Skip to main content

View Diary: Drone War Crimes Accusations An October Challenge For President? (177 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  This study strongly disagrees (0+ / 0-)

    My study, from the International Human Rights and conflict Resolutoin Clinic (Stanford Law School) and Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law), says that article is a bunch of rubbish.

    The truth is we are citing the very same studies.  You just aren't citing them accurately.  

    In fact, the 2% figures both come from the very same analyst, Peter Bergen.  Except he never said only 2% were terrorists..  He said only 2% were "high level targets", that is, leaders, while the rest were mostly "low-level combatants".  The Daily Mail apparently classifies "low-level combatants" as "innocent civilians".  I disagree.

    •  See Bergen's flawed methodology (0+ / 0-)

      In this article:

      Bergen's Flawed Methodology
      The systematic underestimate of civilian casualties by the NAF statistical summaries is in part a result of Bergen's methodology for estimating the number of "militant" deaths and "other" deaths - a methodology which assumes that news media reports can always be relied on to estimate the number of "militants" killed in each strike, and which also reflects an underlying political bias in favor of the drone-strike program. The consequence is the distortion of the real toll of drone strikes on civilians in the first four years of the program from 2004 through 2007.
      Here is one example:
      During that period, the CIA carried out only 12 strikes, but one of them targeted a madrassa on October 30, 2006, killing as many 83. One of the press articles to which the NAF database links on that strike is a BBC story quoting the Pakistani Army spokesman as saying that the madrassa was destroyed by Pakistani air strike because of "confirmed intelligence reports" that militants were hiding in the school and that it was being used as a "terrorist training facility."

      But the same article quoted an eyewitness as saying that the dead were local students, not terrorists. Subsequently, a Pakistani newspaper, The News, published a complete list of the names and ages of the students showing that 26 of the 83 were children under the age of 15, but the NAF database account of the strike does not link to the story, even though it links to an earlier story by the same newspaper reporting the official line that "militants" were killed in the strike.

      Despite the clear evidence that the victims were students, the NAF continues to list those 83 victims as "militants killed" in its statistical summary of the incident, while also estimating "others killed" as 12 to 83. Those figures were both illogical - since uncertainty would have demanded that both categories be scored 0-83, and failed to reflect the Musharraf administration's admission to The Sunday Times a month later that the Pakistani military had lied about the strike at the time to cover for the CIA, thinking it would be "less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US" and that the "collateral damage" was such that they had requested that the Americans "not do it again."

      •  Sure it's likely an underestimate (0+ / 0-)

        We only know that about 2% for 2012 were civilians or unknowns (not identified as militants).  The actual number certainly might be higher, due to misidentifications of some as militants.  But the method hasn't changed, so the trend is real.  That 2% is still a lot lower than 33% during the Bush administration by the same method.

        I think we can safely say that the actual rate of civilan casualties this year is still somewhere under 10%.  The BIJ data, which the Stanford/NYU study calls the most reliable of the aggregators, suggests that overall the rate of civilian casualties since 2004 was in the neighborhood of 25%.

        None of these studies by any method has ever estimated that we were killing more civilians than combatants.  The 2% were terrorists, "rest were civilians" claim was absurd, and just an error by the Daily Mail.

        It is certainly fair to say we have killed too many civilians.  The Obama administration could probably do even more to address that, but it does seem they have made a serious effort to improve targetting there.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site