Civilians rather than the intended terror targets bore the brunt of US drone strikes, reveal Snowden-like leaks published by an investigative news site. The American military's targeted killing programme became infamous in Africa, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Touted as an "unprecedented glimpse into Obama's drone wars", the news site The Intercept unveiled what it calls "Drone Papers" offering an inside view of the US's much-scrutinised drone programmes. The top-secret cables were obtained from a whistleblower, who not only remains anonymous but also offered his/her reactions to the US actions.
According to the exposé, only 35 of some 200 people killed were the intended targets between January 2012 and February 2013 in northeastern Afghanistan. This claim is markedly different from the White House's routine assertions.
The US government lobbies for drone attacks insisting they hit precise targets. The source, nevertheless, added that not all unintended killings are innocent civilians but are not identified in intelligence reports.
The documents also reveal that the chain of command starts with the Joint Special Operations Command task force and eventually goes up to President Barack Obama. The source told The Intercept: "This outrageous explosion of watch-listing — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them 'baseball cards,' assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong. We're allowing this to happen. And by 'we,' I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it."
American authorities have not commented on the reports, which also reveal the US's far-reaching military outposts in African nations Djibouti, Ethiopia, Chad and Kenya which are often used as launching pads for strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles. In certain regions, both the CIA and the US military are also claimed to have been engaged in "intense turf war" while conducting drone-based assassination programmes.