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 Twitter9Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook6Google+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 Jack Goldsmith Declares Victory … for Osama bin Laden http://t.co/S1zvR1d5Fg
6mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @iMusing: Fuck this shit: Boys get chemistry, engineering & astronomy. Girls get science with a sparkle http://t.co/8Bd1aKcO0b Via @abso
34mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @arunindy: Things more likely to kill Americans than Ebola: Obama's drones George Zimmerman Prescription drugs Working 3 jobs Toddler w…
35mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @ArekSarkissian: Overheard on the @GainesvillePD scanner: "I have no idea what I'm going to do with that goat." #FreshfromFlorida
35mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @marynmck: key to controlling Ebola as it comes to the US: simple stuff. good patient interviews, good infection control. http://t.co/L8
46mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @JamesRisen: Press can't talk to people at political rallies? http://t.co/cZqCOLUwym
51mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @SCOTUSblog @ColMorrisDavis So the insane-sex marriage lobby is happy?
53mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV CDC Director: “Zero Risk” to Passengers on Flights With Dallas Ebola Patient http://t.co/vZUrf0yrSk
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Will_Bunch Why does a cop get a level of ultimate detail in presentation NO other defendant ever gets, even by McCulloch's own admission?
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Will_Bunch Any other case in the world, with identical facts, and the grand jury would take 2-3 hrs, day at the most. This is just insane.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @TimothyS Apparently the oh so attentive @AmbassadorPower cares more about China than the far worse oppression in Ferguson and Occupy in US.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Will_Bunch I'm absolutely stunned there has been so little pushback on how McCulloch is throwing the grand jury. What he is doing is absurd
1hreplyretweetfavorite
April 2013
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930