As questions continue to grow about the Obama Administration’s January drone strike in Pakistan, which killed a pair of Western hostages, officials are now admitting that the 2013 restrictions on drone strikes were civilians might be present likely would’ve prevented the killings.
Instead, while officials talked up serious restrictions on the drone campaign, President Obama also exempted all strikes in Pakistan, the primary target of the drone war, in making the rules.
Officials apparently argued at the time that more “flexibility” was needed when they were attacking targets in Pakistan, as often they had no clue who they were killing in such strikes, and needing to know that would’ve made the war less convenient.
This is in keeping with administration policy elsewhere, as similar attempts to tamp down civilian killings in airstrikes saw Syria exempted from the restrictions, to allow more attacks on ISIS territory, irrespective of the danger to civilians therein.
The rules apply broadly in places where attacks aren’t taking place, and when the administration wants to ratchet up the death toll, they quickly throw those rules aside.