottom and ask them to start looking at their conscience about what they’re participating in. This is a really different kind of warfare that’s never existed before. We’re going around the world killing people while they’re in their kitchens cooking meals. We’re killing, attacking funerals and weddings. There’s been an incredible study done by Stanford University that was released in October. They went to Waziristan, they talked to the people there. Because of all the attacks on their social gatherings with the funerals and wedding parties and jirgas being attacked, the people in these societies are afraid to even participate in anything where there’s a large gathering because we just attack anytime or often when there is a large gathering. They’re afraid that they’re going to be targeted when they go to any kind of social gathering. This is really abominable. We’re turning their societies upside down. I am so appalled at what my government’s doing. Yet, most of the public is totally unaware. GMA/HMV