US Drone Wars

Pakistani Drone Strike Opponents Block NATO Shipments to Afghanistan

November 25, 2013

Pakistani government continues to privately back the US-led drone campaign in spite of growing public opposition to drone strikes

2500+ Killed by Drones in Pakistan, Names of Victims Now Available

October 14, 2013

Medea Benjamin: U.S. government claims drone victims are mostly militants, but about half identified victims thus far are civilians and children

US & UK Pull Out Yemen Embassy Staff After Series of Drone Strikes

August 7, 2013

Robert Naiman: US is on a policy collision course in Yemen as it publicly supports democracy but covertly administers drone strikes

Obama Signs NDAA Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention; Obama Orders Assassinations with No Oversight

January 6, 2013

Michael Ratner: Obama continues model of Presidential fiat, Congressional fiat, no due process, no trials, and indefinite detention.

Obama Writing “Rules” for Killing People with Drones

December 9, 2012

Michael Ratner: Pres. Obama debating rules that allow him to kill extra-judicially anyone considered an enemy combatant anywhere in the world including US citizens and by logical extension, within the United States

A Question Of Legality

February 7, 2012

Attacks by the CIA on rescuers and funeral-goers may be morally questionable. But are such attacks legal? It is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions to attack rescuers wearing emblems of the Red Cross or Red Crescent. But what if rescuers wear no emblems, or if civilians are mixed in with militants, as the Bureau’s investigation into drone attacks in Waziristan has repeatedly found? Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, President Obama claimed last week that they are used strictly to target terrorists, rejecting what he called ‘this perception we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly’. He also claimed that the strikes ‘have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties’. Despite such assertions, some international legal experts continue to question the covert drone campaign, arguing that the strikes amount to little more than state-sanctioned extra-judicial executions. Justification Surprisingly, after almost a decade of drone attacks outside the battlefield, the question of their legality has never been tested in a US or international court, even when US citizens have been targeted. The Obama administration has however sought to present some legal justification for its actions. Harold Koh, a legal adviser at the State Department, became the first senior US official to engage with the question in a March 2010 speech. He told an audience of lawyers that ‘US targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.’ US drone strikes, Koh claimed, were…

Get the Data: Obama’s Terror Drones

February 7, 2012

As part of its ongoing investigation into the US covert war the Bureau has examined thousands of credible media reports relating to more than 310 Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in Pakistan. These incidents were reported by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, CNN, ABC News, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and reputable Pakistani media (see bottom table). CIA drone strikes tend to be reported on a case-by-case basis. Yet it became clear to the Bureau that a number of specific tactics were being deployed. These included multiple attacks by drones on rescuers attempting to aid victims of previous strikes. There were also a number of credible reports of funerals and mourners being attacked by CIA drones. With the aid of Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai in Peshawar, the Bureau has spent four months working with independent researchers in Waziristan seeking to validate the reports. Villagers, militants and local officials have been questioned, and attempts made to identify those killed in the strikes. Findings The results provide independent verification of the tactics reported. Of the 18 attacks on rescuers and mourners reported at the time by credible media, twelve cases have been independently confirmed by our researchers. In each case civilians are reported killed, and where possible we have named them. Strike Date Location Bureau’s Summary Findings 16/5/09 Khesoor North Waziristan Attack confirmed. Nine civilian rescuers reported killed – six named as Sabir, Ikram, Mohib, Zahid, Mashal and Syed Noor, all from the Utmanzai Wazir tribe.…

Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals

February 7, 2012

The CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of  civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals, an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times has revealed. The findings are published just days after President Obama claimed that the drone campaign in Pakistan was a ‘targeted, focused effort’ that ‘has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.’ Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, Obama claimed last week they are used strictly to target terrorists, rejecting what he called ‘this perception we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly’. ‘Drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties’, he told a questioner at an on-line forum. ‘This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans’. But research by the Bureau has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children.  A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts. Although the drone attacks were started under the Bush administration in 2004, they have been stepped up enormously under Obama. There have been 260 attacks by unmanned Predators or Reapers in…