Droning On About the Drones

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Anti-War activists have it rough when there isn’t an actual war on. With US troops out of Iraq and heading toward the exit in Afghanistan, the left has become pathologically obsessed with drone strikes, those vicious machines of the air who kill, kill and kill.

Anti-Drone hysteria is generally limited to the left and the Paultard sphere, backed by bad numbers and hysterical rhetoric. As in Iraq, their weapon of choice are reports full of bad numbers assembled for them by the locals. A typical example of that is the recent “Living Under Drones” study billed as coming from NYU and Stanford.

Sticking NYU and Stanford on a report makes it sound impressive, but the fine print shows some interesting things.

In the course of the research, the Stanford and NYU Clinics have exchanged information and logistical support with Reprieve and its partner organization in Pakistan, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR). The latter organization assisted in contacting many of the potential interviewees, particularly those who reside in North Waziristan, and in the difficult work of arranging interviews. The Stanford and NYU Clinics designed the research project, analyzed information, and drafted and edited the report independently from Reprieve and FFR.

As Ali Arqam at Let Us Build Pakistan points out

The report also conveniently excludes crucial facts that only the militants and their minders in North Waziristan have access to that area.  As pointed out on more than one occasion by academics and activists like Farhat Taj, the areas being targeted by drone strikes are not controlled by the Pakistani government. They are controlled by the nexus of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and their Jihadi affiliates like LeJ/ASWJ/JM etc. This is why it has been virtually impossible to determine the exact number of civilian casualties.

The only way to gain access to the area is to be a unconscious or unconscious collaborator with the terrorists running North Waziristan.

The NYU/Stanford study is not independent, it’s entirely dependent on data gained through the services of the Taliban. It’s independent only to the extent of inserting the data and analyzing it. But when you have no independent way to gain access to the data, then nothing you’re doing is independent.

The Taliban are highly motivated when it comes to ending drone strikes on their commanders. Fake civilian casualties are one way of doing that.

The Foundation for Fundamental Rights mentioned in the study is a “foundation” created by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer, associated with Reprieve, who represents a man who claims to be the victim of US drone strikes. On his blog, Akbar praises Islamic law.

The FFR facebook page features a poster promoting Imran Khan’s “Peace March”. Imran Khan is pro-Taliban and has said that the Taliban’s war is justified by Islamic law.

Reprieve is a UK NGO run by Clive Stafford Smith, who focuses on helping Gitmo terrorists. Smith joined Imran Khan’s march, along with Lauren Booth, who is an explicit terrorist supporter. Akbar is listed as a legal fellow of Reprieve. FFR and Reprieve have worked together with Khan in North Waziristan.

The Stanford/NYU report was cobbled together using interviews assembled by Reprieve and FFR. Virtually no women were interviewed for the report. Translators and researchers were used for the interviews. The researchers were provided by FFR and Reprieve. There is no mention of where the translators came from.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the report is propaganda manufactured by FFR and Reprieve on behalf of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. And if there is really any doubt about that at all, the following should clear it up.

“I know a lot of people, girls and boys, whose families have stopped them from getting [an] education because of drone attacks.”

That sentence comes from a supposed worried father in North Waziristan, and the section goes on to strongly suggest that children aren’t going to school in North Waziristan because they fear drone attacks.

Indeed it was claimed that a drone attack was carried out on a school for girls… in Taliban territory. In reality, the Pakistani Taliban have bombed schools themselves and those schools that operate do so only under the authority of their warlords.

As this Washington Post story documents, girls in North Waziristan are educated at home, if at all, because of the Taliban.

All Taliban oppose coeducation, and girls lucky enough to receive any kind of formal instruction typically do so in private homes.

What is truly sickening, is that the propaganda report working on behalf of the Taliban who terrorize and murder girls tries to claim with a straight face that girls can’t go to school because of the American drones attacking the Taliban.

Despicable propaganda doesn’t get any more despicable than this.

  • FPF

    The Drone attack is just one of many ways to help the jihadists to achieve their martyr goal. How ridicules they are complaining about it? Didn't Islam law require their martyrdom? If they don't like it, allah will not be pleased. Looks like leftists are having Islamophobia syndrom.

  • Spikey1

    As Saudi Arabia has taught us:
    We all know what happens if a girls school catches on fire and the girls attempt to run out of the building….

  • GadsdenGurl

    No war on? Then what is NATO/US doing to prop up Al Qaeda in Syria, and escalation of drone attacks in Yemen, Pakistan, plus we're still in Iraq… to name a few?