From Pratap Chatterjee, writing for The Guardian:
Last Friday, I met a boy, just before he was assassinated by the CIA. Tariq Aziz was 16, a quiet young man from North Waziristan, who, like most teenagers, enjoyed soccer. Seventy-two hours later, a Hellfire missile is believed to have killed him as he was travelling in a car to meet his aunt in Miran Shah, to take her home after her wedding. Killed with him was his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan.
Over 2,300 people in Pakistan have been killed by such missiles carried by drone aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper, and launched by remote control from Langley, Virginia. Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed in this way to 175, according to statistics maintained by the organisation I work for, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The author goes on to describe his brief time with Tariq — including the tragic irony that much of their second day together was actually spent at a “jirga” organized on behalf of drone strike victims — and ultimately concludes that:
Unless the CIA can prove that Tariq Aziz posed an imminent threat (as the White House’s legal advice stipulates a targeted killing must in order for an attack to be carried out), or that he was a key planner in a war against the US or Pakistan, the killing of this 16 year old was murder, and any jury should convict the CIA accordingly.
What isn’t entirely clear in either this article or any of the others I came across while trying to ascertain the fact is whether or not Tariq and his cousin were intentionally targeted in this strike or whether they were just two more slash marks on the blood-soaked wall of human collateral.
In some respects it doesn’t matter, of course. How could a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old do anything to justify outright assisination versus at least an attempt to apprehend or interrogate? And if, like so many others, their deaths prove to be inadvertent after all, so much the worse.
To give the last word to Tom’s one-time (current?) Blogger-for-President candidate, Glenn Greenwald:
After I linked to this Op-Ed yesterday on Twitter — by writing that “every American who cheers for drone strikes should confront the victims of their aggression” — I was predictably deluged with responses justifying Obama’s drone attacks on the ground that they are necessary to kill The Terrorists. Reading the responses, I could clearly discern the mentality driving them: I have never heard of 99% of the people my government kills with drones, nor have I ever seen any evidence about them, but I am sure they are Terrorists. That is the drone mentality in both senses of the word; it’s that combination of pure ignorance and blind faith in government authorities that you will inevitably hear from anyone defending President Obama’s militarism.