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US drone strikes supreme war crime: Analyst

330086_Predator-droneA US political commentator says CIA assassination drone strikes are a violation of international law and constitute the supreme war crime under the Nuremberg principles.

Dr. Kevin Barrett, who is one of the renowned US critics of Washington’s so-called war on terror, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday, a day after a United Nations report warned that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons.

“These drone strikes are clearly examples of the supreme war crime under the Nuremberg principles, which is the crime of aggression. Attacking another country, that is in any situation other than to stop an imminent attack on one’s own country, is aggression, the supreme war crime,” Barrett said.

“So every single drone strike is an example of this supreme war crime, and I think this UN report is an example of too little too late. They are not coming out and calling it what it is — the supreme war crime. They are simply claiming it is a misguided example of so-called global policing.

“But if some anti-American group would start using drones to blow up wedding parties in the US, it would be called terrorism and these people would be internationally considered outlaws.

“So the Americans who are using this cowardly means of slaughtering innocent civilians all over the world are terrorists and outlaws as well.”

The veteran commentator also said, “I do not think the UN is going to be able to stop these drone attackers from doing their evil deeds. I think it will probably happen gradually as the US Empire slowly loses its power.”

The UN report, which has been submitted to the UN General Assembly by Christof Heyns — the organization’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions — called for states that operate armed drones to be more transparent and publicly disclose how they use them.

“The expansive use of armed drones by the first states to acquire them, if not challenged, can do structural damage to the cornerstones of international security and set precedents that undermine the protection of life across the globe in the longer term,” the report said.

“The use of drones by states to exercise essentially a global policing function to counter potential threats presents a danger to the protection of life, because the tools of domestic policing (such as capture) are not available, and the more permissive targeting framework of the laws of war is often used instead,” it pointed out.

The report also called for international laws to be respected rather than ignored.

“The view that mere past involvement in planning attacks is sufficient to render an individual targetable, even where there is no evidence of a specific and immediate attack, distorts the requirements established in international human rights law,” stated the report.

Countries cannot consent “to the violation of their obligations under international humanitarian law or international human rights law,” it added.

The report noted that “drones come from the sky but leave the heavy footprint of war on the communities they target.”

“The claims that drones are more precise in targeting cannot be accepted uncritically, not least because terms such as ‘terrorist’ or ‘militant’ are sometimes used to describe people who are in truth protected civilians,” it said.

The report is the first of two major papers on drone strikes due to be debated at the UN General Assembly on October 25.

The second, by Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, was published on Friday.

The investigation found that US drone strikes have killed more than 450 civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen over the past decade.

Emmerson said that drone strikes have killed far more civilians than US officials have publicly acknowledged.

He said on Thursday that at least 400 in Pakistan and as many as 58 in Yemen have been killed by the CIA drone strikes, and censured the US for failing to aid the investigation by disclosing its own figures.

Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, claiming that they target “terrorists”. According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.

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