The U.S. is killing far more people than intended in some drone strikes, according to a report likely to raise new questions about the Obama administration’s reliance on drones in its battle against Islamic terrorists.
The Intercept, in a wide-ranging set of articles on the U.S. drone program, reported that in one five month-period, nearly 90 percent of people killed by strikes in an operation in northeastern Afghanistan were not the intended targets. The news outlet reports documents detailing Operation Haymaker show that the campaign, that lasted between January 2012 and February 2013, killed more than 200 people, but only 35 were the intended targets.
The White House and Pentagon boast that the program is precise and civilian deaths are relatively minimal.
But documents suggest that in Yemen and Somalia, where American intelligence capabilities are more limited, the percentage of non-targets killed could be even higher.
“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” a source told The Intercept. “[When] a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate. … So it’s a phenomenal gamble.”
The report was based on a cache of secret slides that offer information about the military’s kill/capture operations between 2011 and 2013 and “outline the internal views” of special ops on the shortcomings of the controversial drone program.
Though used by the Bush administration, the drone program has been ramped up significantly by the Obama administration in terror hotspots such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq as part of the fight against terrorist groups.