A new report by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies found that since President Donald Trump took office, the monthly rate of U.S. drone strikes has increased by almost four times former President Barack Obama’s average.
The report also found that the U.S. government has only acknowledged 20 percent of its total reported drone strikes. Moreover, the U.S. admitted to killing between 2,867 and 3,138 people in strikes conducted in countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
“The U.S. government's secretive and expanding use of ‘targeted killings’ and drone strikes since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 is highly controversial,” the report stated.
“For many years, such killings were carried out as part of counter-terrorism operations and in near complete secrecy by the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, and the U.S. Military's Joint Special Operations Command, JSOC, including in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, far from any traditional and recognized battlefield.”
Slamming a lack of transparency, the report also found that the “United States has been consistently and excessively secretive” and that while conducting these drone operations, “the government did not meaningfully explain their legal basis."
Alex Moorehead from Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute told The Intercept, “For years, the only way we knew anything about individual strikes was from media reports or individual statements about strikes from government officials.”
“When we talk about official acknowledgment, we are talking about specific information about individual strikes, which is what matters to people who have had loved ones killed.”
According to The Intercept, Yemen has seen a rise in the number of civilian deaths caused by drone strikes ordered by the Trump administration. A drone strike reported last month in Yemen’s Shabwah Province, for example, reportedly targeted a car with men and several other innocent bystanders that had no existing links to alleged terrorist groups.
But none of this has stopped Trump. Instead, he intends to loosen measures for drone operators, putting a greater number of civilians at risk.
The unwarranted drone strikes are not helping and instead are becoming one of the reasons driving the local people to join Al-Qaida, as The Intercept reported.
Waleed Alhariri, director of the Sana’a Center’s U.S. office and one of the co-authors of the report, told The Intercept, “The drone program in Yemen has inflicted a lot of civilian deaths that have not been investigated, acknowledged, or even taken into consideration by the U.S. government."
“In some cases, weddings have been targeted, which has resulted in a lot of public anger from ordinary people towards the United States and has helped recruitment for Al-Qaida.”