via Lobe Log

The US’s Acting Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland disclosed the information in an exchange with a number of American activists and journalists against the US’s undeclared drone war waged primarily in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of the country.

The US Government has not published casualty lists for Pakistanis reported killed and wounded by drone strikes. A similar policy of non-disclosure is present with respect to US operations in Yemen and Somalia.

Available information on Pakistani drone casualties comes from investigative reports produced with the assistance of local NGOs. But according to Robert Naiman, the Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy, Amb. Hoagland offered a rare public acknowledgement of the program itself and civilian casualties:

“Well, first of all, for the numbers, to be very honest, I looked at the numbers before I came here today, and I saw a number for civilian casualties that officially — U.S. government classified information — since July 2008, it is in the two figures, I can’t vouch for you that that’s accurate, in any way, so I can’t talk about numbers. I wanted to see what we have on the internal record, it’s quite low.”

Amb. Hoagland did not discuss how the Obama Administration compiles the internal record. The New York Times, in a wide-ranging article from this past summer citing several dozen past and present government officials, revealed that “[t]he CIA often counts able-bodied males, military-age males who are killed in strikes as militants, unless they have concrete evidence to sort of prove them innocent.” Though Pakistan’s foreign minister recently criticized the drone program, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Government of Pakistan “authorizes” the strikes by not responding either in the affirmative or the negative to CIA memos sent to Islamabad detailing planned operations in FATA.