Drone war picks up again in Pakistan

Strikes kill dozens more while key drone program architect John Brennan draws criticism as CIA director nominee

Published January 8, 2013 10:55PM (EST)

According to reports, three separate drone attacks in Pakistan's South Waziristan mountains killed at least 17 people Tuesday. The AP reported that eight suspected militants were among the dead in a separate strike in North Waziristan today.

The attacks are the latest in a string of strikes since the new year began. The holiday period also saw a number of drone attacks launched against militants in Yemen after a comparatively quiet period.

Meanwhile, criticism of the U.S.'s drone wars remains fierce at home and abroad. A new study by one of President Obama's former security advisers deemed the drone program counterproductive, "encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent," the Guardian noted Tuesday.

Michael Boyle, who was on Obama's counterterrorism group in the run-up to the president's election in 2008, said the U.S. administration's growing reliance on drone technology was having "adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists."

Civilian casualties were likely to be far higher than had been acknowledged, he said.

Reports estimate that the CIA and the military have killed about 2,500 people with drone attacks. A report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism stated that under the Obama administration between 2008 and 2011 drone strikes killed between 282 and 535 civilians, including 60 children. The number of civilian drone deaths up until now is a subject of upcoming U.N. investigations.

Critics of U.S. drone attacks have raised concerns about the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. Brennan, Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, is considered a key architect of the drone program and the creeping militarization of CIA activity.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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