Near Daily Drone Attacks Continue in Pakistan

John Brennan must feel that Pakistan’s morale has only improved marginally, because what was an average of almost one drone strike a day has now fallen to about a half drone strike a day. Three successive days of strikes (with a total death toll of 27) have brought to eight the number of strikes in the two weeks since last-minute negotiations on the reopening of supply routes through Pakistan broke down and Brennan decided to rain terror down on Pakistan once again.

Today’s attack killed 15 in Mir Ali in North Waziristan. In the AFP story carried in Dawn, we have no less than two officials confirming that those killed were “militants” even though their nationalities aren’t known:

“Fifteen militants were killed in a dawn strike on a compound. The bodies of those killed were unable to be identified,” a security official in Miramshah told AFP.

He said there were reports that some foreigners had been killed but these were unable to be confirmed.

A security official in Peshawar confirmed the attack and said 15 militants were killed.

“We have received reports that 15 militants have been killed in a drone strike but at this moment we don’t know about their nationalities,” the official said.

“We are also unclear about the number of the militants who were present in the compound at the time of attack.” The latest attack came amid an uptick in drone strikes.

Coverage of this strike in the Express Tribune is quite interesting. It has near the beginning the usual quote of a local official asserting those killed were militants, but includes an admission that “locals” were among those killed:

A security official said that the compound was targeted in the Esokhel area of Mir Ali and that locals along with foreign militants were killed. “I don’t know how many foreign militants were killed but we are sure that foreigners were among the dead,” said an official of the security force.

But then we get to a tribesman being quoted, and what he has to say is revealing:

According to a tribesman who was an eyewitness, the compound was razed to the ground after the attack. “I didn’t go near the house, as I avoid going near places where drone strikes take place,” he added.

Why would local tribesmen “avoid going near places where drone strikes take place”? Why that’s because the US intentionally targets first responders at drone strikes:

But research by the Bureau has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children.  A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.

Who else targets first responders? Well, there are terrorists in Iraq who do that:

Meanwhile, two Iraqis were killed and six injured in two back-to-back explosions in the city of Khalidya, some 200 kilometres west of Baghdad, said police.

The first explosion occurred near a house, killing one woman and injuring two children, security sources told the German Press Agency dpa.

Another explosive went off when a police unit arrived on the scene, leaving one policemen dead and four injured, they added.

Bombs aimed at first responders was also a signature move for Eric Rudolph. Here’s then Attorney General Janet Reno announcing charges against Rudolph:

Six months later, another homemade bomb exploded outside Sandy Springs Professional Building, in north Atlanta. As emergency personnel arrived on the scene, a second bomb went off. More people were wounded, including some Federal agents.

FBI Director Louis Freeh further characterized Rudolph’s targeting of first responders at the same press conference:

The gravity of these offenses is reflected, first of all, in the indiscriminate nature of his targets, innocent civilians in almost every case, and also a planned and deliberate attack against law enforcement officers, rescuers, first-aid individuals, who came to the scenes both in Sandy Springs and the Other Side bombings.

In the eyes of local tribesmen in Pakistan, then, US tactics are no different from those of terrorists in Iraq or Eric Rudolph. First responders are likely targets, so those who would try to rescue wounded from buildings hit by drone attacks are themselves at great danger for also being attacked by another missile.

Interestingly, the Express Tribune article followed up the tribesman’s direct quote by saying that he said those who did respond for rescue work after this particular strike were militants:

He added that soon after the attack, local militants surrounded the area and started rescue work by pulling out the bodies from the debris and shifted them to an undisclosed location.

Those are very strange words to put into the tribesman’s mouth, since he had just said he didn’t go near where the missile hit. He is also described as an eyewitness, so it is difficult to know what he means by “near”. It would seem to me, though, that staying far enough away after the first strike to be safe from a follow-on strike would make it difficult to know who it was who did respond to begin rescue work.

At any rate, there still is no agreement allowing NATO supply trucks to pass through Pakistan again and Brennan is still sending in regular drone strikes in an attempt to beat Pakistan into submission.

Update: I hadn’t seen Glenn Greenwald’s post today or the Guardian article on which it was based when I wrote this post, but it appears that Sunday’s strike was aimed at mourners gathered in response to Saturday’s strike. Maybe mourners are like first responders…

14 replies
  1. SpanishInquisition says:

    “‘Fifteen militants were killed in a dawn strike on a compound. The bodies of those killed were unable to be identified,’ a security official in Miramshah told AFP.”

    So they’re militants because the Decider killed them…that circular reasoning is all the proof that is needed.

  2. orionATL says:

    “We are also unclear about the number of the militants who were present in the compound at the time of attack.” The latest attack came amid an uptick in drone strikes.”

    translation: we are pretty sure that some locals were killed.

    the building was razed immediately =

    the pakistanis are doing all possible to keep this issue from boiling over by hiding the death of civilians, especially the most sensitive killings, those of children and women,


    the pakistanis are cooperating with the americans in these strikes, cleaning up the mess before the press can get ahold of it.

    (the “or” is a weak “or”, i.e., either or both.)

  3. greg brown says:

    “Fifteen militants were killed in a dawn strike on a compound. The bodies of those killed were unable to be identified,” a security official in Miramshah told AFP.”

    Militants? If yeh canna identify them they coulda been librarians from Rhode Island.

  4. orionATL says:

    @greg brown:

    capt yossarian would understand:

    the body parts are missing/in the dump, so we know who they were and how many there were. we know for certain they were “militants”. who else would get themselves blown up in the middle of the night by an american missile.

  5. SpanishInquisition says:

    @What Constitution: Yeah, our Due Process is a beacon of light for the world – the light of course being the explosion from a drone-fired missile with the death proof itself of guilt.

  6. ondelette says:

    Um, yeah.

    In order to prove the war crime, ordinarily, you need to prove they intentionally targeted the civilians or the first responders, or you need to prove a proportionality argument. These experts, especially Clive Stafford-Smith, are aware of that.

    What makes it plausible that they did that is the CIA. That’s why I keep harping on the fact that you need to go back to the first problem and solve it first. Get the CIA completely out of being a paramilitary organization, along with all the other not-the-real-military groups currently fighting in the name of the United States. Next step: sign all the goddamned treaties and covenants and ratify them so the military knows which sling its ass will be in if it goes off the farm. Next step: Start prosecuting the higher ups for the high crimes and misdemeanors starting with those that lead to Abu Ghraib, to prove to the military that they can believe that those that tell them to commit crimes will be prosecuted too.

    Only then will you start to see all this start following the laws. Once it follows the laws, it will be easier to get control of this country again. It’s the height of American Exceptionalism to believe that every other country that’s endured decades of war insanity must go through decades of truth and reconciliation, DDR, retraining and rethinking, soul searching and reliving its history, amnesties and trials and decades of rebuilding their very souls in the fires of guilt and despair, and we’re just going to walk away with a few protest marches and a little screaming and yelling on the internet.

    But nobody believes me here because I bring up all the dead people in Africa and say they’re our problem too. I’m sorry. But I have to be able to sleep at night too, not just you.

  7. joanneleon says:

    Wait, I thought the Tuesday Terror death panels weighed every single targeted killing and examined the intel then the president deeply considered it and made the final decision about these terrorists whose well researched well intelled cases and signed off on them. Each one being a threat to the U.S., of course.

    But these latest kills seem to be unknowns. How could they have been on any kind of vetted kill list if they did not even know their nationalities?

    Boy, when you lie a lot, it gets harder and harder to keep it all together with layer upon layer of lies and so many people to keep in line when they give statements and interviews. And now that the big boasting stories have been sent out via the NYTimes propaganda team, won’t more Americans wonder about the obvious conflicts between the story of the carefully vetted kill list and the reports of militants of unknown origin?

  8. MadDog says:

    “…At any rate, there still is no agreement allowing NATO supply trucks to pass through Pakistan again…”

    And given this piece from the AP, it may be that there will be no agreement with Pakistan:

    NATO strikes overland transport deals

    “NATO has concluded agreements with Central Asian nations allowing it to evacuate vehicles and other military equipment from Afghanistan and completely bypass Pakistan, which once provided the main supply route for coalition forces.

    Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan had agreed to allow the reverse transport of alliance equipment. Since NATO already has an agreement with Russia, the deal will allow it to ship back to Europe tens of thousands of vehicles, containers and other items through the overland route when the evacuation picks up pace later this year…”

  9. Ken_Muldrew says:


    But nobody believes me here

    If you mean to imply that covert operations, for any purpose whatsoever, are fundamentally incompatible with a democratic republic, then I am with you all the way.

    But damn few U.S. citizens see things this way, though, and the chance of getting enough on board to actually accomplish more than the whack-a-mole game of moving OPC into CIA, CIA into Safari Club, Safari Club into JSOC, etc. is vanishingly small. Americans would have to see their country in a radically different way before they could even begin to understand the bureaucratic forces that drive the war machine. Perhaps “understand” is going too far; Most Americans are not psychologically prepared to even countenance the possibility that the war machine embraces all that is repugnant to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in order to perpetuate itself. And that includes monstrous deceptions played upon American citizens in order to consolidate public support for acts of appalling immorality and viciousness.

    It has to be done, but in no way do I see it as doable. Covert ops are a hydra. You can’t cut off funding because funding comes from illegal activities (narcotics primarily). You can’t stop them from making money from illegal activities because they are the police. You can’t expose them because they have the official secrets act (I use the British nomenclature here because it sounds better). They seem to own the press, too, sort of an “unofficial” secrets act. And don’t even bother with a public inquiry, the whitewash is so transparent that even 567 pages barely even block the light. You can’t build a case against them using sound and thorough investigative techniques because they will simply create a new crisis that makes their prior behavior irrelevant and their present behavior essential. All the institutions that allowed American representative democracy to flourish are now subordinate to the war machine. Breaking free from this tyrant will be a cataclysmic event on a par with the French Revolution.

  10. ondelette says:

    @Ken_Muldrew: Actually I meant confining all military operations to the military. I fundamentally don’t believe that other groups should do military things. The Constitution assumes they will be done by the military, international law assumes they will be done by the military. There’s only one reason for doing otherwise and that’s because someone wants to break the law or avoid a decision maker (which also breaks the law).

    I also believe a lot of other nutso things like that when a war is over, there is a necessity and a responsibility to clean up after it — demobilize, treat, train, and reintegrate those who fought, try those who transgressed and reconcile those who need to make amends, rebuild that which was destroyed, tend to those who fled, and above all, pick up all the weapons, mines, bombs and everything else, and destroy them.

Comments are closed.