CIA drones freely kill civilians under pretext of 'war on terror': Edward Corrigan
An analyst says Washington’s so called ‘war on terrorism’ is in actual fact nothing but a permit to murder whoever they wish at times under such a flimsy excuse as disapproving of the victim’s associates.
The comment comes as former top Pentagon lawyer General Counsel Jeh Johnson on Monday spoke of ‘adding judicial oversight to the government’s targeted killing activities’ in a speech at Fordham University.
Jeh Johnson said that many Americans now imagine “dark images of civilian and military national security personnel in the basement of the White House-acting, as Senator Angus King put it, as ‘prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner’…deciding for themselves who shall live and who shall die, pursuant to a process and by standards no one understands.”
Johnson acknowledged that Washington’s so called ‘anti-terror’ targeted killing program, once a campaign bragging point for Obama, now “risks an erosion of support by the people.”
Press TV has conducted an interview with international lawyer, Edward Corrigan, in Ontario to further discuss the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Many thanks for joining us on Press TV Mr. Corrigan. There has been a lot of international scrutiny over America’s drone program. However what do you think is going to make the American public opinion change with regards to these drone attacks?
Well, as soon as the American public actually becomes aware that these programs are really without a legal foundation, they have been condemned by the United Nations many other countries, Pakistan has protested them and they become aware that there are hundreds of innocent civilians that are being killed; once that information becomes available I think there would be a backlash against the administration.
The idea of people playing video games and zapping people from a basement in Washington DC; it’s very far from the reality and I think when people think about it and realize that these are extrajudicial murders that they are done without any legal sanction, without any due process, they are condemned the universal opinion of everybody except maybe the United States state department and the US administration as that these things are clearly in violation of international law once that information becomes apparent to the public there will be a backlash against it.
Mr. Johnson has indicated that he is-- part of its like damage control; they’re concerned about the backlash against the public once they find out what’s really going on. A General Stanley McChrystal who was in charge of the US counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan has warned about overuse of these drone attacks.
They’re going to guarantee to create a backlash not only in Pakistan, in Yemen, in other countries where they have been used but that will actually filter into the United States and certainly international opinion is very strongly against these drone attacks and once that filters down to the public I don’t think damage control or spin is really going to save it. These are clearly illegal programs. You cannot act as judge, executioner and jury in these matters.
A US senator condemned that and said that. Senator Rand Paul actually filibustered the appointment of the CIA representative, head of the CIA Mr. Benner because the Americans won’t give any clear indication of whether or not they could use the drone attacks to kill American citizens in the United States. Now no government should have that power to...
Indeed let me just interrupt you we are quickly running out of time. Jen Johnson spoke of how Americans view these drone attacks as basically dark images of personnel in the basement of the White House where decisions are made on the lives of the people. He is quite spot on, isn’t he because there is no judicial process here?
That’s right there is no judicial process. It clearly is illegal and in fact there has not even been a declaration of war in these countries which would cover it under the laws of war. This so called war on terrorism is really just a pre-text to go up and kill whoever you want. In some cases it’s under the flimsiest pretext. It’s just oh; we think this person may be a threat because of how they associate. That’s not a legitimate basis to execute somebody without due process and a trial.
And it’s going back to the worst times of totalitarianism and the regimes that are heavily condemned in the United States but now the United States is adopting the same policy, the same rhetoric; you know the Nazis for example call the French resistance terrorists when they were fighting to win the liberation of their country and I think Americans have forgotten their history and have fallen into this same trap of unbridled power.
They’re with it and they are not doing the normal checks and balances and not considering international law implications. In fact these are war crimes.