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Leaked ‘Drone Papers’ Reveal 90% of People Killed in U.S. Drone Strikes are Innocent Civilians

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“It’s stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people. And it isn’t until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot target, you wind up realizing it was his mother’s phone the whole time,” the intelligence whistleblower told The Intercept.

“This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong.”

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The source claims that the digital data gathered from cell phones and emails are the primary tools used by the military to find, fix, and finish its targets, and says that relying on such tactics “require an enormous amount of faith in the technology that you’re using.”

The report makes it clear that bad intelligence has gotten many innocent people killed in drone attacks, including U.S. civilians.
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The documents reveal that the U.S. government has intentionally labeled people killed in drone strikes as enemy combatants, even though they were in no way intended to be the target of the strike, and have no relation to the operation.

The actions by the government are intended to mask the actual extent of civilians being killed by the U.S. drone program.

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Following the publication of the report, Amnesty International has called on the U.S. Congress to start “an immediate independent inquiry into the Obama administration’s drone strikes overseas.”

“These documents raise serious concerns about whether the USA has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as ‘combatants’ to justify their killings,” Naureen Shah, Director of Security with Human Rights at Amnesty International USA said.

Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has come out to condemn the U.S. drone assassination program after the revelations by the Intercept, stating that “the Obama administration’s lethal program desperately needs transparency and accountability because it is undermining the right to life and national security.”

“A review of the lethal force program must be transparent and include disclosure of the United States’ compliance with its legal obligations,” Hina Shamsi of the ACLU’s National Security Project said. “These eye-opening disclosures make a mockery of U.S. government claims that its lethal force operations are based on reliable intelligence and limited to lawful targets.”

It’s important to keep in mind that these foreign countries don’t hate us for our “freedom.” They hate us for killing their innocent mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters as they sleep.

Unless the U.S. reigns in its imperialistic war machine, expect the blowback from our interventionist policies to continue.


Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs.

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