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article imageOp-Ed: Why Parliament must act on the drone scandal

By Alexander Baron     Dec 21, 2012 in Politics
London - A judge has ruled that the courts do not have the power to force the British Government to reveal its policy on drone strikes, saying this is the jurisdiction of Parliament.
Today, Pakistani national Noor Khan lost an attempt in the High Court to compel the British Government to reveal what if any intelligence it is providing for US drone strikes in his country. Lord Justice Moses ruled that this is a decision for Parliament. The question now is will Parliament act? The answer is almost certainly no, which means our government is almost just as certainly complicit in the murders of civilians in Pakistan and elsewhere, and is hiding behind a shield of secrecy.
Those murdered include Mr Khan's father and many other innocents. Let us be clear precisely what is happening here. This is not a drone war as it is often called. The word war can be applied to many things including a boxing match or even a game of chess, but a war in the literal sense is a conflict between two or more states, or one state in a civil war. It implies there will be soldiers or some sort of military force on both sides, because war is bipartisan. If one state attacks another with no response, that can be called an invasion or even a massacre, but not a war.
The United States is not at war with Pakistan. The United Kingdom is not at war with Pakistan. Pakistan is not at war with either the US or the UK. Therefore, what is happening is American drones, perhaps aided by Britain, targeting and murdering citizens of Pakistan.
The targets of these attacks are described variously as militants, terrorists, and such, but the reality is they have none of them been indicted for, arraigned for, or even charged with, any crime. It remains to be seen what crimes these men can have committed against a country that is half a world away; clearly they have no long range missiles, some appear not even to have electricity. Yet we are told there is evidence against these men, and that this evidence is based on intelligence. We are not permitted to know what this intelligence is, from whence it came, who provided it, or any other details. We are simply supposed to assume that this evidence is accurate, that it is supplied in good faith, and that on the basis of this evidence, someone in the United States or even in Britain, some unidentified unaccountable individual has the authority to decide if a designated individual lives or dies.
It remains to be seen why the Pakistani Government tolerates this, if it is being bribed, or is complicit, but there is no better word for these strikes than murder, and that is without the totally innocent people including elderly women and kids, who have died in these attacks. It stands to reason that collateral damage is unavoidable in such a campaign, a drone strike is not an act of surgical precision like a bullet in the back of the neck.
In the wake of the shocking massacre at Sandy Hook, the man who could stop these strikes visited the town and empathised with the families. It remains to be seen if Barack Obama or any other American Government official will meet with the families of drone strike victims in Pakistan.
The UK and indeed the US must not continue to be parties to this continued abbrogation of the rule of law. What next, drone strikes here in Britain?
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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