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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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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.


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