OPED: Obama meets with drone makers during drone victims’ testimony

By Ken Hanly for Digital Journal.

While Rafiq ur Rehman, his daughter and son, gave testimony about the drone attack that killed his mother and injured the two children, Obama was busy at a meeting that included CEO's of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman both of whom make drones.

While General Atomics makes the Predator and Reaper drones that fly covert missions over the tribal areas of Pakistan, Lockheed makes the Hellfire missiles, that are used in the strikes. A Hellfire missile is believed to have killed Mammana Bibi the grandmother of Zubair and Nabila the two children of Rehman who testified before Congress.
While the meeting Obama was attending was about cybersecurity rather than drones, it shows perhaps where his priorities lie. Of course no doubt Obama is busy especially in meeting top CEO's of huge defense contractors but very few other members of Congress bothered to attend the hearing either:Ultimately, only five members of Congress arrived at the briefing to hear their testimony Tuesday morning: Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, who organized the briefing, along with Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Rush Holt, D-N.J., John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rick Nolan, D-Minn.Not a single Republican attended. The regular Pakistani lawyer of Rehman, Shahzad Akbar was not able to make the meeting either but because the government refuses to give him a visa. He was earlier prevented from attending a drone conference where he was to speak so the Rehmans had another legal representative:They are clients of human rights charity Reprieve, and will be joined by their legal representative Jennifer Gibson. Their Islamabad-based lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, a Fellow of Reprieve, had intended to join them, but was denied a visa by the US authorities – a recurring problem since he began representing civilian victims of drone strikes in 2011.
Somewhat surprisingly Rehman expressed positive feelings about the United States and Americans in remarks to Al Jazeera:"It's very peaceful here. For the most part, there's a lot of freedom and people get along with each other. They're nice, they respect each other, and I appreciate that,"
"We're all human being. I knew that Americans would have a heart, that they would be sympathetic to me. That's why I came here — I thought if they heard my story, they would want to listen to me and influence their politicians."

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