A Correction and A Comment
January 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
In August, 2013, I posted an item on this blog entitled, “Bush’s Dumb War and Obama’s Track and Whack War”. It was based on information in Jeremy Scahill’s book, “Dirty Wars – The World is a Battlefield”. In my discussion of that book I included a description of Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a courageous journalist who was arrested, tortured and imprisoned because he wrote articles exposing the excesses and abuses of the U.S. military actions in Yemen. After a worldwide outcry from journalists and others, the President of Yemen prepared a pardon for Shaye and was about to release him from prison. President Obama called the President of Yemen and “expressed concern” that Shaye was to be released. The President, a recipient of generous gifts of cash from the U.S., tore up the pardon.
When I described this incident I wrote that “Shaye remains in jail”. I have now discovered that was an error. In July 2013, Shaye was released from prison. His release was not the result of Obama’s reconsideration. It apparently occurred because of the efforts of Scahill and others who perceived the injustice of his imprisonment.
This morning, after I posted a new item on this blog concerning the NSA surveillance program, I found an online USA Today interview of Michael Hayden, the former Director of the CIA. He expresses his hope that President Obama rejects the recommendations of the commission he created to suggest ways to rein in the NSA program. Here is a link to that interview:
When Obama gets this advice from Haden I hope he recalls the outcome of the first advice he got from then CIA Director Haden.
Here is how I described that event in the above cited post on this blog:
“Three days after becoming President, Obama signed executive orders “dismantling” the Bush torture and detention programs. He declared that we would wage war against “violence and terrorism”,but would do so in a manner consistent with “our values and our ideals”. The next day, CIA Director Michael Hayden told the President about drone strikes planned in Pakistan near the Afghan border. Hayden described them as targeting “upper tier” Al Qaeda and Taliban” members.
On January 23, 2009, two Hellfire missiles hit two compounds in two small villages. Hayden reported that the “upper tier” agents had not been hit, but that “at least five Al Qaeda militants” had been killed. Obama replied, “Good.”
The next day, John Brennan, his chief anti-terrorism adviser, told the President that most of those killed were innocent civilians. One strike killed between seven and fifteen people, almost all civilians. The second strike hit the wrong house and killed between five to eight civilians, some of whom were family members of the tribal elder, who was a member of a “pro-government peace committee”.
Obama summoned Hayden for a meeting. Hayden explained that the targets were based on “signature” findings, based on “life patterns” rather than actual intelligence specifically identifying them as Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders or members. The CIA had reported that they were “military age males” who were part of a large gathering in a region known to contain Al Qaeda or Taliban agents or were known to have had contacts with suspected militants. After hearing the explanation, Obama agreed that strikes could be based on such evidence, but required that the CIA Director was to have the “final say” on them.”
Unfortunately, President Obama allowed the “signature strikes” to continue. I can only hope that he, at least, learned to treat Mr. Haden’s soothing assurances with some skepticism.