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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take action within your own community by passing this local resolution in your town/village/city. The resolution seeks to ban the use of drones from the airspace over cities due to the serious threat that drones present to both our privacy and our safety. If you want to join our team of local leaders working to get the resolution passed in your area, email laura.codepink@gmail to be added to our listserv or to receive additional information. With your help we can limit domestic drone usage all across the country!
ORDINANCE of the City (Town, Village, County)
PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC AGAINST USE OF UNMANNED AERIAL
1. United States airspace is the busiest in the world, with up to 87,000 flights per
day, including commercial airliners and freight haulers, air taxis and private
and military aircraft.
2. Unmanned aerial vehicles (referred to in the remainder of this ordinance as
drones) are not now allowed in United States general airspace because of the
threat they present to other aircraft. Under the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 the FAA is
directed to create regulations that will enable drones to fly throughout US
airspace by September 2015.
3. Small drones, 25 pounds or under, are now permitted to fly in general airspace
below 400 feet for the use of police and first responders, with FAA permission.
4. Drones have limitations in “vision” compared to the vision of human pilots, do
not have the same capability to avoid other aircraft as aircraft piloted by
humans, and there has been at least one instance outside the United States of a
drone collision with an aircraft with a human pilot on aboard and as well as a
near miss. These instances occurred in airspace much less crowded than that
of the United States.
5. Drones have at times gotten out of human control, in at least one instance
having to be shot down, and drones are susceptible to having control seized
electronically by unauthorized operators.
6. Drones have the capability of carrying a variety of weapons, including 12-
guage shot guns, tear gas, rubber bullet guns, bombs and missiles, but drones
have significant limitations in identifying specific individuals and groups.
7. Unmanned aerial vehicles have the capability to watch individuals, groups and
populations on a 24-hour basis, following and recording their movements for
days and weeks in an unprecedented way.
8. Unmanned aerial vehicles have the capability to continuously monitor cellphone
and text messaging of individuals, groups and populations.
9. Drones are being developed that will use computerized facial images to target
individuals and, once launched, to operate, autonomously, without further
human involvement, to locate and kill those individuals.
We find therefore that:
Drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to public safety in the air and
to persons and property on the ground in the City of________________________ due to
limitations in drone “vision”, capability to avoid other aircraft and adequate control,
Armed drones and surveillance drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat
to the rights of individual privacy, freedom of association and assembly, equal protection
and judicial due process in the City of _______________________.
1. Drones are hereby banned from airspace over the City of__________, including drones
in transit. Flying of a drone within the airspace of the City of_____________shall be
considered a gross misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine not
to exceed $5,000. More than one offense of flying a drone within said airspace will be
considered felonies, with jail time and fines based on the number of violations. (Specifics
on misdemeanor and felony classifications and penalties will vary by locality.)
2. Drones will not be purchased, leased, borrowed, tested or otherwise used by any
agency of the City of_____________________.
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.