by Olga Yazhgunovich
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Jul 31, 2013
A new study has found that the use of drones in Afghanistan resulted in 10 times more civilian deaths than manned aircraft. The research by Larry Lewis from the Center for Naval Analyses, and Sarah Holewinsk of the Center for Civilians in Conflict was based on classified military data about the number of civilian deaths caused by drones as opposed to manned fighter aircraft.
Lewis and Holewinsk examined the manned and unmanned strikes that occurred in Afghanistan between mid 2010 and mid 2011, when up to 10 bombing missions a day were conducted. This was double the previous rate seen during Gen. Stanley McChrystal's time as Commander of U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces, whose strategy had been to limit air strikes to avoid civilian casualties and the subsequent outrage from the local population.
"The US government has described drone airstrikes in operations outside declared theaters of armed conflict as surgical and causing minimal civilian casualties," the survey says. "Analysis of air operations in Afghanistan, combined with a review of open-source reports for drone strikes in Pakistan, suggest that these fell short of intended goals."
In an earlier address last year, President Obama said drones had "not caused a huge number of civilian casualties" and insisted "this thing is kept on a very tight leash."
An August 2011 report from the UK's Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that US-led drone strikes in Pakistan have caused upwards of 775 civilian deaths, with total casualties being at least 40 percent higher than what the US government previously reported.
This February, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said the number of total kills attributed to US drones is close to 5,000.
"We've killed 4,700," the senator said, "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of al-Qaeda."
"These findings show us that it's not about the technology, it's about how the technology is used," said Holewinski. "Drones aren't magically better at avoiding civilians than fighter jets. When pilots flying jets were given clear directives and training on civilian protection, they were able to lower civilian casualty rates."
Meanwhile, The Federal Aviation Administration warned on Friday that attempting to shoot down drones is punishable by fine and/or prosecution. The warning was a response to an ordinance under consideration in the small Colorado community of Deer Trail, which would distribute drone-hunting permits to encourage defense of the town against unwarranted surveillance.
The permits would be applicable to any drone incursion (belonging to the U.S. government, a corporation, terrorists, or anyone else) into the sovereign airspace of the town, defined as reaching an altitude of 1,000 feet.
Its author, Phillip Steel, says that airspace over Deer Trail is sovereign and if drones enter this space it will be classified as an act of war against people of Colorado. Government, corporation and anti-terrorist drones are allowed. The ordinance is to protect airspace over the town and shield it from illegal surveillance, which, Steel claims, violates 4 Amendment.
"Obama himself conducts acts of war against the rights of Americans," Steel said, calling drones malicious and illegal.
Source: Voice of Russia
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