Sanitized US Drone Report
by Stephen Lendman
US administration and congressional news releases reflecting badly on official policies most often occur at low news consumption periods.
Late Friday, the Obama administration chose the start of the July 4 holiday weekend to release its sanitized drone report, an exercise in deception - when few people were paying attention.
It’s not worth the paper it’s written on, fabricated to conceal revealing that drones used for military purposes are instruments of state terror.
Independent studies show the vast majority of casualties are non-high value targets and noncombatant civilian men, women and children - indiscriminately slaughtered, US imperial victims.
When Obama says drone strikes are “targeted” and “focused,” he’s willfully lying to deceive the public to believe a policy of mass murder makes us safe.
The report only covered US drone strikes outside active conflict zones in Pakistan, Yemen (where it’s raging), Libya (here, too) and Somalia, excluding Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - further destroying its credibility.
Claiming 64 - 116 civilians alone were killed from 2009 through 2015 is willful falsification. Some independent studies estimate thousands of civilian deaths.
In a 2013 speech, Obama claimed no drone strikes are authorized without “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured” - then admitting noncombatant casualties occur.
The Reprieve human rights group calls America’s “killer drones programme…the death penalty without trial,” most often claiming noncombatant civilians.
Ahead of late Friday’s release, it published its own report, titled “The Truth About US Drone Strikes,” presenting evidence showing previous administration statements on its policy were “proved to be false.”
In June 2011, CIA director John Brennan willfully lied, saying “there hasn’t been a single collateral death” from drones. Numerous independent studies prove otherwise.
Drone operators don’t know who they’re killing despite administration claims otherwise. According to Reprieve, “What little the Obama Administration has previously said on the record about the drone program has been shown by the facts on the ground, and even the US Government’s own internal documents, to be false.”
“Any claim of low numbers of civilian casualties will therefore have to be read against the more rigorous work of organizations such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), which estimates a low of 492 civilian casualties across Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and a high of potentially 1138.”
“But more importantly, it has to be asked what bare numbers will mean if they omit even basic details such as the names of those killed and the areas, even the countries, they live in.”
“Equally, the numbers without the definitions to back up how the Administration is defining its targets is useless, especially given reports the Obama Administration has shifted the goalposts on what counts as a ‘civilian’ to such an extent that any estimate may be far removed from reality.”
“In US drone operations, reports suggest all ‘military aged males’ and potentially even women and children are considered ‘enemies killed in action’ unless they can ‘posthumously’ and ‘conclusively’ prove their innocence.”
Reprieve estimates “more than 4,000 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia” alone were killed by US drone strikes, most noncombatants - “caus(ing) people to live in constant fear of the skies overhead.”
America’s killer drone program “is (its) dangerous new face of counter-terrorism,” said Reprieve - its ruthless policy of indiscriminate mass murder, part of its lawless hegemonic agenda, making the world safe for monied interests.
All drone strikes are illegal, flagrantly violating international, constitutional and US statute laws. Obama saying “(e)very time I think about those kids being killed it makes me cry” belies his viciousness.
He heads a Murder, Inc. administration, acting as judge, jury and executioner, mocking due process and habeas rights.
As US commander-in-chief, he bears full responsibility for indiscriminate mass murder. He can order it stopped any time with a stroke of his pen.
Instead, he prioritizes killing on an industrial scale, drones one of many tools claiming millions of casualties, victims of imperial barbarity.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.