Pakistani drone victim seeks to put US on trial

Chris Brummitt|Associated Press

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2010 file photo, people chant slogans during a rally against U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani tribal areas in Islamabad, Pakistan. Three American missile attacks killed 54 alleged militants Friday Dec. 17, 2010 close to the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said. Now 17-year-old Sadaullah Wazir and his family want justice from America, which they say was behind the attack. Photo: Muhammed Muheisen / AP

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Sadaullah Wazir says he was relaxing in his front yard when the missile struck, hurling him against the wall and mangling his legs so badly that they had to be amputated. Three of his relatives died. Now the 17-year-old and his family want justice from America, which they say was behind the attack.

Detailed accounts by casualties such as Wazir rarely make it outside the tribal regions. He and other tribesmen recently traveled to Islamabad, the capital, to meet with lawyers who are planning to sue the CIA for damages, possibly adding a new layer of scrutiny to the agency’s covert war inside Pakistan.

American officials do not acknowledge that war or discuss who is being killed in drone-fired missile attacks on al-Qaida and Taliban targets, which have surged this year to average about two a week. But they have said privately that the strikes are highly precise and harm very few innocents. Some locals agree about their accuracy, especially when compared to bombing runs by Pakistani jets.

But some international law experts are questioning their legality. In June, Philip Alston, the independent U.N. investigator on extrajudicial killings, urged the U.S. to lay out rules and safeguards, publish figures on civilian casualties and prove they have tried other ways to capture or incapacitate suspects without killing them.

U.S. officials say the strikes are key to weakening al-Qaida and other militants who mount attacks in Afghanistan, just across the border.

“The CIA’s counterterrorism operations are precise, lawful, and effective,” said CIA spokesman George Little, responding to questions about threatened lawsuits.

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