Monday, March 18, 2013

Obama No George W. Bush on Drones

President Obama is reported to have said last Tuesday during a private meeting with the Senate Democratic Conference that he is no Dick Cheney on drones -- and according to data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism he isn't quite George W. Bush either.

The London-based TBIJ reports that under President Obama CIA drones strikes in tribal parts of Pakistan have occurred at a rate six times faster than his predecessor George W. Bush in parts of Pakistan, as of December 2012. That rate was about once every five days during his first term.

From 2004 to 2013, there were 365 drone strikes. Out of those, 313 were under the Obama administration.

Under President Obama, 2,152 people were reported killed, of whom 290 were civilians. By contrast, 438 people were killed under President Bush, of whom 182 were civilians.

Under Bush, more children were killed by drone strikes (112) than under Obama (64) in his first term.

The 300th drone strike occurred under President Obama in early December 2012. The first drone strike to occur under his watch was just three days into his presidency, which is reported to have killed 12 civilians. Ironically, President Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize not long afterward. Submissions for the Nobel Peace Prize were due by Feb. 1, 2009 -- just days into the Obama first term.

The Dick Cheney reference was reportedly a reference to the the lack of oversight under his predecessor's administration.

"This is not Dick Cheney we're talking about here," according to two Senators who POLITICO reports did not want to be named. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is reportedly to have brought the issue to the President, and the President assured Democratic Senators that he's more open to transparency than Bush.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers on both the House and the Senate side of Congress have recently demanded more information from the White House on the administration's drone policy.

Last week, eight House Democrats led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) sent a letter to President Obama asking for more details on the administration's drone policy.

On the Senate side, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) voted against the confirmation of Obama's now-CIA Director John Brennan, for not releasing legal memos pertaining to drones. Rockefeller himself raised the issue in a hearing last week as well, as POLITICO reports.

And of course, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) raised the issue of drones strikes on American citizens in a historic filibuster earlier in March.

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