The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) has conducted an analysis of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan
during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies, finding a notable increase of drone strikes since Obama took office.
BIJ noted that, while the CIA does not officially acknowledge its drone campaign and the Pakistani government does not provide a list of those killed or injured by drone strikes, it gathered information on the strikes from western media, Pakistani media, and non-mainstream media.
Additionally, the BIJ source base
research papers, books and articles by journalists, academics, politicians and former intelligence officers.
Among the key findings, the number of drone strikes in Pakistan has increased dramatically since Obama took office, with 57 occurring in 2009, up from 37 in 2008, Bush’s last year in office. In 2007, there were five drone strikes and the escalation of drone use began in earnest mid-way through the following year.
During the Bush presidency, 112 children were reportedly killed in drone strikes, with more than a third of those strikes resulting in children deaths. During his time in office, only once did a single child die in a strike, and BIJ states
Multiple [child] deaths occurred every other time.
US-led drone strikes increased even more dramatically in 2010, with 127 strikes reported by the BIJ and 2011 is on track at becoming another high drone-strike year. As of August 10, there have been 56 US drone strikes in Pakistan.
Of the total of 291 drone strikes, 239 have occurred during the Obama presidency
. However, BIJ suggests the current administration is “making efforts” to reduce child deaths
in drone strikes, with
an apparent steep fall in the number of child fatalities reported by the media.
The report shows the single-largest number of minimum civilian casualties in one year occurred in 2006, with a minimum of 97 civilian deaths, followed closely by 92 minimum civilian deaths in 2009, Obama’s first year in office.
Early in the drone strike campaign, many of the strikes were initially claimed as being the work of the Pakistan military, with no public acknowledgement on part of the US, based primarily on fueling anti-American feelings in the region.
Last month, BIJ noted ‘targeted killings’ were at one time considered rare occurrences, but have now become commonplace, averaging one drone strike every four days, the vast majority occurring in North and South Waziristan, tribal border regions of Pakistan’s North West Frontier.
In the July report, BIJ stated
Attempts to ensure some level of accountability from the CIA or US government have so far failed.
Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said: “As it stands, the public debate on drone strikes is severely hobbled by the government’s failure to provide basic information about the number of innocent civilians killed; the legal criteria that it uses in conducting targeted drone killings; and the internal accountability measures that are in place to ensure that strikes – especially those conducted by the CIA – are in compliance with applicable law,” according to BIJ.