Rand Paul filibuster: What about civilian drone casualties in Pakistan?
Sen. Rand Paul filibustered over the hypothetical drone targeting of American civilians on US soil. But critics say hundreds of other civilians already are being killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere.
(Page 2 of 2)
In their report titled “Living under Drones,” researchers at NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School found “evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies” including “significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Drawing on the work of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the NYU/Stanford researchers report that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children, while injuring an additional 1,228-1,362 people.
“US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury,” the report states.
“Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities…. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims.”
“Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school.”
"One of the questions we will be looking at is whether, given the local demography, aerial attacks carry too high a risk of a disproportionate number of civilian casualties," Ben Emmerson, the U.N. rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, told the British newspaper The Guardian.
While acknowledging the difficulty of gathering more precise data on civilian casualties caused by drones, the NYU/Stanford study says, "A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue…. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan."
On Friday, Senators Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky and Ted Cruz (R) of Texas proposed a bill that would prevent the use of unarmed drones to attack American citizens on US soil. No mention of civilian casualties – perhaps hundreds of them – caused by US drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.