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article imageOp-Ed: Abū Qatāda and the Drones

By Alexander Baron     Nov 25, 2012 in Politics
Abū Qatāda is a convicted terrorist and, we are told, a continuing threat to our national security. So why don't we simply murder him?
Abū Qatāda has been called the most dangerous man in Britain. A convicted terrorist, he has been in and out of prison here for years. He is now under virtual house arrest, guarded round the clock at enormous expense, and is said to be contemplating suing the British Government. How can and should we deal with this man? Well, why don't we just drag him out of his official safe house at gunpoint and put a bullet in the back of his neck? Just because the Grand Conspiracy can't kill him doesn't mean David Cameron can't.
Although there are probably a few people in the Government and a lot more in the country who would like to do that, we all know it is not going to happen, can't happen, and indeed the overwhelming majority of us would be appalled if something like that were to happen, however much we might laugh at the suggestion.
So why is the British Government complicit in such assassinations on foreign soil? On June 26, this issue was raised in Parliament. The official response was that a drone strike in Afghanistan that led to civilian casualties on March 25, 2011 was "a matter of deep regret".
Actually, the use of drones is a matter of mass murder. Britain and the US designate some individual in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere, a threat to the security of the United States, of the UK, or elsewhere, that individual is then executed on the order of the President, or more likely some unidentified, unaccountable individual in the Pentagon or the Ministry of Defence, without being convicted or indeed charged with a crime. In the words of Ron Paul: "What have we allowed ourselves to become?"
These drone strikes may be targeted against specific individuals, but they do not have the same precision as a bullet in the back of the neck, they have killed literally hundreds of innocent civilians including women and children. What would be our reaction if say China decided to make targeted drone attacks on terrorists (read dissidents) living in exile in London? What would be the British Government's reaction if the CIA (Chinese Intelligence Agency) were to bomb a restaurant in Gerrard Street - the heart of Chinatown - in order to kill a waiter wanted for some unspecified offence in relation to Tibet? And what if that Chinese drone strike were to kill 3 other staff members and a dozen British diners and tourists?
The latest revelation about drones is that the Obama Administration had prepared a top secret rule book for drone warfare to hand over to the Republicans in the event of Obama losing the recent election. So now the Americans, and our government, are murdering people by the rule book. That must be a great comfort to the innocent victims of the recent attack at Peshawar, Pakistan. And how the more absurd that as it is complicit in the murders of innocent civilians, the British Government is terrified of deporting convicted terrorist Abū Qatāda, a man who almost certainly has blood on his hands. The reason they can't do this is because the courts have said to do so would breach his human rights, the human rights many unconvicted and indeed totally innocent civilians in Pakistan and elsewhere have been told by the same government they don't have.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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