Will America’s Military Reckon with the Reckless Murders Perpetuated by Its Drone Wars?

Whistleblowers throughout America’s War on Terror have warned of drone strikes that have often killed innocent civilians trying survive in war zones.

In a two-part, detailed and heavily covered story that ran over the weekend The New York TimesIt was documented that Washington’s drone strikes were anything but exact. The military repeatedly murdered innocent people, including children. They also frequently failed to investigate the reasons for these mistakes, fail to rectify them and hold everyone accountable.

After Zamari Ahmadi, an aid worker, and nine members of his immediate family, including seven of their children, was killed in an August drone attack in Kabul (Afghanistan), officials from the military first claimed that the strike was carried out by terrorists who were planning to strike the airport while American troops were departing the country. Truth was revealed only after the media investigated the incident. Last week, however, the Pentagon declared that there would not be any discipline for the troops who were involved in the misbegotten strikes. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, stated that “what we saw was a breakdown of process and execution in procedural activities, not as a result of negligence or misconduct. It wasn’t the result if poor leadership.”

A different way of reading that quote is to refer to the enormous TimesAccording to a weekend report, Ahmadi’s family and friends were the perfect illustration of America’s drone program. The drone program has not been used as a surgical tool to eliminate ISIS terrorist leaders or individual cells as Americans keep repeating. These strikes resulted in the military admitting to having killed at least 1300 civilians. This is just the amount of civilians that have been documented by Pentagon reports. Times analyzed. The actual (uncertain) number of civilian deaths due to drone strikes is much higher—between 22,000 and 48,000.

Expect inaccurate accounting from the government. In many cases, the military fails to properly analyze what occurred in its mistakes. The Pentagon has found that only 4 per cent of civil deaths were caused by misidentifications. However, when misidentification of targets is involved in civilian deaths, it only 4%. TimesInvestigating the location of these attacks, we found that nearly one-third of all civilian injuries and deaths were caused by misidentifications of targets.

The Pentagon claimed that it had bombed the Islamic State’s staging areas and trucks in Syria and killed 85 militants during a 2016 strike. In addition to civilian deaths immediately reported, the Pentagon also confirmed the existence of 24 civilians who were “intermixed” with the militants. The Pentagon acknowledged that 24 civilians “intermixed with the fighters” may have been killed. Times went to the village for a thorough accounting, it found that the strike had probably killed more than 120 civilians—and may have killed absolutely zero ISIS soldiers.

The military also found no evidence that the strike was a fraud, as did the analysis done in Kabul. Even condolences were not offered by the military to victims.

One small, but important detail lies deep within the Timesreport: The military has not sent anyone in person to check the validity of strikes. Report: The military does not send anyone to investigate what happened. TimesReports that “Only one of the 1,311 Pentagon assessment visits did the investigators make it to the scene of a strike.” They interviewed witnesses and survivors in only two cases.

The same distant surveillance footage that was used for justification of drone strikes mistakes was also used to analyze the results. There was often no video to examine, so the Pentagon refuted claims civilians were murdered because they had not seen any evidence.

Also New York TimesJournalists spent many years conducting the same investigative work as the Pentagon. This article focuses solely on drone strike reporting in Iraq, Syria and is based upon what Freedom of Information Act requests have resulted in and the lawsuits filed against them. Separate lawsuits are being brought by the newspaper to get drone strike reports from Afghanistan.

Daniel Hale, whistleblower, is currently in Illinois federal prison. He was sentenced for 45 months after leaking documents to journalists showing the problems that U.S. drone strikes pose. You can judge this from the following TimesAccording to the report, Hale’s leaks are just the tip. This is the TimesIt has been proven time and again that drone strikes do not kill innocent civilians, but also fail to eliminate the insurgents they are targeting. This is even under the harsh calculus of innocents being collateral damage. OnlyPeople who are injured or killed.

Azmat Khan was the first person to write a story about how it felt investigating strikes in Iraq, reading Pentagon reports, then reconciling these with actual events. Her piece ends with a 2017 strike in West Mosul (Iraq) The military believed a location—a home—was being used solely by Islamic State militants. The strike was planned by the government, but military surveillance revealed that three children were playing on the roof.

They believed ISIS was producing weapons at the location. Although children were seen in that area, it was decided to strike because of the “military benefit” of eliminating an ISIS site. Three ISIS militants were reported to have been killed, according to Pentagon. However, ISIS-linked media claimed that they actually killed eleven civilians.

Khan went to the spot of the strike to talk to residents. She was informed that eleven members of her family were dead. Witnesses were located and she was able to locate the only survivor. The family denied any connection to ISIS, according to all of them. According to them, there was an ISIS-run bunkhouse just across the street. However it was evacuated before the strike began and wasn’t damaged.

Khan’s sister, who was one of the victims, told Khan she believed that there had been an error. Khan suggested that they may have mistakenly seen an ISIS truck near them or targeted something else. Khan also said that Khan should have known about this possibility. Khan explained to her that military intelligence officers knew all about the children and ordered the strike. The military intelligence officials had decided that the death of children was acceptable as they would gain an edge over ISIS by destroying a weapon facility. However, there wasn’t a weapon facility.

Khan told Khan that her sister said, “But they didn’t gain anything.” Khan said that the only thing they did was kill the children.