US officials slam report on Pakistan drone war dead

US officials slam London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism report's finding.


Afp August 13, 2011

WASHINGTON: US officials on Friday strongly rejected allegations in an independent study that a covert drone war in Pakistan has killed large numbers of civilians, saying the numbers are "way off the mark."

US officials slammed the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism report's finding that there had been many more CIA attacks on alleged militant targets and far more civilian deaths than previously reported.

The report said that bombing raids by unmanned aircraft, designed to target al Qaeda and Taliban militants, had killed up to 168 children in Pakistan over the last seven years.

"The numbers cited by this organization are way off the mark," said a senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"In the past year, in the neighborhood of 600 militants, including over two dozen terrorist leaders, have been taken off the battlefield.

"In that same period of time, we can't confirm any noncombatant casualties," the official told AFP in an email.

A second US official, who also asked not to be identified, dismissed the report as unfounded, saying: "The numbers are wrong."

The officials said intelligence agencies took precautions to avoid killing civilians and that the robotic aircraft equipped with missiles, video cameras and sensors, can linger over a target to ensure accuracy.

"This is a weapon, fueled by good intelligence, that allows us to counter an urgent and deadly threat in otherwise inaccessible places," said the first official.

"And it's far more precise than conventional ground operations. What's the alternative to this kind of rigor, assuming the United States and its allies are unwilling to allow al Qaeda and its friends to plot and murder freely?"

The London-based group said 291 CIA drone strikes had taken place in Pakistan since 2004, eight percent more than previously reported, and that under President Barack Obama there had been 236 -- one every four days.

But the official said the report's numbers had not been confirmed.

"Credible reports of civilian deaths are taken into account, period. If large numbers of innocent people were being killed, the Pakistanis wouldn't stand for it. Neither would we. That's the reality," the official said.

US officials also cast doubt on one of the report's sources, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who is suing the Central Intelligence Agency on behalf of civilians who say they lost loved ones in drone strikes.

"One of the loudest voices claiming all these civilian casualties is a Pakistani lawyer who's pushing a lawsuit to stop operations against some of the most dangerous terrorists on the planet," the official said.

"His publicity is designed to put targets on the backs of Americans serving in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His agenda is crystal clear."

The official said there were concerns about the lawyer's possible links with Pakistani intelligence, as Akbar had publicly named the CIA's undercover station chief in the country.

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COMMENTS (20)

demosthenes | 8 years ago | Reply | Recommend

As long as the Pakistan military needs to accept billions of dollars of US aid then they will assist and allow drone strikes regardless of the cost to the civilian population. The civilian population will first have to get off it's knees and take control of the elections, as through the vote the population can change the drone policy. As long as the silent majority approves of the drone strikes things will remain as they are.

Dallas Ali | 8 years ago | Reply | Recommend

@DarkStar(Karachi):

Go & read the newspaper date May 2-3. The AF chief the following day said the Radars were off, then the next day he said the Radars were not jammed.

If anything that AF or Army chief should had RESIGNED the very next day.

I reiterate again (w/16+ years in US military industrial complex under my belt) that these murderers will be served justice by means of Predators or Global Hawk or Dark Star & many other classified means. Let it be know to these murderers that they can run but they cannot hide.

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