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PolitiFact Muddies Truth on Drone Strikes Comment

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

Studies have verified that most online readers do not stick around to finish an entire article. Most of us simply do not have the time to sit down and read a full article, and in the age of Twitter, we often rely on quick reports that may not tell the full story, but they are enough to satisfy some.

This is a simple truth that has not escaped online news publications, so they try to get the message of the article summed up for the reader in the headline and presentation of the article. After all, haven't you shared an article on Facebook or Twitter or another social networking site after reading the headline only?

Kesha Rogers is a Democrat in Texas who came in second in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate race, but got enough votes to force a runoff to decide who will face Senator John Cornyn in the general election. She really made a name for herself in the state by advocating the impeachment of President Obama. The Texas Democratic Party has even declared that Rogers is not a real Democrat.

In a recent statement on her website, Rogers said President Obama was responsible for "the assassination of at least four American citizens" in drone strikes overseas. The fact checking website, PolitiFact, picked up the quote and rated the statement "Half True."

Now, the initial reaction to seeing this is they must have an issue with the figure quoted by Rogers. Have 4 American citizens really been killed by drone strikes overseas?

Yes. Four Americans have been killed by drone strikes overseas.

As you may notice, I am not using the term 'assassination' because, to our knowledge, only one -- Anwar al-Aulaqi -- was an intended target and this is the fundamental issue PolitiFact has with the quote -- the use of the word 'assassination.'

The headline of the verdict reads: "Four U.S. citizens killed in Obama drone strikes, but 3 were not intended targets"

I am sure that is comforting for Americans to know. The statement is not completely true because Rogers used the word 'assassination' a little too liberally, but it clearly shows that the United States government was not concerned about killing innocent American citizens or locals.

With drone strikes, not only is collateral damage recognized as a possible likelihood; it has become an accepted part of our foreign policy. Not only is America firing on citizens of sovereign nations, but they do so knowing that innocent people who had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time are going to die. The old saying about the path of good intentions comes to mind.



For its "Truth-O-Meter," PolitiFact ranks statements and quotes as (from most severe lie to absolute truth): Pants on Fire, False, Mostly False, Half True, Mostly True, or True.

So, the first thing people see -- perhaps the only thing many people will see -- is that PolitiFact is saying Rogers' comment doesn't completely hold water when in fact it does. While Rogers has a taste for sensationalism, her comment should have been rated "Mostly True" at the very least. The only issue is she was a little careless with her verb choice, but whether only one American was the target or all of them were, 4 American citizens are dead because of targeted drone strikes.

For the U.S. to come out and say they only meant to kill one American just makes the issue worse because it shows how little accountability there is with the nation's drone program.

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