How Many Non-Combatants Are Killed by Drones?

NY Times

Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California, urged the nation’s intelligence leaders today to get behind an important idea: The Obama administration, he said, should publish an annual report on American drone strikes, showing how many combatants and especially how many non-combatants are killed by unmanned aircraft each year.

The United States doesn’t release those figures now, and in fact doesn’t even officially acknowledge that the C.I.A. operates drones over Pakistan to kill terrorists. (It does acknowledge the Pentagon’s drone program in Afghanistan.) But last year, the United Nations conducted an investigation that found that 400 of the 2,200 people killed by American drones in Pakistan over the last decade were civilians.

In his speech on the subject last May, President Obama said “there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured” before any drone strike is conducted. At the moment, however, no one outside a closed circle of military and intelligence officials knows whether that standard is being upheld.

Mr. Schiff made the proposal at a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee today while questioning John Brennan, the C.I.A. director.

“That seems to me a limited value in terms of information to our adversaries,” Mr. Schiff said, “but in terms of public accountability, and being able to correct the record at times when there are misleading claims about civilian casualties, it might be beneficial as well.”

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