I have co-authored a letter to the President on drone warfare. In this letter, I have asked him to stop using armed drones except during times of legal war in areas of actual hostilities against the United States.
Please join me, and I will send this letter, along with your signatures, to the President.
Rep. Alan Grayson
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Dear Mr. President:
We strongly urge you to compose a letter of remorse, including an offer of compensation, to 9-year-old Nibila ur Rehman. She is a surviving grandchild of the 68-year old Pakistani grandmother who was reduced to a grisly corpse by a drone strike you ordered last year. No claim or evidence has surfaced indicating the slain grandmother was mistaken for a jihadist or circulating among them.
The details of the apparent murder were related by the 9-year-old child recently in a congressional hearing hosted by Representative Alan Grayson (D. Fl.): “It was the day before Eid. My grandmother asked me to come help her outside. We were collecting okra, the vegetables. Then I saw in the sky the drone and I heard a ‘dum dum’ noise. Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream. I don’t know if it was my grandmother, but I couldn’t see her. I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run. I kept running but I felt something in my hand. And I looked at my hand. There was blood. I tried to bandage my hand, but the blood kept coming.”
Speaking as American citizens, we are ashamed of what was done to that grandmother and granddaughter and what continues to be done to innocents. Silence would make us morally complicit in the cruelty that found expression in the grandmother’s killing. It would be no defense to echo the inelegant remark of a former Secretary of Defense: “[S]tuff happens.”
Playing prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner in secret to destroy individuals abroad on your say-so alone is fueling enmity against the United States that endangers us all—another example of blowback reminiscent of the birth of Al Qaeda from our participation in the disintegration of Afghanistan. Malala Yousafzei, a 16-year-old Pakistani heroine and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, recently informed you at the White House that “drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.”
Your chief of staff in 2011, William M. Daley, has related his internal doubts about the effectiveness of drone killings in defeating international terrorism:
“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20? At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”
We also urge you to cease all use of predator drones except during times of legal wars in areas of actual hostilities against the United States. International law, justice, and the safety of American citizens all militate in favor of such an enlightened policy.
Coupled with a contrite letter and commensurate compensation from the United States to 9-year-old Nibila and her family, these measures would be a commendable mark of simple moral decency in the presidency.
Member of Congress