|image source: State Department|
According to Pakistani officials and militants, a leader of the Pakistani Taliban was killed by a drone strike on Wednesday while the people of Pakistan continue to decry the U.S. drone program.
Despite President Obama’s claims that there would be new restrictions on and transparency in the drone program, American officials refused to confirm the strike or any details about it, despite the news being reported in Pakistan, according to The New York Times.
If this drone strike is officially confirmed, it would be the first strike since Obama gave his speech last week promising changes to the drone program.
The strike reportedly killed Taliban deputy leader Wali ur-Rehman along with six others and injured an additional four in the North Waziristan tribal region, according to local tribesmen and Pakistani security officials.
The New York Times interestingly points out that it is unclear if Rehman was considered to pose a “continuing and imminent threat” to the citizens of the United States, which is one of the guiding criteria for future strikes outlined by Obama in his speech.
This was quite similar to what Attorney General Eric Holder wrote when admitting that the U.S. drone program has killed four American citizens. Unfortunately, the meaning of “imminent” is nowhere near what most people may think.
“But in the days since the president’s speech, American officials have asserted behind the scenes that the new standards would not apply to the C.I.A. drone program in Pakistan as long as American troops remained next door in Afghanistan,” the New York Times reported.
This is hardly surprising, given that earlier this year it was reported that the CIA would not have to abide by the Obama administration’s so-called drone playbook.
During his briefing Wednesday afternoon, White House spokesman Jay Carney wouldn’t confirm the strike, though he did mention a long list of accusations against Rehman leveled by the U.S.
Rehman has been accused of organizing attacks on American troops in Afghanistan and has a $5 million bounty on his head placed by the U.S. government.
Danger Room similarly notes that while the U.S. did blame him for a 2009 attack on a secret CIA base in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban’s “involvement in ongoing plots against the U.S. is less evident, however, and Obama explicitly said ‘America does not take strikes to punish individuals.’”
Spencer Ackerman points out that the Pakistani Taliban primarily poses a threat to Pakistan itself, not the United States.
Indeed, the CIA drone program in Pakistan reportedly began in 2004 with the U.S. government agreeing to kill the Pakistani government’s enemies.
While Obama seemed to say that the U.S. was no longer going to pursue and kill the enemies of countries like Pakistan and Yemen, it doesn’t seem like that is the case.
Interestingly, the strike results in quite varied reactions from Pakistanis, though much of it was negative as has been the trend in response to the U.S. drone program as a whole.
Earlier this month a high court in Pakistan made this very clear in ruling that the strikes are illegal, inhumane and a violation of the UN charter on human rights. The court also directed the Pakistani government to use force to “protect the right to life” of Pakistanis.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry condemned the strike in a statement and Nawaz Sharif, the incoming prime minister, previously promised to restrict drone activity.
“Drone attacks are against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country’s autonomy and independence,” Sharif said earlier this month.
The foreign office spokesperson said the strikes “are counterproductive, entail loss of innocent lives, and violate the principles of national sovereignty and international law,” according to the Guardian.
Senator Mushahid Hussain, the chairman of the Pakistani senate’s defense committee, also said that Obama’s statement was “not good enough unless there is a cessation of drone attacks.”
The people of Pakistan also seem to dislike the drone program as well, with an overwhelming number of the voters in the recent elections supporting the two parties condemning the U.S. drone attacks.
The U.S. government is already moving to stem the increasingly strong anti-drone movement in Pakistan with Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan in early June.
Kerry is reportedly going to “rebuild this important partnership” with Pakistan during his visit.
“Kerry’s meetings with the new leadership will test Washington’s ‘willingness to work closely on issues of common interest,’” according to a report from the Asia Times.
Will the new government in Pakistan take more radical steps to curtail the U.S. drone program? Will the Obama administration actually follow through with the statements Obama made in his speech?
This article first appeared at End the Lie.
Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM – 9 PM PT/10 PM – 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at [email protected]