Dianne Feinstein gave a speech to the World Affairs Council yesterday. As part of it (after 9:10), she gave the following reassurances regarding the oversight of drone strikes.
We have a special effort on the CIA Predator program. The staff has made 28 visits to various facilities, attended intelligence gathering, we have looked at the intelligence. The key to these, to minimize collateral damage, to go for the targeted individuals, but to have intelligence which is just as good as it can be to be totally actionable. And so the collateral damage is really greatly reduced beyond what you may read in the press. I have asked, “please please please can I release these numbers?” And the answer is [laughs] “no, they’re classified.” So that’s about as far as I could go on that.
Ah, well, that’s about as far as you can go! If the CIA tells you it can’t release its claims about civilian casualties publicly so they can be reviewed by people on the ground, so people who aren’t getting all their information from the same people pressing the trigger double check those claims, I guess that’s as far as you can go then!
What I like best is the prominent role drone manufacturer Northrop Grumman (they don’t make the Predators used in CIA’s assassination program, but they do sell drones to the CIA) had in the talk. In his introduction of her, NG’s CEO Wes Bush hailed her “absolute integrity in addressing the facts.” (Though maybe Bush was talking about DiFi’s recent misrepresentations in support of the NSA’s hoovering of telecom communications, given that NG has a big chunk of the data storage contract.)
These convenient, unverifiable “facts” on drones delivered by someone proven to misrepresent such “facts” brought to you by the drone (and wiretap) industry.