The news: The United States military's drone strike operations were up and active on Christmas Day. Pakistani officials confirmed that a U.S. drone strike killed at least three suspected insurgents in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday.
The American strike targeted a militant compound in the tribal region of North Waziristan, which the U.S. military believes to be a hotbed for Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity.
It looks like U.S. drone attacks didn't decide to take the holiday off.
Why this matters: It's been an active month for U.S. drone strikes, at least in terms of making headlines. This Christmas Day strike comes less than two weeks after an American strike targeted a wedding party in Yemen by mistake, killing 15 people. Yes, you read that right. An American attack that killed 15 people – mostly civilians, although a few are suspected to have connections with Al-Qaeda – was an accident.
The U.S. is not making any friends as it ramps up its drone operations targeting Al-Qaeda (whether they end up being the actual targets or not). Democracy Now's Amy Goodman in the Guardian notes that American drone strikes have actually killed more people in the months after President Obama called for stricter regulation of drone operations than the six months before his speech.
Pakistan, home to the most recent U.S. strike, plans to bring grievances with U.S. drone operations in its country before the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution on Dec. 18 requiring U.S. strikes to comply with international law. That likely won't change much in terms of U.S. operations, but it means the UN is indeed watching. And if Pakistan decides to bring its complaints in front of a larger audience, U.S. drone attacks may come under even greater scrutiny.
Drone strikes have always been contentious (filibuster, anyone?) and now not even Christmas can put a kink in America's drone attacks abroad. Maybe they really have become the "new normal" for military operations, no matter how many civilians end up dead.