A new report from a British civil liberties organization indicates that drone warfare is far from the surgically precise affair it is often depicted as being. Over the last 12 years, U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have killed as many as 1,147 unknown people in attempts to target just 41 terrorists. Hundreds of those victims were children.
The organization also found that the 41 terrorists were reported dead by the U.S. government an average of three times before their actual deaths, meaning most of the strikes in which the unknown victims died killed zero known targets. Past reports have suggested that the civilians-to-terrorists killed ratio could be as high as 49:1 thanks to the use of "double-tap droning," a technique in which the drone returns after an initial strike to target first responders.
In 2013, President Obama said using drones is "choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life."