The story in today’s New York Times by Salman Masood and Pir Zubair Shah on the latest drone strike in Pakistan whitewashes the killing of children and tribal elders in an earlier airstrike:
“The increased aerial strikes come as Pakistani military is gearing up for an ambitious offensive against Mr. Mehsud and his fighters, who number in the thousands. The mountainous region where they areentrenched is considered one of the most difficult terrains for conventional warfare.
“American drone strikes have recently focused on Mr. Mehsud, and he had a close call late last month when an aerial strike struck a village shortly after he had left a funeral.
“Publicly, Pakistani officials have been critical of the drone strikes, citing them as a breach of the country’s sovereignty. But privately, Pakistani officials acknowledge the utility of such attacks, especially when militants are targeted with few civilian casualties.”
This sloppy report’s characterization of the late-June drone strike on a funeral which targeted Meshud leaves out the fact that it killed 40 low-level militants, 35 local villagers, which included 10 children between the ages of 5 and 10 plus four local tribal elders. The omission is particularly glaring considering the next paragraph’s discussion of the attacks’ utility when they involve “few civilian casualties.”
The simple fact is that as of late May, drone strikes in Pakistan killed “780 civilians and about 50 alleged terrorists.”
Come on, New York Times. Get it together. Your readers need and expect news, not card-stacking propaganda.
UPDATE (7/7/09): Masood, Shah and the Times did it again today.