Obama Moves To Conceal Drone Death Figures

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					Obama Moves To Conceal Drone Death Figures
Public disclosure would expose vast scale of “war crimes” under supposed “anti-war”
president; Experts say drone use increases terror attacks

Steve Watson
June 21, 2012

The Obama administration has moved to block the release of information relating to its overseas
drone assassination programme, and will not even acknowledge that it exists, despite countless
public references to the programme and the proven existence of an official “kill list”.

In a motion filed just before midnight last night, the federal government asked for FOIA
requests regarding drone killings by the ACLU and the New York Times to be dismissed.

The administration’s court filing suggested that the public disclosure of such material could
potentially harm national security.

“Whether or not the CIA has the authority to be, or is in fact, directly involved in targeted lethal
operations remains classified,” the court filing noted.
“Even to describe the number and details of most of these documents would reveal information
that could damage the government’s counterterrorism efforts,” the filing continued.

The ACLU responded with a statement slamming the move and calling it “beyond absurd”.

“The notion that the CIA’s targeted killing programme is still a secret is beyond absurd. Senior
officials have discussed it, both on the record and off. They have taken credit for its putative
successes, professed it to be legal, and dismissed concerns about civilian casualties,” said Jameel
Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director.

“If they can make these claims to the media, they can answer requests under the Freedom of
Information Act. The public is entitled to know more about the legal authority the administration
is claiming and the way that the administration is using it.” Jaffer added.

It is common knowledge that the Obama administration has exponentially increased the use of
drone missile attacks in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The president has referred to the programme several times in public, as have officials such as
counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan.

Last month, the New York Times ran a major piece on the programme, revealing that the
White House has asserted the right to carry out state-sponsored assassination anywhere in the
world without having to provide any evidence or go through any legal process.

Furthermore, the Times revealed that Obama adopted a policy that “in effect counts all military-
age males in a strike zone as combatants.”

The administration merely has to state that the target is a terrorist and it doesn’t matter whether
they are an American citizen or not, as we saw in the case of American-born Anwar al-Awlaki
and his son, who were both killed last year.

In December, Obama administration lawyers reaffirmed their backing for state sponsored
assassination, claiming that “U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets” and do not have the
right to any legal protection against being marked for summary execution.

During a CBS 60 Minutes interview in January, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta revealed
that Obama himself personally approves the policy to kill American citizens suspected of
terrorism without trial on a case by case basis.

Perhaps the real reason that the administration wants the details of the programme kept under
wraps is that, as reported by Propublica recently, the programme is potentially much bigger in
scope than anyone had previously thought.

The administration’s figures do not add up, they are chock full of contradictions and
discrepancies, and there can be little doubt that there have been many many more civilian deaths
as a result of drone attacks than have been publicly acknowledged.
Experts, including UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Christof Heyns, as well as Pakistan’s UN ambassador in Geneva, Zamir Akram, have described
the drone assassination programme as a violation of the international legal system, saying
that some attacks may constitute war crimes.

Akram, who noted that US drone strikes had killed more than 1,000 civilians in Pakistan, also
said “We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms of succeeding in the
‘war against terror’. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them.

Many also contend that the attacks infringe the national sovereignty of Pakistan and constitute an
act of war.

In 2010, a report by Washington think tank The New America Foundation found that 32% of the
more than 1,200 people killed since 2004 in Pakistan, or around 1 in 3, were innocent bystanders
rather than dangerous terrorists.

While the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has stated that the Pakistani government is
actively facilitating the attacks by providing bases from which to launch the drones, Pakistani
authorities have consistently voiced opposition to cross border missile strikes, which have been
ongoing for years, but have accelerated since day one of Obama’s presidency. During
Obama’s first year in office, there were 53 reported drone missile attacks; more than were carried
out during the entirety of George W. Bush’s two four year terms in office.

Reports from 2009, drawn up by Pakistani authorities, indicated that close to 700 civilians had
already perished, with just 14 wanted Al Qaeda leaders killed in the attacks.

The ACLU estimates that US drone strikes have killed as many as 4,000 people in Pakistan,
Yemen and Somalia since 2002. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians.


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of
Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

Drone strikes: Obama moves to block release
of files on kill programme
Court motion says administration can not admit whether drone programme exists because of
national security concerns

      Paul Harris in New York
   , Thursday 21 June 2012 11.22 EDT
US drone at Edwards air force base. Photograph: Keystone/Zuma/Rex Features

The Obama administration has sought to block the release of documents related to its use of
robot drones to strike suspected terrorists overseas, claiming that it can still not admit that the
secretive programme of targeted killing exists.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the New York Times have both submitted
freedom of information requests to the department of justice, the CIA and the Pentagon seeking
information about the programme. They have now gone to court to try and force the government
to answer those requests and release details of its activities.

However, in a motion filed just before midnight ET on Wednesday, the government asked for the
cases to be dismissed, saying that to release information would hurt national security, even while
still insisting it cannot admit any such programme of targeted killing exists.

"Whether or not the CIA has the authority to be, or is in fact, directly involved in targeted lethal
operations remains classified," the government said in a court filing.

The move prompted the ACLU to label the continued refusal to acknowledge the use of drones
to kill alleged terrorist leaders as "absurd" given that both President Barack Obama and his
counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan have both made public references to it.

There have also been extensive leaks to the press, notably the New York Times, which recently
ran a highly detailed story about a "kill list" that the Obama administration maintains.
"The notion that the CIA's targeted killing programme is still a secret is beyond absurd. Senior
officials have discussed it, both on the record and off. They have taken credit for its putative
successes, professed it to be legal, and dismissed concerns about civilian casualties," said Jameel
Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director.

US drone strikes have been credited by the administration with having badly damaged al-Qaida
in places like Pakistan and Yemen, but are widely criticised by rights groups over the secrecy
that makes it impossible to determine casualty figures, whether they are military or civilians, or
on what legal basis the attacks occur.

Particular points of contention have been the New York Times' revelation that the administration
considers any male of military age in a strike zone when a drone hits to be a militant and thus a
legitimate target.

The deaths via drone attacks of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son –
who was also an American citizen – have likewise earned condemnation from many human
rights and civil liberties organisations.

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which runs a drone-monitoring project,
estimates that the US has used drones against targets in Pakistan up to 332 times in the past eight
years, with a huge jump in activity under Obama. The Bureau believes up to 800 civilians may
have been killed in the attacks. It has also monitored scores of drone attacks in Yemen and

Jaffer called on the administration to be more open and demanded some form of public legal
oversight. "We continue to have profound concerns that with the power the administration is
claiming and with the proposition that the president should be be permitted to exercise this
power without oversight by the courts. That the administration believes a power so sweeping
should be exercised in secret is astounding," he said.

Despite its refusal to acknowledge a targeted killing programme exists there have been numerous
public statements about the programme.

In April Brennan gave a speech where he said the programme "sometimes using remotely piloted
aircraft" was carried out "in full accordance of the law" and used to strike specific al-Qaida

Obama himself referenced the programme when asked about it in January. The president said the
programme used only "precise, precision strikes against al-Qaida and their affiliates."

'Frustrated' Obama orders 'sharp increase' in
Pakistan drone strikes: Report
Published: Saturday, Jun 9, 2012, 19:10 IST
Place: Washington, DC | Agency: ANI

US President Barack Obama has ordered a "sharp increase" in drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas in recent
months, a report said.

According to a Bloomberg report, US officials said they expect Pakistan to halt Central Intelligence Agency operations
(CIA) in the country in retaliation to the drone strikes, and shut down the only air base being used for drones, reports
The Express Tribune.

However, Pakistani national security officials, claimed that all CIA officers working on the drone program were
expelled and the drones were now being launched from bases in Afghanistan.

The US officials were further quoted as saying that Obama's decision to increase drone attacks reflected the
"mounting US frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes".

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had stated on Thursday that the US was reaching the limits of its patience with
Pakistan because of the safe havens the country offered to insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistan, on Saturday, rejected Panetta's statements and said he was "oversimplifying some of the very complex
issues we are dealing with in our efforts against extremism and terrorism".


Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will

                                                                                                Pete Souza/The White House
President Obama in the Oval Office with Thomas E. Donilon, left, the national security adviser, and John O. Brennan, his top
counterterrorism adviser.

Published: May 29, 2012 1208 Comments

WASHINGTON — This was the enemy, served up in the latest chart from the intelligence
agencies: 15 Qaeda suspects in Yemen with Western ties. The mug shots and brief
biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were
teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.

President Obama, overseeing the regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen
security officials in the White House Situation Room, took a moment to study the faces. It
was Jan. 19, 2010, the end of a first year in office punctuated by terrorist plots and
culminating in a brush with catastrophe over Detroit on Christmas Day, a reminder that a
successful attack could derail his presidency. Yet he faced adversaries without uniforms,
often indistinguishable from the civilians around them.

“How old are these people?” he asked, according to two officials present. “If they are starting
to use children,” he said of Al Qaeda, “we are moving into a whole different phase.”

It was not a theoretical question: Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret
“nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part
has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with
American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to
order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture,
and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over
terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an
unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises —
but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral

“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these
operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that
he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s
determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded
conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often
remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary
and the president’s own deep reserve.

In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers
described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential
history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.

They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to
close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without
hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations
with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous
lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not
constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an
American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”

His first term has seen private warnings from top officials about a “Whac-A-Mole” approach
to counterterrorism; the invention of a new category of aerial attack following complaints of
careless targeting; and presidential acquiescence in a formula for counting civilian deaths
that some officials think is skewed to produce low numbers.

The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression
among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy. And Mr. Obama’s
ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s
strikes drive American policy there, saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,”
a colleague said.

Beside the president at every step is his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, who is
variously compared by colleagues to a dogged police detective, tracking terrorists from his
cavelike office in the White House basement, or a priest whose blessing has become
indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president’s attempt to apply the “just war”
theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.

But the strikes that have eviscerated Al Qaeda — just since April, there have been 14 in
Yemen, and 6 in Pakistan — have also tested both men’s commitment to the principles they
have repeatedly said are necessary to defeat the enemy in the long term. Drones have
replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea,
Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting
civilians by telling the judge, “When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”

Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence until he was fired in May 2010, said that
discussions inside the White House of long-term strategy against Al Qaeda were sidelined
by the intense focus on strikes. “The steady refrain in the White House was, ‘This is the only
game in town’ — reminded me of body counts in Vietnam,” said Mr. Blair, a retired admiral
who began his Navy service during that war.

Mr. Blair’s criticism, dismissed by White House officials as personal pique, nonetheless
resonates inside the government.

William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011, said the president and his advisers
understood that they could not keep adding new names to a kill list, from ever lower on the
Qaeda totem pole. What remains unanswered is how much killing will be enough.

“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Mr. Daley said,
describing the internal discussion. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with

‘Maintain My Options’

A phalanx of retired generals and admirals stood behind Mr. Obama on the second day of
his presidency, providing martial cover as he signed several executive orders to make good
on campaign pledges. Brutal interrogation techniques were banned, he declared. And the
prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed.

What the new president did not say was that the orders contained a few subtle loopholes.
They reflected a still unfamiliar Barack Obama, a realist who, unlike some of his fervent
supporters, was never carried away by his own rhetoric. Instead, he was already putting his
lawyerly mind to carving out the maximum amount of maneuvering room to fight terrorism
as he saw fit.

It was a pattern that would be seen repeatedly, from his response to Republican complaints
that he wanted to read terrorists their rights, to his acceptance of the C.I.A.’s method for
counting civilian casualties in drone strikes.

The day before the executive orders were issued, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, had
called the White House in a panic. The order prohibited the agency from operating
detention facilities, closing once and for all the secret overseas “black sites” where
interrogators had brutalized terrorist suspects.

“The way this is written, you are going to take us out of the rendition business,” Mr. Rizzo
told Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s White House counsel, referring to the much-criticized
practice of grabbing a terrorist suspect abroad and delivering him to another country for
interrogation or trial. The problem, Mr. Rizzo explained, was that the C.I.A. sometimes held
such suspects for a day or two while awaiting a flight. The order appeared to outlaw that.

Mr. Craig assured him that the new president had no intention of ending rendition — only
its abuse, which could lead to American complicity in torture abroad. So a new definition of
“detention facility” was inserted, excluding places used to hold people “on a short-term,
transitory basis.” Problem solved — and no messy public explanation damped Mr. Obama’s

“Pragmatism over ideology,” his campaign national security team had advised in a memo in
March 2008. It was counsel that only reinforced the president’s instincts.

Even before he was sworn in, Mr. Obama’s advisers had warned him against taking a
categorical position on what would be done with Guantánamo detainees. The deft insertion
of some wiggle words in the president’s order showed that the advice was followed.

Some detainees would be transferred to prisons in other countries, or released, it said. Some
would be prosecuted — if “feasible” — in criminal courts. Military commissions, which Mr.
Obama had criticized, were not mentioned — and thus not ruled out.

As for those who could not be transferred or tried but were judged too dangerous for
release? Their “disposition” would be handled by “lawful means, consistent with the
national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of

A few sharp-eyed observers inside and outside the government understood what the public
did not. Without showing his hand, Mr. Obama had preserved three major policies —
rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention — that have been targets of human
rights groups since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

But a year later, with Congress trying to force him to try all terrorism suspects using
revamped military commissions, he deployed his legal skills differently — to preserve trials
in civilian courts.
It was shortly after Dec. 25, 2009, following a close call in which a Qaeda-trained operative
named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had boarded a Detroit-bound airliner with a bomb
sewn into his underwear.

Mr. Obama was taking a drubbing from Republicans over the government’s decision to read
the suspect his rights, a prerequisite for bringing criminal charges against him in civilian

The president “seems to think that if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them
lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war,” former Vice President
Dick Cheney charged.

Sensing vulnerability on both a practical and political level, the president summoned his
attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., to the White House.

F.B.I. agents had questioned Mr. Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes and gained valuable
intelligence before giving him the warning. They had relied on a 1984 case called New York
v. Quarles, in which the Supreme Court ruled that statements made by a suspect in response
to urgent public safety questions — the case involved the location of a gun — could be
introduced into evidence even if the suspect had not been advised of the right to remain

Mr. Obama, who Mr. Holder said misses the legal profession, got into a colloquy with the
attorney general. How far, he asked, could Quarles be stretched? Mr. Holder felt that in
terrorism cases, the court would allow indefinite questioning on a fairly broad range of

Satisfied with the edgy new interpretation, Mr. Obama gave his blessing, Mr. Holder

“Barack Obama believes in options: ‘Maintain my options,’ “ said Jeh C. Johnson, a
campaign adviser and now general counsel of the Defense Department.

‘They Must All Be Militants’

That same mind-set would be brought to bear as the president intensified what would
become a withering campaign to use unmanned aircraft to kill Qaeda terrorists.
Just days after taking office, the president got word that the first strike under his
administration had killed a number of innocent Pakistanis. “The president was very sharp
on the thing, and said, ‘I want to know how this happened,’ “ a top White House adviser

In response to his concern, the C.I.A. downsized its munitions for more pinpoint strikes. In
addition, the president tightened standards, aides say: If the agency did not have a “near
certainty” that a strike would result in zero civilian deaths, Mr. Obama wanted to decide
personally whether to go ahead.

The president’s directive reinforced the need for caution, counterterrorism officials said, but
did not significantly change the program. In part, that is because “the protection of innocent
life was always a critical consideration,” said Michael V. Hayden, the last C.I.A. director
under President George W. Bush.

It is also because Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties
that did little to box him in. It in effect 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.

Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of
known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.
“Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in
the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who
requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.

This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral
deaths. In a speech last year Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a
single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes. And in a recent interview, a senior
administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan
under Mr. Obama was in the “single digits” — and that independent counts of scores or
hundreds of civilian deaths unwittingly draw on false propaganda claims by militants.

But in interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the
number could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials
outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it
“guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.
“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the
official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

‘A No-Brainer’

About four months into his presidency, as Republicans accused him of reckless naïveté on
terrorism, Mr. Obama quickly pulled together a speech defending his policies. Standing
before the Constitution at the National Archives in Washington, he mentioned Guantánamo
28 times, repeating his campaign pledge to close the prison.

But it was too late, and his defensive tone suggested that Mr. Obama knew it. Though
President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate, had
supported closing the Guantánamo prison, Republicans in Congress had reversed course
and discovered they could use the issue to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terrorism.

Walking out of the Archives, the president turned to his national security adviser at the
time, Gen. James L. Jones, and admitted that he had never devised a plan to persuade
Congress to shut down the prison.

“We’re never going to make that mistake again,” Mr. Obama told the retired Marine general.

General Jones said the president and his aides had assumed that closing the prison was “a
no-brainer — the United States will look good around the world.” The trouble was, he
added, “nobody asked, ‘O.K., let’s assume it’s a good idea, how are you going to do this?’ “

It was not only Mr. Obama’s distaste for legislative backslapping and arm-twisting, but also
part of a deeper pattern, said an administration official who has watched him closely: the
president seemed to have “a sense that if he sketches a vision, it will happen — without his
really having thought through the mechanism by which it will happen.”

In fact, both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the attorney general, Mr.
Holder, had warned that the plan to close the Guantánamo prison was in peril, and they
volunteered to fight for it on Capitol Hill, according to officials. But with Mr. Obama’s
backing, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, blocked them, saying health care reform had to
go first.

When the administration floated a plan to transfer from Guantánamo to Northern Virginia
two Uighurs, members of a largely Muslim ethnic minority from China who are considered
no threat to the United States, Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf
denounced the idea. The administration backed down.

That show of weakness doomed the effort to close Guantánamo, the same administration
official said. “Lyndon Johnson would have steamrolled the guy,” he said. “That’s not what
happened. It’s like a boxing match where a cut opens over a guy’s eye.”

The Use of Force

It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the
government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference,
to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be
the next to die.

This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim
debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of
suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.

The video conferences are run by the Pentagon, which oversees strikes in those countries,
and participants do not hesitate to call out a challenge, pressing for the evidence behind
accusations of ties to Al Qaeda.

“What’s a Qaeda facilitator?” asked one participant, illustrating the spirit of the exchanges.
“If I open a gate and you drive through it, am I a facilitator?” Given the contentious
discussions, it can take five or six sessions for a name to be approved, and names go off the
list if a suspect no longer appears to pose an imminent threat, the official said. A parallel,
more cloistered selection process at the C.I.A. focuses largely on Pakistan, where that agency
conducts strikes.

The nominations go to the White House, where by his own insistence and guided by Mr.
Brennan, Mr. Obama must approve any name. He signs off on every strike in Yemen and
Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the

Aides say Mr. Obama has several reasons for becoming so immersed in lethal
counterterrorism operations. A student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas
Aquinas, he believes that he should take moral responsibility for such actions. And he knows
that bad strikes can tarnish America’s image and derail diplomacy.
“He realizes this isn’t science, this is judgments made off of, most of the time, human
intelligence,” said Mr. Daley, the former chief of staff. “The president accepts as a fact that a
certain amount of screw-ups are going to happen, and to him, that calls for a more judicious

But the control he exercises also appears to reflect Mr. Obama’s striking self-confidence: he
believes, according to several people who have worked closely with him, that his own
judgment should be brought to bear on strikes.

Asked what surprised him most about Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon, the national security
adviser, answered immediately: “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of
force on behalf of the United States.”

In fact, in a 2007 campaign speech in which he vowed to pull the United States out of Iraq
and refocus on Al Qaeda, Mr. Obama had trumpeted his plan to go after terrorist bases in
Pakistan — even if Pakistani leaders objected. His rivals at the time, including Mitt Romney,
Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mrs. Clinton, had all pounced on what they considered a
greenhorn’s campaign bluster. (Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama had become “Dr.

In office, however, Mr. Obama has done exactly what he had promised, coming quickly to
rely on the judgment of Mr. Brennan.

Mr. Brennan, a son of Irish immigrants, is a grizzled 25-year veteran of the C.I.A. whose
work as a top agency official during the brutal interrogations of the Bush administration
made him a target of fierce criticism from the left. He had been forced, under fire, to
withdraw his name from consideration to lead the C.I.A. under Mr. Obama, becoming
counterterrorism chief instead.

Some critics of the drone strategy still vilify Mr. Brennan, suggesting that he is the C.I.A.’s
agent in the White House, steering Mr. Obama to a targeted killing strategy. But in office,
Mr. Brennan has surprised many former detractors by speaking forcefully for closing
Guantánamo and respecting civil liberties.

Harold H. Koh, for instance, as dean of Yale Law School was a leading liberal critic of the
Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies. But since becoming the State
Department’s top lawyer, Mr. Koh said, he has found in Mr. Brennan a principled ally.
“If John Brennan is the last guy in the room with the president, I’m comfortable, because
Brennan is a person of genuine moral rectitude,” Mr. Koh said. “It’s as though you had a
priest with extremely strong moral values who was suddenly charged with leading a war.”

The president values Mr. Brennan’s experience in assessing intelligence, from his own
agency or others, and for the sobriety with which he approaches lethal operations, other
aides say.

“The purpose of these actions is to mitigate threats to U.S. persons’ lives,” Mr. Brennan said
in an interview. “It is the option of last recourse. So the president, and I think all of us here,
don’t like the fact that people have to die. And so he wants to make sure that we go through
a rigorous checklist: The infeasibility of capture, the certainty of the intelligence base, the
imminence of the threat, all of these things.”

Yet the administration’s very success at killing terrorism suspects has been shadowed by a
suspicion: that Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding, in effect,
to take no prisoners alive. While scores of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama, only
one has been taken into American custody, and the president has balked at adding new
prisoners to Guantánamo.

“Their policy is to take out high-value targets, versus capturing high-value targets,” said
Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the intelligence committee.
“They are not going to advertise that, but that’s what they are doing.”

Mr. Obama’s aides deny such a policy, arguing that capture is often impossible in the rugged
tribal areas of Pakistan and Yemen and that many terrorist suspects are in foreign prisons
because of American tips. Still, senior officials at the Justice Department and the Pentagon
acknowledge that they worry about the public perception.

“We have to be vigilant to avoid a no-quarter, or take-no-prisoners policy,” said Mr.
Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief lawyer.


The care that Mr. Obama and his counterterrorism chief take in choosing targets, and their
reliance on a precision weapon, the drone, reflect his pledge at the outset of his presidency
to reject what he called the Bush administration’s “false choice between our safety and our
But he has found that war is a messy business, and his actions show that pursuing an enemy
unbound by rules has required moral, legal and practical trade-offs that his speeches did not

One early test involved Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The case was
problematic on two fronts, according to interviews with both administration and Pakistani

The C.I.A. worried that Mr. Mehsud, whose group then mainly targeted the Pakistan
government, did not meet the Obama administration’s criteria for targeted killing: he was
not an imminent threat to the United States. But Pakistani officials wanted him dead, and
the American drone program rested on their tacit approval. The issue was resolved after the
president and his advisers found that he represented a threat, if not to the homeland, to
American personnel in Pakistan.

Then, in August 2009, the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, told Mr. Brennan that the agency
had Mr. Mehsud in its sights. But taking out the Pakistani Taliban leader, Mr. Panetta
warned, did not meet Mr. Obama’s standard of “near certainty” of no innocents being killed.
In fact, a strike would certainly result in such deaths: he was with his wife at his in-laws’

“Many times,” General Jones said, in similar circumstances, “at the 11th hour we waved off a
mission simply because the target had people around them and we were able to loiter on
station until they didn’t.”

But not this time. Mr. Obama, through Mr. Brennan, told the C.I.A. to take the shot, and Mr.
Mehsud was killed, along with his wife and, by some reports, other family members as well,
said a senior intelligence official.

The attempted bombing of an airliner a few months later, on Dec. 25, stiffened the
president’s resolve, aides say. It was the culmination of a series of plots, including the killing
of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex. by an Army psychiatrist who had embraced radical Islam.

Mr. Obama is a good poker player, but he has a tell when he is angry. His questions become
rapid-fire, said his attorney general, Mr. Holder. “He’ll inject the phrase, ‘I just want to
make sure you understand that.’ “ And it was clear to everyone, Mr. Holder said, that he was
simmering about how a 23-year-old bomber had penetrated billions of dollars worth of
American security measures.
When a few officials tentatively offered a defense, noting that the attack had failed because
the terrorists were forced to rely on a novice bomber and an untested formula because of
stepped-up airport security, Mr. Obama cut them short.

“Well, he could have gotten it right and we’d all be sitting here with an airplane that blew up
and killed over a hundred people,” he said, according to a participant. He asked them to use
the close call to imagine in detail the consequences if the bomb had detonated. In
characteristic fashion, he went around the room, asking each official to explain what had
gone wrong and what needed to be done about it.

“After that, as president, it seemed like he felt in his gut the threat to the United States,” said
Michael E. Leiter, then director of the National Counterterrorism Center. “Even John
Brennan, someone who was already a hardened veteran of counterterrorism, tightened the
straps on his rucksack after that.”

David Axelrod, the president’s closest political adviser, began showing up at the “Terror
Tuesday” meetings, his unspeaking presence a visible reminder of what everyone
understood: a successful attack would overwhelm the president’s other aspirations and

In the most dramatic possible way, the Fort Hood shootings in November and the attempted
Christmas Day bombing had shown the new danger from Yemen. Mr. Obama, who had
rejected the Bush-era concept of a global war on terrorism and had promised to narrow the
American focus to Al Qaeda’s core, suddenly found himself directing strikes in another
complicated Muslim country.

The very first strike under his watch in Yemen, on Dec. 17, 2009, offered a stark example of
the difficulties of operating in what General Jones described as an “embryonic theater that
we weren’t really familiar with.”

It killed not only its intended target, but also two neighboring families, and left behind a
trail of cluster bombs that subsequently killed more innocents. It was hardly the kind of
precise operation that Mr. Obama favored. Videos of children’s bodies and angry tribesmen
holding up American missile parts flooded You Tube, fueling a ferocious backlash that
Yemeni officials said bolstered Al Qaeda.

The sloppy strike shook Mr. Obama and Mr. Brennan, officials said, and once again they
tried to impose some discipline.
In Pakistan, Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-
value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious
compounds in areas controlled by militants.

But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria
used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when
the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training
camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers —
but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.

Now, in the wake of the bad first strike in Yemen, Mr. Obama overruled military and
intelligence commanders who were pushing to use signature strikes there as well.

“We are not going to war with Yemen,” he admonished in one meeting, according to

His guidance was formalized in a memo by General Jones, who called it a “governor, if you
will, on the throttle,” intended to remind everyone that “one should not assume that it’s just
O.K. to do these things because we spot a bad guy somewhere in the world.”

Mr. Obama had drawn a line. But within two years, he stepped across it. Signature strikes in
Pakistan were killing a large number of terrorist suspects, even when C.I.A. analysts were
not certain beforehand of their presence. And in Yemen, roiled by the Arab Spring unrest,
the Qaeda affiliate was seizing territory.

Today, the Defense Department can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not
know. Officials say the criteria are tighter than those for signature strikes, requiring
evidence of a threat to the United States, and they have even given them a new name —
TADS, for Terrorist Attack Disruption Strikes. But the details are a closely guarded secret —
part of a pattern for a president who came into office promising transparency.

The Ultimate Test

On that front, perhaps no case would test Mr. Obama’s principles as starkly as that of Anwar
al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric and Qaeda propagandist hiding in Yemen, who had
recently risen to prominence and had taunted the president by name in some of his online
The president “was very interested in obviously trying to understand how a guy like Awlaki
developed,” said General Jones. The cleric’s fiery sermons had helped inspire a dozen plots,
including the shootings at Fort Hood. Then he had gone “operational,” plotting with Mr.
Abdulmutallab and coaching him to ignite his explosives only after the airliner was over the
United States.

That record, and Mr. Awlaki’s calls for more attacks, presented Mr. Obama with an urgent
question: Could he order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which
the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial?

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that
extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process
applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.

Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011, along with a
fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but was
traveling with him.

If the president had qualms about this momentous step, aides said he did not share them.
Mr. Obama focused instead on the weight of the evidence showing that the cleric had joined
the enemy and was plotting more terrorist attacks.

“This is an easy one,” Mr. Daley recalled him saying, though the president warned that in
future cases, the evidence might well not be so clear.

In the wake of Mr. Awlaki’s death, some administration officials, including the attorney
general, argued that the Justice Department’s legal memo should be made public. In 2009,
after all, Mr. Obama had released Bush administration legal opinions on interrogation over
the vociferous objections of six former C.I.A. directors.

This time, contemplating his own secrets, he chose to keep the Awlaki opinion secret.

“Once it’s your pop stand, you look at things a little differently,” said Mr. Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s
former general counsel.

Mr. Hayden, the former C.I.A. director and now an adviser to Mr. Obama’s Republican
challenger, Mr. Romney, commended the president’s aggressive counterterrorism record,
which he said had a “Nixon to China” quality. But, he said, “secrecy has its costs” and Mr.
Obama should open the strike strategy up to public scrutiny.
“This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that’s not sustainable,”
Mr. Hayden said. “I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret O.L.C.
memos, and it ain’t a good life. Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos
locked in a D.O.J. safe.”

Tactics Over Strategy

In his June 2009 speech in Cairo, aimed at resetting relations with the Muslim world, Mr.
Obama had spoken eloquently of his childhood years in Indonesia, hearing the call to prayer
“at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk.”

“The United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam,” he declared.

But in the months that followed, some officials felt the urgency of counterterrorism strikes
was crowding out consideration of a broader strategy against radicalization. Though Mrs.
Clinton strongly supported the strikes, she complained to colleagues about the drones-only
approach at Situation Room meetings, in which discussion would focus exclusively on the
pros, cons and timing of particular strikes.

At their weekly lunch, Mrs. Clinton told the president she thought there should be more
attention paid to the root causes of radicalization, and Mr. Obama agreed. But it was
September 2011 before he issued an executive order setting up a sophisticated, interagency
war room at the State Department to counter the jihadi narrative on an hour-by-hour basis,
posting messages and video online and providing talking points to embassies.

Mr. Obama was heartened, aides say, by a letter discovered in the raid on Osama bin
Laden’s compound in Pakistan. It complained that the American president had undermined
Al Qaeda’s support by repeatedly declaring that the United States was at war not with Islam,
but with the terrorist network. “We must be doing a good job,” Mr. Obama told his secretary
of state.

Moreover, Mr. Obama’s record has not drawn anything like the sweeping criticism from
allies that his predecessor faced. John B. Bellinger III, a top national security lawyer under
the Bush administration, said that was because Mr. Obama’s liberal reputation and “softer
packaging” have protected him. “After the global outrage over Guantánamo, it’s remarkable
that the rest of the world has looked the other way while the Obama administration has
conducted hundreds of drone strikes in several different countries, including killing at least
some civilians,” said Mr. Bellinger, who supports the strikes.
By withdrawing from Iraq and preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, Mr. Obama has
refocused the fight on Al Qaeda and hugely reduced the death toll both of American soldiers
and Muslim civilians. But in moments of reflection, Mr. Obama may have reason to wonder
about unfinished business and unintended consequences.

His focus on strikes has made it impossible to forge, for now, the new relationship with the
Muslim world that he had envisioned. Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and
more hostile to the United States than when Mr. Obama became president.

Justly or not, drones have become a provocative symbol of American power, running
roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents. With China and Russia
watching, the United States has set an international precedent for sending drones over
borders to kill enemies.

Mr. Blair, the former director of national intelligence, said the strike campaign was
dangerously seductive. “It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S.
casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,” he said. “It plays well domestically, and it is
unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows
up over the long term.”

But Mr. Blair’s dissent puts him in a small minority of security experts. Mr. Obama’s record
has eroded the political perception that Democrats are weak on national security. No one
would have imagined four years ago that his counterterrorism policies would come under
far more fierce attack from the American Civil Liberties Union than from Mr. Romney.

Aides say that Mr. Obama’s choices, though, are not surprising. The president’s reliance on
strikes, said Mr. Leiter, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, “is far
from a lurid fascination with covert action and special forces. It’s much more practical. He’s
the president. He faces a post-Abdulmutallab situation, where he’s being told people might
attack the United States tomorrow.”

“You can pass a lot of laws,” Mr. Leiter said, “Those laws are not going to get Bin Laden
May 29, 2012, 2:15 pm 101 Comments

President Obama’s Kill List

Whenever I raise questions about President Obama’s “targeted killing” policy, and the cavalier
way his aides dismiss criticism of it, administration officials tell me that I wouldn’t worry so
much if I understood the program’s inner workings. But the more that comes to light, the more
worried I feel.

Take today’s lengthy article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, which describes how Mr. Obama has
placed himself “at the helm of a top-secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill
or capture, for which the capture part has become largely theoretical.” He “signs off on every
[drone] strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan
— about a third of the total.”

The White House spin on Mr. Obama’s personal involvement with the drones program is that
he’s shouldering the moral responsibility. In the words of Thomas Donilon, his national security
adviser, “he’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

That’s precisely the problem: The tether is too short. If Mr. Obama wants to authorize every
drone strike, fine—but even the president requires oversight (remember checks and balances?)
which he won’t allow. The administration refuses to accept judicial review (from a FISA-style
court, say) prior to a strike directed at an American citizen, and won’t deign to release the legal
documents written to justify the targeted killing program. The Times and the ACLU have both
sued to force disclosure of these documents. No luck yet.

Apologists for the president’s “just trust me” approach to targeted killings emphasize that the
program is highly successful and claim that the drone strikes are extraordinarily precise. John
Brennan, the president’s counter-terrorism adviser, said in a recent speech that not a single non-
combatant had been killed in a year of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And today’s
Times article quoted a senior administration official who said that civilian deaths were in the
“single digits.”

But it turns out that even this hey-it’s-better-than-carpet-bombing justification is rather flimsy.
The Times article says “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties
…It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several
administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them

The logic, such as it is, is that people who hang around places where Qaeda operatives hang
around must be up to no good. That’s the sort of approach that led to the false imprisonment of
thousands of Iraqis, including the ones tortured at Abu Ghraib. Mr. Obama used to denounce that
kind of thinking.

Awlaki Family Protests U.S. Killing of Anwar
Awlaki's Teen Son

Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki (right) and his son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki are seen in these undated photos that
appeared on the Facebook account of a relative. (Facebook)

Oct. 19, 2011
The family of radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has issued a statement condemning the
killing of Awlaki and of Awlaki's teen son, and accusing the U.S. of lying about the younger
Awlaki's age in order to "clear itself from the killing of the innocents."

Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader linked to multiple terror attacks in the U.S. and Britain,
was killed along with al Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan in a Sept. 30 CIA drone strike in
Yemen. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki died in a separate U.S. drone strike on Oct. 14 along with
six others, including Ibrahim al-Bana, an Egyptian whom U.S. officials identified as an
operational al Qaeda leader. Anwar al-Awlaki, his son and Samir Khan were all U.S. citizens.

"After Sheikh Anwar was martyred we were bereaved again by the martyrdom of his eldest
son Abdulrahman," said the statement, which appeared on a militant web site, "but this
time the lies have increased and this is why we have had to respond to clarify."

Al-Awlaki Death May Trigger Retaliation Watch Video

U.S.-Born Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed Watch Video

Obama Taking Down Terrorists at What Cost? Watch Video
"Abdulrahman bin Anwar Al Awlaki was born in the American city of Denver, Colorado on
August 26 1995. He thus isn't 21 or 27 years old but rather only 16 years old. He has been a
resident of the city of Sana'a since he returned from America with his family in 2002."
Initial media reports had stated that Abdulrahman was 21.

According to the statement, the younger Awlaki had traveled from Sana'a, Yemen's capital,
to the Awlaki tribe's ancestral home of Shabwa to search for his father prior to the Sept. 30
CIA strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, Khan, and two other men. When he learned of his
father's death, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki prepared to return to the capital, but was killed by
the U.S. "On the night of October 14," said the statement, "he went out with his friends for
dinner in the moonlight and they were struck by an American rocket that killed
Abdulrahman and his friends."
"Just as the father was killed unjustly and belligerently, America didn't quench its thirst for
revenge with the killing of the sheikh Anwar, whose person and personality she tried over
and over again," said the statement. "Now she has killed his son gratuitously and

According to the statement, a 17-year-old member of the Awlaki clan also died in the strike.

Photos of Awlaki and his teen son appeared on the militant website along with the family's
statement. A second photo of Abdul-Rahman also appeared alongside a photo of the elder
Awlaki as part of a memorial to father and son on the Facebook page of a teenage Awlaki
relative. The Facebook tribute gave Abdulrahman's date of death as Oct. 14, the date of the
second strike.

A U.S. official familiar with the strike said that the U.S. government had not yet confirmed
that Awlaki's son had been killed in the strike.

The strike was conducted by the US military in an effort to target al-Banna, who US officials
describe as a "big deal," though they did not elaborate. One official asserted that Banna was
"operational." A second official said the strike was carried out by a U.S. military drone. The
elder Awlaki was killed by a CIA strike.

Obama lawyers: Citizens targeted if at war
with US
   By MATT APUZZO | AP – Thu, Dec 1, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms
with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday.

The lawyers were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-
Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. He died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the
mountains of Yemen.

The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, did
not directly address the al-Awlaki case. But they said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when
they are at war with the United States.
Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield
targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.

The courts in habeas cases, such as those involving whether a detainee should be released from
the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, make the determination of who can be
considered an enemy combatant.

Late last year, a judge threw out a lawsuit filed by al-Awlaki's father, saying that the courts do
not have the authority to review military decisions by the president aimed at protecting the
country from terrorists. The cleric's father, Nasser al-Awlaki of Yemen, was suing to prevent the
U.S. from targeting his son.

Obama Administration’s Drone Death
Figures Don’t Add Up

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lance Cheung)

by Justin Elliott
ProPublica, June 18, 2012, 4:12 p.m.
Last month, a “senior administration official” said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in
Pakistan under President Obama is in the “single digits.” But last year “U.S. officials” said drones in
Pakistan killed about 30 civilians in just a yearlong stretch under Obama.

Both claims can’t be true.

Interactive Timeline

How Obama Drone Death Claims Stack Up

A centerpiece of President Obama’s national security strategy, drones strikes in Pakistan are credited by
the administration with crippling Al Qaeda but criticized by human rights groups and others for being
conducted in secret and killing civilians. The underlying facts are often in dispute and claims about how
many people died and who they were vary widely.

So we decided to narrow it down to just one issue: have the administration’s own claims been consistent?

We collected claims by the administration about deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and compared
each one not to local reports but rather to other administration claims. The numbers sometimes do not
add up. (Check out our interactive graphic [1] to explore the claims.)

Even setting aside the discrepancy between official and outside estimates of civilian deaths, our analysis
shows that the administration’s own figures quoted over the years raise questions about their credibility.

There have been 307 American drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, according to a New America
Foundation count [2]. Just 44 occurred during the Bush administration. President Obama has greatly
expanded the use of drones to attack suspected members of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and other
groups in Pakistan’s remote northwest region.

Obama officials generally do not comment by name on the drone strikes in Pakistan, but they frequently
talk about it to reporters (including us [3]) on condition of anonymity. Often those anonymously sourced
comments have come in response to outside tallies of civilian deaths from drone attacks, which are
generally much higher than the administration’s own figures.

The outright contradiction we noted above comes from two claims made about a year apart:

* April 22, 2011 McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim “about 30” [4] civilians died in the year
between August 2009 and August 2010.

* May 29, 2012 The New York Times reports that, according to a senior Obama administration official,
the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under president Obama is in the “single digits.”
As we also show in our interactive graphic [1], other anonymous administration claims about civilian
deaths are possible but imply conclusions that seem improbable.


* April 26, 2010 The Washington Post quotes an “internal CIA accounting” saying that “just over 20
civilians” [6] have been killed by drones in Pakistan since January 2009.

* Aug. 11, 2011 The New York Times reports that CIA officers claim zero civilians [7] were killed since
May 2010

* Aug. 12, 2011 CNN quoted a U.S. official saying there were 50 civilians [8] killed over the years in
drone strikes in Pakistan.

If this set of claims is assumed to be accurate, it suggests that the majority of the 50 total civilian deaths
occurred during the Bush administration — when the drone program was still in its infancy. As we’ve
noted, in the entire Bush administration, there were 44 strikes. In the Obama administration through
Aug. 12, 2011, there were 222. So according to this set of claims more civilians died in just 44 strikes
under Bush than did in 222 strikes under Obama. (Again, the graphic [9] is helpful to assess the
administration assertions.)

Consider also these three claims [10], which imply two lengthy periods when zero or almost zero civilians
were killed in drone strikes:

* September 10, 2010 Newsweek quotes a government estimate that “about 30” [11] civilians were
killed since the beginning of 2008.

* April 22, 2011 McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim “about 30” [4] civilians died in the year
between August 2009 and August 2010.

* July 15, 2011 Reuters quotes a source familiar with the drone program as saying “about 30” [12]
civilians were killed since July 2008.

It’s possible that all these claims are true. But if they are, it implies that the government believes there
were zero or almost zero civilian deaths between the beginning of 2008 and August 2009, and then again
zero deaths between August 2010 and July 2011. Those periods comprise a total of 182 strikes.

The administration has rejected in the strongest terms outside claims of a high civilian toll from the drone

Those outside estimates also vary widely. A count by Bill Roggio [13], editor of the website the Long War
Journal, which bases its estimates on news reports, puts [14] the number of civilian killed in Pakistan at
138. The New America Foundation estimates [2] that, based on press reports, between 293 and 471
civilians have been killed in the attacks. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which
draws on [15] a wider array of sources including researchers and lawyers in Pakistan, puts the number of
civilians killed at between 482 and 832. The authors of the various estimates all emphasize that their
counts are imperfect.

There are likely multiple reasons for the varying counts of civilian deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan.
The attacks are executed remotely in often inaccessible regions. And there’s the question of who U.S.
officials are counting as civilians. A story [5] last month in the New York Times reported that [3]
President Obama adopted a policy that “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as
There are also ongoing debates [16] in the humanitarian law community about who the U.S. may
legitimately target with drone strikes and how the CIA is applying the principle of proportionality [17] —
which holds that attacks that might cause civilian deaths must be proportional to the level of military
advantage anticipated.

In a rare public comment on drone strikes, President Obama told [18] an online town hall in January that
the drones had not caused “a huge number of civilian casualties.”

When giving their own figures on civilian deaths, administration officials are often countering local
reports. In March 2011, for example, Pakistanis [19] including [20] the country’s army chief accused a
U.S. drone strike of hitting a peaceful meeting of tribal elders, killing around 40 people. An unnamed U.S.
official rejected the accusations, telling the AP: "There's every indication that this was a group of
terrorists, not a charity car wash in the Pakistani hinterlands."

Unnamed U.S. officials told [21] the Los Angeles Times last year that “they are confident they know who
has been killed because they watch each strike on video and gather intelligence in the aftermath,
observing funerals for the dead and eavesdropping on conversations about the strikes.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said [22] during a visit to Pakistan this month
that there should be investigation of killings of civilians by drones and that victims should be
compensated. The U.S. has given compensation [23] to victims of airstrikes in Afghanistan but there are
no reports of victims of drone strikes in Pakistan being compensated.

Since the various administration statements over the years were almost all quoted anonymously, it’s
impossible to go back to the officials in question to ask them about contradictions.

Asked about the apparent contradictions, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told
ProPublica: “[W]e simply do not comment on alleged drone strikes.”

Additional reporting by Cora Currier.

The Year of the Drone
An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012

2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2004-2007

View all U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan in a larger map. Note: strikes reported after
November 19, 2010 appear on page 2 of the Google map.
Click each pin to see the details of a reported strike. Red pin=2004-2007; Pink pin=2008; Dark
blue pin=2009; (Green pin=Bush in 2009); Light blue pin=2010; Purple pin=2011

This research was last updated on June 14, 2012. For a full analysis of the repercussions and
results of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, please click here for "The Year of the Drone," by Peter
Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, February 24, 2010, click here for "The Hidden War,"
December 21, 2010, click here for "Washington's Phantom War," July 2011, or click here for
"CIA drone war in Pakistan in sharp decline," March 2012.
2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2004-2007

The research on these pages, which we have created in a good faith effort to be as transparent as
possible with our sources and analysis and will be updated regularly, draws only on accounts
from reliable media organizations with deep reporting capabilities in Pakistan, including the New
York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, accounts by major news services and
networks—the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, CNN, and the BBC—and
reports in the leading English-language newspapers in Pakistan—the Daily Times, Dawn, the
Express Tribune, and the News—as well as those from Geo TV, the largest independent
Pakistani television network.

Our study shows that the 302 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 24 in 2012,
from 2004 to the present have killed approximately between 1,851 and 2,843 individuals, of
whom around 1,558 to 2,372 were described as militants in reliable press accounts. Thus, the
true non-militant fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 17 percent.
In 2011, it was more like eleven percent.

We have also constructed a map, based on the same reliable press accounts and publicly
available maps, of the estimated location of each drone strike. Click each pin in the online
version to see the details of a reported strike. And while we are not professional cartographers,
and Google Maps is at times incomplete or imperfect, this map gives our best approximations of
the locations and details of each reported drone strike since 2004.

This study carries a Creative Commons license, which permits re-use of New America content
when proper attribution is provided. Please click here for conditions of use, and when citing
please attribute to the New America Foundation's drones database.

Estimated Total Deaths from U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2012
                              Deaths (low)                    Deaths (high)

2012*                           134                              163

2011                            378                              536

2010                            607                              993

2009                            369                              725

2008                            274                              314

2004-2007                       89                               112

Total                           1,851                            2,843

*Through June 14, 2012
Estimated Militant Deaths from U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004 - 2012
                              Deaths (low)                    Deaths (high)

2012*                             134                               163

2011                              362                               500

2010                              581                               939

2009                              266                               502

2008                              134                               165

2004-2007                         81                                103

Total                             1,558                             2,372

*Through June 14, 2012

Estimated Militant Leader Deaths from US Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012
2012                         4

2011                             6

2010                             12

2009                             7

2008                             11

2004-2007                        3

Total                            43

*Through June 14, 2012. Included in estimated militants and estimated totals, above.

Militant leaders killed


       June 4, 2012: Abu Yahya al-Libi (NYT).
       March 13, 2012: Shamsullah and Amir Hamza Toji Khel, two of Maulvi Nazir’s senior
        commanders (ET).
       February 9, 2012: Badr Mansoor, thought to be al-Qaeda’s most senior leader in Pakistan (AFP)
       January 10, 2012: Aslam Awan (al Qaeda senior member from Abottabad (NYT, Reuters)
2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2004-2007

Strikes by Target
Target                     2004-2007 2008          2009        2010         2011        2012 Total

Taliban                    6           12          27          42           29          5    120

Baitullah Mehsud (not      0           1           16          n/a          n/a         n/a 17
Taliban generally)

Al Qaeda                   5           10          9**          8           4***        3    39

Haqqani                    1           2           4           16           5           1    29

Unclear/Other              0           12          4           68           33          15   132

*Count is more than the number of strikes in some cases because some targets fell into multiple
** Saad bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden's sons, was killed by a drone in 2009 sometime
before July 22, but it's unknown exactly when, so he is included in the targeting as al Qaeda but
not in one of the individual entries listed below. [Author note: Saad bin Laden was reported
alive in December 2009 by his brother, Omar.]
***Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, al-Qaeda's no. 2 leader, was reported killed in a drone strike August
22, 2011. However, sources dispute where he was killed, and it is unclear if he was killed in a
drone strike on a vehicle previously reported to have occurred to same day. He is included in the
targeting as al-Qaeda but not in one of the individual entries listed below.

In cases where a media report described a specific target such as Baitullah Mehsud or the
Haqqani network, the target is counted as such. If a target was both al Qaeda and Taliban
commanders, it is counted once under each category. Strikes against Baitullah Mehsud are not
included in the overall Taliban count. We assume that strikes which kill a leader in a given group
were targeted at that group.


24. June 14, 2012

Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan

Militant Leaders: Unknown

Militants Killed: 3

Others Killed: Unknown
Source: AP, AFP, Aljazeera, PakTribune

Assumed Target: Building

23. June 13, 2012

Location: Isha, North Waziristan

Militant Leaders: Unknown

Militants Killed: 3-4

Others killed: Unknown

Source: AP, Dawn, AFP, ET

Assumed Target: Vehicle

22. June 4, 2012
Location: Hassokhel, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 15
Others killed: Unknown
Source: Reuters, ET, NYT, AP, BBC, AFP, CNN
Assumed target: Compound (Unclear)

21. June 3, 2012
Location: South Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 9-10
Others killed: Unknown
Source: CNN, Dawn, AP, AJE
Assumed target: Compound (Unclear)

20. June 2, 2012
Location: South Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 2-3
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AFP, Guardian, Dawn
Assumed target: Vehicle (Unclear)

19. May 28, 2012
Location: Mir Ali, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 10
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AFP, ET, BBC, AP
Assumed target: Vehicle (Unclear)

18. May 28, 2012
Location: Mir Ali, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 10
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AFP, ET, BBC, AP
Assumed target: compound (Unclear)

17. May 26, 2012
Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 10
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AP, BBC
Assumed target: Bakery (Taliban)

16. May 24, 2012
Location: Mir Ali, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 10
Others killed: Unknown
Source: Post, AP, NYT, Reuters
Assumed target: compound (IMU)

15. May 23, 2012
Location: Datta Khel Kalai, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 4
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AP, ET
Assumed target: compound (Unknown)

14. May 5, 2012
Location: Shawal, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 8-10
Others killed: Unknown
Source: Dawn, ET, BBC, Reuters, CNN, AP
Assumed target: compound (Taliban)
13. April 29, 2012
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 3
Others killed: Unknown
Source: Reuters, NYT, AJE, Dawn
Assumed target: Abandoned school

12. March 30, 2012
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 4
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AFP, CNN, Reuters
Assumed target: Compound

11. March 13, 2012
Location: Shawal, North Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 5-7
Others killed: Unknown
Source: CNN, ET, Dawn
Assumed target: Vehicle

10. March 13, 2012
Location: Uthghalai, South Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Shamsullah and Amir Hamza Toji Khel, two of Maulvi Nazir’s senior
Militants Killed: 6-8
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AP, ET, Reuters, Dawn
Assumed target: Vehicle used by militants (Taliban)

9. March 9, 2012
Location: Nishpa, South Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 6-8
Others killed: Unknown
Source: CNN, AP, AFP, BBC
Assumed target: Vehicle

8. March 9, 2012
Location: Makin, South Waziristan
Militant Leaders: Unknown
Militants Killed: 8
Others killed: Unknown
Source: CNN, AP
Assumed target: House

7. February 16, 2012
Location: Mir Ali, North Waziristan
Militant leaders: Unknown
Militants killed: 7-15
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AFP/ET, CNN, BBC
Assumed target: Vehicle

6. February 16, 2012
Location: Spalga, North Waziristan
Militant leaders: Unknown
Militants killed: 5-6
Others killed: Unknown
Assumed target: Compound

5. February 9, 2012
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
Militant leaders: Badr Mansoor
Militants killed: 3-5
Others killed: Unknown
Source: AP, AFP, CNN, Tel
Assumed target: House

4. February 8, 2012
Location: Spalga, North Waziristan
Militant leaders: Unknown
Militants killed: 10
Others killed: Unknown
Source: Dawn, AP, AJE, Reuters, CNN, ET, BBC
Assumed target: House

3. January 23, 2012
Location: Degan, North Waziristan
Militant leaders: Unknown
Militants killed: 4-5
Others killed: Unknown
Source: BBC, Reuters, CNN, AFP
Assumed target: Vehicle

2. January 13, 2012
Location: New Aadda, North Waziristan
Militant leaders: Unknown
Militants killed: 4-8
Others killed: Unknown
Source: ET, AFP, BBC, CNN
Assumed target: Vehicle

1. January 10, 2012
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
Militant leaders: Aslam Awan (al Qaeda senior member from Abottabad)
Militants killed: 3-4
Others killed: Unknown
Source: NYT, Reuters, AFP, Tel
Assumed target: Building

*All of this research was reviewed and updated on June 14, 2012.

2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2004-2007

Drone strikes threaten 50 years of
international law, says UN rapporteur
US policy of using drone strikes to carry out targeted killings 'may encourage other states to flout
international law'

      Owen Bowcott in Geneva
   , Thursday 21 June 2012 12.54 ED
In his strongest critique of drone strikes yet, Christof Heynes said some may constitute war
crimes. Photograph: Getty Images

The US policy of using aerial drones to carry out targeted killings presents a major challenge to
the system of international law that has endured since the second world war, a United Nations
investigator has said.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary
executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama's attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and
elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human
rights standards.

In his strongest critique so far of drone strikes, Heyns suggested some may even constitute "war
crimes". His comments come amid rising international unease over the surge in killings by
remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Addressing the conference, which was organised by the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU), a second UN rapporteur, Ben Emmerson QC, who monitors counter-terrorism,
announced he would be prioritising inquiries into drone strikes.

The London-based barrister said the issue was moving rapidly up the international agenda after
China and Russia this week jointly issued a statement at the UN Human Rights Council, backed
by other countries, condemning drone attacks.

If the US or any other states responsible for attacks outside recognised war zones did not
establish independent investigations into each killing, Emmerson emphasised, then "the UN itself
should consider establishing an investigatory body".

Also present was Pakistan's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Zamir Akram, who called for
international legal action to halt the "totally counterproductive attacks" by the US in his country.

Heyns, a South African law professor, told the meeting: "Are we to accept major changes to the
international legal system which has been in existence since world war two and survived nuclear

Some states, he added, "find targeted killings immensely attractive. Others may do so in future
… Current targeting practices weaken the rule of law. Killings may be lawful in an armed
conflict [such as Afghanistan] but many targeted killings take place far from areas where it's
recognised as being an armed conflict."

If it is true, he said, that "there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping
(the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime".

Heyns ridiculed the US suggestion that targeted UAV strikes on al-Qaida or allied groups were a
legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks. "It's difficult to see how any killings carried out in 2012
can be justified as in response to [events] in 2001," he said. "Some states seem to want to invent
new laws to justify new practices.

"The targeting is often operated by intelligence agencies which fall outside the scope of
accountability. The term 'targeted killing' is wrong because it suggests little violence has
occurred. The collateral damage may be less than aerial bombardment, but because they
eliminate the risk to soldiers they can be used more often."

Heyns told the Guardian later that his future inquiries are likely to include the question of
whether other countries, such as the UK, share intelligence with the US that could be used for
selecting individuals as targets. A legal case has already been lodged in London over the UK's
alleged role in the deaths of British citizens and others as a consequence of US drone strikes in

Emmerson said that protection of the right to life required countries to establish independent
inquiries into each drone killing. "That needs to be applied in the context of targeted killings," he
said. "It's possible for a state to establish an independent ombudsman to inquire into every attack
and there needs to be a report to justify [the killing]."

Alternatively, he said, it was "for the UN itself to consider establishing an investigatory body.
Drones attacks by the US raise fundamental questions which are a direct consequence of my
mandate… If they don't [investigate] themselves, we will do it for them."

It is time, he added, to end the "conspiracy of silence" over drone attacks and "shine the light of
independent investigation" into the process. The attacks, he noted, were not only on those who
had been killed but on the system of "international law itself".

The Pakistani ambassador declared that more than a thousand civilians had been killed in his
country by US drone strikes. "We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms
of succeeding in the war against terror. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing
them," he said.

Claims made by the US about the accuracy of drone strikes were "totally incorrect", he added.
Victims who had tried to bring compensation claims through the Pakistani courts had been
blocked by US refusals to respond to legal actions.

The US has defended drone attacks as self-defence against al-Qaida and has refused to allow
judicial scrutiny of the UAV programme. On Wednesday, the Obama administration issued a
fresh rebuff through the US courts to an ACLU request for information about targeting policies.
Such details, it insisted, must remain "classified".

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's national security project, said: "Something that is being
debated in UN hallways and committee rooms cannot apparently be talked about in US
courtrooms, according to the government. Whether the CIA is involved in targeted lethal
operation is now classified. It's an absurd fiction."
The ACLU estimates that as many as 4,000 people have been killed in US drone strikes since
2002 in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians. The
numbers killed have escalated significantly since Obama became president.

The USA is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or many other international
legal forums where legal action might be started. It is, however, part of the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) where cases can be initiated by one state against another.

Ian Seiderman, director of the International Commission of Jurists, told the conference that
"immense damage was being done to the fabric of international law".

One of the latest UAV developments that concerns human rights groups is the way in which
attacks, they allege, have moved towards targeting groups based on perceived patterns of
behaviour that look suspicious from aerial surveillance, rather than relying on intelligence about
specific al-Qaida activists.

In response to a report by Heyns to the UN Human Rights Council this week, the US put out a
statement in Geneva saying there was "unequivocal US commitment to conducting such
operations with extraordinary care and in accordance with all applicable law, including the law
of war".

It added that there was "continuing commitment to greater transparency and a sincere effort to
address some of the important questions that have been raised".

One in three killed by US drones in Pakistan
is a civilian, report claims
One in three "militants" killed in US Predator Drone attacks in Pakistan's
remote tribal areas is in fact a civilian, according to a report by an American
think tank.

By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor

10:22AM GMT 04 Mar 2010

The report, by the Washington-based New America Foundation, will fuel growing criticism of
the use of unmanned drones in the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, who use Pakistan
as a base for attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Critics say their use not only takes innocent lives, but amounts to unlawful extra-judicial killing
of militants.
The report by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann found that 32 per cent of those killed in
drone attacks since 2004 were civilians.

Their report, The Year of the Drone, studied 114 drone raids in which more than 1200 people
were killed. Of those, between 549 and 849 were reliably reported to be militant fighters, while
the rest were civilians.

"The true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 per cent,"
the foundation reported.

The number of drone attacks has increased dramatically since Barack Obama replaced George W
Bush as US president early last year.

There were 45 drone attacks during Mr Bush's two terms of government, compared with 51
during the first year of Mr Obama's new administration. In the first two months of this year, up
to 140 "militants" have been killed.

Despite the controversy surrounding the scale of civilian deaths, and public opposition from
Pakistan's government, the Obama administration has increased its reliance on drones to target
"high-value" Taliban and al-Qaeda figures.

Since last autumn, they have killed the Taliban's notorious leader Baitullah Mehsud in South
Waziristan, and more recently, it is claimed, his successor Hakimullah Mehsud.

In 2008, Pakistani intelligence sources said they had killed Rashid Rauf, the British al-Qaeda
militant behind the 2006 transatlantic airliner bomb plot.

Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al Zawahiri is believed to had a lucky escape when a drone
struck a compound he had recently left.

Taliban leaders this week confirmed another of their top leaders Mohammed Qari Zafar had been
killed in north Waziristan.

He was believed to have organised the 2006 bombing of the American embassy in Karachi.

The report said although civilian casualty figures are high, they did not believe their study would
cause American commanders to reconsider their use.

"Despite the controversy drone strikes are likely to remain a critical tool for the United States to
disrupt Al Qaeda and Taliban operations and leadership structures," it concluded.
Pakistan warns US over air strike
Pakistani Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz says his
country cannot accept a
repetition of a US air strike
on a village that killed at
least 18 people.

His government also insist it
did not share intelligence with
the US before Friday's attack,    The attack has resulted in more
which local officials say also    pressure on Gen Musharraf
killed four foreign militants.

US reports said the attack targeted al-Qaeda number two
Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The US insists relations with Pakistan remain good, and says
it will continue to target militants.

"The US clearly values innocent human life, and that is why
we're fighting the war on terror," the AFP news agency
reported State Department spokesman Sean McCormack as

Mr McCormack added that despite the attack, the US
maintained an "atmosphere of co-operation" with the
Pakistani government.

The US says it believes al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden are
living in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

Growing anger

"We cannot accept any action within our country which
results in what happened over the weekend," Prime Minister
Aziz told journalists in the capital, Islamabad.

"So the relationship with the       I think and hope al-Qaeda
US is important, it is growing, are more concerned about
but at the same time such       staying alive than plotting the
actions cannot be condoned." next 9/11

A government spokesman
                                  Henry Crumpton
said Mr Aziz would raise the
                                  US counter-terrorism ambassador
issue with President Bush
when he meets him in
Washington next week.
Initial reports said the missiles had hit a suspected al-Qaeda
hideout in Bajaur agency, and that Ayman al-Zawahiri was
there. But the reports proved to be incorrect.

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says the US action has
led to fresh domestic pressure on Pakistan's President,
Pervez Musharraf, who has been widely criticised for forging
a close relationship with Washington.

Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on
Tuesday there was no doubt that US forces had carried out
the attack.

He also said Western media reports that the bombing was
carried out with assistance from Pakistani intelligence
agencies were totally baseless.


Officials in Bajaur said on Tuesday that "18 innocent local
people" died when three houses were bombed in the village
of Damadola village.

But they also said in a
statement that at least four to
five "foreigners" were killed in
the attack but their bodies
were removed from the scene.

They say 10 to 12 "foreign
miscreants" had been in the
village prior to the attack. The
statement did not name them
or mention al-Zawahiri.            Nothing has been heard from Bin Laden
                                   in more than a year

US counter-terrorism
ambassador Henry Crumpton has told the BBC that the al-
Qaeda leader and his number two are believed to be in the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

"We have no intelligence or evidence that indicates that he
[Bin Laden] is dead or incapacitated, so our working
assumption is that he is still alive."

In Washington, the White House again refused to go into
details of the attack.

"I don't ever get into discussing any specific operational
activities, or even alleged operational activities," White
House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
2 U.S. Airstrikes Offer a Concrete Sign of
Obama’s Pakistan Policy
R. Jeffrey Smith, Candace Rondeaux and Joby Warrick
Washington Post
Saturday, Jan 24, 2009

Two remote U.S. missile strikes that killed at least 20 people at suspected terrorist hideouts in
northwestern Pakistan yesterday offered the first tangible sign of President Obama’s
commitment to sustained military pressure on the terrorist groups there, even though Pakistanis
broadly oppose such unilateral U.S. actions.

The shaky Pakistani government of Asif Ali Zardari has expressed hopes for warm relations with
Obama, but members of Obama’s new national security team have already telegraphed their
intention to make firmer demands of Islamabad than the Bush administration, and to back up
those demands with a threatened curtailment of the plentiful military aid that has been at the
heart of U.S.-Pakistani ties for the past three decades.

The separate strikes on two compounds, coming three hours apart and involving five missiles
fired from Afghanistan-based Predator drone aircraft, were the first high-profile hostile military
actions taken under Obama’s four-day-old presidency. A Pakistani security official said in
Islamabad that the strikes appeared to have killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign
nationals and possibly even “a high-value target” such as a senior al-Qaeda or Taliban official.

It remained unclear yesterday whether Obama personally authorized the strike or was involved in
its final planning, but military officials have previously said the White House is routinely briefed
about such attacks in advance.

At his daily White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to answer questions
about the strikes, saying, “I’m not going to get into these matters.” Obama convened his first
National Security Council meeting on Pakistan and Afghanistan yesterday afternoon, after the
2 U.S. Airstrikes Offer a Concrete Sign of Obama's Pakistan Policy

 Pakistani tribesmen protest military operations
 in tribal areas and U.S. missile attacks by drone
 aircraft during a demonstration in Islamabad.
 (By Emilio Morenatti -- Associated Press)
 SOURCE: | By Gene Thorp - The Washington
 Post - January 24, 2009

By R. Jeffrey Smith, Candace Rondeaux and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two remote U.S. missile strikes that killed at least 20 people at suspected terrorist hideouts in
northwestern Pakistan yesterday offered the first tangible sign of President Obama's commitment
to sustained military pressure on the terrorist groups there, even though Pakistanis broadly
oppose such unilateral U.S. actions.

The shaky Pakistani government of Asif Ali Zardari has expressed hopes for warm relations with
Obama, but members of Obama's new national security team have already telegraphed their
intention to make firmer demands of Islamabad than the Bush administration, and to back up
those demands with a threatened curtailment of the plentiful military aid that has been at the
heart of U.S.-Pakistani ties for the past three decades.

The separate strikes on two compounds, coming three hours apart and involving five missiles
fired from Afghanistan-based Predator drone aircraft, were the first high-profile hostile military
actions taken under Obama's four-day-old presidency. A Pakistani security official said in
Islamabad that the strikes appeared to have killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign
nationals and possibly even "a high-value target" such as a senior al-Qaeda or Taliban official.

It remained unclear yesterday whether Obama personally authorized the strike or was involved in
its final planning, but military officials have previously said the White House is routinely briefed
about such attacks in advance.

At his daily White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to answer questions
about the strikes, saying, "I'm not going to get into these matters." Obama convened his first
National Security Council meeting on Pakistan and Afghanistan yesterday afternoon, after the
The Pakistani government, which has loudly protested some earlier strikes, was quiet yesterday.
In September, U.S. and Pakistani officials reached a tacit agreement to allow such attacks to
continue without Pakistani involvement, according to senior officials in both countries.

But some Pakistanis have said they expect a possibly bumpy diplomatic stretch ahead.

"Pakistan hopes that Obama will be more patient while dealing with Pakistan," Husain Haqqani,
Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, said in an interview Wednesday with Pakistan's Geo
television network. "We will review all options if Obama does not adopt a positive policy
towards us." He urged Obama to "hear us out."

At least 132 people have been killed in 38 suspected U.S. missile strikes inside Pakistan since
August, all conducted by the CIA, in a ramped-up effort by the outgoing Bush administration.

Obama's August 2007 statement -- that he favored taking direct action in Pakistan against
potential threats to U.S. security if Pakistani security forces do not act -- made him less popular
in Pakistan than in any other Muslim nation polled before the election.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton indicated during her Senate confirmation hearing that
the new administration will not relent in holding Pakistan to account for any shortfalls in the
continuing battle against extremists.

Linking Pakistan with neighboring Afghanistan "on the front line of our global counterterrorism
efforts," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "we will use all the elements
of our powers -- diplomacy, development and defense -- to work with those . . . who want to root
out al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other violent extremists." She also said those in Pakistan who do
not join the effort will pay a price, adding a distinctly new element to the long-standing U.S.
effort to lure Pakistan closer to the West.

In blunt terms in her written answers to the committee's questions, Clinton pledged that
Washington will "condition" future U.S. military aid on Pakistan's efforts to close down terrorist
training camps and evict foreign fighters. She also demanded that Pakistan "prevent" the
continued use of its historically lawless northern territories as a sanctuary by either the Taliban
or al-Qaeda. And she promised that Washington would provide all the support Pakistan needs if
it specifically goes after targets such as Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be using Pakistani
mountains as a hideout.

At the same time, Clinton pledged to triple nonmilitary aid to Pakistan, long dwarfed by the more
than $6 billion funneled to Pakistani military forces under President George W. Bush through the
Pentagon's counterterrorism office in Islamabad.

"The conditioning of military aid is substantially different," as is the planned boost of economic
aid, said Daniel Markey, a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow who handled South Asian
matters on the State Department's policy planning staff from 2003 to 2007.
Bush's focus on military aid to a Pakistani government that was led by an army general until
August eventually drew complaints in both countries that much of the funding was spent without
accountability or, instead of being used to root out terrorists, was diverted to forces intended for
a potential conflict with India.

A study in 2007 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that economic,
humanitarian and development assistance under Bush amounted to no more than a quarter of all
aid, less than in most countries.

The criticism helped provoke a group of senators who now have powerful new roles -- Joseph R.
Biden Jr., Clinton and Obama -- to co-sponsor legislation last July requiring that more aid be
targeted at political pluralism, the rule of law, human and civil rights, and schools, public health
and agriculture.

It also would have allowed U.S. weapons sales and other military aid only if the secretary of
state certified that Pakistani military forces were making "concerted efforts" to undermine al-
Qaeda and the Taliban. In her confirmation statement, Clinton reiterated her support for such a
legislative restructuring of the aid program, while reaffirming that she opposed any "blank

Some Pakistanis have been encouraged by indications that Obama intends to increase aid to the
impoverished country, said Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistani who directs the South Asia Center of the
Washington-based Atlantic Council of the United States. Nawaz said Pakistanis may be willing
to overlook an occasional missile lobbed at foreign terrorists if Obama makes a sincere attempt
to improve conditions in Pakistan.

"He can't just focus on military achievements; he has to win over the people," Nawaz said.
"Relying on military strikes will not do the trick." Attaching conditions to the aid is wise, Nawaz
said, because "people are more cognizant of the need for accountability -- for 'tough love.' "

Rondeaux reported from Islamabad. Special correspondent Haq Nawaz Khan in Islamabad
contributed to this report.

Interactive: How Obama Drone Death
Claims Stack Up
by Justin Elliott, Cora Currier and Lena Groeger
ProPublica, June 18, 4:15 p.m.

Obama administration assertions about the number of civilians killed by U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan
have varied significantly over the years. The assertions, which almost always come from unnamed
officials, are sometimes contradictory and sometimes imply improbable conclusions. Below we've charted
the administration’s assertions about civilian deaths with their corresponding date ranges.| Related:
Obama Administration’s Drone Death Figures Don’t Add Up

Numbers don’t add up
A “senior administration official” told the New York Times that the number of civilians killed under
President Obama in Pakistan was in the “single digits.” But “U.S. officials” told McClatchy that 30
Pakistani civilians were killed by drones in just the 12-month period between August 2009 and August

More killed under Bush?

Unnamed officials asserted that just over 20 civilians were killed between January 2009 and August 2011,
and that 50 civilians had been killed over the length of the entire drone program. Taken together, those
assertions imply that more civilians were killed under President Bush, when the program was still in its
infancy, than under Obama, who has greatly increased the number of drone attacks.

Long stretches of zero civilian deaths

These three assertions are mathematically possible, but they imply that there were zero or almost zero
civilians killed between the beginning of 2008 and August 2009, and again between August 2010 and July
2011. There were over 180 strikes in those two periods.

Drones Strikes per Year. . . . . . . . . . . . .

1                                                       2004
2                                                       2005
2                                                       2006
4                                                       2007
33                                                      2008
53                                                      2009
118                                                     2010
70                                                      2011
24                                                      2012

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