A new interactive graphic called Out of Sight, Out of Mind released by Pitch Interactive, has worked to capture the scale and the human cost of the predator drone strikes in Pakistan in order to bring a new perspective to the CIA's nine-year covert program. According to the Pitch Interactive founder Wesley Grubbs, the goal was "to try and get people to pause for a moment and consider the issue of drone strikes seriously."
And he did just that. The chilling graphic starts off with two simple statements: "Since 2004, drone strikes have killed an estimate of 3,105 people in Pakistan," followed abruptly by "Less than 2% of the victims are high profile targets.The rest are civilians, children and alleged combatants." The graphic then transitions into a timeline, ranging from 2004-2013, with the harrowing death count for each year tallying up on top.
The graphic also comes at a good time. The debate over drones, both abroad and in the U.S., continues to thrive following Senator Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster on that very topic. According to the most recent Gallup poll, the majority of Americans disapprove of using drones in U.S. skies, even if the target is a suspected terrorist. The arguments against the use of the current administration's favorite method of warfare often steer towards the unconstitutionality and immorality of using drones against suspects.
However, a shocking 65% believes that it is okay to launch drone air-strikes on foreign soil against suspected terrorist — despite the growing evidence that drone strikes against terrorists are not only an ineffective and amoral method of counter-terrorism, but are also largely counterproductive. For every one militant that is killed from a U.S. drone, multiple other civilians are murdered, leading to rising anti-American sentiments across all of the countries where drones are used, especially Pakistan.
Moreover, the use of drones anywhere makes a mockery of the all-American belief of justice and "innocent until proven guilty." Only 2% of the victims of drone strikes in Pakistan are proven militants — the rest are civilians (or, as the government likes to call them, collateral damage) and individuals who are suspected of engaging in militant activity (which also could be just about anyone according to President Obama's leaked drone memo.) This kind of ambiguity, according to a study conducted by Stanford and NYU, has left families in the tribal regions of Pakistan terrified of even attending weddings, funerals, and other community events. Avoiding these gatherings is the only way to make sure that a U.S. ground operator does not strike a drone their way, mistaking them a group of Taliban or Al-Qaeda operatives.
American's opposition to drones on their soil is vested in morality and legality, as it should be. But those same standards should also be applied to individuals everywhere, not just in the U.S. Children shouldn't be afraid to go to school and parents shouldn't have to fear that holding their child's wedding will result in the deaths of their entire family. An entire region simply should not have to live under the constant threat of death from the skies.
Hopefully the graphic is successful in changing the minds of the 65%.