From propublica.org……………In a lengthy front-page story last week exploring President Obama’s use of drone strikes in countries including Pakistan and Yemen, the New York Times reported that the president had “embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in.” Citing “several administration officials,” the Times reported that this method “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”
Human rights groups and others have expressed outrage at the reported counting method. And in the last few days alone, 27 “suspected militants” have been killed in three drone strikes in Pakistan, including the reported No. 2 of al Qaeda.
“We have never before heard anything quite like the idea that if you have to be in a certain place and you happen to be of a certain age, that in and of itself can make you targetable,” said Gabor Rona, international legal director at Human Rights First and former legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Times story last week, for example, quotes a “senior administration official” claiming that the number of civilians killed by drone strikes under Obama in Pakistan is in the “single digits.” That’s in stark contrast to outside estimates. Independent organizations analyzing news reports and other sources have put civilian deaths from drone strikes from the high double digits in Pakistan alone to the high triple digits including countries like Yemen and Somalia.