pops (1)A highly respected investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, whom top American politicians from both sides of the divide would prefer to disappear into oblivion, has yet again been proven correct.

Having produced the “Dirty Wars” documentary following his acclaimed book “Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield”, Scahill recently told NBC News that President Obama will “go down in history as the president who legitimized and systematized a process by which the United States asserts the right to conduct assassination operations around the world”.

Following these startling allegations which remove Obama’s artificial halo, a new book by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann is likely to add to a raging debate on the American president’s human rights record.

Titled “Double Down”, the authors make a damning claim that while discussing drone strikes, Obama told his aides that he’s “really good at killing people”.

Its an astounding and shocking claim, yet is as indisputable as it is grim, reports Michael Kelley of Business Insider.

He goes on to document Obama’s drone war record which saw the 2009 upsurge in Afghanistan, 145 Predator drone strikes in NATO’s 2011 Libya operations, the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and drone strikes that killed the Pakistani Taliban leader and a senior member of the Somali-based al-Shabab this week.

In comparison to 52 drone strikes under George Bush, the Obama administration expanded the drone war with 326 drone strikes in Pakistan, 93 in Yemen and several in Somalia.

Even American citizens have not been spared by Obama’s hideous and illegal drone wars: Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son within two weeks of each other in Yemen.

Kelly’s report explains how drone operators began practising “signature strikes”, a tactic in which targets are chosen based on patterns of suspicious behaviour and the identities of those to be killed aren’t necessarily known. In fact all “military-age males” in a strike zone are counted as combatants.

Yet another disturbing trend of what’s known as “double tap” – bombing the same place in quick succession – often hitting first responders has become common practise.

A study by NYU School of Law and Stanford Law School in 2012, provides  devastating details of the use of “double tap” on rescue operations mainly undertaken by civilians.

Not surprising thus that during June last year UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Christof Heyns noted that intentional strikes on first responders may constitute war crimes.

Kelly also refers to Spencer Ackerman’s report in The Guardian that over the course of a year, US drone strikes in Afghanistan caused 10 times more civilian casualties than strikes by manned fighter aircraft.

He notes that a recent study by a US military adviser appears to undermine claims made by Obama that drones are more precise than conventional airpower.

Now that Obama’s outrageous confession has been made public by revelations in “Double Down”, one wonders whether it will have any effect on the drone wars executed from safe locations in robotic fashion.

Mark Bowden’s cover story in Sepetember’s issue of The Atlantic, outlines serious legal and ethical ramifications to highlight the absurdity of Obama’s drone wars.

Fowden wrote the book “Black Hawk Down” about the 1993 raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. Targeting two men for capture,  US Special Forces ended up killing hundreds of people in the city during the botched operation.

His piece in The Atlantic appropriately headed “Drone Warrior” poses a challenging question: “Has it become too easy for a president to kill?”

Iqbal Jassat

Exec: Media Review Network