As Obama Expands Drone War, Activists & Victims’ Advocates Join D.C. Summit on Civilian Toll
Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represents families of civilians killed in U.S. drone strikes, was finally granted a visa to enter the U.S. this week after a long effort by the State Department to block his visit. He has just arrived in Washington, D.C., to attend the “Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control,” organized by human rights groups to call attention to the lethal rise in the number of drone strikes under the Obama administration. Obama argues U.S. drone strikes are focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists and have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. “Either President Obama is lying to the nation or he is too naive, to believe on the reports which the CIA is presenting to [him],” responds Akbar. The summit comes as the United States pursues a radical expansion of how it carries out drone strikes inside Yemen. The so-called "signature" strike policy went into effect earlier this month allowing the U.S. to strike without knowing identity of the targets.
We’re also joined by Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of CODE PINK and an organizer of this weekend’s summit. “So many people who spoke against George [W.] Bush’s extraordinary rendition and Guantánamo and indefinite detention have been very quiet when it comes to the Obama administration, who is not putting people in those same kind of conditions, instead is just taking them out and killing them,” Benjamin says. “So we need to make people speak up and say that when Obama says this [program] is on a tight leash, this is not true. This is a lie.”