WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – The White House today, “in the interest of transparency,” acceded to requests that it disclose the criteria used in classifying victims of its overseas “targeted killing” operations.
In reporting the results of drone strikes in foreign countries, the government normally classifies the dead as “militants,” “enemy combatants,” or, rarely, “collateral damage.” (The last term is a broad category covering people who happened to be present in pharmaceutical factories or other buildings, wedding parties, children too young to have been counted in the latest census, and various other types of “unpeople.”)
At a press conference today, White House Press Secretary Jed Lee Earnest declared, “We want to be up front and open. We don’t want to hide things from the American people, especially if the Intercept has already made them public.”
Earnest said that the government has “very clear and firm criteria” for determining whether a corpse is an enemy combatant or collateral damage. “These criteria are quite reliable, even when what we’re looking at is not much more than a few bits of charred flesh,” he maintained.
“The most important determinant in judging the deceased is the question: ‛Are they dead?.’ If they are, the presumption is that they are enemy combatants, because otherwise they would be collateral damage, and it has long been the policy of the US government to avoid or at least minimize collateral damage.”
Furthermore, Earnest pointed out, in the rare cases where collateral damage occurs, the US pays compensation “to victims’ relatives if any are still alive.” The government thus “has a clear financial incentive to make sure that everyone it kills really is an enemy.”
Therefore, if any relatives of the dead asked for compensation, it was likely that this could weaken the United States financially, which implied that the askers were hostile to the United States, and probably their dead relatives shared their attitude.
As regards reported drone attacks on wedding parties, Earnest said, “The United States government has always firmly supported the institution of marriage, so it would be absurd and counter-productive for us to attack weddings, even if they were non-Christian weddings, which don’t really count.”
As proof of the reliability of the government’s classification of the dead, Earnest cited an experiment conducted in an unnamed country – “It’s not secret, but I’ve forgotten its name.” After a randomly selected drone strike in which some of the wounded had not yet died, CIA agents parachuted into the area and questioned the only one of the dying who was still able to speak.
“We were pleased to learn that we had got it right and struck the enemy. In his last words before he died, this militant admitted that he really hated the United States.”