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PRESS RELEASE


U.S. Senator Mike Gravel
Denounces Obama's Drone Wars

Oct. 20, 2015 (EIRNS)—U.S. Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska (1969-1981) denounced the Obama Administration's policy of killing civilians and bystanders through "Drone Strikes planned by meetings of a very precise and elaborate command structure involving CIA Director John Brennan and others," but which ultimately rests on President Obama personally.

In June 1971, Senator Gravel alone had the courage to read The Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg's revelation of the lies told to the American public to hide the failure of the Vietnam War, into Congressional proceedings. At the time of Gravel's exposure of the Vietnam War lies, both the New York Times and Washington Post had been enjoined by courts from publishing the papers, and Ellsberg threatened with criminal prosecution and prison. Today, there is no legal bar to publication of the Drone Papers, but the major press have refused to cover the story.

The Intercept website's "The Drone Papers" (https://theintercept.com) detail the inner working of the U.S. military assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia in murderous detail. The Drone Papers, provided by a second Edward Snowden are now getting traction inside the United States, despite a major media coverup to protect Obama, with coverage picked up in Mother Jones, WIRED magazine, Small Wars Journal, and Lawfare, plus British coverage in The Guardian and newspapers in Ireland .

Mother Jones headlined its coverage "A Massive National Security Leak Just Blew the Lid Off Obama's Drone War." It quotes The Intercept's unnamed whistleblower, "This outrageous explosion of watchlisting—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them 'baseball cards,' assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong."

The story noted that Amnesty International has called for an immediate congressional investigation into the entire drone program, arguing that the newly leaked documents "raise serious concerns about whether the USA has systematically violated International law, including by classifying unidentified people as 'combatants' to justify their killing." There are now official U.S. military documents, the article noted, detailing the extent of the mass kill program (between Jan. 2012 and Feb. 2013, for example, 200 people were killed in drone strikes in northeastern Afghanistan, while only 35 people were named on the kill list). The Mother Jones story also highlighted the fact that, in some instances, President Obama signed off on kill orders that did not even identify specific targets, but authorized drone attacks based on patterns of observed behavior by groups of people.

The Guardian highlighted the fact that President Obama has been lying in his claims that the drone program requires "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, nearly 1,000 civilians have been killed in 421 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, and an estimated 200 children. Yet the drone program lists all unidentified civilians killed in combat as terrorists to cover up the fact that, in many areas where the drone program is operating, 90 percent of the people killed are not the approved targets.

At my first encounter with Barack Obama, at the first debate for the 2008 Democratic Presidential candidates in South Carolina in 2007, I questioned Obamas commitment to using lethal force to take out terrorists, after Barack Obama stated that There is no contradiction between us using our military and in some cases, lethal forms, to take out terrorists and building on alliances around the world ... referring to Iran and the possibility of supporting Israel if it were threatened. Obama was somewhat embarrassed that he had made that connection. As he passed behind me after the debates conclusion, he angrily addressed me, Who are you, Gravel, to question my morality in using nuclear missiles in a First Strike? Then, I did question his morality. But today, I point to Obamas obvious immorality in using Drone strikes on innocent bystanders in drone missile attacks.