Drone Attacks Kill Civilians, Too

Medea Benjamin | The Washington Post

It was good to see The Post calling in an editorial [“Drone war,” Nov. 2] for the U.S. government to bring its drone wars out of the shadows. But having just returned from Pakistan, where I saw the effects of drone warfare, I disagree with The Post’s characterization of drone aircraft as a more “humane way” to combat an irregular army.

People we met from Waziristan talked about how drones, constantly hovering overhead, terrorize the local population. Parents fear sending their children to school; people are afraid to attend weddings, funerals or other community gatherings. They talked about widespread psychological trauma, especially among the children.

The editorial also played down the extent of civilian casualties from drone attacks, mentioning “scores — maybe hundreds — of civilians being killed.” According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, whose count of drone-strike victims is widely acknowleged to be the most accurate, the total ranges from 546 to 1,105. The bureau recently examined The Post’s reporting and concluded that “the paper frequently omits credible reports of civilian deaths in US covert drone strikes.”

Giving a more accurate picture of these deaths would give the public a better understanding of not only the tragic human costs of drone warfare but also why it is creating so much anti-American sentiment around the world.

Medea Benjamin, Washington
The writer is co-director of Codepink.

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