How Many Civilians Have Been Killed By US Drones?

In October 2015, the Intercept, an online publication devoted to reporting on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, released a series entitled “The Drone Papers” These were reportedly based on documents given to the Intercept by an intelligence agency whistleblower

Within them is a detailed examination of how the United States has used its drone program to assassinate suspected terrorists overseas, with disastrous consequences So, what exactly do the Drone Papers reveal? Well, the drone strike program was originally instituted under George W Bush during the War on Terror However, the Obama Administration significantly increased the total number of drone strikes, particularly in Pakistan and Yemen According to Obama, these strikes have been used exclusively against terrorists, and with fewer civilian casualties than in missile strikes

But the most recent reports from the Drone Papers actually suggest that an overwhelming majority of deaths have indeed been civilian In Afghanistan, a study found that pilot-less drone strikes cause ten times as many civilian deaths as did piloted planes In fact, the Intercept found that over a five-month period, out of 200 people killed in airstrikes, only 35 were the intended targets The Intercept also discovered that the US followed a policy of identifying those killed by drone strikes as “enemies” until there was overwhelming proof that they were civilians This method of concealing civilian deaths through omission was based on labeling all unidentified military aged males as “enemies killed in action”

The way drone assassinations were processed came down to short character profiles printed on what were called “baseball cards” These cards would include some personal information, along with their apparent threat level President Obama would spend, on average, 58 days deciding whether to authorize the assassination But perhaps the most damaging aspect of the drone program was the preference to kill combatants instead of capturing them In a speech justifying drone strikes in 2013, President Obama explained that it was sometimes impossible to capture terrorists before they could strike

In one highly publicized case, a former British citizen from Lebanon had apparent ties to an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, Al-Shabaab After being monitored from 2007 to 2012, he was killed by a drone strike in Somalia Despite collecting evidence on him for at least five years, and knowing his location, the US did not arrest or prosecute him in court While Al-Shabaab did confirm that he was a high ranking operative, there seems to be no reason that he could not have seen due process The drone wars have long been a controversial portion of the War on Terror

Drone strikes have even killed US citizens, suggesting a clear violation of the fifth amendment The Obama Administration did acknowledged the existence of the program in 2013, after years of denial by the Bush administration However, the new documents from the Intercept imply that what little has been revealed by the government is likely distorted Many have called for considerably greater transparency surrounding the drone program In the end, secret overseas assassinations which primarily kill civilians could easily be one of America’s worst war crimes

The war on terror has also come at an incredible cost — both in lives and in resources Find out how much in the video up top And for an in-depth look at the rise and fall of terrorism, look check out TestTube Plus’s series at the bottom Thanks for watching TestTube News! Be sure to like and subscribe so you don’t miss out on new videos daily

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