On Friday’s TRMS, Rachel Maddow spoke to NBC News Islamabad Bureau Chief Amna Nawaz about a growing controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s counter-terrorism program – its drone strikes in Pakistan.
“For nine years the US has been killing people using remote-piloted aircraft in the nuclear-armed, fairly unstable, rabidly anti-American nation of Pakistan. President Bush started this policy but President Obama has tripled down on it. The Obama administration did finally admit to the fact that we are doing this in year nine of the policy, just last month,” said Maddow.
The US has staged 300 strikes in Pakistan since 2004, and questions surrounding the casualty tally are racking up. Anger against the US is growing across Pakistan, with anti-drone rallies also gaining momentum. Maddow shared never-before-seen footage of damage caused by a US drone strike and asked Nawaz about her recent interview with anti-drone Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar earlier this week.
Akbar represents the families of civilian victims of drone strikes in Islamabad. He explained to Nawaz:
“The problem is that no one cares if ‘nobody’ is killed, and by ‘nobody,’ I mean a person who is nobody. A person who is probably just living in that area, has no money, no education, no representation,” he said. “The point here is that if we are successful in killing one or two people who we really want to kill, in order to do that we kill 40 people – who cares? And this is a sad kind of attitude we have from the American government and unfortunately from my own government."
Nawaz says that’s how the fight to eradicate terrorists may end up creating more. She told Maddow:
“We know that [the Obama administration] thinks this is a program that’s working, we know that the top commanders in al-Qaeda that they’ve been trying to go after, they’ve been able to knock them off, that leadership in al-Qaeda has basically been decimated as a result of this. But they are playing a bit of a game with this. Privately, anonymously officials will tout successes of this program, but publicly they will not go into the details of much of the program.”
So far, the CIA has declined to comment. Check out a map of the DoD’s current and future U.S. drone activities here.