This morning David Greene introduces another drone attack story by claiming that the "US has struck again at militants near the border with Afghanistan. The American airstrikes yesterday killed at least 45 militants...." Greene then turns things over to Julie McCarthy who says, "The details of the assault on the remote tribal area of South Waziristan - known as Pakistan's badlands - are still emerging, but local media report that dozens of militants were killed when three drone missiles were fired on Taliban fighters as they gathered for a funeral of fellow militants."
There are a few problems with Greene and McCarthy's reporting. Despite the heavy civilian toll of past drone attacks, Greene asserts as fact that "at least 45 militants" were killed. So where is the evidence? How does he know any of them were "militants." McCarthy notes that details "are still emerging," but that doesn't stop her from claiming that "local media report that dozens of militants were killed," that they were "Taliban fighters," and that it was a "funeral of fellow militants." So what local media is McCarthy referring to, and just how were the dead identified as "Taliban fighters"?
It's interesting to look at other reports of the same attack. According to the BBC
"At least 43 people have died in missile strikes by a US drone aircraft in a militant stronghold of Pakistan, a Taliban spokesman has told the BBC."Pretty basic journalistic practice. "People" get killed, and the allegations are sourced. The Guardian goes even further noting that "one local security official, who could not be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media, said that more than 60 had died of whom 'half are civilians'." Civilians? What do you know, another detail that NPR somehow missed.
In addition to the factual vagaries of the report, Greene and McCarthy's casual attitude about unmanned killing machines and attacks on a funeral is really disturbing. So now it's acceptable military practice to bomb funerals? It's telling that when the word is torture NPR is concerned about "the fact that torture is illegal under U.S. law and international treaties," but when they are using language favorable to the US military there is no such concern.