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New research from the NYU School of Law and Stanford Law School details how U.S. drones employ a tactic, known as the “double tap,” that is considered to be a terrorist act by the U.S. government.The double tap is when a targeted strike site is hit multiple times by hellfire missiles in relatively quick succession, meaning that the second missile often strikes first responders.
A 2007 report by the Homeland Security Institute called the double tap a “favourite tactic of Hamas” and the FBI considers it a tactic employed by terrorists.
The new report, Living Under Drones, provides first-hand accounts of its devastating effect on rescuers and humanitarian workers.
Here’s one of those accounts:
The lone survivor of the Obama administration’s first strike in North Waziristan, Faheem Qureshi, stated that “[u]sually, when a drone strikes and people die, nobody comes near the bodies for half an hour because they fear another missile will strike.” He believes that he would likely not have survived if he had not managed to walk out of the smoking rubble of his hujra on his own, because his neighbours would have waited too long in coming to rescue him.
The report concludes that double taps by U.S. drones raises “crucial moral and legal concerns. Not only does the practice put into question the extent to which secondary strikes comply with international humanitarian law’s basic rules … but it also potentially violates specific legal protections for medical and humanitarian personnel, and for the wounded. As international law experts have noted, intentional strikes on first responders may constitute war crimes.”
The report cites Pentagon Data to note that the Air Force may have began firing two missiles to “covertly compensate for” the lack of accuracy of Hellfire missiles, meaning that the missiles are “at most only 50% reliable, which is not how this system has been described to Congress.”
Below is the video that accompanied the report in which Sarah Knuckey of NYU and James Cavallero of Stanford explain how they researched and wrote the report: