By Olivia Ward, Toronto Star, February 6,2013
The (U.S.)white paper leaked this week claims authority to target and kill those identified as Al Qaeda members, in more sweeping terms than previously revealed by the Obama administration.
Al Qaeda members, including Americans, may be assassinated if an “informed, high-level official” judges that they pose an “imminent threat” of attacking the U.S., and their capture is not feasible. But no evidence is needed that they are planning a specific or immediate operation, and they may have no previous criminal charges. It claims the killing is justified under laws of armed conflict because the U.S. is at war with Al Qaeda — an opinion voiced by Brennan in a speech last year.
The contention has aroused fierce criticism outside the U.S., as well as among American human rights advocates. It has also stoked anti-American anger in countries where drone strikes have been used.
“Any way you slice and dice it, to target people from a list when they are not combatants amounts to extrajudicial killing,” says Stuart Hendin, an Ottawa-based legal scholar in international humanitarian law. “The use of drones during military operations is a valuable device, but provided only that they are used in armed conflict.”
There are also fears that more countries will follow America’s example once they obtain attack drones. Israel has unacknowledged combat drones and Pakistan and China are developing them. The United Arab Emirates has reportedly built but not used them, and Russia claims it has attack-ready drones, Zenko says.
“The rapid spread of (drone) technology to other states means that the implications of U.S. policy . . . are of potentially major significance in the future, in relation to the legal framework which will be applied to the actions of those other states,” says an essay by Philip Alston, a former UN special rapporteur on targeted killing.
While extra-judicial killing is clearly an issue, and merits much scholarship, as well as some political debate, the question of turning the world into "the killing fields" in order to stop the spread of the cancer of Islamic terrorism also merits some focus.
If, and who knows, there might be a terrorist plotting havoc, living in my neighbourhood, I not only do not want that planning to continue, I also do not want a shower of heat missiles raining down on my neighbours, or my family.
The military-intelligence options will eventually have to give way to a negotiated settlement, the terms of which seem completely unavailable, unknown and unreachable today.
This force, Islamic terrorism, has been around in one form or another for several centuries. Of course, the methods, intelligence and locations, not to mention the names of the perpetrators, have changed. The goal of world domination, supported apparently by some misguided words in the Islamics holy book, has not changed. Promises of heavenly rewards for destroying infidels and apostates have spurred a virulent slice of Islam for too long.
Only those within Islam can bring this monster to heel.
Only those within Islam can bring an end to this madness.
Only those within Islam can tame the unleashed toxicity.
And that initiative has to be negotiated between those in Islam who will listen to such a plea and those on the edges who can and will bring that message to the Islamic community.
And the mutual benefits that can only accrue to both the Islamic community and the rest of the world from such a de-fanging have to be clear already to the more reasonable and rational of all communities.