$9 Million Per Sort-Of-Kind-Of Important Drone Strike

Amidst all the discussion of why the US froze drone strikes after Raymond Davis got picked up, Greg Miller published another important story on drone strikes.

Among other things, the story reveals that we’ve spent $118 million in the last year to hit 581 militants, of which just two were on the CIA’s most wanted list, and just 13 qualified as high value targets.

CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed at least 581 militants last year, according to independent estimates. The number of those militants noteworthy enough to appear on a U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists: two.

Despite a major escalation in the number of unmanned Predator strikes being carried out under the Obama administration, data from government and independent sources indicate that the number of high-ranking militants being killed as a result has either slipped or barely increased.

Even more generous counts – which indicate that the CIA killed as many as 13 “high-value targets” – suggest that the drone program is hitting senior operatives only a fraction of the time.

After a year in which the CIA carried out a record 118 drone strikes, costing more than $1 million apiece, the results have raised questions about the purpose and parameters of the campaign.

In other words, we’re spending $9 million for each high value but not most wanted target.

Mind you, that’s not as bad as the $33 billion we spent on Afghanistan last year to go after roughly 50 members of al Qaeda (admittedly, some of that $33 billion is probably paying for these drone strikes).

But $9 million per target is still far too expensive for a country purportedly needing to cut education funding.

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  1. Gitcheegumee says:

    Speaking of strategical strikes, here is a knockout piece from the LA Times a few years back.

    I originally intended to post it on an earlier thread about GHW Bush,but never got around to it…and although I do not recall drones being mentioned in this piece which revolves about WWII-and the connection between OSS,CIA and AIG-it does make thought provoking reading,in light of the report that Davis had maps of particular targets.

    The Secret (Insurance) Agent Men – Los Angeles TimesSep 22, 2000 … They knew which factories to burn, which bridges to blow up, which cargo ships could be sunk in good conscience. They had pothole counts for …

    articles.latimes.com/2000/sep/22/news/mn-25118 – Cached – Similar

  2. Mary says:

    Kind of makes you wonder if, with a bit more education funding, we wouldn’t be smart enough to quit drone bombing into Pakistan, period.

  3. alabama says:

    I wonder who builds those things–the parts of those things?–and where…. Factories in all fifty states? Any foreign outsourcing?

  4. rosalind says:

    ot: John Cook over at Gawker has a new article up – The Pentagon Papers That Donald Rumsfeld Doesn’t Want You to See

    Rumsfeld used the Freedom of Information to gather some, but not all, of his papers in researching the book. So we filed a FOIA request with the Pentagon asking for everything Rumsfeld asked for, and everything he received. Last week, we got a partial response, including roughly 100 pages of memos he wrote in 2002 and 2003 that the Pentagon handed over to him. We checked against the Rumsfeld Papers, and almost none of them were there.

    Gawker has a link to the docs. I think they’re new to Wheelies, but apologies if already covered.

      • rosalind says:

        some highlights:

        p. 51: B.G. paper for Bush’s 9/12/02 UN speech where they include in Saddam’s torture techniques: breaking limbs, denial of food & water, extended solitary confinement in dark and extremely small compartments, and threats to rape or otherwise harm family members and relatives.

        p. 54: (same report) details Iraqi’s shocking lack of Right to Privacy: “Saddam frequently infringes on citizen’s constitutional right to privacy. Saddam routinely ignores constitutional provision designed to protect the confidentiality of mail, telegraphic correspondence and telephone conversations.”

        p. 73: Letter from William Eagleton to Rummy dated 12/2/02 providing his “recollection” of their time together with Saddam in the 80s, which I’m sure was helpful in coordinating their stories for public consumption. shades of Aspens turning…

        p.77 Memo from William Haynes to Rummy re “Detainees” on 1/18/02 stating they will be treated consistent with Geneva Conventions.

        p. 79 (and the best for last!) memo fm William Haynes to Rummy re. “Talking Points – Walker” when discussing transferring custody of Walker to DOJ: “I have warned the Deputy Attorney General that you will likely require reimbursement for costs of the transfer if done by DOD.”

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          I reviewed ’em all,Rosalind. And the ones regarding Walker were “standouts” imho.

          Pages 79-83 were particularly informative for me,as to the pros and cons of how to adjudicate Walker.

          Rumsfeld’s cavalier attitude was particularly appalling…and telling.FWIW,the reimbursement comment caught my eye,too.

          • rosalind says:

            yeah, Rummy’s attitude drips off these memos. knowing all that is about to come, you just want to reach out and freeze time, and for sanity to prevail.

            i’m sure there’re some goodies in here, can’t wait for our in-house Super Computer to do her stuff.

        • allan says:

          in Saddam’s USG’s torture techniques: breaking limbs, denial of food & water, extended solitary confinement in dark and extremely small compartments, and threats to rape or otherwise harm family members and relatives.

          Fixed it for you, Rummy.

  5. marksb says:

    But…but…they’re so cool! I mean, all the articles and TeeVee segments about drones, as well as Air Force commercials, show them as video games; launch ’em and kill the Bad Guys from 10,000 miles away.
    Oh. Real people? Dead, murdered civilians? Collateral damage? Let’s not talk about that….
    Note the cool-and-groovy tone of this recent LA Times article about a new series of drones that fly like hummingbirds and contain a camera and GPS locator.

  6. PeasantParty says:

    Damn! We have to cut Grandma off and layoff teachers because we are broke!

    The Repugs are in congress hunting all sorts of ways to cut spending. But, look at those huge numbers and what they produce!

    Tell me again why we are calling this a war on terror?

  7. fatster says:

    O/T More clowns in spyland.

    MI5 cropped 7/7 bomber out of picture shown to key informant
    Unrecognisable version of photograph taken by agent a year before London attacks was sent to US supergrass
    LINK.