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US Drone War in Pakistan: TV and Online Videos

This database was developed by Maliha Ali '15 at Bennington College, as a resource for fact-checking and archiving the claims, research and data about US drone policy and its impact in Pakistan and beyond.

Case study no. 1: Datta Khel, North Waziristan

Forensic Architecture - Case study no. 1: Datta Khel, North Waziristan

On the morning of March 16, 2011, a jirga was convened at Datta Khel in North Waziristan, to debate the ownership of a local chromite mine. A jirga is a traditional community gathering that meets to resolve disputes. Reportedly at issue was the method of payment of Rs8.8 million ($100,000) for the mining rights. This particular meeting took place in an open field in the vicinity of the Nomada bus station, in Datta Khel’s bazaar. The jirga lasted two days. It consisted of two large adjacent circles of men seated on the ground. These discussion circles were positioned 3.6 meters apart according to one of the witnesses. On the first day of the meeting, a US drone struck in the vicinity of Datta Khel, killing 4 to 5 people. Very little is known about this strike. At approximately 10:45 on the morning of the second day, missiles fired from a US drone struck one of the two jirga circles. Upwards of 43 civilians were immediately killed. The convening of the jirga had been authorized by the Pakistani military 10 days previously and was thus an officially sanctioned meeting. Members of the local tribal police were also present. Surely the drones loitering over the tiny area of Datta Khel for two days must have observed the jirga in action. If so, why was a large community gathering targeted on the second day?

Case study no. 2: Mir Ali, North Waziristan, October 4, 2010

Case study no. 2: Mir Ali, North Waziristan, October 4, 2010

On October 4, 2010, a US drone struck a home in the town of Mir Ali, North Waziristan, in Pakistan, killing five people. One of the surviving witnesses to this attack is a German woman, who lived in the house at the time with her two-year-old boy and her husband. Together with Forensic Architecture, this witness built a digital model of her home, which no longer exists. During a day-long process of computer modeling, the witness slowly reconstructed every architectural element of her house. Placed virtually within the space and time of the attack, the witness was able to recollect and recount the events around the strike.

Case study no. 3: Miranshah, North Waziristan

Forensic Architecture - Case study no. 3: Miranshah, North Waziristan

This case analyzed video testimony smuggled out of North Waziristan, in order to reconstruct the space of the strike and interrogate the event. The video was originally aired by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC on June 22, 2012. This footage revealed a great deal beyond what appeared to be chaotic images of rubble and ruin. In particular, it also shed light on the conditions involved in documenting such violent events in Waziristan.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Drones (HBO) (Sep 28, 2014)

"The question 'How many people have you killed in drone strikes?' is not one of those questions where it's OK to say, 'I don't know.' It's not like asking someone, 'Who was the voice of Disney's Aladdin? or 'What are Skittles made from?'" —John Oliver

Predator Drones and Jonas Brothers (2010)

"The Jonas Brothers are here. They're out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans. But, boys, don't get any ideas. I have two words for you -- predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I'm joking."—President Obama's remarks at the 2010 White House Correspondents Dinner

“Predator Drivers” by One G (2009)

A rap song with two “once upon a time fighter pilots” singing “You know I used to fly in the sky, flying so high, now all I do is sit and cry.”

"Drone Operator" (2014) by Jon Langford

"You'll never know. I'll follow you home."

Obama reflects on drone warfare use (CNN) (Sep 5, 2012)

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative. It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.” —President Obama in an interview with CNN's Jessica Yellin

Exclusive Footage of Damage by US Drone Strikes in North Waziristan (Rachel Maddow) (NBC News) (June 29, 2012)

Rachel Maddow shares exclusive, never before seen footage of the site of an alleged U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, and talks with Amna Nawaz, Islamabad bureau chief for NBC News about the plight of a Pakistani lawyer trying to give voice to victims of U.S. drone strikes.

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TV Ad by Know Drones (Mar 30, 2015)

A 15-second television spot showing horrors of drone attacks, calling on drone pilots to not fly. Produced by KnowDrones.com. Co-sponsored by Veterans for Peace/Sacramento, and Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento.

Former drone operator Brandon Bryant's interview (NBC News) (June 6, 2013)

"Artillery doesn't see the results of their actions. It's really more intimate for us, because we see everything. We see the before, action, and then after. And so I watched this guy, I watched him bleed out.” —Brandon Bryant

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"5000 Feet Is Best" by Omer Fast (2011)

"The film is based on two meetings with a Predator drone sensor operator, which were recorded in a hotel in Las Vegas in September 2010. On camera, the drone operator agreed to discuss the technical aspects of his job and his daily routine. Off camera and off the record, he briefly described recurring incidents in which the unmanned plane fired at both militants and civilians - and the psychological difficulties he experienced as a result. Instead of looking for the appropriate news accounts or documentary footage to augment his redacted story, the film is deliberately miscast and misplaced: It follows an actor cast as the drone operator who grudgingly sits for an interview in a dark hotel. The interview is repeatedly interrupted by the actor\'s digressions, which take the viewer on meandering trips around Las Vegas. Told in quick flashbacks, the stories form a circular plot that nevertheless returns fitfully to the voice and blurred face of the drone operator - and to his unfinished story."