Obama’s Drones vs. Bush’s Extraordinary Renditions: By the Numbers

The Obama administration’s drone policy has been compared to the CIA-led extraordinary rendition policy on several abstract policy levels, but number of victims is particularly striking. The CIA program had 136 known victims whereas the drone program has an estimated 3,105 victims in Pakistan alone.

Micah Zenko of Foreign Policy digs up important new information about the targeting of victims going far beyond the scope that the Obama administration has been willing to admit to. Zenko writes:

[It] plainly demonstrates that the claim repeatedly made by President Obama and his senior aides—that targeted killings are limited only to officials, members, and affiliates of al Qaeda who pose an imminent threat of attack on the U.S. homeland—is false.

According to Out of Sight, Out of Mind children make up 5.6 percent of victims (175 killed) and civilians make up 17.2 percent of victims (535 killed). “High-profile individuals” make up just 1.5 percent (47 killed) of those killed. In other words, claims by the likes of John Brennan about the “surgical” nature of drone strikes are dubious in the extreme. Zenko concludes by calling for “a comprehensive official history of U.S. targeted killings in non-battlefield settings, comparable in scope and transparency to the government reports about other controversial counterterrorism policies.” That would be a start.

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Rhiannon M. Kirkland

Rhiannon M. Kirkland is an intern at the Washington Monthly.