Weighing in on targeted drone strikes, journalist Jeremy Scahill did not mince his words. From the video:
If you go to the village of Al-Majalah in Yemen, where I was, and you see the unexploded clusterbombs and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do - the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen -those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from Al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to Al Qaeda there. And 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike and the U.S. tried to cover it up, and say it was a Yemeni strike, and we know from the Wikileaks cables that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder - it’s mass murder—when you say, ‘We are going to bomb this area’ because we believe a terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I’m sorry, that’s murder.
Later on Scahill faced massively negative responses from Obama-supporters on which Roqayah Chamseddine of Frustrated Arab accurately commented:
The response to Scahill has been overwhelmingly negative, from both political camps – Democrats and Republicans; though reactions stemming from Obama supporters are the most venomous, as they unashamedly mirror Bush-era idolatry, going as far as to consider Scahill’s undaunted commentary a sort of political sacrilege.
It’s depressing how true this is.
In nearly all countries, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes. In 17 of 20 countries, more than half disapprove of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Americans are the clear outliers on this issue – 62% approve of the drone campaign, including most Republicans (74%), independents (60%) and Democrats (58%).
He told NBC he believed Israel had not yet decided how to deal with the issue, amid reports that Israel may strike Iran as early as spring.
Mr Obama said the aim was to resolve the crisis diplomatically, but added that no option was off the table.
The US and Israel suspect that Iran is building a nuclear bomb. Iran says its programmes are for peaceful purposes.
Last November, the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, said it had information suggesting Iran had carried out tests “relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device”.
Since then, the US and the EU have imposed a series of sanctions against Iran, including measures targeting the country’s lucrative oil industry.
“I’ve been very clear - we’re going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating a nuclear arms race in a volatile region,” Mr Obama told NBC in a live interview on Sunday.
He said Washington was working “in lockstep” with Israel, which was right to be very concerned about Iran’s controversial activities.
Asked if he believed the Jewish state could launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran, Mr Obama said: “I don’t think Israel has made a decision on what they need to do.”
He declined to answer directly a question whether Washington would be consulted first, saying only that the US and Israel “have closer military and intelligence consultation… than we’ve ever had”.
Mr Obama also said there was no evidence that the Iranians had “intentions or capabilities” to strike US targets in retaliation.
The US leader was eager to play down tensions between the US and Israel over suggestions that Israel is preparing a military strike against Iran, the BBC’s Jane Little in Washington reports.
But she says that behind the scenes Washington is deeply alarmed by reports that Israel may strike Iran as early as April - in a move that would drive up tensions in the Middle East as well as oil prices, which would threaten the global economy and Mr Obama’s re-election chances.
UN member states have rejected a US-backed plan to introduce new regulations on cluster bombs - munitions which break up into hundreds of smaller bomblets.
The plan would have eliminated all cluster munitions made before 1980.
But human rights groups argued that an international convention banning such bombs already exists and that the new protocol would dilute its provisions.
The US said that it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.
“The protocol would have led to the immediate prohibition of many millions of cluster munitions [and] placed the remaining cluster munitions under a detailed set of restrictions and regulations,” the US embassy in Geneva said in a statement.
First developed during World War II, cluster bombs contain a number of smaller bomblets designed to cover a large area and deter an advancing army.
A total of 111 UN member states have already signed up to the Oslo convention prohibiting the production, transfer, and use of cluster munitions. The US, Russia and China have not.
A senior US official said the bombs were a military necessity for when targets were spread over wide areas, and that using alternative armaments would cause more collateral damage and prolong conflicts, Reuters reports.
The outcome of Friday’s meeting in Geneva was welcomed by human rights campaigners who say cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons that can fail to explode on impact and lie dormant, often causing injury to civilian years after conflict has ended.
“How often do you see the US, Russia, China, India, Israel and Belarus push for something, and they don’t get it? That has happened largely because of one powerful alliance driving the Oslo partnership,” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Geneva, says that though the proposal would have eliminated millions of ageing cluster munitions, even military allies of the US, like Britain, chose not to support it.
Many UN member states felt, she says, that getting rid of some cluster weapons while officially sanctioning others would set a dangerous precedent, and might even legitimise their use in the long-term.
The US move was also opposed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the top UN officials for human rights, emergency relief and development.