Berto Jongman: Informed Comment on US Drone Strikes

04 Inter-State Conflict, 07 Other Atrocities, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, Corruption, Government, Military, Officers Call
Berto Jongman
Berto Jongman

Being read in Europe and Asia.

The Secret History of US Drone Strikes in 2012 (Woods et al.)

write at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:



Drone strikes in Pakistan are now at their lowest level in five years, as Islamabad protests almost every attack. The CIA also appears to have abandoned ‘signature strikes’ on suspected militants fitting certain patterns of behaviour – at least for the present. Almost all attacks in recent months have been against named al Qaeda and other militant leaders.

As drone strikes fell in Pakistan they rose steeply in Yemen, as US forces aided a major military campaign to oust al Qaeda and other Islamists from southern cities. A parallel CIA targeted killing programme killed numerous alleged militants, many of them named individuals. Yet US officials took more than three months to confirm that American planes or drones had killed 12 civilians.

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One reason for a decline in Pakistani strikes may have been growing hostility. Some 74% of polled citizens said they viewed the US as an enemy, and uniquely Pakistan bucked a global trend to register as the only nation favouring Mitt Romney for president. In contrast, the American public appears to staunchly support covert drones – in one poll 83% of respondents were in favour of the strikes.

The British High Court was called on in April to look into US covert drone strikes and possible British co-operation, which some lawyers in the UK insist is illegal. Days before the end of the year the High Court declined to investigate. After years of inactivity, US and Pakistani courts also began to consider legal questions surrounding the campaign.

Click on Image to Enlarge
Click on Image to Enlarge

In one of the biggest news stories of the year, in May the New York Times revealed that President Obama was personally deciding whether to kill some individuals. The paper also revealed that the administration ‘counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.’

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Under President Bush the CIA launched 52 drone strikes. Since then the Agency has launched 306 attacks under President Obama.

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Questions have also been asked about how effective US operations are. Analyst Gregory Johnsen has pointed out that AQAP membership had grown steeply since the US began targeting militants in 2009.

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And the Bureau learned that as much as 50% of US military and intelligence operations go unreported in Somalia. A UN study said that so many drones were operating over Somalia that several air traffic accidents were narrowly avoided.

Read full article with additional graphics.


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