The drone is the American government terrorist's weapon of choice in recent years. Government officials have said they like it because they can target particular individuals who pose some real or imagined threat to the U.S. They don't say, although it appears to be true, that they also like killer drones because even when they miss their target and only achieve wanton killing, that "protects" Americans, too.
American government terrorists have used lethal drones to kill people abroad for a decade or more. The government still keeps much of the drone program secret, especially the actual results of drone strikes. It seems actual carnage, actual dead women and actual dead babies, might undercut widespread popular support for drone killings that are believed to be highly selective and accurate in taking out our legitimate enemies, and only our legitimate enemies.
Most of Congress has apparently felt that way and still does. Until recently, no Senate or House committee had held a single public hearing to find out just what the program of presidential assassination-by-drone was, much less why it was right or even legal for the executive branch to execute people, based on secret "evidence," without due process that included a trial or verdict.
Finally, on April 23, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, chaired by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, held a hearing entitled "Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing." The hearing began at 4 p.m.
The Executive Branch Chose Not To Talk About its Acts of Terror
Even though this was the first ever public Congressional hearing on "Drone Wars," the Obama administration chose not to participate. And the Senate chose not to issue any subpoenas to compel executive branch testimony.
The Senate did postpone the hearing once, to give the administration more time to prepare a witness. In the end, all the White House contributed was an email from a National Security Council spokes woman that said in part that the White House would work:
"to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and the world."
The hearing's six witnesses included three retired military officers, two lawyers, one think tank director, and a Yemeni journalist who testified to how wonderfully his life was changed by a U.S. State Dept. exchange program that brought him from a remote mountain village to spend his senior year in high school in southern California.
How Does a Yemeni Feel When His Home Village is Bombed?
The journalist is Farea al-Muslimi, who lives and works now in Sana'a, the Yemeni capitol, located about a nine hour drive north of his home village of Wessab. In his testimony, he said,
"Just six days ago, my village was struck by an American drone in an attack that terrified the region's poor farmers".
"I could never have imagined that the same hand that changed my life and took it from miserable to promising one would also drone my village. My understanding is that a man named Hammed al-Radmi was the target of a drone strike. Many people in Wessab know al-Radmi, and the Yemeni government could easily have found and arrested him. Al-Radmi was well known to government officials, and even to local government--and even local government could have captured him if the U.S. had told them to do so.
"In the past, what Wessab's villagers knew of the U.S. was based on my stories about my wonderful experiences here. The friendships and values I experienced and described to the villagers helped them understand the America that I know and that I love. Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time. What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America in Wessab."