- Sen. Rand Paul pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a recent US drone strike.
- He asked Blinken about reports that the strike killed an aid worker and not an ISIS-K operative.
- “You’d think you’d kind of know before you off someone with a predator drone,” Paul said.
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GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday posed tough questions to Secretary of State Antony Blinken over a drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, pressing the top US diplomat on whether the Biden administration was fully aware of who was being targeted.
A recent New York Times report suggested that the strike, which the US military described as “righteous,” mistakenly targeted an aid worker. Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the strike took out an “imminent” ISIS-K threat.
“Was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?” Paul asked Blinken.
“I don’t know,” Blinken said, adding that the strike was still being reviewed.
“You’d think you’d kind of know before you off someone with a predator drone,” Paul said.
Paul underscored that there’s been a problem with US drone strikes killing civilians under multiple administrations, warning that it leads to “blowback” that serves as a recruiting tool for extremist groups.
“If you killed an aid worker on accident … do you think we’re better off because of that?” Paul said, adding that it doesn’t send a message of strength to the world.
-Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 14, 2021
The US military has acknowledged there are reports of civilian casualties as a result of the strike. But it has not independently confirmed that the strike killed civilians, maintaining that an assessment is ongoing. The Pentagon continues to defend the drone attack.
“The strike was taken to prevent an imminent attack on the airport,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Monday, while also saying that US Central Command is “still assessing the results of that strike.”
Between 4,126 to 10,076 people have been killed by US drone strikes in Afghanistan since January 2004, including between 300 to 909 civilians, according to estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK-based organization that has tracked US drone strikes for years.
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