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article imageReview: 'The Secret Drone War' Special

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By Alexander Baron     Dec 11, 2012 in Politics
This is a long overdue documentary, in half an hour, the BBC's 'Panorama' team ventures into the hinterland of American drone strikes, and puts a human face to this so-called war.
If a man told you he'd had non-consensual sex with a woman, what would you call him? Clue: the word has six letters, begins with r and ends with t. You see, it's all in the semantics. The people you're targeting are militants rather than suspected criminals who are assassinated without being formally charged with much less convicted of any sort of crime. Even a serial killer is entitled to a fair trial, actually, that should be alleged serial killer, for those who can remember the case of Dr Bodkin Adams.
Returning to the semantic game, what else could we call a secret drone war? A covert assassination programme? Finally there is that wonderful phrase collateral damage, but what the Hell, they're only Pakistanis, and poor ones at that. That appears to be the attitude of the man some of the crazies claim is America's first Moslem President, yet ironically the Obama Administration has authored far more drone attacks than the previous Bush Adminstration.
The programme includes contributions from Dennis Blair - who calls it a very humane type of warfare, cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, and Clive Stafford Smith taking time out from lying on behalf of Linda Carty to do something useful.
There appears to be some confusion as to the stance of the Government of Pakistan, which protests vocally for the sake of effect on the international stage while giving the Americans the go ahead to kill its enemies by the back door. Other countries allow the Americans to operate killer drones openly, but just because two governments think it's all right to kill you doesn't make it so.
The big question though is does killing so-called militants with drones make us any safer? When one considers the huge numbers of innocents killed, including children and old women, and the ammunition this aims to already deranged Islamists, the answer must surely be no.
Check out the programme here.
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More about Panorama, drone warfare, Drones, Clive Stafford Smith, Imran Khan
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