Dear Mr. President,
Rafiq Rehman and his two children, Nabila, 9, and Zubair, 13, told their story to Congress yesterday, how a CIA drone strike on October 24, 2012 in North Waziristan killed Rafiq’s 67-year-old mother, Momina Bibi—she was also the village midwife—out in her garden showing her grandchildren how to tell when okra is ready to pick. There were no militants in the area and Momina Bibi was clearly surrounded by small children. Nevertheless, two Hellfire missiles were launched directly at her, She was killed and Nabila, Zubair and several of their young cousins were wounded by shrapnel. The official story, however, said only militants were killed. For the past year they have sought answers: Why was their mother and grandmother killed? What did she do? Was it a mistake? But there are no explanations, no apologies, no offers to pay medical bills or repair the damage done, only silence from Washington and Islamabad. They came here to tell their story directly to Americans, to ask them to consider the way drones terrorize and disrupt lives, families, whole villages. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) invited the Rehmans to a briefing he organized. Four people showed up—Reps. Schnakowsky (D-IL), Holt (D-NJ), Conyers (D-MI), and Nolan (D-MN). Five people altogether! No invitation to The White House, either. I guess you figured you didn’t need another Malala Yousafzai moment, right?—her going off script to plead for an end to the drones. You don’t want another lecture about the harm they do, the disruption, the violence, the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters ripped apart so there’s nothing left to identify or bury. Inconvenient truths you don’t need and right now you’re up to your eyeballs in inconvenient truths about drones—the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN reports all claiming the civilian casualty rate in drone strikes is near 30% and calling them war crimes. Drones are the weapon of cowards, killing others at long distance without accountability or risk. Those who carry out the orders to kill and those who promote and justify this type of murder—the enablers and technocratic assassins—are war criminals, enemies of humanity. You should have been at that briefing, Mr. President, you and all the other 530 members of Congress. It was one of the most important briefings on Capitol Hill this year. You and all the others should have listened closely to the Rehmans’ story and considered it. There is no statute of limitations for war crimes.