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‘NPR’ praises Israeli assassination program in faulting US one

Israel/Palestine
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Bruce Auster

NPR national security reporter Bruce Auster

The US is said to be targeting an American in Pakistan for possible execution by drone. Yesterday NPR ran a story on the constitutionality of the operation by Bruce Auster, NPR’s national security correspondent. “With A Citizen In The Crosshairs, Where’s The Line Drawn For Drones?”

Auster’s critic of American policy is Amos Guiora, who bragged about his experience as an Israeli officer directing targeted assassinations in Gaza. Guiora is a law professor at the University of Utah. And, though NPR doesn’t tell you, associated with an Israeli thinktank:

“Research Fellow, International Institute on Counter-Terrorism, The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, 2008-present.”

This is about the Constitution, Auster says. Can we kill an American who’s gone over to the other side to save the live of Americans?.

Auster: Amos Guiora has an answer. He knows this stuff, not just because he’s a law professor.

Guiora: Served for 20 years in the Israel Defense Forces. While serving as the legal adviser to the Gaza Strip, from 94-97, I was involved in targeted killing decision making.

Auster: His problem with the US process is that the decision to target and kill is made without any review by the courts.

Guiora: I’ve been in the business for 20 years or more, I have no idea what senior operational Al Qaeda leader means. I just don’t know what that means.

Auster: It’s too loose a definition…. Ultimately, Guiora says, the decision to kill an American citizen must rest on a ground that’s a little less slippery.

Here’s Guiora’s resume at the University of Utah. He writes a lot about “targeted” killing.

Why didn’t Auster bring up the State Department’s report on Israel’s assassination program, from 2004. Lots of innocent civilians killed.

During the year, the IDF targeted for killing at least 44 Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorism. In the process, IDF forces killed more bystanders than targeted individuals, including children. IDF forces killed at least 47 bystanders of those targeted and injured a number of others, including bystanders, relatives, or associates. Israel stated that it only targeted individuals believed to be “ticking bombs” on the verge of carrying out terrorist attacks. In practice, however, the IDF targeted some leaders of terrorist organizations generally considered not to be directly engaged in carrying out attacks.

Israeli security forces put large numbers of Palestinian civilian lives in jeopardy by undertaking targeted killings in crowded areas where civilian casualties were likely. For example, on April 9, Israeli forces fired four missiles at a car in a densely populated area of Gaza city in order to kill two suspected terrorists, Sa’ad ad-Din al-Arabeit, 35, and Ashraf al-Halabi, 25. Israeli forces killed five other Palestinians in the effort, including two children, 13-year-old Ahmad Hamsa al-Ashraf, and 16-year-old Samid Hasan Qasem.

Here is James North writing about those targeted killings in Gaza.

In 2003, [Yonatan Shapira] bravely confronted the air force commander, Lt. General Dan Halutz, about what are euphemistically called “targeted assassinations” — Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Hamas leaders in Gaza, also killing innocent bystanders, some of them children.

Yonatan asked General Halutz, What if a Hamas leader were located in Tel Aviv?  Would you order our pilots to fire there, risking Israeli bystanders?  Halutz said no.  So you value Israelis over Palestinians, Yonatan responded.  Get someone else to fly your aircraft.

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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20 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo
    February 14, 2014, 11:01 am

    Yonatan Shapira makes up for the bigots.

    Shapira is one of those decent Jews who are the only ones who will save Israel from those who are on a suicide mission to bring Israel down on it,s knees.

  2. Hostage
    Hostage
    February 14, 2014, 11:20 am

    This is about the Constitution, Auster says.

    Then the Israeli experience is irrelevant. Israel’s Basic Laws don’t really function like a Constitution, since they explicitly grandfather pre-existing unconstitutional laws and even allow the Knesset to adopt new ones. There are dozens of laws like that, which discriminate against non-Jews. (pdf) http://adalah.org/Public/files/Discriminatory-Laws-Database/Discriminatory-Bills-19th-Knesset-24-06-2013.pdf

    In some cases the Basic Laws contain so many loopholes that the exercise of any right at all by a non-Jew would tend to be an exceptional case, e.g. http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/basic4_eng.htm

    So you end up with a platitudinous law that says you have a fundamental right to an occupation, human dignity, and liberty, unless of course, the Knesset has adopted another statute which says that you don’t.

    • tear-stained uzi
      tear-stained uzi
      February 14, 2014, 12:30 pm

      So you end up with a platitudinous law that says you have a fundamental right to an occupation, human dignity, and liberty…

      You can’t say Israel hasn’t delivered on that first promise…

  3. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    February 14, 2014, 1:30 pm

    QUOTE: “What if a Hamas leader were located in Tel Aviv? Would you order our pilots to fire there, risking Israeli bystanders? Halutz said no.”

    Says a lot, if not all. A very useful ironic thing used to be said of people doing self-serving things: it was said that they’d “given themselves permission” to do such and such. And I think the meaning was, no one else gave them permission or would have done so.

    Obama (no doubt at the urging of his we-can-do-drones-so-let’s-do-drones” enthusiasts) “gave the USA’s drone-operation permission” to kill anyone they wanted to, and all nearby people known or unknown. For crying out loud, they use “pattern recognition” or “artificial intelligence” computer programs to identify targets, to locate targets (often aiming at a cell-phone and everybody near the cell-phone w/o regard to whether the [let is be assumed, arguendo] Al-Qa’eda person who HAD BEEN USING the cell-phone was still in the target area.

    I am a computer programmer. I don’t trust “artificial intelligence” or “pattern recognition” when it is known that they produce crappy results. Look at the USA’s old no-fly list that prevented Edward Kennedy (a US Senator) several times from boarding an airplane. How many other “Edward Kennedys” did it prevent flying? And why did they have a no-fly list at all (unless to punish people) when they had the ability to search the passenger’s baggage and carry-ons? It was “security” madness, and that madness infects this entire system. Why should we suppose that the software that produces drone-assassination-targets is any better than the software that produced the Edward Kennedy no-fly list?

    And, no, Obama probably would not drone-attack a target in a hotel in Washington DC. And not because of the so-called constitution of the USA.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    February 14, 2014, 2:19 pm

    RE: “The US is said to be targeting an American in Pakistan for possible execution by drone.” ~ Weiss
    AND RE: “His [Guiora’s] problem with the US process is that the decision to target and kill is made without any review by the courts.” ~ Auster

    MY COMMENT: Down, down, down we go into the deep, dark abyss; hand in hand with Israel.

    SEE: “Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza”, By Glenn Greenwald, guardian.co.uk, 11/15/12
    The US was once part of the international consensus against extra-judicial assassinations. Now it is a leader in that tactic.

    [EXCERPTS] Israel’s escalating air attacks on Gaza follow the depressingly familiar pattern that shapes this conflict. Overwhelming Israeli force slaughters innocent Palestinians . . .
    . . . Meanwhile, most US media outlets are petrified of straying too far from pro-Israel orthodoxies. . .
    . . . Obama had no choice but to support these attacks, which were designed, in part, to extra-judicially assassinate Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari as he was driving in his car. . .
    . . . Extra-judicial assassination – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – is a staple of the Obama presidency. That lawless tactic is one of the US president’s favorite instruments for projecting force and killing whomever he decides should have their lives ended: all in total secrecy and with no due process or oversight. There is now a virtually complete convergence between US and Israeli aggression, making US criticism of Israel impossible not only for all the usual domestic political reasons, but also out of pure self-interest: for Obama to condemn Israel’s rogue behavior would be to condemn himself.
    It is vital to recognize that this is a new development. The position of the US government on extra-judicial assassinations long had been consistent with the consensus view of the international community: that it is a savage and lawless weapon to be condemned regardless of claims that it is directed at “terrorists”. From a 15 February 2001 Guardian article by Brian Whitaker on the targeted killing by Israel of one of Yasser Arafat’s bodyguards [emphasis added]:

    “International opprobrium was directed at Israel yesterday for its state-approved assassinations of suspected terrorists – a practice widely regarded as illegal. . .
    . . . “The United States, while also condemning Palestinian violence, made clear its disapproval of the assassinations. . .
    “State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: ‘The use of Israeli helicopter gunships, Palestinian attacks against settlements and motorists, the use of mortars by Palestinians and the targeted killings by the Israeli Defence Force … are producing a new cycle of action or reaction which can become impossible to control. . .

    . . . As the Council on Foreign Relations documented in April of this year:

    “The United States adopted targeted killing as an essential tactic to pursue those responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have employed the controversial practice with more frequency in recent years. . .

    In essence, what we find, yet again, is that the governments of the United States and Israel arrogate unto themselves the right to execute anyone they want, anywhere in the world, without any limitations, regardless of how many innocent civilians they kill in the process. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/15/israel-gaza-obama-assassinations

  5. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    February 14, 2014, 2:46 pm

    “Israeli security forces put large numbers of Palestinian civilian lives in jeopardy by undertaking targeted killings in crowded areas where civilian casualties were likely. For example, on April 9, Israeli forces fired four missiles at a car in a densely populated area of Gaza city in order to kill two suspected terrorists, Sa’ad ad-Din al-Arabeit, 35, and Ashraf al-Halabi, 25. Israeli forces killed five other Palestinians in the effort, including two children, 13-year-old Ahmad Hamsa al-Ashraf, and 16-year-old Samid Hasan Qasem.”

    So did the Bush administration officials ( Addington, Yoo) change the status of innocent bystanders (especially all males younger than 16 into “enemy combatants”) via Israel’s examples of defying international law and killing who they please? The Obama administration still operating under those new definitions that those thugs came up with it when it comes to young males killed by U.S. drones http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2014/2/11/watch_wounds_of_waziristan_features_anti

  6. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    February 14, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Jeremy Schahill’s book “Dirty Wars” is a must read about the alleged “targeted” assassinations that U.S. special forces are involved in around the globe. No congressional oversight. Reading a second time so much in there…. tough to wrap a pea brain around his in depth investigative reporting.

    So did U.S. special forces take lessons from Mossad or vice versa? Or are these trained killers made from the same cloth and interchangeable? Trade killing techniques and could care less about the loss of innocent lives. Except of course unless they are Israeli’s or American lives. Fundamentally racist

  7. hophmi
    hophmi
    February 14, 2014, 3:03 pm

    “So you value Israelis over Palestinians, Yonatan responded.”

    LOL. I should hope so, when it’s a war. I’d say Palestinians fighters value Palestinians over Israelis.

    • Justpassingby
      Justpassingby
      February 14, 2014, 4:53 pm

      You hope that the occupier and apartheidregime winning their wars? Wow thats sick even for you hophmi.

    • Sammar
      Sammar
      February 15, 2014, 1:47 am

      @hophmi

      its not a war. Israel has a powerful army and the most sophisticated weapons in the world. Palestinians are prevented by Israel from having an army and halfway decent weapons. I would not call that a war – it rather looks like shooting fish in a barrel.
      Israel needs a very “brave” and “moral” army to do that?

    • talknic
      talknic
      February 15, 2014, 5:14 am

      @ hophmi “I’d say Palestinians fighters value Palestinians over Israelis”

      Seems to run contrary to the Hasabra notion that Palestinian fighters use Palestinian civilians to attract IDF fire for propaganda purposes or for human shields.

  8. American
    American
    February 14, 2014, 3:28 pm

    You can hardly call droning and bombings ‘targeted’ assassinations since they 99.999% of the time take out civilians innocents. ..it’s bs for tech killing games. Our new warriors are all wounded by hemorrhoids from manning their computer stations.

  9. bilal a
    bilal a
    February 14, 2014, 7:42 pm

    Sickening, this Israeli child killer is a professor in America ?

    why doesnt the BDS movement extend it to active Israeli personnel here on campus?

    Only Arabs in the West Bank should pay the price ?

  10. Marco
    Marco
    February 15, 2014, 3:00 am

    NPR is a joke.

    My local affiliate has been running their pledge drive.

    Often I feel the moral tug to contribute. But how can I? How can I support Morning Edition and All Things Considered? How am I supposed to give my seal of approval to Terri Gross and Fresh Air?

    It’s a shame, because there are many programs on NPR that I enjoy. But their news and political reporting and commentary is horrendous.

    We deserve a public radio outlet that offers a genuine diversity of views. For the time being, each of us has to curate our own collections of podcasts to achieve this.

  11. iResistDe4iAm
    iResistDe4iAm
    February 15, 2014, 8:10 am

    Israel abolished the death penalty in 1954 and put a Nazi war criminal on trial.

    But Israel routinely uses warplanes or death squads to summarily execute thousands of Palestinians (including women and children) WITHOUT charge or trial.

    One recent summary execution was on 18 November 2012 when Israel obliterated 10 Palestinian civilians from one family (four children aged 1 to 7, five women and one man) in their three-story home, and another 2 civilians in a nearby home in a densely populated residential neighbourhood in Gaza City:
    http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/07/israelgaza-israeli-airstrike-home-unlawful

  12. NickJOCW
    NickJOCW
    February 15, 2014, 8:24 am

    I doubt Obama looks at this issue in moral terms, except perhaps dialectically in which case he’s intelligent enough to argue it either way. Of course it has to be ‘legal’ but that’s what lawyers are for, you tell them what you want to do and it’s their job to make it legal.

  13. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    February 15, 2014, 9:42 am

    ‘Review by courts of decisions to target and kill’ is a sort of parody of the idea of courts of law. I’m going back beyond the American Constitution to the Twelve Tables and the Bible and the consensus of humanity. The whole idea of a court is that both sides may speak. A secret body reviewing a decision to kill someone and hearing only from those who want to do the killing is at best a committee, not a court. And not a very nice committee either, since it is based on acceptance of what seems very like bloody murder in the manner of tyrants – or of the Spartan krypteia.
    Some say it’s not bloody murder, since all is fair in love and war. There is some reason in that idea but if you invoke it you give the others as much moral permission to kill you as you give yourself to kill them.

  14. Don
    Don
    February 15, 2014, 11:42 am

    This is VERY irritating. I have recommended several assassins (I mean, what the heck…I am of the Italian persuasion) to a number of American law schools. And these assassins are American citizens! And the law schools have to go overseas to find people with this…shall we say…expertise? I just don’t understand.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      February 15, 2014, 11:39 pm

      American jobs being outsourced to foreigners again.

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