On CNN’s website, Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland recently wrote an article including the following graph in which they claim that of the 153 people killed in Pakistan by US drones, none were civilians. These are highly dubious statistics, as I have pointed out elsewhere. And following is a report by IPS News’s Zoha Arshad which challenges these claims with comments from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Chris Wood and me.
Chris Woods of the Bureau for Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) believes that NAF has not only underestimated the number of strikes and civilian deaths, but adds that civilian death percentages need to be treated with extreme caution.
“It (NAF) relies only on a small number of media reports immediately following a strike. Sometimes we learn crucial facts days, weeks or even months after an initial attack,” he told IPS.
“In February of this year, for example, a major investigation by Associated Press, based on 80 eyewitness testimonies from civilians in Waziristan, found previously unknown evidence of civilian deaths in 20 percent of the sampled strikes. Unfortunately, NAF has not incorporated these important findings into its data,” said Woods.
Continue reading “Misreporting Drone Statistics”
In a series of articles for Al Jazeera I had questioned the improbably low casualty figures being cited by the US and Pakistani authorities and endorsed in the bogus statistics produced by the New America Foundation. Gen. Petraeus’s former counterinsurgency advisors David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum had already suggested that up to 98 percent of those killed in the drone strikes may be civilians. Recently, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism had conclusively debunked the CIA’s claims about success of its policy. Today none other than the former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair has called for an end to the drone strikes because he believes the tactic is dangerous and a complete failure which only kills some mid-level militants [in other words it kills a whole lot of civilians since over 2,500 Pakistanis have been killed so far].
Naseema Noor of IPS reports on the recent Bureau of Investigative Journalism study:
Led by British investigative journalist Chris Woods and Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, the study found that at least 45 civilians, including six children, have been killed in 10 drone strikes since August 2010 alone, while another 15 attacks between then and June 2011 likely killed many more.
According to the study, civilians die in one out of every five Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-operated drone attacks in the tribal region, located on the border with Afghanistan, a statistic that the Bureau says can no longer be denied by the U.S. government.
Continue reading “Romancing the Drone: The Unravelling”