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The Fake Catch-22 of Drone-War Apologists

dronesThere's a Columbia University grad who runs a Tumblr I follow called "The Political Breakdown." I can't remember why I started reading it, but I am glad I did. I am glad because of the post, "Breakdown: The Truth about Drone Strikes."

What I love about it is how perfectly it captures the mindset of apologists for President Obama's drone war. The approach the blog takes is to summarize all the facts about a controversy. The summary on drones is pretty good. The anonymous author cites many of the same excellent sources that I rely upon, has a similar understanding of the facts, and reaches a conclusion that leaves me flabbergasted.

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US Ramps Up Pakistan Drone Strikes

dronesA bomb targeting paramilitary soldiers killed 12 people in southwest Pakistan on Thursday, while five suspected militants died in a U.S. drone strike in the country's northwest, officials said.

Separately, an explosion ripped through a crowded mosque in the northwest city of Mingora, killing 21 people and injuring more than 70 others, said hospital official Mian Gul Aleem. The blast was caused by a gas cylinder that exploded, said senior police official Gul Afzal Khan.

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When U.S. drones kill civilians, Yemen’s government tries to conceal it

Yemen drone attacksA rickety Toyota truck packed with 14 people rumbled down a desert road from the town of Radda, which al-Qaeda militants once controlled. Suddenly a missile hurtled from the sky and flipped the vehicle over.

Chaos. Flames. Corpses. Then, a second missile struck.

Within seconds, 11 of the passengers were dead, including a woman and her 7-year-old daughter. A 12-year-old boy also perished that day, and another man later died from his wounds.

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Afghanistan Teenagers Detained By U.S. Military

Teen detainees, BagramThe U.S. military has detained more than 200 Afghan teenagers who were captured in the war for about a year at a time at a military prison next to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the United States has told the United Nations.

The U.S. State Department characterized the detainees held since 2008 as "enemy combatants" in a report sent every four years to the United Nations in Geneva updating U.S. compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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U.S. reducing plans for large civilian force in post-2014 Afghanistan

Afghanistan after 2014The Obama administration has ordered significant cutbacks in initial plans for a robust U.S. civilian presence in Afghanistan after U.S. combat troops withdraw two years from now, according to U.S. officials.

Learning from Iraq, where postwar ambitions proved unsustainable, the White House and top State Department officials are confronting whether the United States needs — and can protect — a large diplomatic compound in Kabul, four consulates around the country and other civilian outposts to oversee aid projects and monitor Afghanistan’s political pulse.

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Taliban fighters, suicide bombers attack U.S.-Afghan base

Afghanistan attackTaliban insurgents, including several suicide bombers, attacked a U.S.-Afghan military airfield in the eastern city of Jalalabad early Sunday morning, triggering an hours-long battle that left most of the attackers dead in a failed attempt to breach the base’s fortifications.

The attackers detonated two suicide vehicles at the gate of the base, followed by three more suicide bombers on foot who detonated explosive vests, according to an account of the attack provided by the Nangahar provincial governor's office late Sunday afternoon.

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U.S. Election Speeded Move to Codify Policy on Drones

dronesFacing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.

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