Obama apologized for the botched operation, but critics around the country say that the U.S. drone war campaign needs a complete overhaul.
President Barack Obama acknowledged recently that a U.S. drone strike targeting a compound that often hosted al Qaida leaders ended up killing two hostages, one American, near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan — and it’s leading to a firestorm of criticism of U.S. drone policy.
The hostages were aid workers who had been kidnapped several years ago, one of them a 72-year-old man from Maryland who was working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development and had been captured in 2011, and the other being a 39-year-old Italian man who was captured in 2012, according to a McClatchy report.
Obama said on Thursday that he takes full responsibility for the botched operation that ended up killing the hostages despite the many hours of surveillance that had been conducted on the compound, although he noted he had not specifically signed off on the strike.
The strike did kill on of al Qaida’s senior operations commanders, Ahmed Farouq.
The news resulted in an outcry around the country over U.S. drone policy, which has long been controversial. An opinion piece by the Sacramento Bee encapsulated many of those opinions when the editorial board said Obama needed to completely rethink the drone war. The board wrote that it was very concerning that those individuals weren’t being targeted, and that therefore the U.S. had little idea of who is being killed when it sends unmanned aircraft loaded with missiles into these areas.
That suggests a reality where there are “serious flaws” in how the U.S. is fighting the war with drones, and Congress may need to conduct a full review of what the Obama Administration is doing, the board wrote.
The paper pointed out that of nine Americans that have been killed by drone strikes since 2002, only one was actually a target. Although no hostages have ever been killed by a drone strike until now, unintended victims are not a new phenomenon, the paper wrote.