Daily Mail — April 11, 2013
More than half of the people killed by Predator and Reaper drones were simply identified as ‘unknown extremists’
The drone strikes in question took place in Pakistan from 2006 to 2008, and then from 2010 to 2011 and of the 482 people killed in the strikes, 265 were not listed by name and branded the vague title of ‘unknown extremists’.
The documents, which were leaked to the American news agency McClatchy but reported in The Independent, are likely to stir up further outcry about the program.
Many have criticized President Obama and his administration for the lack of transparency about the program, making points about a threat to national security following failures like when one crashed in Iran.
Aside from those points, the main fault of the program is the fact that so many innocent bystanders are killed in the attacks by the unmanned planes.
In 2009, 257 drone strikes were conducted in Afghanistan. That number climbed slightly to 277 in 2010 and there was a small bump up in 2011 to 294, though the data can change due to recalculation.
Come 2012, drone strikes became more frequent, climbing to 494 as the tactic became a more important part of the U.S. strategy since President Obama said he hopes to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by half in 2014. That would be an estimated reduction of 34,000 U.S. military personnel.
As of January 31, the Air Force reported a total of 44 drone strikes were launched in the beginning of 2013 but the report released in March, for February military ops, failed to include any data on drone strikes.
Domestically, much of the debate over drone use has stemmed from the fact that the U.S. government approved the use of drone strikes to kill American citizens without a warrant both on and off U.S. soil.
Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed in March that the U.S. Government could kill Americans on their home soil using drone strikes.
He did not rule out potential scenarios where a drone could target an American in the U.S., but said it has not happened so far and only in the most extreme of circumstances could he ever see it being considered.