Drone warfare: top 3 reasons it could be dangerous for US

Is the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone warfare campaign – secretly ordered targeted killings in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia – making America safer? Here are the top three dangers of drone warfare to America, according to new studies.

2. Killing innocent civilians

K. Pervez/REUTERS/File
Activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf hold up a burning mock drone aircraft during a rally against drone attacks in Peshawar on May 13, 2011.

Drone strikes are often described as “surgical” in their precision. But investigations estimate that civilians are being accidentally killed in large numbers.

A new joint study from New York and Stanford Universities, "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma  to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan," estimates from an analysis of public records that as many as 881 civilians, including 176 children, have been killed since the US covert drone program began.

The report also cites an example from Afghanistan, in which two US troops were killed by drones after being mistaken for insurgents.

In Yemen, 8.5 percent of the more than 530 people that have been killed as of this June might be civilians, the New America Foundation estimates.

Analysts often argue that covert drone strikes create radicals, with an unofficial rule of thumb suggesting that each drone strike produces about 10 more terrorists, Holewinski points out.

While such formulas remain speculation, it’s clear that “You see protests in street with people chanting ‘Death to America,’ ” she says.

“Then there was the Yemeni doctor who tweeted, ‘President Obama, if you kill any children with your drone strikes, we will come after you, and we have nothing to do with Al Qaeda,’ " Holewinski adds. “And that creates the kind of environment sympathetic to terrorists.”

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