Apr
24

Don’t fear the Reapers

By

First MQ-9 Reaper arriving at Creech AFB, March 2007
By United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

But who’s counting? As Digby pointed out last night, there is a lot less precision to these “precision” drone strikes than meets the monitors of drone pilots at Creech Air Force Base. The government can’t even keep count of how many Americans they’ve killed. The Guardian reports:

The targets of the deadly drone strikes that killed two hostages and two suspected American members of al-Qaida were “al-Qaida compounds” rather than specific terrorist suspects, the White House disclosed on Thursday.

The lack of specificity suggests that despite a much-publicized 2013 policy change by Barack Obama restricting drone killings by, among other things, requiring “near certainty that the terrorist target is present”, the US continues to launch lethal operations without the necessity of knowing who specifically it seeks to kill, a practice that has come to be known as a “signature strike”.

How certain is “near certainty”?

Human-rights observers see little indication, two years after Obama’s speech, that the US meets its own stated standards on preventing civilian casualties in counter-terrorism operations. Reprieve, looking at US drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, concluded last year that the US killed nearly 1,150 people while targeting 41 individuals.

What’s infuriating about these stories is the boilerplate “fog of war” excuses given after the fact. As if, after the Reaper has lingered over a potential target for hours (or days) while the CIA cross-checks its sketchy intelligence, everything just happened so fast.

Can’t wait for these beasties to be lingering over your rooftops, can ya?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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