“If you see any women or children, raise your hand.” This is the instruction given to members of the Afghanistan version of the current “kill committee”, with both Germans and Swedes now sitting at the table. US military and intelligence personnel have been summarily executing suspected militants/insurgents/terrorists (which are all conflated) for years, both in countries where there are “US boots on the ground” and in places where no formal war was ever waged.
“How about innocent brown-skinned men?” That question is not being asked by anyone during these meetings. The very concept appears to be oxymoronic to US military and CIA personnel, long inured to the “crowd killing” of military-age males in so-called hostile areas, who have been defined as guilty until proven innocent. No matter that, given the secrecy surrounding drone strikes, it is impossible for a suspect to prove his innocence before being liquidated. Only a carping crank would bother to point out that for others to demonstrate a target’s innocence post mortem is, shall we say, “too little, too late”.
Somehow all of the people involved in the drone killing of suspects missed (or have forgotten) the statistics on the detainees held at Guantánamo Bay. Most of them were mistakenly imprisoned, nearly always on the basis of intelligence provided by bribed locals, precisely the primary basis used in adding targets to “kill lists” to be dispatched by Hellfire missiles launched from Predator drones as the “opportunity” arises.
The recent report of German and Swedish participation in the US drone program is deeply disappointing, for such complicity significantly decreases the chance that the perpetrators will ever be brought to justice—or even that the practice will be curtailed. As the web of corruption continues to ensnare more people and nations, luring them to collaborate with the US killing machine, it will become ever more difficult to press human rights claims and reassert the authority of the United Nations in calling a halt to the summary execution of brown-skinned males regarded as suspicious by whoever the sitting “kill committee” members happen to be, using criteria to which only they are privy.
For more information and related criticism, see We Kill Because We Can, Chapter 4: Lethal Creep and Chapter 6: The New Banality of Killing