Earlier today, London’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism released an official Pakistani investigation into the civilian casualties of the 75 U.S. and five NATO drone strikes. The 12-page dossier suggests that between 2006 and 2009, 746 people were killed, 147 of whom were civilians and 94 of whom were children.
The document does not resemble other investigations and casualty numbers released by the media. There is reason to be skeptical. Although the investigation was local to the areas afflicted, certain information was omitted like the names of casualties.
Since Sen. Rand Paul’s much publicized 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director in early March, debate over the administration’s use of drone strikes has died down. It has largely been overshadowed by Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the administration’s acquisition of private communication metadata.
However, since the filibuster in March, seven separate drone strikes have killed 47 people without much publication according to an interactive info graphic of collected news stories. The site estimates that roughly 3,146 people have been killed in drone strikes since 2004, 535 oh whom were civilians and 175 were children. The site, unlike the Pakistani report, includes drone strikes in surrounding areas.
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The leaked Pakistani report largely focuses on casualties under the Bush administration. Since assuming office in 2009, President Obama has greatly increased the number of drone strikes. A staunch defender of the tactic, Obama said in May of this year, "Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes."