Even Congress doesn't want us to know the details of the Drone War.
The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday rejected 15 to 5 what supporters call a "modest" proposal to require that the Obama administration publicly report those killed by U.S. drone strikes overseas.Why would they not want us to know how many "enemies" we killed, unless there is something about this War on Some Terror that we wouldn't approve of?
Fortunately there is enough information out there that we can piece together an approximate picture of what is happening.
It's interesting to see efforts by some to portray President Obama as some sort of promoter of peace even though just last year he said he's “really good at killing people” while discussing drone strikes.
First of all, bragging about your efficiency at killing people should preclude you from any talk of Nobel Peace Prizes. At least if you want the Peace Prize to be anything other than a political football and a joke.
Secondly, what does this say about the mission of our Drone War? What exactly is the purpose here?
Let's look at the numbers:
In 2010, President Obama ordered 128 drone strikes in Pakistan. There was 473 bomb blasts in Pakistan that year.
In 2012, Obama ordered 48 drone strikes in Pakistan. Terrorists carried out 652 attacks that killed over 1,000 people.
In case this isn't obvious enough, the trend is getting worse in Pakistan. Four years of drone bombings have done nothing to slow down the slaughter.
The United States Institute for Peace issued a report stating that Karachi is now the “preferred hideout of the TTP, Afghan Taliban, other extremist, and sectarian outfits".
There's no question that public opinion of the US is low in countries where the US has operated drones. Just 11 percent of Pakistanis have a favourable view of the US - down from 16 percent in 2009.
Now some might say if it wasn't for the drone strikes it would have been worse.
But what do the experts, the people who do this for a living, say about that?
Top CIA officials say that drone strikes INCREASE terrorism.
Don't want to believe CIA officials (I don't blame you), then how about the actual people being effected.
Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post reports — after interviews with tribal leaders, victims’ relatives, human rights activists and officials from four provinces in southern Yemen — that "unintended consequence of the attacks has been a marked radicalization of the local population."Is there any evidence of this? Look at this chart of terrorist attacks in the world since 2004.
Raghavan notes that since Barack Obama ordered the first air strike in Yemen in 2009, the number of core AQAP members in Yemen have more than doubled from 300 to at least 700.
Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen of Princeton University told the BCC that the number is closer to 1,000 and the "more the US bombs, the more they grow," noting that al-Qaeda is adept at using the deaths of women and children to recruit people for revenge...
"That one bombing radicalized the entire area," Abdul Gh ani al-Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst, said. "All the men and boys from those families and tribes will have joined [al-Qaeda] to fight."
So how many people are actually being killed by these Drone strikes? That's impossible to say because the government doesn't want to tell us, but there are some numbers to work with.
“We’ve killed 4,700,” Graham said, according to an Easley website. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida.” Graham did not evidently offer an estimate of how many innocent people the drones have killed.Gawd knows if this number is anywhere close to being real, but it’s the first public death toll provided by a U.S. government official. So we pretty much have to accept it until someone in the government leaks more accurate information. Plus Graham's statement is many months old.
A UN report, obtained by Al Jazeera on Friday, stated that Pakistan’s government had confirmed at least 400 civilian deaths as a result of US drone strikes, in stark contrast to what US officials had publicly acknowledged previously.That's only in Pakistan. Lawd knows how many civilians we've killed in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
Of course if the American government ever did do an estimate of innocents killed it couldn't be trusted anymore than Vietnam body counts. Why? Because victims are assumed to be terrorists.
Citing "several administration officials," the Times reported that this method "in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants ... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent." The Times reported that this standard allowed counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to claim in June 2011 that for nearly a 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."Probably the most ironic part of this War on Some Terror is that we are using the exact same methods of terrorism: the double-tap.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued a report detailing how the CIA is deliberately targeting those who show up after the sight of an attack, rescuers, and mourners at funerals as a part of a "double-tap" strategy eerily reminiscient of methods used by terrorist groups like Hamas.To be fair, the CIA has been using the double-tap strategy for a lot longer than Hamas has been around.