Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 8, 2011

Sheep in wolf clothing? Wolf in sheep clothing? What training does the shepherd give the sheepdog?

Filed under: Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on November 8, 2011

The following is copied in its entirety from the November 7 online edition of  The Guardian (UK).  The author Pratap Chatterjee is an investigative journalist, author and a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress, based in Washington, DC.  A British citizen, Chatterjee is a long-time resident of California.  At the Guardian link is a photograph of Tariq Aziz shortly before he was killed.  At the time I posted the essay there were over 170 public comments.


Last Friday, I met a boy, just before he was assassinated by the CIATariq Aziz was 16, a quiet young man from North Waziristan, who, like most teenagers, enjoyed soccer. Seventy-two hours later, a Hellfire missile is believed to have killed him as he was travelling in a car to meet his aunt in Miran Shah, to take her home after her wedding. Killed with him was his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan.

Over 2,300 people in Pakistan have been killed by such missiles carried by drone aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper, and launched by remote control from Langley, Virginia. Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed in this way to 175, according to statistics maintained by the organisation I work for, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The final order to kill is signed allegedly by Stephen Preston, the general counsel at the CIA headquarters. What evidence, I would like to know, does Mr Preston have against Tariq and Waheed? What right does he have to act as judge, jury and executioner of two teenage boys neither he nor his staff have ever met, let alone cross-examined, or given the opportunity to present witnesses?

It is not too late to call for a prosecution and trial of whoever pushed the button and the US government officials who gave the order: that is, Mr Preston and his boss, President Barack Obama.

There are many people whom I know who can appear as witnesses in this trial. We – a pair of reporters, together with several lawyers from Britain, Pakistan and the US – met the victim and dozens of other young men from North Waziristan for dinner at the Margalla hotel in Islamabad on Thursday 27 October. We talked about their local soccer teams, which they proudly related were named for Brazil, New Zealand and other nations, which they had heard about but never visited.

The next morning, I filmed young Tariq walking into a conference hall to greet his elders. I reviewed the tape after he was killed to see what was recorded of some of his last moments: he walks shyly and greets the Waziri elders in the traditional style by briefly touching their chests. With his friends, he walks to a set of chairs towards the back of the hall, and they argue briefly about where each of them will sit. Over the course of the morning, Tariq appears again in many photographs that dozens of those present took, always sitting quietly and listening intently.

Tariq was attending a “Waziristan Grand Jirga” on behalf of drone strike victims in Pakistan, which was held at the Margalla hotel the following day. As is the Pashtun custom, the young men, each of whom had lost a friend or relative in a drone strike, did not speak. For four hours, the Waziri elders debated the drone war, and then they listened to a resolution condemning the attacks, read out by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a lawyer from the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. The group voted for this unanimously.

Neil Williams, a volunteer from Reprieve, the British legal charity, sat down and chatted with Tariq after the jirga was over. Together, they traveled in a van to the Pakistani parliament for a protest rally against drone strikes led by Imran Khan, a former cricketer, and now the leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaaf political party.

The next day, the group returned home to Waziristan. On Monday, Tariq was killed, according to his uncle Noor Kalam.

The question I would pose to the jury is this: would a terrorist suspect come to a public meeting and converse openly with foreign lawyers and reporters, and allow himself to be photographed and interviewed? More importantly, since he was so easily available, why could Tariq not have been detained in Islamabad, when we spent 48 hours together? Neither Tariz Aziz nor the lawyers attending this meeting had a highly trained private security detail that could have put up resistance.

Attending that jirga, however, were Clive Stafford Smith and Tara Murray, two US lawyers who trained at Columbia and Harvard. They tell me, unequivocally, that US law is based on the fact that every person is innocent until proven guilty. Why was Tariq, even if a terrorist suspect, not offered an opportunity to defend himself?

Let me offer an important alternative argument – the US government has a record of making terrible mistakes in this covert war. On 2 September 2010, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan claimed to have killed Muhammad Amin, the alleged Taliban deputy governor of Takhar province in Afghanistan, in a drone strike. There was only one problem: Michael Semple, a Taliban expert at Harvard University, subsequently interviewed Muhammad Amin and confirmed that he was alive and well and living in Pakistan in March 2011.

The man who was killed was Zabet Amanullah, who was out campaigning in parliamentary elections – along with nine of his fellow election workers.This was confirmed by exhaustive research conducted by Kate Clark, a former BBC correspondent in Kabul who now works for the Afghanistan Analysts Network, who had met with Zabet Amanullah in 2008. The error could have been avoided, Clark points out in her report, if US militaryintelligence officers had just been “watching election coverage on television”, instead of living in its “parallel world” remote from “normal, everyday world of Afghan politics”.

If Barack Obama’s CIA believed in justice and judicial process, they could have attended the Islamabad jirga last Friday and met with Tariq. It was, after all, an open meeting. They could have arrested and charged Tariq with the help of the Pakistani police. If a prosecution is ever mounted over the death of Tariq, those of us who met him on several occasions last week would be happy to testify to the character of the young man that we had met. But if the CIA has evidence to the contrary, it should present it to the world.

Unless the CIA can prove that Tariq Aziz posed an imminent threat (as the White House’s legal advice stipulates a targeted killing must in order for an attack to be carried out), or that he was a key planner in a war against the US or Pakistan, the killing of this 16 year old was murder, and any jury should convict the CIA accordingly.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

November 8, 2011 @ 1:09 am

So what version of the ends justifies the means has been officially adopted by the last two administrations?

What I find of great interest is the very lack of curiousity on the policy of targeted killings by the Congress and others! That is why I so highly regard the movie with Spencer Tracey, Maxmillian Schell, and Richard Widmark among other great actors and actresses “Judgement at Nuremberg” [1961] I believe that the Bush and Obama Administration stand indicted before the bar of history and time will provide the correct verdict on their targeted killing programs. Notice carefully how the drone strike program slid over from a largely military chain of command program to an unaccountable CIA program.

There will be large scale targeted killings by drones domestically in the USA before the century is out.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

November 8, 2011 @ 11:57 am

In the name of expediency what have we lost in terms of integrity, honor, and moral imperative?

Please bear with me as I move through this argument. John Boyd was a military officer, fighter pilot and tactical theoretician who was as much a maverick as he was a self-taught strategist. Boyd’s work on energy, fighter development, and the reform movement is easily researched on the internet. However it is Boyd’s key concept on the decision cycle or OODA Loop, which remains his legacy. Boyd’s theorem basically stated that the key to victory is to be able to create situations wherein one could make appropriate decisions more quickly and effectively than their opponent. The construct was born out of his experience and thinking about air to air combat and the additional understanding that time and its activities in that framework is the dominant parameter.

Within Boyd’s OODA premise, the second “O” or orientation is where the virtue lies. Boyd went to great lengths studying warfare over thousands of years and along with that the cultural traditions, analysis and synthesis, previous experience, new information, and genetic heritage as they related to orienting one to warfare. Buried in that postulation is fighting and understanding warfare and its three distinct elements;

Moral Warfare: the destruction of the enemy’s will to win, via alienation and dissolving the bonds of morality and trust.
Mental Warfare: the distortion of the enemy’s perception of reality through disinformation ambiguity, and friction.
Physical warfare; the destruction of the enemy’s physical resources such as weapons, people, and logistical assets.

The morality of warfare is an oxymoron to some degree and perhaps, than again not. There are rules of land warfare, codes of conduct, rules of engagement, etc. Civilization, particularly Western Civilization has attempted over the last 500 years or so to civilize the barbarity of war. So taking into consideration all of this information what does it say about the United States, its growing technology fetish, and its risk aversion to fighting men with men or people with people in lieu of a joystick from 14000 miles away? Is it moral and civilized to fight with drones?

War as I see it is a necessary tool and also terribly ineffective because winning has become more and more nebulous and easier and easier to rationalize. I do not dispute the necessity to hunt down and kill UBL and his cohorts. I also want to win…not “ not lose”, but win. Winning is arbitrary in an information age economy and interconnected world. I do dispute the efficacy of the strategy and to some degree the execution of the global war on terror.

If war is politics by other means and politics is economics by other means, how effective has our planning been for executing this war? Solely based on my observations and opinions, it appears that initializing a strategic footprint and maintaining a presence was the motivation, not the capture and/or evisceration of a wily, cunning enemy who killed thousands of Americans.

We have and continue to move away from a moral footing and play into our enemies’ dogma and propaganda with our use of drones. Our ability to shape and market our intent, moral justification, and to a degree present the right has been compromised.

We are losing the information/marketing war.
Philosophically, I would say America has and continues to devalue human life. This is not a religious debate as much as it is our exported value system. We glorify and reward murder, wanton violence, and to a certain degree an expectation of entitled gluttony. Look at our entertainment, music, games, business models, wealth, etc. Perhaps an overstatement, but I do not think it can be dismissed. Our inability to shape our virtue as an export hastens my assertion. We do not value life and we hold our lives to be perhaps more important than the lives we take.

We have perfected to ability to dehumanize our enemies and become extremely effective at killing. Please read ON KILLING, by GROSSMAN for more info. It has become too easy to kill others.
We therefore should not be surprised how easily it has become to send a machine from thousands of miles away to dispatch, neutralize, and remove or use other euphemistically assigned jargon for targeted killing. First it was individuals, than groups, now it appears those who may be deemed a future or potential threat… we are predicting a future we of course cannot predict. And how those threats are and continue to be determined are classified. Is this not the rule of unintended and unforeseeable consequences?

Much of the threat is classified and it is often because it’s classified. The entire intelligence apparatus that determines classification is used not as a means of need to know as much as multiple gateways of exclusion. The classification of threats and those determining those threats goes hand and hand with the increasing use of the aforementioned activities. I wonder what would happen if the classifier had to justify with a degree of accuracy, timeliness, and clarity to ostensibly prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the efficacy of the targeting of individuals for elimination.

The reason for classification is the source…the source has agendas too, as we’ve learned over the last decade or so. So to what end?

I believe without equivocation that…”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ? Edmund Burke or at least attributed to him. I also believe that ” …we must become the change we want to see in the world.” Gandhi
Where we find ourselves is troubling; a heavily leveraged, indebted Nation holding our virtue above reproach while holding others in a veiled contempt. This is a dangerous precedent. I am not trying to be hyperbolic either.

There is a lot going on in our Nation and in our World. Reflection may be the order of the day. Bad decisions do not get better with time. It is always interesting to see others opinions and observations of us. I cannot imagine Bill being correct about the use of Drones on Americans by Americans. Then again I can as we’ve already crossed that Rubicon, haven’t we?

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 8, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

Great comment DAN! DHS has extensive plans for unmanned UAV’s on both borders. Arming will occur first on the Mexican border no doubt. Both the US and Mexican governments and cartels now operate pretty openly on both sides of that border. So time will tell.

By the way UAV is no longer DoD speak. RPVs==is the correct term—Remotely Piloted Vehicles.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 8, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

And by the way the real arms race now is HUNTER-KILLER Drones.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 9, 2011 @ 9:00 am

The President signed a one-year extension of the National Emergency originally declared in 1979 with respect to IRAN. This was required under the National Emergency Act of 1976 one of the Congressional reforms to deal with Nixon’s abuse of power. Largely a procedural statute it requires any National Emergency to be declared or renewed with notice in the Federal Register. But in violation of that statute it seems no President has believed it necessary to comply with that law’s requirement to cite exactly what he will be doing and to cite the specific statutory or Constitutional authority he will be utilizing.

Yes the USA got what NIXON wanted, an Imperial Presidency staffed by flunkies picked for loyalty not competence.

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November 15, 2011 @ 4:19 am

[…] Palin posted Pratap Chatterjee’s story last week about how 16 year old Tariq Aziz and his 12 year old cousin Waheed Khanwas were killed, […]

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