State sponsored murder – “Shoot to kill” to drone strikes in just 34 years

Over the past ten years the use of drones as a method of execution has increased to a disturbing level. Every other week the news quietly mentions an attack, whispering the phrase “suspected” whilst emphasizing the idea that the unnamed victims are “terrorists” or “insurgents”. Either way, bad guys to be taken care of.

Of course, the fact these people might have had families with them, that’s just a sad statistic under the collective term of “collateral damage”. And lets face it, there’s been quite a lot of “that” over the years. Wedding parties attacked in error (killing dozens), Pakistani soldiers fired upon “by mistake”.

But you don’t make the mistake, these are people killed outside the rule or law, without trial. These are remote murders, hidden under the cover of a “War of terrorism”. A “war” never signed by Congress or declared by UK Parliament. This is a secret war. Operated by covert agencies.

But we’ve had these before. Over 30 years ago, the UK was at “war” with the IRA (and vice-versa). In exactly the same way that we are now at war with Al Qaeda. The difference is that while the likelihood of an Al Qaeda attack on UK and US soil is now extremely unlikely, the number of attacks on the UK in the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s weren’t.

When Margaret Thatcher came to power she made it clear that the gloves were off. Intelligence Officers and SAS men flooded into Ireland and Northern Ireland to clamp down.

For the people of Britain the action was a necessary evil; until the 6 March 1988. Because on this day in Gibraltar the SAS did something that had, until then, been only a muted whisper of reality. In the quiet enclave of the old British Empire, they executed three IRA terrorist cell members in the middle of a street without any opportunity to surrender; and there were reliable witnesses. All of a sudden the reality of the “shoot to kill” policy was making front page news.

But what was all the fuss about? After all, these were terrorists. Well, back in 1988 we still cared about the idea that people should get a trial and that Governments didn’t have the right to kill people they didn’t like.

Jonathan Dimbleby put it best in the seminal “Death on the Rock” episode of This Week.

I suggest you watch the entire episode containing all the evidence of the intelligence known on these individuals before being moved to comment. From the information gained in the show, it is clear that they could have been arrested at any time without the need to kill them. There entire terrorist plot was known, almost from the start. Like the sinking of the Belgrano as it was heading away from the Falklands, this was one policy decision the UK public felt very uneasy with.

As for the mysterious forth member, who was he and how did he escape justice (or death more like)?

Move on 34 years and, as this Reuters special report shows, people have another opinion on the use of death without trial.

First, did you realise that Obama had used five times more drone strikes than Bush? Neither did I.

Just to clarify the point that these are CIA drones, not US military ones.

So how does sophisticated, Democratic, liberal minded, constitutional lawyer Obama, justify it? And what is a “Signature Strike”.

You heard it. Apparently the CIA has won him over, short term gains appear to be the order of the day. Plus, here’s you definition of “signature strike”. Basically, if you “look like” a terrorist, you ARE a terrorist. That’s less intelligence than was previously required, not more.

What’s changed in 34 years is that while the world has opened up with the internet, we are now more in the dark than ever before.

The CIA can strike at ground targets with total impunity from prosecution, under the guise of a phony war, against individuals we are never meant to know and for crimes we cannot be told. And we are to be OK with this because Reuters tells us that these guys weren’t “girl scouts”.

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