Posts Tagged ‘Pir Zubair Shah’

The New York Times again referenced the utility of drone strikes in Pakistan when they “avoid civilian casualties” while failing to mention that the overwhelming majority of people killed by U.S. drones in that country are civilians. Again, from a piece by Salman Masood with Pir Zubair Shah contributing:

Publicly, Pakistani officials have been critical of the drone strikes, calling them a breach of the country’s sovereignty. But privately, Pakistani officials acknowledge that the attacks are useful if they avoid civilian casualties and strike militants.

This is a copy-and-paste paragraph from yesterday’s story, which described a drone strike on a funeral in late June without mentioning that it killed 35 non-combatant local villagers, which included 10 children between the ages of 5 and 10 plus four local tribal elders.

Nowhere in this more recent story does Masood clarify that, copy-and-paste un-cited heresay notwithstanding, most people killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan are civilians: as of late May, drone strikes in Pakistan killed “780 civilians and about 50 alleged terrorists.”

I’ll repeat what I said yesterday: “news” stories that reference the utility of drone strikes that avoid civilian casualties–while failing to report that drones kill more than 15 civilians for every one suspected militant–are propaganda pieces. Times readers deserve better than this.

For more on the U.S. media’s inability to come to terms with the bloody costs of our country’s policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, see this excellent piece at TomDispatch.

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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.