July 28, 2011 in News
Obama’s drone war (Bureau of Investigative Journalism):
Claims by a senior Obama administration official that ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral [civilian] death’ in Pakistan drone strikes since August 2010 have been found to be untrue.
Research by the Bureau reveals for the first time the extent of civilian casualties in CIA drone strikes in the past year.
It comes less than a month after President Obama’s chief counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan publicly stated: ‘…that nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop’.
Asked on June 29 about US ‘targeted killings’, a euphemism which in this case refers to the CIA drone strikes, Brennan responded: ‘One of the things President Obama has insisted on is that we’re exceptionally precise and surgical in terms of addressing the terrorist threat. And by that I mean, if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger.’
The Bureau’s findings
Our analysis of 116 drone strikes that took place between August 2010 and Brennan’s speech on June 29 reveals:
· Ten drone strikes in which a total of at least 45 civilians have been killed.
· Six named children killed by these drone strikes.
· At least 15 additional strikes are likely to have killed many more civilians.
· US drone strikes in Pakistan have risen from one a year in 2004 to one every four days under President Obama.
· The US continues to insist that drone strikes are ‘the most accurate weapon in history’.
Study Rebuts U.S. Claims of “No Civilian Deaths” (IPS):
As the Pakistani public grows increasingly outraged at the United States’ drone attacks in the northwest region of the country, a recent study by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism is contradicting U.S. officials’ insistence that “not a single civilian life” has been claimed in the covert war.
Led by British investigative journalist Chris Woods and Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, the study found that at least 45 civilians, including six children, have been killed in 10 drone strikes since August 2010 alone, while another 15 attacks between then and June 2011 likely killed many more.
According to the study, civilians die in one out of every five Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-operated drone attacks in the tribal region, located on the border with Afghanistan, a statistic that the Bureau says can no longer be denied by the U.S. government.
The Woods-Yusufzai investigation was born in response to a statement made by the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor and President Barack Obama’s assistant on counterterrorism, John Brennan, who told a press conference here last month that “the types of operations… that the U.S. has been involved in hasn’t [resulted in] a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.”
The Bureau’s investigation reveals Brennan’s statement to be baseless.
Related Material From the Archive:
- CIA Deaths Prompt Surge in U.S. Drone Strikes
- U.S. Drone Attacks Killed More Than 950 People in Pakistan Last Year
- Pakistani ISI Asks CIA to Stop Drone Strikes
- Civilian deaths ‘serious setback’ to Afghan mission
- Afghan Civilian Casualties Rise 31%
- UNAMA Afghanistan Protection of Civilians Mid-Year Report 2010
- Blast in ‘retaken’ Pakistan area
- NATO Airstrike Kills 14 Women and Children in Afghanistan