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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Brennan and Drones

Much has been written, but now here's a new one from Dexter Filkins, who knows what he's talking about, at The New Yorker.   He says both proponent and opponents of the drone wars basically have to guess about who gets killed, although he cites best study, which found one-third were innocents.
Indeed, if there is one overriding factor in America’s secret wars—especially in its drone campaign—it’s that the U.S. is operating in an information black hole. Our ignorance is not total, but our information is nowhere near adequate. When an employee of the C.I.A. fires a missile from a unmanned drone into a compound along the Afghan-Pakistani border, he almost certainly doesn’t know for sure whom he’s shooting at. Most drone strikes in Pakistan, as an American official explained to me during my visit there in 2011, are what are known as “signature strikes.” That is, the C.I.A. is shooting at a target that matches a pattern of behavior that they’ve deemed suspicious. Often, they get it right and they kill the bad guys. Sometimes, they get it wrong. When Brennan claimed, as he did in 2011—clearly referring to the drone campaign—that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death,” he was most certainly wrong.

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