It’s easy to kill lots of terrorists if, by definition, everyone you kill is a terrorist. Clive Stafford Smith explains in The Guardian:
It is easy to understand how the CIA slaughtered Tariq and many other innocent victims. Those who press the Hellfire buttons are 8,000 miles away in Nevada and are dependent on local “intelligence”. Just as with Guantánamo Bay, the CIA is paying bounties to those who will identify “terrorists”. Five thousand dollars is an enormous sum for a Waziri informant, translating to perhaps £250,000 in London terms. The informant has a calculation to make: is it safer to place a GPS tag on the car of a truly dangerous terrorist, or to call down death on a Nobody (with the beginnings of a beard), reporting that he is a militant? Too many “militants” are just young men with stubble. At least 174 have been children.
TheNew York Timesreports that Obama first embraced a policy of taking no prisoners in order to avoid the embarrassing sore of Guantánamo. Then he accepted a method for assessing casualties that “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants” unless there is explicit posthumous proof of their innocence – because they are probably “up to no good”.
While Obama’s policies may go down a treat in the US, they are fomenting radicalism abroad, the very policy not only undermining our way of life but provoking an extremist hydra with many more heads.
As Colbert, uh, reported, this is a genius system for avoiding civilian casualties…if, you know, you’re ok with killing a lot of civilians and then pretending that they weren’t actually civilians. It’s exactly the sort of policy we should be used to, though, after nearly 12 years of George W. Bush.
The bit about posthumously declaring the dead not terrorists if evidence turns up showing their innocence is especially galling. Is that supposed to accomplish something? — because I’m pretty positive that the families of mistakenly killed children will not be much comforted by knowing that a box was unchecked on a computer file thousands of miles away from them. Maybe someone should let DC know that isn’t one of the steps of the grieving process.