Obama releases official figures of civilian casualties from drone strikes
The Obama administration has finally released figures on the number of civilians killed in non-combat areas including Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.
|The figures exclude Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence claims that between 2009 to 2015 airstrikes killed between 64 and 116 civilians in the four countries. This is the first time that the Obama administration has provided official estimates of the death toll from drones. He also issued that an executive order report on drone strikes annually including the number of combatants and non-combatants killed. The order also instructs the government to increase efforts to avoid civilian casualties and acknowledge them when they do occur. Hina Shamsi, the director of the National Security Project for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said that the order was a "positive step but riddled with caveats and weak formulations."|
This is a fraction of the 380 to 801 civilian casualty range recorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from reports by local and international journalists, NGO investigators, leaked government documents, court papers and the result of field investigations.At the same time, the estimates of the total number killed are much less different. The US government total is 2,436 killed, while the Bureau's total is 2,753. The official data has been a long time coming as the White House announced three years ago it would release casualty figures. It comes four months after Obama's counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco promised the data would be released.
“While any disclosure of information about the government’s targeted-killing policies is welcome, the government should be releasing information about every strike—the date of the strike, the location, the numbers of casualties, and the civilian or combatant status of those casualties. Perhaps this kind of information should be released after a short delay, rather than immediately, but it should be released. The public has a right to know who the government is killing—and if the government doesn’t know who it’s killing, the public should know that.”Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve noted that back in 2011 the US administration claimed to have only killed 60 civilians but now its estimates lead one to conclude that it is possible that there have only been four more since then to arrive at the 64 number at the low end of their estimates.