Since President Obama’s inauguration, an estimated 2,464 people have been killed by drone strikes targeted outside of the United State’s declared war zones. This figure was posted in February by Jack Serle and the team at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, who have been aggregating drone strike data throughout this period of time.
American drone missions are flown mainly over Pakistan where the C.I.A. wishes to weaken Al Qaeda and limit its movement into neighboring Afghanistan. The use of unmanned drones is seen as a way to minimize involvement and resentment in a country that is characterized by the New Yorker as “unstable” and that is known to possess over a hundred nuclear weapons. While the unofficial drone war for control over the Pakistan-Afghan border ended in mid-2013, the drone campaign continues with five strikes recorded in January 2015, the most since July of last year.
In the month of January, several other strikes were reported to kill at least 45 in Somalia and three in Yemen where a 12-year-old child was among the casualties.
Although corporate news has provided ongoing coverage on drones, individual incidents rarely make mainstream headlines. Independent reporting at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism provides a database of all known strikes, which provides a clearer picture of the scale and impact of the US drone program.
Jack Serle, ”Almost 2500 now killed by covert US drone strikes since Obama inauguration six years ago: The Bureau’s report for January 2015,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 2, 2015, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/02/02/almost-2500-killed-covert-us-drone-strikes-obama-inauguration/.
Jack Serle, “Get the data: A list of US air and drone strikes, Afghanistan 2015,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 12, 2015, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/02/12/us-drone-war-afghanistan-list-american-air-strikes-2015/#AFG009.
Steve Coll, “The Unblinking Stare: The drone ware in Pakistan,” New Yorker, November 24, 2014, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/unblinking-stare.
Student Researcher: Jordan Nakamoto (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)