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Monday, January 16, 2006 

Death by drone.

The bombing of 3 houses on the edge of a Pakistani village in the north west frontier of the country was, by definition, a terrorist attack. It occurred in a sovereign state, at a time of peace and was directed against civilians. There was no warning. There was no provocation. So why has the moral outrage against this attack only been voiced in Pakistan and the middle east? Because it was an attack by a CIA drone.

The justification given, mainly actually by the media as the White House has been almost silent on the matter, was that Ayman al-Zawahiri was at the house at the time. As the apparent second in command of al-Qaida, and also the "brains" behind the operation, he has a 14 million pound bounty on his head. It just so happens to turn out that the intelligence was either dead wrong, or wrong enough in timing for Zawahiri not to be at the house at the time. As a result, 18 people died, including women and children, with conflicting reports about whether there were "militants" killed as well.

Can you imagine the reaction a similar attack by Iran on Israel would cause? Say for instance that Iran decided to assassinate a far-right Jewish settler leader, and actually missed him and killed 18 innocent Israelis. What would the reaction be? You would expect that at the very least Israel would plot revenge, even if it did not carry it out. There would be worldwide condemnation, and in the current climate would almost certainly push the security council into placing sanctions on the regime. In fact, we have an even closer example than Iran or Israel. The UN is still currently conducting its report into the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, with Syria as the accused. Sanctions are a possibility if it rules that Syria did carry out the assassination.

Of course, there is no chance that sanctions or anything that would damage America will happen as a result of this incident. After all, it was directed against one of the leaders of a suicidal-cult which wants to destroy America and freedom worldwide. But what was stopping the Americans from informing Pakistan of its intentions? The security services obviously knew. Why did the Americans not quickly summon special forces to be dropped and surround the village, instead of just bombing it better? If he was actually there they could have seized their prize alive. Instead, they now have 18 dead bodies, and a whole country rightfully angered by the actions of what America would call a rogue state.

Rather than apologise for what has happened, at least one American poltician did nothing of the sort. John McCain, a possible presidental candidate for 2008 and thought of as a more "liberal" Republican, said this:

"We have to go where these people are, and we have to take them out,"


"I can't tell you that we wouldn't do the same thing again."

He can't for one good reason. He knows full well it will happen again, as it has happened before. The US started the Iraq war by trying to kill Saddam Hussein. It failed that time, also. Before that CIA predator drones have been used to kill supposed militants travelling through Afghanistan.

Still, maybe this will give Tony Blair some ideas for his respect agenda. Perhaps he should give police the option of using the ultimate in "summary justice" - launching a hellfire missile at teenagers daring to congregate outside the shops in the evening.

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Best regards from NY!
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