Sunday news round-up: October 12th-18th

Top Story: The Intercept publishes treasure trove of drone-related secret files: A “second Snowden” has handed over a bulk of top secret slides and files related to the Obama Administration’s extrajudicial killing machine, which employs drone warfare to take out targets that the government views as a threat to U.S. national security interests. The documents detail how the killing machine operates using a system of “baseball cards” of potential threats to determine who warrants execution without trial, charge, and in some cases, even without proper suspicion. The files also directly implicate Barack Obama in the killing machine, who issues final approval or disapproval for the strikes, which to date have included the assassination of a former British citizen. Additionally, the files estimate that at least 90% of the targeted strikes did not kill the intended target. From the whistleblower’s own words: “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”. Unfortunately, both major political parties in the U.S. endorse drone killings as an effective means of protecting national security.

Met Police hint at “overt and covert tactics” to arrest Assange: London’s Metropolitan Police have unveiled new changes to the way that the Ecuadorian Embassy will be monitored, should besieged whistleblower Julian Assange attempt to leave. The changes, announced in an online post, will see the removal of a 24/7 police presence at the Embassy, to be replaces by covert tactics to arrest and detain Assange, although the specifics of these tactics and their legality have been omitted from the announcement. The Wikileaks founder is currently wanted by Swedish prosecutors for failure to appear at a hearing (the crime for which he has since been cleared of), as well as American authorities who may wish to charge him with espionage. The Met claims that it has sought approval from the Home Office for its new tactics, and received it.

Amnesty International accuses Israel of “callous disregard” for Palestinians: A new report by Amnesty International has denounced the “trigger-happy” Israeli Army and its brutality towards Palestinians, especially children, amidst the ongoing illegal occupation. The report, which examines 22 cases of Palestinian deaths to show a consistent pattern of unlawful and extrajudicial killings, is aimed at highlighting the deteriorating political occupation in Palestine, which is currently subject to Israeli military rule but not Israeli civil law. The report goes as far to suggest that not only are the extrajudicial killings met with impunity by Israeli authorities, but that they are in fact built in to the policy of occupation. In other words, Amnesty International alleges that Israel has legalized extrajudicial killings and removed the due process of law when it pertains to Palestinians, but not Israelis, who enjoy all the benefits of the judicial system.

U.S. tank smashes into bombed Kunduz hospital, destroys evidence: A forced entry by a U.S. tank to the site of a destroyed Médécins sans Frontières hospital has put potential war crimes evidence at risk, making the possibility of a proper and impartial investigation less likely. The compound, which treats people in North Eastern Afghanistan, was subject to half an hour of sustained bombing by American forces at the beginning of the month, despite hospital personnel alerting the authorities of its location repeatedly. Many Médécins sans Frontières workers were killed during the slaughter, and some patients were left burning alive in their beds, prompting the organization to call for an independent investigation. The tank, part of a U.S. and NATO led investigation, blasted its way into the compound, acted aggressively towards staff, and damaged property related to the investigation. President Barack Obama, to the praise of so-called liberals, expressed dismay at the loss of life and promised a full investigation by his people. In other words, the government is investigating itself for the war crime, and has begun that investigation by smacking a tank into the site of the crime. A great start, by all accounts.

Iranian Parliament approves P5+1 nuclear deal: By a vote of 161-59, the Iranian Parliament, the Majlis, has approved the implementation of the international nuclear agreement, which forbids the acquisition or use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Despite approving the deal in its entirety, Iranian lawmakers and authorities insist that international inspectors must only have limited access to Iranian military sites with prior notice, and the use of inspections must now be approved by the theocracy’s Guardian Council before the deal is absolutely finalized. Additionally, the Republican-led U.S. Congress is still debating whether to sabotage the deal, which could undo months of tense negotiations and diplomatic meetings. Interestingly, Iranian Press TV notes that Article 1 of the deal requires Iran to use its power to combat the development, acquisition or use of nuclear weapons across the entire Middle East, putting Israel’s secretive WMD programme under renewed scrutiny. Under the deal, Iran is required to pressure Israel to give up its nuclear warheads.


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