New evidence has emerged that proves the US intentionally lied about the true nature of its controversial drone strike operations.
The leaked intelligence documents reveal that the US has been targeting individuals who pose no immediate threat, with half of the slaughtered people being labeled simply as “unknown extremists.”
While the files obtained by the McClatchy news agency show half of the deceased as innocent, other calculations show that a more accurate percentage of innocents killed in Pakistan is as high as 80%.
The files also show that Pakistan’s intelligence agency was working with the US while its government was condemning the use of drone strikes.
The mainstream media likes to downplay the use of drone strikes, frequently reporting that the global death toll attributed to drone strikes is around 2,500, while the true figure could be almost double that according to Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham.
Whatever the true number of innocents killed, many of whom are children, the US has received constant international criticism for the use of these killer drones.
Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer working with the British human rights charity Reprieve, has also accused the US of hiding the truth: “There is now mounting evidence that the Obama administration is misleading the American public – and the world at large – about the drone war it is waging in Pakistan,” she said.
The reports show a significant number of the strikes have nothing to do with al-Qa’ida. Instead, they may have been a quid pro quo exchange between two countries’ spy agencies. The result is that the US often doesn’t know who it is killing.
The Obama administration, like the Bush Administration before it, has always claimed that use of drones are only to target those involved with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, senior members of al-Qa’ida and those plotting to attack the US.
In a 2012 interview with CNN, Obama said:
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It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative. It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.
However, McClatchy has found that:
– At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.
Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.”
During the same period, the reports estimated there was a single civilian casualty, an individual killed in an April 22, 2011, strike in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
– At other times, the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups.
To date, the Obama administration has not disclosed the secret legal opinions and the detailed procedures buttressing drone killings, and it has never acknowledged the use of so-called “signature strikes,” in which unidentified individuals are killed after surveillance shows behavior the U.S. government associates with terrorists, such as visiting compounds linked to al Qaida leaders or carrying weapons. Nor has it disclosed an explicit list of al Qaida’s “associated forces” beyond the Afghan Taliban.