Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
…The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.
“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”
Even when it is admitted that civilians are killed in drone strikes, it is inevitably described as legitimate “collateral damage.” There is a systematic refusal to call it what it really is, although former general counsel at the CIA John A. Rizzo, now under investigation in Obama’s war on whistleblowers, has referred to these killings as “murder.”