Trump Doesn't Want Us to Know How Many Civilians He Kills

[Content Note: War; death.]

With all the other daily news about the Trump administration's vast and varied horrors, this story will easily get lost, despite the fact that it's incredibly important.

Greg Jaffe at the Washington Post: White House Ignores Executive Order Requiring Count of Civilian Casualties in Counterterrorism Strikes.
The Trump administration has chosen to ignore an executive order that requires the White House to issue an annual report on the number of civilians and enemy fighters killed by American counterterrorism strikes.

The mandate for the report, which was due May 1, was established by former president Barack Obama in 2016 as part of a broader effort to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding drone operations in places such as Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. The White House has not formally rescinded the Obama-era executive order but has chosen not to comply with some aspects of it.

"The executive order that requires the civilian casualty report is under review" and could be "modified" or "rescinded," a White House spokesman said. The White House declined to say who is conducting the review, how long it has been ongoing, and when it is expected to be completed.

...Former U.S. counterterrorism officials expressed surprise at the Trump administration's failure to deliver either report on time. "It is pretty remarkable that they would simply ignore an executive order that remains on the books and also a statutory requirement passed by Congress," said Joshua Geltzer, a visiting law professor at Georgetown University and former senior counterterrorism official in the Obama administration. "That is just bad governance."

...Even though the White House refused to release numbers, a spokesman wrote in an email that there was no increase in civilian casualties in 2017.

But counterterrorism experts cast doubt on that assertion, noting that there was a big surge in drone strikes in 2017, especially in Yemen, where the United States launched 127 strikes, up from 32 in 2016.

"It's almost impossible to claim that there has been no increase in civilian casualties," said Luke Hartig, a fellow at New America specializing in counterterrorism. "It's hard to look at what we know from public reporting — both the increase in total strikes and reports of civilian casualties — and say that nothing has changed."
To recap:

1. The Trump administration has significantly increased drone strikes, which we have known for six years are "the recruiting tool of choice for militants," yet incredibly claims that there has been no increase in civilian casualties. That is a radically absurd contention. It is almost certainly a lie.

2. The Trump administration refuses to be transparent with the U.S. public about the military operations being carried out in our names.

3. In said refusal, the Trump administration is flagrantly violating an existing executive order, as well as failing to comply with a Congressional requirement for the disclosure of this information.

4. "That is just bad governance," says the Obama-era senior counterterrorism official. Yes, it is. In addition to everything else, the Trump administration's concealment of civilian casualties in their acts of war is also just bad governance.

Any one of those would be a major concern. All four of them constitute what should amount to a major scandal, demanding widespread and sustained attention by the entirety of the political press.

Instead, the political press is largely consumed by the shattering of their own unaccountable credulity that Donald Trump himself wrote a hyperbolic letter proclaiming the undiluted magnificence of his health.

And Trump's failure to adhere to the law is met with a shrug, because, in less than two years, much of this country has come to accept that the President of the United States of America's aggressive contempt for the rule of law is now normal.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus