If you need further evidence that Sen. Rand Paul's bladder-busting feat last week was timely in focusing attention on matters droney, it turns out that the Air Force has turned shy about drone strike data that it once published with gusto. As mentioned at Reason 24/7, where once the Air Force Central Command broke out the numbers of weapons fired by remotely piloted aircraft so that there was no question of just how those 4,700 people Sen. Lindsay Graham boasts have been killed by drones actually met their ends, now the numbers are folded back into overall Air Force activity.
Brian Everstine and Aaron Mehta report for Air Force Times:
Last October, Air Force Central Command started tallying weapons releases from RPAs, broken down into monthly updates. At the time, AFCENT spokeswoman Capt. Kim Bender said the numbers would be put out every month as part of a service effort to "provide more detailed information on RPA ops in Afghanistan."
The Air Force maintained that policy for the statistics reports for November, December and January. But the February numbers, released March 7, contained empty space where the box of RPA statistics had previously been.
And, to make it more interesting, numbers published in previous months detailing weapons fired by drones have been scrubbed of that data. Whoah! Nice use of the memory hole.
To give you an idea of what this means, this is how the data for January 2013 originally looked:
And this is how it looks now:
Hmmm … Is something missing? Whatever could it be? Oh, yeah. The friggin' box that's labeled "Number of Weapons Releases from Remotely Piloted Drones." Curious, that.