Drone Statistics

President Barack Obama,

I saw the following statistics on the Covert Drone War page over at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The price is too high. It is not known how many we kill with these drone strikes; yet even with what is publicly known, these “covert” programs are an abomination. Every citizen of the United States should be deeply ashamed that these activities are conducted on our behalf, supposedly to protect us.

Casualty estimates

Reported deaths and injuries

Pakistan 2004–2013  CIA Drone Strikes

Total strikes: 376
Obama strikes: 325
Total killed: 2,525-3,613
Civilians killed: 407-926
Children killed: 168-200
Injured: 1,117-1,505

Yemen 2002–2013  US Covert Action

Confirmed drone strikes: 54-64
Total killed: 268-397
Civilians killed: 21-58
Children killed: 5
Injured: 65-147

Possible extra drone strikes: 82-101
Total killed: 289-467
Civilians killed: 23-48
Children killed: 6-9
Injured: 83-109

Other covert operations: 12-77
Total killed: 148-377
Civilians killed: 60-88
Children killed: 25-26
Injured: 22-111

Somalia 2007–2013  US Covert Action

Drone strikes: 3-9
Total killed: 7-27
Civilians killed: 0-15
Children killed: 0
Injured: 2-24

Other covert operations: 8-15
Total killed: 48-150
Civilians killed: 7-42
Children killed: 1-3
Injured: 13-21

Please stop these acts of aggression. Killing both terrorists and innocent people overseas is not keeping United States citizens safe. These acts can only lead to more deaths.

Oversight?

To the Congress of the United States
House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:

Chair: Rep Mike Rogers (MI-08) Ranking Member: Rep C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)
Rep Mac Thornberry (TX-13) Rep Mike Thompson (CA-01)
Rep Jeff Miller (FL-01) Rep Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Rep Mike Conaway (TX-11) Rep Jim Langevin (RI-02)
Rep. Pete King (NY-03) Rep Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Rep Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) Rep Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Rep Devin Nunes (CA-22) Rep Ed Pastor (AZ-07)
Rep Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) Rep Jim Himes (CT-04)
Rep Michelle Bachmann (MN-06) Rep Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Rep Thomas J. Rooney (FL-17)
Rep Joe Heck (NV-03)
Rep Mike Pompeo (KS-04)

Senate Select Committee on  Intelligence:

Dianne Feinstein, California, Chairman Saxby Chambliss, Georgia, Vice Chairman
John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Richard Burr, North Carolina
Ron Wyden, Oregon James E. Risch, Idaho
Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Daniel Coats, Indiana
Mark Udall, Colorado Marco Rubio, Florida
Mark Warner, Virginia Susan Collins, Maine
Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Tom Coburn, Oklahoma
Angus King, Maine

Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am a happy man.

I am so very happy that the oversight of the Intelligence Operations of the United States of America, for which you are responsible, does not depend upon you.

I am sure that all the various shadowy and showy intelligence agencies of the United States are also very happy with the important oversight you bring to their operations. Having you provide oversight is better (for them) than no oversight at all, because if anyone complains that they seem to be running roughshod over the United States Constitution; they can say that you serious men and women are making them follow the law, that they keep you informed of all they do, and you in turn make sure to keep the rest of the Congress of the United States appraised of what our Intelligence agencies are doing.

Fortunately, for everyone in the world, we still have courageous American people like Edward Snowden, and a few journalists and reporters who are doing your job for you.

I am probably wasting my time writing to you this way. Apparently to attain the position in the government of the United States which you hold, it seems you have to leave behind all the better angels of our nature; all empathy, all self-sacrifice, all sense of right and wrong.  You replace it with political expediency, a thirst for power, and a sense of personal entitlement. What other explanation can there be for your total lack of oversight over the Intelligence community and lack of accountability to the people of not just the United States, but the world?

We, the people of United States gave the world this wonderful construct of a global Internet, which links all the people of the world in a single conversation. What a glorious technical and humanitarian gift for fostering the potential of every person in the world. We then completely ruin it by building into it a wiretap that we constantly monitor.

Who will ever trust the government of the United States again?

Who will ever trust any Internet company based in the United States again?

Why should the people of the United States ever trust you again?

Promises

President Barack Obama,

When I was researching my last letter to you, I was reminded of the ‘secret’ prison that Jeremy Scahill reported on in the Nation magazine 2 years ago. In looking for good articles to add as links to my letter – I ran across this article in the New American that copied most of the information in the Nation article but then linked the existence of this ‘secret’ prison to the executive order you signed on January 22, 2009.

Everybody knows that Presidents as a matter of state must lie from time to time. But, you aren’t supposed to be caught in your lies so easily. You promised in your executive order when you took office to prevent the CIA from running secret prisons in foreign countries. You have lied. Whether you intended to close the prisons and the CIA has managed to play you into maintaining these capabilities or you just signed the executive order as a public relations stunt and never intended to follow your own order: does not really matter at this point. What really matters is once you went along with these CIA policies the military and intelligence bureaucracies were safe from you. Unlike President Jimmy Carter who instituted intelligence reforms including the establishment of the FISA courts, your ability to rein in the military and intelligence organizations has been severely limited. Any move on your part to close these sites will result in leaks and questions being asked that you don’t want to answer.

As long as these allegations are just being made by some reporter for the Nation, you can ignore them. You are lucky (and the American people are most unlucky) that the media for the most part in the United States is so cooperative; acting as your own press office, and that the American people themselves are so complacent. It seems that no action, no matter how despicable, underhanded, or dishonorable is questioned as long as it is purported to be done in the defense of the United States.

Some of us do notice however. I wish that you were more honest with us. I wish that your administration stood for something other than political or military expediency.

 

Oversight

Senator Dick Durbin
Senator Ron Wyden

Gentlemen,

I read with great interest a post this week by Ron Wyden’s former deputy chief of staff; Jennifer Hoelzer.

This post details some of the efforts you both have made to have some public debate when the Patriot and FISA Laws were up for re-authorization votes in the last few years. You both have attempted to make the fact public that these laws have been interpreted into secret regulations regarding what information the NSA may collect and from whom. From Edward Snowden we have more recently learned that these laws have been interpreted to allow blanket collection of data from anyone in the world – so it appears that the secret regulations the NSA use have completely nullified any controls that the United States government has placed on the collection of data by the NSA.

I am going to ask both of you to consider doing something more about this issue.

Please enter into the Congressional Record what you have been told about how the NSA is collecting data. There may be legal ramifications to you personally. This will not be easy, but if Edward Snowden can do it – can you do any less? With the knowledge you have because of your position there is placed onto you a responsibility. A responsibility to act in the public interest.

The oversight that Congress was supposed to keep over the NSA has failed. We need to have hearings about these issues. Without you speaking out, I do not believe those hearings will take place. If you speak out, I think you may be prosecuted by the Obama Administration. Your trial might be the only forum where these issues get debated – but with this information published in the Congressional Record – we should have a constitutional crisis to force some of these issues out into the open. The Obama administration has legal precedent for ignoring what has been published in the public domain – such that courts now routinely cite national security concerns about issues even though the ‘secrets’ are widely known. You have a responsibility to bridge this truth gap in what is publicly known truth and what is the recognized truth by the government of the United States and its courts – especially about these NSA programs.

I know I am asking a great deal of you. We have become so risk-adverse in our society: we know that to be accused of a crime, even if the law is absurd, will close many (perhaps all) doors to us for future opportunities. With the ubiquitous background check now mandatory to any sort of regular employment, someone like myself, may become unemployable any time they protest the actions of the state.

I fear that without someone in government taking a stand on these issues, the disconnect between the truth and what the United States government recognizes as truth will continue to diverge. At some point the United States becomes like modern China where everyone must recognize the state truth or else. We are already well on our way to becoming like China, punishing those who are outspoken, who expose this disconnect. I do not want my daughter to have to live in that sort of society. I hope to build a better society. I hope that you gentlemen do too.

Justice

President Barack Obama,

You are shielding a fugitive from justice. The United States has made Robert Seldon Lady disappear. ( http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/now_you_see_him_now_you_dont_20130729/ )

Robert Seldon Lady has been convicted and found guilty of directing the kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr from Italy under the authority of President George W Bush, and delivering him to an Egyptian prison to be held and tortured at our request.

Where is the transparency that your administration was going to embody in its dealings with both it’s own citizens and other countries?

This is precisely why we voted for you – to end this kind of lawless arrogance in our government.

Please arrest and hold Robert Seldon Lady for extradition to Italy where he may serve his sentence.

You can still act to salvage our honor. It is past time that United States officials who were responsible for kidnapping, imprisoning, and torturing people in our name were held accountable for their actions.