Air Force Removes Drone Strike Data from Monthly Report
Out of sight, out of mind, supposedly. Or, at least that's what the US Air Force believes.
Actually, they may have a point about fixation on armed drone strikes, but these machines are killing people in our name. Isn't that reason enough to keep the American people informed?
U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Afghanistan war, said in a statement the data had been removed because it was "disproportionately focused" on the use of weapons by the remotely piloted aircraft as it was published only when strikes were carried out - which happened during only 3 percent of sorties. Most missions were for reconnaissance, it said.
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has increasingly used drones to target against al Qaeda-linked militants overseas.
Civilian casualties from drone strikes have raised ethical concerns and angered local populations, creating tension between the United States and Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Some U.S. lawmakers have also questioned the legality of targeted killings and whether drones would allow the killing of American citizens inside the United States.
The debate was intensified by Obama's decision to nominate his chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, an architect of the drone campaign, as the new director of the CIA.
The Air Force Times said air force chiefs had started posting the drone strikes data last October in an attempt to provide more detail on the use of drones in Afghanistan.
The newspaper said the statistics were provided for November through January, but the February summary released on March 7 had a blank spot where the drone data had previously been listed.
"A variety of multi-role platforms provide ground commanders in Afghanistan with close air support capabilities, and it was determined that presenting the weapons release data as a whole better reflects the air power provided" in Afghanistan, Central Command said in its statement.
Was the report itself "disproportionately focused" on drone strikes or was the reporting of the stats focused too much on the strikes? The press attention paid to drone strikes as opposed to the rest of the report is understandable. What did the brass expect?
The strike data is released after the fact so there's no security issue involved. Just lay all the information out there and let people make up their own minds about the strikes.