Friday, May 31, 2013
Does Obama's lack of clarity regarding drones have bearing on Assata Shakur?
On Wednesday, a Pakistani source reported that a United States drone strike killed four people near the city of Mirim Shah. Wali-ur-Rehman, second in command of the Pakistani Taliban, was reported to be dead. The group later denied his death.
The drone strike in Pakistan raises questions regarding Obama’s promise.
“Beyond the Afghan theater, we only target al-Qaida and its associated forces,” Obama said in a speech at the National Defense University, “and even then, the use of drones is heavily constrained.”
Obama gave a list of restraints involving the use of drones. He indicated he prefers detaining terrorist instead of killing them. He also mentioned respect for state sovereignty and the inability of other governments to control terrorists. Obama also stated that drones will only be used to target “terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people.”
Is Assata Shakur on that list?
The White House handed out a list of people they will not kill in the future. “The United States will use lethal force only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons,” it stated. “It is simply not the case that all terrorists pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons; if a terrorist does not pose such a threat, the United States will not use lethal force.”
Why was Rehman a target given a lack of evidence to suggest he is a threat to the U.S.? The Pakistani Taliban is a threat to Pakistan. Rehman, according to Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, is a threat to Britain. Is the Obama administration using drones to take out the enemies of its allies? If so, does this go against the promise coming from the White House?
A more pressing question is how a lack of clarity regarding the use of drones impacts Americans on the Most Wanted Terrorist list.
The White House has not officially acknowledged the strike against Rehman. It is not clear if Rehman is considered a “continuing imminent threat” to the U.S. The term “imminence has been used broadly by members of the Obama administration. The terms “associated force”, “co-belligerent” is used to mean “in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” Those hostilities are not limited by time or specific action.
Again, is Assata Shakur on that list?
The Obama administration has argued the placement of limits on the use of drones. The attack on Rehman begs the question if any restrictions have been imposed on the use of the killer robots. The New York Times has reported that administration official claim Obama’s restrictions fail to rule out the use of “signature strikes” which allows the CIA and the military to right to kill before knowing the identity of the person.
The ambiguity regarding the use of drones raises serious questions regarding Assata Shakur being placed on the Most Wanted Terrorist list. The list is reserved for those considered a “continuing imminent threat” to the U.S. Has Shakur been placed on the list to pave the way for a drone attack? If that is the case, should Americans be concerned over a policy that supports the assassination of a person like Shakur. Even more daunting is the possibility of Americans being killed devoid of due process to determine guilt.
Shakur being placed on the Most Wanted Terrorist list alters the conversation related to America’s fight against terrorism. The USA Patriot Act became law in 2001 to unite and strengthen America by providing appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism. The act was the response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, and significantly reduced restrictions in law enforcement agencies. The act has been used to expand the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism. The placement of Shakur on the Most Wanted Terrorist list is proof that the war on terror now includes those outside the purview of al-Qaida. Included on that list are members of black revolutionary movements.
Is the Obama administration planning to kill Shakur? If not, why was she placed on the list? It’s a question that deserves an answer.
Why is she on the list?