Chris Woods leads the Bureau’s covert drone war team which has already recorded the names of hundreds of people killed in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia by CIA and Pentagon drone strikes.
By the end of January 2013, the Bureau was able to identify by name 213 people killed by drones in Pakistan who were reported to be middle or senior-ranking militants. A further 331 civilians have also now been named, 87 of them children.
But this is a small proportion of the minimum 2,629 people who appear to have so far died in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. The Bureau’s work suggests 475 of them were likely to have been civilians.
‘At the moment we know the names of fewer than 20% of those killed in Pakistan’s tribal areas. At least 2,000 deaths still remain publicly anonymous,’ said Chris Woods. ‘Our aim will be to identify by name many hundreds more of those killed. A significant number of those identities will be known by local communities, by US and Pakistani officials, and by militant groups. We hope to convince them to share that information.’
Naming people not only gives them recognition and respect but untangles the web of deception and obfuscation in reports about the killings:
In May last year, a CIA strike in Pakistan killed around ten people. While most claimed that a militant training camp had been struck, local sources told the Pakistan Observer that those killed in the Saturday’s drone strikes appeared to be local tribesmen, saying the rescue operation could not be initiated for hours as three to four American planes continued to hover over the area, even after the missiles hit, and the tribals apprehended they might strike back.
This is only one of many instances and to continue to identify the names and status of the dead, the project has secured substantial funding from a UK foundation – but it still needs more.Today the US-based Freedom of the Press Foundation, a crowd-funding organisation aimed at raising money for public interest journalism, announced it is backing the Bureau’s Naming the Dead project. Crowd-funding is an established way of supporting journalism in the US and it is increasingly being used in the UK as a way of funding projects, which established organisations ignore or will not fund. Using the reach of the web, many people (the crowd) are able to give small amounts of money to back a cause or project in which they believe.To make a donation to the project click here. Sign up for email alerts from the Bureau here. .