During the George W. Bush years, the CIA knew that the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan were a haven for al-Qaida and the Taliban. And yet the CIA once went eight months without bombing these regions with its unmanned drones, for fear of reprisal from the locals.
Contrast that with President Barack Obama. Last month, these same unmanned planes bombed five targets a week in tribal Pakistan. The attacks, the U.S. government argues, are working; reports have shown that al-Qaida's senior management in Pakistan has basically been wiped out, including one of Osama bin Laden's sons and the terrorist who orchestrated the Heathrow bombing plot. But many Pakistanis hate the U.S. involvement and counter that the majority of the dead are civilians.The Pakistani media reported that 700 civilians died from drone attacks in 2009 alone.
James L. Harper Jr, AFP / Getty Images
Unmanned drones like this Air Force MQ-9 Reaper bombed five targets a week in Pakistan last month.
If that's the case, then Brian Williams' study should, well, shock and awe. Williams is a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and the author of a work, out this month, that argues that the civilians in these tribal regions actually favor the drone attacks.