The United States Doesn't Even Know Who It Droned in Pakistan
New leaks of classified data show strikes based on "behavior," not identity
Two NBC reporters appear to have gotten their hands on some potentially explosive classified documents that indicate the CIA killed people in Pakistan with drones without even knowing who they were.
Their exclusive has just been posted online:
About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as "other militants," the documents detail. The "other militants" label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security.
The uncertainty appears to arise from the use of so-called "signature" strikes to eliminate suspected terrorists—picking targets based in part on their behavior and associates. A former White House official said the U.S. sometimes executes people based on "circumstantial evidence."
Three former senior Obama administration officials also told NBC News that some White House officials were worried that the CIA had painted too rosy a picture of its success and likely ignored or missed mistakes when tallying death totals.
NBC News has reviewed two sets of classified documents that describe 114 drone strikes over 14 months in Pakistan and Afghanistan, starting in September 2010. The documents list locations, death and injury tolls, alleged terrorist affiliations, and whether the killed and injured were deemed combatants or non-combatants.
Though the Obama administration has previously said it targets al Qaeda leaders and senior Taliban officials plotting attacks against the U.S. and U.S. troops, officials are sometimes unsure of the targets' affiliations. About half of the targets in the documents are described as al Qaeda. But in 26 of the attacks, accounting for about a quarter of the fatalities, those killed are described only as "other militants." In four others, the dead are described as "foreign fighters."
In some cases, U.S. officials also seem unsure how many people died. One entry says that a drone attack killed seven to 10 people, while another says that an attack killed 20 to 22.
Read the full story here.
There was gossip going around the Twitterverse for the past couple of weeks that there was another Obama Administration scandal yet to break. Could this be it? And what is the administration going to do when it gets its hands on these leakers?