ACLU Statement on Trump Administration’s Release of Official Civilian Casualty Report

June 1, 2018 6:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration today submitted to Congress a report revealing how many civilian casualties it believes resulted from U.S. military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The administration provided a classified version of the report to Congress and made public an unclassified version.

The Department of Defense’s report estimates that military operations in the first year of the Trump administration have killed approximately 499 civilians and injured approximately 169 civilians. It says it is still assessing more than 450 reports of casualties in Iraq and Syria from 2017.

Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, issued the following statement in response:

“Importantly, the Trump administration has recognized it needs to report publicly on the number of civilians it has killed overseas, but this death count is simply not credible. Even as the Trump administration confirms that the number of lethal strikes dramatically increased in 2017, it provides only a total number of unidentified people killed in all those countries, without any additional detail.

“The administration’s low death claims cannot be meaningfully tested and therefore cannot be trusted. Independent media and watchdog assessments make clear that the number of civilians killed overseas is many times higher than what the Trump administration acknowledges. The administration’s explanation of discrepancies shows that it applies too high a standard for assessing whether reports of civilians deaths are ‘credible,’ and in far too many instances, the investigations it conducts are insufficient. Secrecy about the costs and consequences of Trump’s killing policies prevents meaningful public oversight and accountability for wrongful deaths. The victims of our government’s lethal actions deserve better, as does the American public in whose name the Trump administration is ordering people killed.”

The public version of the Department of Defense’s report on civilian casualties can be found here:

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