Moral Low Ground

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Under Obama, U.S. Drone Strikes Deliberately Targeted Rescue Workers and Funerals in Pakistan; Scores of Innocent Civilians Killed

Last week, President Barack Obama defended the clandestine CIA unmanned aerial drone program, admitting that strikes were occurring in Pakistan but denying that large numbers of civilians have been killed in the attacks. He said:

“I want to make sure the people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied. I think that there’s this perception somehow that we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy nilly; this is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities and American bases and so on. It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”

Moral Low Ground pointed out that U.S. drone strikes have killed between 400 and 800 innocent Pakistani civilians, including at least 175 children.

Now a new report from the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has shed more light on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The report concludes that as many as 535 civilians, including more than 60 children, have been killed by CIA drone strikes since Obama took office in 2009. The report’s most shocking revelation is that U.S. drones deliberately attacked first responders attempting to rescue strike victims as well as people attending funerals of suspected militants killed in drone attacks.

Chris Woods, an award-winning reporter with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, appeared on Democracy Now! this morning, where host Amy Goodman interviewed him about the allegations in the new report.

Said Woods: “We noted that there were repeated reports at the time, contemporaneous reports in publications like New York Times, news agencies like Reuters, by CNN, that there were these strikes on rescuers, that there were reports that there had been an initial strike and then, some minutes later, as people had come forward to help and pull out the dead and injured, that drones had returned to the scene and had attacked rescuers. We’ve been able to name just over 50 civilians that we understand have been killed in those attacks. In total, we think that more than 75 civilians have been killed, specifically in these attacks on rescuers and on mourners, on funeral-goers.”

Here is the full interview:

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