The Extra Drone Dead: Covert Actions or Side Payments?

As I noted earlier, McClatchy has seen a slew of documents that — while obviously false on the topic of civilian casualties, at a minimum — show that hundreds of the people we’re killing are not legitimate targets under the AUMF.

The U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy covered most – although not all – of the drone strikes in 2006-2008 and 2010-2011. In that later period, Obama oversaw a surge in drone operations against suspected Islamist sanctuaries on Pakistan’s side of the border that coincided with his buildup of 33,000 additional U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan. Several documents listed casualty estimates as well as the identities of targeted groups.

McClatchy’s review found that:

– At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.

Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.”

During the same period, the reports estimated there was a single civilian casualty, an individual killed in an April 22, 2011, strike in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

– At other times, the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups.

As I’ve suggested, this report is perhaps most interesting for the fact that CIA, in its own documents, claims that none of the 40-some people killed at Datta Khel on May 17, 2011 were civilians.

In other words, the CIA is lying — even internally — about drone strikes as blatantly as it did about torture.

But given that this report is generating more attention to the excuses we use for killing people, it would be useful if people review this post from Gregory McNeal. In it, he reveals that — regardless of what the drone people say publicly — there are actually three categories that will get you on a targeting list.

Many have already analyzed the potential legal rationales offered by the U.S. government in support of its targeted killing campaigns (the subject of Part I of the paper), therefore let me just offer this summary with regard to categories of targets.   There are three basic categories of targets who might find their way onto a kill-list: (1) Targets who fall within the AUMF, and its associated forces interpretations [AUMF Targets], (2) targets who fall within the terms of a covert action finding [Covert Action Targets], and (3) targets provided by allies in a non-international armed conflict in which the U.S. is a participant. [Ally Targets or derisively “side payment targets.”]   These categories will oftentimes overlap, however there also may be circumstances where a target rests exclusively within one category.

So there are two reasons people who are obviously not in the categories listed in self-serving speeches might be killed. Either, because they’re targeted under the Gloves Come Off Memorandum under Article II Authority, or because we’re murdering people as a favor for our allies.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+3Email to someone

7 Responses to The Extra Drone Dead: Covert Actions or Side Payments?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel .@RonWyden "ignorant abt...ways in which govt using EO 12333 to conduct overseas data collection w/o court oversight" http://t.co/0BIigEaMcD
10mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @michaelbkiefer Nice looking couple!
20mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @wizardkitten 2012 WAS fun. Can we haz clown car again, pleez?
20mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @Krhawkins5 Oh, you're right. Updating.
23mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Remember when Snyder said the flood was like a hole in his lame home? Now it was devastating. https://t.co/lv7cJrkNiv
31mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel At least 8 pieces of evidence on torture have already disappeared/been altered. https://t.co/A4G2WfmObL Did the access logs get altered too?
43mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JasonLeopold Think DOJ might have been wanting to send me anyway.
54mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @normative Except given how they treated this review, I assume they'll be stingy with that as well. @onekade @JameelJaffer
58mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @normative The real big revelations WOULD come from the 215 and Exigent reports, which should have lots new declass. @onekade @JameelJaffer
58mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @GregMitch: Wolf Blitzer still looking for more gunmen in Ottawa. Barbara Starr overhead in NORAD drone.
59mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @normative Also outdated reference to what USED to be included in assessments. @onekade @JameelJaffer
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @normative Short version is: Almost nothing, except that they're not using 1 NSL authority. @onekade @JameelJaffer
1hreplyretweetfavorite
April 2013
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930