The US just murdered a boy in Yemen: will Obama respond? A brief look at the history of this administration would indicate no!
June 21. 2013

Last night, McClatchy Newspapers published a detailed report alleging that a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed not only suspected militants, but also a ten-year-old boy named Abdulaziz Huraydan. The boy’s killing sets a grisly new milestone. This is the first reported civilian death from a drone strike since President Obama’s May 23 speech on counter-terrorism, in which he told us that the U.S. would only strike if there was a “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” A week after Obama’s speech, Secretary of State John Kerry publicly stated, “We do not fire when we know there are children or collateral … we just don’t.”

The strike occurred two weeks ago on June 9. Adam Baron, the McClatchy journalist who covered the story and who recently testified before members of Congress about his numerous drone strike investigations, told me that a number of sources confirmed to him that the child, Abdulaziz, was killed. It appears that the boy was the younger brother of a suspected al Qaida militant, and that the strike targeted the car they were traveling in.

Investigations of drone strikes are often exceptionally difficult, in part because the U.S. and other governments refuse to admit basic facts, and because of the difficulty in accessing areas where many strikes occur, security restrictions, witness fears, source reliability concerns, and the difficulty of carrying out forensic examinations. Baron, who spent the past two weeks piecing the story together, said that reporting on many of the strikes in Yemen was a “nearly Sisyphean task.” He also said that while news reports “often hit the wires within hours of strike, the dust often takes days to settle” and that initial “reported death counts are often inaccurate.”

Absent Baron’s report, there would be virtually no public record of ten-year-old Abdulaziz’s alleged killing by the United States. Numerous major outlets did not cover the strike at all. (They have also largely failed to report other strikes in Yemen since Obama’s speech.) Those that did cover the June 9 strike, including the Associated Press and Reuters, made no mention of the child, although Baron and journalist Iona Craig had reported — via twitter — early allegations of the child’s death on the very day of the strike.

The President and senior officials, after years of criticism by human rights groups and others about the targeted killing program’s secrecy, have repeatedly committed to and promised transparency. (See hereherehereherehereherehere, and here). Notably, John Brennan, during his nomination to be CIA Director, stated that if there was a mistake and the wrong person was killed, we “need to acknowledge it publicly.”

As is typically the case, however, the U.S. government is yet to say a word about the latest reported strike. Without any meaningful government transparency, the public is left guessing how to best reconcile the allegations of Abdulaziz’s death with Obama’s new killing rules and Kerry’s public statements. Are reports of the child’s death mistaken or false? Did the U.S. consider the boy a militant? Was it the Yemenis or Saudis, and not the Americans, who carried out the strike? Or, perhaps the U.S. does conduct strikes if it knows civilians may be killed?

It is difficult to know what policies, rules, or laws may have been applied to this strike in light of the government’s refusal to release its targeted killing legal memos, or to explain key terms in sufficient detail. Maybe the new killings rules published last month have not come fully into effect yet; maybe they did not apply to this strike. (Despite the publication of the killing rules, the public does not know clearly when and where they apply, for the reasons explained by Ryan Goodman and myself here). Perhaps, then, those targeting knew that the child was there, but reasonably assessed his death as lawful collateral damage under the laws of armed conflict. Or, perhaps, despite claims that drones enable unprecedented surveillance and accuracy, those targeting on June 9 just did not see that a child was also in the car; his death may have been unintended, a mistake.

This is, of course, hardly the only case of its type. Local and international journalists and human rights researchers have reported detailed allegations of past cases which raise questions about civilian harm, as well as whether the U.S. could have captured rather than killed a suspect. A brief sample of particularly troubling cases: a January 2013 strike that allegedly targeted militants, but also killed a school-teacher and a studenta November 2012 strike that led many to ask why the suspect had not been arrested; a September 2012 strike that allegedly killed 12 civilians, including three children (a case put before the U.S. Senate); an August 2012 strike that allegedly killed a cleric who only days before had given a speech denouncing Al Qaeda; a May 2012 strike that allegedly killed at least 14 people including a pregnant woman; and the well-known strike in al-Majalah in December 2009 that allegedly killed 21 children (Jeremy Scahill’s new film Dirty Wars prominently features this strike, and contains powerful interviews with survivors and community members).

These strikes all raise the same basic questions, none of which the U.S. government has publicly and adequately answered. Who are we killing? On what factual and legal basis, and according to what policies? Family members of victims, NGOs, and the UN have been asking these questions for a decade. But all too often, broad defenses of U.S. drone use simply debate straw men, and mischaracterize or ignore the specific questions and concerns raised.

The U.S. government’s continuing refusal to publicly respond to allegations undermines its stated commitments to transparency and the rule of law, and threatens core democratic and constitutional norms. The secrecy also undercuts the basic system of checks and balances, denies the American public vital information necessary to assess a program carried out in its name, permits false information to proliferate, denies remedies to victims, and sets a damaging precedent for other countries.

The specific allegations surrounding this latest strike provide an opportunity for the U.S. government to change course, and to make good on its transparency promises. The government should immediately clarify whether it had any role in the June 9 strike and, if so, provide an accounting of who was killed and why. If ten-year-old Abdulaziz Huraydan was killed, the government should publicly acknowledge this, and explain how his killing conforms to the government’s legal obligations and policy commitments.

Source

Students & faculty at the University of Johannesburg will NOT hand over an honorary degree to a war criminal
June 20, 2013

Obama will make his first official visit to South Africa, with his wife Michelle, this month.

The university plans to confer the honor on Obama for his achievements as the first black president of the US before he addresses students at its Soweto campus on Saturday next week.

But the UJ Students’ Representative Council - in coalition with some staff members, student organization Sasco, the Muslim Student Association and the Palestinian Solidarity Forum - has vowed to stage a boycott if the university goes through with the ceremony.

The Muslim Lawyers’ Association last week called for the arrest and prosecution of the US president when he arrives in this country, describing Obama as a “war criminal”.

SRC president Levy Masete yesterday said UJ had failed to consult students about its decision to honor Obama. “Obama’s decisions have caused human rights violations in the Middle East and Africa. He supported Nato while killing innocent people in Libya. The withdrawal of all US troops [from] Iraq and Afghanistan, [and the] closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay never materialised,” Masete said.

Obama has committed “a lot blunders in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, he said.

"Obama is guilty of human rights violations. He signed what is called [the] US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, which was to strengthen Israel’s military to fight against Palestine. So now, how [do] we honour someone [who] is perpetuating war?" Masete asked.

"The university must not support an imperialist Obama."

A senior staff member said students had been asked to vacate residences during Obama’s visit. “There is no one from management who sees fit to engage the staff and students about honoring Obama,” the staff member said.

Source

It takes discipline & courage to stand consistently against human rights injustice & acts of international terror. It’s always heart breaking to see some stand against it when it’s convenient for their political team and stay silent otherwise.

robert-cunningham
The People’s Record Memorial Day Dedication (photo source)
This Memorial Day, reflect on the innocent civilian victims of the United States in Afghanistan. Those victims total more than 12,800 killed in the past six years and millions more in Afghanistan whose lives have been ravaged and destroyed by the United States imperialist war machine. The United States continues to inflict terror and human rights violations on the people of Afghanistan. 
Click here for a complete list of The People’s Record’s Memorial Day dedications. 
— — — — —
From our 2012 Memorial Day posts.

The People’s Record Memorial Day Dedication (photo source)


This Memorial Day, reflect on the innocent civilian victims of the United States in Afghanistan. Those victims total more than 12,800 killed in the past six years and millions more in Afghanistan whose lives have been ravaged and destroyed by the United States imperialist war machine. The United States continues to inflict terror and human rights violations on the people of Afghanistan.


Click here for a complete list of The People’s Record’s Memorial Day dedications.

— — — — —

From our 2012 Memorial Day posts.

Feature: Our veterans – the elephant in the room?
May 7, 2013

Apart from when the occasional veteran makes the headlines and is arrested (perhaps for carrying out a training run fully kitted up and armed; or by posting borderline material on facebook and being detained and sectioned under Section 922(g)(4) of the US Code) once our marines have stepped down from active duty, very little is heard of them and that seems to be the way the government likes it.

They must be feeling uneasy to say the least at the growing movement of veterans who are standing up and voicing their concerns about the way in which our country is governed and the Constitution being undermined by successive rafts of legislation, some of which is pushed through without adequate consultation or proper procedure. The government would have us believe that these few “voices in the wilderness” belong to misfits, miscreants and malcontents – that most veterans are happily adjusted to everyday society and living out their lives in the bosom of their family as productive citizens.

Myth versus reality

Truth is there is a huge gulf between the myth foisted upon us by the government and the reality. Many of these veterans start out their career in the US forces with high ideals and a vision of serving their country and protecting their family and others like it; young men and women with a clear conscience, a deep sense of moral duty and strong loyalty to their government. By the time they have done a tour or three they come back as different people with a totally changed perspective. We are fed images and news reports by the media of spouses and little children welcoming back the homecoming heroes and heroines, smiling faces, happy tears and a good helping of the American dream, complete with cream and sugar. We aren’t shown the rows of flag draped coffins; we aren’t told about the conditioning imposed on these service men and women to psychologically prepare them for the battlefront or about the drugs which are forced on them to make sure they remain emotionally stable during their tour of duty. In 2012 more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in the war zone. In fact, 6,500 veterans killed themselves that year alone – that equates to 1 every hour and 20 minutes.

The harsh reality is that these men and women come home, having seen things they won’t talk of to anyone other than another veteran, tired, disillusioned, often traumatized and diagnosed with PTSD, unable to easily step back into their old lives. It is no wonder that so many isolate themselves from others in the community, very often becoming reliant on alcohol or drugs (prescription or illegal) to make it through each day. It is telling that the US government has stepped up their Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program, providing support for former service members at an ever growing number of drug and alcohol detox centers across the States. For drug and alcohol detox in Massachusetts, as an example, there are centers in almost every town and city across the state – something like 64 all in all. Those that make it through the transition back into civilian life and survive or avoid addiction have gone on to become some of the harshest critics of our government.

People like Adam Khokesh, who served in the US Marine Corps Reserves in Iraq, have become vocal opponents of the very government they swore to obey when they joined the forces. They have seen through the illusion that government and media have fed to communities everywhere and are joining together to voice their opposition to today’s politics specifically and to war across the board. These highly trained personnel of yesterday have become today’s conscience of the nation, highlighting injustice, false flag events and illegal or immoral activities, including wars against other sovereign states. Groups like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans against the War now actively oppose government and governmental policy, standing against the very things they previously stood for before the veil was torn from their eyes. The treatment many of them receive only serves to underline the government’s self interest and it is telling that the government considers veterans to be a danger, with Homeland Security classifying returning US veterans as a potential terrorist threat.

With something like 20 states wanting to secede from the United States, it may be that those same veterans who no longer support the corrupt political structure will be the vanguard of our changing world. When a country as large as the United States, with the influences it has across the globe, undergoes radical change it will surely impact us all.

-Written & submitted for The People’s Record by Evelyn Roberts

Lovely submission from Evelyn Roberts. Thank you so much. Veterans are part of the story, and they are, complicated victims of the system in their own way. Of course, the communities they are trained & instructed to destroy are also a big part of the conversation – they are victims of the system and are subjected to a whole different kind of horror because it. We would be remiss to not feature stories about both.

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Russian protesters resist Putin’s repression on anniversary of brutal government terror
May 6, 2013

The Russian opposition is back at its main protesting spot in Moscow’s Bolotnaya (Swamp) Square, where an anti-Putin rally on May 6 last year resulted in massive protests against Putin’s violent political repression and in extreme police brutality as a result.

Thousands of opposition protesters are taking part in Monday’s sanctioned event called ‘For Freedom!’ Some 5,000 “law enforcers” have been deployed in the capital’s downtown to harass, terrorize, detain and abuse protesters for the second year in a row.

The main demand of the participants of the event organized by Russian opposition activists is the release of all political prisoners in the country. Those also include activists arrested as part of the ‘Bolotnaya case’ following last year’s rally on the square.

A day before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as ‘president’, thousands took to streets to protest against election fraud, and to demand political reforms and a fresh vote. The sanctioned rally turned violent as police brutalized protesters at Putin’s command. Over 600 protesters were detained and over a dozen faced criminal charges ranging from inciting mass unrest to using violence against police. So far, two of the Bolotnaya Square protesters were sentenced to jail terms. The opposition maintains though that clashes were provoked by police.

On Sunday – as Orthodox believers celebrated Easter – the opposition held another sanctioned protest rally in the Russian capital. The event called ‘Freedom March’ was organized by the so-called Opposition Expert Council. Despite the initially-announced 10,000 participants, the gathering was joined by only around 400-500 participants and around a hundred journalists.

Source

TW: Suicide: Guantanamo attorney found dead in apparent suicide
May 1, 2013

An attorney who represented prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay was found dead last week in what sources said was a suicide.

Andy P. Hart, 38, a federal public defender in Toledo, Ohio, apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Hart left behind a suicide note and a thumb drive, believed to contain his case files. It is unknown where Hart died, what the suicide note said or whether an autopsy was performed.

Hart’s death comes amid escalating chaos that has engulfed Guantanamo over the past three months—from a mass hunger strike to military commissions and renewed pressure on the White House to shut down the prison facility. Hart was one of three-dozen Guantanamo attorneys who signed a letter in March urging Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to take immediate action and bring about an end to the hunger strike.

Because Hart was a federal employee working on sensitive legal issues the FBI was contacted about his death. It is unknown if the agency has been investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.

Neither the FBI nor local law enforcement officials in Toledo, Ohio returned calls for comment. A phone number listed for Hart was disconnected Wednesday.

Truthout learned about the details of Hart’s death Wednesday from an investigator who has been tapped by attorneys to work on a number of cases involving Guantanamo prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions. The investigator requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Dennis Terez, the top federal public defender in the Northern District of Ohio, where Hart worked, declined to comment on his colleague’s death.

"At this time and out of respect for Mr. Hart’s family and friends, we have no comment," Terez said.

Hart’s name has since been removed from the federal public defender’s website.

Hart worked closely with attorney Carlos Warner, who was based out of the federal public defender’s Akron, Ohio office. Warner referred requests for comment about Hart to Terez.

With Warner, Hart was assigned by the government to defend Mohammed Rahim al-Afghani, who was detained by the CIA and allegedly subjected to torture methods until his transfer to Guantanamo in March 2008. The government maintained that al-Afghani was Osama bin Laden’s translator and a top al-Qaida official.

Hart also represented Saudi Khalid Saad Mohammed, who was transferred back to Saudi Arabia from Guantanamo in 2009. He was also the attorney for Adel Hakeemy, a Tunisian who has been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years.

The Guantanamo prisoners he represents have not yet been notified about Hart’s death, according to the investigator.

In addition to defending Guantanamo prisoners, Hart also was the defense attorney for Richard Schmidt, an alleged white supremacist and convicted felon who was under federal investigation over allegations he amassed high-powered weapons and ammunition.

In 2011, Hart was assigned to represent Jeff Boyd Levenderis, 54, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on suspicion of concealing a biological toxin, ricin, and making false statements to federal investigators. An 11-year-old daughter survives Hart.

Source

The year is 2012, 11 years after that awful day. Although I won’t soon forget the tragedy of September 11, I’d sooner forget IT than the years of misery and evil that have been inflicted on the United States and the rest of the world since. I’ll never forget how seemingly simple and easy it has been to create an underclass of people from the Middle East and people who looked like they might be. I won’t soon forget the debt of foreign wars targeted at an idea rather than a defeatable enemy. I won’t soon forget an intentionally cultivated climate of fear and how many lives that’s ruined. I won’t soon forget how Muslim women have been painted as voiceless and weak victims of the terrible evil Muslim man. I won’t soon forget the pissing on the bodies, the drone strikes, civilian deaths, disappearing civil rights,Guantanamo Bay, the mutilation and murder of thousands. And I’ll never forget how easy it was to get caught up in the hate and imperial propaganda and I’ll do my best to never let my guard drop like that again. That is the task of this generation, to never forget the legacy of 911 and never do again what our mothers and fathers have done to this world.

~Robert

Pakistani protests voice resistance to U.S./NATO imperialism
July 06, 2012
The Pakistani government’s decision to unblock supply routes for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan has been met with harsh criticism from several religious and political parties, who staged demonstrations across the country to protest the measure. Hundreds marched through the cities of Quetta, Lahore and Karachi, where protesters burnt the portrait of President Barack Obama, U.S.and NATO flags. Participants at the rally were also holding placards and banners inscribed with anti-U.S. slogans.A demonstration was also held in capital Islamabad, in which the speakers demanded the government to withdraw its decision of reopening the NATO supply line.The speakers expressed serious concerns over the government’s decision to allow arms supply for Afghan security forces, saying that it will pave the way for Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan war.
Source

Pakistani protests voice resistance to U.S./NATO imperialism

July 06, 2012

The Pakistani government’s decision to unblock supply routes for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan has been met with harsh criticism from several religious and political parties, who staged demonstrations across the country to protest the measure.

Hundreds marched through the cities of Quetta, Lahore and Karachi, where protesters burnt the portrait of President Barack Obama, U.S.and NATO flags. Participants at the rally were also holding placards and banners inscribed with anti-U.S. slogans.

A demonstration was also held in capital Islamabad, in which the speakers demanded the government to withdraw its decision of reopening the NATO supply line.

The speakers expressed serious concerns over the government’s decision to allow arms supply for Afghan security forces, saying that it will pave the way for Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan war.

Source