11-30-2021  5:11 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NORTHWEST NEWS

Attorney General Rosenblum Says She Won’t Run for Governor

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Monday put to rest rumors and officially said she will not enter Oregon’s crowded race for governor.

Portland’s Black Population Grew in the Last Decade, but That’s Not the Whole Story

The Black population in North and Northeast Portland declined by 13.5% over the last 10 years as more than 3,000 Black residents moved away, new numbers from the 2020 census show.

City’s Budget Windfall Means More for Police, Despite NAACP Demands

Group calls out lack of engagement from City Hall.

Oregon Resists Dropping Controversial Investments

Oregon residents are increasingly pushing for the state to divest from fossil fuel companies and other controversial investments, but the state treasury is resisting and putting the onus on the Legislature.

NEWS BRIEFS

Open Enrollment Deadline Is Dec. 15 for Health Insurance Coverage Starting Jan. 1, 2022

Help applying and financial assistance is available through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace ...

Commissioners From Three Counties Select Lawrence-Spence to Fill Senate District 18 Vacancy

District 18 includes portions of west Portland and Tigard. ...

Congressional Black Caucus Issues a Statement on the Passing of Former Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek

Meek, the first Black person to represent Florida in Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction, died Sunday, Nov. 28 at her...

Vsp Global Partners With Black EyeCare Perspective to Eliminate Inequities and Increase Representation of People of Color in the Eye Care Industry

Partnership includes scholarships, leadership development, and outreach to prospective optometrists ...

Shop Local and Earn Free Parking With Parking Kitty

Find the purrfect gift for your loved ones by supporting small businesses and shopping local this holiday season, thanks to the...

Oregon governor calls for special session to protect renters

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With winter coming and federal funds drying up, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday she'll call a special session of the Legislature Dec. 13 to approve state funding for rental assistance and extend eviction protections issued because of the COVID-19 pandemic. ...

Oregon tests voluntary electronic tool to verify vaccination

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon is working on an electronic vaccine verification tool that residents could use to share their COVID-19 vaccination status with businesses that ask for proof of verification. The Oregon Health Authority said the tool would be optional and people...

No. 25 Arkansas beats Missouri, caps best season since 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Sam Pittman grinned for almost the entirety of his postgame press conference Friday night. The Arkansas coach and his team had done something no others ever had. The No. 25 Razorbacks capped their regular season with a 34-17 victory over Missouri,...

Mizzou's Drinkwitz returning to Arkansas for rivalry game

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Just 45 miles of interstate highway separate Eli Drinkwitz from where he started and where he is now as Missouri's head football coach. Raised in the small Arkansas town of Alma, Drinkwitz will come full circle Friday when his Tigers visit No. 25...

OPINION

State is Painting Lipstick on Its One-of-a-kind, Long-term-care Law

Starting in January, the unpopular law imposes a stiff new tax of 58 cents per 0 earned for every worker in the state ...

Giving Thanks

Just by being alive we can be sure of having moments of sadness as well as happiness. When you’re active in politics, you experience both wins and losses. Sometimes it can be hard to feel grateful. ...

Acting on Climate will Require an Emphasis on Environmental Justice

Climate change affects us all, but its effects aren’t distributed equally. ...

Small Businesses Cannot Survive With Current Level of Postal Service

At The Skanner News office we received an important piece of correspondence that was postmarked June 12, 2021, and delivered to us on November 4, 2021. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Attorney: Potter will testify at trial; 4 jurors seated

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The suburban Minneapolis police officer who shot Daunte Wright will testify at her trial, her attorney said Tuesday as jury selection began with potential panelists questioned closely about their attitudes on policing, protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. ...

Black artist Josephine Baker honored at France's Pantheon

PARIS (AP) — Josephine Baker — the U.S.-born entertainer, anti-Nazi spy and civil rights activist — was inducted into France's Pantheon on Tuesday, becoming the first Black woman to receive the nation’s highest honor. Baker's voice resonated through streets of Paris'...

France is inducting entertainer Josephine Baker into its Pantheon, the 1st Black woman to earn nation’s highest honor

PARIS (AP) — France is inducting entertainer Josephine Baker into its Pantheon, the 1st Black woman to earn nation’s highest honor....

ENTERTAINMENT

Home of Marilyn Manson searched in sex assault investigation

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Media storage devices and other items were seized as a search warrant was served on the home of rocker Marilyn Manson in a months-long investigation of sexual assault and domestic violence, authorities said Tuesday. Manson, 52, whose legal name is Brian...

'The Lost Daughter' wins big at 31st Gotham Awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Maggie Gyllenhaal's Elena Ferrante adaptation “The Lost Daughter" won four Gotham Awards including best feature film at the 31st Gotham Awards, the annual New York independent film celebration that serves as a boozy kickoff to Oscar season. Gyllenhaal won...

Review: In memoir, it's good to be comedy king Mel Brooks

“All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show Business” by Mel Brooks (Ballantine) Bagels and Nova Scotia lox for the writing team’s breakfast while punching up the script for “Blazing Saddles.” Earl Grey tea and English digestive biscuits while developing Gene Wilder’s...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Detective: Brothers detailed how Jussie Smollett staged hoax

CHICAGO (AP) — Two brothers arrested for an alleged attack on Jussie Smollett recounted for Chicago police how...

States: Sackler family members abusing bankruptcy process

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge should reject a sweeping settlement to thousands of lawsuits against OxyContin...

3 lawyers readying arguments in high court abortion case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Leading up to Wednesday's major abortion case at the Supreme Court, the justices have heard...

German prosecutors probe alleged tax evasion by tax advisers

German investigators searched offices of accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the homes of current and...

EU draft pulled after Vatican complains Christmas 'canceled'

ROME (AP) — The European Commission on Tuesday retracted internal communication guidelines that had proposed...

Brazil sees 2 confirmed omicron cases, Latin America's 1st

SAO PAULO (AP) — Health officials in Brazil have reported the country's first confirmed cases of the omicron...

Justin Elliott Propublica

Last month, a "senior administration official" said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under President Obama is in the "single digits." But last year "U.S. officials" said drones in Pakistan killed about 30 civilians in just a yearlong stretch under Obama.

Both claims can't be true.

A centerpiece of President Obama's national security strategy, drones strikes in Pakistan are credited by the administration with crippling Al Qaeda but criticized by human rights groups and others for being conducted in secret and killing civilians. The underlying facts are often in dispute and claims about how many people died and who they were vary widely.

So we decided to narrow it down to just one issue: have the administration's own claims been consistent?

We collected claims by the administration about deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and compared each one not to local reports but rather to other administration claims. The numbers sometimes do not add up. (Check out our interactive graphic to explore the claims.)

Even setting aside the discrepancy between official and outside estimates of civilian deaths, our analysis shows that the administration's own figures quoted over the years raise questions about their credibility.

There have been 307 American drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, according to a New America Foundation count. Just 44 occurred during the Bush administration. President Obama has greatly expanded the use of drones to attack suspected members of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and other groups in Pakistan's remote northwest region.

Obama officials generally do not comment by name on the drone strikes in Pakistan, but they frequently talk about it to reporters (including us) on condition of anonymity. Often those anonymously sourced comments have come in response to outside tallies of civilian deaths from drone attacks, which are generally much higher than the administration's own figures.

The outright contradiction we noted above comes from two claims made about a year apart:

* April 22, 2011 McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim "about 30" civilians died in the year between August 2009 and August 2010.

*May 29, 2012 The New York Times reports that, according to a senior Obama administration official, the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under president Obama is in the "single digits."

As we also show in our interactive graphic, other anonymous administration claims about civilian deaths are possible but imply conclusions that seem improbable.

Consider:

* April 26, 2010 The Washington Post quotes an "internal CIA accounting" saying that "just over 20 civilians" have been killed by drones in Pakistan since January 2009.

* Aug. 11, 2011 The New York Times reports that CIA officers claim zero civilians were killed since May 2010

* Aug. 12, 2011 CNN quoted a U.S. official saying there were 50 civilians killed over the years in drones strike in Pakistan.

If this set of claims is assumed to be accurate, it suggests that the majority of the 50 total civilian deaths occurred during the Bush administration — when the drone program was still in its infancy. As we've noted, in the entire Bush administration, there were 44 strikes. In the Obama administration through Aug. 12, 2011, there were 222. So according to this set of claims more civilians died in just 44 strikes under Bush than did in 222 strikes under Obama. (Again, the graphic is helpful to assess the administration assertions.)

Consider also these three claims, which imply two lengthy periods when zero or almost zero civilians were killed in drone strikes:

* September 10, 2010 Newsweek quotes a government estimate that "about 30" civilians were killed since the beginning of 2008.
 
* April 22, 2011McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim "about 30" civilians died in the year between August 2009 and August 2010.

* July 15, 2011 Reuters quotes a source familiar with the drone program as saying "about 30" civilians were killed since July 2008.

It's possible that all these claims are true. But if they are, it implies that the government believes there were zero or almost zero civilian deaths between the beginning of 2008 and August 2009, and then again zero deaths between August 2010 and July 2011. Those periods comprise a total of 182 strikes.

The administration has rejected in the strongest terms outside claims of a high civilian toll from the drone attacks.

Those outside estimates also vary widely. A count by Bill Roggio, editor of the website the Long War Journal, which bases its estimates on news reports, puts the number of civilian killed in Pakistan at 138. The New America Foundation estimates that, based on press reports, between 293 and 471 civilians have been killed in the attacks. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which draws on a wider array of sources including researchers and lawyers in Pakistan, puts the number of civilians killed at between 482 and 832. The authors of the various estimates all emphasize that their counts are imperfect.

There are likely multiple reasons for the varying counts of civilian deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan. The attacks are executed remotely in often inaccessible regions. And there's the question of who U.S. officials are counting as civilians. A story last month in the New York Times reported that President Obama adopted a policy that "in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants."

There are also ongoing debates in the humanitarian law community about who the U.S. may legitimately target with drone strikes and how the CIA is applying the principle of proportionality — which holds that attacks that might cause civilian deaths must be proportional to the level of military advantage anticipated.

In a rare public comment on drone strikes, President Obama told an online town hall in January that the drones had not caused "a huge number of civilian casualties."

When giving their own figures on civilian deaths, administration officials are often countering local reports. In March 2011, for example, Pakistanisincluding the country's army chief accused a U.S. drone strike of hitting a peaceful meeting of tribal elders, killing around 40 people. An unnamed U.S. official rejected the accusations, telling the AP: "There's every indication that this was a group of terrorists, not a charity car wash in the Pakistani hinterlands."

Unnamed U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times last year that "they are confident they know who has been killed because they watch each strike on video and gather intelligence in the aftermath, observing funerals for the dead and eavesdropping on conversations about the strikes."

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said during a visit to Pakistan this month that there should be investigation of killings of civilians by drones and that victims should be compensated. The U.S. has given compensation to victims of airstrikes in Afghanistan but there are no reports of victims of drone strikes in Pakistan being compensated.

Since the various administration statements over the years were almost all quoted anonymously, it's impossible to go back to the officials in question to ask them about contradictions.

Asked about the apparent contradictions, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told ProPublica: "[W]e simply do not comment on alleged drone strikes."

Additional reporting by Cora Currier.

 

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events