Air Force Dumps Drone Strike Data Down the Memory Hole


Predator drone
United States Air Force

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:

Air Force drone data

And this is how it looks now:

Air Force drone data

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.

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  1. The Obama Administration is becoming so transparent you can’t even see them.

    1. Hugh, you are in fuego today!

      1. Damn you Joe’z Law!!! en fuego… not actually “in” fire I would hope

        1. What are you, a North Korean spokesperson??

          “We will mercilessly crush you with the weapon of singlehearted unity! Drown you in a Sea of Fire!!”

  2. The escalation year over year is interesting, especially since it’s reasonably safe to assume that the 44 released in 2013 were likely just in the month of January alone.

  3. Oct of 2010 was apparently KILL MONTH

    1. First month of the fiscal year. They had a backlog as they tried to come in under budget for 2009.

  4. To be fair, I don’t keep track of how often my weapon releases either. It would be too much hassle to track the remote releases separately.

  5. So the AF doesn’t know that once something is on teh internetz, it’s pretty much forever? That’s some real fine data disposal there, Lou.

  6. “it tuns out that the Air Force”

    Are you supposed to say that in your finest Foghorn Leghorn voice?

    1. And supposedly they ran off Lucy because of her typos. Jeebus.

    2. Ah say…Ah say boy….do not question my auhtoritah!”

    3. LTC(ret) John| 3.11.13 @ 2:38PM |#

      “it tuns out that the Air Force”

      Are you supposed to say that in your finest Foghorn Leghorn voice?

      “I say, I say…boy, pay attention when I’m talkin’ to ya!”

  7. supposedly they ran off Lucy because of her typos.

    Buck up; Chapman will always be with us.

  8. You people are so cynical!

    Ever consider that, uh, the drones took a *rest* for 2 months?! Plus we’re running out of terrists FAST! We’ve had to go all the way to Africa to find more! With the FRENCH! You know a war is virtually over when the French decide they want in on a fight.

    It is also noted that the only dronin’ I recall in the news in February… we disavowed it! IT WUZ THE PAKIS!


    “”They were not ours,” said one of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the drone program’s secrecy. “We haven’t had any kinetic activity since January.”

    What exactly took place in those remote tribal villages, far from outside scrutiny, is unclear. But the Americans’ best guess is that one or possibly both of the strikes were carried out by the Pakistani military and falsely attributed to the C.I.A. to avoid criticism from the Pakistani public.

    …In the early years of the drone campaign, the Pakistani Army falsely claimed responsibility for American drone strikes in an attempt to mask C.I.A. activities on its soil. Now, the Americans suggest, the Pakistani military may be using the same program to disguise its own operations.”

    It is an interesting world indeed when a nation can deny responsibility for extrajudicial assassination by simply passing someone a joystick and going out for a bite to eat.

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