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Monday, February 6, 2012

  • U.S. Accused of Using Drones to Target Rescue Workers and Funerals in Pakistan

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    The CIA’s drone campaign targeting suspected militants in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to rescue victims or were attending funerals. So concludes a new report by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism. It found that since President Obama took office three years ago, as many as 535 civilians have been killed, including more than 60 children. The investigation also revealed that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. We speak to Chris Woods, award-winning reporter with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. "We noted that there were repeated reports at the time, contemporaneous reports in publications like New York Times, news agencies like Reuters, by CNN, that there were these strikes on rescuers, that there were reports that there had been an initial strike and then, some minutes later, as people had come forward to help and pull out the dead and injured, that drones had returned to the scene and had attacked rescuers," Woods says. "We’ve been able to name just over 50 civilians that we understand have been killed in those attacks. In total, we think that more than 75 civilians have been killed, specifically in these attacks on rescuers and on mourners, on funeral-goers." [includes rush transcript]

  • West Memphis 3: Freed Death Row Prisoner Makes Film about 18-Year Battle to Prove His Innocence

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    We turn now to the case of the West Memphis Three, the young men in West Memphis, Arkansas, who were imprisoned for the 1993 slayings of three eight-year-old boys after an investigation largely fueled by unsubstantiated rumors of a Satanic ritual. The new documentary, "West of Memphis," was co-produced by none other than one of the convicted youths at the heart of the story, Damien Echols. Echols and his two co-defendants were released last August after spending nearly two decades in prison, all the while proclaiming their innocence. Recent DNA tests did not link the men to the scene and showed the presence of others who have never been identified. The film alleges Terry Hobbs, stepfather of one of the victims, may have been responsible for the murders. And the new documentary suggests the three young boys were never mutilated, but preyed on post-mortem by snapping turtles commonly found in the Arkansas-Tennessee border town. Democracy Now! recently spoke with Echols in a rare extended interview at the Sundance Film Festival. "I didn’t have any faith in the justice system, because I had seen how corrupt it was, all the way to the core, from the inside. And that completely took away any faith I had in the system whatsoever," Echols said. “What I did have faith in was all the people that came to our aid, you know, the supporters and the investigators and everybody that rallied around us. That’s what I had faith in, and that’s why I believed I would eventually get out." We also spoke to Echols’s wife, Lorri Davis, and the film’s director, Amy Berg. [includes rush transcript]