Thursday, June 03, 2010

United States / Pakistan / United Nations

Leading UN Official Criticises CIA's Role in Drone Strikes
By Declan Walsh
The Guardian, June 3, 2010
"A senior UN official has called on the US to end CIA involvement in the drone strike programme which, he warned, risks creating a 'PlayStation mentality' that could spread to other countries. In a report to the UN Human Rights Council today, Philip Alston delivered a withering critique of the secretive programme that has killed hundreds of people, mostly in Pakistan's tribal belt, since 2002. Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, accuses the US of inventing a 'law of 9/11' to issue the CIA with a 'licence to kill' that, if copied by other countries, could lead to 'chaos.' 'Intelligence agencies, which by definition are determined to remain unaccountable except to their own paymasters, have no place in running programmes that kill people in other countries,' Alston said. The strongly-worded report comes days after one of the drones' greatest successes -- the death of Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al-Qaida's main liaison with the Taliban in Afghanistan and a close ally of Osama bin Laden. Yazid was killed along with his family during a strike on a remote compound in North Waziristan on 21 May. ...
The report is the most high-profile attack on the legal basis of a programme that has been enthusiastically embraced by the Obama administration. Of about 120 strikes in the past eight years, 53 occurred in 2009 and 39 so far this year. 'Because operators are based thousands of miles from the battlefield ... there is a risk of developing a "PlayStation" mentality to killing,' the report stated. 'A lack of disclosure gives states a virtual and impermissible licence to kill.' The questionable legality of the drones left CIA employees exposed to prosecution in the US or 'under the domestic law of any country in which they conduct targeted drone killings,' he warned. [...]"

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