- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International suggest in new reports that the United States is making a concerted and purposeful effort to cover up the number of civilians who have been killed in Yemen and Pakistan by drone strikes in recent months.

Human Rights Watch said in The Washington Post that 57 of the 82 individuals killed by drones in Yemen since 2009 were civilians. Meanwhile, another human rights group, Amnesty International, said that of nine U.S.-led drone strikes in Pakistan between May 2012 and July 2013, four of the attacks saw at least 30 civilians killed, United Press International reported.

The rights groups said that information reported in the media about the drone attacks conflicts with eyewitness accounts from survivors and family members, and from one-on-one discussions with government officials.

The reports, due for release on Tuesday, are hitting the international stage just one day before President Obama is due to host Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — an outspoken critic of America’s military drone program — at the White House. On top of that, the United Nations is set to conduct a debate on drone use this Friday, with special attention paid to the issue of transparency, UPI said.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the rights groups’ reports. But Amnesty International was unapologetic.

“The full picture will only come to light when U.S. authorities fully disclose the facts, circumstances and legal basis for each of its drone strikes,” the group said in its report.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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