April 22, 2011
Obama has authorized the use of deadly predator drones in Libya. During a news conference, Secretary of Defense Gates said the drones offer NATO more precise targeting against enemy forces nestled in crowded areas.
“This is good news for the Libyan rebels who have been complaining about NATO’s lack of support in recent days,” writes Michael Hughes for the Examiner.
It is not so good news for Libyan civilians. In 2009 alone, CIA operated Predator drones killed around 700 civilians in the tribal area of Pakistan.
“The true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 per cent,” said the Washington-based New America Foundation last March. A report released by the organization, The Year of the Drone, studied 114 drone raids in which more than 1200 people were killed. Of those, between 549 and 849 were reliably reported to be militant fighters, while the rest were civilians, the London Telegraph reported.
The illegal campaign began under Bush and escalated after Obama assumed office. There were 45 drone attacks during Bush’s two terms. In Obama’s first year alone, there were 51 attacks.
In recent months, Pakistani civilians have taken to the street to protest against the relentless attacks. In April, the Pentagon said it would continue the attacks despite official complaint from Islamabad. “Panetta (CIA chief) has an obligation to protect this country and he’s not going to halt any operations that accomplish that objective,” said Obama officials.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
In September of 2010, the CIA “drastically increased its bombing campaign,” according to the New York Times. The escalation included attacks by U.S. military helicopters. In October, the U.S. apologized for a helicopter attack that killed two Pakistani soldiers at an outpost near the Afghan border.
Gaddafi’s opponents applauded the introduction of Predator drones into the engineered conflict. “We are so pleased,” media liaison official for the rebels’ Transitional National Council (TNC), Mustafa Gheriani, told AFP in Benghazi. “We hope that this can bring some relief to the people in Misrata.”
On Friday, former presidential candidate and Arizona senator John McCain arrived in Benghazi. “The American people support you very strongly and we know it’s necessary to help as much as we can,” McCain told a crowd of about 100 Libyans, the UPI reports.
In March, polls revealed that the American people do not support attacking Libya. Following Obama’s national address on his Libya policy earlier this month, a Pew Research poll indicated that 57% of Americans believe the U.S. policy lacks a clear goal, up from 50% who said the same thing a week earlier.
McCain is the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. He has advocated increasing military strikes against the African country in order to remove its leader, Moammar Gaddafi, who was on track to normalizing relations with the United States prior to the color revolutions instigated in the Middle East.
In 2009, Gaddafi sunk any chance to repair its diplomatic relationship with the United States when he announced he was considering nationalizing the country’s oil. “Oil should be owned by the State at this time, so we could better control prices by the increase or decrease in production,” the dictator declared.
In addition to calling for nationalization, the Libyan leader called for support of his proposal to dismantle the government and to distribute the oil wealth directly to Libya’s 5 million citizens.