According to a U.N. report published last week, U.S. drone strikes have killed roughly 40 Yemeni civilians in the past year. The figure is 60% greater than the number of civilians killed by al Qaeda in that same period. al Qaeda is reportedly responsible for 24 civilian deaths.
The government’s ongoing drone strikes in Yemen are little-known to the general American public. Many Americans still believe the U.S. military is only involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. In reality, the military is running offensive operations in Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in the region.
The data comes from the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights (OHCHR), which compiled statistics stretching from July 1, 2014 to June 30 of 2015.
According to the report, “OHCHR received reliable information indicating that as many as 40 civilians, including a child, may have been killed during the period under review as a result of drone attacks in Al-Baida, Al-Jawf, Marib and Shabwah.”
Journalist Chris Woods of Airwars told VICE News he believes many of the U.S. attacks are indiscriminate and have a high risk of civilian casualties.
“The drone ops we tend to see in places like Yemen, I am absolutely sure they are using a different rule book because they are counter-terrorism targets and they’re deemed to be higher value targets. That places civilians at greater risk on the ground. We see more civilians killed when it’s counter-terrorism ops because the targets are deemed as a threat to the US homeland and, therefore, there’s a greater tolerance of collateral damage,” Woods said.
“The UN numbers are deeply worrying. Time and again we find that civilian casualties on the ground are completely counterproductive to America’s long-term strategic interests in the region,” he added.
Sadly, the death toll on record could actually be far lower than the actual kill count due to the fact that many civilians are classified as militant when they are reported.
Whenever the corporate media releases a story about drone attacks, they typically use the word “militant” to describe the victims. This label implies the victims are not civilians or are somehow involved in terrorism or violent military activities.
This is a deception.
In 2013, the Obama administration redefined “militant” to mean “military-aged male.” This way, nearly any male murdered by drone strike is considered a violent enemy — at least in the eyes of the general population.
This is just another tactic in a powerful propaganda campaign that shields the American people from the harsh realities of war and perpetual imperialism.
Considering the power of establishment language and the media’s willingness to perpetuate it, it is even possible this Orwellian-speak has affected the reported statistics regarding civilian deaths, though such a possibility was not specifically noted in the report.