Obama to reveal civilian deaths from drones in Pakistan
Sources on conditions of anonymity disclosed that Obama will also release an executive order that makes protecting civilians a more integral part of planning US military operations.
The White House is to unveil the casualties with a range of numbers indicating that an estimated 100 civilians have been inadvertently killed by 500 drone strikes since 2009, said activists and other individuals familiar with the report.
The estimate is said to cover drone strikes only in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. However, it does not cover ones in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria where the US has conducted thousands of air attacks.
While vague details often come out about individual drone strikes, the full scope of the US drone programme — a key tool of Obama’s counterterrorism plan — has long been shrouded from view.
Still, the new information is unlikely to answer all the questions that have been raised and human rights groups have long claimed that the Obama administration undercounts civilian casualties,
For instance, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that since 2002, there were anywhere from 492 to about 1,100 civilians killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Executive director Center for Civilians in Conflict in Washington, Federico Borello, said on Thursday that he had not yet seen the draft, but his group would call on Congress to codify it into law so that future US presidents cannot throw it out.
“This is something that we’ve been working on for 10 years,” he said. To have civilian protections “in the heart of military planning is a big deal.”
Reprieve, a New York-based global human rights organisation claims that the administration’s previous statements about the drone programme have proven to be false by facts on the ground and the US government’s own internal documents.