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Asia

Use of drone attacks draws little criticism in US

Several suspected terrorists were killed in a recent drone attack in northwest Pakistan. Five were apparently German citizens. In the past five weeks alone, the CIA has launched 23 remote attacks in Pakistan.

The CIA supplies the list of suspected terrorists to be targeted by drone attacks

The CIA supplies the list of suspected terrorists to be targeted by drone attacks

Just one click of the mouse at CIA headquarters in the US state of Virginia is all that is needed to crush a suspected al Qaeda cell thousands of miles away in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And to kill dozens of people in one strike.

The unmanned aerial vehicles, which are equipped with high-resolution infrared cameras and hellfire rockets, have become US President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice in the so-called war on terror.

Drone attacks on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan are launched from thousands of miles away

Drone attacks on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan are launched from thousands of miles away

However, critics argue that the drones are used to carry out extrajudicial executions.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morell dismisses such criticism: "Oh come on you know the climate there as well as I do. There are terrorists who exist and I would point out that it is in the Pakistanis’ interest to do this."

He argues that not only are the populations of the United States and Europe at risk of terrorism but the government in Islamabad too. The Pentagon and the CIA, which functions almost like a secret paramilitary subcontractor, consider these drone attacks as Obama’s most precise weapon in the fight against terror.

Hailed as great political achievement by some

A year ago, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a missile attack launched by a Predator drone.

Obama's legal adviser Harold Koh agrees. He does not think the drones are instruments of extrajudicial state murder but says that "a state that is engaged in armed conflict may use lethal force."

The use of drones has been stepped up under US President Barack Obama's watch

The use of drones has been stepped up under US President Barack Obama's watch

Conservative media organizations in the US see the attacks as Obama’s greatest political achievement so far. "The Obama administration deserves tremendous credit," says Bret Stephens from the Wall Street Journal, who thinks that top terrorists are now struggling to survive because of the steady rain of attacks.

"Human capital is your greatest resource," he says, arguing that terrorist networks are losing good people fast.

Collateral damage seen as a necessary evil

The fact that up to 321 civilians were killed in the 16 drone attacks launched against Baitullah Mehsud is seen as necessary collateral damage by the current administration.

The CIA is set to continue deciding which suspected terrorists are put on the list for the next killer drone attack.

Human rights activist Cathy Kelly, who organized the only demonstration that has taken place in the US against Obama’s drone war, is outraged and says that "the United States is moving into robotic warfare at an alarming rate."

She deplores the fact that nobody is being held to account because the CIA is running the show.

Author: Ralph Sina / act
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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