CIA Unsure of Those Killed in Drone Strikes, Classified Report Shows

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The Central Intelligence Agency could not identify about a quarter of those individuals killed by drone strikes in Pakistan during a 14-month period.

An NBC News exclusive report found the CIA classified one in every four of those killed in drone attacks from Sept. 3, 2010 and Oct. 30, 2011, as “other militants.” The classification means the CIA was unable to determine if the person killed was actually a threat to national security.

McClatchy’s April review of drone attacks found 265 to 482 people killed in a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were “assessed” as Pakistani, Afghan and “unkown extremists.” Reports from the same time period found only six senior al-Qaeda leaders were killed in the strikes.

Former Director of National Intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, responded to the NBC report by saying the accuracy of drone warfare is superior to that of traditional battlefield weapons.

“In Afghanistan and Iraq and places where you have troops in combat ... you know better with drones who you’re killing than you do when you’re calling in artillery fire from a spotter [or] calling in an airplane strike,” Blair said.

He added: “This is no different from decisions that are made on the battlefield all the time by soldiers and Marines who are being shot at, not knowing who fired the shot, having to make judgments on shooting back or not. This is the nature of warfare."

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for an end to the drone strikes during his inaugural address to the Pakistani parliament Wednesday.

"The chapter of daily drone attacks should stop," Sharif said. "We respect sovereignty of other countries, but others should also respect our sovereignty."

Sources: RT, Cleveland.com, NBC News