McClatchy Study: Obama Administration Has No Idea Who They are Killing with Drones

McClatchy has released a very important study that demonstrates that not only is the Obama Administration being intentionally secretive about their entire drone program, but in reality they have no idea who they are killing or how many.  In many cases those killed are just classified as an “unknown extremist,” aka civilian.  We already know how insane the drone program is from many sources, including the confessions of drone operator Brandon Bryant, who quit after realizing his superiors told him the child he had incinerated was just a “dog.”  From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.

The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.” 

Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.

The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”

Micah Zenko, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank, who closely follows the target killing program, said McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is “misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”

You don’t say.

The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”

McClatchy’s review is the first independent evaluation of internal U.S. intelligence accounting of drone attacks since the Bush administration launched America’s secret aerial warfare on Oct. 7, 2001, the day a missile-carrying Predator took off for Afghanistan from an airfield in Pakistan on the first operational flight of an armed U.S. drone.

At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists.  Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.

“Unknown extremists,” just another euphemism for civilian.

Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.”

The documents McClatchy has reviewed do not reflect the entirety of the killings associated with U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, which independent reports estimate at between 1,990 and 3,581.

So the high end of that range is more than the amount of U.S. citizens that died on 9/11.  Feel tough enough yet Obama?

“I have never seen nor am I aware of any rules of engagement that have been made public that govern the conduct of drone operations in Pakistan, or the identification of individuals and groups other than al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban,” said Christopher Swift, a national security law expert who teaches national security affairs at Georgetown University and closely follows the targeted killing issue. “We are doing this on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis, rather than a systematic or strategic basis.”

This is the exact same way Bernanke is running the economy, so at least our leaders are consistent with their insanity.

The administration has declined to reveal other details of the program, such as the intelligence used to select targets and how much evidence is required for an individual to be placed on a CIA “kill list.” The administration also hasn’t even acknowledged the existence of so-called signature strikes, let alone discussed the legal and procedural foundations of the attacks.

Hey, just another day in the USA.

Full article here.

In Liberty,

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  1. This is really just a lot of circumlocutions meaning Murder.

    Murdering who? They don’t know.

    For what reason? They’re not really sure.

    We are witnessing a descent into psychopathy, here, …in our name, no less.

  2. What have the demons done?
    What have the demons done?
    With the luminous light once shined from your eyes
    What makes you feel so alone
    Was it the whispering ghosts
    That you feared the most
    But the blackness in your heart
    Cannot last forever
    I know its tearing you apart
    But it’s a storm you can weather

  3. At one time when covert ops were used there were eyes on the ground. Why? To prevent the killing of innocents. Honestly I am sickened to see war being turned into a video game. Now we no longer rely on the eyes on the ground and a drone cannot see into buildings. Only eyes on the ground can.

    This is a diabolical way of getting good men and pilots to kill people that otherwise would not be targeted due to innocent people getting killed. The observer on the ground would not kill innocent people and call a strike off if he or she observed innocent people to close to the target area. We often wonder why we are disliked in certain parts of the world and this is just another reason more conflict will come home to us.

    I am an ole military guy and we had to see what was going on with human intelligence on the ground before we struck. Now no longer, we fire a missile from an unmanned drone and claim we are saving lives of our military people. Yet innocent people die for no reason. I am just sick!

    • Ole Military Guy (OMG?): To say I agree is fine but not enough. By bringing to bear you military credentials your authority to observe, analyze and judge what’s going on exceeds my own, even if we come to the same conclusion. So: yeah, sure, I agree; but thanks, also. Therefore, I have nothing to add.

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