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Study shows that America’s ‘drone war’ may be killing Pakistani civilians

by AirTalk®

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An unmanned U.S. Predator drone. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Technology has revolutionized the ongoing war on terrorism and created new problems for American policymakers.

The increasing deployment of remotely piloted vehicles, also known as ‘drones,’ has meant that American forces can engage the enemy without putting pilots at risk. The Obama administration has touted a classified CIA drone program’s success rate at killing Taliban and Al Qaeda militants who have taken refuge in northern Pakistan while keeping civilian casualties down, but a new report by researchers at Stanford and New York University shows that drone strikes may not be as surgical as the Obama administration says.

The report, ‘Living Under Drones,’ does not contain actual statistics as for civilian casualties, but estimates from other sources say that as many as 884 Pakistani civilians may have been killed by American drone strikes since 2004. The drone program and resulting civilian deaths has strained already tense relations between the government and citizens of Pakistan and Washington.

What is the best way for the American military to engage enemy combatants in rural tribal areas halfway around the world? Are drone strikes as precise as the Obama administration claims?


James Cavallaro, professor of law at Stanford law school; director of the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic; co-author of the study ‘Living Under Drones’

Bill Roggio, Managing Editor, Long War Journal; Senior Fellow, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Former embedded reporter in Iraq & Afghanistan

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