Follow us on social

Screen-shot-2022-01-20-at-4.24.45-pm

Lawmakers ask Biden for changes to US counterterror policy

A group of senators and House members says continued civilian casualties and lack of accountability are not sustainable.

Reporting | Military Industrial Complex

One day after the New York Times published newly released video footage of a U.S. drone strike that killed 10 innocent civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan last year, a group of 50 U.S. senators and House members wrote to President Biden calling on him to “overhall U.S. counterterrorism policy” with a greater emphasis on human rights and international law. 

The letter — led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), as well as Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) — urges Biden to “prioritize non-lethal tools to address conflict and fragility, and only use force when it is lawful and as a last resort.” 

The lawmakers note that U.S. airstrikes since 9/11 have killed at least 48,000 civilians with drone strikes alone accounting for 2,200, including 450 children. “Alarmingly,” they write, “the actual numbers are likely significantly higher given the difficulty of comprehensive reporting and the United States’ consistent underreporting of these numbers and reported refusal to investigate reports absent ‘potential for high media attention.’”

The letter is admirable and a step in the right direction but there is more these lawmakers themselves can do. For example, Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Yager and Leah Hebron have argued on these pages that given the lack of accountability for U.S.-caused civilian casualties, Congress can launch investigations similar to the 2008 inquiry on detainee treatment.  

“The critical piece,” they said, “is to evaluate not just the individual strikes but systemic failures by the U.S. military and its civilian leadership — failures to set the right guidance on civilian harm, to follow up on investigations, to avoid safeguards and oversight.”

Congress could also repeal the laws that the executive branch has used to justify these airstrikes that cause civilian casualties — the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Force against the perpetrators of 9/11 and the 2002 AUMF greenlighting the invasion of Iraq. They do nothing but prolong America’s forever wars, which President Biden himself has pledged to end. 

Photos: Phil Pasquini, Paul Boucher, and viewimage via shutterstock.com
Reporting | Military Industrial Complex
The Ukraine War at two years: By the numbers


KYIV, UKRAINE - July 12, 2023: Destroyed and burned Russian military tanks and parts of equipment are exhibited at the Mykhailivska square in Kyiv city centre. (Oleksandr Popenko/Shutterstock)

The Ukraine War at two years: By the numbers

Europe

Two years ago on Feb. 24, 2022, the world watched as Russian tanks rolled into the outskirts of Kyiv and missiles struck the capital city.

Contrary to initial predictions, Kyiv never fell, but the country today remains embroiled in conflict. The front line holds in the southeastern region of the country, with contested areas largely focused on the Russian-speaking Donbas and port cities around the Black Sea.

keep readingShow less
Navalny's death shouldn't close off talks with Putin

A woman lays flowers at the monument to the victims of political repressions following the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Moscow, Russia February 16, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

Navalny's death shouldn't close off talks with Putin

Analysis

President Biden was entirely correct in the first part of his judgment on the death of Alexei Navalny: “Putin is responsible, whether he ordered it, or he is responsible for the circumstances he put that man in.” Even if Navalny eventually died of “natural causes,” his previous poisoning, and the circumstances of his imprisonment, must obviously be considered as critical factors in his death.

For his tremendous courage in returning to Russia after his medical treatment in the West — knowing well the dangers that he faced — the memory of Navalny should be held in great honor. He joins the immense list of Russians who have died for their beliefs at the hands of the state. Public expressions of anger and disgust at the manner of his death are justified and correct.

keep readingShow less
Big US investors prop up the nuclear weapons industry

ProStockStudio via shutterstock.com

Big US investors prop up the nuclear weapons industry

Military Industrial Complex

Nuclear weapons aren’t just a threat to human survival, they’re a multi-billion-dollar business supported by some of the biggest institutional investors in the U.S. according to new data released today by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and PAX, the largest peace organization in the Netherlands.

For the third year in a row, globally, the number of investors in nuclear weapons producers has fallen but the overall amount invested in these companies has increased, largely thanks to some of the biggest investment banks and funds in the U.S.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest