CIA Drone Strikes Are Just Educated Guesses
Dexter Filkins: Information used to select targets 'nowhere near adequate'
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2013 11:43 AM CST
In this 2010 file photo, an unmanned US Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

(Newser) – The recent drone headlines, along with the testimony of CIA nominee John Brennan, prompt Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker to reiterate a key point about drone strikes he learned first-hand from reporting overseas: The CIA can never be positive about the targets it strikes. "Our ignorance is not total, but our information is nowhere near adequate," writes Filkins. "When an employee of the CIA fires a missile from an unmanned drone into a compound along the Afghan-Pakistani border, he almost certainly doesn’t know for sure whom he’s shooting at."

That's because most of these are "signature strikes," meaning the targets are picked because they match general patterns of behavior. "Often, they get it right and they kill the bad guys. Sometimes, they get it wrong." Which means when drone proponents say civilian casualties are non-existent, it simply isn't true. By the same token, when US foes claim large numbers of civilian casualties, be similarly skeptical. It's the nature of these "secret wars," writes Filkins. "The US is operating in an information black hole." Read the full piece here.

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Showing 3 of 22 comments
jonnynonos77
Feb 8, 2013 6:00 PM CST
US Drone Strike statistic based on research by a team of journalists of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:[2][17](As of 10 January 2013)Total strikes: 362Total reported killed: 2,629 – 3,461Civilians reported killed: 475 – 891Children reported killed: 176Total reported injured: 1,267 – 1,431Strikes under the Bush Administration: 52Strikes under the Obama Administration: 310
SilenceDogood
Feb 8, 2013 5:26 PM CST
There are plusses and minuses to this argument; on one hand our soldiers are out of harm’s way; on the other hand we are definitely not sure who we are killing. What I find most interesting here is the Medias complete lack of horror for what is occurring. If a Republican Administration was executing people surgically with drones on this scale there would be Bloody Hell to pay, but Obama and his gang of Liberals are killing unknown people all over the place with impunity? WTF has come of our society? Left leaning, warm and fuzzy Democrats that want everyone to believe they “Care for People” are murdering unknown souls in a foreign land and no one crying foul? If GWB was in command there would be impeachment proceedings!
JackNelsonSteward
Feb 8, 2013 3:28 PM CST
Oh, wait ... you mean ... that firing 35 pounds of high explosive from a plane at 25,000 feet altitude, based on pictures from a video camera viewed on a screen in a bunker 10,000 miles away of people who are "doing something suspicious" ain't "surgical??!! Well I'll just be damned ...