(Un)happy new year and new fatalities

 

 

Casualty statistics are notoriously difficult to verify and the fatalities from drone strikes and targeted killings are especially fraught with complications, both methodologically and politically (how do we get the data?; how do we know who was killed and why? how do we represent the data?, etc.). The well known sources for targeted killing casualty statistics are, of course, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (who also and importantly name the dead), the Long War Journal and the New America Foundation. I say ‘of course’, but I am still struck by how little publics in (at least) the U.K., U.S., Canada and Israel  know about these strikes beyond war’s borders…

In January 2013 – very nearly a year ago – the Council on Foreign Relations released a report that “called on President Obama to reform U.S. targeted killing policies in non-battlefield settings.”  That report included a chart that estimated the number of strikes, total fatalities, and civilian fatalities from the first U.S. targeted killing on November 3, 2002, through the end of 2012. Today, CFR’s Micah Zenko writes with news of an updated chart which shows statistics through to the end of 2013 (that is, if the CIA and Obama  don’t get up to anything in the next few hours).  The statistics are an average taken from the estimates of those sources listed above and although they do not settle the debate on ‘how many?’, the chart perhaps  represents a growing consensus that the casualty count, especially the civilian count, is much higher than the Obama administration (and, for that matter the Pakistani government) would have us believe.

 

Drone Strikes Aggregate

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