Friday, October 25, 2013

  • As U.S. Faces New Scrutiny on Drones, U.N. Report Finds Hundreds of Civilian Deaths in Pakistan

    Unbenemmerson

    The Obama administration’s drone and targeted killing policy will come under scrutiny at the United Nations today with a report concluding at least 400 Pakistani civilians have been killed by drone strikes over the past decade. Another 200 victims have been deemed "probable non-combatants." The report also looks at U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, as well as Israel’s use of drones in Gaza. The U.N. report comes at a time when U.S. drone policy is facing unprecedented public criticism. Earlier this week, Amnesty International said some civilian drone killings in Pakistan may amount to war crimes. Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged President Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan. Ahead of unveiling his findings today at the United Nations General Assembly, Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, joins us to discuss his probe of the U.S. drone war.

  • U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Calls for Release of Info on Bush-Era Kidnappings, Torture

    Ciabushtorture

    Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, has called on Britain and the United States to release confidential reports into the countries’ involvement in kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects during the era of the George W. Bush administration — after years of denial. "A crucial part of the duty of accountability under international law is the so-called right to truth," Emmerson says. "That’s a right that is not just belonging to the victims, but to society at large."

  • A Drone Warrior’s Torment: Ex-Air Force Pilot Brandon Bryant on His Trauma from Remote Killing

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    We look at how the United States uses drones in war, and their impact, through the eyes of one of the first U.S. drone operators to speak out. Former U.S. Air Force pilot Brandon Bryant served as a sensor operator for the Predator program from 2007 to 2011, manning the camera on the unmanned aerial vehicles that carried out attacks overseas. After he left the active duty in the Air Force, he was presented with a certificate that credited his squadron for 1,626 kills. In total, Bryant says he was involved in seven missions in which his Predator fired a missile at a human target, and about 13 people died in those strikes — actions he says left him traumatized. "The clinical definition of PTSD is an anxiety disorder associated with witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event," Bryant says. "Think how you would feel if you were part of something that you felt violated the Constitution."

  • Diagnosing the Online Health Exchange Debacle: "Proprietary" Software Needs a Dose of Open Source

    Angrycongresshealthcare1

    As the problem-plagued roll-out of President Obama’s signature healthcare policy undergoes congressional scrutiny for the first time, we speak with Clay Johnson, a former Obama campaign innovation expert who founded Blue State Digital, the company that built Obama’s 2008 website. During a House panel on Thursday, lawmakers questioned executives of two of the lead contractors behind the website, healthcare.gov — CGI Federal and Quality Software Systems Incorporated — about the myriad of glitches and defects. Johnson says the new website is built with outdated and proprietary software. "When the government is building software like this, it ought to be built out in the open — built with a licensing system called open source so that the public truly owns it," Johnson says. He notes that "In 1996, Congress lobotomized itself by getting rid of its technology think tank called the Technology Assessment Office. So they’re writing bills where they don’t understand the technology required in their laws."

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