Who's da Bomb?


That’s the headline from NBC News. Here’s the story:

About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as “other militants,” the documents detail. The “other militants” label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security.

The uncertainty appears to arise from the use of so-called “signature” strikes to eliminate suspected terrorists — picking targets based in part on their behavior and associates. A former White House official said the U.S. sometimes executes people based on “circumstantial evidence.”

Three former senior Obama administration officials also told NBC News that some White House officials were worried that the CIA had painted too rosy a picture of its success and likely ignored or missed mistakes when tallying death totals.

Well, there’s the bureaucratic impulse for you in that last detail. Employment figures, trade data, lives — it’s all the same. Just please the bosses.

I was always willing to cut the administration quite a bit of slack with the drone strikes because, hey — war. It’s always been messy and awful and always will be. But if you’re going to fight a shadow war, you have to have some idea of what’s in that shadow before you go launching a Hellfire missile into it. But apparently there was (is?) a strategy of “shoot first, ask questions never.”