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History, Geography, & Military Discuss Docs show CIA Mass Drone Death Strikes Killed Few al-Qaeda Leaders at the Political Forums; DailyTech - Docs Show CIA's Mass Drone Death Strikes Killed Few al-Qaeda Leaders A broad range of militants were deemed ...

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Old 04-18-2013, 07:20 PM
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Default Docs show CIA Mass Drone Death Strikes Killed Few al-Qaeda Leaders

DailyTech - Docs Show CIA's Mass Drone Death Strikes Killed Few al-Qaeda Leaders

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A broad range of militants were deemed to dangerous to be left alive in recent operations

Under fire over its defense over potential drone killings of Americans deemed as "terrorists" on U.S. soil, the Obama administration's growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is being intensively scrutinized by both politicians and the media.

I. Deadly, But Not Very Precise

New documents obtained by McClatchy's reveal that of the 95 drone strikes in the Pakistan region between Oct. 2010 and Sept. 2011, many did not target al-Qaeda and those that did were not as accurate as thought.

The drone campaign managed to kill 482 people, but only 6 were high-ranking members of al-Qaeda. Analyst Jonathan Landay reports, "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."
In the past the Obama administration has claimed that the death strikes by armed Predator and Reaper drones, employed primarily by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, were used only on "specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces."

Micah Zenko, an expert with the bipartisan foreign-relations think-tank Council on Foreign Relations, says that the administration is misleading Americans, commenting, "[The Obama administration is] misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted."
But White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says that the administration does not need to specify explicitly who it is targeting and to make no assumptions. She remarks, "You should not assume [CIA Chief John Brennan] is only talking about al-Qaeda just because he doesn’t say ’al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces’ at every reference."

So who was the administration targeting in the 43 out of 95 drone strikes that did not target al-Qaeda? According to McClatchy's, the documents indicate that the strikes in question targeted "Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as 'foreign fighters' and 'other militants.'"

The documents also reveal that U.S. efforts to kill terrorist leaders often accidentally instead killed friends or family members. Drone strikes were even used to target somber occasions, such as individuals leaving funerals.

II. Is the U.S. Killing Civilians, Allies Accidentally?

One major complaint of the administration's critics is lack of transparency in the deadly offensive. The administration has refused to release a list of "terrorist" organizations that it considers "associated forces" of al-Qaeda. So far only Afghanistan's Taliban has been officially acknowledged as an al-Qaeda ally. Also not revealed was whether the administration conducted so-called "signature killings" -- killings of locals who met with al-Qaeda or exhibited other behavior deemed suspicious.
New CIA chief John Brennan in February acknowledged that the drone strikes sometimes miss the mark and kill innocent civilians, but he defended the program saying the U.S. paid the families of people it accidentally killed. He commented, "Where possible, we also work with local governments to gather facts, and, if appropriate, provide condolence payments to families of those killed."

Condolence payments range from $1,000 to $7,500 according to various reports [1][2][3], depending on the circumstances.
Four American citizens with ties to terrorism -- Kamal Derwish, Anwar al-Awlaki, 16-year-old Abdulahman al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan -- have been killed to date in drone strikes in Yemen. Family members of the dead American citizens have sued the Obama administration with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In August 2012, a drone strike in Yemen killed a 40-year-old moderate cleric Salem bin Ahmed bin Ali Jaber just two days after he delivered a speech denouncing al-Qaeda. The irony is that the al-Qaeda officers who were targeted in the strike, reportedly came into town to threaten Mr. Jaber for his support of the U.S. and pacifistic leanings.

It's clear more questions need to be asked about the program. But don't expect the answers to come easy from an administration who explicitly ordered its Press Secretary to dodge questions about drone strikes.

Source: McClatchy's

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