Obama ordered his first drone strike against Pakistan just 72 hours after being sworn in as president. It seems a suitably macabre fact that, according to a United Nations report on “targeted killings” (that is, assassinations) published in 2010, Bush employed drone strikes 45 times in his eight years as president. In Obama’s first year in office, the drones were sent in 53 times. In the six years that drone strikes have been used in the fight against Pakistan, researchers at the New America Foundation estimate that between 1,283 and 1,971 people have been killed.
While the dead are regularly identified as “militants” or “suspected militants” in newspaper stories and on the TV news, they almost never have names, nor are their identities confirmed or faces shown. Their histories are always vague. The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) took a careful look at nine drone strikes from the last two years and concluded that they had resulted in the deaths of 30 civilians, including 14 women and children. (Perhaps superior American military intelligence classified them as “militants in training”.) Based on this study, an average rate of error can be calculated: 3.33 civilians mistakenly killed in each drone attack. The dead, Pakistanis will assure you, are largely unnamed, faceless, unindicted and unconvicted civilians.
Pakistanis are considered irrelevant, however, and collateral damage, as it turns out, doesn’t seem to worry anyone in the governing elite.
Oh, and the majority of news stations are running the fact that a monarch's car got a little bit beaten up more than the fact that thousands of people were trapped, attacked, and seriously injured by rampaging police officers answering to a goddamn fascist state
At Salon, Kate Harding explains what Julian Assange is actually being charged with, why the claims that his accusers have CIA ties are pretty damn flimsy, and wraps it all up with a nice reminder that we can support what Wikileaks does and question the timing and handling of these rape accusations, all while simultaneously NOT diving off a cliff into victim-blaming, slut-shaming, or any other shameful treatment of two women who—for all we know—really were sexually assaulted.
This is one hell of a post, effectively going right to the heart of what’s been bugging me about the reaction to Assange’s arrest. And Harding positively nails the landing.
The fact is, we just don’t know anything right now. Assange may be a rapist, or he may not. His accuser may be a spy or a liar or the heir to Valerie Solanas, or she might be a sexual assault victim who now also gets to enjoy having her name dragged through the mud, or all of the above. The charges against Assange may be retaliation for Cablegate or (cough) they may not.
Public evidence, as The Times noted, is scarce. So, it’s heartening to see that in the absence of same, my fellow liberal bloggers are so eager to abandon any pretense of healthy skepticism and rush to discredit an alleged rape victim based on some tabloid articles and a feverish post by someone who is perhaps not the most trustworthy source. Well done, friends! What a fantastic show of research, critical thinking and, as always, respect for women.
I’m not particularly interested in debating What Assange Did or Whether Assange Is A Rapist, and I’d appreciate it if we could steer clear of that in the comments section. Rather, I’m interested in pushing back on the primary media narrative about this case, which is that women lie and exaggerate about rape, and will call even the littlest thing — a broken condom! — rape if they’re permitted to under a too-liberal feminist legal system. In fact, there are lots of good reasons to support consent-based sexual assault laws, and to recognize that consent goes far beyond “yes you can put that in here now.” It’s a shame that the shoddy, sensationalist reporting on this case have muddied those waters.