Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Tell us who was killed in the recent U.S. drone attack.
U.S. airstrikes recently killed over 150 people in Somalia. According to U.S. government officials, all of the victims were terrorists. Specifically, they are said to have been members of al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant group stationed in East Africa. No evidence has been provided to support this claim.
The Obama administration’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles, aka drones, to kill people suspected of terrorist activity was placed under greater scrutiny last year, when The Intercept published “The Drone Papers.” The report, which is based on leaked official government documents, details the inefficiency and illegality of Obama’s drone war.
According to the report, drone strikes carried out in northeastern Afghanistan between January 2012 and February 2013 killed over 200 people, only 35 of whom were actually targeted. In other words, “during one five-month period of the operation… nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.” Who were these unintended victims? Nobody knows; their identities were never published. But it’s safe to assume they were not all terrorists.
This is not an isolated incident. As the Huffington Post reported last year, a December 2013 drone strike in Yemen “killed 14 people returning from a wedding.” Apparently these innocent civilians were mistaken for members of al-Qaeda. An April 2015 headline in the New York Times says it all: “Drone Strikes Reveal Uncomfortable Truth: U.S. Is Often Unsure About Who Will Die.”
Whenever news of a successful drone strike surfaces, the victims are almost invariably described as terrorists who posed a threat to U.S. personnel. We now know to a certainty that this is not the case; that many victims of U.S. drone strikes are innocent civilians who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Demand greater U.S. government transparency by signing the petition below urging President Obama to reveal the identities of those killed in recent attacks.
Many Americans are concerned about the extrajudicial nature of your administration’s drone campaign. Reports have shown that innocent people are often inadvertently killed by U.S. drone strikes. Many of these strikes are carried out without congressional approval and target countries with whom we are not at war.
I was alarmed to read that over 150 people were killed in Somalia last week by U.S. airstrikes. Media reports cite anonymous government sources who assert that all of the victims were al-Shabaab militants, and that all of them posed an immediate threat to U.S. personnel. However, no evidence has been provided to support that claim.
There is one way to settle this issue: greater transparency. I therefore urge you to please release the identities of all of the people who were killed in Somalia as a result of recent U.S. airstrikes. The American people have a right to know.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson