U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Mostly Hit Homes and Schools

Defense ImagesDefense ImagesNext month will mark 10 years of the United States' ongoing bomb-dropping operation on its ally Pakistan. Just in time for this sordid anniversary, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism last week released a report that indicates the majority of these strikes aimed at terrorists have been executed on schools and homes.

The Bureau explains:

  • Over three-fifths (61%) of all drone strikes in Pakistan targeted domestic buildings, with at least 132 houses destroyed, in more than 380 strikes.
  • At least 222 civilians are estimated to be among the 1,500 or more people killed in attacks on such buildings. In the past 18 months, reports of civilian casualties in attacks on any targets have almost completely vanished, but historically almost one civilian was killed, on average, in attacks on houses.
  • The CIA has consistently attacked houses throughout the 10-year campaign in Pakistan.
  • The time of an attack affects how many people—and how many civilians—are likely to die. Houses are twice as likely to be attacked at night compared with in the afternoon. Strikes that took place in the evening, when families [are] likely to be at home and gathered together, were particularly deadly.

Still, an unnamed government official argued that

the U.S. government only targets terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people. Period. Any suggestion otherwise is flat wrong. Furthermore, before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured—the highest standard we can set.

This has long been the dubious stance of the Obama administration, which, according to available data, is still responsible for over 200 civilian casualties. Organizations like the United Nations and journalists like Glenn Greenwald suggest that such estimates are actually artificially low, because the government doesn't actually know who it's killing and in 2012 it broadened the definition of "militant" to include virtually any male who finds himself in the path of a Hellfire missile.

The Bureau paints a picture even more grim, explaining that deaths of women and children in schools and homes are probably far worse than acknowledged, because their "relative seclusion within private space makes them particularly vulnerable to becoming an unknown casualty when a strike occurs." 

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  • R C Dean||

    Over three-fifths (61%) of all drone strikes in Pakistan targeted domestic buildings, with at least 132 houses destroyed, in more than 380 strikes.

    60% of 380 is 228. According to this, we miss nearly half of the houses we are aiming for. I thought these were precision munitions we were using.

  • Pulseguy||

    Not necessarily. 'Domestic buildings' is not defined. Houses are one type of domestic building it seems.

  • Andrew S.||

    But remember: They hate us for our freedom, and nothing else, right?

  • Cytotoxic||

    They've made it clear that is the case.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Could this be tied to some desire to drive up home costs in Pakistan by reducing the inventory of homes?

  • ||

    No. The US government only knows how to focus on the demand side of the equation. This is actually a plot to encourage urbanization (can't drone me in apt. B3!).

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    +1 Animal Spirit

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, I see. That makes a kind of sick sense.

    Barack Obama in: The Sick Sense.

  • Paul.||

    At least 222 civilians are estimated to be among the 1,500 or more people killed in attacks on such buildings.

    Ok then...

    the U.S. government only targets terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people. Period. Any suggestion otherwise is flat wrong. Furthermore, before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured—the highest standard we can set.

    So does the State Dept. dispute the estimated 222 innocents killed?

    If not, then their near-certainly is around a 1-in-7 chance of getting the wrong people. Or at minimum getting some wrong people in the blast that may be getting the right people.

    I don't believe that the U.S. military is purposely targeting innocent civilians either. As mendacious and dishonest as I find my government, I don't believe there's any value or purpose to doing that. But what I do believe is they have a flagrant disregard for collateral damage that borders (and probably extends will into) the criminal.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It strikes me as a wartime attitude--meaning real, total war--yet we're not at war with Pakistan.

  • Paul.||

    Exactly. We're not carpet bombing ball-bearing factories in Münster with factory housing connected to it.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    That was the true beauty of the AUMF. We effectively declared war on everyone. You have people we consider terrorists? You are fair game. No more of that messy going to congress stuff or making your case to the public. Top Men will handle this.

  • Agammamon||

    The US military doesn't target *non-combatants. A terrorist and his wife are both civilians, one is a non-combatant and the other is not.

    And the US military does have a strong tolerance for collateral damage.

    But . . .

    As they've shown time and again, all over the world, the CIA has none of those scruples.

    So, how many of those houses were blown up by US *military* action and how many by the CIA? I'm betting the ration is close to none:all.

  • Paul.||

    I was bothered by how the article uses 'civilian' but I inferred that since the figure was 222 "civilians" amongst 1500 "people" that the distinction between "civilian" and "people" was non-combatant vs combatant.

    As we're not at war with Pakistan, it's safe to say the entire country is either a combatant or non-combatant.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The CIA no longer carries out these strikes. It's all military now.

  • MJGreen||

    That's good shootin', boys.

  • iEagleHammer||

    Someone give this president the Nobel peace prize!

  • Paul.||

    His prize isn't related to how many he's killed, it's how many he hasn't killed or saved.

  • iEagleHammer||

    Ahh, this makes sense. I guess he hasn't killed billions of people. That's a pretty large number.

  • Pro Libertate||

    An excellent point. Each minute of each day, he refrains from exterminating the planet. And he makes that decision anew each time.

  • sarcasmic||

    the U.S. government only targets terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people. Period. Any suggestion otherwise is flat wrong.

    How exactly do goat farmers on the literal other side of the world pose an imminent threat to the American people?

  • Paul.||

    The same way your freedom of speech threatens theirs.

  • PapayaSF||

    How exactly do goat farmers on the literal other side of the world pose an imminent threat to the American people?

    The way some goat farmers on the other side of the world did on 9/11, by aiding bin Laden and the Taliban.

  • sarcasmic||

    The guys who did 9/11 are dead. Just so you know.

  • Cytotoxic||

    'The guys who did Pearl Harbor are dead. Just so you know' -twattish comment in 1944.

  • PapayaSF||

    And their associates, who continue to plan for the same sort of attack, are still alive. Just so you know.

    I am not a huge fan of the drone program, but it ridiculous to pretend that there isn't still a threat from Islamic terrorists.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The peacenazis can pretend *anything* to their delusional view of reality. They're every bit as insane as progs.

  • Invisible Finger||

    The peacenazis want to spend shitloads of taxpayer dollars?

  • Invisible Finger||

    The cockpit doors are now secured.

  • PapayaSF||

    The London tube attacks, the Madrid bombings, the Mumbai attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, etc. did not rely on airliners.

  • Drake||

    380 x $68,000 per Hellfire = $25,840,000

    I know that's chump-change for our government wasters, but damn they could act like they care a little.

    Back in the first Gulf War they didn't waste guided missiles on guys walking down a road they were reserved for armored vehicles. The rest was a left-over Vietnam era dumb bomb or a gun-run or just let the Infantry deal with it.

  • Agammamon||

    Way back in the olden times of 1991 guided missiles were still sort of a novelty and doctrine stilled called for lot's of bullets. Hell, they even brought the battleships back for that one.

    Lessons learned from that war showed how effective semi-autonomous weapon systems had become and drove the doctrinal changes that, helped along by advances in tech, have given us drones piloted by a guy in a trailer in one country being given shoot orders from a suit watching his feed on the other side of the world.

  • Drake||

    The battleships actually had spotter drones in '91. Marines and Sailors loved our 16" sniper rifles.

    But there was still a little bit of awareness that the high-tech shit was expensive while bullets and grenades were cheap.

  • PapayaSF||

    But getting bullets and grenades to rural Pakistan is diplomatically problematic and expensive (and hugely expensive if anything goes wrong). Drone operators don't get shot of captured.

  • Lord Humungus||

    You knew who else indiscriminately blew up houses?

  • sarcasmic||

    The big bad wolf?

  • Swiss Servator, CH yeah!||

    No, no! That was blew down houses!

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Pixar and Disney?

  • Paul.||

    Freddie Mac?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Michael Bay?

  • Invisible Finger||

    Frank Rizzo.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    I was spraying my yard for weeds the other day, when I messed up and killed all the grass on one side. Not to worry, however, as I reclassified any blades of grass that were killed as "militant grasses."

    Of course that didn't make the brown spot go away.

  • Drake||

    Collateral damage is inevitable in the war on weeds.

  • gimmeasammich||

    Of course that didn't make the brown spot go away

    Freudian slip?

  • Homple||

    "Near certainty", eh? This from the administration that said if you like your plan you can keep it, that you can keep your doctor, that you would save $2,500 per year on medical costs, that the Benghazi atrocity was triggered by a Youtube video, that there was not a smidgen of impropriety in the IRS dealings with conservative groups, that the NSA wasn't spying on US citizens....

    It could be true, depending on what you mean by "near" and "certainty"

  • Pro Libertate||

    If you are near the epicenter of a drone explosion, you will almost certainly be maimed or killed.

  • PapayaSF||

    True, but on the other side of the issue is the fact that terrorists lie, too. It's literally in their handbook: to claim that dead terrorists are actually innocent civilians, and to exaggerate the number of any real civilians killed. So don't take any of these numbers at face value.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No doubt. Yet it's quite depressing to realize that our government is no less likely to lie about such things.

  • PapayaSF||

    Sadly true.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Now remember, Pres. Carter, that if Jesus supports Obama and Progressivism, he supports the entire package, drone killings and all. None of this "Jesus just wants sick children to be able to see a doctor but you can't blame him for what we do" BS - he supports all of it knowingly, being omniscient and all. Jesus' support means he considers those deaths an acceptable price to pay to give humanity the leadership of morally and intellectual superior people such as yourself and those with whom you agree politically. That is your religion, Mr. Carter.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If Jesus were here today, he'd create a giant, active volcano right in the middle of the Mall.

  • Cytotoxic||

    It appears the USG is doing its job in this one very specific aspect. Kudos.

  • PapayaSF||

    This article is partly nonsense. Of course homes and even schools are often hit: terrorists rarely build their own special facilities, they take over something already built. It's absurd to imply that simply because they are in a "home" or "school," that means they are or should be invulnerable from attack.

    I also question these numbers of "civilians." No doubt many innocents have been killed, but terrorists lie about such things all the time. Every terrorist conclave, one attacked, seems to become a "wedding party." A terrorist brings along his wife and kids, and then when they die, it's our fault because they were "innocent civilians"? Bullshit, and it's extra-strength bullshit because these terrorists specialize in murdering innocent civilians. When the family of a terrorist gets killed, that's not a war crime, it's pure karmic justice.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I like how the original post doesn't even try to make an argument, it just puts out these stats and expects people to get outraged. "Of COURSE America should use magic terrorist-only killing bullets!"

    Further, just because someone is a 'civilian' doesn't mean they are innocent or that America shouldn't kill them. If they are aiding the Bad Guys in any way, they should die.

  • Invisible Finger||

    ^Batshit insane

  • PapayaSF||

    Why aren't civilians who directly aid those making war on us legitimate targets? When we were shooting up troop or supply trains in Germany in WWII, do you think we shouldn't have shot at the locomotives, because the train crews were civilians?

  • Robert||

    Homes I can understand—in fact that's where I would shoot, and I would try to get them in bed likewise—but why schools? Homes seem like the easiest places to find 'em, and with the fewest other people around, but schools seem like one of the hardest places to find them, and with the most other people around!

  • PapayaSF||

    The answer is, "it depends." It's not like we're droning the Pakistan equivalent of P.S. 138 in Brooklyn or whatever. It's probably more the equivalent of the Little Red Schoolhouse out in the sticks. Are the teachers and students still in it, either of their own accord or by force? I have no idea. But my understanding of the rules of war is that if one side hides among civilians, and the other side attacks them and accidentally harms civilians, the blame falls on the side that hid among them.

  • R C Dean||

    Schools = madrassas = (sometimes) terrorist indoctrination and training centers.

  • PapayaSF||

    Yup.

  • ace_m82||

    Cytotoxic!

    Who do you think "we" (the United States) should be fighting right now?

    Given your defense of so much military use throughout the world, I'd love to hear the answer. Oh, and please do give your reasons. I can't seem to find even one conflict worth engaging in as we aren't being attacked by anyone.

    Signed, a former Marine.

  • Pulseguy||

    If your intelligence is so good you can know exactly who is in a house, and you know he is a militant, then send in an operative and kill the guy. Taking out the family is not moral, ethical, good warrior behavior, and probably is illegal.

    They don't know anything of the sort. They get some questionable intel and then go blow something up, and declare 'We Won!! Again!!'

  • Acosmist||

    So provide evidence that the family was taken out.

  • Pulseguy||

    Yeah, right. Give me a break.

    You blow up houses in the middle of the night in a residential area - kids die.

  • sarah.robert11@outlook.co||

    This is really sorrowful and condemnable. Why Pakistan govt. is not taking action on this issue? Attacks at homes should be stopped at once.
    Property Real Estate in Pakistan – http://www.jaidad.com.pk

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