Were this a republican administration there would be a permanent encampment of very vocal and animated “Code Pink” protesters outside the White House, Pentagon, and the VP home. But this administration is socialist democrat, so, it’s okay…
As the Obama administration prepares to publish a long-delayed accounting of how many militants and noncombatant civilians it has killed since 2009, its statistics may be defined as much by what is left out as by what is included.
Release of the information was first envisioned three years ago this month, as part of strict new guidelines President Obama announced for the United States’ controversial use of drones and other forms of lethal force to battle terrorism abroad. Such operations, Obama said in a 2013 speech at the National Defense University, would also be subject to new transparency and oversight.
The death tolls, like the guidelines, will cover places where the United States conducts airstrikes but does not consider itself officially at war…
The totals will almost inevitably be challenged by independent groups that keep their own tallies and for years have charged that the administration undercounts civilian deaths caused by drone strikes.
Beyond debates over statistics, there are broader questions about how, when and where Obama’s guidelines apply, how they have changed amid a mutating threat, including the growth of the Islamic State, and what standing they will have after the president completes his term in January.
At the time the guidelines were written, drone-fired missiles appeared to have become Obama’s counterterrorism weapon of choice. By early 2013, he had launched hundreds of strikes, most of them in Pakistan, compared with around 50 throughout the Bush administration.
So, while the US drone strike reportedly kills senior Al Qaeda leader Mullah Mohammad Ali in Afghanistan, we can ponder how many others were involved in the kill. We can ponder, but we will never actually know.