Here’s How Many Civilians The Government Says Were Killed By Drones
The report leaves out several key countries
On Friday, the United States government released a report detailing how many civilians were killed by drone strikes between 2009 and 2015.
According to the report, which Obama promised to compose in March, between 64 and 116 civilians were killed in the 473 strikes that Obama authorized since 2009, USA Today reports. During the same time period, the report notes between 2,372 and 2,581 militants were “taken out” by drones.
The number may seem low, but it's important to note the report does not include drone strikes carried out in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, CNN reports.
The report, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday, aimed to provide more transpaency on the use of drones around the world. He said,
“The president believes that our counter-terrorism strategy is more effective and has more credibility when we're as transparent as possible.There are obviously limitations for transparency when it comes to matters as sensitive as this. But the fact is, these operations that will be the substance of an announcement today are the kinds of operations that just a couple of years ago we wouldn't even confirm existed..It's an indication of how far that we've come that we are now in a position where we are describing the process for making decisions about these kinds of operations and being rather transparent, with not just the American public but with the world, about the outcome of those operations even when the outcome is not entirely consistent with our intentions."
Still, this report is not enough for many human rights groups. Reprieve, a U.S.-based rights group, in a statement before the report's release:
“What little the Obama Administration has previously said on the record about the drone program has been shown by the facts on the ground, and even the U.S. government's own internal documents, to be false. It has to be asked what bare numbers will mean if they omit even basic details such as the names of those killed and the areas, even the countries, they live in.”
Many people also took to social media to criticize not only the report, but also the way it was released.
Nothing screams #transparency like announcing major new details on #drones late on a Friday afternoon leading into a holiday weekend...— Steve Vladeck (@Steve Vladeck) 1467380095
Drone watchdogs looking at the new report on civilian casualties like https://t.co/X0rKsgpb3m via @AliWatkins https://t.co/uJ0jmIGWje— Hayes Brown (@Hayes Brown) 1467398871
What may be a more accurate count is the one carried out by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which shows more than 1,000 civilian casualties in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Still, at least some are hopeful this report will trigger more transparency, and responsibility, by the U.S. government. In a press release about the report, Amnesty International says in part, “President Obama’s willingness to comprehensively assess the impact of drone program and to apologize and compensate victims, will ultimately influence his human rights legacy and set a clear benchmark for the next administration and the one after that.”