Monday, May 19, 2014

The Prime Minister and Drones

The Prime Minister says that he is comfortable with the GCSB aiding the US in its drone strikes program.

There’s just a few problems with that:
  1. The Prime Minister’s “level of comfort” has no constitutional or legal mandate. 
  2. The UN has repeatedly asked for explanations re many drone strikes and they are basically are not satisfied with them, let's remember they have been made ‘legal’ by secret legal memo that nobody has seen. (Unless the PM has seen in it?)
  3. If we are aiding the US in its drone strikes problem, we are potentially breaking international law and the PM has to be accountable for that. 
  4. He says that people are “putting themselves in harm’s way”. No they are not, they may be doing something illegal in which case they deserve a trial and due process not extra-judicial deaths. There are some (many?) drone deaths that are non-combatant deaths – what about them?
  5. We don’t know how many because an amendment to require the President (of the United States) to disclose combatant and non-combatant deaths was removed even though it was approved in committee.
  6. The Prime Minister also said that "drone strikes are an effective way of prosecuting people". I don't know what world he is living in but that is NOT how you prosecute people. Someone needs to talk to him about trials and due process. Definition of prosecute: institute legal proceedings against a person/organization.  
  7. Another extraordinary comment the PM made was that he did not know what the GCSB information was being used for by the United States and he seemed to think the use of such intelligence to aid in the Afghan war and the Drone strikes are the same thing. Just because the US was attacked by a terrorist group in 2001 does not give western nations the right to carte blanche kill people forever and ever for the rest of time and eternity. 
  8. The PM has repeatedly said that GCSB acts within the law. This is completely false. If they had, then we would not have to retrospectively pass legislation making acts of theirs legal, which were illegal. (We did the same for the Police after the Tuhoe trials) 
  9. By taking a blasé approach to drone strikes and the killing of potentially innocent people overseas, there is now more of a target on NZ’s back than ever before. Remember that chilling bin Laden quote: "Free people do not relinquish their security. This is contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom. Let him tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example". New Zealand will be seen as the UK is seen by terrorists group. Why would we Kiwis want that kind of a reputation with people who kill innocent civilians without a second thought? 
  10. It is the government’s job to keep us safe – yes. But they should do so by ensuring our privacy, by ensuring our right to not be subject to illegal search and seizures, by not breaking international law, by being subject to the rule of law, and above all by being accountable and transparent to the public. If they are having a hard time figuring out how to do that they need to hire more intelligent humans because they are not trying hard enough.

I would like to see the families of drone strikes victims in front of the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Select Committee. If we as a nation are so comfortable with it (via our PM), I want us to look into the eyes of the children whose innocent family members were killed without trial or reason just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time in their own country for the sake of our security (apparently) and tell them we are comfortable killing their families for our security. 

1 comment:

  1. He gets away with it though, La-mia, because far too few New Zealanders care a fig for due process and international law. As far as they're concerned, if you go to Yemen thinking friendly thoughts about Al Qaida, then you deserve everything that you get. Key knows this - so he doesn't care a fig either.

    Oh and BTW "prosecute" can also mean: "continue with (a course of action) with a view to its completion." e.g. a serious threat to the government's ability to prosecute the war