MSNBC: No Time for Obama's Kill List?

The New York Times' lengthy report (5/29/12) on Barack Obama's drone "kill list" should provoke serious questions: Is such a program legal? How does it square with Obama's criticism of the Bush administration's "war on terror" policies? What does it tell us about how the administration identifies "militants" who are targeted for assassination? But those questions have been raised only in fits and starts–and are basically absent from the liberal cable news channel MSNBC. In fact, a far more interesting discussion of these questions can be heard on Fox News Channel. It's not all good on Fox, naturally. Host Bill […]


On Drones and Democracy

Yesterday (4/12/12) Pakistan's parliament unanimously voted in favor of a resolution that, among other things, calls for an immediate end to CIA drone strikes in their country. The Washington Post's account of this news included this curious observation: From Washington's perspective, the debate in Parliament was a healthy exercise in democracy but one that is unlikely to affect the drone war. The military leaders of both nations see the drones as efficient and effective in eliminating hard-core Islamic militants that plague both the U.S. and Pakistani armies. I know that the Post is merely conveying "Washington's perspective," but let's think […]


NYT's Anonymous Drone Defenders

There is a big piece in the New York Times today (3/19/12) on the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. And, as has been the case before, the U.S. perspective comes via anonymous government officials: A senior American official in Washington said that the CIA had consistently taken precautions to reduce the risk to civilians, and noted that some strikes had killed Pakistan's insurgent enemies, too. "These efforts have been extremely precise and effective," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the program's covert status. And later readers get this: "The overriding concern is to avoid […]


NYT Public Editor on Anonymity and Drone Story

After our new alert (2/24/12), the New York Times public editor's office contacted FAIR to let us know that Arthur Brisbane responded to readers who complained about one of the articles discussed in the alert. Below is that response, which was emailed to readers. It was not published on the Times' site. Thanks for your message, one of a number I received about this story. I have had an opportunity to ask the reporter, Scott Shane, about it and reflect on the circumstances. On the positive side, I applaud the Times for covering the findings of the Bureau of Investigative […]


LAT: Where's the Drone Deaths Coverage?

A Los Angeles Times editorial (2/7/12) begins: When the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism released a report Sunday claiming that U.S. drone strikes have killed dozens of civilian rescuers and mourners in Pakistan, the American media scarcely noticed. It's a good point.The Bureau's report got remarkably little media attention. A New York Times story (which included an anonymous U.S. official smearing the researchers as Al-Qaeda sympathizers) might be the only story in the mainstream media; the only stories coming up in the Nexis news database are from Antiwar.com (2/5/12) and papers in Pakistan. The report was covered on Democracy Now! […]


NYT Lets Nameless Official Smear Drone Researchers as Al-Qaeda Fans

Not even a week after Barack Obama declared that not too many civilians die in the CIA's drone strikes in Pakistan, a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism finds that "at least 50 civilians" have been killed in rescues attempts, 20 in strikes on funerals, with at least 282 total civilians killed since Obama took office. That much you learn from the New York Times report by Scott Shane (2/6/12): WASHINGTON – British and Pakistani journalists said Sunday that the CIA's drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan have repeatedly targeted rescuers who responded to the scene of […]


Loose Lips Sink Drones

Barack Obama did something yesterday that government leaders tend not to do: He talked about the CIA drone war in Pakistan. This admission–which, it should be pointed out, happened in a Google-sponsored Q & A with the public, not a session with reporters–made it into the papers. The New York Times (1/31/12) flagged civilian deaths as the most newsworthy aspect, headlining a report by Mark Lander "Civilian Deaths Due to Drones Are Not Many, Obama Says." Lander writes: Mr. Obama, in an unusually candid public discussion of the Central Intelligence Agency's covert program, said the drone strikes had not inflicted […]


Time Cheers the Drone War

The new issue of Time magazine promises on its cover "Essential Info for the Year Ahead." One apparently essential report: U.S. drones are awesome. The report–written by Mark Thompson, available to subscribers only explains that a "hot military trend" this way: Today's generals and admirals want weapons that are smaller, remote-controlled and bristling with intelligence. In short, more drones that can tightly target terrorists, deliver larger payloads and are some of the best spies the U.S. has ever produced, even if they occasionally get captured in Iran or crash on landing at secret bases. And also, you know, kill innocent […]


Zakaria and Democracy 'Tension'

In the new issue of Time (12/12/11), Fareed Zakaria writes in the first sentence of his column: It is difficult to find a country on the planet that is more anti-American than Pakistan. In a Pew survey this year, only 12 percent of Pakistanis expressed a favorable view of the U.S. It's not that difficult. The same survey of seven countries found one of them, Turkey, with an even lower 10 percent favorable opinion of the U.S., and Jordan just a hair above at 13 percent. More important is Zakaria's conclusion: There is a fundamental tension in U.S. policy toward […]


Euphemisms and Afghanistan

The lead of an article in the New York Times today (3/23/09): KABUL, Afghanistan – A predawn raid by United States Special Forces that killed five people on Sunday has produced sharply conflicting accounts from the American military and local Afghan officials as to whether the dead were civilians or militants, resurrecting a sore point that has troubled the American-led war here. "Resurrecting a sore point?"For something to be resurrected, it has to have gone away, right?That's not the case with civilian deaths in Afghanistan–nor would most people belittle such suffering as a "sore point." The day before, the Times […]