Drones Kill Way More Civilians Than CIA Admits

Report says only 2% of total casualties are "high-level" targets

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 26, 2012 7:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – US drones kill innocent civilians far more than the White House is letting on, according to a scathing new report from Stanford and NYU investigating the controversial unmanned strikes in Pakistan. The White House has claimed that civilian casualties only occur "in the rarest of circumstances," reports CNN, but the report's numbers are troubling: From June of 2004 through the first half of this month, drones killed anywhere from 474 to 881 civilians in Pakistan, including 176 children. What's more, only 2% of total casualties are "high level" targets. The study analyzed credible Pakistani media reports, interviews with victims, and independent body counts.

The study also claims the CIA conducted "double-strikes," hitting a target in succession, which results in the death of medics called to the scene. The Obama administration maintains that drone strikes are effective and only used legally when no other option is available, and that extreme measures are taken to prevent civilian injuries and casualties. But the report points out that Obama has authorized six times as many drone strikes as George W. Bush did during his entire presidency. (This may be what prompted Ralph Nadar's recent incendiary comments about the current White House.) The report calls for the CIA to make justifications for drone strikes public and to prosecute cases of civilian deaths.

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night.
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
Pakistani protesters burn a US flag at a rally to condemn drone attacks, in Multan, Pakistan, on Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012.
Pakistani protesters burn a US flag at a rally to condemn drone attacks, in Multan, Pakistan, on Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012.   (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)
In this June 13, 2010, file photo a US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport.
In this June 13, 2010, file photo a US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport.   (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini, Pool, File)
A supporter of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement of Justice, takes part in a rally against US drone strikes, Saturday, April 23, 2011, in Peshawar.
A supporter of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement of Justice, takes part in a rally against US drone strikes, Saturday, April 23, 2011, in Peshawar.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
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