by Joseph Camilleri,
Pax Christi Australia
This much awaited justification rests on two fallacies: that the United States is formally at war; and that it can be just to kill someone for a crime in the absence of a fair trial.
Why did the U.S. president feel compelled to offer this lengthy but belated explanation of America’s drone policy? Put simply, because the use of drones is now increasingly contentious as it becomes the favoured response of the US military and intelligence establishment to the terrorist threat – from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond.
A number of terrorists have no doubt been killed, but so have many others, including civilians. One estimate puts the death toll since 2004 at between 1,963 and 3,293. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham estimates the number to be 4,700.
The great attraction of the drone is that the killing appears risk free. The need to deploy U.S. troops on distant and dangerous terrain is greatly reduced while those who direct the drone are safely ensconced thousands of miles away at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia…