Apr 18, 2013

'Bugsplats': civilian death count from U.S. drone strikes

Some child casualties of covert US drone war

The Pakistan government has  released its figures for civilian casualties of American drone strikes. The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that CIA drones have killed at least 2,200 people in the country, including at least 400 civilians. Around 600 have received serious injuries. In addition Islamabad believes that some 200 of the total of those killed are likely to be civilians also.

As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism notes this figure is close to their own "low range estimate" of 411 civilians killed.

Pakistani officials met with Ben Emmerson QC, UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism. He is investigating "the legal and ethical framework" of drone strikes. After visiting Pakistan Emmerson released a statement that said in part:

The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear. It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers it to be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As a matter of international law the US drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Emmerson further added that: ‘Pakistan has also been quite clear that it considers the drone campaign to be counter-productive and to be radicalising a whole new generation, and thereby perpetuating the problem of terrorism in the region.’

There has been a lot of buzz about a new online Infographic - Out of Sight, Out of Mind - that provides a powerful visual accounting of total deaths in Pakistan caused by drone strikes. The estimates it uses come from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and New America Foundation.

Those who advocate for the drone program as an important counter-terrorism strategy have it badly wrong. Whatever progress they think they are making pales beside the backlash they are creating. It isn't possible to trample over state sovereignty, flaunt international law and kill large numbers of civilians without stoking a powerful backlash. That backlash is well underway with high anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and increasing radicalization.

The strategy used in this covert war is fraught with legal and ethical issues. A tactic called the "double tap" strike involves the use of a follow-up strike or strikes after the initial target has been hit. I discussed the use of the double tap in an earlier post - here.

The callous and inhumane attitude of those involved in these operation can be summed up by the use of the term "bugsplat" in describing drone hits. The term dehumanizes the people at the receiving end of the attacks, reducing them to little more than insects in the eyes of the operators.

The trauma experienced by civilians in the target areas is extreme and has resulted in associated psychological issues.

The number of children killed by drones has been steadily mounting. Here is a list of children killed compiled from Bureau of Investigative Journal reports:

 Noor Aziz | 8 | male; Abdul Wasit | 17 | male; Noor Syed | 8 | male; Wajid Noor | 9 | male; Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male; Ayeesha | 3 | female; Qari Alamzeb | 14| male; Shoaib | 8 | male; Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male; Tariq Aziz | 16 | male; Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male; Maezol Khan | 8 | female; Nasir Khan | male; Naeem Khan | male; Naeemullah | male; Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male; Azizul Wahab | 15 | male; Fazal Wahab | 16 | male; Ziauddin | 16 | male; Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male; Fazal Hakim | 19 | male; Ilyas | 13 | male; Sohail | 7 | male; Asadullah | 9 | male; Khalilullah | 9 | male; Noor Mohammad | 8 | male; Khalid | 12 | male; Saifullah | 9 | male; Mashooq Jan | 15 | male; Nawab | 17 | male; Sultanat Khan | 16 | male; Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male; Noor Mohammad | 15 | male; Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male; Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male; Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male; Abdullah | 18 | male; Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male; Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male; Shahbuddin | 15 | male; Yahya Khan | 16 |male; Rahatullah |17 | male; Mohammad Salim | 11 | male; Shahjehan | 15 | male; Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male; Bakht Muneer | 14 | male; Numair | 14 | male; Mashooq Khan | 16 | male; Ihsanullah | 16 | male; Luqman | 12 | male; Jannatullah | 13 | male; Ismail | 12 | male; Taseel Khan | 18 | male; Zaheeruddin | 16 | male; Qari Ishaq | 19 | male; Jamshed Khan | 14 | male; Alam Nabi | 11 | male; Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male; Rahmatullah | 14 | male; Abdus Samad | 17 | male; Siraj | 16 | male; Saeedullah | 17 | male; Abdul Waris | 16 | male; Darvesh | 13 | male; Ameer Said | 15 | male; Shaukat | 14 | male; Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male; Salman | 12 | male; Fazal Wahab | 18 | male; Baacha Rahman | 13 | male; Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male; Iftikhar | 17 | male; Inayatullah | 15 | male; Mashooq Khan | 16 | male; Ihsanullah | 16 | male; Luqman | 12 | male; Jannatullah | 13 | male; Ismail | 12 | male; Abdul Waris | 16 | male; Darvesh | 13 | male; Ameer Said | 15 | male; Shaukat | 14 | male; Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male; Adnan | 16 | male; Najibullah | 13 | male; Naeemullah | 17 | male; Hizbullah | 10 | male; Kitab Gul | 12 | male; Wilayat Khan | 11 | male; Zabihullah | 16 | male; Shehzad Gul | 11 | male; Shabir | 15 | male; Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male; Shafiullah | 16 | male; Nimatullah | 14 | male; Shakirullah | 16 | male; Talha | 8 | male

YEMEN

Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female; Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female; Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female; Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female; Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male; Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male; Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female; Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female; Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female; Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female; Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male; Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female; Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female; Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female; Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female; Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male; Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female; Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female; Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male; Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male; Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female; AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male; Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male; Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male; Nasser Salim | 19