Thursday, February 21, 2013

US Senator says 4,700 Killed in Drone Strikes

Revelation by Lindsey Graham marks the first time any US official has given a number for drone fatalities. Graham's office insisted that the senator did not disclose any classified information

From al-Jazeera, Feb 21, 2013

A US senator has said that an estimated 4,700 people have been killed in America's secretive drone war, the first time a government official has offered a total number of fatalities caused by nearly a decade of drone strikes, local media reported.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the drone raids, revealed the figure in a speech on Wednesday in his home state of South Carolina.

"We've killed 4,700," Graham was quoted as saying by the Easley Patch, a local website covering the small town of Easley. "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of al-Qaeda," he told the local Rotary Club.

Graham's office did not dispute his reported remarks, but said that he had not divulged any classified information.

A spokesman told the AFP news agency that the senator "quoted the figure that has been publicly reported and disseminated on cable news."

US officials have sometimes hinted at estimates of civilian casualties, but never referred to an actual total body count.