US drone strikes inside Pakistan increasingly lethal, study finds [updated]

Predator drone

Predator drone

Strikes by CIA or Pentagon unmanned Predator drones in Pakistan have increased in frequency and lethality, according to a study published yesterday. Some may question the study, which was conducted on behalf of The Long War Journal, a news and analysis outlet edited by retired US Navy Intelligence Specialist D.J. Elliott, who maintains strong ties to the US Department of Defense [*] Bill Roggio, who also contributes to Bill Kristol’s neoconservative Weekly Standard. Despite its limitations, the report provides an almost unique public record of the frequency and tactical outcomes of the US airstrikes in Pakistan. The study points to a significant increase in the frequency of Predator strikes in the first six months of 2009, with over 90% having targeted locations in Pakistan’s North and South Waziristan provinces. It also suggests that nearly 700 people have been killed by the strikes so far. Interestingly, the report claims that approximately 80% of the airstrikes have failed to kill what the US Department of Defense calls “high value targets”. The strikes, which this author has condemned as “deliberate assassinations of suspected terrorists, which are planned and implemented outside the framework of even elementary judicial oversight”, were first authorized by President George Bush in 2008 2004 and have intensified under Barack Obama’s Presidency.

[*] A note of thanks to The Long War Journal’s managing editor, Bill Roggio, who wrote to let me know that D.J. Elliott left the site two months ago, and to inform me that, as far as we know, the first US unmanned drone strikes actually took place in 2004 (there was one recorded airstrike in 2004, one in 2005, three in 2006 and five in 2007). Roggio also pointed out that he “compiled all of the information from open source reports [and] only failed to cover a few when [he] was embedded in Iraq a couple of times”. For more about Bill Roggio, see here.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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