Yielding to pressure from critics of his killer drone practice, President Obama released fictional figures on civilian casualties this past Friday. In a classic “bury the news over the holiday weekend” move, and after delaying the promised disclosure for many months, the Obama administration said that, since 2009, the combined CIA and military assassination targeted killing programs had claimed the lives of “between 64 and 116” non-combatants and about 2,500 suspected terrorists (military-aged males in designated war zones). Both tallies are ridiculously low compared to estimates compiled by independent watchdogs at the Long War Journal and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Real transparency, including of the airstrikes inside “areas of active hostilities” that were not included in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report, would provide a clearer sense of the scale of the murderous drone program. But lesser numbers do not ameliorate the illegitimacy of extrajudicial killings — no matter where they are carried out.
“The only thing those numbers tell us is that this Administration simply doesn’t know who it has killed,” charges Jennifer Gibson of the international human rights group Reprieve.
U.S. Executioner-in-Chief Barack Obama gets away with murder on a daily basis. He administers the death penalty without trial, accountability, transparency or justice. The wars of aggression on seven sovereign states — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia — have contributed to more than 4,000 deaths by drones.
When all the world’s a war zone, civilians find little refuge.