U.S. drone strikes in sharp decline in Pakistan
March 27th, 2012
10:09 AM ET

U.S. drone strikes in sharp decline in Pakistan

The past year has seen the number of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan plummet, according to statistics collected by New America Foundation's Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland.  (Bergen is also a CNN national security analyst).   In the first three months of 2012, there were 11, compared with 21 in the first three months of 2011 and a record 28 in the first quarter of 2010.

Bergen and Rowland write that the drone campaign in Pakistan had been slowing even before the deadly border incident that killed 24 Pakistani troops and put a freeze on a significant portion U.S. relations. There were 70 drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions in 2011, down from 118 in 2010, which saw the peak number of strikes since the program began.

Read also: Obama calls for 'balanced approach' to U.S.-Pakistan relationship

Aware of how unpopular the drone strikes were becoming in Pakistan, some top U.S. Defense and State Department officials behind the scenes were pushing for more selective drone strikes, which the CIA opposed.  The White House ordered an evaluation of the drone program during the summer of 2011. The study found that the CIA was primarily killing low-level militants in its drone strikes.

Those results prompted the government to implement new rules in November governing when and how specific drone strikes were authorized. The State Department was given a larger say in the decision-making process. Pakistani leaders were promised advanced notification of some strikes. The CIA pledged to refrain from conducting strikes during visits by Pakistani officials to the United States.

But the new rules are unlikely to placate critics inside and outside of Pakistan, who condemn the violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and the killing of its civilians.

According to New America Foundation data, 7% of the fatalities resulting from drone strikes in 2011 were civilians, up 2 percentage points from our figure in 2010. Over the life of the CIA drone program in Pakistan from 2004 to 2012, we found that the civilian casualty rate has been 17%.

Read more about Bergen and Rowland's study of drone strikes here.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. aboth

    , instead of what you wish I would have said. NCLB has caeetrd an untenable working condition for the teachers where they are being pushed out of their profession with no properly trained replacements to fill their spots. That was not the case in the Fargo School District where I taught, and I think it's a gross exaggeration as well. I can only think of one teacher offhand that was pushed out because of qualifications, and the reason being that she refused to take the summer courses to be qualified. Its about having a working school system that properly educates the children. I agree but in some cases (not the black and white argument that you attempted to attribute to me) the teachers are the problem. There is zero reason to reward an incompetent teacher when (in Fargo's case) there is a huge lot of teachers from which to choose. Of course, my opinion doesn't hold any water against the complex one you've developed from talking to your childrens' teachers . I'm still waiting for any semblence of an argument from you regarding accountability of any kind in school funding. Maybe you should have your kid's teachers tell you your opinion on this one as well.

    April 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  2. canadian

    and the war mongors keep on going and going

    April 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  3. TheLastIndependent

    Here’s multi-million dollar question: Is the drone program slowing down because it have been succeeding and there fewer terrorist targets; there is too much hostility towards the program, in Pakistan and at home; or simply because it had failed? Pending answer.

    March 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply

    condemn the
    violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty
    and the killing of its civilians

    March 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  5. Clinton

    I think it's ridiculous that Pakistan gets furious over our drone strikes when it's their failure to even address the terrorist issues in their country that have forced us to launch these strikes in the first place. Pakistan is not our ally, The US needs to understand that. They are not helping the situation in Afghanistan, rather, they are the only reason that insurgency has lasted for 10 years.... This is not much different than the Viet Cong guerillas attacking the US in Vietnam and running back into cambodia to refit and re-arm... Sadly we are engaged in that kind of a conflict again, albeit on a much smaller scale. I just wish we'd realize it and pull out. We've conquered the Taliban in Afghanistan, they no longer control the Government of that country. Al Quaeda no longer calls it home.... so it's time to leave... and it's been time to leave for years... why are we trying to build a nation in Afghanistan... let them build it, it's time for us to move on.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • john

      Killing anyone in a county that youare not at war with is murder. If you plan who you are going to kill beforehand its premeditated murder.

      March 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  6. mipolitic

    key word DECLINE,

    well so is obamas foreign policy , in which the world leaders who are thugs will thrive.
    omama yesterday asked russia for space and flexibility over re-election concerns , when the most powerful leader in the world ASK A LEADER OF ANOTHER NATION THAT IS SUPPORTING THE MURDER OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN , in sryia something is very wrong!


    March 27, 2012 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • Clinton

      mipolitic – You're pretty naive and your rant here sounds pretty stupid. The US should always engage in diplomacy, it's morons like you that subscribe to the George W. Bush philosophy of diplomacy, where you think everyone has to be a steadfast ally like Great Britain, or they are our mortal enemy. It doesn't work that way, you might want to be at war with half the world but most of us don't want any part of that. If you truly believe in peace you should NEVER fear Diplomacy.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:31 am | Reply
      • agree with russian foreign policy ?

        Clinton, Perhaps , in your post you state , "NEVER fear Diplomacy" may I suggest that yoy head your own words and refrain from name calling in your post , HONESTLY YOU REVEAL YOUR YOUNG AGE WHEN YOU DO SUCH THINGS .

        THE WORD "MORON" MAY BE APPLIED IN OTHER SITUATIONS , BUT NOT IN POLITICS , and the post that you point to as being a rep of George W. Bush is totally wrong as I do not see any mention of Bush or the republican party.

        I have read your post in the past and now it appears you are not the same sensible bloger of the past according to this post.

        March 27, 2012 at 7:14 pm |

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