Powerful Drone Strike Interactive Graphic Paints A Stark Picture

Owen Poindexter
An interactive graphic does what congressional hearings could not: display the deep problems behind the Obama Administration drone strike program.

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A stirring interactive graphic from Pitch Interactive brings to light the stark reality of drone strikes in Pakistan. Click on the link below to see the whole thing.
An interactive graphic does what congressional hearings could not: display the deep problems behind the Obama Administration drone strike program. The program got a wave of attention when a journalist got hold of the Obama Administration's legal justification for the program. Shortly after that, the confirmation hearings of now-CIA Director John Brennan brought out questions on the program from both sides of the aisle. Recently, former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told Chris Hayes that he was instructed by the White House to not acknowledge the existence of the drone program.

Perhaps none of that hits as hard as this animated graphic from Pitch Interactive. The title, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" makes the projects aim clear: make the drone attacks, far away and allegedly only targeting "enemies," more clear and stark to Americans. The project uses data on known drone strikes from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The New America Foundation. It categorizes the casualties of these strikes into children, civilians, other and high-profile targets. So, what can we learn from the Out of Sight, Out of Mind project?
1) Drone strikes have increased dramatically under Obama. It's been pointed out that while George Bush's administration had a fetish for detaining suspected terrorists, Obama simply kills them. From 2004, there were a handful of drone strikes under Bush, one of which killed 69 children. Obama didn't have a single attack that was quite so egregious, but the frequency of his attacks has been staggering.
2) 75% of those killed are classified as "other." That's 2,348 people. The Obama Administration would undoubtedly classify these casualties as being predominantly anti-American militants, but frankly, they've lost credibility here, and there is no good reason to believe them. All we can say with any certainty was that some of those 2,348 were real targets, some were innocent civilians, and will probably never know how many there were of each.
3) If the goal of the drone program is to take out "high-level targets" then it has failed miserably. 75.6% of drone casualties were "other," 17.2%, 535 people, were civilians, 5.6% were children--that's 175, and only 1.5%, 47 people, were "high-level targets." It's hard to know how to think about all of that without knowing more about the 2,348 "others," but the 710 civilians and children deserve a lot more than "war is hard and there are unintended consequences."

We don't, and probably won't ever have the full information with which to evaluate the drone program. It may have decimated some of the worst terrorist organizations in the world. It may have, on balance, saved lives. That said, President Obama, your country has questions for you, and you would do well to answer them.