“The only people that we fire on are confirmed terrorist targets, at the highest levels, after a great deal of vetting,” Kerry told a group of young people at the University of Addis Ababa.
“I am convinced that we have one of the strictest, most accountable and fairest programs,” Kerry said. The United States is the only nation known to operate killer drones against foreign targets.
“We do not fire when we know there are children or collateral,” civilians, Kerry said. “We just don’t. We have absolutely not shot at high-level targets when we have seen that there are people there.”
There are really only two possibilities. The first is that despite the US’s insistence that it refuses to launch a drone attack unless there is near certainty that civilians will not be killed, it actually applies the much less strict principle of proportionality that is at the heart of IHL. The second is that the US does, in fact, apply the near-certainty standard — but is just really, really bad at targeting, routinely mistaking civilians for combatants (at weddings and funerals, during rescue missions, and so on).
I’m not sure which possibility is more disturbing.