Air Force Stops Releasing Data on Afghanistan Drone Strikes
After facing heavy criticism over the U.S. Military’s use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), the Air Force Daily News reported that the Air Force would be reversing a policy designed to increase transparency by releasing the number of strikes that were carried out each month. On March 7th, 2013, the February summary showed that strike numbers had been removed from the data.
The U.S. Central Command stated that the policy was reversed because the release of the data puts too much emphasis on the airstrikes, which only make up a small percentage of RPA missions.
A Department of Defense spokesperson told the Air Force Times that it was not involved in the decision to remove the reports.
Drones, designed to target militants linked to Al-Qaida in Afghanistan, have been used increasingly under the Obama administration. Civilian casualties from the drones have raised concerns, and the debate surrounding the ethics of drone use has become more intense following Obama’s CIA director nomination of chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, a designer of the drone campaign.
Brennan was sworn into office on Friday, March 8th, following an attempt by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to block the vote. Paul’s filibuster lasted for just over 12 hours as he discussed his fear of drone use against American citizens in the United States.
On the same day, Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), told a South Carolina audience that strikes by American RPAs have killed 4,700 people. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida,” Graham said, according the Patch website
In February 2012, President Obama signed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which allowed the FAA to develop regulations for increased use of drones and authorizes $63.4 billion for the FAA by 2015.
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