NEW YORK - Criticizing a conservative US Senator's 13-hour filibuster over the hypothetical drone targeting of American civilians on US soil, an article in an American newspaper posed the question: "What about civilian drone casualties in Pakistan?"
Brad Knickerbocker, a staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, noted that there was no mention of hundreds of civilians being killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere in Republican Senator Rand Paul's marathon speech.
"It was a hypothetical scenario designed to pressure the Obama administration into acknowledging that non-combatant US civilians – however much they might be suspected terrorists – would not be targeted while walking down the street or sitting in a cafe, that the president does not have the constitutional authority to do that," Knickerbocker wrote.
The writer was referring to Senator Paul's filibuster on Wednesday aimed at delaying the vote on John Brennan's confirmation as CIA director.
"Not so hypothetical is the issue of hundreds of other non-combatant civilians – women, children, and old men, mainly in Pakistan – ending up as collateral damage in US drone attacks aimed at those believed to be terrorists connected with al-Qaeda," Knickerbocker wrote, noting that US officials acknowledge killing of civilians as the result of drone strikes.
While acknowledging the difficulty of gathering more precise data on civilian casualties caused by drones, the New York University/Stanford University study says, "A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue… US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan."
On Friday, Republican senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz Texas proposed a bill that would prevent the use of unarmed drones to attack American citizens on US soil. "No mention (was there) of civilian casualties – perhaps hundreds of them – caused by US drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere,” Knickerbocker wrote.