The phrase “military aged male” is a favorite of the Obama administration, since it’s the one trotted out by the drone program to justify “signature strikes” on people who cannot positively be identified as terrorists or insurgents.
But how young can a “military aged male” be? If recent comments by US military officers in Afghanistan are any guide, as young as ten years old.
In comments which legal experts and campaigners described as “deeply troubling”, army Lt Col Marion Carrington told the Marine Corp Times that children, as well as “military-age males”, had been identified as a potential threat because some were being used by the Taliban to assist in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
“It kind of opens our aperture,” said Carrington, whose unit, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was assisting the Afghan police. “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”
In the article, headlined “Some Afghan kids aren’t bystanders”, Carrington referred to a case this year in which the Afghan national police in Kandahar province said they found children helping insurgents by carrying soda bottles full of potassium chlorate.
The piece also quoted an unnamed marine corps official who questioned the “innocence” of Afghan children, particularly three who were killed in a US rocket strike in October. Last month, the New York Times quoted local officials who said Borjan, 12, Sardar Wali, 10, and Khan Bibi, eight, from Helmand’s Nawa district had been killed while gathering dung for fuel.
However, the US official claimed that, before they called for the strike on suspected insurgents planting improvised explosive devices, marines had seen the children digging a hole in a dirt road and that “the Taliban may have recruited the children to carry out the mission”.
Pardiss Kebriaei, senior attorney of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a specialist in targeted killings, said she was concerned over what seemed to be an attempt to justify the killing of children.
Kebriaei said: “This is one official quoted. I don’t know if that standard is what they are using but the standard itself is troubling.”
… ”Under the rules of law you can only target civilians if they are directly participating in hostilities. So, here, this standard of presuming any military aged males in the vicinity of a war zone are militants, already goes beyond what the law allows.
“When you get to the suggestion that children with potentially hostile intent may be perceived to be legitimate targets is deeply troubling and unlawful.”
Americans overwhelmingly voted for two candidates who would perpetuate murderous war crimes committed in their names, because they thought their preferred candidate would ensure they’d have a few dollars more in their own pockets. Nice.