Administration officials have also claimed only a couple dozen civilians have died in the attacks, and that the strikes have been helpful in the battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Anecdotally, it has long been clear that people in Pakistan, where nearly all of the drone attacks have taken place, see things differently. The Pakistani media has been critical of the strikes. And Thursday, the Pew Research Center released a study entitled “Concern About Extremist Threat Slips in Pakistan,” that includes data on Pakistani views of drones, and the results are clear. Ninety percent of people in Pakistan who are asked about drone strikes believe that they are killing too many innocent people, regardless of what U.S. officials have been saying about the attacks (see question Q107b).
Experts have already recognized that the strikes have helped Al Qaeda leaders recruit new members and have radicalized people in Pakistan as well as individuals who are from that country and are now living abroad. The Pew study shows that many people in Pakistan believe that they are killing innocent civilians – and offers more evidence that the strikes are hurting U.S. efforts in the global war of ideas.