As the news broke on March 7, 2016, that U.S. drone strikes had killed 150 people in Somalia, the White House announced it will reveal, for the first time, the number of people killed by drones and manned airstrikes "outside areas of active hostilities" since 2009. This is a critical first step toward much-needed transparency. But it will not go far enough.
"The Drone Papers" tell us the administration labels unidentified persons who are killed in a drone attack "enemies killed in action," unless there is evidence posthumously proving them innocent. Since the U.S. is involved in armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, international humanitarian law -- namely, the Geneva Conventions -- must be applied to assess the legality of targeted killing. The Geneva Conventions provide that only combatants may be targeted.
Every child born in Syria is touched by the conflict. Medical services are crumbling, the economy is on its knees, and the multitudes of jobless have few savings left to live on. The conflict will not stop tomorrow and we are planning ahead. There will be at least five more years of intense humanitarian activity required.
Walter Ruiz, Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi's lawyer and a former Navy commander, told the court that Hawsawi's treatment needs stem from injuries he sustained under U.S.-sponsored torture. Ruiz wants to interview his client's doctors to learn more about the "ongoing bleeding" and "colorectal issues that stem from his time in captivity...."
We tried to sound the alarm about what harm torture could bring. The Bush administration didn't listen. Had they, we simply wouldn't be here today. If there is any positive to come out of the release of this report, and turmoil that may come as a result of facts being released, let it be, finally, a wake-up call. Let it lead to the American people immediately disqualifying any candidate for president, in 2016, who won't clearly and definitively rule out the use of torture by intelligence or military under their administration. Let it serve as a reminder of our duty to hold our elected officials accountable for what they do, or plan to do, in our name. And let it remind us that the reasons against torture are more than just moral ones. They're quite practical, too.
150 years ago to the day, the first Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field was adopted, declaring that even in times of war, a certain degree of humanity must be preserved. We are now calling for stricter compliance with this principle.