The deadly ‘double tap’

Terrorist acts that indiscriminately kill civilians are vile but an even more despicable strategy is the one known as the ‘double tap’. This is where in the immediate aftermath of the first attack, a second attack is launched on those who rush to aid the injured, wreaking even greater death and destruction.

The US government seems to have taken this despicable tactic as a model and expanded it to create its own version of the double tap. Following a drone strike that results in deaths, they follow up with a second attack targeting the first responders or another one even later aimed at mourners attending the funerals of those killed in the first. This is presumably justified on the basis that anyone who assists the injured or mourns the deaths of someone deemed to be an enemy of the US is also an enemy and thus deserving of summary execution.

Even the normally restrained George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley is moved to comment: [Correction: This was a post by guest blogger David Drumm on Turley’s site.]

Obama’s “double tap” policy is nothing short of despicable. Obama has brought dishonor to America and to our founding principles. When America commits the same actions that we condemn when used by terrorists, we become terrorists. The liberals’ silence on this issue is shameful. If George W. Bush had adopted this tactic, the cries of protest would have been deafening.

We wanted change and we got it, from bad to worse.

What is news is not that the US government kills people it does not like all around the world. After all, such so-called ‘black ops’ by the CIA and other covert agencies have been routinely practiced for decades. What is truly disturbing is that when this kind of news is revealed, there is no outrage at all from the political and elite journalistic classes, except from those who are outraged that such news was revealed.


  1. NAL says

    George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley did NOT make that comment.

  2. says

    I think this may well be the last straw for me. I’ve been saying all along that no matter how lousily no-better-than-the-other-guys Obama has been on a lot of the issues that matter, we still have to vote from him because of the importance of not letting the Republicans make any Supreme Court picks. But I don’t think I can punch the button for somebody who authorized this, no matter what electoral pragmatism might suggest.

  3. says

    Incidentally, Jill Stein, the Green presidential candidate this year, is sounding pretty darn awesome. Ed Brayton and Dave Fletcher have both interviewed her on their WPRR shows recently (Culture Wars Radio and Reality Check Radio, respectively), and she sounds to me like the right woman for the job. I wasn’t prepared to “throw away” my vote before no matter how good she sounded, but after reading this article I don’t think I care any more.

  4. ginmar says

    Great. Turn the Supreme Court over to the conservatives and say good bye to all legal rights for women.

  5. Steve says

    That “double tap” is actually a leaf from Sir Arthur Harris’s WWII playbook. He would send a formation of bombers to sprinkle incendiaries over a German city, followed by a pause to let the firefighters get to work, then another raid armed with HE and frags to kill the firefighters.

  6. says

    The last few years as an American have frightened me in many respects -- but now I’m depressed as well.
    What can be done?
    How do I help turn this around?
    I feel rather like a Roman hearing the news that the Gauls have crossed the Rubicon. Do I kill myself, or do I run? Is there anywhere to run?

  7. says

    With the number of indiscriminate bombings and assassinations the United States has committed in the post-WWII era, I sometimes wonder why the whole world isn’t at war with us yet.

  8. Josh says

    Does the president really get involved to the level of authorizing specific military tactics like this? If so, can you point me to some sources? Thanks!

  9. Ian says

    Not strictly true, all bombing raid during WWII were double strike ie a combination of incendary and HE. The death of fire fighters was collateral damage, to use the modern euphemism. Unlike the present use of double car bombs.

  10. Mano Singham says

    US administrations have long operated under the cover of ‘plausible deniability’, where the CIA does things whose orders cannot be easily traced back to the president, so that if it becomes a scandal, he can wash his hands of it and say it was a ‘rogue’ operation.

    But the president gets a daily briefing from the head of the CIA. When there is a sustained series of actions like this that are part of a major operation, you can be sure that they have been approved at the highest levels.

  11. lorn says

    The term “double tap” generally refers to firing a pistol twice rapidly after obtaining a sight picture. This technique is used with pistols because of their limited effectiveness and practical accuracy, benefits most from the technique but small-bore carbines may also benefit. The intent is to increase hit probability and lethality without increasing the time it takes. The term doesn’t really apply to heavy weapons in military terminology but I’m not going to gig anyone over trivialities.

    On the other hand, exactly how do when know what has happened. Short of an official declaration that a missile from a drone was used in any particular case, or detailed forensic investigation of fragments and chemical signatures, both missile fuel and explosive leave traces, it is hard to imagine how anyone knows for sure exactly what caused an explosion. Observers claiming to have ‘seen a missile’ are typically wrong. Most are sure there was an explosion, assume it was a drone strike using a missile, and cutting and pasting the idea into their memory.

    Drones are hard to see in perfect conditions and missiles in flight even harder. Eye-witness accounts are always the lowest order of evidence.

    The Israelis faced a similar situation when a building of a known bomb builder blew up. Lots of people assumed it was a missile strike. Later investigation, based on forensic evidence and testimony from neighbors about explosives being present on-site, conclusively showed, based on chemical trace and fragments, that the location was a bomb making operation for insurgents that suffered an accident.

    Point being that anywhere there are officially announced drone strikes there will be the assumption that any further explosion is a missile strike. I have a hard time giving credence to claims without a strong case being made. Drone strikes have been successful at decimating the command and operational structures of the networks so it makes sense that they would make a maximum effort to discredit them.

    The general anti-strike attitudes of posters brings with it a willingness to assume the worse of the US program.

    Explosions might be a result of any number of causes. Bomb makers are using ‘bathtub’ chemistry, re-purposed chemicals for detonators, and often work in primitive workshops. Accidents happen and those workshops can and do blow up without any prompting from outside. This is made more probable because the more experience and professional bomb makers are being hunted down and those remaining are forced to work in more primitive locations.

    There is also the probability of secondary explosions after a drone strike. One explosion, accident or missile strike, can cause explosives nearby to be go off. More likely immediately after an explosion but it can happen hours, sometimes days, later. This is more common with explosive packages that are made with homemade explosives and/or cobbled together. Modern commercially produced weapons are designed to resist being set off by outside forces. Most modern explosives are so stable that they can be shot with a gun without detonating and only burn when set alight. I’ve heated coffee over a fire fed with one of the more common high-explosives. Heats well enough but gives the coffee an acrid taste.

    Short of open admission of action by the US or strong evidence yet unseen you can’t assume that an particular explosion, or report of an explosion, is a missile strike. Not as long as explosives are common in the area. Which leaves the claims of any “double tap” tactic unsupported and revealing not so much the despicable tactics of the US drone program but both the bias and gullibility of the writers.


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