Newly published research indicates that US drone attacks are killing very few valuable targets in Pakistan. Considering the amount of blowback against the United States caused by these very attacks, this data should seriously call into question whether these attacks should be continued.
The Washington Post reports:
CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed at least 581 militants last year, according to independent estimates. The number of those militants noteworthy enough to appear on a U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists: two.
Despite a major escalation in the number of unmanned Predator strikes being carried out under the Obama administration, data from government and independent sources indicate that the number of high-ranking militants being killed as a result has either slipped or barely increased.
In the report, the argument is made that civilian casualties in such attacks are down to six percent. However, based on my research, this claim by the CIA has absolutely no backing, and is based more on CIA guesswork than anything else. We should remember the words of Baitullah Mehsud, founder of the Pakistani Taliban, who said, "I spent three months trying to recruit and only got 10-15 persons. One U.S. [drone] attack and I got 150 volunteers!" (cited article on p. 14)
Along with the cost in human lives of these drone attacks, we also must never forget their economic cost. The amount of money it takes to build, fuel, and maintain an attack drone and its armaments certainly could be put to better use, ideally in the free market, but even in other areas of government as well.