Trump Cancels Drone Strike Civilian Casualty Report: Does It Matter?

Trump Cancels Drone Strike Civilian Casualty Report: Does It Matter?

On March 6, without explanation, President Donald Trump revoked an Obama-era rule requiring an annual public report on U.S. drone strikes, including civilian casualties. This prompted worries: What are they trying to hide? Are they planning something big? Covering up a disaster? As The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf put it, “Trump just gave himself more power to kill in secret.”

These fears are overblown. Not because criticisms of the drone campaign are unwarranted, but because the statistics the Obama administration generated weren’t especially believable. (Though the reporting requirement was in place last year, the Trump administration ignored it.) Obama’s official numbers systematically underestimated civilian casualties and did not disclose the location of strikes.

The drone program, which refers to extrajudicial strikes against suspected terrorists outside of war zones — i.e., Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, rather than Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria — began under George W. Bush and accelerated under Barack Obama. When, in the last year of his presidency, Obama ordered the public disclosure of information on casualties resulting from strikes taken outside traditional war zones, it was the first time the United States officially acknowledged the extent of the drone campaign. But everyone already had a good idea.

via War On The Rocks Trump Cancels Drone Strike Civilian Casualty Report: Does It Matter?