Thursday, January 31, 2013

Are Drone Strikes War Crimes?

United Nations special rapporteur Ben Emmerson tells Danger Room that accountability for drone strikes “is the central purpose” of his new inquiry. Photo: United Nations

U.N. Drone Investigator: If Facts Lead To U.S. War Crimes, So Be It -- Danger Room

Ben Emmerson wants to be clear: He’s not out to ban flying killer robots used by the CIA or the U.S. military. But the 49-year-old British lawyer is about to become the bane of the drones’ existence, thanks to the United Nations inquiry he launched last week into their deadly operations.

Emmerson, the United Nations’ special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism, will spend the next five months doing something the Obama administration has thoroughly resisted: unearthing the dirty secrets of a global counterterrorism campaign that largely relies on rapidly proliferating drone technology. Announced on Thursday in London, it’s the first international inquiry into the drone program, and one that carries the imprimatur of the world body. By the next session of the United Nations in the fall, Emmerson hopes to provide the General Assembly with an report on 25 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Palestine where civilian deaths are credibly alleged.

Read more ....

My Comment: A better understanding of UN investigator Ben Emmerson's mandate can be read here. More news and info on this UN probe can be read here.

While Britain has promised to cooperate with this investigation .... the U.S. and Israel have said nothing .... and this silence tells me that they will not. One more drawback to this investigation .... I just do not see this UN group going to places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia to investigate these drone strikes. It will be too dangerous for them to show up .... and they know it.

But I must confess that what I find captivating about this investigation is that in the end a report will be published .... and I am betting that it will state that the U.S. drone program has committed 'war crimes' .... that civilians were deliberately killed knowing that they would be collateral damage against a high value target in a drone strike. If so ..... and this is what tweaks me ..... is that since President Obama was the one who personally signed off on many of these drone strikes .... does that mean that he can then be charged for a war crime .... and if so does that mean that he will be the first Nobel Peace Prize recipient in history to be labelled as such.

I personally hope not .... but the irony is something to ponder about, and I would wager that there are some in the White House who are now deeply concerned about where this UN investigation is going, and what it may do to President Obama's legacy.

On a side note .... the three countries that pushed for this investigation are Russia, China, and Pakistan .... no friends of the U.S. .... and more to the point .... no friends to this administration.

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