Democracy Now!

Drone Attacks

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  • On Thursday, a U.S. Reaper drone struck a gathering in a rebel-held village in Aleppo province, killing as many as 49 people. Monitoring groups say most of the dead were civilians who had gathered at a mosque to pray, while the Pentagon claims the gathering was a meeting of al-Qaeda members. The next day, 42 Somali refugees were gunned down by a helicopter gunship near the Yemen coast. Somalia accused Saudi Arabia of carrying out the strike. Eyewitness accounts suggest a U.S.-made Apache helicopter was used to carry out the deadly strike. For more, we speak with Samuel Oakford, investigative reporter for the journalistic project Airwars, who reports that the number of civilian casualties in U.S. airstrikes has been escalating since Donald Trump took office two months ago.

  • An unlikely voice has emerged challenging the drone warfare program: former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal, who spent time based in Afghanistan. In April, he wrote an open letter to President Obama detailing his reasons for leaving the U.S. Army Reserves, citing his opposition to the administration’s use of drone strikes, its policy on nuclear proliferation, and what he calls the executive branch’s claim of "extraconstitutional authority and impunity for international law."

  • Former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal reads his resignation letter to President Obama. "I resign because I refuse to support U.S. armed drone policy," Antal wrote. "The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing."

  • As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional war zones, we look at a new book out today that paints a very different picture of the U.S. drone program. "The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program" is written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, and based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. We speak with Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.

  • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wrote the foreword for the new book by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, "The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program," which is based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. Snowden writes, "These disclosures about the Obama administration’s killing program reveal that there’s a part of the American character that is deeply concerned with the unrestrained, unchecked exercise of power. And there is no greater or clearer manifestation of unchecked power than assuming for oneself the authority to execute an individual outside of a battlefield context and without the involvement of any sort of judicial process." We speak with Scahill, who says the Obama administration has targeted Snowden for being a whistleblower, while allowing others to leak information that benefits it.

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