Andrew Jackson was instrumental in the systematic eradication of Native Americans; Harry S. Truman presided over the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Presidents Johnson and Nixon were both responsible for sending thousands of young men into the senseless meat grinder of Vietnam.
The first two C.I.A. air strikes of the Obama Administration took place on the morning of January 23rd - the President's third day in office. Within hours, it was clear that the morning's bombings, in Pakistan, had killed an estimated twenty people. In one strike, four Arabs, all likely affiliated with Al Qaeda, died. But in the second strike, a drone targeted the wrong house, hitting the residence of a pro-government tribal leader six miles outside the town of Wana, in South Waziristan. The blast killed the tribal leader's entire family , including three children, one of them five years old.
...because of the C.I.A. program's secrecy, there is no visible system of accountability in place, despite the fact that the agency has killed many civilians inside a politically fragile, nuclear-armed country with which the U.S. is not at war. Should something go wrong in the C.I.A.'s program - last month, the Air Force lost control of a drone and had to shoot it down over Afghanistan - it's unclear what the consequences would be.
Using joysticks that resemble video-game controls, the reachback operators - who don't need conventional flight training - sit next to intelligence officers and watch, on large flat-screen monitors, a live video feed from the drone's camera. From their suburban redoubt, they can turn the plane, zoom in on the landscape below, and decide whether to lock onto a target.
Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2001, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nosour Square stoked long-simmgering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company's employees. Americans and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater's ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients woth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.