November 5, 2012
Kudos to the Washington Post for acknowledging on Friday that the U.S. presidential campaign has skirted some key questions of U.S. policy — in particular, the accelerating U.S. drone war that’s become a cornerstone of our national counterterrorism strategy. As a recent Post news story pointed out: “The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.”
While it is indeed a virtue of drones that they “do not put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk,” as the Post’s editorial acknowledges, whether they are really a “humane” way to fight an “irregular enemy,” as the Post asserts, is an open question. White House Senior Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan encouraged this narrative by claiming last year that “there hasn’t been a single collateral [civilian] death” from drones in Pakistan since August 2010; other unnamed senior administration officials told the New York Times that civilian deaths were “in the single digits.”
In fact, independent investigators have concluded that up to 885 civilians have been reported killed by U.S. drones, and many more wounded.