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article imageOp-Ed: New study shows CIA double-tap drone strikes revived last year

By Ken Hanly     Aug 3, 2013 in World
Peshawar - A new field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism provides evidence confirming revival of the use of "double tap" tactics that target rescuers coming to the scene of a previous drone strike.
The Bureau'(TBIJ) study concentrated mainly on strikes near a single village in North Waziristan many aimed at senior Al Qaeda figure Yahya al-Libi. He was finally killed in a strike on June 4, 2012.
The field researcher for the journalist found that five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012 one of which struck a mosque. A detailed analysis of the strikes can be found here.
An interesting example is the attack that did kill al-L:ibi. A congressional oversight committee was shown the video of the strike, and the video seems to clearly indicate that al-Libi was the only one killed. The Los Angeles Times reported: For example, the BBC and other news organizations quoted local officials saying that 15 "suspected militants" were killed in the June 4 Pakistan strike that killed al Libi. But the video shows that he alone was killed, congressional aides say. The Bureau field report indicates that there was a sequence of strikes on the same location that killed up to 16 people. The congressional oversight group were shown only what supported the CIA point of view.
The whole oversight process is a farce if it depends upon input only from the very people that are being overseen. The video itself proves nothing about the falsity of the many media reports that present a different story. However, the fact that the aides take it as proving this does show that the aides are either stupid or gullible or perhaps both. Perhaps, I am being too harsh. They may just be doing their job of whitewashing CIA actions. A CIA spokesperson told the Bureau: ‘The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness. The Agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.’ Then why did the CIA not provide actual evidence that the media reports were mistaken instead of a video that constitutes only part of the story?
The Bureau had originally broken the story of CIA's double-tap attacks in February of 2012. It found evidence of 11 strikes on rescuers between 2009 and 2011 and also a deliberate attack on a funeral causing mass casualties. Reports of such strikes ended by July of 2011. A year later, however, evidence emerged that the tactic had been used again.
Various news agencies including the BBC, CNN, and AFP reported that rescuers were targeted on five occasions between May 24 and July 23 2012.. The Bureau commissioned this new report using Mushtaq Yusufzai a respected journalist from Peshawar in Pakistan. Yuzufzai reports for NBC as well as The News in Pakistan.
Yuzufzai's studies indicate that there were five double-tap strikes in mid-2012 and also one that struck a mosque. In all 53 people were killed and 57 injured. His report also could find no evidence that rescuers were targeted in two other strikes. The Yuzufzai study did not confirm that civilians were killed in the strikes although another study by Reprieve based upon local interviews claims that eight civilians were killed in a double-tap strike on July 6, 2012..
The Bureau's original investigations of double-tap strikes found that a significant number of civilians had been killed. Reprieve'investigations found significant civilian deaths even for the 2012 incidents based upon local reports. Local villagers sympathizing with the Taliban might over-estimate civilian casualties but official reports are likely to be biased in the opposite direction. If they are male and of military age and at the scene they are likely classified as suspected militants. Since the earlier wave of double-tap attacks many people fear to approach a bombed site for fear of further attacks.
In June 2012 Christof Heyns, special UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, noted that if civilian rescuers are intentionally targeted, the strikes are a war crime. Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on torture, also endorsed Heyns' position. The ongoing UN investigation into drone strikes will no doubt address the issue of double-tap strikes on rescuers.
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 DigitalJournal.com
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