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A broad range of militants were deemed to dangerous to be left alive in recent operations

Under fire over its defense over potential drone killings of Americans deemed as "terrorists" on U.S. soil, the Obama administration's growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is being intensively scrutinized by both politicians and the media.

I. Deadly, But Not Very Precise

New documents obtained by McClatchy's reveal that of the 95 drone strikes in the Pakistan region between Oct. 2010 and Sept. 2011, many did not target al-Qaeda and those that did were not as accurate as thought.

The drone campaign managed to kill 482 people, but only 6 were high-ranking members of al-Qaeda.  Analyst Jonathan Landay reports, "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."

Drone death strike
[Image Source: McClatchy's]

In the past the Obama administration has claimed that the death strikes by armed Predator and Reaper drones, employed primarily by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, were used only on "specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces."

Micah Zenko, an expert with the bipartisan foreign-relations think-tank Council on Foreign Relations, says that the administration is misleading Americans, commenting, "[The Obama administration is] misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted."

Reaper drones
Reaper drones have been used in numerous Pakistan and Yemen death strikes.
[Image Source: The Real Revo]

But White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says that the administration does not need to specify explicitly who it is targeting and to make no assumptions.  She remarks, "You should not assume [CIA Chief John Brennan] is only talking about al-Qaeda just because he doesn’t say ’al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces’ at every reference."

So who was the administration targeting in the 43 out of 95 drone strikes that did not target al-Qaeda?  According to McClatchy's, the documents indicate that the strikes in question targeted "Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as 'foreign fighters' and 'other militants.'"

The documents also reveal that U.S. efforts to kill terrorist leaders often accidentally instead killed friends or family members.  Drone strikes were even used to target somber occasions, such as individuals leaving funerals.

II. Is the U.S. Killing Civilians, Allies Accidentally?

One major complaint of the administration's critics is lack of transparency in the deadly offensive.  The administration has refused to release a list of "terrorist" organizations that it considers "associated forces" of al-Qaeda.  So far only Afghanistan's Taliban has been officially acknowledged as an al-Qaeda ally.  Also not revealed was whether the administration conducted so-called "signature killings" -- killings of locals who met with al-Qaeda or exhibited other behavior deemed suspicious.
 
Drone Killing
Survivors pick through the rubble looking for relatives after an Oct. 2012 drone strike in Yemen.
[Image Source: Reuters]

New CIA chief John Brennan in February acknowledged that the drone strikes sometimes miss the mark and kill innocent civilians, but he defended the program saying the U.S. paid the families of people it accidentally killed.  He commented, "Where possible, we also work with local governments to gather facts, and, if appropriate, provide condolence payments to families of those killed."

Condolence payments range from $1,000 to $7,500 according to various reports [1][2][3], depending on the circumstances.

Civlian casualties
Drone strikes
As CIA director (bottom right) escalated drone attacks in Yemen and Pakistan civilian casualties (top, left) have grown.
[Image Source: BIJ (top); The Long War Journal (bottom left); Reuters (bottom right)]


Four American citizens with ties to terrorism -- Kamal Derwish, Anwar al-Awlaki, 16-year-old Abdulahman al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan -- have been killed to date in drone strikes in Yemen.  Family members of the dead American citizens have sued the Obama administration with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In August 2012, a drone strike in Yemen killed a 40-year-old moderate cleric Salem bin Ahmed bin Ali Jaber just two days after he delivered a speech denouncing al-Qaeda.  The irony is that the al-Qaeda officers who were targeted in the strike, reportedly came into town to threaten Mr. Jaber for his support of the U.S. and pacifistic leanings.

Predator missile
Some feel the President shouldn't have the power to order the warrantless killings of Americans on U.S. soil. [Image Source: Drone Wars UK]

It's clear more questions need to be asked about the program.  But don't expect the answers to come easy from an administration who explicitly ordered its Press Secretary to dodge questions about drone strikes.

Source: McClatchy's



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Great
By TSS on 4/10/2013 3:56:39 PM , Rating: 2
Good to know a human life is worth about $7,500 to the US government. Tops.

I don't belive it's accidental either. These numbers are far worse then the collateral damage you would get from traditional laser guided air strikes, with technology that *is* far more precise. A missile is a missile after all.

No i belive, though there won't be evidence for it for decades, that these strikes are made by CIA operatives to help local tribal warlords and as such get into their good graces, in order to get to the targets they really want. Everybody trusts nobody in that region, i can't belive they will just tell you where those 6 high ranking members are. Quid pro quo, as they say.

It does make the US government murderers. Nothing new there, and make no mistake if the US pulled out these people will just kill eachother the old fashioned way, but the danger is in how the US justifies it, which points towards them having lost all toutch with reality. Not suprising, if you see what kind of meetings obama goes to and how he's cheered at every time whatever he does.

We're headed for dark times, atleast that's for sure....




RE: Great
By ERROR666 on 4/10/2013 4:36:28 PM , Rating: 1
US justifies it very easily as you can see:
"but he defended the program saying the U.S. paid the families of people it accidentally killed"
The government just pays a few thousand bucks to the families and they think everything is cool. So looks like it's perfectly fine to kill anybody as long as you pay their family between 3k-7k.
Good to know.


RE: Great
By StevoLincolnite on 4/10/2013 9:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
3-7k doesn't sound like much, especially to those who live in developed nations, especially when the average wage in my own country is approaching 70k a year.

However, over in Pakistan 7 thousand dollars is equivalent to a couple of years of the average yearly wage.
To them that's allot of money!

Does it make up for the fact a life was lost? I don't think you could ever put a number on someone's life, but it's a good place to start I suppose.


RE: Great
By Strunf on 4/11/2013 8:05:45 AM , Rating: 2
You're joking right? I wouldn't call it a lot of money unless it represented something like 5 years of my salary, and that's the minimum...

Also if for you 2x your early income is ok then I would guess that for 140k it would be ok to kill any of your countrymen.

What would it happen if the one killed was the father and the only income of a family?

In the US and many other countries when there's the death due to the fault of some company or government the liability will go easily over hundreds of thousands, or even millions depending on the fault, so even if the country has a average salary 10x lower the bare minimum should be 10k.

The fact is that at 3k to 7k, it's not even worth to take into account and act differently, as in if you set to target something and in the middle of the operation a civilian gets in the way for 3k/7k it's not even worth to stop the operation cause the cost to stop it and come another day will be higher than that. This is how the army and every company works if the cost of liability due to a malfunction and whatnot is lower than the cost of a recall they would be dumb to do the recall.


RE: Great
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 8:25:18 AM , Rating: 2
Dude, get out of your cave. The fact is no amount of money is worth a life.

Afghan is a war torn country and has been for centuries. These people are lucky to get any type of compensation since they will most likely end up dead soon anyways and everything they lost/suffer, including their life, will not be compensated.

I'm not saying what we did was right. It's just the best policy we can have right now. Money is a medium of exchange. They can use that money to get out of the region and start a new life somewhere else instead of worrying about getting shot everyday.

And about your lack of research and understanding of American or global economies. Our average salary in the US is only about 50k. It's even lower per household because there's plenty of people that doesn't work anymore. 10x less is not a minimum of 10k. I have no clue where you live that the minimum salary is 100k? Please enlighten me so I can move.

Let me give you a perspective of the world. In the Phillipines, most people make and live with less than $100 a month. In afghan, you are considered very well off if you can make $200+ a month. In Iraq, it's a dream if you can make $300-400 a month.

5 years of salary for a death minimum? you just made that up. Even in the US, you have to pay a good premium for insurance to get that. And before you complain anymore, think about the whole point of these operations. You get to come here and whine because you live a good pampered life protected by the US government. You may think your life is hard because you don't know anything else but most of the world has it 100x worse than you.


RE: Great
By Strunf on 4/11/2013 1:25:39 PM , Rating: 2
No, they would be lucky if they didn't suffer any loss, 7k is peanuts compared to what they had to endure, so no they aren't lucky at all, unless you compare the US to the terrorists and what not that don't even offer any compensation.

Who's speaking of minimum salary? I was replying to someone that said in his country the average salary is 70k per year, and that 2 years of salary is a nice compensation, so even if it's 50k per year, 2 years and divided by 10 that would give the 10k you're looking for.

$200 a month is $2400 a year, so it still means you are only paying them a couple years of work,

You think I'm making that up? you do realize that the woman that got burned by a cofee at the MacDonalds got $640,000 from them? and she didn't even die... and there's many other examples, it's not your insurance paying but the one of the company responsible for the death.


RE: Great
By Fritzr on 4/13/2013 12:09:16 AM , Rating: 2
Cultural difference is a big part of this
In US, kill somebody and you may spend time in jail or killed, but the victim's family will usually receive only the funeral bill and an invitation to the court proceedings.

In other parts of the world (including the Middle East) you can pay a Blood-Price to the family and that is considered to be a sufficient punishment.

US has civil suits, but they are expensive to keep going & have no certainty of payoff...this is separate from guilt/punishment in American culture, but some may pursue a suit for revenge rather than the more common desire to cash in.

The amounts that are mentioned are very likely to be the going rate for Blood Price in the tribal areas.

Remember the people in the tribal areas are NOT Americans and do not share American culture or values. They have their own culture and their own values which they consider to be good enough for their needs.

Incidentally about 3 years ago a Filipino was killed by a government truck. The Philippine government offered cash settlement to the family was US$100 to end legal proceedings. (Not a typo ... that really is one hundred dollars)

Philippine minimum wage is now roughly US$4 to US$7 per day depending on job classification and region. College graduates are happy to earn $500 a month ... $1000 monthly is enough to live a good lifestyle and put the kids through college. Yes, poor Americans actually are wealthy compared to many other country's poor.


RE: Great
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 8:09:32 AM , Rating: 2
If you make 7k in 2 years in Iraq or Afghan, then you're quite rich.


RE: Great
By Solandri on 4/10/2013 5:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
These numbers are far worse then the collateral damage you would get from traditional laser guided air strikes, with technology that *is* far more precise. A missile is a missile after all.

The Predator and Reaper fire a laser-guided Hellfire missile. So it's just as precise as other laser-guided munitions. Arguably more precise since the drone offers a much more stable platform from which to do the lasing. Collateral damage is less because the missile only has ~20 pounds of explosives vs. several hundred pounds for a laser-guided bomb. (The Reaper only recently began carrying the GBU-38 500-lb GPS-guided bomb.)

The problem isn't in the combat-effectiveness of the drone strikes. It's in the socio-political ramifications. They represent a substantial improvement in combat capability during a semi-war (something in between war and peace). If there were an all-out shooting war between the U.S. and some other country, people would have no problem with these being used. It's only because it's being used in situations which aren't clearly all-out wars that questions arise.

Ideally we (humanity) would develop a new set of guidelines and rules regarding their use in semi-wars. In fact the entire set of laws of war need to be expanded to cover combat against or even between organizations. Because this sort of thing is only going to become more commonplace as technology improves, protests to "stop the fighting" notwithstanding. I imagine it'll take a few decades though, as people "get used to" the idea of using robots to remotely fight our wars for us, and fully grasp the repercussions.


RE: Great
By KCjoker on 4/10/13, Rating: -1
RE: Great
By Shadowmaster625 on 4/11/2013 10:41:29 AM , Rating: 2
They're doing it in hopes of provoking a 9/11 style attack. It is amazing that there hasnt been an actual successful 9/11 style attack (actual as in not a false flag) or several smaller scale ones. It just goes to show how sane the rest of the worst can be compared to the insanity that infests the US government and the mindless dumbed down zombie squad of serfs who allow it to run amok like this.


Better than nothing
By UzairH on 4/11/2013 3:24:10 AM , Rating: 4
I am from Pakistan, and I approve of any means that can be used to eliminate the al-qaeda/taliban scum from our lands. If our own government and military would show some spine and take ownership of fighting the scum there would be no need for foreign forces to operate in the region.

That said, of course I would like to see zero collateral "damage" i.e. deaths of innocents. But really, we Pakistanis brought this on ourselves by giving (and continuing to give) support and succor to the terrorists. Alas I am in the minority in my country in such opposition to violent religionists.




RE: Better than nothing
By UzairH on 4/11/2013 3:30:32 AM , Rating: 2
I should also have added: the violent religionists (I call them this rather than mere terrorists because their actions are driven DIRECTLY from religion) have caused immense damage and suffering to our country, killing tens of thousands of civilians and armed forces personnel, and many senior politicians and even an army general. But still there is an element of support and sympathy for these murderers.

I used to wonder why this is so, but no longer, having studied the religion which is shared by the murderers and the victims. Blind obedience is the first requirement of following this religion, coupled with total fear, and thus the population as a whole is conditioned to not condemn even those who murder their kin in the shared religion's name.

I see little hope for my country unless this blind obedience to ignorance is replaced by rationality; in other words, a snowflake's chance in hell of happening any time soon :)


RE: Better than nothing
By ShieTar on 4/11/2013 4:32:13 AM , Rating: 2
Blind obedience is the key requirement of any religion. It is why religion was invented. No religious text in the history of mankind has ever contained the words "Don't believe the priests" or "Do as you like".

That aside, the US actions are not "Better than nothing". The declared purpose of the UN actions in Afghanistan is to implement the concepts of democracy and constitutional legality. But at some point along the way, the US decided that this is best achieved by killing suspiciously looking people without involving a court of law. This is stone-age tribalism, too many of the responsible people are too uneducated to think in anything more complex than "good" and "evil", and just keep on killing in hope of a magical "final victory". Thy will feel justified to kill the "evil" persons, who in reality did nothing but themselves kill people they considered as "evil". Or worse, people who look like they might sympathize with "evil", because of the weapons and the beards they wear, or the militant group they are suspected to be part of.

Nothing like that will happen of course, every assassinated Afghan of Pakistani leaves behind a dozen or more people who now have their own reasons to hate and fight the US, the UN and all they are supposed to and pretend to represent. There is never peace without justice, and never justice without equal rights.


RE: Better than nothing
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 7:53:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Blind obedience is the key requirement of any religion. It is why religion was invented...


You must not have studied religion. There are a few religions that doe snot require blind obedience. The most popular one is Buddhism.

quote:
That aside, the US actions are not "Better than nothing". The declared purpose of the UN actions in Afghanistan is to implement the concepts of democracy and constitutional legality. But at some point along the way, the US decided that this is best achieved by killing suspiciously looking people without involving a court of law. This is stone-age tribalism, too many of the responsible people are too uneducated to think in anything more complex than "good" and "evil", and just keep on killing in hope of a magical "final victory". Thy will feel justified to kill the "evil" persons, who in reality did nothing but themselves kill people they considered as "evil". Or worse, people who look like they might sympathize with "evil", because of the weapons and the beards they wear, or the militant group they are suspected to be part of.


Have you been to Afghan? I have. They have plenty of people from a bunch of different countries. In fact, this is where terrorists like to gather because any type of traditional warfare does not work here. Good evil whatever...it's pretty clear to many people that religion is literally being used to manipulate poor people into obedience here.

Our mission there is not to implement concepts of democracy or or constitutional legality. That is one of our objectives. The whole point of fighting in afghan is to keep the terrorists at their homeland and wreaking havoc on their training grounds.

What court of law are you talking about? These people have no law. They don't respect the UN or the Geneva Convention. They'll kill you in front of a camera and post it on the internet to instill fear. We actually treat them according to the Geneva Convention when we do capture them.

quote:
Nothing like that will happen of course, every assassinated Afghan of Pakistani leaves behind a dozen or more people who now have their own reasons to hate and fight the US, the UN and all they are supposed to and pretend to represent. There is never peace without justice, and never justice without equal rights.


No it doesn't. If anything, it leaves a dozen or more people feeling less fearful to these terrorists. People don't talk against them because they know they'll be executed on the spot. You can't possibly be serious that you think everyone wants war. Almost everyone wants to fight to protect something important to them, these terrorists are brainwashed to think they're protecting their religion/homeland/family when they're the ones killing their own people.

You ever wonder why people don't speak out or fight back? Because most of those people are already dead or will be dead if they speak out. Stop living in a cave and pretend everything is okey dokey. Your rights and life are protected, theirs is not. Laws and court doesn't really exist there.


Only some???
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/11/2013 8:28:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Some feel the President shouldn't have the power to order the warrantless killings of Americans on U.S. soil.


The president shouldn't have the power to order the warrantless killings of Americans anywhere. Due process and all that.




RE: Only some???
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 8:38:56 AM , Rating: 2
You're absolutely right and he really doesn't have that power. He is the final approval after a long long long process of investigation, tracking, intel gathering... Even then, the operation can be called off at any point. The president and his advisors just check that it is necessary to protect our country, within moral standards, and does not break international laws.

The president actually doesn't have the final say or choose targets. This is mostly a military operation collaborated with CIA/FBI/DIA/etc... Targets are usually tracked for years with enough info and evidence collected. We usually have spies and local help before anything is confirmed and a request for drone strike is sent to the president.

You guys make it sound like the president can just call drone strikes on whoever he thinks is a terrorist.


RE: Only some???
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/11/2013 10:04:56 AM , Rating: 2
What you just described is not due process, not in the Constitutional sense.


RE: Only some???
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 12:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
the constitution protects our people, not terrorists. Everyone cries about terrorists and complain about the government not doing enough. Then they cries when they find out the government are taking them out before reading them their rights. WTF?!? Be glad your children's school didn't get blown up because there are people out there proactively protecting you.

If what happened was really so immoral/illegal, somebody would've leaked something already. Something like this goes through a lot of eyes and hands and most promilitary people are not even an obama fan. You can't possibly blame this on one man. Even if i hate his guts, saying the president is at fault is being blindly subjective.


RE: Only some???
By Fritzr on 4/13/2013 12:27:45 AM , Rating: 2
Read the Constitution. Under due process procedures, the victim was innocent unless a court ruling saying otherwise exists.

In a war situation things are a little different. Anyone who can be readily identified as working for the opposition is a legitimate target. Actions allowed vary according to situation, but court hearings are generally not required before eliminating an enemy.

The attacks on "terrorists" are being justified on the grounds that the targets are insisting that they are engaging in warfare and targeting the US. Noncombatant injury and death is often hidden, but are considered an unavoidable consequence of using deadly weapons outside a firing range.

When fighting a guerrilla war things get much more deadly for bystanders as the armed combatants disguise themselves and often mingle with uninvolved populations. The problems in Iraq and Afghanistan are particularly good examples of this with enemy fighters enlisting in friendly forces or hiring on as police for the express purpose of being able to bypass defensive barriers.


Taste of their own medicine
By mike66 on 4/10/2013 6:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
I suggest that the USA be allowed to use drone strikes internally, also that the collateral damages paid per person be the same. I think you should start with their internal terrorist's and then maybe because it's one of these new still wars "War on Drugs","War on Crime","War on Obesity"War on Poverty". Doomsday peppers you are starting to look very sane, thank goodness you are well armed with your military styled weapons. It may make them wake up to yourselves but I doubt it.




RE: Taste of their own medicine
By shabby on 4/10/2013 11:01:18 PM , Rating: 3
I suggest the democrats use drone strikes against the republicans and vice versa... this will solve all our problems.


RE: Taste of their own medicine
By marvdmartian on 4/11/2013 7:30:34 AM , Rating: 1
Sadly, Obama has killed more people with his drones, than gun owners have with their semi-automatic "assault" rifles.

Maybe it's time we take away HIS guns??


RE: Taste of their own medicine
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 7:59:00 AM , Rating: 2
it's amazing how you can turn this to make it sound like this is all Obama. Then spin it by using a domestic issue to compare to international policies.

If you've actually even read the chart, it shows it started in 2004.


OK people
By MechanicalTechie on 4/10/2013 7:59:49 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
[The Obama administration is] misleading the public


So who can name a the last US president that didnt lie to its people and the world in general...




RE: OK people
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 8:04:44 AM , Rating: 2
George Washington! but he didn't have much of anything to lie about.


drones
By Richard875yh5 on 4/10/2013 9:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe it's time to improve the accuracy of the missiles.




RE: drones
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 8:30:29 AM , Rating: 2
Do you even know how accurate these missiles actually are? I'll just let you look it up and be surprised.


By Mint on 4/11/2013 7:00:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, there are hundreds of civilian casualties, but the ratio is orders of magnitude better than what we can achieve with something like the invasion of Iraq and the "shock and awe" campaign. Even more important is the avoided indirect death you'd get when power, water, and transportation infrastructure gets disrupted.

There's no easy solution to the distributed threat of terrorism, but as long as we live in a country as eager to support minimally relevant wars over a terrorist attack as the US is, drone strikes have serious merit and, IMO, actually prevent net foreign civilian casualties.

Of course, I'd rather just suck it up and accept the risk of terrorism rather than go down the path of wars, drone strikes, unlawful detentions, Patriot Act nonsense, etc but I'm not most people.




By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 8:44:46 AM , Rating: 2
After years of drone strike we have a couple hundred collateral casualties. Most of them are probably connected to the terrorists and are helping hiding them anyways.

9/11 cost how many lives? Even the Pentagon was hit. Of course the public will never be allowed to know how many casualties was actually suffered in the Pentagon. If you're going to say "well..the news said this" then you need to rethink that.


Business as Usual
By rippleyaliens on 4/10/2013 9:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
And OH How i feel old. The CIA has been doing this since the very Dawn of the CIA. From Vietnam-Pakistan.. Helping 1 Tribe, defeat another.. To gain Intel.. To place certain people in command. The .. back in Vietnam that = MAC V SOG. BAck then it was Black ops hiring, doing it themselves, Financing it via whatever means. SOOOO MANY Movies made about this..

What makes you think Pakistan is any different?? CIA Hiring, Black ops, etc.. NOW we have Remote Control HIGH END Killing devices..

All this means that atleast the CIA of the USA is actually been working, versus our elected officials..




Banana republic death squads
By GatoRat on 4/11/2013 10:37:22 AM , Rating: 2
This is nothing more than the death squads so rightly criticized in banana republics.




War is War
By SmittySmith on 4/27/2013 7:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree there will be innocent people that suffer, but that is the nature of war. There is Friendly fire...does that mean we don't shoot?? When Bush lead us to war...didn't a lot of innocent people die then?? Of course they did. WAR is WAR and innocent people will always die. It is the truth




"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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