Yesterday Prime Minister John Key justified the extrajudicial killing of a New Zealander in a US drone strike in Yemen with a few cynical, callous words at a stand-up press conference.
Key said he’d been briefed by our spy agencies that apparently this New Zealander was a terrorist who went to a terrorist training camp in Yemen and that Key thought these types of drone strikes were justified when dealing with “these types of people.
I’ve no idea what this murdered New Zealander was doing in Yemen – and I’m certain neither does John Key. The US National Security Agency has fed selective information about the strike to our GCSB which has fed selective information to the Prime Minister who has fed selective information to the hapless public of New Zealand.
Other media reports at the time of the drone strike in August 2013 said it took out “suspected al-Qaida operatives”. Who would know? In fact the majority of people killed in US drone strikes have been civilians.
A Human Rights Watch report released last year examined six such strikes in Yemen carried out between 2009–2013 and found that of the 82 people killed, at least 57 were civilians. Was this New Zealander just more collateral damage? We don’t know and we can’t expect the government or our spy agencies to tell us.
The HRW report also concluded that the drone strikes it examined “may have violated the laws of war because the individual attacked was not a lawful military target or the attack caused disproportionate civilian harm.”
All we do know for sure is that this New Zealander never got charged, never got a trial but that somewhere in the US a decision was made for the mass assassination of a group he was with – the kind of murderous act which has been condemned by governments and human rights groups around the world.
Here are a few critical questions for our Prime Minister.
- · What evidence is there this New Zealander was a “terrorist” or was the label added after his death to justify the crime?
- · How long had the GCSB been spying on him?
- · Why was he allowed to travel overseas when other New Zealanders wanting to go overseas to fight in places like Syria for example have had their passports seized?
- · What was he doing when he was killed?
- · Why did the US launch a drone strike against him?
- · If there was evidence of terrorist activity why was he not simply arrested when he returned to New Zealand or entered a third country?
- · Was New Zealand informed by the US before they attacked and killed this kiwi citizen?
- · If so what was the response of our spy agencies and their political master John Key?
- · If New Zealand was not informed then why not?
- · In aligning this country in support for US drone strikes what additional terrorist threat does that expose New Zealanders to?
- · Why did the government not make the information about the killing public at the time when it occurred?
- · Would the government ever have made this public if the information has not leaked out?
In typically cynical fashion Key is using this incident to bolster support for the GCSB and the massive increase in the power it was given last year to spy on us. He says it shows why we need the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders.
No it doesn’t My Key – it shows why the GCSB must be closed and why New Zealand must develop an independent foreign policy rather than one which aligns to deadly US foreign policy and increases the risk of terrorist attacks on New Zealanders.