Poppy Farmers, Drug Couriers and Drug Dealers Targeted for Death by Drone
Spiegel reported yesterday that drug dealers and low-level Taliban members were targeted for death by drone:
NATO didn’t just target the Taliban leadership, but also eliminated mid- and lower-level members of the group on a large scale. Some Afghans were only on the list because, as drug dealers, they were allegedly supporting the insurgents.
The operations were based on the lists maintained by the CIA and NATO — Obama’s lists. The White House dubbed the strategy “escalate and exit.” McChrystal’s successor, General David Petraeus, documented the strategy in “Field Manual 3-24” on fighting insurgencies, which remains a standard work today. Petraeus outlined three stages in fighting guerilla organizations like the Taliban. The first was a cleansing phase …. Behind closed doors, Petraeus and his staff explained exactly what was meant by “cleansing.” German politicians recall something that Michael T. Flynn, the head of ISAF intelligence in Afghanistan, once said during a briefing: “The only good Talib is a dead Talib.” Under Petraeus, a merciless campaign began to hunt down the so-called shadow governors and local supporters aligned with the Islamists.
According to the NSA document, in October 2008 the NATO defense ministers made the momentous decision that drug networks would now be “legitimate targets” for ISAF troops. “Narcotics traffickers were added to the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) list for the first time,” the report reads. In the opinion of American commanders like Bantz John Craddock, there was no need to prove that drug money was being funneled to the Taliban to declare farmers, couriers and dealers as legitimate targets of NATO strikes. In early 2009, Craddock, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe at the time, issued an order to expand the targeted killings of Taliban officials to drug producers.
The documents, [attorney Jennifer Gibson] notes, also show that the “war on terror” was virtually conflated with the “war on drugs.”
We’ve previously noted that even the architect of America’s drone assassination program says it’s gone too far … creating terrorists rather than eliminating them. And that drone attacks are a war crime (more here and here). And that there is widespread murder of innocent civilians as “collateral damage”. For example, American University Professor Jeff Bachman reports:
Strikes focused on the Kill List “killed on average 28 other people before they actually succeeded in killing their target.”
Indeed, even the process for deciding who to put on the “kill list” is flawed. People are often targeted by the metadata on their phones, a process which a former top NSA official called the drone assassination program “undisciplined slaughter.” And people are targeted for insanely loose reasons. As the New York Times reported in 2012:
Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.
But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.
And then there are “double taps” … where the family members, friends or neighbors who try to rescue someone hit by a drone missile are themselves targeted for assassination. The bigger picture is that anti-terror laws are being used for all sorts of purposes besides stopping terrorists:
- Military tactics have been deployed against drug dealers and other petty criminals
- Everything outside of the status quo is now considered terrorism