Kareem Khan is free. And you should care.
By William Boardman
"In 2009, my home was attacked by a drone. My brother and son were martyred. My son's name was Hafiz Zahinullah. My brother's name was Asif Iqbal. There was a third person who was a stone mason. He was a Pakistani. His name was Khaliq Dad". Their bodies were covered with wounds. Later, I found some of their fingers in the rubble."
-- Kareem Khan, a Pakistani journalist, speaking of his personal experience with civilians killed by Americans, in the documentary "Wounds of Waziristan," 2013
""it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in every war. And for the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me and those in my chain of command, those deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred throughout conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq."
-- President Obama, May 23, 2013, at the National Defense University
President Obama should be justly haunted by the slaughter of innocents, especially the ones he has personally condemned to death on untested evidence. But it's hard to imagine him actually being haunted by any of his lethal failures, perhaps least of all by innocents condemned by the mere turning down of his imperial thumb in these or any other circumstances. The Nobel Peace Prize winner hardly sounds haunted when he's quoted saying, "Turns out I'm really good at killing people. Didn't know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine."
Such sadistic preening, regardless of possibly ironic intent, helps explain why his haunting, real or imagined, has mostly led his administration to deny the killings and to refuse any succor to the innocent victims' innocent families. It is as if Obama plays Macbeth and says to the Banquo's ghost of drone murder, "Thou canst not say I did it: never shake thy gory locks at me" -- a deluded and specious lawyer's argument even then, and still false to its deepest moral roots.
Presumably Kareem Khan would like to see Obama haunted much more vigorously by the living. For more than four years Kahn has been doing what he could to bring at least some Americans to justice for killing his son and brother. As of February 19, he was in Europe as part of a campaign against the CIA drone assassination program, scheduled to visit with political leaders in Germany, the Netherlands, and UK. Khan is a freelance journalist and now an anti-drone activist. He once lived near Mir Ali in North Waziristan until the Americans destroyed his house and its occupants. Khan, who is in his fifties, now lives in Rawalpindi with his wife and his other, younger children, who were present when he was kidnapped by apparent secret police in the early hours of February 5.
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