Hundreds of civilians bugsplat by U.S. drones

February 14, 2012 | By | 4 Replies More

Who is being killed by U.S. drones? Or to use the vernacular of the U.S. military, who is being bugsplat by U.S. drones? Human rights attorney Jennifer Robinson reports on her trip to Pakistan at Al Jazeera:

Drone photo - Creative Commons

In Islamabad I took part in a jirga – the traditional Pashtun forum for public discussion and dispute settlement – where tribal elders and villagers from the Pakistan tribal areas (FATA) came to meet with us to explain their personal experiences of US drone attacks. Sitting just two rows behind me was a 16-year-old boy named Tariq Aziz. Listening to story upon story of the extrajudicial murder of innocent civilians and children, the heartache for loved ones lost and the constant terror instilled by the now familiar roar of drones overhead, I could not have imagined that Tariq and his family would soon suffer the same fate. . . .

As I landed at Heathrow, thousands of miles away from the dirt road where Tariq and Waheed now lay dead, a CIA operative in northern Virginia will have reported “bugsplat”. Bugsplat is the official term used by US authorities when humans are killed by drone missiles. The existence of children’s computer games of the same name may lead one to think that the PlayStation analogy with drone warfare is taken too far. But it is deliberately employed as a psychological tactic to dehumanise targets so operatives overcome their inhibition to kill; and so the public remains apathetic and unmoved to act. Indeed, the phrase has far more sinister origins and historical use: In dehumanising their Pakistani targets, the US resorts to Nazi semantics. Their targets are not just computer game-like targets, but pesky or harmful bugs that must be killed.

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Category: Good and Evil, Military, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    From Rolling Stone’s recent article on The Drone Wars:

    The Obama administration has no comment on the killing of Tariq Aziz, even though his death raises the most significant question of all. Drones offer the government an advanced and precise technology in its War on Terror – yet many of those killed by drones don’t appear to be terrorists at all. In fact, according to a detailed study of drone victims compiled by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, at least 174 of those executed by drones were under the age of 18 – in other words, children. Estimates by human rights groups that include adults who were likely civilians put the toll of innocent victims at more than 800. U.S. officials hotly dismiss such figures – “bullshit,” one senior administration official told me. Brennan, one of Obama’s top counterterrorism advisers, absurdly insisted last June that there hadn’t been “a single civilian” killed by drones in the previous year.

    For Nasser al-Awlaki, who lost his teenage grandson to a predator drone, such denials are almost as shocking as the administration’s deliberate decision to wage a remote-control war that would inevitably result in the deaths of innocent civilians. “I could not believe America could do this – especially President Obama, who I liked very much,” he says. “When he was elected, I thought he would solve all the problems of the world.”

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-rise-of-the-killer-drones-how-america-goes-to-war-in-secret-20120416#ixzz1skYwwXgC

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    “Remarks by a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official suggesting the agency is not legally bound by the laws of war underscore the urgent need for the Obama administration to transfer command of all aerial drone strikes to the armed forces, Human Rights Watch said today.”

    http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/20/us-transfer-cia-drone-strikes-military

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Glenn Greenwald writes:

    “Yesterday at a Senate hearing on drones, a young Yemeni citizen whose village was bombed by US drones last week (despite the fact that the targets could easily have been arrested), Farea Al-Muslimi, testified. Al-Muslimi has always been pro-American in the extreme, having spent a year in the US due to a State Department award, but he was brilliant in explaining these key points:

    “Just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers. The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine.

    “What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”

    He added that anti-American hatred is now so high as a result of this drone strike that “I personally don’t even know if it is safe for me to go back to Wessab because I am someone who people in my village associate with America and its values.” And he said that whereas he never knew any Yemenis who were sympathetic to al-Qaida before the drone attacks, now:

    “AQAP’s power and influence has never been based on the number of members in its ranks. AQAP recruits and retains power through its ideology, which relies in large part on the Yemeni people believing that America is at war with them” . . .

    “I have to say that the drone strikes and the targeted killing program have made my passion and mission in support of America almost impossible in Yemen. In some areas of Yemen, the anger against America that results from the strikes makes it dangerous for me to even acknowledge having visited America, much less testify how much my life changed thanks to the State Department scholarships. It’s sometimes too dangerous to even admit that I have American friends.”

    He added that drone strikes in Yemen “make people fear the US more than al-Qaida”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/24/boston-terrorism-motives-us-violence

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair. . . .

    “Anti-Americanism is far less prevalent in Yemen than in Pakistan. But rather than winning the hearts and minds of Yemeni civilians, America is alienating them by killing their relatives and friends. . . . Certainly, there may be short-term military gains from killing militant leaders in these strikes, but they are minuscule compared with the long-term damage the drone program is causing. A new generation of leaders is spontaneously emerging in furious retaliation to attacks on their territories and tribes. . . .

    “Unfortunately, liberal voices in the United States are largely ignoring, if not condoning, civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings in Yemen”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/01/ibrahim-mothana-yemen-drones-obama

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