Between the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, the United States has had an awful lot of occasions to kill innocent civilians, and has adopted the regional practice of paying “blood money” to the families of the slain, in compensation for the deaths. This amount can vary from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on how keen the US is to placate a given victim’s family.
In the wake of today’s admission that they killed a pair of Western hostages in Pakistan, the White House seems to be trying to adapt this practice to Western victims as well, saying they intend to make payments of “compensation” to the families of American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto.
While wrongful death compensation isn’t an entirely foreign concept in the West, the White House’s combination of these payments with an insistence that the killings were in accordance with international law likely won’t sit well with many.
The families of the slain aid workers are already criticizing the administration for its “inconsistent” response to the initial hostage-taking, and are likely to see the pledge of money as trying to buy their silence on the matter, particularly with the administration so clear that the killings aren’t going to spark any real policy changes.