Code Pink and other peace activists tags a mock drone strike ahead of the NATO summit. (Zach D. Robers/Gregpalast.com)
Why has there been so little organized resistance to drone warfare?
At an October 2011 meeting between Pakistani elders and human rights lawyers, 16-year-old Tariq Aziz stood up to volunteer for a dangerous assignment. The meeting, held in Islamabad by U.K. legal charity Reprieve, sought to expose the impact of drone strikes in the North Waziristan region, and Aziz hoped that by learning to photograph the strikes he could help protect his community.
Three days later, Aziz, along with his 12-year-old cousin, were themselves killed in a drone strike while on their way to pick up their aunt.
Aziz’s determination to document the devastation caused by drones belies one of the most disturbing aspects of their use: U.S. drone strikes are carried out in secret in at least six countries, with no judicial or Congressional oversight of the targets chosen by administration officials. Though a 2011 report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that up to 3,000 people—as many as 781 of them civilians—have been killed in drone attacks since 2004, noncombatant deaths in drone attacks were denied outright by U.S. officials until April of this year, when White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said that they were “exceedingly rare.”