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New Details of Attack on Yemeni Wedding Prompt More Demands Obama Explain Drone Policy

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Featured photo - New Details of Attack on Yemeni Wedding Prompt More Demands Obama Explain Drone Policy Abdullah Muhammad al-Tisi of Yakla holds a photo of his son Ali Abdullah Mohammed al-Tisi, who was killed in a US drone strike outside Rad`a, Yemen on December 12, 2013. © 2013 Human Rights Watch

A new report on the U.S. drone missile strike that killed 12 members of a Yemeni wedding convoy has renewed calls for the Obama administration to make public its own investigations into the incident — and explain how such strikes are consistent with international laws of war.

The detailed, 28-page report from Human Rights Watch describes conflicting accounts of the December 12 attack, but nevertheless concludes that some, if not all, of the victims may have been civilians.

The laws of war prohibit attacks on civilians that are not discriminate or attacks that cause civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage.

The report also calls on the U.S. government to explain how the attack could possibly have complied with the new policies President Obama announced in May 2013, and repeated less than three months before the wedding strike, that he had “limited the use of drones so they target only those who pose a continuing, imminent threat to the United States where capture is not feasible, and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties.”

Obama administration officials have insisted since the strike that only members of al Qaeda were killed. Defense Department spokesman Bill Speaks reiterated to The Intercept on Wednesday “that the Yemeni Government has stated that the targets of this operation were dangerous senior al Qaeda militants,” but he declined to provide any details or evidence to support that conclusion. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden also declined.

The Associated Press reported Thursday morning that, according to three anonymous U.S. officials, two government investigations concluded that only members of al Qaeda were hit in the strike:

Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of Joint Special Operations Command, ordered an independent investigation by an Air Force general and the White House requested another by the National Counterterrorism Center. Both concluded no civilians were killed. Votel’s staff also showed lawmakers video of the operation. Two U.S. officials who watched the video and were briefed on the investigations said it showed three trucks in the convoy were hit, all carrying armed men.

But the officials provided no details, no evidence — and were not quoted by name. The AP explained:

The officials said the Pentagon can’t release details because both the U.S. military and the CIA fly drones over Yemen. By statute, the military strikes can be acknowledged, but the CIA operations cannot. The officials said that if they explain one strike but not another, they are revealing by default which ones are being carried out by the CIA.

But at its core, the Human Rights Watch report makes the case that a swirling mix of competing accounts surrounding the strike demands a transparent investigation and publicly available findings. In an interview with The Intercept Wednesday, Letta Tayler, the author of the report, said the contradictory claims her team uncovered investigating the strike were “mind boggling.”

“It would be comical if we were not talking about human beings who were killed and yet, that is what we’re talking about,” Tayler said. “And that’s why the silence is unconscionable.”

“The contradictory accounts that we documented cry out for an official explanation,” she added. “The families of those killed deserve to know what happened and why the U.S. turned this wedding procession into a funeral.”

Tayler said her organization has “serious questions about how intelligence is gathered in Yemen and how it is being used.” But, she noted:  ”We do not know if faulty intelligence led to this strike or not, because we do not know enough about the strike itself.”

A Feb. 10 article in The Intercept described the National Security Agency’s role in locating targets for lethal drone strikes, raising concerns that the U.S. has been overly relying on the activity of mobile phones that targets are believed to be using, rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground. A former Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) drone operator and NSA analyst told The Intercept that during his time in Yemen, the U.S. gathered “almost zero” human intelligence  before strikes. “Every one of their strikes relies on signals and imagery for confirmation,” he said.

The level of detail in the Human Rights Watch report impressed close observers of the U.S. drone program. Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations and a leading expert on U.S. targeted killings, told The Intercept, “It’s just a very careful and cautious study.” He said the report “raises incredibly troubling evidence” that “the United States might have blown it…might have killed civilians unintentionally.”

“The report is well documented and it is carefully measured in saying what the researchers know and don’t know,” Ryan Goodman, law professor at New York University and co-editor-in-chief of the national security blog, JustSecurity.org, said in an email to The Intercept. “Of course mistakes happen in wartime, but a key question for the laws of war is whether the mistake resulted from a failure to take the proper precautions,” Goodman added. “The report includes evidence that clearly suggests violations of the laws of war may have occurred.”

The attack took place late in the afternoon of December 12, 2013. According to the report, four Hellfire missiles slammed into a convoy of 11 cars stopped by a flat tire. The cars, Human Rights Watch confirmed, were carrying 50 to 60 wedding-goers. They had been traveling from the bride’s home to the groom’s village.

Abdullah Muhammad al-Tisi, a local sheikh, was driving one of the vehicles. “Everyone was happy; everyone was celebrating the wedding,” he told Human Rights Watch. “Then the strike turned happiness to grief.”

Al-Tisi said he watched as four men piled out of 2005 Toyota Hilux pickup truck ahead of him and ran. Moments later a missile tore into the vehicle. Soon after, three more missiles rained down, throwing shards of hot metal through the air.

“Blood was everywhere, the bodies of the people who were killed and injured were scattered everywhere,” al-Tisi, a father of three, recalled. “I saw the missile hit the car that was just behind the car driven by my son. I went there to check on my son. I found him tossed to the side. I turned him over and he was dead. He was struck in his face, neck, and chest.”

In addition to the 12 men who died, 15 others were wounded. Shrapnel cut the bride’s face and tore her clothing. Roughly half the wedding party was killed or wounded. The youngest man to die was 20, the oldest 65.

Anonymous U.S. officials told reporters the military’s elite JSOC operatives carried out the strike — not the CIA.

The day after the attack, Yemen’s official news news agency cited an unnamed “official source” who claimed that a car belonging to an al Qaeda “leader” that was carrying “many terrorist members and leaders who were involved in plotting attacks against armed forces, police, and vital public facilities” had been targeted. There was no mention of civilian casualties until the following day, when a Yemeni general apologized for the attack at a local community meeting. The general said the attack was a “mistake,” and provincial officials paid the families a total of $159,000 in reparations and gave them 101 Kalashnikov assault rifles, a tribal gesture of apology.

Human Rights Watch found three government sources who disputed the official news agency account of the strike. Those sources said five civilians were killed in the attack. None of the Yemeni sources said who among the dead was al Qaeda and who was a civilian wedding celebrant. One of the sources did say, however, that the dead included, “smugglers and arms dealers. They were guys for hire — shady.”

Unnamed U.S. officials later told the AP that the target was Shawqi Ali Ahmad al-Badani, a member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who they said was one of Yemen’s most wanted terrorists and a key figure in the plot that resulted in the closure of 22 U.S. diplomatic posts the preceding summer. The officials claimed he was wounded in the strike but escaped.

Human Rights Watch found two Yemeni government sources who claimed the first vehicle struck by the American missile was al-Badani’s and that he did indeed escape. Two other Yemeni sources, however, said he was residing in a city more than 100 miles from the scene of the strike.

Witnesses and relatives told Human Rights Watch they did not know al-Badani and that he was most certainly not at the wedding. Other sources who spoke to the human rights organization claimed an entirely different AQAP member – Nasr al-Hotami – was in the truck that was fired upon. Again, relatives denied the claim. Some Yemeni officials suggested AQAP “had joined the procession, possibly as ‘camouflage.’”

“The conflicting accounts, as well as actions of relatives and provincial authorities, suggest that some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians,” the report concludes.

Tayler, the report’s author, said the strike invites questions that have become frustratingly commonplace for U.S. drone strike investigators.

“How do the laws of war apply here? How can you assume that civilian loss will not be disproportionate to the expected military advantage if you are striking a wedding convoy?” she said. “There may be an answer but the U.S. sure has not given it.”

“There are now a host of questions about the Obama administration’s self-professed killing-policy restrictions, how malleable they are in practice, and the extent to which the killing policy is unlawful,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project said in an email to The Intercept. “In response to those questions, the administration has responded with self-serving statements from anonymous government officials and deafening official silence.”

“The Obama administration has not only refused to disclose its legal memos justifying the killings of U.S and non U.S. citizens far from any battlefield,” Shamsi added. “It won’t even provide the public with basic information about the number and identity of the thousands of people who have died as a result of its lethal program.”

Edited by Dan Froomkin.

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  1. Don’t they know all they had to do was inform the NSA that a wedding would take place and inform them as to how many people would be attending, their names and the location of the party. Fill that in triplicate along with picture ID of everyone involved along with Facebook passwords. Then, their chances of being targeted would have dropped by at least 8%.

  2. We were misled about WMDs in Iraq by a foreign intelligence officer with an ulterior motive. What if Yemeni government sources are using US Military and CIA assets to take out political opponents, or even just as revenge killings?

  3. It’s very easy to give your targeted cellphone to some innocent third party, or to let someone find it and use it, since this is the abysmally, irresponsibly stupid targeting technique used by such “elite” units. The US isn’t just criminal, it is criminally inept.

  4. “…“Of course mistakes happen in wartime,…”

    “wartime”??????? what war? when did the US declare war on Yemen???

    the “war on Terror” is NOT a war….it is an illegal black ops deal that routinely murders lots of innocent people, with no explanation…no apologies…nothing but a deafening silence out of Washington…i wonder how the President can SLEEP at night…..he has a LOT to answer for

    • He sleeps well from jogging around the WH with Zionist Joe Biden every day.That photo op might have been the most pathetic picture in this idiots administration.Jogging does not promote intelligence,it just increases warrior hormones.

  5. How is it possible for America to continually attack another country without any reprimand whatsoever? And yet the US threatens Russia with sanctions for merely shoring up its defenses concerning the situation over Ukraine. I am stunned.

  6. Last I heard, the military accepted ~30 civilian deaths for a high-value target as policy. Shock and awe terrorism creating much needed enemies to grow future profits. Instead of building security for a narcissistic global economy that tortures our nature and creates instability, why don’t we build a global society that actually supports our nature as social animals who enjoy sharing pride and compassion and resources?

  7. I would like to see The Intercept establish a Facebook page. I don’t work for Facebook or want to put more money in their pockets but I believe what you have to say is important and should get more exposure. I post links to some of your articles but there is a limit to how much of that one can do before they lose all their friends. I have found that some people follow up on articles I “like.” It would give others an opportunity to subscribe to your page and have your articles come up on their news feed rather than rely on them to visit your website when they remember. Keep up the good and important work!

  8. The truth is this; the administration cannot explain how this is legal or human…or even sane. What they CAN do, and are doing is lying, diverting, dodging, and propagandizing their criminal behavior – for as long as we put up with it. VOTE the bastards out of office, both republicans and democrats. WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS ANY LONGER AND NO ONE BELIEVE YOUR LIES ANYMORE. Matter of fact, I’d go into exile somewhere if I were you because remember Mussolini.

  9. I am elated to find The Intercept which was quite by accident. I hope it awakens the American public, Americans have akways been outstanding when it came to moral conduct. I have faith in the end the people will overthrow their corrupt government and take America back. Americans have never been and will never be a bunch of underachivers. Keep up the amazing journalism. Take back America :)

  10. Why, if the US is more than happy to assassinate low-level threats and accept a certain proportion of innocent civilian casualties alont the way, is it somehow beyond the limits of good taste to assassinate despotic rulers that pose a significant threat to international peace and human rights in their own countries? If you’re driving in a wedding party in the wrong country, you must fear for your life. But if you occupy a palace, no sweat. Kim Jong-X never has to worry. Why did we have to invade Iraq when all we wanted was one guy removed?

    • Saddam was only the EXCUSE for invasion….not the real reason…the real reason was the PNAC agenda.

      • well, of course his being a war criminal wasn’t sufficient for anyone who let Kissinger run roughshod over southeast Asia…

  11. 250 Million dollars for an alternative news site and this format is the best you can come up with?

    Where did the money go to, a retirement fund for Greenwald to help convince him not to let out serious Snowden leaks about the NSA?

      • Disappointed in what? Be specific. Provide details. With detailed constructive criticism, we will all benefit from your suggestions.

      • Are you looking for bells and whistles and pretty little videos playing on the side? Want something along the lines of the corporate Huffington Post? I prefer less distractions and more serious articles which is what they provide here. As a culture we’ve been taken in by pretty little distractions which is why we are where we are as a country in decline.

    • Plenty serious enough for me, and extremely shocking ! Many readers have already expressed their gratitude, and appreciation at the quality of journalism at The Intercept. I don’t know what you consider as serious, maybe only your house burning down ? I am sure that in time you are going to see even more serious revelations, so why not just sit back and be patient?

    • Which format do you recommend? Please provide an example – naming your preferred format website would be helpful. Critiques without recommendations for improvement do not result in changes.

      Your second sentence is enlightening as it exposes your true purpose for this posting; claim that Glenn can be bought. You are one Very mistaken person. Do your research. Glenn, Laura, Edward, Jerry, Jacob, and some others have proven to many of us, and even to the NSA and GCHQ, that they are not on the market to the highest bidder. Question. Have you been bought?

    • no one makes you read this site…so if you don’t like it…hike out….and find something more appealing….it’s not here for “entertainment” but for the serious purpose of providing an alternate source of relevant and important news….

      perhaps YOU are the one who is bought and paid for Catman….do you work for the NSA? or the CIA?

    • That’s a very catty statement.Methinks you are just another sh*t stirrer.You’ve got nothing else in your quiver,huh?Like facts?

    • I don’t see anything wrong with this format. It is like reading a magazine without any advertisements on it. Look at how Ariana Huffington’s attempt to provide good journalism has morphed into the internet equivalent of People Magazine/USA Today. Stay with plain and simple. I even like the Comments format.

  12. It apparently be necessary to await the appearance of the servile designee of the plutocrats to provide the spin on this matter for our consumption.

  13. Obama is a total fail and I’m ashamed that I voted for him-once. He’s every bit the war criminal that George Bush is. Bush had the excuse of being a moron, however

    • Well said! Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has thrown his lot in with those who wish to act as thugs and killers, blowing smoke and false-flag rhetoric about protecting America.

    • Agreed. Millions of us were suckered by Obama’s command of the English language. His campaign speeches were a joy to listen to. His words, delivery, support of equality, government transparency, justice for all, and other things good and wonderful for all Americans, not just the rich, reminded us of Lincoln and Kennedy. What we learned is that he is a hypocrite. Smart like a fox but slick as a weasel. Bush was the town idiot so I was thrilled when Obama, the articulate, community organizer, Constitutional supporter, and family man became president.

      Boy was I wrong.

      • Barry used his race and the rhetorical nuances of MLK to fool everyone who wasn’t aware of his ties to Brzezinski and the cold warriors in the Democratic party into believing he really would change things. When he announced Rahmbo as his COS, the mask came off.

    • Wow,I mean if someone does the same things as an moron(the shrub)it means they are an moron also.
      Obviously.

  14. It’s a good article Dan and I’m glad to see you at this site (I used to read your stuff in the Post). That being said, somewhere above the adjective “elite” was used to describe the JSOC. These people are not elite in any way. They are our most brainwashed murderers, torturers and assassins. Mostly, they are famous for busting into people’s homes at night, terrorizing the women and children and killing or taking away the male family members.

    Secondly, why is there all this legal mumbo jumbo about what constitutes a legal killing under the laws of war. We are not at war with any of these countries or entities. We are simply murdering people from the air. Even the Administration’s most twisted lawyers have to contort their thinking to call this war. The ACLU and other organizations should not stipulate this point up front. It ain’t war. It’s murder.

    • Richard Gabriel wrote a book entitled Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn’t Win. In the small very readable book, Gabriel, himself an American army officer, zeroes in on operations conducted outside of the regular army run by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The same mistakes and hubris that led to the loss of an entire Navy SEAL team during the Grenada invasion is present in everything JSOC does. There is no oversight and the people running the show think they can do no wrong and that they are accountable to no one.

      • Bad wars for bad purposes equal bad endings.Doesn’t it always work that way?I mean didn’t Hitler crash and burn on his own bad decisions which made him a pariah to the world?Sort of like US today.

    • elite is about as useful a word as ‘noble’ – a mark of rank/authority that gets ruined as a synonym for ‘righteous’ or ‘upstanding’ when applied to scumbag warlords.

    • About as “coincidental” as all of the pro-Black leaders of the 1960′s being killed by “lone, crazed gunmen.”

  15. Lets say your a powerfull clandestine branch of a top secret branch who render persons of interest through foriegn governments to dark locations for the purpose of gathering information. I would imagine murdering that asset would be counterproductive, torture also proven to be useless/ counterproductive, now on the otherhand drone striking that assets family, friends, and nieghbors may loosen the tongue!

  16. I’m so sad and disgusted what has happened to my country. A man told me the other day that we should have just nuked Iraq in the first place ( which we are slowly, with the depleted uranium). I’m a bartender, I hear this kind of logic often from people. I asked him why, seeing as Iraq never did anything to us in the first place and he looked at me like I had eight heads. My nieces and nephews in high schools tell me their classmates all want to be navy seals. The brainwashing is insidious. I would like to blame it all on the politicians, who are collectively evil and corrupted, but the problem is, we give them consent. I didn’t, but collectively, we could make it stop if we could only get past the divide and conquer mind control we seem to be under. Most people I talk to don’t seem to care that we’re living in a Stasi police state and the constitution seems like a distant memory. My heart is broken.

    • Sorrow and disgust are great starts Eve. You’re right, not only is the brainwashing insidious regarding “patriotism” and “democracy” but it is so much more so regarding the virtues of capitalism, which, if you ask me, looks in practice a lot like colonial oppression and expansionism of the early Spanish and French empires.

      I also agree with you that the divide and conquer and mind control strategies plutocrats have used since the beginning of European expansion has been equally powerful. I was surprised to discover, for example, that “white” as a racial class was invented by plutocrats in the days of early slavery in colonial America as a way of dividing indentured poor people (black and white). Before this invention, these two groups saw themselves as part of one group. With the introduction of the “white” race, and preferential treatment for the white poor, the poor too became divided.

      What’s the cure to a broken heart? I believe it is taking action you feel is personally meaningful. Not sure what that is for you. For me, it’s inventing an alternative to debt-based economies which suppress humanity through socio economic power and control. I think humanity will triumph over what we’re seeing. When I read comments like yours, I can’t help thinking we’re making progress: becoming aware of the problem is the first start.

    • Eve, Thank you for your observations. I was drafted into the army during the viet nam war. During training our company yells were “kill without mercy” and “rape, mame and “burn” to name a few. Everything was kill, kill, kill. Brainwashing and desensatising at it’s best. 1969 At the time I knew the war was based on a lie (the gulf of tonkin incident). I knew I could not participate. I had to become a conscientous objector. Today I look at the vidio games that my grandchildren play and I am terrified. Basic training all over again. Kill, kill, kill. I asked my grandson who he was trying to kill. He said it was the bad guy. I asked who said it was the bad guy. He looked at me and said the game told him. I am worried.
      I feel we have become a society that does not have the will to question. Every war in my life has been avoidable and unnecessary. This insanity of spying, drones, and war has nothing to do with freedom and democracy. The American Dream has become a never ending war. We have become the enemy of reasoning, sanity and humanity. I feel your pain.

      • beautifully put….that’s the power of the mass mind control tactics that Governments use today…start when they are very young with the “call of duty” type video games….get the kids desensitised early….and then you wind up with horrific events like Sandy Hook….

    • Eve,
      I am worried that we are not appalled by spying, drone attacks, never ending wars, blind nationalism and misguided patriotism. We give our children mindless vidio games that teach the joys of killing as if they were scoring a touchdown instead of aiming a gun at another human being and pulling the trigger. I thought maybe we would have learned something from viet nam which was based on a lie. But our new wars based on faulty intelligence and the promptings of the politicians and arms manufacturers have become the status quo. All the wars in my life have been unnecessary and avoidable. The conditioning of violence has erroded our humanity. Our president commented on how proficient he had become at killing, just as if he was saying how good his golf game had become. Politicians would rather over fund the military than feed hungry children, spy on us rather than offer health care. Fear has been a useful tool for those in power. I feel sorry for the children who become products of their enviiornment.
      And we are all children.

    • It’s starts at the lowest level in our schools with a pledge of allegiance to a flag and everything for which it stands. It progresses to the high school level with ROTC on virtually every high school campus. It continues with a news media which, in addition to our failed schools, is now specifically designed and used to keep the populace stupid. They have succeeded and we are now unable to change it. The good news is that this is the beginning of the end for the Evil Empire. The world is beginning to hate us in general and when that begins to truly manifest itself in reduced trade, poor relations and minor revolts in lands at the far ends of the Empire’s reach, the Empire will collapse upon itself. I am sad to see us squander a position of respect that we once enjoyed, but won’t cry a single tear when the Military/Industrial/Security Complex falls and the U.S. becomes a second tier country. It’s what we deserve.

    • Eve,

      It is TRULY sad that there are so many foolishly misinformed Americans who really believe that there are terrorists behind every hiding place and gullibly believe that if the US attacked someone they actually deserve it because they blindly believe the cover story provided by the government. They are either in denial or too stupid to realize this is all a front for the inner government who is running the show for their own profit and lying to the citizens about the true nature of their causes. If those thick-headed hillbilly types would become aware, they would be “shocked” to find it is their own government who is the criminal and the threat to their democracy. Some people are just too stupid to not step in front of a moving car. You can’t change their minds. They are too busy drinking Kool-Aid and spouting religious hatred. I share your pain but do not give up. You are on the right track!

  17. We have to understand that the US government needs to nourish, grow, and foster terrorism. Drone strikes on women and children, and innocent men and families, accomplishes exactly what JSOC and the US government want for the future; More resentment and thus more Al-Qaeda and terrorists. What would the administrations, JSOC, Blackwater contractors, and the military -Industrial complex accomplish without frankensteins, built, paid for and encouraged by US Drone strikes on innocents. Laying the seeds for generations of terrorists, and thus more and more need for their Drone technologies abroad, and eventually for the next chapter: Mega data strikes, and drone kills here on domestic soil.

    • And this is why there may be a backlash against the US in the future. We are now known as the greatest threat to peace in the world. Perhaps those Frankensteins we’re creating will return to us with a vengeance…

  18. The attendees at the wedding party had a lot of fairly new smart phones. I’d like to know where those phones came from – could someone have used the US to take those folks out FOR THEM simply by giving them smartphones associated with US enemies?
    I just wonder. Where was the humint here?

  19. Why is it we always hit wedding parties?

    Why would we drone wedding parties?

    Do you really believe we are droning people for fun? A

    • i think your government agents ARE droning people for fun and profit….they don’t give a shyte about “wedding parties”….anytime there’s a large group of people, they’re automatically targets to these guys…doesn’t matter WHAT they actually are about….

  20. If it weren’t for brave, intelligent people like yourselves speaking truth to corrupt and manipulative powers, informing and, hopefully, empowering the collective, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a sane reason for wanting to continue to live in this reality field.

    • This is REALITY? You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s literally unbelievable. My country’s actions actually make me glad I’m 88 and not too long for this “reality field.”
      Actually, I suspect this is a punishment planet and we’ve all been sent here for bad behavior in previous incarnations. Can you think of a better explanation?

      • Interesting. I’ve thought that way too recently when considering facts underlying some historical events I once considered conspiracy theories. Perhaps what this place is is hell.

        But then I think about the good happening on the planet, and the (still) small swell of people waking up to the reality of it all. Perhaps we’re here not as punishment, but as a way to refine our spiritual natures, to learn something we could only learn in this reality, to develop perspectives that only these experiences could develop in us. Of course, accepting this presupposes a belief that we come from somewhere and return to someplace after death.

        I’m not sure there’s something out there metering “punishment”. But I do believe this reality responds to causes with effects. Perhaps that’s what we’re here to learn: that our actions have consequences.

        Maybe that’s why I’m trying to do something to make a major difference in reality, such that people may once again enjoy freedoms and joys humanity had prior to European expansion/domination got underway. If I can be successful, it will be worth it. For my heart aches when I read or see examples of humanity harming itself.

        • the Sanatana dharma suggests that we are here to learn how to be “adorable”, loving, compassionate human beings…and the laws of Karma are what is used to work on us to get us to change our behaviours in a postive, helpful way….Karmas are simply about the laws of “blessings and curses”…if we do good, kind, compassionate acts, people will bless us, even if silently…and if we hurt people, they will curse us through their pain and sorrow….so Karma teaches us to attempt to act in a much more compassionate, inclusive, loving, and skillful manner….even if it takes MANY lives to learn these lessons, and for most of us, it appears to take MILLIONS of lives….

          however, if we are noticing this, and are attempting to learn to be better people, we’ve already come a long way….keeping on keeping on, with our compassionate, loving ways….is the only way to go…

      • you know how the Christians are always warning us about “Hell”??? what they haven’t noticed is that THIS planet is often experienced as a “Hellish” planet…not the planet’s fault, but rather the fault of all the egotistic, cruel, sociopathic thuggish people that live here and who make a career out of abusing the rest of us….

        but the Planet itself, is not to blame….

        i believe that we are in a “school” like situation here, and must learn to behave better, before we can reincarnate into a more positive realm….a lot of people here, however are good people…MOST people, i believe are good people at heart, even if misled and deluded by propaganda from their religions and governments….

        • what they haven’t noticed…

          oh, plenty of them have noticed. those ones (Manichaeans, Cathars, Bogomils, etc.) were of course destroyed for their “heresies”.

  21. How a bunch of poor schmucks residing in the Yemen desert,10,000 miles from US,could be conceived as a threat to US security is laughable in the first place,Alciada or not,and I’m absolutely sure just about any Muslim residing anywhere in this world has a distinct feeling of hostility towards America,unless a bribee of some type.So what’s next,escalation and mutual destruction,or conversation(negotiation) and defusing this clownish clash of post(pre) modernity and civilization (as the rest of the world know it).
    C’mon you ivy league reprobates in charge,make the call,you noble cretins.

    • They weren’t a threat before the drone attack, but the relatives of the dead may well become a threat now.

    • if course the Yemeni people are NOT a threat to the US, but that doesn’t stop the murdering drones…Pakistanis are not a threat either….or weren’t, until they started being murdered by drones….

  22. If Yemen killed innocent Americans on American soil while attacking what they perceived to be an imminent threat, WHAT WOULD THE AMERICAN REACTION BE?

  23. The stand your ground laws seem to soften American’s opinion on Drone strikes. Both are accepted by our Corporate Media and are based on fear of your personal well being. The more we here about senseless shootings in Movie Theaters and gas stations the less we care about or the more we can somehow justify the use of Drones in some foreign Country to protect our-self’s. Is this just a coincidence or some conspiracy? Before you start yelling for My Tin Foil Hat Look up PREDICTIVE PROGRAMMING! Corporate Media is lying to us! We are being programmed to accept there Corporate Agenda. We are not being told the truth about the Ukraine or Venezuela. Thanks Goodness we still have the internet, but I fear that to mite be in Jeopardy.

  24. time to withdraw consent..the concept of the US has been dead for a lot longer than 5 years now. To say nothing and do nothing in the face of all the death, destruction and bare-faced mendacity is to become part of the evil that has pervaded the planet for a long time now.

    • We can only hope that a high western official, (not named) will attend the next wedding party personally. He needs to see and experience first hand what the hell he is inflicting on the world. Killing people at a great distance gives one no sense of reality or guilt. Aren’t the biggest terrorists those who supply all the weapons to unstable regimes for profit?? The U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China just might qualify, don’t you think? Hypocrites all, proclaiming there diligence for peace yet supplying the tools of death.

      • Make the US consul attend every wedding.And if accidentally droned,give him the post mortem ambassador medal,named after that guy in Libya.

    • Tony, I agree completely with you. I think this quote is appropriate: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Unfortunately, I can’t remember the source of the quote.

    • That is all that is needed. For Americans to band together and withdraw consent. Of course, doing so will bring these forces down on us likely. But here is where we need to lose our fear of personal discomfort and even death. For the road to freedom is not paved with petunias, but instead, with the bodies of those who know freedom is far more valuable than incarnate existence!

      Do I advocate violence? No. I believe a turnaround can happen with no violence. For that to happen though, we need a solution an alternative we can all rally behind.

        • the very people who kicked off mass-media-market printed propaganda during the Wilson administration were all about “knowing better”. consent hasn’t been relevant for generations, if it ever was.

    • One only needs to go over to Glenn Greenwald’s former site (Salon, not the Guardian) to see how and why we cannot expect any real change for a long time to come. The site is replete with so-called liberals who continue to support Obama, despite his adoption of the worse excesses of the war criminals that preceded him. Every second article is another join the bandwagon screed for Hillary, who voted for aggressive war as a Senator and helped to promulgate it as Secretary of State.

      We will never be able to withdraw consent so long as these people remain mired in the illusion of a two party system when, in reality, we have a one party system with two right wings.

      • In saying ‘time to withdraw consent’ I envisaged the formulation of a group or plan of action to field candidates (at all elections) with stated aims to ‘withdraw consent’, for example, the abolition/reconstruction of organisations like the NSA, CIA etc, Ensuring accountability for decisions/actions that are clearly criminal, revamping the judicial system etc. if prospective candidates signed up to this kind of bill of actions, then they would effectively have the group’s support, and I think that ‘you, the people’ would support this.
        5 years ago, I visited some people in Connecticut and asked: ‘Do you think you still have your republic’ ? Their reply (No) wasn’t a surprise to me, but the speed of the response was. I was disappointed because I believed that the words in the Declaration of Independence actually meant something. The whole concept of the US has been subverted because of a lack of ACCOUNTABILITY over the past 20 years (yes, you should ‘look back’). A third political force should insist on these kinds of things.

        • this is why we need to know our history, recent as well as in the distant past….because otherwise, we are condemned in ignorance to repeat all the mistakes we made last time…

  25. I agree with avelna2001, “…or believe that it’s justified to kill civilians as long as it’s “them” “over there”.”. We would raise hell if they did that here. ‘Over there’ is this place that only exists in the articles we read, so we will say its bad, condemn it, shrug our shoulders then go eat a hamburger.and move on. It is outrageous, sad and disappointing. I hope I am still alive when we finally get to the point were we put these people on trial for murder.

  26. America has exempted itself from just about every law and statute that revolves around The Hague, Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, and any other legal accountability going. It’s still the hoary old, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Will the next president undo what has been perpetrated on the US people and the rest of the world? In a word: No.

    • Add to the list that the usa is not a member of The War Crimes Commission at The Hague, for obvious reasons.

    • Agreed. Republican and Democratic presidents alike have been doing the dark lodge’s bidding for a very long time. Check out The Power Principle doc at the Metanoia Films website. The best thing that comes from disillusionment is being free of the illusion, someone once said.

      • Exactly. Once freed from illusion, you can then act powerfully. More people are losing their illusion to see the world as it is. When enough do, there will be a rise against the status quo. It may not be tomorrow, or the next day, but the day is coming soon when humanity will rise in support of its own freedom.

  27. Only solution — Put a cap on wealth

    If prosperity gave people a sense of gratitude and a desire to share the wealth, then there would be no need to have a cap on wealth, as the more prosperous a man became all the more caring and giving would be his actions,

    But darling ingrates that we people be, with greater prosperity comes greater responsibility, greater authority and as the admiration we receive from people increases so does our pride. For surely, the greater our wealth the greater our desire for more wealth, the greater our willingness to fight for wealth and the greater our need to kill to protect wealth.

    • Wealth caps will not solve the problem, because the problem is greater than how wealth can be used to mimic power. Instead, it is necessary to create societies without deb-based economics and amoral currencies. Do this and wealth doesn’t matter.

  28. Targeting weddings and funerals is the most economical way to produce the desired results. The US gets the maximum possible new enemies per expensive hellfire missile. If the US did not create more enemies than it kills, where is the justification for spending roughly a trillion dollars a year on the military, including the Pentagon, 17 intelligence agencies, Homeland Security, four armed forces, and more ships, planes, guns, drones, humvees, bombs, missiles, and many other financial sinkholes. Without these expenditures, the US economy would not exist, and America would be just a global backwater.

    • JSOC is a Cheney creation, the President’s private army; President Peace obviously enjoys using it too.
      Personally, I think Obama is Dick’s bastard son, the product of the rape of a Kenyan immigrant hotel maid in Hawaii. The Dark Lord found some patsies to play Mom and Pops, then squirrled his progency-protogee away in Indonesia, so the lad could learn proper governing methods from America’s good friend and fellow dictator, General Suharto. Next, a stint at Harvard taught the young man the American Way of ruling the masses.
      Then the Big Dick and his buddy Ronnie Rumsfeld orchestrated the 911 attacks, blamed them on a fringe Muslim group and inaugurated the Global War of Terror Against Freedom and Self-Goverance. Today that War is enthusiastically supported, and as enthusiastically denied, by Lord Obama-Cheney.

      • They are cousins, haven’t you heard? A twelve year old girl has linked all the us presidents except van buren back to one British king, and that is not a conspiracy theory! Please research, and while you’ re at it, the original 13 th amendment.

  29. If anybody else was droning foreign countries, outside of a war, on who ever they chose, the US would have nuked them long ago.

    This is insane and psychopathic.

    It is the behavior of out of control war criminals. They wont be satisfied until they have destroyed everyone else’s lives on the planet, clearly.

    There is zero justification. Even if it were ethical to kill people outside of a war (it is NOT), saying (lying) that they need “near” certainty of accuracy is not good enough. “near” will never be “100%”.

    Understand that it can be CONFIRMED that they have a failure rate of 34% – and that’s the ones they can prove, tough luck to all those innocent men and boys, not be counted amongst the murdered.

    • Imagine if they were yet fighters and helicopter gunships doing the targeted killings instead of drones, the public outrage, the consequences, using drones has given the US command some type of ”safe” distance it would not have if they were manned craft. (personnel would make objections etc)
      Then, 98 % of drone strikes never hit HVT, and they keep proving it !

  30. ” Two U.S. officials who watched the video and were briefed on the investigations said it showed three trucks in the convoy were hit, all carrying armed men.”

    Is this the criteria they’re using now? “Armed men”? That’s awfully broad.
    How can the US claim that there were no civilian causalities when the Yemeni general paid reparations to the families of victims? And giving them Kalashnikov rifles as part of the payment would then, according to the US, be creating more potential terrorists, yes?

    Unfortunately, most people in the US don’t pay much, if any, attention to this sort of thing, so there will be no negative consequences for this behavior. Of those who do pay any attention, there are too many who are either indifferent or believe that it’s justified to kill civilians as long as it’s “them” “over there”.

  31. As MLK said, America is the biggest purveyor of violence in the world. Technology has just made it easier

  32. How many insane reasons can this government come up with to refuse to show us their cards. Those cards are marked. I can see their contempt for court all over their faces.

  33. I must say, the modifications you’ve made to page one regarding reducing photo size does make it a better peruse. I must find that soul with bad eye sight to tell them they see very well how to layout a page. I thought they were being pushy to dictate, but they are spot on. Thanks.

  34. “The Little Flower Girl”

    A new twist on an old book by a spook who knows these cowards can’t even handle their own “truths.”

    “Mother! Sister is calling to say they are running late, but not to wait.”

    You’d have to be morally bankrupt to think this is kosher.

  35. This debate would not have made it half way around the dining table in my parent’s home. We KNEW it was illegal to violate sovereignty and bomb civilians back in the 1970s. Dad was a fighter jock who dropped napalm, too, and his fellow jocks were very disturbed about what they were watching go down in Cambodia.

    I cannot understand how we’ve come to such a disgraceful state when that bombing was an acknowledged disgrace. I guess jingoism can con folks into doing just about anything. Is that burning hair I smell? Napalm is still legal. America is going to hell.

  36. Ban the use of all non-manned attacks internationally – When you make it easier to kill the threshold and ground for attacks lowers, the US threshold is extremely low, they kill anything that moves, regardless of evidence.

    Even if some of the many killed by the US on the other side of the world are bad, they judge and execute before any crime is committed in many cases.

    Persons killed in US 2013 from:
    Terrorism: 5
    Car-accidents: 30000

    Stop the FEAR that the government forces on the people. If you want to save life’s, address social issues and make it harder to buy and own weapons. Stop the lies about widespread terrorism!

    • Persons killed in US 2013 from:
      Terrorism: 5
      Car-accidents: 30000

      From the article:

      Hellfire missiles slammed into a convoy of 11 cars stopped by a flat tire. The cars, Human Rights Watch confirmed, were carrying 50 to 60 wedding-goers.

      These missions are secret so perhaps, as you suggest and consistent with the description above, the cars are the primary target. This still does not resolve the issue of civilian deaths caused by the global war on cars.

  37. It seems so strange that Obama is so engaged in this policy. He clearly is a leader with a great deal of integrity and liberal ideals. Remember, this is the same President that gave a speech in Cairo during his first term extending an olive branch to the Muslim world. I just cannot reconcile why he is so engaged in this aggressive policy, particularly one that I am sure we will look back on in 10-15 years with absolute horror. It is just not consistent with his earlier actions, and seeming intent for foreign policy. Another example, look how restrained he was in Syria.

    Is it possible he does not have the authority to shut down or curtail this program?

    • a great deal of integrity? Gimme a break! His vote FOR telecom immunity as a senator, after pledging to filibuster it, is not the action of a man of integrity. And everything he has done since fits the pattern. Call him a crafty, skilled politician. Call him good with words. Call him photogenic. Call him what you will but nowhere in this universe is he a person of integrity.

    • OR he’s just reaaally good at presenting himself as a good likeable guy who wouldn’t do these things. There’s something to be said for the idea that he can’t shut down this program but I would argue that he wouldn’t be able to AND he doesn’t want to. Lots of things convince me that to be the president you not only need to have no morals whatsoever but you also need to be a puppet to the real power. ;] if you know what I’m ssaaaaying.

    • Integrity and liberal ideals?

      No, I find Obama to have neither of these. He gave the Cairo speech as part of his PR campaign to appear to be something he is not. The powerful interests which he represents want him to pursue this policy, and he complies.

      As Potus, he has the authority to ground the drones in a second; as puppet, he will not.

    • honestly, what planet have you been on since 2008? the guy is a complete CHARLATAN.

      Syria…seriously? Had the Russian’s not held their ground, knowing what they knew from the onset of the claims of the use of gas by Assad… We’d be engaged in WW3. Obama drew lines… remember???? red ones… and then presto… those lines were crossed… NO… Nothing that comes out of his mouth is believable. He is merely a temporary instrument of the DISGUISED GLOBAL EMPIRE. A face… a logo… a brand… A creation of the multinational global elites to smile, lie and deceive. He is a hollow, depraved man who will, if there is a god, stand before him covered with the blood of innocents from head to toe. Integrity and liberal ideas…how false.

      • People said Clinton was a “pathological liar” which, at least allowed for the possibility that he was part human.
        With this mind-warping, lying Freak, there is no soul, like you say “hollow & depraved”.

        One day, O can sing-song with high platitudes about Peace and Ending the wars, the next day he can accept the Nobel “Peace” prize with a straight face, the next day sign the death warrants for people who haven’t been named, accused, tried or convicted on ANY crime, slaughters anyone he wants, then brags that he’s “pretty good at killing people” . . . . makes speeches about how OTHERS are “terrorists”, denies that he kills the innocent (although he will NEVER allow anyone to have their day in court), and claims to be a “Constitutional Scholar”.

        Obomber isn’t a pathological liar – there is nothing there to be sick; he is a lying murdering machine.

        • Spare me,Clinton(both) is made out of the same indoctrinated poison ivy league cloth.Integrity free,and wag the dog full.

    • It seems to me that if I mistake a button on a piece of cloth for a cockroach, then I’m suffering an illusion. Possibly the light is poor, or I may be incapacitated to some extent. But if with a decent examination of the button I continue to maintain it’s a cockroach, then I’ve stepped into delusion. Worse, if I then build public policy on this delusion, and intone sonorously with fine-sounding speeches about it, I’m probably mentally ill, or suffering direly from anxiety and some kind of terrible pressure. This could be one explanation for Obama’s policy. It is totally clear, it couldn’t be any clearer, that innocent people in a foreign culture that no American can really understand, including women and children, are being massacred by this drone program. A man of conscience, a moral man, a leader, would say, “Enough! This is wrong!” Otherwise, the policy of “almost certain” appears to be the cover for a much more brutal intimidation program in which civilians are deliberately victimized. As with the Nazis and their drone program in World War II.

    • I feel strongly on this matter due to being droned as a child in London. In those days we called them “buzz bombs.” They were nothing like today’s much more lethal targeting instruments. I remember their sound, I remember the terror, and in time I came to learn that the forces against the allies in those days were deliberately targeting civilians as a way to demoralize civilian populations. I don’t see how, no matter the self-righteous justifications, there is any difference in this drone strategy today, with due to advances in technology the weaponry being much worse, and even more hideous than when I was being droned as a child in London.

      • You make me laugh.What the hell is the difference between a bomber and a drone?They both kill alike,the bomber uses technology to place its load just as the drone does.And someone somewhere,still pulls the trigger.And add up the body counts in WW2 of civilian bombing victims.The Axis list is about ten fold(a hundred?)>than Allied.Talk about targeting civilians to demoralize.And guess what,in most cases(other than the nukes which killed almost everyone)it helped increase morale,as it showed the depravity of the attacker.
        Neither bomb nor drone,leave the people alone,and they will do the same.

    • “integrity” and “liberal ideals”????? you clearly have not been paying attention….he’s all talk. but a bloody hypocrite, when it comes to action….the “most transparent regime ever” is actually the LEAST transparent regime ever….they guy who preached democratic ideals, and “happy” “hopey” propaganda, showed the world, immediately after his election that those were all LIES…and that actually he works for the usual suspects….the 1%…the Corporatocrats, like Bush….i used to think that Obama was Bush Lite, but in reality, Bush was Obama lite!

    • Yes,but so are the Americans who die in their lust for gold wars,as these Americans aren’t the right type either,just poor schmucks from the hinterlands,inner city or border jumpers looking for citizenship.

  38. How has Obama not been impeached? How many crimes does he need to commit? I mean seriously? Our government has gone insane

    • By whom would this impeachment come from?Every branch of our government,every MSM media outlet,or almost,are in full agreement with our tactics in this bogus war of terror and aggression campaign vs Russia.Witness the latest on Ukraine,Venezuela,and Sochi, government and media hand in hand bloviating away.

  39. The only way this can stop is if and when the countries like Yemen, Pakistan, etc., themselves disallow drones to operate in their territories. Right now the rulers there are complicit in the deaths of their own citizens. It is not entirely correct to blame the US Army or the CIA for inaccurate assessment of aerial images and then droning of the wrong targets, when the entire program is being run at the behest of the rulers there and the corporations here.

    • Note entirely correct , but allowing foreign dictators to use American weapons for their political gain, the U.S. is still guilty of war crime. I agree with you about the corporate angle but that requires real political reform, very difficult for a bought & paid, ill informed “democracy” like the U.S.

  40. “More Demands Obama Explain”.

    ‘To explain’ is absolutely the easiest part.

    Obama/the government has plenty of professional writers to churn meaningless speeches to assure people everything is right.

  41. The real question is, how long before other countries begin launching drone strikes against their enemies visiting here in the U.S.? Are we not setting a standard?

  42. How to make enemies… The USA has it down to a fine art. First boast about what a giant superpower one is and then launch incredibly sophisticated weapons against terribly unsophisticated targets. Have we learned nothing of war? The powers that be in all history have been defeated at some point, the USA will not escape the wrath of the meek!

  43. Drone war is a strategic failure of gigantic proportions. Whole populations are being galvanized against the US. These are tribal societies with long memories. Instead of just doing anything to fight terrorism one would hope that President Obama would risk failure and send in Special Operations types to snatch the real terrorists who need to be brought to justice. The United States is about to lose a war, and I am not sure if many people are paying attention. When the Taliban make their comeback, and Afghanistan goes back to being like it was, only worse, then someone needs to be held accountable, and that person is the President. Secretary Gates said that President Obama only has one thing on this mind about Afghanistan, and that is to get out. That is not good enough. And sitting back launching missiles at mud huts playing whack-a-mole is not working, and it is not going to work. Bombing people into submission did not work in Vietnam, and guess what? It is not going to work in Yemen, Pakistan, or Afghanistan either.

  44. I am sickened by what a fake this president is. All the lies just proves to me what a coward he truly is.
    I watched Tavis Smiley today interviewing Robert Greenwald about his new documentary “America’s Drone Wars” and so went to website and just finished watching it.
    http://unmanned.warcosts.com/
    I am ashamed of my government and I doubt I’ll ever change my mind, at this point.
    (Hi Morning’s MInion!)

  45. Soon, the smoke screen of secrecy & national security will not protect the war criminal from investigation. From the lessons of the Nuremberg Trials & the Nuremberg Charter of 1953, those merely “following orders” were summarily hanged as well, from high to low. Those who were not hanged died from their own hand. A war crime then, a war crime now.

  46. There ought to be a law. How long can the US keep murdering people in countries they are not at war with. I think the UN should move out of the US and into a country that believes in international laws and that follows the Geneva Convention. As long as it is in the US it won’t be allowed to function in the way it was meant too. It’s not rational to have the “UNITED NATIONS” in a country that prefers war over peace.

    • As a citizen of Nuremberg I beg for the UN to stay in the US. Why? Fabulous comments. Very flexible and strong backbone of a country.

      • American war policy is out of control they are not a peaceful nation any longer. I believe the people are basically good but the government is out of control and the people need a wake up call if they are going to get control of the situation. Threatening to take the UN out may be just the incentive they need to turn things around. That and getting the corporations out of the business of government.

        • I googled that they try to renovate the UN Headquarters in New York back to the original state of 1952.

          Maybe it needs a modern meeting place even though the Secretariat building is really nice.

          But I am not an architect. And I do not know enough about creating a healing space. So maybe everything is good and the focus is absolutely fine.

          Nuremberg is not a good example for peaceful architecture. It is more like a museum for medieval and contemporary history. But like all germans, we love trees. So all over Nuremberg you find trees with a stone and one human right.

          http://www2.kubiss.de/~phpk208/?cat=53

        • I want to believe that everyday people of my country (America) are good but unless we apply REAL pressure on our government to stop using our safety as an excuse to murder people for blood money we are just as guilty as our government of these crimes. Why not pressure the UN to officially charge Cheney, Bush and Obama for war crimes against humanity? We need to make examples of both parties leaders if possible. Enough kicking the can around the bush. Pun intended.

    • where it’s hosted means absolutely nothing as long as the Security Council works the way it does.

  47. Here is the pernicious effect of the CIA having a drone program:

    By statute, the military strikes can be acknowledged, but the CIA operations cannot. The officials said that if they explain one strike but not another, they are revealing by default which ones are being carried out by the CIA.

    What this means is that so long as the CIA controls any portion of drone operations — however small that portion that may be — it furnishes a pretext to enshroud all drone operations in secrecy. In other words, there will be no credible transparency on drones until the CIA is 100% disinvolved with drones.

  48. How is it that Obama can state that the Ukrainian leadership will pay for it’s wrongs when Obama is doing far worse bombing innocent people in countries where we are not at war with?

    • You see, when the US ends up killing innocent civilians, by accident or any other reason, it’s simply “collateral damage” — unfortunate, but nothing to worry about.

      When demonstrators in other countries (non-exceptional countries in particular) get killed, even if they are not directly killed by state security forces, obviously the local government has full responsibility for those deaths.

      That’s how it works: There are some standards for “exceptional” countries (i.e. the US and Israel), other standards for the rest.

  49. Obama has so much to answer for one has trouble totaling up his carnage count. What manner of person is he? When will a supine Congress brine articles of impeachment?

    • Impeach the first black president? Who would dare be the first to commit political suicide by suggesting that?

      • It would not be, and is not, suicide at all. The race of the president has absolutely no bearing on his oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States. If he breaks them, he is no less accountable than you or I for the responsibility of having done so. Only those afraid of showing integrity or backbone would hold his race a preemptive issue in order to obstruct justice.

      • The race of a president has absolutely nothing to do with his obligation to uphold the laws, and treaties, and Constitution of the United States. To suggest it would be suicide to do so is repugnant, and it is only those without any moral integrity who would suggest that to do so on account of his race is allowable in order to obstruct international justice.

        • “To suggest it would be suicide to do so is repugnant, and it is only those without any moral integrity who would suggest that to do so on account of his race is allowable in order to obstruct international justice.”

          I totally agree and to suggest that some opportunistic, no, make that many opportunistic defenders of Obama in the media wouldn’t do just that is naive.

      • And whose political suicide would that be?Black people,for the most part,vote demoncrat,or not at all,and so-called liberals would go where?The rethugs would gain though.So the first impeacher would likely be a rethug .

    • I’ve been saying this for the longest. Obama is playing the fool. He is officially sold out to the elites. As an African American I want Obama impeached for this madness BECAUSE he has not only trampled on the constitution he has also trampled on the legacy of the Civil Rights movement that paved a way for him into the white house. I am ashamed of him and nothing less than impeachment is what I want to see. Should Bush have been impeached, hell yeah! Should Cheney have been locked into a dungeon! YES! Which is why I am so disgusted with Obama. I voted for the fool and I now want him in prison along with every other conspirator against the right of human beings around the world. Bush, Cheney & Obama must be put in prison but if all we can lock up is Obama, I’ll settle for that at this point. It would at least set a very needed precedent. An American President held to the very same standard he placed on other world leaders as he assassinated them, without a jury, court or trial.

  50. We should start a kickstarter campaign to raise money to purchase a drone.
    Then we can target the Whitehouse and see how that asshole O-bomb-A likes it when he and his family
    are blown to bits.

      • I disagree. The comment is a valid expression of the frustration out here in the world with the thoroughly corrupted government of the US. Indeed, beyond that, the point is valid. I would say, in the “war” we’re in, the question is, if a member of whatever entity with whom we claim to be at war were to drone strike members of the American government, wouldn’t they be justified? As we don’t present any evidence for our war-making they wouldn’t even need a reason. US hypocrisy abounds…. time that people were real and honest about it.

        • And very,very insecure.Ask yourself,how could the most well armed nation on the planet be insecure?Is Switzerland insecure?How about that powerhouse Lichtenstein?

          • Liechtenstein is a tax haven just like (well, more or less) Monaco, the Caymans, etc.

      • “This comment should be deleted.”

        Thanks for the idea, authoritarianrob. Hopefully, your idea will simply be ignored.

        • Some things are over the line, and suggesting bombing the President’s family even in jest is one of them. That is not acceptable even as “free speech.”

      • My bet is that everyone who reads “The Intercept” and Glenn Greenwald is probably swept up in a mass surveillance system designed by the NSA and automatically placed on some super secret unacceptable persons terrorist list.

        Hey NSA, go fuck yourself!

    • Wiki : Threatening the President of the United States is a class D felony under United States Code Title 18, Section 871.[1] It consists of knowingly and willfully mailing or otherwise making “any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States”. The United States Secret Service investigates suspected violations of this law and monitors those who have a history of threatening the President.

      • On the other hand, actively murdering hundreds of people all over the world is perfectly ok, and barely even controversial, if you can just present to media a half-assed “we kinda really had to, because they’re bad guys and all.”

        Funny how I don’t recall this addendum to the wiki definition of “crime”. :<

  51. My comment here is merely to report, for the record, my attempted posts on the “The Terrible Toll of Secrecy” tab by Dan Froomlin today have now been blocked. The “Post Comment” button is simply inactivated on that tab. I was using Chrome. I switched to Firefox version 27.0.1 and the same thing is happening. All my computers were rootkitted back in 2010 when severe electronic torture using mainly nanoparticles to invoke severe sensory overload began. Today, my blood has light emitting devices when viewed under a microscope. My body activates street walking light signals when I am within range and I am in constant severe pain from the abuses . Today, I use public computers in public libraries. Since logging on today, there have been numerous computer screen captures done as I use the system. My apologies to Ryan for placing this on your tab. I have managed to get the Post Comment button working on this tab. Please forward this comment to Dan so he knows readers may be blocked from contributing to his articles. Thanks for the wonderful work you do.

  52. Again, we see the specter of disgusting behavior by the criminal cabal that has wrested control of the government in the United States. On the one hand, the government created al Qaeda and continues to arm them in Syria, and on the other hand, murders innocent civilians at a wedding to kill the very people they created (read your history if anyone doubts this) and continue to arm! This is absurdist and insane behavior by people that have lost any mooring to humanity, decency or morality. The American people are in a stupor of ignorance and circus games to keep them dumbed-down or this President and his entire criminal cabal would be on trial in a Nuremburg-style tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Lest the “Republican-idiots” cheer, Bush, Clinton and Kissinger would all certainly be defending their very lives in a just tribunal of humanity! God save America…no, it is much too late. We need an exit plan!

  53. “the United States might have blown it…might have killed civilians unintentionally.”

    The preoccupation with the intentions of American violence is central to the euphemistic rubric of “Collateral Damage in a war zone”.

    But when you bring lethal violence to a civilian population, you intend to kill civilians. That is the intent, because it is a statistical probability. And when you unleash that violence based on a thoroughly arbitrary interpretation of “imminent threat”, you intend to kill civilians for political reasons.

  54. It seems there’s a new definition of ‘terrorist’ almost every day. Yesterday, Lord Justice Laws declared a terrorist was someone assisting the work of journalists. Now, a competing definition is proposed by the US government – a terrorist is anyone killed by a drone strike. Someone once said that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It now appears that when you have counter-terrorism laws that grant sweeping powers, everyone looks like a terrorist.

  55. How do the laws of war apply here? We have not declared war on Yemen! These are not acts of war. Has the global war on terror so infected our discourse that we no longer question its underlying claim to legitimacy? Drone strikes like this are illegal police actions at best, assassinations at worst. We can’t allow ourselves to accept the security state’s terms of debate.
    Forget the details of Obama’s drone policy. Does the malleability of the killing-policy restrictions really matter? Does it really matter whether the Obama administration uses signals intelligence or human intelligence to choose assassination targets? It’s enlightening to learn these things, but it is fundamentally superfluous. By engaging in debates about small details, we lose ground on the bigger questions. We help the security state make murder look respectable.
    Since this website promotes journalism with a POV, lets fight against drone use in all forms, whether here at home or abroad.

    • The “laws of war” are now ignored or reinterpreted into irrelevance when inconvenient. In the absence of a credible countervailing military threat, the U.S. political leadership class has apparently decided that “might makes right.” As an American citizen, I fear the day when the world finally wakes up to that fact.

      • I both fear and believe that the World ALREADY KNOWS but the majority off people in the US have their heads stuck in the sand. The constant temptation to buy more “toys” seems to be ruining critical thinking skills of our citizens.

  56. In war, governments abridge domestic liberty. Citizens only find this acceptable if the war is of brief duration and that liberties are restored as soon as normality resumes.

    Unfortunately, war has not been declared and yet a continuous state of war in which liberties are permanently curtailed now exists. This abnormal state has become instead the new normal.

    Despite the illusion that makes it easy to blast people to smithereens without much discrimination in faraway countries, while sitting safely behind a video games console near Las Vegas, there are consequences. When war is made safe and easy for some, they will be much more inclined to use it. But real people die, many of them civilians, and the relatives will feel that a cowardly but powerful foreign invader has murdered their loved ones. The apology is to give the enraged mourners fully automatic weapons and U.S. cash? Just what expression will there be, and against whom, will their grief be expressed?

    This is surely not a method for reducing conflict, but increasing it, ensuring that ever more draconian curtailments of our liberties must continue, to try to avoid the inevitable blowback to Americans.

    There is no future for our domestic freedom in trying to kill our way to making foreign peoples submit to our elites’ domination. He who lives by the sword, dies by it. And at each stroke a little more of our own freedom perishes.

  57. Just a test – I usually mask my email address but then my comments are not posted so trying without masking. There does not seem to be anyone yet assigned to answer questions about comments.

  58. According to some commenter on an earlier article, Obama does not know what is going on. Then this, surely, is just another typical case where the evil underlings do as they wish while the boss handles the big picture, ignorant of what is happening? No, even if the main stream US press mostly hides reports such as this, no one with any degree of awareness can avoid understanding what is happening. The buck stops up there, and he knows it. He has bought the title of war criminal.

  59. What’s with your comments system? The silhouette at the top left corner of every comment is extremely annoying.

    • All these comments about this image are also pretty annoying. Just add “https://prod01-cdn01.cdn.firstlook.org/theintercept/wp-content/themes/firstlook/images/default_profile_pic_for_comments_1.png” to whatever ad-blocker you use. Ta-da…

  60. First of all war is madness and not “legal” in and of itself. Second only leaders of small Eastern European and African leaders are ever brought to the ICC never Western leaders. Most importantly laws do not apply to the most powerful Empire the world has ever known (which, by the way was founded on the bedrock of the largest genocide in human history). Any president can simply call down to the basement and get a secret memo and do as he pleases. He can also use “signing statements” to effectively nullify any law passed by congress. For the US Neoliberal Empire the only law is might.

    So, nothing to see here, move on.

  61. In a group one is a terrorist, the others are civilians. Or: In a group one was a terrorist, the others are civilians. Or: In a group one loves a terrorist, the others are civilians. Or: In a group one is a terrorist, the others love a terrorist. Or: In a group none is a terrorist. Or: In a group all become terrorists.

    Poor country, sincere condolences.

    • I wonder how many more journalists have been obstructed with this legal instrument?

      “On September 23 last year, he arrived in the United Kingdom with the intention of speaking at a conference at Chatham House . But at Gatwick Airport he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the British government’s Terrorism Act 2000.

      “I was asked about my investigation of the covert US drone attacks in Yemen. When I asked why the question was relevant, I was threatened with further detention,” Shiban said.”

  62. Anonymous=unnamed, please keep in mind they dont like these Anonymous people when its not them.

    WAR only Congress can declare war and they have not done that in many years, and since they have not done that, this is murder. 911 is far over and it was repoteed in 2006 85% of the people involved in 911 were taken care of, this killing with 911 as the excuse is getting old, even the 911 families want the rule of law restored in the US, they do not what anymore killing done in there name , Manning got 30 years for showing the world this http://www.collateralmurder.com/

    it is beyond me that anyone thinks the Government has any business killing anyone in that country I dont give a dam who lives there, the people that did 911 are all dead and this excuse to continue forever with war is INSANE

  63. I am happy to see, That someone is finally Publishing the Truth.
    The lies and deceit, of what this Administration has become known for, will be Obama’s legacy!!!!
    No matter how this administration try’s to cover up, or misdirect the facts.
    As the saying goes (That Dog Won’t Hunt).
    How long before Americans, on American soil are Subject to this kind of treatment????
    All Human Life, Seems to be coming less and less Valued.
    Thanks For the Hard Work and FACTS.
    Treat them like mushrooms, (Keep them in the dark and feed them shit).
    (P.S. Might want to proof read your post as I have noticed quite a few double words as well as missing words).

  64. Anonymous=unnamed, please keep in mind they dont like these Anonymous people when its not them.

    WAR only Congress can declare war and they have not done that in many years, and since they have not done that, this is murder. 911 is far over and it was repoteed in 2006 85% of the people involved in 911 were taken care of, this killing with 911 as the excuse is getting old, even the 911 families want the rule of law restored in the US, they do not what anymore killing done in there name , Manning got 30 years for showing the world this http://www.collateralmurder.com/

  65. Mr. Devereaux,

    Did you get the impression that perhaps there is some level of truth to both the U.S/Yemeni Government’s claims and those of the Yemeni witnesses and survivors? Specifically, is it possible that the alleged targets were using the wedding convoy as cover? Even if that is the case, it is completely unacceptable, but I am trying to reconcile seemingly opposite accounts given by both sides of this matter.

    It sure seems that right now, either the U.S. government or the Yemeni tribes are telling a bald-faced lie, and the evidence leads me to believe the USG is the aforesaid perpetrator. How can two reports conclude that no civilians were killed, while the HRW report indicates that perhaps only civilians were killed!? I’d say the burden of proof to the PUBLIC (not to lawmakers or committees in secret) falls to the JSOC/CIA. They say they have video so SHOW IT! And Ryan – do you buy this excuse that the USG can’t show it because “The officials said that if they explain one strike but not another, they are revealing by default which ones are being carried out by the CIA.”? To me, that is nowhere near a legitimate reason, but an absurd excuse.

    Lastly, if it is true that two lawmakers saw this video, I’d love to hear who they are. Surely they can acknowledge the USG’s story without providing classified information.

    • my god at this point ,I do not believe a dam word the government says nothing, they have lied over and over, and over . When are people Going to get that. How many times must they lie before you will not believe what they say? How many?

      • Well to start, the entire federal government is not a singular entity, nor does every individual in it lie. With your logic, wouldn’t Snowden, a federal contractor, have been a “liar” until he took the documents and hopped on the flight to Hong Kong? No, you may have convinced YOURSELF that nobody in the USG deserves to be trusted but I will not simply dismiss the other side of the argument – that’s a recipe for turning into an unquestioning cynic or a conspiracy theorist.

        As Letta Tayler, a senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press: “While we do not rule out the possibility that AQAP fighters were killed and wounded in this strike, we also do not rule out the possibility that all of those killed and wounded were civilians.”

        • every single one of them has been caught in a lie, and at present every single one of them are not up holding there oath of office. They are traitors and lyers. I think there might be 3 people exempt from that statement

    • Hi Nate,

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend checking out the full HRW report (linked to in the piece). It’s not too long and it directly addresses many of the key questions you raise here. The thrust of the report’s argument is that there are indeed competing accounts as to what happened and that is precisely why a transparent investigation with publicly available findings is warranted. It’s entirely possible that the truth resides somewhere in the middle but so long as one party’s version of events is shrouded in secrecy, it’s impossible to make a complete assessment.

      As for your question about the officials refusing to explain the strikes. This is a legal issue related to the different authorities JSOC and CIA operate under. I’m not a lawyer and unqualified to judge whether this justification could be effectively challenged.

      Finally, who knows if the video these lawmakers saw is enough to confirm whether civilians were killed in the strike. A video depicting armed men in rural Yemen where–as HRW notes–weapons are at times taken to wedding parties, is not necessarily the same thing a video depicting an imminent threat to US national security. One would hope that these secret US investigations were at least as intensive and thorough as the research HRW conducted but we don’t know because the government continually withholds such details.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for reading.

      Ryan

      • quote:”A video depicting armed men in rural Yemen where–as HRW notes–weapons are at times taken to wedding parties, is not necessarily the same thing a video depicting an imminent threat to US national security. “unquote

        An imminent threat to US national security.

        BWHAHAHAHAHA…HOHOHOHOHOHOH…HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE…HAHAHAHAHAHA!

        A few gun toting dudes 10k miles from the shores of good ole USA..and they’re an imminent threat.

        HOHOHOHOHOHOH…HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE…HAHAHAHAHAHA!

        lord, that’s funnier than Lord Justice Law.

  66. “Anonymous U.S. officials told reporters the military’s elite JSOC operatives carried out the strike — not the CIA.”
    If they killed civilians as claimed, what makes them “elite?” Why not just put the facts out and let the reader decide on the appropriate adjective?

  67. “calls for the Obama administration to make public its own investigations into the incident — and explain how such strikes are consistent with international laws of war.”

    This really comes back to the 2001 AUMF, which has been extended in perpetuity. The whole foundation for the basis of the AUMF, are at odds with the Geneva Convention of which the US is a signatory (symbolically?). Real transparency is needed so that USG pseudo-legal interpretations can be picked apart in a public court, rendering the shield of legitimacy they provide, Ineffective. Without challenging the Circa 2001 foundational laws and interpretations, some injustices may be temporarily stopped but the structure and foundation from which they sprung will remain active, allowing the same injustices to re-form, under a different title.

  68. The detailed, 28-page report from Human Rights Watch describes conflicting accounts of the December 12 attack, but nevertheless concludes that some, if not all, of the victims may have been civilians.

    ——————
    Crime after crime after crime piles up, and still we tolerate it. With news that the UN is finally going to address abuses in Korea, it’s time to ask when someone is going to hold the US accountable.

    Imagine the headlines here if a Chicago wedding party were bombed. Imagine the pages of pictures of those killed, the biographies of each and every victim, whose names we would know. Imagine the anecdotes from friends and family.

    The tragedy would be writ large, the calls for revenge everywhere. Now imagine what it would take to realize that just because you change the names and country the story is the same.

    Every human rights group in the world should unite and refuse to back down until those responsible are held accountable. I commend Human Rights Watch for its vigilance and due diligence on these issues. Other groups need to join them.

    • quote”Crime after crime after crime piles up, and still we tolerate it.”unquote

      ummm, don’t include me in your..ahem…”we”. I don’t tolerate this shit one iota. Unfortunately, most of America DOES tolerate it. In fact, a good percentage LIKE IT.

      quote”Every human rights group in the world should unite and refuse to back down until those responsible are held accountable.” unquote

      Refuse to back down? Accountable? LOL. Apparently, you don’t know about the American Service-Members’ Protection Act..written by the war mongering schmuck..Senator Jesse Helms…otherwise known as.. “The Hague Invasion Act,[3][4] because the freeing of U.S. citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch government.”
      You think the USG will allow ANYONE, or ANY organization to try and hold these fucking war criminals accountable? Make me laugh. In reality, there is only ONE body that can make that happen…the PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES. And there’s only ONE way they can do it. By exercising he Second Amendment. Until 3-4 MILLION armed citizens surround these psychopath’s granite palaces, READY to drag these motherfuckers out and burn them alive…nothing is going to stop them. After all, look at the Ukraine..or Syria..or Egypt. At least those people who finally stopped “tolerating” the crimes and finally DID something..vs our pathetic piece of shit republic.

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