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ZNet Daily Commentary: John Brennan vs. A 16-Year-Old By Medea Benjamin

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  • Ed Pearl
    From: info@zcommunications.org [mailto:info@zcommunications.org] Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 2:50 AM
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9, 2013
      From: info@... [mailto:info@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 2:50 AM

      -2BTNqClSFiqPNGEpXOjgFutjbbBi7ony4ESGyw4TTnvw6Sm4YLlnseD9MM9k-3D> zspace

      John Brennan vs. A 16-Year-Old

      January 9, 2013 By Medea Benjamin

      Pa-2FHrAzws-2B2AIS6N2l0-3D> Benjamin's ZSpace Page / ZSpace

      In October 2011, 16-year-old Tariq Aziz attended a gathering in Islamabad
      where he was taught how to use a video camera so he could document the
      drones that were constantly circling over his Pakistani village, terrorizing
      and killing his family and neighbors. Two days later, when Aziz was driving
      with his 12-year-old cousin to a village near his home in Waziristan to pick
      up his aunt, his car was struck by a Hellfire missile. With the push of a
      button by a pilot at a US base thousands of miles away, both boys were
      instantly vaporized—only a few chunks of flesh remained.

      Afterwards, the US government refused to acknowledge the boys’ deaths or
      explain why they were targeted. Why should they? This is a covert program
      where no one is held accountable for their actions.

      The main architect of this drone policy that has killed hundreds, if not
      thousands, of innocents, including 176 children in Pakistan alone, is
      President Obama’s counterterrorism chief and his pick for the next director
      of the CIA: John Brennan.

      On my recent trip to Pakistan, I met with people whose loved ones had been
      blown to bits by drone attacks, people who have been maimed for life, young
      victims with no hope for the future and aching for revenge. For all of them,
      there has been no apology, no compensation, not even an acknowledgement of
      their losses. Nothing.

      That’s why when John Brennan spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International
      Center in Washington DC last April and described our policies as ethical,
      wise and in compliance with international law,
      BZF217aRFbAGV9OxXFua-2B0yHgR7pNSpGpmVOpZHCr47nw4a1mWZwsp0BUBs-3D> I felt
      compelled to stand up and speak out on behalf of Tariq Aziz and so many
      others. As they dragged me out of the room, my parting words were: “I love
      the rule of law and I love my country. You are making us less safe by
      killing so many innocent people. Shame on you, John Brennan.”

      Rather than expressing remorse for any civilian deaths, John Brennan made
      the extraordinary statement in 2011 that during the preceding year, there
      hadn’t been a single collateral death “because of the exceptional
      proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.”
      Brennan later adjusted his statement somewhat, saying, “Fortunately, for
      more than a year, due to our discretion and precision, the U.S. government
      has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S.
      counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq.” We later
      learned why Brennan’s count was so low: the administration had come up with
      a semantic solution of simply counting all military-age males in a strike
      zone as combatants.

      The UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism
      has documented over 350 drones strikes in Pakistan that have killed
      2,600-3,400 people since 2004. Drone strikes in Yemen have been on the rise,
      with at least 42 strikes carried out in 2012
      pr2gluQHMSfnELYXJl6oc4BtvFsUqUq2TFGUVPAbFOv8xbG6R1TSN6oRFjOxb4A-3D> ,
      including one just hours after President Obama's reelection. The first
      strike in 2013 took place just four days into the new year.

      A May 29, 2011 New York Times exposé
      al-qaeda.html%3Fpagewanted=all> showed John Brennan as President Obama’s
      top advisor in formulating a “kill list” for drone strikes. The people
      Brennan recommends for the hit list are given no chance to surrender, and
      certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law. The kind of intelligence
      Brennan uses to put people on drone hit lists is the same kind of
      intelligence that put people in Guantanamo. Remember how the American public
      was assured that the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo were the “worst of
      the worst,” only to find out that hundreds were innocent people who had been
      sold to the US military by bounty hunters?

      In addition to kill lists, Brennan pushed for the CIA to have the authority
      to kill with even greater ease using "signature strikes," also known as
      "crowd killing," which are strikes based solely on suspicious behavior.

      When President Obama announced his nomination of John Brennan, he talked
      about Brennan’s integrity and commitment to the values that define us as
      Americans. He said Brennan has worked to “embed our efforts in a strong
      legal framework” and that he "understands we are a nation of laws."

      A nation of laws? Really? Going around the world killing anyone we want,
      whenever we want, based on secret information? Just think of the precedent
      John Brennan is setting for a world of lawlessness and chaos, now that 76
      countries have drones—mostly surveillance drones but many in the process of
      weaponizing them. Why shouldn’t China declare an ethnic Uighur activist
      living in New York City as an “enemy combatant” and send a missile into
      Manhattan, or Russia launch a drone attack against a Chechen living in
      London? Or why shouldn’t a relative of a drone victim retaliate against us
      here at home? It’s not so far-fetched. In 2011, 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus,
      a Massachusetts-based graduate with a degree in physics, was recently
      sentenced to 17 years in prison for plotting to attack the Pentagon and US
      Capitol with small drones filled with explosives.

      In his search for a new CIA chief, Obama said he looked at who is going to
      do the best job in securing America. Yet the blowback from Brennan’s drone
      attacks is creating enemies far faster than we can kill them. Three out of
      four Pakistanis now see the US as their enemy—that’s about 133 million
      people, which certainly can’t be good for US security. When Pakistani
      Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was asked the source of US enmity, she
      had a one word answer: drones.

      In Yemen, escalating U.S. drones strikes are radicalizing the local
      population and stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants.
      Since the January 4, 2013 attack in Yemen, militants in the tribal areas
      have gained more recruits and supporters in their war against the Yemeni
      government and its key backer, the United States. According to
      vIp4DUcp-2FBz5ksKTzu2hYdHJXW15v3aUjEk-3D> Abduh Rahman Berman, executive
      director of a Yemeni National Organization for Defending Rights and
      Freedoms, the drone war is failing. “If the Americans kill 10, al-Qaeda will
      recruit 100,” he said.

      Around the world, the drone program constructed by John Brennan has become a
      provocative symbol of American hubris, showing contempt for national
      sovereignty and innocent lives.

      If Obama thinks John Brennan is a good choice to head the CIA and secure
      America, he should contemplate the tragic deaths of victims like 16-year-old
      Tariq Aziz, and think again.

      Medea Benjamin, cofounder of www.codepink.org
      pmKIlGwwE5ZQdaKgUigU4Rlmr7XVUrzCsWNpJrUZiqM-3D> and www.globalexchange.org
      2F8vHdB2YqBwgbDXf4AdMPDNiOPwfFcFj0hPlWuggOe9c-2B85H0DmPGSAg3Dx8-3D> , is
      author of the book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control
      jhtDxQGTMzCtFciMgKeVD7WK3aFhSGPW8ajuDzt-2FYK6r69QeLKw9gcPtqDI4E-3D> .


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