For a war-weary American public, President Barack Obama’s inaugural address last month sounded perfect. “ A decade of war is now ending,” the president said. “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
The U.S. House drone caucus is becoming an increasingly popular topic as the U.S. government looks to unmanned aerial vehicles for solutions to its problems at home and abroad. The technological advancements displayed by UAVs are undeniably impressive, but the motives behind them are questioned, mostly by privacy advocates for now. Continual pressure on the federal government from drone manufacturers and their defenders in Congress to open U.S. airways to drones helped push the passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which was signed earlier this year.
The Obama administration maintains that drone strikes are precise, yet hundreds of innocent people have died in drone attacks. This is a clear disconnect between what we're being told and what we're finding. It's time for a deeper investigation; the evidence doesn't match the claims.
"I want to make sure that people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties…. For the most part, they have been very precise, precision strikes against al- Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it's been applied."
I have interviewed many people over the years of doing documentaries. Currently in Pakistan filming with victims of drone attacks (ahead of the film, follow my trip at warcosts.com, Facebook and Twitter), I have never had a more haunting and harrowing experience than looking into the eyes of person after person, children and adults, and hearing them talk about their homes, villages and families destroyed by drone attacks. The pain is palpable, their fear still radiates. And even a question about the CIA sets off terror alerts in peoples' eyes.
So, yes, a candidate for president talks about drones in detail, with great awareness about how they are counterproductive to United States security concerns. Problem is, the candidate is running for president of Pakistan.
In March 2009, I went to Kabul as part of my work on Brave New Foundation’s documentary Rethink Afghanistan. My trip was an effort to understand the realities of life in an unrelenting warzone, and to find voices that weren’t yet heard eight years after U.S. forces invaded the country. In the same spirit, I am going to Pakistan to investigate what life is like for those living under drones.
It's moments like this that underscore the near, if not complete, evaporation between the interests of the war industry and the public entity that's supposed to have oversight over it, the U.S. Congress. Read this post from Colorlines' Seth Freed Wessler and try to describe where the drone lobby and industry end and where the House of Represenatives Unmanned Systems (or Drone) Caucus begins:
Brave New Foundation has the honor of releasing a video to accompany a seminal report by human rights law experts at Stanford and New York University law schools. The report, entitled “Living Under Drones” presents chilling first-hand testimony from Pakistani civilians on the humanitarian and security costs of escalating drone attacks by the United States. The report uncovers civilian deaths, and shocking psychological and social damage to whole families and communities – where people are literally scared to leave their homes because of drones flying overhead 24 hours a day.
Living Under Drones, a new report by human rights law experts at Stanford and New York University, counters the common rhetoric that the use of drone stikes is a precise and effective tool for making the U.S. a safer place. The report, along with a video produced by Brave New Foundation, aims to open up public discussion on the incendiary U.S. drone policy in Pakistan incorporating the devastating, virtually hidden side effects. Above, John Amick discussed with RT America the importance of Living Under Drones in a media climate more or less dry of any critical reporting on the issue.
If the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee – and a member of Congress – claims unfamiliarity with possibly the major plank of U.S. drone policy, as Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did last week when asked about President Obama's "kill list" of those open for assassination based on U.S. intelligence, then what makes anyone believe the average American voter has a grasp on the killing done in their name in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen?