The Washington Post reported today (Feb 21st) that out of 118 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan only 13 ‘High Value Targets’ had been killed, of which only two were on the US’ Most Wanted list. According to the New American Foundation it is estimated that a total of 607 people were killed in US drones strikes in Pakistan in 2010. Interestingly the Post report also states that each drone strike in Pakistan costs the CIA £1m!
The press report comes as two separate drone strikes in Pakistan reportedly killed eleven people . These are the first drone strikes in Pakistan in almost a month, a gap which many attribute to the US attempts to free Raymond Davis, an alleged CIA spy accused of killing two men in Lahore in mid-January. For more about the Davis case see this report from the Guardian.
The ‘DC Exile’ blog has some interesting reflections on the legality of US drone strikes following last week’s Newsweek interview with the former CIA counsel , John Rizzo, who authorised drone strikes in Pakistan. They suggest that the revelation that once identified, a targeted individual may be subject to the use of force at any time thereafter calls into question one of the US stated legal justification for drone strikes:
“such continuous targetability calls into question the ability of the United States to rely on self-defense as one of its two legal justifications for its targeted killing program. Strikes against these continuously targetable individuals would then only be lawful within the context of an armed conflict. Any targeted killing outside of an armed conflict or valid self-defense would be an illegal, extrajudicial execution.”
Meanwhile Radio One’s ‘Newsbeat’ programme secured an interview with 15 year old Sadaullah Wazir who lost both his legs and an eye in US drone strike in North Waziristan (as well as members of his family). He is currently attempting to sue the CIA. You can see short video of the interview here.
In Afghanistan NATO have launched an investigation after the Governor of Konar province said 65 people including 22 women and more than 30 children were killed in a NATO operation. Most reports suggest the attacks were carried out by NATO helicopters but the Washington Post says a Predator drone was also involved.
PS….. Drone Wars UK – Mini Tour
I’m doing a few speaking gigs over the next few weeks on drones – do come along if you are in the area.
Sun 27th Feb, 7pm, Porthmadog FoR – Y Ganolfan, Porthmadog : Details here
Mon 28th Feb, 7.30pm Caermarfon FoR – vestry of Salem chapel, Caernarfon: Details here
Tues 1st Mar: 7.30pm Oxford Stop the War – Town Hall, Oxford: Details here
Mon 14th Mar: 8pm – Friends Meeting House, Queens Road Leicester CND AGM
Thur 14th Apr: 7.30pm – Public Meeting, Friends Meeting House, Bristol
Sat 14th May, 2pm – FoR Scotland Annual Conference