“Killing People is Fun.” That is the infamous quote of General James Mattis, who was chosen last year by Barack Obama to be the head of CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command). The quotation sparked a flurry of bad press for the United States, generating Internet and YouTube headlines such as, “”Randomly Killing People is Fun,” “It’s Fun to Shoot People,” and “Killing’s a Hoot.” The Mattis quote did not harm his prospects for promotion because violence is seemingly prized within the U.S. Government. Barack Obama ran for reelection this year on several themes, including his decision to kill Osama bin Laden. At numerous campaign stops he heralded the killing. We now know that bin Laden was old and sick and was unarmed when shot, and thereafter a Navy SEAL “finished him off” with a final execution bullet. This was all portrayed by the White House as heroic. The spin is that it is good to kill a defenseless captive. Glorifying violence only leads to more violence.
On December 14, 2012, the world witnessed a horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut when a gunman opened fire at the Sandy Hook elementary school killing 20 children and six adults. Barack Obama publicly expressed horror at this act of violence committed by someone outside of his Administration. This phony display of outrage is typical of Washington, D.C. Barack Obama has himself, his Administration and his friends in Hollywood to blame for promoting violence within the United States. Leaders lead by example. When the examples are poor, bad results tend to ensue.
Senator John Kerry, President Obama’s choice to be the next Secretary of State, addressed the Democratic Convention in North Carolina on September 6, 2012 and sarcastically posed a question to the crowd, “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off than he was four years ago?” This abhorrent gloating echoed a speech by Vice-President Joseph Biden in Detroit on September 3rd in which he yelled out to a cheering crowd, “I’ve got a bumper sticker for you - Osama bin Laden is dead and GM (General Motors) is alive.” Navy SEAL Matthew Bissonnette described meeting Biden after the bin Laden raid. Biden reportedly made “lame jokes” and behaved like “your drunken uncle.”
Charles Woods, father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was killed in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Tripoli told news show host Glenn Beck that he met Vice-President Biden at Andrews Air Force Base as his son’s casket was being returned to the United States. He said that Biden acted like a buffoon and made a loud and disrespectful joke about his son.
It may very well be necessary on an occasion to kill an enemy, but it is never acceptable to boast about it. Pro-Obama news media sources were quick to adopt the language of the Administration. News anchors and reporters began to swagger about how the U.S. “took out” bin Laden, making it sound light and filled with merriment.
Obama’s Pentagon and CIA have been contributing to this theme. The Predator drone attacks into Pakistan continue despite rising concern over civilian casualties. The U.S. claims to carry out “surgical” air strikes, while refusing to inform the public that its “smart” munitions do not have the precision that military propaganda claims. Radar guided missiles, such as the Hellfire, continue to suffer from manufacturing defects, inherent system inaccuracies, targeting errors and are impacted by environmental factors. As a result, the Pentagon and CIA usually employ a “double-tap” system in which they fire two missiles, assuming that one will either fail or go off-target. The results, in many cases, are civilian casualties.
In an incident little-known in the United States, a Pentagon air strike from Djibouti into Yemen on September 2, 2012, targeted a vehicle which turned out to be a local bus that was transporting villagers back to Sabool from a market trip to Radda. Twelve people were blown apart including two women and two children. There were two survivors but they are reported to be permanently crippled. The roadway was covered in flour and sugar from the market. The Yemeni Government said the killings were an “accident” but the U.S. Embassy refused comment on the raid and refused to admit responsibility. No compensation was paid out to the villagers by the Pentagon. According to reporter Letta Taylor, the attack left fifty people without parents or other providers. Ahmed al-Sabooli, age 22, a farmer, lost his parents and only sister (age 10) in the attack. He now has ten siblings to raise on his own. How is it that Barack Obama is so concerned about spending time with his family in Hawaii this holiday (because family matters), yet seemingly cares nothing about the Sabooli family?
“When we think about America, we see an image of a plane dropping bombs on our people.” (Intisar al-Qadhi, political activist and daughter of a prominent tribal leader in Mareb, Yemen)
In the Radda air strike, the Pentagon was reportedly targeting Abdul Raouf al-Dahab, but he lives in a village 14 kilometers away from the bombing site. The bus that was hit makes daily trips between Sabool and Radda. It was not traveling on the road to Manasseh where al-Dahab lives. It appears that this was not a simple error but potentially criminal negligence. Someone in the U.S. Government should publicly be held accountable for the Radda killings and assistance needs to be provided to the survivors. This, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident either in Yemen, North Wazirstan or Afghanistan.
The standard off-the-record response by Pentagon officials in Afghanistan to NATO-caused civilian deaths resulting from home invasions, air strikes or checkpoint shootings is that “civilians always die in war - it is unavoidable.” This erroneous rationalization belies the evidence, which is that perhaps 90% of the NATO-caused deaths were avoidable and could have been prevented by better raw intelligence, more competent analysis or simply by not bombing or shooting. NATO’s blase’ attitude is reflected in the total absence over the past decade of any courts-martials for any errant air strikes, checkpoint shootings or home invasions by special operations personnel.
The Obama Administration tends to dismiss the deaths of women and children as mere “collateral damage.” This flippant terminology toward killing innocent people is officially enshrined in Pentagon publications, including the U.S. Air Force Intelligence Targeting Guide. Such bravado resonates with the mentally ill in society and risks spurring them into copycat conduct. Because the Government suggests that it is OK for the glamorous CIA and for special operations teams to “take out” women and children, then others may see that as a green light to also do so. If Generals enjoy killing and get promoted for killing, then that conveys the message that killings are a good thing.
Instead of grabbing some cheap publicity by proposing another loop-hole ridden assault weapons ban, Barack Obama needs to clean up his own house. Killing another human being is a serious and sobering matter. What God put on this Earth, men must not lightly remove. Being Leader of the Free World carries with it the responsibility to act with decency, knowing that others will follow your example either into the light or into the darkness.