Two years ago, I posted a letter to President Obama detailing what the Bureau of Investigative Journalism had documented about the deaths and injuries our United States has inflicted on the people of the middle east with our drone weapons. As the Intercept has recently published a series of articles about the drone war, it was past time to post again on this topic.
Reported deaths and injuries
Pakistan 2004–2015 CIA Drone Strikes
Bureau of Investigative Journalism complete Pakistan datasheet
Most recent strike: September 1 2015
Total strikes: 421
Obama strikes: 370
Total killed: 2,476-3,989
Civilians killed: 423-965
Children killed: 172-207
Yemen 2002–2015 US Covert Action
Bureau of Investigative Journalism Complete Yemen datasheet
Most recent strike: September 21 2015
Confirmed drone strikes: 107-127
Total killed: 492-725
Civilians killed: 65-101
Children killed: 8-9
Possible extra drone strikes: 81-97
Total killed: 338-490
Civilians killed: 26-61
Children killed: 6-9
Other covert operations: 15-72
Total killed: 156-365
Civilians killed: 68-99
Children killed: 26-28
Somalia 2007–2015 US Covert Action
Bureau of Investigative Journalism Complete Somalia datasheet
Most recent strike: July 15 2015
Drone strikes: 15-19
Total killed: 25-108
Civilians killed: 0-5
Children killed: 0
Other covert operations: 8-11
Total killed: 40-141
Civilians killed: 7-47
Children killed: 0-2
Most recent strike: October 19 2015
Confirmed strikes: 155
Total killed: 647-940
Civilians killed: 36-94
Children killed: 3-21
Possible extra strikes: 32
Total killed: 168-217
Civilians killed: 0-3
Children killed: 0-2
President International Association of Chiefs of Police
3610 Libra Drive
Orlando, FL 32816-3550
Chief Richard Beary,
A strange thing has happened in the United States in the last few years. A new class of communication devices has become widely available. Video cameras in cell phones and better network access which allow the videos produced to be shared via the Internet. Along with the videos of cats and babies, the American public has been made aware that some of their police officers, sometimes use force, up to and including deadly force: for no readily apparent reason; and that the majority of the people upon whom these police officers use this force tend to be non-white.
It is one thing to see the cold facts about incarceration rates broken down by race. It is quite another to see a video of a black person who is not armed shot by a police officer. Then to hear it reported that that police officer will not even go to trial; especially when that person is a child, as in the case of Tamir Rice. This is what the American public is hearing and seeing. The white majority American public is finally starting to understand the pervasive nature of the institutional racism in our United States which is made manifest in the white supremacy of almost all institutions of the United States. White supremacy that is expressed not only in less opportunity for some persons to succeed, but even for those persons of color to survive. White supremacy that has been in place for the entire history of our United States, that continues to the present, and that many are determined to maintain into the future.
I served in the United States Navy. One of the things I learned was how much the conduct of the members of an organization depends on the discipline the commanding officer is able to maintain. A weak commander allows his/her subordinates to run wild, because that commander has not set the example of conduct that everyone must follow or does not enforce discipline by punishing wrongdoing. The many examples of police brutality and the excessive use of force that we Americans have recently become aware of are a result of this poor leadership. This behavior is permitted in many police departments because some of your fellow Chiefs of Police are not doing their jobs.
As President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, you are in a unique position to talk about these issues with all of those Chiefs of Police across the United States who are responsible for setting standards of behavior in thousands of police departments across the country. The problems with police conduct will not just go away without some effort. Nor should these problems be ignored or covered up as many of your fellow Chiefs of police have largely succeeded in doing for over a century.
You and your fellow Chiefs of Police have a chance to do what is right. We the citizens of the United States have given our police officers every latitude for decades, but the abuses that have come to light must be addressed. Please urge your fellow Chiefs that the time has come that the officers under their commands must be held to the highest standards of behavior. Officers who do not should not be protected from prosecution as they have in the past.
Yours for equality and peace for everyone in our United States,
After submitting The Cross Roads to a couple of publications, and getting some feedback from several readers. I have performed a minor re-write of this story.
I added more footnotes, and rewrote the ending.
The original post has the up to date version at