This simple visual, created by Pitch Interactive, captures drone strikes along a timeline starting 2004. The creators of the visual give us two different views of the drone strikes: one by the number of attacks each year, and another view that calculates the number of victims per strike. The number of drone strikes each year are symbolized by red spherical explosions that you can control from your own computer. By clicking on the victims view you can see an expanded view of the actual victims with the total number of attacks and casualties for each month. You would be surprised to see the ratio of civilian casualties to high-level targets at the top. Check it out here, and remember to share.
Cora Currier | ProPublica
This post has been updated. It was originally published Jan. 11, 2013.
Jan. 11, 2013: This post has been corrected.
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. The U.S. is conducting drone strikes in in at least three countries beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Stanley Thompson)
You might have heard about the “kill list.” You’ve certainly heard about drones. But the details of the U.S. campaign against militants in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia — a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s national security approach – remain shrouded in secrecy. Here’s our guide to what we know—and what we don’t know.
Where is the drone war? Who carries it out?
Drones have been the Obama administration’s tool of choice for taking out militants outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Drones aren’t the exclusive weapon – traditional airstrikes and other attacks have also been reported. But by one estimate, 95 percent of targeted killings since 9/11 have been conducted by drones. Among the benefits of drones: they don’t put American troops in harm’s way.
The first reported drone strike against Al Qaeda happened in Yemen in 2002. The CIA ramped up secret drone strikes in Pakistan under President George W. Bush in 2008. Under Obama, they have expanded drastically there and in Yemen in 2011.
The CIA isn’t alone in conducting drone strikes. The military has acknowledged “direct action” in Yemen and Somalia. Strikes in those countries are reportedly carried out by the secretive, elite Joint Special Operations Command. Since 9/11, JSOC has grown more than tenfold, taking on intelligence-gathering as well as combat roles. (For example, JSOC was responsible for the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.) Read More
As representatives of faith-based communities, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in countries where we are not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Some aspects that we find particularly disturbing include:
- The President and his aides draw up a Kill List in which they play the role of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. People on this secret Kill List have never been charged, tried or convicted in a court of law, and are given no opportunity to surrender;
- The labeling of all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, thus justifying their murder, is an extreme and macabre form of profiling;
- Drone strikes kill not only their intended targets, but innocent people, including children, violating the sanctity of human life;
- Drone strikes violate other nations’ sovereignty (Pakistan’s elected leaders, for example, have repeatedly called for an end to the strikes);
- Drones in the hands the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command keep the program veiled in secrecy. The lack of transparency and accountability violate the basic tenets of a democratic society;
- Drones make killing more abstract, impersonal, antiseptic, convenient and “easy”;
- The Administration insists that because drones do not risk American lives, Congress need not be consulted, leading to a dangerous abuse of executive power;
- Drone strikes have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants. They fuel anti-American sentiment, radicalize local populations and perpetuate an endless cycle of violence.
- The example being set by the United States that a nation can go anywhere it wants and kill anyone it wants on the basis of secret information is leading to a world of chaos and lawlessness.
The world’s great religions teach us to cherish human life. This impersonal, risk-free killing of people on the other side of the globe runs counter to religious belief and the teachings of our traditions.
We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on the United Nations to regulate the international use of lethal drones in a fashion that promotes a just and peaceful world community, based on the rule of law, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.
Click here to be added to the list of signatories
Resources will be added shortly after the conference. We will be pooling fact sheets, backgrounds, etc. If you or your organization have something to share that can be posted to this collaborative website, please email email@example.com.
If you have a campaign you are interested in getting people involved in, email alli [at] codepink.org.
These are campaign ideas you can use to mobilize your community.
CODEPINK: Take Lethal Drones Away from CIA
Email Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairperson of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and let her know you want drones taken out of the hands of the CIA.
ACLU: Tell President Obama: We need transparency about the government’s targeted killing program
The ACLU is asking the US government release basic and accurate information about its drone program abroad.
If your representative is a member of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, organize a campaign to demand they stop accepting money from drone manufacturers and exercise their responsibility to end the misuse of lethal and surveillance drones.
Petition your representative to support Representative Kucinich’s resolution on drones. Download the Dear Colleague Letter here.
Download a local resolution to petition your city for protection of the public against drones.
Below is a list of reports and presentations. If you have a resource that you want listed here for people to use, please email alli [at] codepink.org.
A Drone Field Guide
Alexandra Gibb and Cameron Tulk (Canadian International Council) 5/31/12
This report compiles information on the broad spectrum of current and future drone designs and capabilities.
Drone Wars Briefing: Examining the Threat of Unmanned Warfare
Chris Cole (Drone Wars UK) 1/1/12
This briefing explores some of the key issues arising from the growing use of armed unmanned drones. Examining current UK and US military drone operations, as well as looking at future developments and legal issues, the fully-referenced briefing will be of use to both those new to the issue as well as those with a long-term interest.
Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Government Use of Drone Aircraft
Jay Stanley and Catherine Crump (ACLU) 12/15/11
This report outlines a set of protections that would help protect Americans’ privacy in the coming world of domestic drones. The report recommends that drones should not be deployed unless there are grounds to believe that they will collect evidence on a specific crime.
Drones and Voiceless Victims
Presentation by Shahzad Akbar at April 28, 2012 Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control
Bugsplat: Drones and an Illegal and Counterproductive “War on Terror”
Presentation by Clive Stafford Smith at April 28, 2012 Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control
US Reporting of Civilian Drone Strike Casualties
Presentation by Chris Woods at April 28, 2012 Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control
Below is a list of resources and actions you can use to educate your community about lethal and surveillance drones. If you have a resource that you want listed here for people to use, please email alli [at] codepink.org.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has been investigating the US secret wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Find data and articles on their website.
Know Drones provides drone replicas and educational materials to support citizen action to achieve an international ban on weaponized drones and surveillance drones.
Voices for Creative Nonviolence offers a number of drone warfare awareness and resistance resources including pamphlets and a guide to organizing a mock drone attack action.
The Local Civil Rights Restoration (LCRR) campaign protects the fundamental rights and liberties of law-abiding Americans to be free of arbitrary monitoring and surveillance.
Follow the Drones Watch twitter: @DronesWatch.
Follow these individuals and organizations on Twitter.
Join “STOP the Drone Killing” Grassroots Coalition on Facebook.
Books, Films and Plays
Order your copy of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Invite Medea Benjamin to your community for a book event by contacting Alli McCracken at firstname.lastname@example.org. Request your library include the book in its catalog.