Human Rights Watch has called upon the U.S. government to investigate a 2013 drone strike in Yemen that targeted a wedding procession. The December 12 attack, which was probably carried out by the military’s JSOC, killed 12 men and wounded 15 more, including the bride. The U.S. insisted the dead were Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; but witnesses insisted the causalities were civilians. Last May, Obama stated that U.S. policy requires “near certainty” that no civilians will be targeted. Read full report: “A Wedding That Became a Funeral: US Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen”
Of course, the real sovereign power here is not simply the power to “take life”, but to “name the dead.” That is to say, implicit in any administration’s defense of a drone strike is the underlying distinction between “combatant” and “civilian”–and it is this distinction that matters the most. Numerous stories have detailed the vague, lopsided definition of what counts as an “enemy”–perhaps any male of “fighting age.” And so, the U.S. administration may well indeed be 100% honest when it states that 0% of the casualties were civilian. But here, is it not precisely–paradoxically–the case that the truth is always-already a lie?
More on Yemen and AQAP here.