Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.

The purpose of Extraordinary Edition is being revisited for winter, headed into 2013. U.S. foreign policy, Central Asia and the Middle East remain key focal points. Economics and culture on your front doorstep are coming into focus here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

U.N. official urges U.S. to stop CIA drone attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban

This is the battle of our time, between international law and the laws of strongest nations as determined by the powerful (who wield the strength, economic and political) in those nations. International law's only advantage is unity--bringing the strength of all the other represented nations to bear in opposition to some convenient view of justice held by the most powerful people in the most powerful nations and the economic interests their voices represent. The voices of the great masses governed by both the national and international governing bodies sound outside this nexus of power and are able to push into these powerful entities for recognition and cooperation. The question, then, becomes, "How many of us side with international law (typically framed as human rights), how many with national law (typically property rights framed as individual rights) and to what end?"

The legal community within the national government will make skillfully administered attempts to thwart these arguments of human rights against their unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with anti-personnel bombs and do their best to be dismissive of concerns as people meddling in business that isn't theirs, the business of special operations, classified missions, dangerous individuals and hunting irreparably bad people to their deaths. But the unmanned drone program--not just a robotic eye in the sky with no human operator, but an aircraft armed with 300-pound Hellfire missiles and vision limited to optics, a radio signal and available light--is subject to far more debate than it's been made to undergo since its implementation.

Washington Post story; excerpt appears below

By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 3, 2010

A senior U.N. official said Wednesday that the United States should halt the CIA's drone campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan, charging that the secrecy surrounding the strikes violates the legal principle of international accountability.

But a report by Philip Alston, the United Nations' special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, stopped short of declaring the CIA program illegal.

He presented a 29-page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday that focused on "targeted killings" by countries such as Russia and Israel as well as the United States.

"It is an essential requirement of international law that States using targeted killings demonstrate that they are complying with the various rules governing their use in situations of armed conflict," Alston said in a news release. "The greatest challenge to this principle today comes from the program operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. . . . The international community does not know when and where the CIA is authorized to kill, the criteria for individuals who may be killed, how it ensures killings are legal, and what follow-up there is when civilians are illegally killed."

Alston said some commentators have argued that CIA personnel involved in drone killings are committing war crimes because, unlike the military, they are "unlawful combatants." But, he said, "this argument is not supported" by international humanitarian law.

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