The CIA’s Deadly Drone War Is
Washington’s Worst-kept Secret
Win Without War
(May 7, 2022) — Countless US planes and drones filling countless classified skies have killed and harmed thousands in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and beyond.
Yet the US government has never acknowledged many of these deaths, in part because the CIA’s drone program remains largely secret. But we do know that this program harms families at home too, including parents in Washington state grieving the loss of their son, a decorated drone pilot who kept a handwritten note from the CIA director thanking him for his work on his fridge. He died by suicide after years of struggling under a toll he wasn’t able to talk about.
I know this is hard to read, but this is the reality of the CIA’s drone war: lives across the globe disrupted and cut short because of unimaginable violence. The only way we’ll stop it? ENDING the CIA’s secret and unaccountable drone program.
Here’s the silver lining: With growing public awareness of our forever wars’ toll, the pressure is mounting for Congress to act — because Congress is how we stop this.
And right now, our team is furiously working to influence a notoriously opaque, closed-door negotiation between House and Senate leaders to include an amendment in a must-pass defense bill that would END the CIA’s drone program — and we need your help if we want a shot at making it a reality.
When the US military began its drone program with a 2002 strike in Yemen, it was supposed to be exceptional and limited — with “kill lists” targeting alleged high-level militants.
Twenty years later, we know how that story has evolved: As lethal strikes expanded geographically, so did the number and categories of people who the US government was able to kill, often determined by the “customer” — a conventional ground force commander, the CIA, or a classified Special Operations strike cell.
One former operator described several instances of missteps and misidentifications of targets to The New York Times, saying, “What we had done was murder, and no one seemed to notice.” 
Today, the CIA has become a remote paramilitary killing organization — without the minimal oversight or guardrails required for the Pentagon. US officials often maintain that they cannot discuss CIA strikes because critical aspects of the program remain classified, including the CIA’s lead role in it.
Enough. We cannot let our government conduct unchecked, secret wars that kill and displace people around the world. That’s why we have to get Congress to ban CIA drone strikes NOW.
Luckily, we have a critical opportunity to act: momentum is building in Congress and across the grassroots to end an era of unaccountable, untold devastation. Our team has been pulling late nights for weeks, but we’re gearing up to double down on this work with everything we’ve got, because shutting the door on the CIA’s drone war means saving lives.
Right now, our system is geared toward war and violence because of the power of weapons contractors, because voices of impacted people are silenced or locked out, and because US policymakers have, for too long, looked the other way while our government conducts violence in an open secret.
Ending the CIA’s drone war is just one way we’re working to flip that status quo for good.
Thank you for working for peace,
Amisha, Sam, Faith, and the Win Without War team
“The Unseen Scars of Those Who Kill Via Remote Control” The New York Times, April 15, 2022