The White House was forced to concede on Thursday that it killed two innocent hostages – one American, one Italian – in a drone strike that targeted an al-Qaida compound despite officials not knowing precisely who was in the vicinity.

The deaths of Dr Warren Weinstein, a US government aid worker, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker, who were being held captive in the Afghanistan and Pakistan border region, have placed unprecedented pressure on Barack Obama’s secret program of targeted drone killings.

They mark the first time a US drone strike has inadvertently killed innocent hostages, and have forced the Obama administration to disclose an unprecedented amount of information about what would typically be a highly classified operation.

Among the most startling admissions was the fact the drone strike was authorized by a senior counter-terrorism official without any specific information about who was in the immediate area, which had merely been identified as a compound frequented by al-Qaida leaders.

Hours after Obama personally expressed his “profound regret” over the deaths, and announced an immediate review of the operation, his press secretary, Josh Earnest, said the victims’ families would be compensated, and gave unprecedented details about the intelligence that led to the operation.

Earnest said the compound was targeted based on “near-certain” intelligence that indicated it was being frequented by at least one al-Qaida leader, and that no civilians were in the area. Earnest said the review may raise “legitimate questions” that would force the administration to change its protocols for such operations. .. see more

source: Guardian Uk