Extrajudicial Killings through Drones

By Sajjad Shaukat

Under the pretext of American so-called counterinsurgency programme, the US President Barack Obama has broken all the record of human rights by extrajudicial killings of the innocent people through CIA-operated drone attacks in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen in general and Pakistan in particular, while, the United States claims to be protector of human rights not only inside the country, but also all over the world.

Recently, the UN has opened probe regarding the predator strikes. In this regard, Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism said, A UN investigation into targeted killings will examine legality of drone strikeswill investigate 25 strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian territories. It will also focus on civilian killings by the strikes.

First time, a US Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the predator attacks, openly admitted that 4,700 people have been killed by the raids of Americas secretive drone war. The number exceeds some independent estimates of the death toll. According to the research of London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between June 2004 and September 2012, these unmanned aerial vehicles killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians including 176 children. In this respect, in a report, The Guardian pointed out on August 11, 2011, The CIA claims that there has been not one non-combatant killed in the past yearit is a bleak view: more people killed than previously thought.

Nevertheless, details collected by the Pakistani journalists show that civilian casualties through unmanned aircraft are higher as indicated by the US officials. In the last four years, more than 900 innocent civilians and only 22 Al-Qaeda commanders have been killed by these aerial attacks.

While justifying these air strikes by the spy planes, counterterrorism advisor to Obama, John Brennan who faces a Senate confirmation hearing for his nominee as CIA director is the main player, advising Obama on which strike, he should approve.

Especially, during his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama had pledged to reverse excesses of the Bush era in relation to terrorism. He also promised to reformulate a counterterrorism policy in accordance with the legal and moral values of the US. Contrarily to his assertions, Obama followed the Bushs approach of counterterrorism in its worst form by expanding and accelerating the predator strikes.

In this context, The New York Time on May 26, 2011, in an article which was written with assistance of several counterterrorism advisers of the administration revealed, President Obama has become personally involved in the process and has normalised extrajudicial killings from the Oval Office, taking advantage of Americas temporary advantage in drone technology. Without the scrutiny of the legislature and the courts, and outside the public eye, Obama is authorising murder on a weekly basis.

Notably, American constitution explicitly grants the right to declare war to the Congress so as to restrain the president from chasing enemies around the world, based solely on his authority as commander-in-chief by waging a secret war. But instead of capturing militants alive and to avoid giving the right of due process of law to them in a court, President Obama has openly been acting upon a ruthless policy of targeting killings by supervising the CIA-controlled drone warfare.

Besides, a report of the New America Foundation disclosed that President Obama has authorised 193 drone strikes in Pakistan, more than four times the number of attacks that President Bush authorised during his two terms. The report explained, When the US drones attack Pakistans tribal areas, it is not just the 10, or 50 innocent civilians they kill, these killings provide reason to the youngsters for joining terrorist groups waging war against US and of course Pakistanwhile killing 10 militants, the US has murdered more than 1400 Pakistanis, not involved in any terrorist activities. Could it not imply that it gave birth to another 1400 militants?

Based on research, a report, Living Under Drones, prepared by experts from Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law disclosed that the US campaign of drone strikes in Pakistans northwestern tribal belt is terrorising civilians 24 hours a day and breeding bitter anti-American sentimenthave killed thousands of peopleeven stopping their children going to school for fear of being targeted. The report urged Washington to rethink its drone strategy, arguing it was counterproductive and undermined international law.

Citing unnamed US officials, The Washington Post reported on January 21, this year, The Obama administration is completing a counterterrorism manual that will establish clear rules for targeted-killing operationsthe guidebook would contain a major exemption for the CIAs campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan to continue striking Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan.

Defense Minister Leon Panetta has defended these attacks on Pakistans tribal areas under the pretext of North Waziristan-based Haqqani militants whom they blamed for several assaults on American and NATO bases in Afghanistan. On the other hand, US-led coalition forces have failed in stopping incursions of heavily-armed insurgents in Pakistan from Afghanistans side, who have killed more than 100 personnel of the Pakistans security forces in the last two year, while targeting the infrastructure of the areas. In fact, US seeks to make North Waziristan, a scapegoat of NATOs defeat in Afghanistan by continuing illegal mass murder of the innocent people through drones.

It is notable that Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam who visited America in August, 2012, emphatically told the then CIA Director David Petraeus that predator strikes which are violation of Pakistans sovereignty must be stopped. He pointed out that these strikes are proving counterproductive, giving a greater incentive to the fundamentalist and extremist elements in Pakistan, and are increasing anti-US sentiment among the people.

However, setting aside the parliament resolution, rallies and processions of Pakistans political and religious parties, and ignoring the new Pak-US rapprochement, without bothering for any internal backlash, these aerial attacks keep on going on FATA.

In fact, American such a duplicity contans a number of covert designs. The fresh wave of strikes by the pilotless aircraft has thwarted the offer of militants and Pakistani government for peace talks. And, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has accelerated subversive activities in the country. Now, US wants to incite the Haqqani network as in the past 15 months, most of these strikes have targeted the North Waziristan. So, these aerial attacks are provoking the tribal people against Pakistans security forces, and increasing recruitment of insurgents. Another aim is to create a rift between Pakistans armed forces on one side and the political and religious parties on the other. Besides, Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. Hence, US India and Israel are determined to destabilise it. Drone campaign is also part of this game.

The CIA-operated these strikes which continued on Pakistans tribal areas since 2004 have intensified under the Obama era. In one of the major drone attacks, more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed on March 18, 2011 in Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. In the past few months, these unmanned aircraft killed more than 150 people, especially in North Waziristan including South Waziristan.

On the one side, US top officials have repeatedly said that America needs Pakistans help not only for peace process with the militants, but also for stability in Afghanistan in the post-2014 scenario, while NATO troops have started transporting their equipments via Pakistani route as part of the exit strategy, but on the other, US spy planes on Pak tribal regions are undermining international efforts of stability both in Afghanistan and Pakistan including peace dialogue with the Afghan militants.

Recently, US ex-presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton have opposed Obamas faulty drone strategy. Even, new Secretary of State John Kerry has also criticised unabated use of unilateral drones in Pakistan, saying, US engagement with the world is not just about drones.

Besides, widespread criticism from some US allies and human rights groups which have remarked that these aerial attacks are illegal and unethical, and violation of the targeted countries sovereignty, the United Nations Charter, universal declaration of human rights and international law, but US warrior President Obama remains obstinate to continue extrajudicial killings through drones.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.

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Change we can believe in

By Hammad Mahmood:

In 2012 1800 people killed in Karachi these casualities are more than people killed in Afganistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Kashmir, Palestian and any part of the world this is the biggest security collapse and there is no form of law and order in Karachi. After the Mumbai attack former chief minister of Maharashtra resigned due to security collapsed this is the example of sense of responsability but there is no sense of responsability in Pakistani politican,s after the biggest security collapsed of security forces in 2012 1800 innocent people lost there life President, Prime minister, Chief minister and interior minister must have to resigned.

According to statistics compiled by HRCP 1,257 people were killed in six months of 2012, 972 target killings, 72 percent of the total killings, On sectarian, Personal enmities, Bomb blasts, Lyari gang war. As compare to the first six months of 2011, The figure was 1,138.

Total of 972 people were target killing of them 135 gunned down were political activists, 27 shot dead in sectarian, 84 in Lyari gang war, 16 abducted , 2 burnt to death, 42 killed, 87 killed due to enmity, 39 dead bodies foud, Seven security guards killed on duty, Four died in prisons, 366 people with no political affilition. Business man and industrialists are moving there business and capital to different country,s specially Bangladesh due to growing market which effects our economy badly and increasing unemployement.

This is the biggest Human Rights violation in 2012 and effects Pakistan,s name on international plat form government must realize his role make sure the improvement in law and order situation.

In an other incident at Karachi garment factory 289 innocent people lost there life due to no access to save the life, No emergency exit with doors blocked unsafe chemical in the rickety building made the smoke even more toxic Pakistan is a signatory to the International Labour Organisations Labour Inspection Convention, Which commits the government to ensuring that workers are fully informed about their legal rights.

So laws defending workers rights do exist. But they are rendered redundant by a total failure of implementation. An executive order issued under the Punjab Industrial Policy 2003 abolished labour inspections, With the aim of “developing an industry and business friendly environment”. To attract fresh investement.

The ban orginated in Punjab(home to Lahore) and sindh(Karachi is situated) appears to leave followed. It was implemented under pressure from wealthy indudtialists. Rescue failure to save innocent people and no proper equipment they have for fire brigade Sindh government is again not reacting according to their job.

In other recent incident at Karachi State Life building fire a young man hanging seven minutes on the window to save his life but no rescue do we live in a stone age no government is doing their job and no value of human life in our country.

On the other side in Punjab story is not different 150 people died in Lahore hospital due to the procedure of the making of medficine is not properly monitored and Punjab government is not taking any step against the pharmasutical company. In an other incident 150 people reached different hospitals of Lahore after reaction from medicines from PIC.

In recent incident at Rwalpindi hospital a rat attacked a new born child and again no action has been taken by Punjab government is that justice chief minister of Punjab is holding 18 ministry,s how can he do justice do we are living in democracy or in dictatorship on the name of democracy the health facilities are given to people in Punjab is not on the standard according to WHO this is again Human Rights Violation.

Daily corruption of Rs. 7billion annual volume of Rs 2,520 trillion . 12,600 billion rupees has been reported in different sectors of Pakistan during the last five years this is the democracy we struggle for. Last five years are the worst in Pakistan,s history dept is more than 60 years corruption by former prime minister and his sons ,different Mnas, Mpas.

One visit of former prime minister to uk included 92 people cost us 10 crore is this not burden on our country . The government of ppp have no forgein policy drone attacks are lot more than Musharraf,s government which killed innocent people and destroys our infrastructure, More missing persons, Due to power shortage industrial sector is moving to Bangladesh which increases our unemployement rate and thats the main reason of increase of extremism in our society and our goverment is not taking seroiusly.

Private sector is not coming due to poor law and order situation of this government in Musharraf,s government private sector was investing in telecommunication and real estate sector our youth was getting jobs but the story is different no jobs for youth. Un rest in society is growing which is the cause of drugs consumption in youth is increasing and suicide ratio is increasing . We must have to change this scenario with our vote in next elections to elect honest people is very important for our country to re establish our industrial sector to create jobs thats the change we can believe in.

Pakistan-US Fractured Relations

By Brig. (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja: Historically Pak-US relationship has always been marked by convergence and divergence of national interests that kept on switching from friendship to friction. The US gained more during the times of convergence of interests but periods of divergence outweighed the former. Although Pakistan earned the title of most allied ally of USA, it is also the most sanctioned country in the world. By putting all its eggs in the basket of USA, Pakistan gained less as it was not given the required support by the US when needed most. The US left Pakistan high and dry during the 1965 War and in the 1971 War which led to the disintegration of the country. In fact, the US later imposed severe penalties, embargoes and sanctions on Pakistan. This unholy practice of sanctions was repeated in 1979 owing to nuclear related suspicions and in 1990 after the successful culmination of Afghan War in which Pakistan had played a key role in defeating erstwhile USSR. Worst was that USA embraced India which had all along remained in Soviet camp. It imposed additional sanctions after our nuclear tests and after Gen Musharrafs military coup. The US stood on the side of India during Kargil conflict and forced Pakistan to unilaterally vacate the occupied heights. Pakistan remained on the wrong side of USA from 1990 till September 2001.

In the post-9/11 scenario, Washington decided to once again befriend Pakistan since it knew that without its active support, Afghanistan venture may prove very costly. Pakistan happily accepted the role of a front-line state to fight global war on terror and to forsake Mullah Omar led regime in Kabul under the illusion that all its economic woes would be addressed. It agreed to assist the invading forces by way of providing air bases, logistic supply routes, airspace for air sorties, and intelligence cooperation. Instead of extracting matching returns, all these concessions were doled out to the needy USA very cheaply.
Pak-US alliance was purely a marriage of convenience but the US succeeded in duping Pakistan that it would not leave Pakistan in a lurch again. In reality, the US strategically aligned itself with India, Israel, Britain and Germany and Northern Alliance (NA). After capturing Afghanistan and installing a puppet regime led by Hamid Karzai, the six intelligence agencies of the strategic partners led by CIA embarked upon a massive covert war against Pakistan using Afghan soil to achieve its hidden objectives. Concurrently, the US gave a green signal to India to consolidate its position in Afghanistan. This was despite the fact that India doesn’t share border with Afghanistan, it is a Hindu country where Hindu extremism is constantly rising, and has played no role in war on terror. Yet, the US vowed to let India fill the vacuum once it departs and to make it a key player in Afghan affairs. Other than lucrative defence and economic agreements, the US granted India civilian nuclear deal and is now striving to make it a permanent member of UNSC as well as of exclusive nuclear club.

Since the US had made Pakistan its ally under an agenda, bilateral relations saw a shifting policy pattern to dubiousness, and Pakistan remained target of accusations from all sides. There were frequent swings in US mood towards Pakistan; particularly the inconsiderate warnings of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary Defence Leon Panetta, former CJCSC Admiral Mullen and even Barack Obama which caused discomfiture and more annoyance in the country. To the utter dismay of Pakistan the US kept doling out series of highly productive rewards but gave very little to Pakistan. The US paid no heed to the security concerns of Pakistan but remained ever worried about Indias mostly fabricated concerns. Even now it is seeking critical favors for India at the cost of Pakistans national interests.

The US brokered Pak-Afghan-Transit-Trade-Agreement (PATTA) on July 19, 2010 allowing transportation of Afghan goods through Wagah to India and in return Pakistan getting permission to use Afghan territory for trade with Central Asian Republics (CARs). The US twisted Pakistans arm to make India part of PATTA so as to allow India to export goods to Afghanistan and beyond through Wagah border, grant MFN status to India and liberalize visa regime. Efforts are now in hand to pressure Pakistan to allow India to transport merchandise goods to and from Afghanistan without giving anything in return except for deceptive promises that trade with India will be of great benefit to Pakistan. A new opening is being given to India despite the fact that there is a serious trade imbalance in Indian favor. Unable to compete with India, it will adversely impact Pakistans manufacturing industries and will also negatively impact Pakistans trade with Afghanistan and with CARs.

In order to keep Pakistan bridled, the US coined do more mantra, kept leveling unsubstantiated allegations, resorted to coercive diplomacy and subjected it to drone strikes. It made Pakistan a convenient scapegoat to hide its failures. Pak-US relations, which remained lukewarm because of bossy and mistrustful attitude of American officials and their outright leaning toward India and Afghanistan, nosedived after the incidents of Raymond Davis in January 2011, stealth attack in Abbottabad on 2 May, Admiral Mullens diatribe in September describing Haqqani network as the veritable arm of ISI, and brutal Salala attack on 26 November. In utter frustration, Pakistan was forced to close Shamsi airbase, block NATO supply routes for over seven months and cease military cooperation. These steps meant to impress upon the US to respect Pakistans sovereignty and to treat Pakistan as an ally rather than a target further widened the trust gap and brought Pak-US relations to a near-breaking point.

Fighting the US dictated war on terror has had debilitating impact on Pakistans social, political and economic life. Strikes by CIA operated drones and US meddling in domestic affairs has resulted in gradual erosion of Pakistans sovereignty and honor. Despite suffering the most in terms of human casualties and economic losses, the US prefers India over Pakistan. While the US keeps prodding Pakistan to befriend India and not to treat it as arch enemy, it doesnt press India to bring a change in its belligerent attitude and hegemonic policies and to lower its ever increasing defence budget each year. The US asks Pakistan to shift additional formations from the east to the west without realizing that India never misses an opportunity to harm Pakistan. The US and Israel have been constantly helping India to improve its economic, military and nuclear strengths and are responsible for disturbing the regional military balance of power. Rewards have been generously doled out in complete disregard of Indias ambitions and dangerous designs against Pakistan.

India has constructed 40 dams over the three rivers flowing into Pakistan to turn its fertile lands arid but no concern has been expressed by USA or any western country. The US is least interested in finding an amicable solution to the 65 year old Kashmir dispute since any facilitation in this direction will annoy India. The US fails to comprehend that when it lectures on Indo-Pak amity, until and unless right of self-determination is given to the Kashmiris and water aggression by India is reversed, meaningful goodwill cannot be promoted between the two antagonists.

In the wake of security situation in Afghanistan spinning out of control of US-NATO- forces despite the two US troops surges, depleting US economy and increasing home pressure to end the unwinnable war, the US initiated a political prong to induce the Taliban to negotiate for a political settlement. This initiative enhanced Pakistans importance and in order to lure Pakistan to help in convincing the hard-line Taliban leaders, the process of strategic dialogue was started in 2010 which provides a platform to both Pakistan and the US to convey their expectations and demands. The main purpose behind the Pak-US strategic dialogue was to understand and address the interests and concerns of each other. The US interest was to find a way for a safe and honorable exit from Afghanistan with Pakistans assistance. Pakistan on the other hand was mainly interested in US assistance to improve its faltering economy, overcome its energy crisis and to address its military imbalances.

Pakistan has been seeking a civil nuclear deal like the one US concluded with India and consider it imperative for restoring balance in the region. It wants this agreement to overcome the energy crisis it is facing. Pakistan wants to have a balanced relationship with the US and not a discriminatory one. It expects from the US to restrain rather than encourage Indian meddlesome role in Pakistan using Afghan soil. Pakistan was not given an improved US trade access for its textile exports. It is crucial for Pakistans economy to restore its declining industrial sector through trade access which is more effective than aid.

The US has been making tall promises but has failed to deliver. Pakistan didnt receive from the US the support it expected over its national security concerns. Rather, it squeezed Pakistan by stopping the payment of committed aid installments and even withheld $1.2 billion which it had to pay against CSF for services rendered by Pak Army. Pakistans request for a free trade agreement has not been ceded to. The Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) legislation that would give market access and trade concessions to Pakistan and Enterprise Fund Projects and construction of two hydro electric dams in FATA are still pending. As against total $ 18 billion Pakistan received from the US since 2002, it lost $70 billion in fighting the war on terror. Human losses have crossed the figure of 35000. 5000 fatalities suffered by Pakistan law enforcement agencies are far more than the casualties suffered by 48 countries involved in war on terror.

With the continuously worsening situation in Afghanistan and setbacks at home for the US administration, Pakistans geo-strategic position in the region has once again presented hope for players engaged in Afghanistan. Indications are that the only reason that the US has so far not abandoned Pakistan is that it has lost the war in Afghanistan and its safe and honorable exit is to a large extent dependent upon Pakistan. Another reason is the breakdown in US-Taliban parleys which has placed the US in an awkward position. It has no roadmap for its safe exit and future stability of the region. It is pinning hopes on Pakistan to convince the Taliban to resume talks for a negotiated political settlement. However, despite knowing that Pakistan is the only country that can play a key role in solving Afghan tangle, the US wants to keep Pakistan out and India within its loop.

Pakistan has already ceded lot of ground without extracting anything in return. Americas efforts to give enhanced role to India in Afghanistan and to pressure Pakistan to grant land access to India via Wagah should be firmly resisted. Concessions should be reciprocal and not unilateral.

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence and security analyst.

Obama administration is attacking journalists in USA

Written by Dan Froomkin for Nieman Watchdog: It’s a particularly challenging time for American national security reporting, with the press and public increasingly in the dark about important defense, intelligence and counterterrorism issues.

The post-post-9/11 period finds the U.S. aggressively experimenting with two new highly disruptive forms of combatdrone strikes and cyberattacksfor which our leaders appear to be making up the rules, in secret, as they go along.

Troubling legal and moral issues left behind by the previous administration remain unresolved. Far from reversing the Bush-Cheney executive power grab, President Barack Obama is taking it to new extremes by unilaterally approving indefinite detention of foreign prisoners and covert targeted killings of terror suspects, even when they are American citizens.

There is little to none of the judicial and legislative oversight Obama had promised, so the executive branch’s most controversial methods of violence and control remain solely in the hands of the presidentpossibly about to be passed along to a leader with less restraint.

More than a decade after it started, we still have no clue how much the government is listening in on us or reading our e-mail, despite the obvious Fourth Amendment issues.

And the government’s response to this unprecedented secrecy is a war on leaks.

No Help From High Places

After past periods of executive excess, the Fourth Estate was certainly more robust and arguably more persistent, but it also found natural allies in the other branches of governmentparticularly Congress. By contrast, over the summer of 2012, the publication of a minimal amount of new information regarding drones, cyberwarfare and targeted killings incited bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hillnot to conduct hearings into what had been revealed, but to demand criminal investigations into the leaking.

That’s how Congress has been ever since the terrorist attacks 11 years ago. “We never got our post 9/11 Church Committee,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’s Project on Government Secrecy, referring to a special investigative Senate committee that held hearings on widespread intelligence abuses after the Watergate scandal. “What we’ve got instead is the intelligence oversight committee drafting legislation to penalize leaks.”

In the interim, the White House has been plenty busy using the draconian Espionage Act of 1917 to pursue leakers. Despite his talk about openness, Obama has taken the unprecedented step of filing espionage charges against six officials accused of leaking information to journalistsmore than all previous administrations combined.

And James R. Clapper, Jr., the director of national intelligence, recently directed that employees under his command be hooked up to lie detectors and questioned about their contacts with journalists and about unauthorized leaks to the media.

Whatever restraint existed inside the executive branch seems to have been overwhelmed by a national security apparatus that has swollen to enormous proportions since 9/11. “There has been no similar strengthening of bureaucracy protecting civil liberties and transparency,” noted New Yorker writer Jane Mayer. “When the national security community is militating for leak investigations, there is much less pushback than pre-9/11.”

Abramson’s Concern

Mainstream media leaders are critical of the government’s aggressive posture, which they see as threatening First Amendment rights. At the annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors in June, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson made the case that the very leaks that seemed to inflame officials the most were also the most essential.

“Cyberwarfare is a new battlefield, where there are no agreements regulating the use of malware viruses,” she said. “So doesn’t the public need the information to evaluate this new kind of battle, especially when it’s waged in its name? Furthermore, when the existence of drone and cyber attacks are widely known but officially classified, informed public discussion of critical questions is really stifled.”

There are in fact so many obvious, unanswered questions about both of these new weapons of warfare, most notably: What happens when other people use them on us, saying we set the precedent for their use? In the case of drones, does their use require a declaration of war or at least an authorization of the use of force? And how many civilians are they killing?

Abramson warned that “the chilling effect of leak prosecutions threatens to rob the public of vital information,” as sources fear legal retribution and reporters fear being subpoenaed and possibly even prosecuted themselves.

“Several reporters who have covered national security in Washington for decades tell me that the environment has never been tougher or information harder to dislodge,” Abramson said. “One Times reporter told me the environment in Washington has never been more hostile to reporting.”

The Drake Effect

One of the Obama administration’s early attempts to prosecute whistleblowers for espionage ended in defeat and disgrace. Prosecutors had filed 10 felony charges against Thomas Drake, a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who allegedly provided classified information about mismanagement at the NSA to a Baltimore Sun reporter. But days before the trial was to start, the government dropped the charges and settled for Drake pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. The judge called Drake’s four-year persecution by the government “unconscionable” and said that it goes against “the very root of what this country was founded on against general warrants of the British.”

But Aftergood said the Drake case had a profound effect on the intelligence community nonetheless. “I think there’s a new level of paranoia within government about unauthorized contacts with the press,” he said. “In every significant sense, the government won, because it demonstrated the price of nonconformity.”

Drake agreed. “It was very clear that they wanted to send the most chilling of messages, and that chilling message has been received,” he said. Among former colleagues, Drake said, “there are those who will not talk to reportersand we’re not even talking leaking, we’re just talking talking.”

Ron Suskind, one of a handful of journalists who did exceptional national security reporting during the Bush eraparticularly in his 2006 book “The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11″argues that the government’s strategies to prevent leaking have suddenly become much more aggressive and effective. “It’s making it more difficult to get that information the public truly needs to know,” he said.

The increased dependence on e-mail and the government’s enhanced surveillance abilities are also a factor, Suskind said. “In the old days, you could call someone up on their kitchen phone. You were pretty much OK unless [FBI director J. Edgar] Hoover knew which line to tap. Now you have to be extra careful.”

And Suskind said that the fear of getting caught is now heightened because so many intelligence officials are counting on entering the hugely lucrative world of intelligence contracting once they leave public service.

Before 9/11, the private intelligence/national security complex just “didn’t have that kind of money,” Suskind said. But now, it provides “the soft cushion that awaits almost every official inside government with a security clearance.”

The Government View

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd rejected the media narrative of a government assault on the press. “The media obviously is an interested partyor a biased partyin these matters,” he said.

“Whenever the Justice Department conducts an investigation relating to leaks of classified information to the media, it seeks to strike the proper balance between the important function of the press and law enforcement and national security imperatives,” Boyd said.

But, he insisted: “When classified information is improperly disclosed to the media by a person who has no authority to disclose it, that’s illegal.”

Boyd also denied that whistleblowers are being targeted. “On some of the cases, it’s clear that the officials that we’ve accused are not blowing the whistle on anything,” he said.

The six people the Obama administration has charged under the Espionage Act are Drake, who was definitely a whistleblower; Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking thousands of documents to the website Wikileaks; John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who spoke out about torture and is charged with allegedly disclosing the names of CIA officers and their role in interrogations to reporters; Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer charged with leaking information about a botched plot against the Iranian government to The New York Times; Stephen Kim, a former U.S. State Department foreign policy analyst charged with disclosing information about North Korea’s nuclear program to a Fox News reporter; and Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI linguist convicted in May 2010 of disclosing wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington to a blogger.

Fighting Secrecy

What’s as dangerous as the dearth of “unauthorized” leaks is the prevalence of the “authorized” kind. During the Bush years in particular, highly selective leaks from the vice president’s office regularly spread consequential and misleading national security information, through the conduit of devoted reporters.

After vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice related to the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity as a covert CIA operative, Mark Feldstein, a journalism professor at George Washington University, told the New York Times that the journalists involved were “not fearless advocates but supplicants, willing and even eager to be manipulated.”

Suskind said he thinks there need to be more reporters on the national security beat. “We are having trouble mustering the muscle, the bodies, to get the goods,” he said.

And they need to be tougher. Walter Pincus, the veteran national security reporter at The Washington Post, said modern news organizations are so eager to be seen as evenhanded that crusading journalism is frowned upon. “The industry has been mau-maued,” Pincus concluded. “We’ve been neutered.”

In the Spring 2008 issue of Nieman Reports, investigative reporter Ted Gup suggested that news organizations dedicate a beat to secrecy. Now, in order to create a cycle of repeated disclosures and sustained public interest in drones and cyberwarfare, perhaps reporters should be put on that beat full time.

Suskind said there would be a payoff from major national security revelations beyond the obvious public service. “The big disclosures still drive the global news cycle,” he said. And if news organizations are trying to differentiate themselves in the new media climate, well, “this is the way they get to prove their case that they’re still valuable that they’re indispensable.”

Dan Froomkin, who previously was deputy editor for NiemanWatchdog.org, writes about watchdog journalism for Nieman Reports. He is senior Washington correspondent for The Huffington Post.

(Thomas Drake, a former National Security Agency executive, is one of six people the Obama administration charged under the Espionage Act. Photo by Timothy Jacobsen/The Associated Press.)

Implications of Drone Strikes

Drone strikes on Pakistan’s tribal areas which started during the Bush era have intensified under the Obama Administration. In this regard, two different missile attacks killed 13 militants on September 29 in North and South Waziristan. In the last three years, more than 700 innocent civilians and 14 Al-Qaeda commanders including the top militant leader, Baitullah Mehsud have been killed by these unmanned air vehicles.

Article source: http://www.markthetruth.com/terrorism/155-implications-of-drone-strikes.html

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