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August 21, 2012

American murder drones routinely circle back on attack sites to kill rescue workers

Rescue workers are supposed to be off limits in terms of targets. This is why we have rules of war. Though this sort of thing always reminds me of the firebombing of Dresden, and how the United States timed their successive bombing runs to coincide with medical personnel arriving on the scene. US drone strikes target rescuers in Pakistan – and the west stays silent | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
But attacking rescuers (and arguably worse, bombing funerals of America's drone victims) is now a tactic routinely used by the US in Pakistan. In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that "the CIA's drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals." Specifically: "at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims." That initial TBIJ report detailed numerous civilians killed by such follow-up strikes on rescuers, and established precisely the terror effect which the US government has long warned are sown by such attacks: "Yusufzai, who reported on the attack, says those killed in the follow-up strike 'were trying to pull out the bodies, to help clear the rubble, and take people to hospital.' The impact of drone attacks on rescuers has been to scare people off, he says: 'They've learnt that something will happen. No one wants to go close to these damaged building anymore.'" Since that first bureau report, there have been numerous other documented cases of the use by the US of this tactic: "On [4 June], US drones attacked rescuers in Waziristan in western Pakistan minutes after an initial strike, killing 16 people in total according to the BBC. On 28 May, drones were also reported to have returned to the attack in Khassokhel near Mir Ali." Moreover, "between May 2009 and June 2011, at least 15 attacks on rescuers were reported by credible news media, including the New York Times, CNN, ABC News and Al Jazeera." In June, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said that if "there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime." There is no doubt that there have been. (A different UN official, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, this weekend demanded that the US "must open itself to an independent investigation into its use of drone strikes or the United Nations will be forced to step in", and warned that the demand "will remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved". For many American progressives, caring about what the UN thinks is so very 2003.) The frequency with which the US uses this tactic is reflected by this December 2011 report from ABC News on the drone killing of 16-year-old Tariq Khan and his 12-year-old cousin Waheed, just days after the older boy attended a meeting to protest US drones

August 06, 2012

Who was the terrorist Wade Michael Page, the Sikh temple shooter?

He was a white supremacist with Nazi tattoos. He was an army vet who worked in propaganda. He was in a White Power band called End Apathy. More here. Wade Page Identified As Sikh Temple Gunman | TPMMuckraker
An Army veteran with possible ties to white supremacist groups was identified on Monday morning as the tattooed gunman who opened fire a day earlier at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, killing six people before being shot to death by a police officer. . . . Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Lisa Garcia told TPM that Page was a decorated veteran who specialized in psychological operations, or PsyOps. The job description was to help U.S. commanders overseas “communicate information to large audiences,” she said. Page joined the Army in April 1992 and initially trained at Fort Sill, Okla. He then spent time at Fort Bliss, Texas before finishing out his military career at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was never deployed overseas and left the Army in October 1998. . . . Authorities declined to detail Page’s suspected ties to white supremacist groups, saying that the investigation was still ongoing. However, two groups that track extremist activities, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, said on Monday that he was the leader of a white power rock band called End Apathy while he was living in North Carolina. The band said on its MySpace page that it began in 2005 and described the music as a “sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress.” Photos on the page showed the band playing in front of swastika flags. The SPLC said Page tried to purchase goods from the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi organization, as early as 2000. The ADL said he sometimes went by the pseudonym “Jack Boot” and was a prospective member of the Hammerskins skinhead organization in 2011.