Revolution #271, June 10, 2012

What do Barack Obama and George Zimmerman have in common?

A recent New York Times article on President Obama’s “kill list” explains the method used for counting civilian casualties in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan:

“It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent. Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. ‘Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization—innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,’ said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.” (“Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” May 29, 2012)

Similarities in the logic behind foreign and domestic thinking as applied to perceived “suspects” and “enemies” have been noted by at least two writers who responded to this article.

Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic wrote: “The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant. That is an amazing standard that shares an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin. Policy is informed by the morality of a country. I think the repercussions of this unending era of death by silver bird will be profound.” (“The Kill List,” May 31, 2012)

And Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote:

“...the harm that’s caused by raining death from machines in the sky down onto far too many civilians—including someone’s son, brother, or father who wasn’t ‘up to no good’ at all—vastly outweighs any good. Righteous anger over the killing of civilians creates new terrorists faster than the killing of any old ones. As for the morally indefensible position that any male killed in such an attack is ‘probably up to no good,’ isn’t the Obama administration saying the EXACT same thing that George Zimmerman said about Trayvon Martin?” (“If you’re probably up to no good,’ President Obama wants to kill you,” May 29, 2012)  


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