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Obama Administration’s Drone Death Figures Don’t Add Up

Administration officials often claim few or no civilian deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan, but are their own accounts consistent?

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lance Cheung)

Last month, a “senior administration official” said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under President Obama is in the “single digits.” But last year “U.S. officials” said drones in Pakistan killed about 30 civilians in just a yearlong stretch under Obama.

Both claims can’t be true.

A centerpiece of President Obama’s national security strategy, drones strikes in Pakistan are credited by the administration with crippling Al Qaeda but criticized by human rights groups and others for being conducted in secret and killing civilians. The underlying facts are often in dispute and claims about how many people died and who they were vary widely.

So we decided to narrow it down to just one issue: have the administration’s own claims been consistent?

We collected claims by the administration about deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and compared each one not to local reports but rather to other administration claims. The numbers sometimes do not add up. (Check out our interactive graphic to explore the claims.)

Even setting aside the discrepancy between official and outside estimates of civilian deaths, our analysis shows that the administration’s own figures quoted over the years raise questions about their credibility.

There have been 307 American drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, according to a New America Foundation count. Just 44 occurred during the Bush administration. President Obama has greatly expanded the use of drones to attack suspected members of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and other groups in Pakistan’s remote northwest region.

Obama officials generally do not comment by name on the drone strikes in Pakistan, but they frequently talk about it to reporters (including us) on condition of anonymity. Often those anonymously sourced comments have come in response to outside tallies of civilian deaths from drone attacks, which are generally much higher than the administration’s own figures.

The outright contradiction we noted above comes from two claims made about a year apart:

* April 22, 2011 McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim “about 30” civilians died in the year between August 2009 and August 2010.

* May 29, 2012 The New York Times reports that, according to a senior Obama administration official, the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under president Obama is in the “single digits.”

As we also show in our interactive graphic, other anonymous administration claims about civilian deaths are possible but imply conclusions that seem improbable.

Consider:

* April 26, 2010 The Washington Post quotes an “internal CIA accounting” saying that “just over 20 civilians” have been killed by drones in Pakistan since January 2009.

* Aug. 11, 2011 The New York Times reports that CIA officers claim zero civilians were killed since May 2010

* Aug. 12, 2011 CNN quoted a U.S. official saying there were 50 civilians killed over the years in drone strikes in Pakistan.

If this set of claims is assumed to be accurate, it suggests that the majority of the 50 total civilian deaths occurred during the Bush administration — when the drone program was still in its infancy. As we’ve noted, in the entire Bush administration, there were 44 strikes. In the Obama administration through Aug. 12, 2011, there were 222. So according to this set of claims more civilians died in just 44 strikes under Bush than did in 222 strikes under Obama. (Again, the graphic is helpful to assess the administration assertions.)

Consider also these three claims, which imply two lengthy periods when zero or almost zero civilians were killed in drone strikes:

* September 10, 2010 Newsweek quotes a government estimate that “about 30” civilians were killed since the beginning of 2008.

* April 22, 2011 McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim “about 30” civilians died in the year between August 2009 and August 2010.

* July 15, 2011 Reuters quotes a source familiar with the drone program as saying “about 30” civilians were killed since July 2008.

It’s possible that all these claims are true. But if they are, it implies that the government believes there were zero or almost zero civilian deaths between the beginning of 2008 and August 2009, and then again zero deaths between August 2010 and July 2011. Those periods comprise a total of 182 strikes.

The administration has rejected in the strongest terms outside claims of a high civilian toll from the drone attacks.

Those outside estimates also vary widely. A count by Bill Roggio, editor of the website the Long War Journal, which bases its estimates on news reports, puts the number of civilian killed in Pakistan at 138. The New America Foundation estimates that, based on press reports, between 293 and 471 civilians have been killed in the attacks. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which draws on a wider array of sources including researchers and lawyers in Pakistan, puts the number of civilians killed at between 482 and 832. The authors of the various estimates all emphasize that their counts are imperfect.

There are likely multiple reasons for the varying counts of civilian deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan. The attacks are executed remotely in often inaccessible regions. And there’s the question of who U.S. officials are counting as civilians. A story last month in the New York Times reported that President Obama adopted a policy that “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”

There are also ongoing debates in the humanitarian law community about who the U.S. may legitimately target with drone strikes and how the CIA is applying the principle of proportionality — which holds that attacks that might cause civilian deaths must be proportional to the level of military advantage anticipated.

In a rare public comment on drone strikes, President Obama told an online town hall in January that the drones had not caused “a huge number of civilian casualties.”

When giving their own figures on civilian deaths, administration officials are often countering local reports. In March 2011, for example, Pakistanis including the country’s army chief accused a U.S. drone strike of hitting a peaceful meeting of tribal elders, killing around 40 people. An unnamed U.S. official rejected the accusations, telling the AP: "There's every indication that this was a group of terrorists, not a charity car wash in the Pakistani hinterlands."

Unnamed U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times last year that “they are confident they know who has been killed because they watch each strike on video and gather intelligence in the aftermath, observing funerals for the dead and eavesdropping on conversations about the strikes.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said during a visit to Pakistan this month that there should be investigation of killings of civilians by drones and that victims should be compensated. The U.S. has given compensation to victims of airstrikes in Afghanistan but there are no reports of victims of drone strikes in Pakistan being compensated.

Since the various administration statements over the years were almost all quoted anonymously, it’s impossible to go back to the officials in question to ask them about contradictions.

Asked about the apparent contradictions, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told ProPublica: “[W]e simply do not comment on alleged drone strikes.”

Additional reporting by Cora Currier.

The administration lies. They can do this because there is literally no way to hold them accountable. If you vote for the candidate from the other exactly the same party nothing will change either.

The average American has no more influence over their government than the average citizen of the Soviet Union had over their’s.

Richard Schmidt

June 18, 2012, 3:48 p.m.

Of course this administration lies. All administrations lie when the truth is “inconvenient.” Plus, we Americans love to be lied to. We practically insist on it. How else to explain Murdoch’s Faux News Network, The continued existence of the catholic Church and Jerry Sandusky?

Michelle Obama

June 18, 2012, 3:59 p.m.

So Richard, are you going to hang yourself when Obama loses in November?

What deaths?  There are no stinking deaths!!  These are just drones, not killing machines!!  This administration doesn’t kill people silly!  That’s just crazy talk!!  The BUSH administration were the only people killing people! Where are you getting your information??  The OBAMA administration DOES NOT KILL PEOPLE, only the BUSH administration kills people… Get your information right!!  Sheeeesh!!!

Things I KNOW about the drone program.  SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN ratted out the Pakistan base that was primary to the drone mission in 2008.  Consequently the threat level there was raised and ground tactics were adjusted because of her treachery.  Now she leads the charge against security LEAKS?  The DRONE PROGRAM began really ramping up in 2004.  Visit Condi’ Rice’s interview.  How is it now called Obama’s drone program?    Is there one congressman or senator with enough hair on his chest or starch in her panties to call out these monumental hypocrites?

Do you all remember how Barry the liar used to love to point fingers at Bush and say he air raids villages killing women and children…Well Barry just how many women and children have you killed?

The democrats are a bunch of lying cowards.

How long before one of these drones flies into a jetliner over the US? The Iranians hacked into the operating system and brought one down over Iran. They are now back-engineering it.Why is “Homeland Insecurity flying these over the US and why di they recently purchase over 400 million rounds of ammo?

Just ONE MORE LIE!

IS THERE EVEN THE REMOTEST POSSIBILITY THIS ADMINISTRATION WOULD/WILL EVER BE HONEST WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?  No, no,  a thousand times no.

CODE RED!.......PAGING CODE PINK !

Alexander Scipio

June 18, 2012, 4:18 p.m.

How about an article on the legal justification for these drone attacks?

If we’re attacking targets in Yemen, did I just miss the Congressional Use-of-Force authorization? Or did I miss the Congressional Declaration of War? Or the implementation by Congressional action of the War Powers Resolution?

Or is it the CIA, precluded from assassination by operatives, so we use contractors for wet work? Is it contractor pulling these triggers?

Or are we just ignoring an Executive Order from Carter making illegal assassination?

Or did the military command structure just decide to disobey the UCMJ by following illegal orders to attack and kill civilians without due process? I thought we dealt with that at MyLai?

I’m a fiscal conservative, not a theocrat, and NO WAY a Progressive. But I’ve served (USAF), and I want to know - what is the legal justification for the Constitutional Office of the President, the Commander in Chief, to become the Assassin in Chief?

And where are the columns and reporting on THAT?

Obama has a sick love affair with the drone program. I kid you not, the guy is a psycho. This story will tell you what kind of devious low life, sick human being he is. If you think he intends to stop at doing this in Pakistan, you are naive!

http://theulstermanreport.com/2012/06/04/white-house-insider-barack-obamas-high-tech-snuff-films/

Criticized by human rights groups?  Clearly, the Democrat party isn’t one of those as they are “strangely” silent when it’s THEIR guy doing the bombing.

Hey, Cindy Sheehan, what gives?

Also, it’s super funny that a commenter above says that “all administrations lie,” but I don’t remember that being said AT ALL when it was Bush doing the bombing.  Yeah, suddenly, now, it’s everybody does it.

Of course, the protests will begin anew when it’s a Repub again.

Hypocrites.

Civilian deaths are THE WORST THING EVER and demand war crimes trials ... when it’s a Republican president.

La-dee-da.  Nothing to see here.  Nothing to see.  Everybody does it ... when it’s a Democrat.

Hypocrites.

This administration has consistently spun and lied about almost everything since their power grab began. Almost every action and comment they make is full of spins and lies. Scary thing is that, as many of the commentors above indicate, that people are either too polarized to a party or just too dumb to see what has been and is still going on. We have a potential dictator in office who has consistently violated or failed to enforce the laws and the Constitution by which this country has become and remained great for 250 years. Obama should have been impeached a long time ago. We better wake up fast before it is too late.

teaisstronger

June 18, 2012, 4:55 p.m.

ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WERE ON OUR FUHURER HUSSAIN OBAMA’S KILL LIST SO ITS LEGAL

The only way for the Pakistani’s to stop these attacks is for them to declare war on the US and join in on attacks of our troops, sinking of our ships and the downing of our overflights.  I am positive this is what the Fuhurer wants to happen. 

There are over 1,800 of these drones flying over US towns and cities.  Wait until Homeland Security arms these drones and begin killing Americans Wait.

as a former missle tech in the navy every night i hear the media gleefully reporting a terrorist hit by a drone. it never mentions the collateral damage with a missle hit like this. when you hit a car with a missle their is a 30-50ft kill zone. from the missle and car shrapnel. we hit these guys on a public road that is travelled daily. women and children walk they dont ride in cars, you have carts and other animals. the zone does not descrimant it takes every one out whether guilty or not. whats worse its a cowards way to fight a enemy or in this case a criminal we are not at war or congress would have to approve.  one and done 2012. as my brothers in the military are also hoping!

Alan Davidson

June 18, 2012, 4:58 p.m.

They are just handicapping the MSM’s ability to hinder or criticize future Republican Presidents who now have full license to continue on (and add exponentially to, like Obama did ) the drone program.

The next Republican president need not deal with the mantra of the left as it pertains to “due process” and all that wax and just “kill at will” any terrorist, be it a foreign one or a US citizen abroad.

The full out drone war way of killing terrorists is the greatest gift Obama has given us.

Call him and his cronies “hypocritical” all you want, I agree. But who cares? The end effect is terrorists are turned into goo and now we can do this type of thing indefinitely.

The MSM press cannot go against it with ANY future President as they have allowed it happen full on during the current administration and now they have painted themselves into a corner on this issue.

teaisstronger

June 18, 2012, 5 p.m.

PRESIDENT BUSH DID NOT HAVE A KILL LIST

Our Fuhurer Hussain Obama, allah be praised, has created his own KILL LIST so that makes it legal and he escapes being a War Criminal.  Bush did not have any KILL LIST so now he is called a murderer.

A KILL LIST is like a legal defense fund.  I protects White House tyrants.

So sorry to the families of those who have died. But what goes unreported is the number of life changing injuries. But in all fairness this should be done on the ground and we need to be in this to win. So casualties are a bitch but when your enemy hides in the general population you’ve got to weed them out. So lets start fighting to win or get the hell out. Government run ammuck, over managed, over paid, and life time compensation, GIVE ME A BEAK!!!  :(

Every drone strike by President Obama was necessary. Every drone strike by President Bush was a crime against humanity. President Obama was the greatest Founding Father. He also freed more slaves than Abraham Lincoln and he personally planned the mission for D Day, when not a single US soldier died, due to his mighty mind. President Obama single handedly laid down every bit of track for the Transcontinental Railway. He told President Kennedy that we needed to go to the moon and he personally created every bit of technology needed to get there. President Obama invented velcro, teflon, and the computer microchip. He personally laid down all fiber optic cable to create the high-speed internet, showing telephone and cable companies that one man can make a difference. It was he who defeated Mohammed Ali, who broke all the German codes in WWII, and personally created all the fairy tales wrongly attributed to Brothers Grimm. He shot dead Billy the Kid, James Dilinger, and captured Manson and the Unabomber. He wrote the Communist Manifesto (wrongly attributed to Karl Marx, developed the Uncertainty Principle, wrongly attributed to Heisenberg, and is currently working on warp drive to take everyone to the stars for free. So - all you critics out there - leave him alone already.

Obama has lied many times to the american people, so it is natural to assume that members of his administration will also lie, when it suits the purpose.
I support Obama’s drone attacks. It is the only positive thing, that he has done as president.Hhe is a liar; a traitor and a buffoon, but he is correct, when he orders these attacks.
As for civilians. Don’t worry about them. That is the cost of war.Iif we had worried about civilians in world war II, we would have lost the war and would be speaking either german or japanese today.
remember. Any civilians killed, when we attack a terrorist with a drone are most likely supporters of this terrorist, so what is the big deal? Supporters should also die. Why let them live, just to grow up and become another terrorist?

It’s obvious that Obama has killed more Muslims than George Bush ever did and this story puts it to print for all to see clear as day. 

It was Obama and the Democrats that wanted desperately to paint a picture of the Bush Administration as being at war with Islam. The number of Civilian deaths was routinely exaggerated daily…even if there were none it was “in the news”. 

These degrading stories suddenly went away when Obama took office yet the killing has increased incredibly so.  No matter how many deaths occur at the hands of Obama he will not be vilified as Bush was. 

Obama is uninhibited and he is unleashed to kill-kill-Kill them all as he sees fit to do so.  His media spin is even boastful of his kill record. 

They just call them Militants now instead of Civilians.

Obama et al. can make these low civilian death claims for the simple fact that they have redefined what is meant by ‘civilian.’  If you define it narrow enough, then you can just call most civilians ‘combatants’ or ‘terrorists’ and so on and then just fire away indiscriminately and this lets Obama et al. boast about how tough he is, etc.  Problem is (other than legal issues with killing civilians), this mindset turns many, many more people into haters of America, and helps recruit myriad more individuals willing to extract revenge again American combatants and civilians. Way to go O!

JM

The reason for so few civilian casualties is simple. If someone is killed he is considered to have been guilty of being a terrorist unless he is exonerated as innocent posthumously.

Richard Schmidt

June 18, 2012, 5:14 p.m.

Hahahahahahahaha. I just love it when republicans pretend to have ethical concerns about killing.

@Richard: HAHAHAHAHA.. I just LOVE it when Democrats pretend they do! Are you guys just congenitally inclined against facts, is that it?

Let’s see… 98.53%... What is that, you ask? That’s the percentage of American KIA in foriegn wars started by Democrat presidents since 1812. Wars entered in by (R) presidents: 1.47%.

2,037 per month vs 36 per month…. that’s the RATE at which (D) wars kill Americans vs.  (R) wars.

56 TIMES faster…. Faster than what? Oh - that’s the rate at which Americans as killed in (D) wars as opposed to (R) wars.

Who nuked Japan? Oh, yeah - Truman (D). Who firebombed Dresden? FDR (D)!!

There’s more, but this much time is all your comment is worth. You can find the additional - all based on DoD figures - here: http://inthisdimension.com/2012/03/09/which-is-the-war-party-updated/

@BobVedari—Perfect. I think that about covers it all!

Alexander Scipio. Thank you for refocusing this issue!!!

I am also a fiscal conservative and not a liberal but what IS is the legal justification for these assassinations?!!  Obama is truly a hypocrite.  There is no declaration of war and yet there is no due process.  How do you decide someone should be murdered without arrest, trial and conviction?
  Where is the ACLU?  Oh, that’s right, they are liberal OB supporters so they can look the other way.

Drone attacks are right up there with the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.  Actually, much worse. 

Obama waxed eloquent on the subject of torture.  “That’s not who we are.”  HA.    Assassination, though?  I guess that is who we are.

Just after 9/11, Congress relinquished their authority by passing a law
that essentially granted the White House open-ended authority for
armed action against “al-Qaida”. However, I Never actually read this law, nor do I know whether there is any time limit or anything else.

Regardless, our Gov’t./CIA can call Anyone al-Qaida as long as they even
Think they are suspected of being a terrorist, they are Dead! We use drones to Kill in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and surely other places we don’t know about.  On top of Cyber Attacks inflicting virus’s into other countries computers.  IF any Male of Military Age is Killed, that is counted as Killing a terrorist, regardless if they really civilian.

Also we have Drones flying over the USA doing surveilance for various reasons, including counting how many cows on a farmers land, or spying on anyone that may give them a thrill.  This drone use in USA is to increase dramatically and I read will be up to 30,000 of them?

At this time, many people are afraid to even say anything on social networks which is real fear of our Constitutional rights which are on way out.
I am not afraid to voice my opinion.  I am a Republican Senior and totally
disagree with all of Congress allowing all of this Better Dead than Alive thinking. Cheaper than putting them in Gitmo Obama says. What the heck has happened to Americans??? We happy to allow this Killing off a List???
Yet Have a USA Death Penalty?  To give Authority to Kill individuals and civilians at will to ONE Darn President when we have NOT declared War and do it “because we are mad at Pakistan”???

How We going to Feel when another country has Their Drones over the USA Killing at will off their list???  They sure would have a right to retaliate .

Anthony Vera

June 18, 2012, 7 p.m.

Journe’s Question is part of the dilemma: “How We going to Feel when another country has Their Drones over the USA Killing at will off their list???”  Civilian murders cannot be settled with “compensation” to the families of victims.  Eventually we will pay the price but the biggest price we are already paying: the shredding of our constitution and rule of law.  That is the legacy this president will leave us, and still most will lump it and vote for the lesser of two evils: the re-election of Barack Obama.  God help us.

keep up the drone hits, these people don’t play fair, so why should we?  Hit them hard and as many times as we can.  Take the head off the snake.

Will someone please ask him to justify these actions during upcoming debates with Romney. I would love to hear him explain himself. “Considering how killing an innocent child who could grow up and find the cure for cancer, How do u justify offing he/or she and his or her mother in the dark of night under the guise of stopping terrorism?

Sean Cunningham

June 19, 2012, 1:33 a.m.

It’s true that spineless Democrats have largely given Obama a pass despite his escalation of the “War on Terror”. But by no means can one reprimand Cindy Sheenan for doing the same. She’s been an outspoken critic of Obama almost from the get-go: “The only change I see in the foreign policy of this country has been a change for the worse. As Obama promised his base that troops would be out of Iraq, so far not one troop. He said that he would — he did say he would send more troops to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and unfortunately that’s a promise that he’s kept.”

Sean Cunningham

June 19, 2012, 1:34 a.m.

*Sheehan

Joseph Delli Gatti

June 19, 2012, 5:19 a.m.

” A story last month in the New York Times reported that President Obama adopted a policy that “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.””

For reals?????  That’s a little upsetting.

The job and purpose of war is to kill the enemy, If the drones can do it with minimal risk to our troops so be it!  I am not in favor of Obama and his policies but if you got to do it,do it efficiently.

It’s not a deer hunt, there is no honor to war, It’s about two governments abusing their natural resources(their troops and citizens) to accomplish some “BS” agenda of the government, forget humane treatment of the enemy!!! Human rights are thrown out the window as soon as some faction wants what the other has.

If we are going to do war, make it quick, with minimal risk to our troops and the enemy be damned until they see it our way.

If you want to consider Human Rights stop fighting!

This administration lies about civilian drone deaths. So did the other administration.

Conclusion: There is no difference between the two. Both parties are servants of the war and financial corporations.

Anyone who supports either party now has blood on their hands.

To be fair, when he was campaigning in 2008, Obama did complain that he had to visit all fifty-seven states in a short period of time.  Maybe he’s just bad with numbers?

Ooh, or maybe he has a LOT of fingers, and he’s counting in, like, base-43!

More seriously, in the face of transparency from people like the badly-abused Bradley Manning and the rising numbers of military suicides, Washington must be finding it difficult to maintain the narrative that we’re the good guys.

That’s why Obama’s lying about the drones.  It’d hard to justify sending unthinking, bomb-laden monsters to kill the enemy and then complain about suicide bombers.

It’s why Bush told us about weapons of mass destruction (of, y’know, SOME sort).  We couldn’t justify an invasion without one.

We can go back to Iran-Contra, to Cuba, to forgetting about the Lusitania’s ammunition shipment, and so forth.

That’s not to say I support it.  I don’t, and it worries me that it’s getting more frantic, like a caged animal.  We need to put aside party lines and start demanding (of local governments and Congress, to begin with) increasing transparency and remind them that “national security” that protects the government from the people is contrary to this country’s ideals and laws, and we won’t stand for it.

I’ve said it before, as the people withdrew from government participation, the only people whispering in Washington’s ear are the bad guys.  Seriously, who do you know who still writes letters to their Congressmen?  Irritating activists, delusional freaks, and big corporations.  Two out of the three of those are easily dismissed as more trouble than they’re worth.

JLS at the top is right, but for the wrong reason.  We have no impact on the government because we limit our involvement to signing petitions and sending e-mail.  Does anyone think the company selling drones stops there?  How about Pfizer, Monsanto, Exxon, the Chinese government, or any number of other organizations we’d rather not influence policy?  Not likely.

We need to get back on the ball and make it clear that this isn’t acceptable.  And this summer, when your Congressman is at his home office, wouldn’t be a bad time to start.  (As a hint, the local environmentalists tell me that it helps to treat them like they’re being tricked and you’re offering help, rather than they’re jerks and you want to lecture them.  It’s not their fault.  You’ll show them the way out…)

Never mind that every Terrorist, Taliban, and Al-Qaeda member IS A CIVILIAN!!!

There is one way to find out what is really happening…they are called reporters. Real reporters with boots on the ground. Not embedded with the military…(in bed with) but living independently as close to the bombings as the reporter can get.

A civilian is anybody who is not wearing a recognized military uniform. My guess is that all the drone deaths, except maybe for the occasional Pakistani soldier, were civilians.

bjean - read the ACLU site before spouting nonsense.

http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/drones

The military industrial complex controls both parties…so you guys need someone to blame, blame them. the repubs and dems are just puppets.

David Hutchinson

June 19, 2012, 2:25 p.m.

So What!! Collateral damage. This is a war. If you don’t want your home threatened turn in the insurgents living in your neighborhood. The insurgents are not a viable alternative to the west. Soldiers will kick your door in and no one else will get hurt. Remember no one wears a uniform so everyone looks the same. This is the new warfare. Friend and foe look alike and could be a child or teenager. Eventually if no one wants to give insurgents up then the world’s firepower will have to come down on the whole country. The problem is that instead of growing with technology the Imam’s keep the people hungry and backwards so they have nothing else to believe in or live for so they delight in a false promise of virgins and money for their families and martyrdom.

Let’s not forget that drones are a more advanced cruise missile not far from smart bombs.  We should be counting both cruise missiles and drones when we tally strikes by Presidents.

David Hutchinson

June 20, 2012, 2:01 p.m.

Never mind how we tally drones and missiles. They are achieving an end that means less loss of life in the name of protecting lives. The artio of lives lost to the benefit speaks for itself. Those folks would have succombed to a suicide bomber anyway. It’s a violent world over there and that is their way of life.If they wanted peace they would drive the insurgents out themselves and ask for help. Besides what is the chance of someone from a typical target would grow to become someone of major influence in the world. If they don’t want this violence then go in a peaceful direction and eject the insurgents out in the open. Also they need to reconsider fundementalism in Islam. The major reason folks can be controlled over there is that an Imam can order the death of anyone breaking Sharia Law and punishment is entertainment like a prizefight is here. Technology is suppressed and religiosity is raised to a bad end.

David, I’d spend time arguing that the end (stopping deaths) doesn’t justify the means (deaths), but we both know that’s wasted effort.

I will point out that you’re making precisely the same arguments that the terrorists do.  They’re only after evil people and they want to make it clear that things have to change on a political level.  And if a few thousand New Yorkers happen to die in the process, well, maybe next time we rotten, militant Americans won’t keep poking around in their internal affairs.

Before you get bent out of shape, I’m clearly not defending them.  They need to stop.  But I also don’t want their backwards approach to politics, value of life, and freedom imported into this country any more than it already has been, if you don’t mind.

By all means, though, if you want to live under the thumb of a government who decides which kids are imagined “enemies” to kill for the sake of a nebulous greater good, don’t let me stop you from moving to one.  Most of the Arab countries would seem to fit the bill, in fact.  The big difference is that their drones have faces and can’t be recycled.

David Hutchinson

June 20, 2012, 2:51 p.m.

I would not dare to argue. I don’t want to feel this way but I don’t like dragging this who Middle East thing out. I had no problem with colonisation in hindsight. One direction and order. Unfortunately the despots who were working with us but abusing their citizens represented order and we could even be tourists and relatively safe in areas that are now hostile. But human nature is forever contenteous and folks with different ideologies will always disagree on what they claim their GOD has endorsed. Religion has made life difficult for us and them therefore we must use drones and this is war. During war people die, children, women and men. The people as a whole can affect change by resisting and changing their situation. If you don’t want to be a target then route the insurgents out in the open. If you don’t want Sharia law then take out the Imam’s. It’s in their court. But once they do then lawlessness will prevail and the killing will continue within the region. Unfortunately our real enemy is fundementalist Islam. The ultimate battle will be to level the Holy Lands, Israel and Mecca and change the belife of twisted faith towards violence and prejudice and ancient claims of ownership of property.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
The Drone War

The Drone War

ProPublica is covering the U.S.' expanding – and often secret – targeted killing program.

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