The President is now allowing the CIA and the military to launch drone strikes against targets in Yemen without actually knowing who will be killed in the attack.Greg Miller at The Washington Post reports Obama approved the use of “signature” strikes this month and the new authority allows the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to kill people based on their “intelligence signatures” — simply patterns of behaviour found through electronic eavesdropping, watching suspects from the drone, and information from sources on the ground that point to a “plot against U.S. interests.”
The U.S. military and the CIA have been dominating the skies over Yemen for months, taking out suspected al-Qaeda operatives with missiles launched from heavily armed drones seemingly at will.
Confirming the identity of a target from thousands of feet in the air, by a pilot thousands of miles a way is a dicey business that can produce tragic results.
The ACLU is still actively seeking the truth about Obama’s first 2009 strike in Yemen that is said to have killed 41 people, including 21 children and 14 women.
That strike was launched from a U.S. warship or submarine using cluster bombs, a particularly brutal and indiscriminate piece of ordnance, before the U.S. was able to operate drones with impunity in Yemeni skies.
This new authority will undoubtedly result in more unintended casualties like the one in 2010 that killed a vital tribal leader, and the October strike that killed a 16-year-old U.S. citizen and his cousin.
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