River Cities’ Reader
No. 853 • April 3-16, 2014
Business • Politics • Arts • Culture • Now You Know • RiverCitiesReader.com
WORDS FROM THE EDITOR
Does Our Silence Make Us Accessories to the Bad Acts of Government?
believe that when we pass from this life, we will face accountability for both our actions and inactions. I also believe that account-ability directly corresponds to the degree of responsibility each of us has to the Creator first, family second, and our neighbors third.I don’t pretend to know people’s relationships with God. But most of us have a pretty good sense of what we are obliged to with family, friends, and associates. It gets murkier when we consider our responsibility to community because community can be defined by myriad levels of relationships from cursory to expansive.Each of us has a far greater responsibility to family members than to neighbors than to folks in our county than to state residents than to Americans as a whole than to global inhabitants. My guess is that we will be held more accountable for actions or inactions that harm our family members compared to those that impact our fellow citizens at large. But we will still be held to answer for whatever harm is caused by our government’s destructive actions at home and abroad – especially for our own indifference to it.Do you imagine that those in Germany who stood by and did nothing while their countrymen were rounded up and exterminated by Nazis are guiltless? Are Americans any less guilty for permitting our elected representatives and appointed bureaucrats to send drones overseas that indiscriminately slaughter innocents? Few of us had any part in instigating or implementing such horrific conduct, nor did the majority of us even know about most of it occurring until well after the fact.Nevertheless, every one of us is responsible for future remote-control executions by the silence that forms our consent. Moreover, our greater sin lies in not exacting consequences for these war crimes, past and present, once exposed. Where are the demands for arrests of U.S. leaders who did instigate, approve, and implement the murders? Where are the impeachment proceedings for any and all leaders who knowingly permitted such operations, including but not limited to the president? (Former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich did attempt to impeach President George W. Bush with exhaustive evidence of war crimes. Rather than proceed with impeachment, a majority of Democrats in the House voted to refer the matter to the House Judiciary Committee, where no further action was taken. His reward was getting redistricted out of his seat in Ohio.) No country’s people are blameless for its leadership’s crimes against humanity, including America. Especially America, precisely because, as a republic of laws, we the people have the means to hold our leaders accountable at every level of government. But we collectively choose not to. Therefore it is in this choosing that our culpability lies.I broach this subject of drone strikes again because every one of us must examine ourselves to determine who we are as Americans moving forward. Ignoring this drone program will not absolve us in the end. We do know. We are silent. Meanwhile overseas, innocent men, women, and children are being killed while going about their daily lives. In January, the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) published an exhaustive analysis of the U.S. drone campaigns of both presidents Bush and Barack Obama. The site has extensive support documentation and links to government-published sources and mainstream-news accounts. The Potter Foundation-funded site reports: “Across Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, the Obama administration has launched more than 390 drone strikes in the five years since the first attack that injured Qureshi – eight times as many as were launched in the entire Bush presidency. These strikes have killed more than 2,400 people, at least 273 of them reportedly civilians.” Qureshi was a 14-year-old victim of the CIA’s 2009 drone strike that killed most of his family members. According to the BIJ, Bush launched 51 done strikes in his eight-year presidency, while Obama’s Administration is credited with 390 and counting. (See RCReader.com/y/bil1. The site’s methodology for statistics is available at RCReader.com/y/bil2.)The stats are dependent upon a very subjective determination of noncombatants killed with no due process whatsoever. Meanwhile, our own government agencies continue to obfuscate and deceive the public. BIJ summarized: “U.S. news agency McClatchy obtained documents in April showing the CIA’s own assessment of drone strikes in Pakistan. They showed drones were used to kill Afghans, Pakistanis, and ‘unknown’ militants, despite U.S. assertions that drones only target senior al-Qaeda members. Documents also showed that a June 2011 claim by Brennan that no civilians
by Kathleen McCarthykm@rcreader.com
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